Aquarius, season 1 episode 4 is entitled “Home Is Where You’re Happy” and every day is house party at the Spiral Staircase ranch. Budding Southern California singer-songwriter Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) is no mellow rocker, though, unless he’s wearing his guitar.
LAPD Homicide Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) is still concentrating on Ed Cutler’s (Chance Kelly) murder case. He’s hoping to clear his rat and get his ex-partner a stiffer collar. Duchovny and Kelly make an easy time of it this week. Last week they were overdoing the “old friends” routine by beating the shit out of each other and calling it horsing around. They finally internalized the friendship and let it come out through their mouths and body language.
“The only thing stupider than getting killed over drugs is getting killed by someone you’re married to,” the young narc Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) learns. Art’s murder gives Hodiak the chance to ogle painted young hippie chicks at the burlesque club, the Peach Pussycat, a gift from the recently departed Art to his wife, Lucille. The grieving widow is trying to do her best not-yet-faded Mae West, without the innuendo or lackadaisical voice. She’s faded, jaded and never asked too many questions to begin with, but the can put the bite on a martini olive with a flourish. Answering things about her dead husband doesn’t come cheap. The dancers are brightly painted and go to tears at the drop of a hat. It’s cathartic.
Back to doing foot work on the disappearance of his ex-lover’s daughter, Sam gets his shoes shined by Charlie Manson himself. No, that’s not a euphemism for how Charlie pays off his legal bills, it’s how the budding musician shows respect for cops and other authority figures. Manson puts on a great show for all and sundry. He’s lucky Hodiak was in a good mood. The way the cop’s been acting the past few weeks he was just as likely to kick Charlie’s teeth down his throat and then how’s he going to sing?
Hodiak hears from Grace about the spooky demo Emma and Sadie sang for Charlie and heads to the recording engineer’s house to sign up the new talent but the producer kicked the two Mansonettes out of his house for leaving the refrigerator door open. Now, sure it’s a stupid thing to do, but I don’t think that’s what the engineer was thinking when he threatened the girls with cops. Manson is quick. Too quick for Hodiak, anyway. Maybe he does it with mirrors. Hodiak is so busy keeping surveillance he doesn’t see Charlie go all pimp and off the sound engineer. Charlie was somewhat justified though, the sound guy doesn’t handle morning-after conversations that well.
The needledick scene cuts straight to the lawyer, who is pimping election funds for Ronald Regan, soon to be governor of California. The republican king-maker has skeletons that won’t come out of the closet. Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) lives out his George Michael fantasy in park bathrooms. Karn goes into homophobic panic and threatens Manson with a 12-gauge phallic symbol. He’s obviously over-compensating. His wife, Grace, doesn’t think he’s much of a man. Luckily Manson (Gethin Anthony) has nothing but love for Ken. He owes him for the studio time anyway.
You can’t fault Marvin the box cutter for trying. The deliveryman iced Art after he heard that he was going to rat on the one of the biggest dealers in the City of Angels. Duchovny gets to go supercop on Marvin, disarming him in a single move and breaking his arm while handcuffing him. Hodiak even gets witty banter. When Hodiak is looking for his son he says he’s not a cop. But he’s always a cop and yet Duchovny, even though he’s played a cop of some kind or another for most of his career, isn’t quite cop enough. There’s something averse to playing the role even as he obviously loves playing the game.
You just never know anyone, if you’re lucky. The more the young narc gets to know Hodiak, the further down the dark LAPD rabbit hole the kid’s going to fall. He’s whitewashing more than just his garage. Shafe gets Mike to roll over on his dangerous alibi by promising to help him clear his head with some smack. He tramples on jurisprudence by lying to the junkie about the murder rap he’s facing and pays him off with a garlic thick shake.
Like father like daughter. Emma Karn (Emma Dumont) teaches Sam that LSD and rifles don’t mix. This wasn’t a bad representation of a hallucination for network TV. Trippers don’t always see monsters, usually it’s the perception that gets altered, not the specific landscape. I was once convinced a friend had been beaten black and blue while tripping, but I didn’t see him as having two heads. Oh. Don’t try it at home. It’s better in a club anyway.
The Manson song of the week was the title of the episode. The series is moving at a fairly good clip, but seems like it’s not quite sure of its footing. That doesn’t stop it from proceeding at a confident pace that matches the easy-going relentlessness of Duchovny’s Hodiak.
Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and the other defendants murder spree that started on Aug. 8, 1969, died of cancer Saturday, June 6, at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 80. Manson turned 80 in November.
“No matter what I do, I’ll be forever known as the Manson prosecutor,” Bugliosi told The Times in 1994.
“Home Is Where You’re Happy” was written by Sera Gamble and directed by Michael Zinberg.