Aquarius season 1 episode 10, “It’s Alright Ma. (I’m Only Bleeding),” is tab of Tab, the original diet Pepsi. It’s bad enough for a middle aged detective to be taking his first trip on, but then he has to listen to Donovan? Charlie Manson the Hurdy Gurdy man and Samson Hodiak (David Duchovny) is his assassin monkey. First he kills a party being thrown for Ronald Reagan by the Cherry Pop’s mom and then he almost kills his narc friend’s cover story.
It’s hard to film an LSD trip unless you’ve been on one and while I’m sure Duchovny has more experience with mind-altering chemicals than Hodiak, network TV is only guessing. The director caught some of the sense of the break in the time space continuance that can flow during a hallucination, and Hodiak was certainly happy. Much happier than he should have been with Manson whispering in his ear to kill everyone, but maybe that’s what would make him happy.
The tripping Hodiak is found by the undercover Latino in the precinct who delivers the buzzed out buzzcut cop to his narc friend, Brian Shafe (Grey Damon), figuring he’d know what to do with him. According to Dan Ackroyd’s impression of the former President Jimmy Carter, the best way to make good on a bad trip is to down lots of Vitamin B and listen to some Allman Brothers. Sadly, Duane wasn’t even playing for Otis Redding yet and that cure was still in the experimental phase.
Tonight’s episode was all about Trust. Hodiak gets the trust of a suicidal cop and gets him to walk through protests coming from what could be his own people. But the once and future Cuban is trying his best to pass for Irish, as if that was a social improvement in the sixties, and put more distance between his past than a banana boat could traverse. Of course that makes him part of the problem, which turns him even more self-loathing. There is a lot of self-loathing on Aquarius. There is a lot of self-loathing on TV. I suppose it’s replaced bigotry. The writers can’t say anything bad about gays, but they can create a self-loathing gay lawyer Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne), who says bad things about gays or at least be a bad homosexual. Not as bad as the self-loathing gay who was killing the quite-happy gays in the nightclubs, but not a poster boy for the cause by any measure.
Detective José Morán, who calls himself Joe Moran, is being outed as Cuban by Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar. He loathes the self-loathing but is dismissed as a self-righteous prick by Hodiak, trying to gain the trust of the guy who hates himself so much he lied to his wife and is now taking calls on how best to blow his brain out. Wondering if he could pull the trigger twice, as Joseph Wambaugh put it. Rafael Yglesias, the writer, does a fairly good chop job given the narrow delineation of network TV.
The narc and his stoolie sidekick are trying to gain the trust of Charlie’s motorcycle gang and Roy and Guapo. Ed Cutler (Chance Kelly) has been on narc Brian’s ass to move forward on his drug busts, but Brian balks in favor of gaining Guapo’s cousin Juan’s trust. It would have been a bad bust anyway.
Cherry Pop gains Charlie’s trust by mesmerizing Manson’s king snake with her lips. Considered the smartest and prettiest of Charlie’s harem, she’s also getting the same rep that Frank Sinatra hung on Nancy Reagan. Cherry Pop also takes a tip from Rita Rudner and hypnotizes Charlie with her friend Rick’s bottomless credit card.
Charlie rents Rick’s trust with his bevvy of beauties and a promise to look the other way from Cherry Pop. But Rick’s trust is bought by Brian for the price of a Boy Scout medal of achievement. Brian thrusts his tongue firmly in his cheek and swears the rich kid in as an undercover deputy, this frees the kid to screw around with the hippy chicks and his father can write it off on his taxes.
If only Hodiak could write off his own father who was photographed being arrested in bust of antiwar activists. Hodiak’s old man will probably be helpful in finding his son, who deserted from Vietnam shortly after the bombing of Cambodia, which officially hadn’t happened at the time.
“It’s Alright Ma. (I’m Only Bleeding)” was written by Rafael Yglesias and directed by John Dahl.