Aquarius season 1 episode 9, “Why,” brings a little insight into the parallels between the budding Manson family and the cop culture of the LAPD. Both groups are kind of cult-like. They both hide secrets from the outside world and close ranks to protect their own. Both groups commit crimes and use the group dynamic to cover them up.
NBC had no idea it would be bumping into the Donald Trump controversy when they started assigning the weekly episodes. But as I watched the cop camaraderie in the squad room opening, all I could think was the comb-over candidate would love this episode: Every other word out of the collective cops’ mouths was “spick” and it didn’t precede “spam” and they weren’t talking about cleaning up the streets. The loving peace officers were talking about interdepartmental quotas.
Charles Manson was a renowned racist. According to the Vincent Bugliosi book, Helter Skelter was intended to incite a race war, after which Charlie would run the planet because people of African and Island descent didn’t have the brains for it. NBC hasn’t had a problem showing the racism of the LAPD, but they’ve shied away from tagging Charlie with it. Meanwhile, the leader of the Black Panthers has much more charisma than Gethin Anthony is bringing to Manson. This is odd, because he was positively magnetic and fun to watch on Game of Thrones, even as his eyes were being thumb-screwed into their sockets.
This episode brought us the first semi giggle from the narc. Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) has been quite the pill for a partying policeman. He is more rigid and correct than his middle aged superior Samson Hodiak (David Duchovny), who is really getting comfortable in the ongoing patter. He fills out his paperwork with a candy cane pen and tells a hooker that he’s not calling for sex, but she sounds amazing. Even comic book-stereotype-ready Ed Cutler (Chance Kelly) has more of a sense of humor than the cop with the collar length hair. But when the stoolie, who is becoming a whiny bitch, asks the narc “You’re married, did I know that?” Shafe admits “I hope not,” which seems almost like a laugh line until you realize the narc is seriously into the deep cover.
Charlie is into pulling off the covers. He believes everyone is covering up something in their own private jail cells. He tries to convince the lawyer Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne), Cherry Pop’s dad, that no one is free because everyone lives in a “prison they built” themselves. We are all the inmates and the bulls and the warden and the tower guards. Manson is a loving piece to the guys, but he is less yielding to the softer sex of the sixties.
Officer Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) is getting hard around the edges. First she has to endure the snickers and backbiting of her assigned partners. Then she has to watch as their heads explode. The diner shooting scene was a straight up homage to The Sopranos. The shooter came in through the door and was pretty obvious about it, but the vantage point was muddled and the lights went out, leaving the audience in doubt as to who was killed. I personally counted two shots and put up two fingers, which was probably the intent. More than the classic Sopranos ending, the sequence reminded me more of the scene where Silvio (Steven Van Zandt) is sitting with a gangster who gets executed during dinner at a nice restaurant.
Not content with having a traumatized, hysterical female in the squad, the officers have to compound it by wondering out loud why the bitch with badge number 7308 lived and two good cops are dead. I thought cops were supposed to stick up for each other regardless. The fraternity of blue balls finally accepts Tully, goobah gabba, as one of them after her long-simmering father figure, Hodiak, pulls her into the men’s showers and initiates her.
Is Tully’s initiation into the secret society of the thin blue lie any different than the love bombs dropped by the flower children at the ranch? Maybe we’ll find out next week when it looks like Hodiak will be getting his own initiation. Manson closes out the episode by dosing the detective with some compound of the dreaded lysergic acid diethylamide. Lucky fucking Hodiak gets to trip for free and because it’s network, it will not be fun and he’ll also be treated to flashbacks. Tere were no Charlie Manson original songs in this week’s episode and Hodiak didn’t get laid.
“Why” was written by John McNamara and Mike Sheehan and directed by Jonas Pate.