Manson sings! We get to hear Charlie (Gethin Anthony) cut his demo tape in this episode (along with Emma, Katie and other young women on backup vocals), all made possible through the kind donation of Emma’s father, Ken’s (Brian F. O’Byrne) $2,000. When we meet Ken at the start of this episode, he is ashamedly dressing after his encounter with Charlie, and flings the second half of his money to Manson before leaving in the wee hours. But not before Emma (Emma Dumont) notices her old man speeding away, and she seems concerned.
Later on, when Charlie shows the girls the money he’s got for the demo, they wonder how he found all that cash. “Money found me,” Charlie says in his usual cryptic manner, but Emma seems to make a brief connection on who might have given him the money. They take off from their commune and head, via a Partridge Family-style bus, to a farmhouse in a field and meet the sound engineer who’s going to record them. He expresses concerns about the ambient noise in the outdoors that might interfere with the recording, but Charlie’s all good with it. He begins singing, with the girls offering backup singing, along with blowing bubbles, prancing around and other hippie-like behavior.
Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) comes close to finding Emma in this episode, showing up just after she has left with Manson to make the demo. Hodiak tracked down Manson thanks to Shafe (Grey Damon), who has an in with Charlie’s biker friend (even though Shafe had previously “accidentally” tweaked the man’s knee and sent him falling down some steps). The biker is even more keen to bring Shafe to Charlie when Charmain (Claire Holt) shows up in her undercover hippie outfit. Using Charmain as a “crutch” to lean on (more like to cop a feel on), the biker takes she and Shafe to Charlie’s commune, a place he is staying at that actually belongs to a “devil worshipper” from Northern California. When Charlie comes out, Charmain claims to have been with him at an earlier encounter, where they all howled at the moon. Charmain begins howling ,and Charlie and his followers join in. Charmain later explains to Shafe that she was at a gathering like that with her mother when she was younger, and assumed it would be like something Charlie was into. Charmain, as she alluded to last week, seems like she is into this lifestyle a bit.
Shafe, who has noticed Emma and recognized her from the photos Hodiak showed him, winds his way through the maze of the house, eventually finding a phone, which he tries to use, but it’s dead. Charlie notices him, but Shafe plays it cool.
While Shafe has been investigating Manson for Hodiak, Hodiak has been returning the favor by looking into the murder of the man who owned the coffee shop where Shafe was operating his undercover narc operation. Hodiak thought Shafe might blow his cover if he investigated himself. When Hodiak arrives, Det. Ed Cutler (Chance Kelly) is there. This isn’t the first time this episode that Hodiak has shown up to find Cutler somewhere. Earlier, Hodiak had broken into his ex-wife Opal’s (Jodi Harris) house looking for an AWOL Walt, only to find Cutler was in bed with her. Turns out they’ve been seeing each other about 5 months. Hodiak disassociates himself with his former partner, not because his lying is amoral, but it is a safety concern.
At the scene of the murder, Cutler tells Hodiak that they have a suspect in custody who was seen leaving the scene — Shafe’s snitch Vickery (Jason Ralph). Hodiak later tells Cutler it couldn’t have been Vickery, since the multiple stab wounds in Garner were made by an attacker who was taller than him, and Vickery is not. Vickery was also seen leaving the scene many hours after the crime is estimated to have occurred.
Hodiak and Shafe later meet to discuss their findings. Shafe tells Hodiak he saw Emma at Manson’s place, and Hodiak races over there, with Grace (Michaela McManus). They ask around, but no one admits to having seen Emma, who by now has gone to record the song with Charlie. Grace is particularly disturbed to see a girl about Emma’s age, who tells how she gets letters from her mother, and seems under the thrall of Manson.
Later, Grace and Hodiak bond over their children after Hodiak tells her his son is missing, too (she assumes he is missing in action in Vietnam, and not AWOL; Hodiak does not tell her that part). Hodiak had earlier met with two MPs who showed up looking for Walt. Cutler had tried reassuring Hodiak that MPs usually don’t bother looking, but there they were. (Maybe Cutler called them? He and Hodiak seemed to be butting heads a lot.) Opal had given Hodiak a letter addressed to him from Walt, which said he was not returning to service.
During their bonding, old feelings stir up between Grace and Hodiak, and a hug quickly turns into a kiss, which turns into a lovemaking session (Ken is out, again not having told Grace where he was going, probably trying to wash away the guilty scent of Manson off of him).
When Hodiak tries to get to the bottom of things with Walt with Opal, wondering just what he told the military about her serious “illness” (she admits to having diabetes, even as she’s holding a Scotch and cigarette) to get Walt home. Opal jabs Sam pretty well when she wonders if he thinks Vietnam is “a sequel to World War II, your glory days. It is, with a twist — we’re the bad guys.”
Later, Manson returns from the demo with the girls and learns Hodiak has been there asking after Emma. He seems concerned, and decides it is time to move. Emma asks a lot of questions, and Manson suddenly slaps her across the face, demonstrating his dark side that has only been hinted at to her previously.
Manson brings Emma and Katie to the engineer on his demo, as “gifts.” The two women look uneasy at this prospect, but dutifully do what Charlie says, and the engineer takes them as Charlie takes his demo tape.
Back at the Karn household, Hodiak has left, and Ken is finally home with Grace when the phone rings. Ken answers; it’s Charlie, again teasing his benefactor by playing the demo tape, on which Ken can clearly hear Emma singing in the background. Grace grabs the phone and hears her daughter, helplessly saying her name. A look of fear crosses her face even as the upbeat sounds of the tune echo in the background.