The Aquarius episode “Home Is Where You’re Happy” (another episode named after a song off of Charles Manson’s debut studio album) really exemplified some of the things that are bothering me about this series. First and foremost, how it is trying to throw in a lot of storylines amid the overarching search for Emma (Emma Dumont) and Manson (Gethin Anthony). That might not be a problem in and of itself, but the show seems to be stumbling at weaving these storylines together seamlessly, and last night’s episode especially seemed like merely a series of vignettes, almost, strung together in a quasi-’60s era setting. Now, granted, I haven’t yet seen all of the episodes, which are currently online, so perhaps things come together more coherently as they move along.
Hodiak (David Duchovny), of course, figures in most of the subplots. When we first meet him he is talking to Art Gladner’s widow, who runs a strip club … er, sorry, I mean, “burlesque theater” … called The Peach Pussycat. Hodiak tells her they are still investigating her husband’s murder, and Hodiak visits the club a few times in the episode, getting more info each time, especially after talking to a dancer named Rachel, who tells Hodiak that Art really ran the operation there.
The chat with Rachel puts Hodiak on the trail of a man named Marvin, who not only delivered food to Art’s coffeehouse, but also was a key pointman for Art’s drug-dealing. Marv doesn’t take kindly to Hodiak wanting to bring him in. He pulls a knife on Sam, but Sam beats him down, breaking his arm. During interrogation, when Hodiak asks Marv who was responsible for Art’s death, he keeps repeating, “You.” At first we think it’s a ploy of his to be a hard-ass, but suddenly flashbacks, coinciding with Marv’s confession, show that Hodiak did, in fact, begin the chain of events that led to Art’s murder. We flash back to the first episode, when Hodiak confronted Art and offered him a deal. We then see what happened after that. Art was ready to take the deal, and we see him on the phone talking to someone and threatening to sing like a canary, revealing the “name, rank and serial number” of the person in charge. Could that be implying that person is a military person, or a cop?
Unfortunately for Art, Marv overheard that conversation and reported it to his superior, Guapo, who we had seen earlier in the episode talking with Vickery. Shafe (Grey Damon) had brought Vickery out of jail as a setup to get to Guapo, even though Hodiak had already brought Marv in for the crime. They let Vickery continue to think he was a prime suspect in the murder and were using him to get more info. But that doesn’t last long, as Guapo tells Vickery that they have a suspect in custody. Shafe comes out of hiding, but Guapo runs off.
Guapo is the one we see in Marv’s flashback/confession. He tells Marv to kill Art to keep him quiet, and we see Marv at first trying to shoot Art, but his gun jams. He then settles for Plan B — bludgeoning him to death. Hodiak gets his confession, and gives the case back to Cutler to take the credit. Returning to the Peach Pussycat, Hodiak informs Art’s widow that the case has been solved. He also informs her he knows more is going on at the club than just dancing, and while he’s not too upset over a little drugs, he cautions her about any more murders happening in her orbit, or else he’ll be on her. She seductively insinuates that he will be “on her” whether anything happens or not, adding to the growing sexual tension between them. The Peach Pussycat, and the widow, seem like they will be figuring more in the series as it progresses.
Hodiak is also busy with the Emma/Manson case. Grace (Michaela McManus) informs him of how Manson called their home, and she heard Emma singing. Hodiak visits Manson at the commune and gets in his face, demanding to know where Emma is. Charlie plays coy and puts on his cult leader act, but Hodiak isn’t buying it. He leaves his card with Manson, telling him to contact him when he next sees Emma. After Hodiak leaves, Manson tosses the card into a fire.
Emma and Katie are still with the engineer Charlie left them with, but in the light of the morning after, the man isn’t too keen to have them around, especially since they are trashing his place. From the conversation, it sounds like they all had a wild night, but the man’s regrets cause him to demand they leave.
Charlie later shows up to the engineer’s place, asking after his girls. Unknown to him, Hodiak has tailed him there, and is watching their interaction. When Manson learns the girls have left, he is upset, and pulls a knife on the man, pushing him back into the house. Hodiak is ready to spring into action, but Charlie quickly comes back out, and the engineer seems okay.
We also see what Emma’s father, Ken (Brian F. O’Byrne), is up to, besides fundraising for “Ronny” Reagan. A drunken Ken hooks up with another man in a park restroom, and it’s a violent encounter, much like Ken’s hookups with Manson. Ken gets himself drunk before the act, seeming nervous and hating himself but wanting it all the same.
Ken clearly blames Charlie for “breaking him” and making him want to sleep with men. Later in the episode, he visits Manson’s commune with a rifle, ready to kill Charlie. “Who you are is all right,” Manson tells Ken, softly. Eventually, Ken is talked down, and he hugs Charlie. Meanwhile, Emma has witnessed this scene with tears in her eyes. Ken notes that his daughter is, in fact, there, but does nothing at the moment.
When Ken returns home to Grace, he tells her he saw Emma with Charlie. Grace can’t believe he didn’t bring her home. Ken says they can go get her together, but Grace coldly tells him, “I’ll go with someone I can trust. I need a man.” We know she’s talking about Hodiak, especially in light of her passionate encounter with him in last week’s episode.
Back at the commune, Emma has dropped acid, and through her dazed perspective, we see Charlie talking to her, alternating between appearing angelic and rational, and demonic and insane. Suddenly, Grace appears to Emma, and we know this is likely not just a drug-induced delusion, since we see Hodiak in the background. Grace pleads with her daughter to come home, and at first, Emma is smiling at seeing her mother. But then, Grace appears to her in an increasingly evil-looking guise. Emma is on a bad trip, man, and has a gun with her. Before she can raise it up, though, Hodiak disarms her, picks her up and brings her in the car with Grace. Emma is kicking and screaming the entire time. As they drive off, Charlie calmly tells the others, “She’ll be back.”
Another storyline that continued was Hodiak’s search for his AWOL son Walt (Chris Sheffield). Hodiak confronts his very drunk ex-wife in a dingy bar, on her birthday. She wants to know what was in the letter Walt left him, and he tells her. She wants Hodiak to find their son.
As part of his search, Hodiak visits a friend of Walt’s, who is in the seminary. Hodiak doesn’t like the guy, and thinks his seminarian schooling is a convenient excuse to not be in Vietnam like his son and others were. Hodiak brings up his own war service, saying he fought so they could sit there talking right then. Hodiak asks the young man if he knows where Walt is, but the man says he doesn’t. It’s clear Hodiak thinks he’s lying, and he leaves. Turns out he is lying, as shortly thereafter, Walt peers out from another room.
Hodiak and Shafe’s relationship gets a little closer in this episode. At one point, Shafe gets a call at work from his frantic wife, and races home. Someone has painted on his garage the words, “nigger lover.” As Shafe is cleaning the paint off, Hodiak shows up and offers to help in case he thinks his quiet, weird neighbor is the one who did it. Shafe doesn’t think it’s his neighbor, but appreciates Hodiak’s support. They talk a bit, and Shafe learns Hodiak’s son has gone AWOL.
Later, Shafe returns the favor and starts helping trying to find Walt. He puts a call in to a man he served with, asking about Walt Hodiak.