‘Aquarius’ S2: E08 and 09 Review

Photo Credit: NBC Universal Television

The show finally returned this weekend with a double episode on its new night and time - Saturdays at 9PM. After Emma (Emma Dumont) was prevented from returning to her “family” in the last episode, Charlie (Gethin Anthony) goes to Hodiak (David Duchovny) for help finding her. Meanwhile, Shafe (Grey Damon) finds it difficult to deal with his addiction.


**Spoiler Alert**

This review contains spoilers for Aquarius S2E08 and 09. If you haven’t yet watched the episodes, read at your own risk.


The Good

“Look in a mirror, Sam.” Charlie tracking down Hodiak to ask him to look into a missing Emma doesn’t surprise me. He only knows so many people that are willing to look out for Emma’s well being, after all. What does surprise me is just how friendly he is toward him. I especially loved his “concern” for Hodiak having his own demons haunting him.

Charlie tries the three-layer loaf. I can’t get over 60s party cuisine. It sounds disgusting. Hodiak clearly agrees, so it’s amazing that Charlie can chow down on it without a second thought.

Hodiak gets a little history out of Charlie. Charlie likes to make up a lot of stories, but as he and Hodiak chat over the three-layer loaf and drinks, he does tell him about his previous wives and children, which seem relatively historically accurate, so it’s nice for the show to touch on them when so much of the rest of the show is not exactly accurate. I also love that while Hodiak and Charlie are playing nice, Hodiak is essentially interrogating him about Emma’s place with his girls. Of course, Charlie is also keeping an eye on just where Hodiak put his gun.

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Shafe is looking rough. The makeup team did a great job on Grey Damon because as Shafe is going through withdrawals, he looks like death warmed over. Damon puts out a great performance in the episode as he writhes in pain and goes between sadness, sickness, and anger while Kristin tries her best to help him.

Shafe also realizes how lucky he is. After a hard night, he and Kristin talk about his past drug use during the war and their relationship in general. Not only does he apologize for lying to her, but also for putting her through everything he has since he started using undercover. As a viewer, I really want to believe that this moment means they’re going to be okay, but we’ve seen those flashforwards that indicate Shafe doesn’t stay clean, so the moment is bittersweet.

Dennis leaves Charlie and the girls out in the cold. This is a scene that is inspired by real events. While Charles Manson did have a Beach Boys connection, the relationship went sour as Charles showed his true colors. Here, it’s Hodiak who enlightens Dennis as to what Charlie is really like, leaving Charlie and his girls stranded.

Hodiak stands in Emma’s corner. It’s strange to think that Hodiak is the only one who is actually in Emma’s corner. Her mother has her in an institution because Emma embarrasses her. Charlie wants her back because she’s good at getting him what he needs from other people. There’s no one who is interested in Emma’s well being except for Hodiak. He’s the only one willing to let her make her own mistakes and grow up to become her own person.

Any interaction Kristin has with Hodiak and other police officers. I just love Kristin. She’s such a great character, so any time we get to see her in a scene with someone other than Shafe is so great. I love that she doesn’t take any crap from the other officers and that she and Hodiak can talk about Black Panther business in the middle of a police station. Their dynamic is especially fun.


The Bad

These episodes move incredibly slowly. It’s unfortunate that it’s these two episodes that the show came back on after being gone a month. They don’t have the kind of pull to bring people right back into the story, and the show is already going to suffer viewers from the move to Saturday nights.

Shafe’s hallucinations. Shafe’s flashforwards in the first episode seem to actually be hallucinations, at least partly. We know from previous flashforwards that he’s using in the future, but the ambiguity of the bodies he sees, the blood on him, the flashes between different bodies - it makes me wonder how much of his flashforwards we can actually trust to be true. It almost looks like his using in the future might be sparked by the murder investigation into Sharon Tate and her friends, but it’s not entirely clear. It’s the muddying of the waters that bothers me most.

The shots of dead bodies. I’m also not a fan of the repeated shots of the dead bodies, especially the pregnant actress. It seems to be for shock value more than anything, and the show can do more without getting that graphic.

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We get a three month time jump. It’s obvious that episode eight was originally planned as a midseason break because we speed very far ahead in episode nine. The jump seems out of nowhere as suddenly Shafe is almost clean, Bunchy is in trouble again, and Emma’s getting visited by Hodiak every other week for three months, right up until election night.

There’s very little Charmaine. It’s almost like the show isn’t entirely sure how to use Charmaine or how to tell the story of a woman in the 60s on the force. She’s absent from the first episode and barely in the second as part of an undercover investigation. Her stories are always so great, and it’s a shame the writers don’t use her more.

Hodiak’s serial killer case doesn’t even register. Other than a few copycat photos, the case that’s supposed to make the arc for the season doesn’t even get a mention.


The Questions:

How does Emma end up pregnant and back with Charlie? As we close out the episode, she’s coming out of electroshock therapy and she can’t even remember people’s names. Her recovery process must be quick if she’s able to go on a crime spree with Charlie in the not too distant future.

Is Kristin going to be okay? The last time we see her tonight is at a Black Panther meeting that gets shot up. Bunchy is likely not going to make it with multiple wounds, but we don’t see if Kristin gets hit. If something happens to her, Shafe’s relapse will definitely make sense.


Grading the episodes: Overall, the second hour was much stronger than the first, but these episodes really had a pacing issue as they were so slow with only a few bursts of moving the story forward. C-