‘Aquarius’ S2: E12 ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ and E13 ‘I Will’ Review

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3.5

After making his retirement known last week, Hodiak (David Duchovny) sets out to catch the serial killer that’s been taunting him on his own. Charlie (Gethin Anthony) begins to send his “family” on more and more violent assignments, bringing us to Emma’s (Emma Dumont) involvement in one of the most infamous crimes in history.

 

**Spoiler Alert**

This review contains spoilers for S2E12 and S2E13 of Aquarius. If you haven’t yet watched, read at your own risk.

 

The Good

Ambyr Childers is great as an unhinged Sadie. I’ve said it before, but Childers really excels when she gets to go for broke as Sadie carrying out Charlie’s handiwork. She’s ready to pull out her knife at a moment’s notice and she’s got a completely new energy as this version of Sadie instead of the one who was always jealous of Emma in season one.

“I need a maniac who’s going to burn the house down while he’s standing in it.” Ken is serious about his divorce, and when he said this line, I couldn’t help but think he was considering what Charlie would do if he were a lawyer. It made me very interested to see just how he was going to handle legally leaving his wife. A man with nothing left to lose is a dangerous thing, and the people in his life were right to be nervous.

Shafe chasing down his criminal. As much as I was shaking my head at Shafe taking the opportunity to shoot up when he thought he had an easy collar, him running up and down the street searching for the guy he “lost,” only to discover that the guy was laying down in the backseat of his car the entire time was great. To then have him actually have to chase the guy, and shoot him in the behind to get him to stop running, was funnier than it should have been.

Billie is a great addition. I love that she’s unapologetic for the life she leads and that she doesn’t have any illusions about the kind of man Hodiak is. I wish she had been brought into the show earlier than she was.

Charmaine and Cutter’s unconventional working relationship. These two have come a long way from the sexist supervisor who had the first female cop in the precinct making everyone coffee. Cutter is still sexist, and he still treats Charmaine unfairly, but after more than a year of working with both Hodiak and Shafe and handling undercover work, Charmaine has figured out how to deal with him. She gives as good as she gets, and it’s amusing to Cutter instead of emasculating. They’re actually really fun to watch now.

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All those flashforwards become a coherent picture. We’ve had a lot of glimpses into the “future” over the course of the season, and with the season finale, we finally get to see all of the scenes come together and give us a full picture of what happened the night that Sadie, Tex, Patty, and Emma were sent to start a war. While I still feel like there was a lot of rushed storytelling and time jumps to get here, I’m glad that we didn’t just have to rely on the flashforwards to put the pieces together.

Emma doesn’t actually kill anyone. Despite Emma buying into everything Charlie has ever sold her, she doesn’t kill anyone and she doesn’t help set the scene until Charlie forces her to go back. There’s still a little bit of the girl she used to be in there, and that’s really important. She doesn’t get sucked in the same way Patty does, and she doesn’t appear to already have a vengeful streak like Sadie. There’s still some of Emma Karn underneath the “Cherry Pop” that Charlie cultivated.

 

The Bad

We’re back to Walt’s story. Walt makes the decision to recant his allegations so that he doesn’t die in prison because it’s not what his mother would have wanted. It really makes his entire storyline seem pointless since it goes nowhere. His story has always felt the most removed from the rest of the show, and the decision to bring it back only for him to decide to recant feels like a rushed attempt to put it to an end. Sure, we get to see that adjusting to the outside world is hard, but most people watching this show are already going to know that. We’ve already seen other characters deal with guilt and shame in other ways as well. With these episodes being the last two of the season, I feel like more time could have been spent on other stories.

The build up isn’t there for much of the story. This isn’t just a critique about these two episodes, but about the season as a whole. The turn from Charlie as a leader of a violent hippie commune to a radical looking to incite a race war still feels too sudden. Maybe it’s because the show has been split amongst so many more storylines this season. But I also feel like we didn’t get enough clues or investigation into the serial killer before Hodiak figured out who to go after either. With the addition of more storylines this season, it means that so many were only shallowly explored.

Charlie kills Ken. If this was the beginning of the season, I probably wouldn’t have cared much about this particular development, but we actually got to see Ken start to accept who he was and become a better father to Emma. Just as he has some character growth, Charlie snuffs him out.

Patty was basically an accessory in the finale. Given that she’s one of the three people to actually be responsible in the infamous Manson murders, I thought we’d see a little more of her in the big finale, but Madison Beatty was seriously underused.

The ending. While we know, based on history, that Charlie, Tex, Sadie, and Patty are all eventually apprehended, the season ends with the police locking down the crime scene. We know most of what happens next, so the show relies on the cliffhanger of Shafe finding the necklace Hodiak gave to Emma at the scene, and then promptly shooting up and calling for help. This isn’t the strongest of endings to get me interested in a third season, to be honest. Having Emma in danger instead of simply upset might have been, or even leaving the serial killer case unsolved could have done the trick.

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The Questions

Will there be a season three? Do we need one? The show seemed to be giving the audience the backstory to the Manson family murder spree, and with the finale getting us there, is there more to come? Moving the show to Saturday nights already seems like a death knell for the series, but seeing that season two has rushed to what might be its inevitable conclusion, unless next season is all about apprehending Charlie and the trial, makes more story seem unnecessary.

What happens to Emma? Of the characters involved in the murders, Emma is the only wholly fictional invention of the show. Tex, Sadie, and Patty are all inspired by real life counterparts. It does leave me wondering what happens to her since I already know what happens to everyone else.

 

Grading the episodes: I’m glad to see everything come together, even if some of the ways we got to the ending were sloppily done. It’s not the strongest way to finish the season, but these two episodes were fast paced and kept me watching more so than much of the season has. C