Review: Aquarius (Season 1, Episode 9)


By far the most gripping episode of the series, 'Why?' delivers a fantastic array of dramatic flair, to a thus far slow series

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‘Tis the season – albeit months too early – to celebrate Christmas in Los Angeles. Bearing in mind that this episode first aired in the US during the middle of summer, the LAPD bask in Christmas traditions in the precinct, adding some well needed comic relief to such a dark show.

‘Why?’ kicks off with Ken Karn visiting Manson for what seems millionth time, in this instance to break ties with him. We all know how that’s going to go down already. This break of ties somehow provokes Manson into being inspired by Karn’s defiance against himself, leading to Manson asking Karn if he loves him. Not really what Karn was ultimately looking for, but he runs with it.

For the season of happiness, it’s completely the opposite for Shafe. After witnessing the murder of his mobster contact Jimmy in the previous episode, he informs Cutler and Hodiak that he isn’t willing to make himself witness to another killing, even if it means blowing his cover. He wants to make serious progress in getting to the heart of the drug trafficking ring undetected, and murders along the way such as Jimmy’s aren’t exactly helping. As Shafe and Mike go back to the brothel to make some new headway, the former gets news from Hodiak that isn’t pleasant.

Before the unpleasant news, Charmaine is subjected to some rather unpleasant comments from her fellow detectives. Two cops begin to verbally harass Charmaine, with Hodiak on looking. Hodiak, not being the type of man who stands idly by whilst men throw derogatory insults towards a woman, intrudes on their remarks: ‘That’s my daughter. She’s somebody’s daughter, and if you can’t be decent human males you can at least be funnier. Right now, you’re just being what a cop hating world expects. Look out for her.” Hodiak yet again shows his honorable mentor and father figure status to Charmaine, giving her confidence to go on her first beat after Cutler lets her. And as it turns out, she’s doing Hodiak’s old beat, of which she seems proud enough of to tell Hodiak first. Hodiak’s also proud of her, and gives her pointers as usual.

Charmaine’s finest moment ultimately ends up being her worst, when the two cops that were throwing insults at her are killed in a shooting, after getting breakfast in a Black-Panther friendly neighbourhood. Charmaine ends up unscathed through a sheer amount of luck, but her colleagues do not. With two cops killed and one injured from the same precinct, the LAPD band together to catch the hooded shooter.

Hodiak ends up being one of the first at the scene. He finds Charmaine, who is still in shock from witnessing the killings. He decides that he needs to calm her down, so that she can explain the situation to him and they can investigate it together. Charmaine has been keeping her emotions over the incident bottled up since Hodiak arrived at the scene, so Hodiak asks her if she trusts him. She nods, and he proceeds to slap her. The slap aids Charmaine out of the shock, so that she can let her emotions out and get a level head. Hodiak’s there to comfort her along with the process too, but he still needs her to focus. He reminds her of her training, which she needs to employ in order to stop crying.

Hodiak and Charmaine’s mentorship is by far the best relationship on the show. It isn’t just Hodiak that teaches Charmaine how to become a better cop, but Charmaine also teaches Hodiak when he crosses certain lines. They are both improving each other consistently, without the cliche romantic relationship which plagues a lot of female-male relationships on cop shows.

The hunt for the killer is on, with Hodiak and Shafe eventually getting a surprising amount of help from the Black Panther party, after Hodiak lays out all the LAPD’s current information on who they think the suspect is, including that they believe it’s a white man. Hodiak convinces the Panther’s leader that helping them with their investigation is the only way to keep the SWAT teams from being a burdening presence within their area.

Hodiak and Charmaine’s relationship is put to the test however, once Hodiak and Shafe believe they have the killer, as the killer’s lawyer makes it clear that they have no hard evidence of the crime. Hodiak drags Charmaine to the men’s locker room to humiliate her in front of the other detectives to make a point: “You gonna stop trying to be one of us or are you gonna be one of us?” It’s disheartening to see, because you can witness the hurt and sense of betrayal in Charmaine’s eyes. Hodiak essentially tells Charmaine that she needs to violate the rules and lie that she was able to see the killer at the coffee shop, even though he was masked at the time. Thanks to his previous comment, he manages to manipulate her into breaking the rules.

‘Why?’ is by far the best episode in the series so far. It’s fast-paced and for once only focuses on one narrative. The cop killings is the main pull of the episode here, with Manson and Karn being put on the backburner. The end of the episode tops it off even further, with Manson deciding to open Hodiak’s mind, after being told by Karn that he can’t go after Hodiak with a gun. Hodiak’s alcoholism once again gets the better of him, with Manson following close behind to let one of his girls slip a little surprise into his drink. The drink literally turns on Hodiak, and we’re left until the next episode to imagine what the repercussions will be.

Aquarius airs on Sky Atlantic on Tuesdays at 9pm.


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A film student stuck in a 90s timewarp of FBI agents, UFOs, conspiracy theories, alternative rock and grunge.

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