With just days to go before “Aquarius” is no longer available to stream online, the series premiered a dramatic episode titled “A Whiter Shade of Pale” Thursday night. In it, the drama surrounding David Duchovny’s character, LAPD Detective Sam Hodiak, finally beats him and those around him down.
After last week’s climactic reveal that Emma Karn (Emma Dumont) had escaped her “rescue” and gone back to life with Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony), her parents are left in the ruins of her departure and their failing marriage. That’s been a running theme throughout “Aquarius,” but this time Grace (Michaela McManus) is fed up. She finally asks her husband, Ken (Brian F. O’Byrne), what exactly his relationship is with Manson and why Manson seems to have so much leverage over him.
While he doesn’t confess his sexual relationship with Manson, Ken does admit that Manson knows things about him, his law firm and the Republican National Convention. Ken warns Grace that if he starts talking to the wrong people, the Karns could lose more than just their daughter. Unfortunately for the lying Ken, his wife doesn’t believe he’s telling her the full truth and seeks help from Hodiak. After Grace apologizes for freaking out the last time they met, Hodiak agrees to look into her husband for any illegal activity. However, even this is too high profile for Hodiak and he doesn’t get much information.
What he does get is another case of the week tossed on his desk. A cheerleader has been found beaten and strangled half to death, and Hodiak brings in Charmain Tully (Claire Holt), the novice officer trying desperately to be taken seriously as a detective, to help. Hodiak asks her to talk to the victim to see if she can get any information. She gets the feeling that the victim isn’t giving a full account of how she was beaten because she's covering for her boyfriend, an NFL player for the Rams.
Tully brings her findings to Lieutenant Cutler (Chance Kelly), but, in true Cutler fashion, he refuses to risk the PR nightmare of going after a star athlete on the hunch of a woman. Tully considers taking matters into her own hands, but Hodiak convinces her that good police work means doing it by the book, even if the bad guys get away sometimes. In the end, this marks yet another defeat for the show’s most sympathetic female lead.
Meanwhile, racial tensions continue to heat up in this 1967 period drama. With Tully investigating his only official case, Hodiak is free to help out his still unofficial (but totally official) partner Brian Shafe (Grey Damon). Shafe was eating dinner with his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson), who is black, when someone threw a brick through their window. He asks Hodiak for help figuring out who committed the hate crime and the veteran detective agrees on one condition. He needs Shafe to reach out to his anti-war movement contacts to track down Hodiak's son Walt (Chris Sheffield), who revealed some pretty ominous secrets last week. The two agree and go off on their separate investigations.
With Hodiak getting acquainted with his neighbors, Shafe revisits Manson’s compound with Jimmy Butano (Michael Drayer), who tries to win over the recently beaten criminal by giving him a brand-new revolver, which isn’t smart at all. Not only does the gun paint trouble for Hodiak, who almost beat Manson to death, but Manson seems to be using Butano to graduate to a higher level of criminal activity -- the drug trade.
The episode then returns to Hodiak’s investigation into the brick throwing. He discovers that someone has been getting paid to cause racial disturbances in the neighborhood. As it turns out, the broker who sold Shafe his home only did it to drive the rest of the racist neighborhood away. He hoped he could flip their homes for a nice profit. Hodiak tells the broker he won’t report him to the authorities, or let Shafe beat the cost of a home out of him, if he agrees to stop the nonsense and let his friend and his wife live rent-free.
As a reward, Hodiak is visited by Shafe’s friend in the anti-war movement, who tells him that no one legitimate in the group will take his son Walt’s claims seriously. He confesses that Walt might have gone a little off the deep end. The episode ends with a defeated Hodiak, back on the booze, retreating to the welcoming arms of his ex-wife Opal (Jodi Harris), her relationship with Cutler be damned.
“Aquarius” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT on NBC.