Aquarius Recap: Closeted in Hollywoodby Rebecca Riley / July 3, 2015
In this week’s episode of Aquarius, seventh in a series total of thirteen that NBC has released online, the murder of a secretly gay movie star brings about some discomfort with Hodiak’s team, while the Manson cult meets an original member of their “family.” The suspense is immediate and enticing, with a gun standoff between Manson and Cutler outside of Opel’s (Hodiak’s ex’s) house and the discovery of a crucified movie star occurs before the opening title sequence of “Aquarius” even scrolls across the screen.
The case that Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) is working takes focus over any Charlie Manson drama during the hour-long 60’s era drama, but that focus is well deserved in the nuanced and complex social issues of gay life and homophobia that are explored. Hodiak embarks on the mystery of an A-list movie star who was found crucified in his office, along with an eager Charmaine (The Originals’ Claire Holt) looking to escape the coffee grabber/filing girl role she is currently assigned. After meeting with a priest, where we discover that Stoic Sam is actually a lapsed Catholic boy, and the star’s fiancé, the team determines that the dead man is actually gay.
After this revelation, Sam sends Brian (who’s just been pulled off undercover duty in a heroin ring) into a local gay-bar to interrogate those who won’t speak to Sam after he arrested a bunch of them a few years ago in a gay-raid. Despite being half of a mixed-race couple in the late 60’s, Brian is not as open minded when it comes to same-sex interaction and shows clear distress in playing what Hodiak describes as a “flamboyant homosexual”.
Meanwhile, back on the Manson side of town: after holding-up Cutler outside of Opel’s house, Charlie’s girls go to find his original girl, “Mother Mary” as they call her (and, yes, the symbolism between the crucifixion, Manson’s “I am Jesus Christ” quote, and now Mother Mary is dually noted.) Katie reveals to Emma that Mary took care of Charlie when he got out of jail, and in true cult-fashion claim Mary and Manson were simply fated to meet each other. However, as the heavily pregnant Mary reunites with her former lover, more details about Manson’s physical abuse of his womanly possessions is revealed with disturbing detail.
As Brian continues to show his true homophobic colors — with claims that the men in the bars are deviant, wrong, and sick — the case is suddenly dropped. Orders from above state that because of the nearly 8 million at stake with the movie no feathers can be rustled. In the infamous words of the police chief spoken through Sam Hodiak’s mouth, “Stars can be dead but they can’t be dead homos.”
Some other note-worthy moments came from Charmaine as she continues to try and be taken seriously in a work-force who treats her as either a silly girl playing dress up or a cook in a cop’s uniform. Sam’s willingness to take her under his wing solidifies his good-hearted nature, especially while dealing with the fact that his son is still AWOL from the Vietnam War.
This week’s conclusion is not the case-of-the-week simplicity that is often put on television but instead is a case opened and then shut down due to the nature of its victims. In an astute commentary on some still-relevant social issues, Aquarius tackles the harsh realities of the time period well while still maintaining the drama and dark thrills that keep us tuned in week after week.
Don’t forget to watch Aquarius on July 9 on NBC at 9:00 PM ET/PT, or catch up on all released episodes at NBC.com.