Aquarius Season 1 Episode 3 Review: “Never Say Never to Always”

Aquarius

Because NBC released the full season of “Aquarius” on-demand after the premiere, I’ll be reviewing all thirteen episodes ahead of when they air on television in order to both help binge-watchers and keep television viewers interested. However, I’ll try to limit spoilers a little bit more than I typically would.

When we last left off at the end of the two-episode premiere of Aquarius, Ken Karn was in a bit of a precarious position as his connection to Charles Manson was revealed to the audience. Let’s see how events play out with a look at Episode 3, “Never Say Never to Always.”

The episode opens with Sam on the hunt for his missing son who is now in the states after manipulating his way out of service. In the process, we find out a few things about his homelife and what’s been going on under his nose without his knowledge. These revelations really do a lot to progress the character of Sam Hodiak, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get a lot more of his backstory as the series goes along.

Meanwhile, Ken expresses regret at recent events, but Manson has a really great monologue explaining why things are happening the way they are. Gethin Anthony is really doing a remarkable job in this role, and it goes a long way to sell the characterization that they’re trying to give to Charlie Manson in the show.

Hodiak and Shafe continue their investigation into Manson and Karn’s connection, but their primary source ends up not being able to give them any more help. A call comes in about a new case, and the new partners split up to divide their attention between Karn and the new murder. A good moment in this scene is the explanation that Brian can’t go to all investigations because he could risk blowing his cover, and it helps ensure that there will be multiple focal points in episodes of Aquarius, which I think is a really great assurance. I’ve mentioned before that the scenes with Manson’s commune tend to be (but aren’t always) the least interesting parts of the show, and I’m glad that secondary cases seem to be taking a large role, adding a very welcome procedural element.

The investigation into Manson is offering a great way for Claire Holt’s Charmain Tully to fit naturally into the show, and I like that we’re getting a look at gender roles in the 1960s through her eyes in the way with which her character is interacted. I also really like the bond that’s forming between Grey Damon’s Brian Shafe and Tully, and both actors are managing to display a great chemistry anytime they’re in a scene together.

I’ll probably end up harping on it every single episode, but the overall cast that’s been put together for Aquarius just absolutely astounds me. Anthony’s Manson steals every single scene that he appears in, no matter what else happens to be going on at the time, and it’s clear that the actor is the perfect choice for the infamous madman. It isn’t surprising at all, but David Duchovny is just as wonderful as ever as Sam Hodiak. Sure, you can see elements of Fox Mulder from The X-Files, but that works because of the nature of the character. Hodiak is as equally complex a character as Mulder became, and it really says something about the quality of the writing that we’re getting this level of characterization only three episodes in.

Music continues to be incredibly well-used in Aquarius, as we were assured by the cast and crew that it would be, and it helps to sell the era even more than set pieces or costumes ever could. It’s really a testament to the care put into Aquarius‘s design that this show never feels like a parody of itself, and we haven’t yet ventured into a territory of stereotype. I’m pretty hopeful that they’ll continue managing to show the time period in a way that benefits the series without going as far as to distract. It’s also really great getting to witness Manson’s attempt at being a rock star, and Anthony is really believable when he gets to show off his efforts at singing and playing the guitar. The scene where he and his girls record the demo in particular is really well-done, and the music is blended in well with events taking place at the same time elsewhere.

“Never Say Never to Always” was the best episode so far of Aquarius, and I credit that to the procedural elements that are beginning to be introduced now that the show’s initial setup is out of the way. You really believe in the era that’s displayed here, and the acting by the incredible cast is benefited even more by the quality of the writing on the show.

What do you think about Aquarius so far? Are you binge-watching the show, or do you plan to follow along on television? Let us know your thoughts down below!

[Photo via NBC]

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