Aquarius Season 1 Episode 6 Review: “A Whiter Shade of Pale”


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.

So far, Aquarius has been a perfectly adequate show that has managed to shine in a few specific areas, particularly the quality of performances. Let’s see how things continue in “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”

The episode opens with the aftermath of Sam’s brutal fight with Charlie at the end of the previous episode. Brian stops in to check on Sam and explain why he’s trying to infiltrate Manson’s commune. Tensions are high between the “partners,” but both men realize that, unfortunately, this is the right plan of action. Charlie, meanwhile, is busy recovering from the beating he received, and he is not at all happy with anyone’s actions as he question’s Shafe’s true intentions.

Grace and Ken confront each other about what has been happening between Mason and Ken and how it affects their again-missing daughter. Ken reveals to his wife that Manson knows way too much about everyone to just be left alone. I really like the way that the show is managing to weave a real-life figure such as Charles Manson so deeply into a fictional and original story, and it’s cool to see something like this on television. If nothing else, Aquarius should lead to this form of storytelling becoming more common.

Racial tensions in the 1960s continue to be an important plot point on the show, and this is most emotionally expressed through Brian’s homelife. Considering the number of characters present on the show and the backstories that are required for each of them, it’s important for the creators to give enough surrogates to the audience that are easy to connect to, and Brian Shafe may be the best one we’ve gotten so far. Even with his flaws, Shafe is a true hero (at least for now), and Grey Damon brings an incredible characterization to the role.

Sam and Grace are able to briefly make up after things blew up in the previous episode, but tensions remain incredibly high. The characters do share an interesting bond because of them both having missing children, and it’s a fun parallel to watch play out on screen.

We get some more of Charmain in “A Whiter Shade of Pale” after her absence in the previous episode, and it seems like she’ll get a bit more characterization moving forward as she begins taking on cases of her own. Claire Holt has ended up being surprisingly convincing in this role, and I really hope that she gets a larger story later on in the season. She definitely serves as a way for Aquarius to show what the dynamic for women in a “male world” is like during the time period.

The most interesting thing to me as I watch Aquarius is how much more interested I am in the personal lives of the leads than anything involving Manson or Emma. Gethin Anthony still brings one of the strongest performances on the show, but Aquarius really shines with its portrayal of life in the 1960s. It’s possible to make the overall case more interesting as time goes by, but I’m satisfied for now just watching lives move on.

Are you binge-watching Aquarius, or are you watching along as episodes air on NBC? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

[Photo via NBC]

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