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My bags are packed / I am ready for my flight / wanna put an end to my daydream days and sleepless nights / sitting like a mindless clone / wishing he would tap my phone / and just to hear the breath of the man / the myth / the monotone
—Bree Sharp, “David Duchovny, Why Won’t You Love Me?”
I am a David Duchovny fan. Completely head over heels. Or maybe that just means I am a Fox Mulder fan for he is intrinsically linked to the brooding FBI agent of my dreams. It is hard to allow him to become any other character, though it would seem Duchovny doesn’t mind too much; he’s just as dry and sexy in Californication, and even in his Sex and the City cameo he played a paranoid dreamboat. Aquarius sees him again playing a law enforcement role, as detective Samson Benedictus (Sam) Hodiak, though compared to Mulder he is a lot less thoughtful and shy than he is short tempered and prone to face smashing.
Billed as “historical fiction,” Aquarius details the rise of Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) and his ‘family’, while interwoven with fictional characters and stories to flesh out the series. Duchovny’s Sam is contacted by an ex-girlfriend when her daughter goes missing, and it is soon found that she has been living on the hippie commune of the part-time pimp, part-time musician, full-time batshit Manson. Sam and his team of fairly corrupt law enforcement officers find that the family may be more trouble than they first thought, as more and more connections to the commune are made apparent when undercover narcotics officer Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) investigates a local drug cartel. Charlie is a subjectively charming sociopath and has a growing number of followers who believe him to be the second coming of Jesus Christ, and as he exerts his hypnotic control over them with tales of fame and an excessive amount of LSD, they find themselves deep in a life of increasing debauchery to please their charismatic leader.
The show is very ambitious and has a tendency to get a little lost in itself. While only a season in, the show’s production and writing team have already planned out a six season run, which is exciting but also means there are some filler episodes that are frankly pretty dull. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the spate of anthology shows and miniseries lately, but I went into Aquarius hoping for crazy Manson madness throughout and the first season ends not even close to delving into the LaBianca and Tate murders. There are some weird liberties taken with the “historical fiction” idea, including a confusing subplot where Manson is straight up banging someone’s dad. I don’t think that happened but I guess it was the 60s. The show touches on racial issues and the Black Panther movement, but does little to connect that to Manson, who believed the Beatles’ White Album predicted a racial uprising by the black community that would lead to a full out race war.
Faults aside, Aquarius is a good show with a lot of promise, and with only 13 episodes it’s an easy binge watch on a sick day. Luckily the show was picked up for a second season by NBC in June 2015, and I have a lot of hope and faith that it will find itself and dish out some juicy, gruesome true crime. And, shirtless David Duchovny.
In the Orientation issue of this magazine, I gave a reasonably positive review of The X-Files reboot. I would like to issue a retraction, to say that the last two episodes of the mini-series could possibly have been two of the worst episodes of television I have ever seen (bar David Duchovny tripping on mushrooms dancing to Billy Ray Cyrus). Please watch at your own risk.