Not every character is accounted for, but the wellbeing of Hodiak hangs in the balance.
If this is truly the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, then it’s heading for some pretty turbulent territory. Hodiak is dealing with the aftermath of the night before, Emma and Walt are both yet again missing, and Shafe’s drug case isn’t going anywhere. But that doesn’t stop this episode from dealing with a healthy dose of character development, balanced out with a couple of cases for good measure.
‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ deals with the same topic as the last episode; racially motivated crime. This crime hits closer to home for Shafe – literally. Someone throws a rock through Shafe’s windows, narrowly missing his wife. Turns out that this was no accident, it was a scare tactic meant not for him and his family, but for his neighbours. Shafe enlists the help of his buddy Hodiak into investigating this crime, which ends up being a blockbusting scheme by Shafe’s neighbourhood landlord:
“Go to a white neighbourhood, use one coloured family to drive a wedge into it. Then when all the white families head for the hills, Gene steps in and buys all the houses cheap and sells them back at a huge markup to the only people that will buy. Coloured families.”
Hodiak’s investment in finding out who did this to Shafe’s family is a testament to how he seems to be more successful in other people’s interests, rather than his own. Hodiak is angry with what Gene has done, but not as angry as Shafe and his wife – whom Hodiak lets repeatedly slap Gene for the harm he’s caused to their family- telling Gene that he isn’t going to pull her off of him. Hodiak seems to have more luck in bringing peace to Shafe’s family than he does with his own and the Karn’s.
Whilst Hodiak is on his investigation, it gives Shafe a chance to go back to the commune to further his investigation into his drug ring and his ability to now infiltrate Manson. Shafe comes straight to Hodiak’s after the initial beat up and makes sure that Sam is okay, but goes back the next day to develop his relationship with Manson and Jimmy.
There was also a second crime circulating the episode, a crime which Charmain took the lead in investigating. Which was slightly annoying, as she has only gotten to shine as a promising detective whenever the LAPD needs a woman to deal with certain issues. I know this is a reflection of the time period that they’re in, but it comes off as a little stale. She is a strong female character, but she hasn’t been given anything of substance to show that side of her character off yet.
Hodiak clearly hasn’t learned from his drinking mistakes, and continues to drown his sorrows. Said sorrows ultimately lead him to Opal’s, so they can share the grief of their son going missing the only way they know how – alcohol and sex. A great camera angle is used here when Hodiak knocks on Opal’s door. The use of a skewed worms-eye view really adds intimidation and makes Hodiak seem frantic in needing Opal in his drunken state. Hodiak never seems to know what he wants. He wants Grace, obviously, but then he also subconsciously wants Opal, with whom he can share his pain. Before they ended up drifting apart they stayed together for Walt, and both are still tied to each other through their son and share their fears for Walt’s well-being.
My favourite aspect of the show rears its head for a few minutes towards the end; Hodiak and Charmain’s relationship. Hodiak warns Charmain off the case that Cutler put her on. She’s dressed up and ready to make herself a victim so that she can get details on someone, with Hodiak commenting on her appearance to which Charmain replies, “You saying I look like a hooker?” Hodiak states “I would like to graciously retreat from that comment and say you look lovely.” It’s a lovely moment between the two of them, showing that Hodiak really cares for how Charmain is treated within the department and wants to mentor her. He knows how good of a detective she can be, and she seems to appreciate Hodiak believing in her.
All in all, this episode didn’t leave you on the edge of your seat wondering over the fates of certain characters. However, the ending does raise the stakes for Sam’s well-being, as Manson seems to be on the warpath for revenge, following the beating that occurred at the end of the previous episode. Look out, Hodiak.
Aquarius airs on Sky Atlantic on Tuesdays at 9pm.