It’s family reunion week on Aquarius, which means that it’s time to dig up a few dead bodies — and not just in the metaphorical, “airing old grievances” sense. Some of these are very literal dead bodies, including one from the show’s past. Aquarius isn’t structured like a procedural; the cases that can’t be tied up in neat little bows aren’t forgotten for good. They’re just set aside to be revisited later — and as this season starts to build toward a close, “later” might officially be now.
A lot of old memories have blown back into town with Sam’s father, whose arrest at least serves to bring Walt out of hiding. As it turns out, Robbie was lying when he said that Walt took off without a trace. Sam claims to have seen right through it, but it’s hard to be sure what Sam knows where his son is concerned. He has a bit of a blind spot. At least he’s past the point of arguing that Walt should keep quiet about American involvement in Cambodia and Laos — possibly because he now believes that it’s a truth worth sharing, though he’d rather not see Walt endanger himself for it.
Sam suggests that they give the information to a reporter anonymously, but Salazar (who is apparently the only reporter in Los Angeles) refuses to publish without someone on record to authenticate the information. Where was this attitude when he exposed Joe Moran? Why does that leak get to stay safe? “You have the perfect job,” Sam scoffs. “Watching other people do theirs.” Sam bends the rules for a living; he knows what it looks like.
The difference is that Sam has a moral code in place; he may bend the rules, but not his rules, which is why he’s started to earn Bunchy’s reluctant acceptance. Even in the precinct, Sam makes no secret of his feelings on the cops’ new policy against Black Nationalist groups. He makes Charlie Brown teacher noises while his bosses drone on about the crackdown, then fields a call from Bunchy, who wants him to come to Panther HQ alone. Bunchy’s little brother Arthur has been murdered.
The cops use Arthur’s death to feed their narrative of black-on-black violence, concluding without cause that the Nation of Islam is responsible. But according to Arthur’s wife, he believed that an informant hid in the Panthers’ upper ranks. Sam wants to investigate the Panthers, which puts Bunchy in a spot — he can catch his brother’s killer, but only if he betrays the organization. He compromises by giving Sam limited access to the member roll, and Sam figures it out: A man named Theo Pinker is the mole, working on behalf of the FBI.
Sam lies to Theo, telling him that he’s his new handler and that all he needs is a complete case report. Oh, and he should be sure to mention by name the FBI agent who told him to take out Arthur. For commendations and such. I’m not sure I believe that the FBI would enlist someone so gullible, but I definitely believe that they’d fail to properly train the black informants who are being used specifically for their race. Bunchy takes no joy in this victory — he knows they’re sentencing another black man to life in prison, and he can’t change the fact that he told his brother off before his death. Arthur wanted to stop carrying a gun, so Bunchy called him weak and fired him. He blames himself. Sam tries to offer comfort: “Families, they’re all the same. They don’t work, but they do.”
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