Sam is better with the Shafes' problems than he is with his own.
NBC has made all 13 episodes of Aquarius available online after the May 28 premiere, because a snake of traffic is coming for us all and we have to live for the now. The show will still be airing Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET; if you’re watching live each week, come back here after “A Whiter Shade of Pale” airs on June 25. If you’re watching online, read on—or view the entire episode here.
Sam is not in a good place right now, but he’s still pretty lucky. He’s lucky that he didn’t kill anyone driving drunk. He’s lucky to have Shafe to pull him away from Charlie and pour a little whiskey on his wounds (whiskey—it’s just like Tylenol). And he’s lucky that Grace is more annoyed with her husband than she is with him. After Ken admits that Charlie holds something over him that could ruin their lives, Grace is prepared not only to stop blaming Sam for Emma’s latest disappearance, but to leave her husband entirely.
Grace asks Sam to look into Ken’s history with Charlie, and Sam admits that he already knows something about it. The news that her daughter ran off with a pimp—and probable murderer—is almost as upsetting to Grace as the fact that Sam kept it from her. He says that he didn’t think it would help the situation, then yells that his kid is missing, too. Not exactly an excuse. Shouldn’t he know as well as anyone how important it is to have all of the facts? This episode is like a showdown between Sam’s good luck and his questionable decision-making.
At least his intentions are good, especially when he isn’t drunk. When someone throws a rock through the Shafes’ window, Sam volunteers to look into it. He questions Howard, the grumpy old crank next door, by throwing the same rock at his car. (“Careful there. You wouldn’t want to dent it.”) Howard complains that the value of the block dropped the day the Shafes moved in as Sam blithely keys Howard’s new paint job.
After a few trips around the valley, Sam notices the same white man parading black women through various neighborhoods. He stops to ask the guy some questions, and the guy runs. Sam doesn’t even try to chase him. He just finds the guy’s name and address in his car and announced over megaphone that they can do this now, or they can do this at Drew’s house. Drew accepts defeat. Sam uses his megaphone to call Drew an idiot. All in a day’s work.
It turns out that Drew has been running a con with his cousin Gene, the Shafes’ landlord. Gene rented them the house with the intention of driving the white people out of the neighborhood, buying the houses cheap, and then selling them to black families at a huge markup. After letting Kristin take out her anger on Gene, Sam declares that the Shafes won’t have to pay any rent from now on. He’s not asking. Kristin tells Sam to kick Gene out, then invites him to stay for dinner. She’s not asking, either. “I thought you wanted to kick the racists out,” Sam quips. Look at all of this bonding.
NEXT: Not all’s fair in love
Because Sam is better at helping others than he is at helping himself, he also lends Charmain a hand this week. Lori Price, head USC cheerleader and girlfriend to the Rams’ hotshot quarterback, was found beaten outside a bar. Given Charmain’s great work with Charlie, Sam tells her to take the lead. (He also knows his coworkers better than to let any of them get near a pretty young cheerleader, especially given what she’s been through.) After the best pep talk in the business (“You’re gonna do good. You— you— you be good”), Sam leaves Charmain to do her thing.
Lori says a that a stranger pulled her into the alley outside a bar and beat her up, but the bruise on her neck looks old. Charmain suspects that Lori’s quarterback boyfriend is behind it, so she ignores Cutler’s order to drop the case and calls on Lori again—only to find that Lori is now in a coma. When Sam catches Charmain leaving work early to go to a friend’s party, he knows she’s taking matters into her own hands. He reminds Charmain that no good can come from confronting the boyfriend. She’ll either end up fired or dead.
Charmain needs this job to mean something—she’s the only big-picture thinker in this precinct. But Sam echoes what he said to Bunchy after Cass’ death: “Last I checked, we didn’t make the world, so you just gotta fight the battles you have a shot at, you know? ‘Cause nothing lasts. Even winning. Especially winning.” The real generation gap on this show has nothing to do with haircuts or Miranda rights—it’s about which problems they believe they have a shot at solving and how they deal with the ones they can’t.
Walt deals by planning to go public about his experience in the war. Sam asks Shafe to get word to Walt that he’ll pay for a lawyer, but he might be too late. Shafe’s friend Robbie tells Sam that Walt ran off after the MPs came looking for him. “He’s a sweet kid,” Robbie says, “he’s just not right.” Sam just dives further into the bottle. As if one relapse weren’t enough, he shows up at Opal’s with a peace offering of bourbon. They have sex, then talk about how they’re still not huge fans of each other.
Speaking of sex, Charlie expects his girls to put out to everyone who ever does him a favor—and that includes Shafe, the man who saved his life. Charlie offers Katie, but Shafe requests a quiet, hesitant-looking girl. After letting her get a lot closer than I expected, he stops her from doing anything: “I’ll tell him you were great. And you can tell him I was quick.” She agrees. But while Shafe may have just dodged a bullet, Jimmy provides literal new ones, handing Charlie a gun to defend himself against future beatings. Sam just inadvertently put another weapon in Charlie’s hands. Let’s hope his luck pulls through again.
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