Recap 'Aquarius' Season 1 To Catch Up On The Charles Manson Crime Series

Do spring finales have your summer TV slate looking weak? NBC fills up a slot in your schedule when crime drama Aquarius returns for Season 2 on Thursday, June 16. Seasoned series actor David Duchovny anchors the show as gruff detective Sam Hodiak, the next in a long tradition of TV cops with good intentions but encroaching personal issues. Responding to the request of an old flame, Hodiak tracks a missing teenager and ends up entangled in the business of seductive future serial killer Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony from Game of Thrones). This Season 1 Aquarius recap will remind you how that all went down.

If you’re looking for accuracy in the Manson storyline, I’d encourage you to seek out a documentary instead. Aquarius is more drama than true crime; it uses the backdrop of the turbulent ‘60s and Manson’s exploitation of the restlessness and vulnerability that era inspired in young people to tell fictional stories about murder, race, and war. The plot got a little convoluted over 13 episodes of Season 1, so study up on the show’s version of events with this quick story recap.

Emma Karn Goes Missing & Her Mom Enlists Her Ex To Look Into It

Grace and Ken Karn's daughter Emma went to a party and never came home. Worried sick, Grace calls up Detective Sam Hodiak to ask for help. They used to be a thing and they're not anymore, but Grace trusts his police work. And anyway, she's worried sick.

Oh Yeah, Emma Left That Party With Charles Manson

Like so many young women, Emma is flattered by the laser focus of this passionate man's attention and is susceptible to his promises to make the world a better place.

Hodiak Gets A New Partner & Sends A Young Female Cop In Undercover

Brian Shafe represents a new guard in Hodiak's profession. (He knows what Miranda Rights are and everything!) He's young enough to confuse his partner with his methods and go undercover at Charlie's compound. Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) is desperate to prove herself to her sexist bosses; she goes in too.

Emma's Dad Is Mixed Up With Charlie

While Grace worries about Emma, her husband knows exactly who has her. Ken isn't Charlie's lawyer anymore but they are still sleeping together.

The Black Panthers Aren't Happy 

Bunchy Carter is a member of the Nation Of Islam when he first appears on the show; later, he changes his affiliation to the Black Panthers. Aquarius is the most timely when it digs into race relations and the black community's anger at the inequality of the distribution of this public service and crimes against black people that are going uninvestigated.

Hodiak's Son Hates Him, Also The Vietnam War

Sam's son Walt deserts the armed forces, because he knows some things about the war his superiors wouldn't like to be made public. Sam makes some bad choices to protect him.

Charlie Wants To Be A Rock Star

Charles Manson thinks he's a musical genius. He uses his girls to trade sex for recording opportunities. But it's clear he doesn't have the talent.

Hodiak Gets Mixed Up With Lucille, A Recent Widow & Burlesque Theater Proprietor

The theater is basically a front for a drug ring. Lucille's husband was killed by their supplier.

Hodiak & The Karns Rescue Emma, But It Doesn't Stick


Sam goes to Charlie's drunk and beats him up for holding Emma. Shafe, who's still there undercover, stops him. Emma thinks of her family home as a prison and Charlie as the real deal, so she is a reluctant rescuee.

Sadie & Emma Go To San Francisco To Bring "Mother Mary" Back To Charlie

Sadie and Emma have a bit of a power struggle going over who is Charlie's favorite. Together, they road trip to San Fran to retrieve one of his original followers. She's pregnant with Charlie's child.

Ken Digs Up A Body

Ken drives out to the desert and digs up a corpse. This is Caroline Beecher, a woman who was willing to give the police information about Charlie. Ken was the one killed her, on Charlie's behalf.

A White Shooter Kills A Black Cop & His White Partner In Front Of Charmain

It's a pattern that's repeated a few times before Charmain and Sam can catch the guy. Charmain still gets no respect.

Hodiak Drops Acid With Charlie

Or rather, Charlie doses Sam with acid. Sam does the only reasonable thing: He shows up to the Karns' house while they're hosting Richard Nixon and asks Grace to go for a swim.

Charlie's Mom Shows Up & He Drugs Her

Charlie's mother pays him a visit and tries to coerce him into signing a document regarding his grandfather's property. Charlie dopes her and gives her to a couple of his resident Johns. It's awful.

Hodiak Negotiates A Deal For Walt With Ken

Sam knows Ken is bad news at best (and he doesn't even know about the dead girl), but he uses him anyway to ensure his son's immunity.

Ken's Friend Hal Accidentally Kills One Of Charlie's Girls

[Twitter Embed: https://twitter.com/nbcaquarius/status/739850052890431492]

He shows up to Ken's door covered in her blood. Ken drives him out into the middle of nowhere and tries to set up an implied suicide scene. Hal and Ken struggle and a gun goes off.

Emma Ends Up In Prison

Thanks to Ken's general crappiness, Grace and Sam get back together. They go to the prison to retrieve Emma, but she still doesn't want to go back to her childhood home. Instead, she returns to Charlie and her new "family."

Mother Mary Gives Birth At The Compound, But It's Stillborn

Charlie thinks Sadie responsible for Emma's arrest for stealing. To get back into Charlie's good graces, Sadie poses as a candy striper and steals a baby from the maternity ward. 

Charmain Follows Up A Lead Alone

Charmain investigates a funeral home that she believes has ties to Guapo, a drug dealer Shafe has been looking into throughout the season. She calls Shafe from a payphone; one of Charlie's pals approaches her. This is not good.

Also: Shafe and Hodiak kill two men in the line of duty in the Season 1 finale. One was the killer of a closeted movie star; the other was the killer's brother. The second kill wasn't exactly in self-defense, and will certainly come back to bite Hodiak in the ass in Season 2.

Is this the season Charlie's family graduates from baby-stealing to cold-blooded murder? Find out when Aquarius returns.

Images: Ron Batzdorff/NBC; NBC (3); greytopia (2), protector-endangerer, breakingsaul (3), tonights-thenight (2), tashzky (4), clairebekahs/Tumblr

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