Now they're at the Beach Boys' recording studio in LA, and Charles Manson is being less cool than usual, fumbling around and making excuses for his not-that-great music. Oh, frustrated artists and the mass murders they perpetrate. From here on out, since Charles Manson is never alone -- no doubt one of the more highly-valued perquisites of being a cult leader -- assume that when I say "Charles Manson" I really mean "Charles Manson and four to nine identical hippies you may or may not ever see again," okay? Outside the booth, there are men purporting to be Dennis Wilson and a manager guy, Terry Melcher. Except really what they are is actors with stuff glued to their heads and faces which is not unlike hair, as a Platonic ideal, but very unlike the kind of hair that you and I know about. You know that guy you saw that time, walking down the road, and you didn't want to be unkind, but you couldn't help thinking to yourself, "Does that toupee look more like a rodent, or just a piece of really strange fabric from the remnant bin, or a nest of other people's hair woven by inaccurate and desperate birds for their nest?" Okay, now imagine that stuff, with some of that spray-on hair stuff mixed in for body and volume, and then formed into the kind of wigs Carol Brady wouldn't be caught dead in, and glued to the upper lip like an attempt at weird Western leather style that stalled out somewhere around "weird." I have not seen anything like this substance before, so it came as a shock to me. Your own experience may differ.
The actor playing Dennis is not very good. He explains that when the Manson Family was just a baby cult, still in its Cult Pull-Ups and drinking from Cult sippy-cups, he let them stay in his house for awhile, until it got "too crazy." This is Dennis Wilson we're talking about. The guy who used to do cocaine off of electric eels while driving his car off cliffs, for kicks. Does that not tell you something, that he found this cult a bit too much to handle, in fact so much so that, rather than kicking the Manson Starter Kit out of the house, he simply bought a new one? I've thought about doing that with dishes, but never a cult. Jeremy Davies is a very good impersonator of Charles Manson, and I already thought he was a good actor, and he really brings those two skills, which are not necessarily connected at all, to bear in this movie. He does that thing where his mouth opens and words come out, and then Terry and Dennis look at each other and Dennis is like, "Isn't it awesome how bughouse he is?" And I think maybe Charles Manson can somehow sense that they are making tacit fun or otherwise having their condescending postmodern post-cool way with him and his antics, because the word-noises that he is making get more aggressive, possibly angry, as he explains even more of the Dennis Wilson/Charles Manson backstory: previously on That Thing You Shouldn't Do, Dennis did evil things to Charles Manson's songs before putting one on a Beach Boys record, like making them rhyme. In retaliation, Charles Manson has changed the name of the song to "Dennis Wilson Is a Real Wussy." Is that one of the events or characters created or altered for dramatic purposes? Because if so, well played, John Gray. Good one.
To defuse the freakish freakiness, Dennis promises to organize a little show at the Movie Ranch, where (per Charles Manson) there will be "record-type guys" to see him play. "You can tell them some of your prison stories, they'll love that." Hee! All of a sudden Terry smells the culty, creepy smell of Charles Manson's obvious insanity and makes his goodbyes, telling them not to expect his presence at the Movie Ranch any time...ever. It's pretty cool because he and Charles Manson talk over each other the entire scene as he crosses the room, but he's saying normal bland excuse stuff and Manson's just making word noises until the very tail of Melcher's coat is gone.