Recap: Vinyl 1.9, "Rock 'n' Roll Queen"

Apr 10, 2016 by Alex Castle

Alliances are shifting at American Century Records, with characters either becoming disillusioned, left behind, finding common cause, or just following their instincts, with major plot implications for the show going forward.

Richie Finestra finally gets to see his lawyer in jail, and is promptly offered a deal: the Buck Rogers matter can be settled amicably if Richie will cooperate with a Federal investigation of his sometime financier of the Sicilian persuasion, Carlo Gallozzo. Richie of course denies knowing anything about Gallozzo’s business, and is obviously smart enough to know that squealing on a Mob boss is a one-way ticket to the morgue. Also, there’s the small matter of the $100,000 loan he just took from the man, and the fact that he just installed Richie’s old boss Maury Gold in the American Century offices. For the moment, it appears Richie is going to stay loyal to his old business partners.

Devon’s loyalty to Richie is seriously in question, of course, having last seen him as a sentient puddle of coke sweat, and reawakening her interest in photography with the dreamy photographer she met last week at Max’s Kansas City. When he tells her that the photos she took of John Lennon are worth two or three thousand dollars each, she casually remarks, “I should develop the ones of Jimi Hendrix wearing my underwear.” It seems she has a crate of undeveloped candid shots of rock stars, and though the photographer urges her to sell them, it seems that her loyalty is still to her friends – though that seems likely to change if she doesn’t want to go back to Richie, who finally comes clean about Buck Rogers, saying his anguish over the accidental murder was what knocked him off the wagon.

It’s going to take more than a teary mea culpa to win Zak’s loyalty back, particularly because after letting the poor guy believe for weeks that American Century’s last $90,000 went missing on his watch, Richie is caught in his lie (or omission of truth, same difference) when Zak is invited to take the high-roller plane back to Vegas. Zak thrashes Richie in the elevator, and Richie doesn’t fight back or even argue, seemingly realizing that he’s finally reaching rock bottom. If I had to guess – and I’m the recapper here, so who else is going to? – I’d say Zak is going to go all-in with Andi Z, if he stays with the company at all.

Andi, for her part, promises to shift Hannibal’s loyalty back to American Century – after all, she’s the reason he jumped ship to Jackie Jervis in the first place, until she went back to Richie. But after first seeing Cece’s reaction to the idea of Hannibal’s return, and then sniffing out that Jamie is obviously getting it on with Kip, she drops a serious feminist bomb: “This is why they don’t make girls A&R reps. Because they have to give direction, and that’s very difficult with a —- in your —–.” She’s got a point: Richie’s secretary Cece is apparently pregnant with Hannibal’s baby, which complicates the prospect of bringing back the label’s biggest artist, and the band that ACR is betting its whole future on, The Nasty Bitz, is just starting to jell – the last thing they need is love.

Which is why it’s unfortunate that Jamie seems to be having a little alliance shift of her own, moving from bratty, puckerfaced Kip to Alex, the Bitz’ new guitar player. It all starts out innocently enough, with Alex agreeing to get his long, lustrous locks cut in order to smooth tensions at the Bitz’ photo shoot, and later joining Kip and Jamie for a three-way. But when Kip wakes up to Jamie and Alex in full snuggle, it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Hearing the Nasty Bitz’ tape for the first time, Richie seems sufficiently inspired that there is a light at the end of American Century’s tunnel to get rid of the biggest threat to its survival: Carlo Gallozzo. Much the way he briefly found common cause with, of all people, the the guy who’s getting it on with his wife to get rid of the bat in her apartment, Richie’s now ready to team up with the cops to get rid of Gallozzo. But it might not necessarily be that simple: don’t forget, Richie got the bat, but he broke the photographer’s nose in the process.

Random Notes:
-Clark’s adventures in the disco underground continue: hearing that Indigo, a (fictional) disco outfit with low sales, is about to be dropped from the label, Clark and his new buddy Jorge from the mail room go to a club and get the DJ to play a track from their record. The show’s constant Zeliging of its characters into pivotal moments in music history can be a little tacky, but this is one place where it’s working, just because of its total incongruity.

-Richie is off the flake for the duration of this episode, but he’s drinking like a fish.

-Maury Gold is a great character and Paul Ben-Victor is great playing him. Just wanted to say that.

-Julie saw Bruce Springsteen at Max’s Kansas City but he’s not sure he gets it: “Maybe I’m old, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking for anymore.” The line forms to the left, Julie.

-With all his loose talk about Gallozzo killing one of his daughter’s suitors, it seems like Gold will do just about all the cops’ work for them, if Richie can get them to place the bugs he imagined were in his office in his office.

-Lester does not take kindly to the arrival of Maury Gold at the ACR offices, not least because he knows that Gallozzo – the man who ruined his life – can’t be far behind.

Episode Playlist:
Average White Band - “What Is Hip?”
Patti Smith – “Hey Joe”
The Amboy Dukes – “Journey to the Center of Your Mind”
Eddie Cochran – “Cmon Everybody”
The Hollies – “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”
Traffic – “Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory”
Sandy Denny – “Blues Run the Game”
Mott the Hoople – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen”
Manu Dibango – “Soul Makossa”
Indigo – “The Heart of the Groove”
Dusty Springfield – “The Windmills of Your Mind”
Lee Moses – “Hey Joe”
The Nasty Bitz – “A Woman Like You”
Terry Reid – “Stay With Me Baby”

New episodes of Vinyl air at 9pm ET Sundays on HBO; all previous episodes are available on-demand.

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