‘Vinyl’ Season 1 Episode 9 Recap: “Rock and Roll Queen”

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This week on Rock ‘n’ Roll Mad Men: threats, threesomes, and thank God there’s just one more episode left in this season!

“Rock and Roll Queen” refers to the Mott the Hoople song of the same name — and also to Jamie, who gets freaky with her boyfriend Kip and band member Alex while it plays. But first, she arrives at her aunt’s townhouse to find her clothes have been left at the curb in garbage bags. Jamie guesses that her mother paid her aunt to kick her out, and after being accidentally shoved down the brownstone’s stairs, she gathers her stuff and heads to Kip’s.

The detectives who have been on Richie’s case want him to inform on Galasso; in exchange, they’re prepared to downgrade his charges from murder to manslaughter. Richie’s lawyer tells him what he already knows — ratting on Galasso is a suicide mission. But like, jail’s bad too. End of scene. Cut to Richie strolling back into the office with his floppy hair and mirrored shades and fucking purple shirt.

Once again, most of Richie’s screen time this episode is devoted to a tug of war between his nose and a pile of cocaine. Will they? Won’t they? This time, he manages to resist, but honestly, if I see one more goddamn scene where Richie contemplates doing blow, I swear to God….is this why Terence Winter left the series? Is someone holding this show hostage? Please, for entertainment’s sake, give them whatever they want!

One of the reasons this show has been hard to connect with is that its characters tend to do the same things over and over again: Richie does-or-doesn’t do drugs; Devon lashes out against domestic ennui; and Jamie, who should be the most interesting character on Vinyl, lately has been given little to do outside cheerleading for — and having sex with — the Nasty Bits. Her family scenes are far too brief, and since hooking up with Kip early on, scenes of Jamie at work are rarely just about work. This episode, Juno Temple’s (admittedly very nice) sideboob has more to do than she does.

Andie notices that the women at American Century are getting a little too involved with the clients. She warns Jamie, “No one wants to make girls A&R reps because A&R reps give direction and criticism, which is almost impossible to do with a cock in your mouth.” Way harsh, Tai. Then she discovers why Cece has been crying: Hannibal, who may be headed back to American Century, got her pregnant. “Why are the women such stupid fucking twats?” she cries in frustration. I feel your pain, girl.

“Rock and Roll Queen” (which, by the way, is one of two episodes written by a woman, Debora Cahn) does manage to fit a few funny lines around its usual maudlin crap. (We also see a penis! In a scene in which we don’t see the woman’s bits! Praise the TV Gods! Who I think look a lot like this, in case you were wondering.) At a meeting between the American Century execs and Maury’s people, who’ve moved into the office, they’re listening to a Patti Smith record when Zak pipes in, “Wouldn’t want to piss her off.” There’s also a funny moment when Maury mistakes Andie’s mug of water for a coffee that she’s fetched for him — right after he tells Richie he won’t share Cece with him. “She’s got an attitude, ok, they want to make a point, they should do it on their own time,” he says, racistly.

There’s also a funny moment where Richie goes to see Devon at her room at the Chelsea — and comes across her photographer boyfriend instead, who’s trying to chase a bat out of the room. Without knowing who he is, Richie starts to help him, and accidentally whacks him in the face with a tennis racket. Face to face, the two of them, so far so amicable, suddenly realize who the other is.

Meanwhile, Clark and Jorge continue to bond over music at his funky underground club, introducing an Indigo record into the mix and anxiously watching the crowd’s reaction. Can these two maybe get a spinoff? They’re cute. Or maybe I’m just warming up to the one storyline that actually seems to be propelled by musical discovery.

In the episode’s final moments, Richie’s two big secrets come out. First, Zak gets a call from the Vegas hotel where Richie gambled away their 90 grand, offering to fly him out and put him up in a suite for free. At first he’s excited, but then he realizes what this means — Richie must have gambled away the money, because Zak didn’t spend nearly enough to warrant such a generous offer. He approaches Richie just as he’s getting on the elevator and lashes out, beating and kicking him mercilessly.

Then, Richie goes to see Devon and confesses that he killed Buck. He walks away, then calls the detectives and agrees to take the deal. Dun dun dun….

With one episode to go, I think it’s official that Vinyl has been a huge disappointment. It seems to be headed further away from the studio and deeper into plots about murder and money, at the cost of fully exploring the very intriguing cast of characters it’s assembled. The show has already been given a second season, but unless the finale takes a turn into less worn territory, I doubt I’ll be tuning in.