Season One, Episode Two — “Yesterday Once More”

© Copyright 2016, Home Box Office. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, Home Box Office. All Rights Reserved.

By Brandy Dykhuizen. The way forward is sometimes the way back, and in “Yesterday Once More” the Finestras take stock of their shared past to ensure the wrong parts of history don’t repeat themselves. Richie offers Devon no explanation for his hellacious bender, and flings a series of neglects and disrespects her way. Devon pinballs between snippets of her past and her present situation, struggling to understand the implications of Richie’s return to booze and drugs, while Richie does himself no favors by cocooning himself in a void where his half-formed, crazed thoughts are free to fly at will without a sounding board to bounce them back.

In a frenetic tailspin of a scene, Cannavale chops and kicks his way through a super-tense matinee of Enter the Dragon (at the distress of other moviegoers), then takes the Bruce Lee-inspired negotiating tactics back to the office in order to rebuild his dream. I’m not sure what one would expect from an epiphany born of a collapsed building, but Richie is convinced that he can turn his label into a phoenix rising, with the help of a little rock-n-roll. While Devon may have become temporarily unstuck in time, Richie is equally as emancipated from space, rocketing around like three bulls in a China shop. In the episode’s final moments, he finally discovers a sure path – one that leads straight to Lester Grimes’ door. In yet another instance of progress requiring a quick visit to a previous life, Richie seeks to hatch a plan for the future out of dreams deferred.

WHAT WORKED: “Yesterday Once More” contained many artful moments amidst the chaos. Aside from the obvious scene breaks that reflect how music shapes our lives, grounds us to memory and serves as a general barometer of our moods, Vinyl is laden with visual transitions and symbols that echo the patterns and meaning our brains constantly strive to find. Cutting straight from Richie’s lines of cocaine to the confectionary sugar on top of his children’s pancakes jerked us into the reality he is hiding from – a reality that still seems to bewilder Devon. Another beautiful but disconcerting visual tactic was shooting Richie through the blinds, after his colleagues wrestled him into an empty office. His volatility is unmistakable as he twitched and paced around like a caged animal, framed between the blinds’ vertical bars.

WHAT DIDN’T: The musical segues are a unique, relevant, and fun element of this show, but many times the execution feels off. For instance, while playing The Carpenters during Devon’s childless car ride was smooth and polished, the cuts to and from Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Breathless” felt unnatural and jarring. The rest of the show uses entropy and ataxia to its advantage, but these musical moments can sometimes err on the side of underdeveloped.

BEST LINE(s):

Coffee… and make it a SANKA.” – Richie, who has very strong and precise opinions on how to exit his bender.

You know, one of these days I’m gonna grab you by those mutton chops and I’m gonna turn your head like a fucking steering wheel.” – Richie, who finds Scott’s facial hair and pressing attitude equally annoying.

I’m talking about your dreams and you’re worried about your mortgage?!” – Richie.

YES! Yes, I am, because Chase Manhattan doesn’t give a fuck about dreams.” – Zak.

Devon: (to man) “You know this whole thing was Andy’s [Warhol] idea.” Man: “Which is why they are the musical equivalent to a soup can.”

If you ever rat me out again to Richie, I’ll kick you in the fucking cunt.” – Jamie, to the receptionist.

BEST MOMENT: In an episode full of upheaval and assessment, perhaps the most significant size-up happened in Zak Yankovich’s garage. Initially seeking a moment of peace from his terrible, henpecking wife, Zak pauses in the cold comfort of his car and contemplates eating a bottle of Valium. The business and his relationship with Richie are likely more fulfilling than his family life, by leaps and bounds. Ray Romano displayed Zak’s train of thought expertly, making us witnesses to this weighty turning point. With a bit of an eye roll and a light sneer, he makes the decision to fight back rather than roll over. Each fender-damaging swing of the wrench is an affirmation that, as pissed off as he may be, he’s willing to get back on the American Century horse and kick against the pricks with Richie.

EPISODE’S MVP: What Olivia Wilde’s Devon lacked in depth and dimension in the pilot, she easily made up for in Episode Two. In a flashback that takes us to a Velvet Underground show in Studio 54, the lyrics to “Venus in Furs” poignantly illustrate the weight Devon feels on her shoulders (and the implications of Richie’s bender). There is a reason her eyes can turn so dead at times, and her movements so ligneous. Maneuvering through repetitive maternal roles with her children and Richie probably isn’t what she signed up for.

© Copyright 2016, Home Box Office. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, Home Box Office. All Rights Reserved.

BETWEEN THE LINES:

– In the midst of Richie really forcing A & R to sing for their supper, Jamie is on a greater mission than ever to get ahead and rise to the top. She, too, had a moment of “taking a step back” when Julie sent her out for coffee when her confidence rose a little higher than he could handle. Jamie will not forget this little humiliation, and I’m eager to see how she retaliates.

– Yes, that was John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) underneath all that Andy Warhol action.

– The Velvet Underground was a perfect choice to highlight the dissonance of Richie and Devon’s initial sexcapade. On a double date with other people, in a terribly crummy bathroom and with a touch of light violence, their strained sex was underscored well by the atonal chords of the VU.

– There is clearly still much love between Richie and Devon, despite the current vibe. Rebirth and restructure are illustrated well as Devon picks up her old hobby, photography, to frame the discord and put the asymmetry back into focus.

8 out of 10

Next: “Whispered Secrets”, soon.

Before: “Pilot”, here.

Follow us: