Season One, Episode Six — “Cyclone”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. High drama at American Century this week, with Richie taking advice from a dead friend, hot-wiring a Firebird, knocking Andy Warhol to the ground and crashing his best friend’s daughter’s bat mitzvah. In the other corner we have Devon interacting with her past as well, albeit in a slightly more acceptable and low-key way: she revisits her best friend, poses nude for Ingrid’s artist boyfriend and just generally darkens the doors of the Hotel Chelsea, all in an attempt to make sense of her life.
Devon’s admission to Ingrid that she frequently wanders around the house hearing the creaking of her own body swinging from the rafters gives her a bit of a “mad woman in the attic” dimension that we haven’t seen quite yet (though steps have surely been taken to bring her there). But do we really feel sorry for Devon? It is still so difficult to empathize with any of the key players in Vinyl, and the shining stars dotting the background are only getting screentime in fits and starts. Change does seem nigh, and it looks like we’ll see Vinyl gear up to turn a corner pretty soon. Or, at least, one would hope.
WHAT WORKED: We may be getting somewhere with Richie’s long, drawn-out bender. An episode-length hallucination and a revisit to the site of the first death for which Richie was responsible should serve to usher in some maturation and evolution next week.
Kip may have left the studio in a huff, but jamming along to The Stooges’ “No Fun” with a stranger and taking part in a guitar caper seem to have given him the boost of confidence he needed to jump back into the band game. James Jagger seems to be growing more comfortable and convincing in front of the camera, and was rather delightful this week.
WHAT DIDN’T: In the right light, at the right angle, there may be a shadow or a glimpse of David Bowie in Noah Bean’s cheekbones or nasolabial lines. And no doubt the portrayal of a presence as strong and deifiable as Bowie’s is largely impossible for the rest of us mortals. But basically everything Bowie in this episode served to grate on my nerves. The imitation of the man himself, the later downright weepy cover of “Life on Mars” and the subsequent dedication of the entire episode to the Thin White Duke was just about as reasonable as posting a macaroni portrait of the Queen to Buckingham Palace.
“We look like a toilet – it’s a fucking priority.” – Richie, on why a new logo could really help the label’s image.
“Who’s this?” – Richie, in reference to Jamie when she offered her two cents on the Nasty Bitz artistic integrity.
“I want to go to Nathan’s. To get a hot dog.” – Ernst’s final and repeated request.
“I wish I had a family like this.” – Richie, tearfully beholding Zak’s brood.
“You do.” – Zak, always a great one for cutting through Richie’s B.S.
BEST MOMENT: Andie’s get-down-to-business takeover of American Century’s image was a much needed slap in the face for the men who have largely chosen to wallow in their own self-pity rather than devise a new strategy. The peak of this scene, of course, is the moment of their shared epiphany that their logo does indeed resemble a toilet. Andie has a simple and easy solution, but the fact that such a farcical image had gone unnoticed for years shows that the label’s problems run not only deep, they’re far-flung as well. There are very few big-picture players in this company. Hopefully Andie and Jamie will team up to take Alibi somewhere worthwhile.
EPISODE’S MVP: A deceased Ernst is the best companion Richie could hope for in his rapid descent into self-destruction. For someone as contrary as Richie, who is spiraling out of control like a *cough* cyclone, a nihilistic corpse is a surefire way to cut through the bender haze to detect any remnants of humanity. Richie projects his wish to abandon all loyalties and relationships onto the phantom of the one person who may have encouraged his unfettered self-interest. However, there is still a glimmer of hope for Richie’s soul, as even the wonderfully sardonic and apathetic Ernst cannot convince him to toil in indifference. Richie snaps out of it at the foot of Coney Island’s Cyclone, in what is hopefully an awakening amidst the memory of why he and Devon took their substance-free vows to begin with.
BETWEEN THE LINES:
– Andie’s printed pantsuit… Ingrid’s floral, breezy crop-top and high-waisted bell-bottoms… can we please go back to these fashions, if only for a year or so?
– I just can’t with the David Bowie.
– As tragic as a crash-induced miscarriage is, we can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief that that baby will not be born with Smirnoff-and-cigarette-addled DNA.
7 out of 10
Next: “The King and I”, soon.
Before: “He In Racist Fire”, here.