Season One, Episode Eight — “E.A.B.”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. Only two more episodes left of Vinyl, which means Richie and company are going to have to execute an epic scramble to fix what they broke, or things are going to fall apart spectacularly. As the episode concluded with Richie in the clink, presumably waiting for his lawyer to drag him out of the Buck Rogers fiasco, we can only assume the conclusion will be far from tidy.
In another shining example of the dangers of shitting where one eats, Richie has agreed to allow the mob to set up shop in the American Century offices, at the behest of Galasso. This, in turn for a $100k loan from the boss, is a last-ditch attempt by Richie and Zak to revive and reinvent the label. With the FBI breathing down Richie’s neck and with Galasso moving in on the business, I smell what I can only assume is the makings of a rat. If the FBI will consider offering him a deal in return for his testimony against the underworld’s activity, Richie might just be dumb enough to take it.
WHAT WORKED: Lester’s brief history of rock and roll (from Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” to Chubby Checker’s “Twist” to Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”) reminded us that, while the role of manager may have been born out of a desire to piss off Richie, Lester truly lives and breathes music. It is indeed in his bones and the simple blues progression of E, A, B is the foundation for so much of rock n roll. Not only did Lester’s lesson serve as a catalyst to kick Kip past the role of “enfant terrible“ into that of an actual human being, it was a cheeky bit of writing to show Lester lay it on the line for the son of a rocker whose primary influence was American blues.
WHAT DIDN’T: What sort of sociopathic little shits throw a cat down a landing? If that was an attempt at dark humor (as I believe it was, what with Devan’s aside about nine lives), it missed the mark entirely. Not that it would be out of the ballpark for those children to be terrible and perhaps a bit touched, but the whole scene felt forced and unnecessary.
“You really had to stamp it?” – Zak, on the added insult of a fat red DENIED stamp on his loan proposal.
“Balloons… snacks… cakes in the shapes of records?! Guess what, Hal? Cakes are already in the shape of records!” – Andie to Hal. A fair point, but perhaps not a fireable offence?
“Mussolini with tits!” – Richie, on Andie’s tenacity. “More like a steward on the Titanic.” – Andie, on the inevitable.
BEST MOMENT: All the rage, confusion and awkward befuddlement of Hal’s departure captured my favorite moments of this show. At its worst, it’s a name-dropping train wreck of a drama, but in its finer moments it really taps into the unpredictability of human nature and the gaps in understanding that exist between everyone. As Hal goes postal, smashes a gold record then whips out his satanic pendant to curse his former coworkers, the crowd gathers around, silent enough to hear a pin drop. I had my first laugh-out-loud moment with this show in quite some time when Skip leaned over to Zak and said “I didn’t know he was Jewish,” mistaking his pentagram for a Star of David. Each character in this show is in their own weird world, with separate, generally unequal and entirely made up codes of conduct.
EPISODE’S MVP: Any time Lester gets his hands on a guitar, even with his damaged vocal chords, is a moment of enrapture. He brings truth, honesty and hard work to the table. He has the uncanny ability to incite people to drag their heads out of their own rear ends, and while this hasn’t worked on Richie for many years, he managed to successfully assist Kip with the task.
BETWEEN THE LINES:
– Gary Giombetta’s voice is angelic and his face the makings of a pop idol, but could Zak really fall so hard over someone who dines on a splat of cottage cheese dumped into half a cantaloupe?
– Devan finds a way to pay her Chelsea rent the only way she really knows how – by using her womanly charms to trick someone into doing something for her, in this case convincing John Lennon (cough, cough) to pose for a picture. Girl needs to learn a new skill.
– We finally have a reason to root for Clark, who grew some balls and maybe even made a friend in the mailroom. That kid is as blundering as he can be, but his awakening to the magic of R&B at least gives him a modicum of legitimacy.
6 out of 10
Next: “Rock and Roll Queen”, soon.
Before: “The King and I”, here.