With just three hours left of programming – and quite a lot of story left to tell – Vinyl really had to gets its skates on this week. It’s no surprise then that episode eight sees several long-awaited bombshells duly dropped. Chief target is Richie, who might have managed to screw over just about everybody up ‘til now, but in ‘E.A.B’ he finally gets his comeuppance. Don’t say we didn’t warn you R-Fin…
Here comes the sun?
Weirdly, perhaps the most downbeat instalment so far opens with one of the series’ most buoyant pieces of music. The sunny optimism of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ might promise happier times for our depressed label execs, but from the outset it doesn’t look likely. Thanks to Richie, American Century is drowning fast in its toilet-bowl of a financial situation. Not a single bank will lend them a cent and even a trip to one of Zac’s old “friends” can’t secure the loan they’re looking for. There are just “too many ponderables”, whatever that means.
Back at the office, the once hopeful Andy – originally hired to give American Century a snazzy new image – is cutting dead weight. Ballsing up the sister label launch proposal is a fuck-up too far for hapless Hal Underwood (Jay Kraitz) – “Guess what Hal, cakes are already shaped like records!” – and the side-burned cheeky chappie is given the heave-ho. Does Andy have the authority to start hiring and firing? Not according to boss Richie anyway, who’s “Mussolini with tits” insult is volleyed back at him with added vitriol – “No. I’m Captain of the Titanic.” Oh, and Hal whips out his warlock charm and curses the whole company. It’s an odd moment…
Three chords and one song
In possibly the most repeated scene of the series, The Nasty Bits are back in the studio, and struggling once again. That is until ‘old man blues’ Lester steps in. His grandpa-like instruction of the band turns their “sea shanty” of a tune into a real rocker, borrowing a lyric or 12 from one of his own compositions. It turns out all they really needed was a simple three-chord progression. They should’ve just called up producer Mick Jagger…
What the sequence really proves though is that the show really sizzles when Lester is in the thick of the action. All the best lines are his – “Just write what you feel boys. It ain’t magic” – and he’s one of the few characters it’s possible to sympathise with. More please.
One character it’s hard to feel sorry for (apart from Richie) is creepy Clark. He, while being less creepy of late, is still a bit of a sap. His sense of entitlement is horribly overbearing for the most part – last week’s moan about his tough (privileged) middle-class upbringing particularly rankled. But ‘E. A. B.’has him finally catching a break. We see him learning how to dance, dealing out the drugs (mostly to himself) and even stumbling upon the biggest A&R break of his life. Hip hop.
The lost weekend
Meanwhile, Devon’s whereabouts are finally revealed. She’s holed up in a pretty fancy hotel, where the Finestra kids are giving hell to the arty-farty residents by lobbing plant pots down the stairwell. Devon gets up to some pretty naughty stuff herself too when she wanders onto the scene of John Lennon and May Pang’s famed lost weekend in 1973. Co-opting the help of a hunky photographer she pinches a snap of the two lovebirds in a dark and sensual bar, before borrowing the camera guy’s equipment (ahem) to develop the photos. As you would expect, a rather steamy sex scene follows. Richie’s not the only one taking what they want now it seems. Unfortunately for Mrs Finestra, her hubbie’s right hand man Julie spots her in the club. It’s not revealed how much he sees, but word’s sure to get around about her antics.
Elsewhere, the forlorn Zac Yankovich is still desperate to make up for his big blunder in Vegas – even though it was actually Richie who lost all the company’s money on a bet. Anyway, what you don’t know can’t hurt you, and Zac’s obviously not aware that his prize signing is a complete turkey. Here’s hoping that’s part of the joke, because Bowie-sub Gary (soon-to-be Xavier) is downright horrible – from the drippy singing to his ‘feel the music man’ hippie persona. If it’s not done tongue in cheek, then we may have struck the biggest lump of coal in the series thus far.
As is the norm in the last few thrilling outings of Vinyl, episode eight punches out with a big, old-fashioned cliffhanger. This week’s is one of the heftiest yet. Following an ill-advised decision to jump pretty deep into bed with the mob – $100,000 deep, to be precise – Richie takes a walk to think things through. What he doesn’t expect though, is that his night-time wander will lead him right into the arms of our favourite comedy double-act – Detectives Renk and Whoriskey. Only there’s no funny business this time. Instead, the tight-lipped officers sign the death warrant on Finestra’s career by revealing they bugged his office and have irrefutable evidence of his involvement in the murder of radio DJ Buck Rogers. Ouch.
While the shocked look on RF’s face brings a certain amount of amusement, you can’t help but think this is it for the coked-up fiend. He’s made one self-obsessed, arrogant wrong-turn after another, and has finally hit a roadblock. Thankfully though, Vinyl has never been so exciting as a result. Roll on the finale.
“My friend and I are only here for the night, and I hear if you hang around long enough you might meet a famous person.” – Devon plays it cool with John Lennon while Bob Marley plays in the background.
“Drop the Eddie Haskell routine and give it up.” – If Richie wants drugs, better hand them over.
“That’s a skeleton, everyone’s got one. Then you add the flesh, the hair, the eyes. Do that, then you got a song.” – Lester lays down the musical law to The Nasty Bits.
“Everything has a foundation, a Shakespearean sonnet, a bookcase, the Empire fucking-State Building. E. A. B.” – Why isn’t Lester in the band again?