Here Comes The Mob – Vinyl Episode Nine: ‘Rock And Roll Queen’ Recap

This blog recaps episode nine of season one of Vinyl entitled ‘Rock and Roll Queen’. Needless to say, it contains spoilers.

Terrence Winter, the man behind The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, was fired last week as Vinyl show runner. This should tell you a lot about the success of HBO’s biggest launch series in years. Or lack of it.

Ironically, the programme’s inability to get on any sort of roll mirrors that of its luckless protagonist. If Richie wasn’t such an unbelievable asshole we might feel sorry for him. But he is, and we don’t. So our energies are mostly spent hoping his friends and family can somehow catch a break amid the burning wreckage of their Finestra-filled lives. This week? More of the same.

Rot or rat

We begin where we left off last episode. Richie’s slumped in a cell, staring straight down the barrel of a minimum 30 year jail sentence for manslaughter. Except he’s not really is he? The main character of a programme dedicated to showcasing the musical legacy of the seventies isn’t going to prison. Nope, sorry. We’re not buying it. So after a bit of diplomatic jiggery pokery, he’s off the hook. Except for one small condition. The record exec must now become a police informant telling tales on the mob’s most dangerous nut job – Corrado Galasso. Which, as we’re reliably informed by Richie’s lawyer, is a “suicide mission.” What a rosy start to the episode!

Things aren’t about to get any better for dear ol’ Richard either. Devon’s shacked up with photographer guy, and is shrewdly taking the opportunity to expand her portfolio with a few extra nude shots. Eventually, the wayward husband tracks her down and after a bizarre bonding session with the new lover – they bludgeon a bat to death with a tennis racket – Richie takes his long lost kids out to dinner. Cue sweet reunion scene.

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Mad house

Back at American Century HQ things are going predictably haphazardly. Galasso’s right hand man Maury Gold is taking advantage of his lofty position – the mob have loaned the company $100,000 – in order to strong-arm Richie into putting out a ‘50s compilation. Not the direction the others want to go. Weirdly, Finestra doesn’t turn to the white stuff like he normally does under pressure, instead settling for a particularly vicious slanging match with Andrea Zito. She’s hopping mad because PA CeCe is preggers with Hannibal’s baby and Jamie is head over heels for Nasty Bits’ frontman Kip. Keeping up?

Good. Beyond a pair of bushy raised eyebrows, Richie can’t do much to calm her down and so just slams his office door in her face. Pretty representative of his negotiating strategy as a whole really. Still, it’s good to see women allowed to take centre stage again without having to strip naked. Speaking of which…

Three’s company

Yup, we have our first threesome of the series. Which is strange because it’s meant to be the sexy seventies and supposedly everyone was at it. Kip and Jamie are the main culprits, ensnaring Nasty Bits guitarist Alex into a very steamy situation. He’s happy to go along with things, but is our renegade frontman? A few uncomfortable looks seem to suggest otherwise. Could this be the end of Vinyl’s one storybook romance? We did see Jamie and Clark getting close in last week’s episode after all.

The sad-sack A&R hopeful isn’t moping around waiting though. Not at all. Instead he’s revelling in his newfound role as musical pioneer by single-handedly bringing about the disco revolution. With fellow post room hero Jorge by his side of course. Together they turn a nightclub upside down with Indigo dance anthem ‘Kill The Lights’ – recorded specially by DJ Cassidy and Nile Rodgers no less (along with Glee star Alex Newell). It’s just further proof that the real success story of Vinyl is the music – thank you very much Randall Poster.

Everything you’ve come to expect

Despite everyone picking up star signings left right and centre – Zac’s Xavier is set to be the star of series two – Richie can’t buy a break. Even when he tries to do good and kick the drug habit it all goes pear-shaped. This time it’s Zac finding out he framed him for the lost money in Vegas. Obviously he’s not pleased and gives Richie an absolute hiding in the company lift. Bloodied and bruised, our poor protagonist stumbles down the road to Devon, finally spilling the beans about killing Buck Rogers. She’s stunned, but before anything can be done Richie takes off back to the office. Where the final (even bigger) bombshell is dropped. He’ll take the cops’ deal to spy on the mob. This isn’t ending well.

Speaking of endings, only one measly episode now remains in the season. It has been a fun ride thus far. But as we approach the finale, we can’t help but think an opportunity is being missed. So hamstrung by their need to echo the mafia themes of a typical Scorsese picture, the show-runners are ignoring the Vinyl’s strengths. Music, obviously. But also comedy, and the smaller subplots which really capture the zany ambience of 1970s New York. Keep the grittier edge by all means, but let’s drop the Goodfellas-esque nonsense. It’s boring.

Best lines

“You stood in front of me coked out of your mind and told me you spent the week with a dead man!” – And what a dead man! Ernst was completely batshit but boy did he bring the screen to life. We’d swap him for you anyday Devon.

“Anybody ever call you Harlem Marlon?” – The detectives are back. Yup, they’re still hilarious.

“He’s like an approachable Dylan” – Head of A&R Julie on little-known bandleader Bruce Springsteen.

“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.” – Woah, cool it Andy. You won’t make friends that way.

Loving Vinyl? Read our interview with music supervisor Randall Poster plus an exclusive playlist from the show here.

Check out more of Martin Scorsese’s finest music moments here.

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