Vinyl season 1, episode 9.
This Vinyl review contains spoilers.
Richie Finestra is stuck between a hard place and rock in this week’s episode of Vinyl, “Rock and Roll Queen.” On the one side, he’s got wisecracking scumbag cops asking him to rat on one of the deadliest mob enforcers in New York. On the other side, he owes the guy money and rent, as the old-style gangster set up an oldies record company in his new Alibi Records offices. If he helps put the mob boss away, Richie might just be another one-hit wonder but jail time could get all his teeth knocked out so he could get fucked in the mouth without scraping.
Richie is actually in a really good place to help with the feds while keeping himself out of Corrado Galasso’s (Armen Garo) sights. His office is already bugged. He can beneficently offer Maury Gold (Paul Ben-Victor) his desk and let the oldies guy give the feds, or the local cops, enough rope to hang the whole crew. But Richie is a standup guy. It doesn’t matter how many times he gets knocked down, he seems to get back on his feet before the count runs out.
Zak puts him on the canvass and Richie doesn’t even raise his arms to block. Ray Romano isn’t pulling any punches in his take on the number two guy at the record company. His desperation is in full bloom as he learns the depth of the betrayal his partner and best friend did but, even in his anger, Zak punches like a guy who doesn’t really know how to fight. Zak bruises Finestra with closed-fist bitch-slaps. But, to paraphrase Eddie Murphy in Trading Places, Finestra is a Karate Man, having recently seen Enter The Dragon, and a Karate Man bruises on the inside.
Bobby Cannavale is very effective at showing his internal injuries. He can telegraph his thoughts clearly enough to move the plot without dialogue. Finestra’s inner torment is his drive. Zak’s torment is torn. He would love to pummel the visionary record boss into oblivion but that would obliterate his dream of making a star. Zak gets his first real chance to prove he doesn’t have a tin ear at the same time he figures out how deafening defeat can be.
Speaking of cauliflower ears and old wounds, Lester gets flashbacks after seeing Maury at the office. It looks like Richie’s up to his old tricks even if he has new steps. Clark (Jack Quaid) learns the thrill of making people dance, even if he has no real moves of his own. Perpetually awkward, Clark is a mirror image of Julie Silver (Max Casella), who thinks he’s too old to know his shit in a changing musical climate. Andrea Zito (Annie Parisse) is the weather lady, trying to calm the rising storm with a little salt peter for the sailors.
Kip (James Jagger) gets Brian Jonesed. Jamie (Juno Temple) is an A&R Anita Pallenberg. Kicked out of her cushy apartment to slum with the punks, the rock and roll Delilah watches as the lead guitarist’s locks are photographed falling to the floor and becomes her hero. She gets invited to join in on a ménage a trois by the band’s founder and wakes up cuddling with the guitarist. Jamie asks “what am I going to do with you two?” when it might be better to ask what she won’t do for the love of rock and roll.
Devon (Olivia Wilde) is learning that all rock and roll people are the same when Billy McVicar (Richard Short) tries to get her to cash in on her private time with rock royalty. The Devon subplot was getting a little tiresome until Richie went bats on her photographer friend Billy McVicar (Richard Short). The Chelsea Hotel’s owner (Don Puglisi) should put some a subcharge for sweeping the belfry into the apartment rental contract.
At heart Richie is a record guy, and record guys make deals. The deals they make usually work out for them much better than they do for the artist, so I’m sure the Alibi records president figures he can recoup his losses in the fine print. If not, he just might be dumped into the East River along with all the other cut-out records.