Vinyl: Season 1, Episode 8 - "E. A. B."

Leyla Hamedi

Lester Grimes gives a valuable lesson on how to write a pop hit, while Devon Finestra proves that celebrities are just like us in this episode.


Airtime: Sundays, 9pm
Cast: Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, Ato Essandoh, James Jagger, Juno Temple
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 8 - "E. A. B."
Network: HBO
Air date: 2016-04-03

Every time Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale) snorts cocaine, the camera zooms in on him and we get that obligatory, "Whooo-eee!" moment. It's cute how every time’s like the first time, and we get to relive the peak point of Richie's most valuable relationship over and over and over. But seriously, we get it. Richie loves cocaine. The only way those little interludes are ever going to be interesting is if Cannavale actually starts snorting real cocaine while cameras are rolling.

So our foolish hero is off the very short hayride that was this particular wagon, and the hits just keep coming. Unlike his previous misses, though, one particular hit is finally coming to smack him upside the head. His office was bugged, and conversations with his father of a bitch and actual Buck Rogers (Andrew Dice Clay) murderer Johnny Corso (Bo Dietl) have been captured on tape. The cops are on to Richie, but since none of us really give two hoots (or snorts) about him, let's see what everyone else is up to!

Devon Finestra's (Olivia Wilde) sociopathic children throw a cat down the stairs of the Chelsea Hotel to see if that nine lives thing is real (it's not), which would be just cause for giving them up for adoption, in my opinion. However, Devon must feel some sort of motherly affection towards the little monsters because she doesn't immediately disown them and did bring them along with her when she left Richie, albeit to the worst place for children. Then again, where else would an aging starlet Warhol queen seek comfort other than that infamous 23rd Street den of iniquity? Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.

She manages to impress a photographer by scoring a picture with the worst Beatle after a playful little exchange in which we see how even the most misogynistic, pretentious, and up-their-own-ass egomaniacs (John Lennon [Stephen Sullivan]) will acquiesce when there's the slightest chance of pretty girl-on-girl action. As far as real person cameos go, this one just seemed to be shoved in there to fill some sort of quota, but at least Devon's missing raison d'être that we predicted from the very first episode is finally making some headway. Girls on film, got your picture.

The Nasty Bits have a new guitarist that Kip Stevens (James Jagger) signed up after they shared an intimate moment of petty larceny. They still can't write a proper song, though. Until manager Lester Grimes (Ato Essandoh) gives them a chord lesson that takes them back to the simple basics of music. It's a wonderful moment where he uses the same three chords (the eponymous E, A, B) to show how they can suit literally any genre of music with some slight variations and flourishes, culminating in one of his own forgotten ditties. Kip picks up on it and of course, this will become the new Nasty Bits single. It's a pop-punk number that JET could've used before being resigned to the annals of one-hit wonder-dom, and although not groundbreaking, it’s still catchy enough to prove Grimes' point, "Write what you feel, it ain't magic".

While Richie's quest to find that gut-punch rock 'n' roll stems from a place of ethereal magic, Grimes' comes from practicality. It's a sobering realization to see how two identical aims have manifested two very different people, and how both their paths have led to their subsequent downfalls. While Lester Grimes seems to have put his faith in someone else in order to get back to what he loves, Richie keeps making the same mistakes by relying on himself.

Taking bets now for a Johnny Cash song in next week's episode.


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