I am trying to figure out how to like Vinyl while simultaneously questioning why I have not yet broken up with Vinyl. Every week we wait for Richie to stop using drugs and to get his affairs in order so that some semblance of a narrative can take shape, and every week we see Richie amass a collection of issues that would be great conflicts in future seasons if the show would just take their time in telling what could be a great story. The result is a show that is becoming less and less compelling by the week. Honestly, I think the only thing that keeps me interested in the show is the setting and all of the potential possessed therein, but when do we get to see something actually happen in the show?
This week we finally get a glimmer of hope from Richie as he is back to soft drinks (coke ironically) and attempting to mend his relationship with Zak. The layers to Richie and Zak’s relationship are articulated through brilliant dialogue on the plane, hijinx next to the pool, and success at the black jack table. Zak views Richie as a mentor, and when the two decide to go to Vegas to recruit Elvis, we finally feel like a comeback for both Richie and the station can actually happen. At long last, I could see this entire season building to an amazing climax after seeing just the first Zak scene, and I pictured a potential narrative where Richie’s successes are threatened by any one of the 62 conflicts introduced through the first 6 episodes. There was so much potential in this repaired relationship with Zak, and the show almost instantly seemed to have a direction. The show seemed to maintain all of its lost momentum. In hindsight, I just wish that I waited before I got my hopes up.
Building on the outstanding Zak scenes, we jump to Corso pathetically trying to sell his lady friend’s record to Maury Gold while the FBI agents investigating Buck’s murder (eqully pathetic it seems) listen from behind the fish tank. Richie’s fortunes, it seems, are ascending just as the murder case against him is starting to grow. I couldn’t believe how suddenly the narrative of Vinyl achieved a brilliant balance and I should have waited before I got excited.
The decline of this week’s episode started with the shot of Richie loading the safe before Zak gets tag teamed by the ladies, and it is just the latest example of the show tipping its hand. We know, now, that the ladies couldn’t possibly have stolen the money like we thought they were going to do, but we do know that the money is going to go missing. After Richie meets with, and is rebuffed by his mirror image, fat Elvis, we know Richie is going to fall into old habits. Not only was I frustrated by the total destruction of what looked like a compelling narrative, but I was also disappointed that Vinyl just can’t maintain even a sensible narrative for more than 40 minutes.
The over reliance that the show seems to have on Richie’s substance abuse and subsequent poor decisions is exhausting, and the previews suggest that next week will be no different. There is no guessing as long as the story relies on Richie’s drug use; what new can come of it besides what already has? There are so many interesting potential conflicts, it seems, that are glossed over in favor of Richie preaching that “we are going to change this business” only to fuck everything up at minute 38 with his coke habit. This narrative is tired after six episodes, and I feel like watching the show just gives me a Monday DVR option more than anything. Seemingly, my relationship with the show exists for the sake of convenience and convenience only.