Vinyl, Ep. 1.02: “Yesterday Once More” finds a solid groove

Vinyl, Season One, Episode Two: “Yesterday Once More”
Written by Terence Winter
Directed by Allen Coulter
Airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO

The overstuffed Vinyl pilot gave us a lot to chew over. Directed by series co-creator Martin Scorsese, the episode had a wealth of rock ‘n’ roll depravity and drug-addled executives. There were many fascinating parts to the episode, but it also felt strained around the edges as it attempted to lay the groundwork for various storylines. Without someone like Scorsese at the helm, the whole thing might have come crashing down like the Mercer Arts Center did on Richie. “Yesterday Once More” gives viewers a chance to breathe; the pilot’s pace was largely determined by the amount of drugs Richie did after murdering someone, but episode two takes its pace from Richie, who’s finally allowed to slow down.

After surviving the theatre collapse, Richie ends up at a movie theater, doing martial arts moves along with a Bruce Lee film. His eyes are wild and there’s still cocaine under his nose. While Richie is reveling in his new lease on life, Zak, Scott, and Skip are waiting for him with the Germans. They’re about to finish negotiations to sell Richie’s label to PolyGram. The scene finds humor in the cultural disconnect between the Americans and the Germans; the Germans have seen Die Fledermaus at the Met, but the Americans suggest they check out Grease or Pippin on Broadway.

Zak steals away to call Richie’s wife Devon, who hasn’t seen Richie since he left on his bender. After Zak says that he’s probably fine, Devon explicates a theme that will certainly recur throughout the series: “Yeah, of course he’s fine. He’s always fine. It’s everyone around him gets f**ked.” . . .

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