Vinyl, Ep. 1.06: Richie Is Trapped in a Destructive “Cyclone”

Vinyl, Season 1, Episode 6: “Cyclone”
Written by Carl Capotorto & Erin Cressida Wilson
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO

If it succeeds at anything, Vinyl knows how to do a good coke scene. Bobby Cannavale has perfected the wild-eyed look of someone who’s been doing cocaine for three days straight, and the music and sound design fit the scenes perfectly. The problem is that I just don’t care. Vinyl has already done enough coked out Richie scenes to prove that he has a drug problem, an addictive personality, and a marriage that is being torn apart by his hubris and impulsivity. Obviously if Richie is going to succeed in destroying his life, he’ll need to keep taking those toots, but the show becomes less and less interesting the more it wallows in his drug use. A scene of Richie on a bender, even when well done, is still only so compelling. It’s like a fine beet salad; no matter how good it is, it’s hard to make someone care about a beet salad.

After Richie blew up at Devon for her perceived flirtation with Hannibal, Devon left and hasn’t been back in three days. While she’s been gone, Richie has been drinking and snorting day and night with his German friend Ernst, from back when his relationship with Devon was brand new. Ernst is a trickster character who pushes Richie towards further debauchery. Except that he’s just a symptom of Richie’s cocaine psychosis. No one else references him in any of Richie’s scenes, and later in the episode Ernst mentions the murder of Buck Rogers, something he wouldn’t know anything about. Eventually the car accident that killed Ernst is shown in a flashback, with Richie in the driver’s seat. Despite how uninteresting Richie’s cocaine binges are, it’s heartbreaking when he ends up in a car outside the Cyclone at Coney Island while Buddy Holly plays.

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