[For Vinyl “Rock and Roll Queen” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Rock and Roll Queen. After an unsettling visit with Devon and his children, Richie begins to weigh his options.
The theme of “Rock and Roll Queen” lies in parallels, paired battles, reflections, and dualities. There’s two of everything and it’s all connected, baby. There’s Jamie’s tryst with Alex and Kip of the The Nasty Bitz, Devon and Ingrid’s fantasy role-play of each other’s lifestyles, Clark’s introduction of disco to the world of club mixing and Richie’s decision between cop and mafia deals. The scenes play out a divine balancing act between realizations and retribution while limitations stretch and characters change.
It all starts with Richie as he’s pulled back and forth in a series of tests. The US attorney visits Richie in prison and, luckily, it turns out they just want Galasso and are willing to conveniently forget Richie’s role in Buck’s murder for inside info on the mobster. Richie’s lawyer tells him it’s a suicide mission but with Maury Gold sharing American Century office space, it’s obvious how easy it’ll be for Richie to pull off.
Then Jamie gets the predicted ousting from her Aunt’s apartment and ends up sleeping at Kip’s place where he’s comforting and happy to have her stay “more than tonight”. The next day The Nasty Bitz do their album cover photo shoot with Andy from American Century. Kip and the new lead guitarist, Alex, fight over concept a bit before making peace AND a cool cover. Later that night they dance to the song “Rock and Roll Queen” then double team Jamie Vine. It’s all sexy-happy-free-love in The Nasty Bitz universe until Kip wakes up later to see Alex and Jamie snuggling deep asleep together and feels that lonely twinge sending him back to a needle in his arm.
The duality of this storyline carries farther even than this when we find out that Richie’s secretary, Cece, is now pregnant by their ex-star artist Hannibal. She’s a wreck about it. Andy isn’t helping matters berating Cece and Jamie loudly for their American Century liaisons as if this is an episode of the Maury Povich show. If Cece wanted to keep it a secret it’s too late now and she leaves the office in a waterfall of tears.
Richie stays clean for the entire episode and even takes a nap in his office Don Draper style. So, yeah clean but not exactly sober. The clean part is hard enough, though because he’s surrounded by coke with Corso and Zak hitting his coffee table for a snortacular lunch break. Maury Gold stretches Richie’s every last nerve as his sketchy new office roomie with no boundaries. There’s another nagging element when Lester figures out Richie borrowed money from Galasso and confronts him about it. People are getting wise to Richie’s bad decisions on all sides and it’s a lot for a guy to take while detoxing off coke one whiskey nap at a time.
Devon takes pics of naked Billy in her bed and they discuss a box of undeveloped photos she keeps in her Greenwich attic. It seems Devon took loads of Jimi Hendrix pictures back in the day when he was staying at their house and “getting himself together”. This means those picture are personal, private revelations of a huge star that just recently died, in other words – a goldmine. She asks Billy if he sees her box of Hendrix photos as some sort of windfall for him and he says no. He just doesn’t want her to run out of money and thus have to leave him. This is an obvious parallel to Richie who comes by later to tell Devon he wants her back.
There are so many dualities like this one for Devon in “Rock and Roll Queen” that she’s likely the real queen referred to in the title. She and Ingrid switch roles so that she can get sexytime with Billy while Ingrid plays out her motherhood fantasies babysitting and chaperoning Richie’s dinner with the kids. When Richie comes to pick them up at the Chelsea Hotel he finds Billy instead of Devon in the apartment. It’s a funny scene because Billy’s in the process of trying to beat down a bat when Richie walks in. He joins the battle right away so that they swat at it together. Even though Richie realizes this guy’s “with” Devon he can’t resist a good fight.
The most powerful pair of events in the episode happen one right after another and lead directly to its conclusion. First Zak gets a call from Vegas that helps him put it together that it was Richie who took the money in Vegas and then lost it gambling at the tables. Zak took all the blame while Richie watched him torment himself about it. So, now furious Zak pummels Richie’s incredibly deserving face many times. Contrite Richie doesn’t even fight back. He takes the beating with arms at his sides all the way down to the lobby in the elevator. After Zak leaves him standing with shocked stillness in their building’s lobby, Richie goes to see Devon at the Chelsea. He tells her about killing Buck Rogers and covering it up. Richie explains that’s why he “jumped off the wagon”. He was trying to keep all the nastiness away from her, he says. Before she can really respond he leaves her standing on the sidewalk and heads back to American Century. Now it’s late at night and he listens to The Nasty Bitz song “Woman Like You” and realizes he’s finally reached the goal of a great song from a brand new band. When the song ends Richie calls his lawyer and takes the deal to inform on Galasso. Although this seemed inevitable to us, apparently it took awhile for him to realize it’s his only real option.
The next episode is the season finale and there’s a lot at stake for Richie. His life is on the line as he snitches on Galasso, Devon’s gone, American Century seesaws on the brink of explosion, and all the while Richie’s barely staying sane without his BFF cocaine. One might think that Devon’s upon hearing Richie’s confession in that final scene might mean he’ll get her back but they’d be wrong. We know this because of the tune that plays as he walks away and into the street. The Jimi Hendrix song, “Hey Joe” fills the end credits with deep double meaning. It signifies that box of photos in Devon’s attic, her ticket to independence if she sells them, and was also the first single for Jimi with his newly formed group, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. So, Devon’s sadness may actually be more about herself being “a new single” than empathy for Richie and thanks to her box of Jimi Hendrix pictures, she can handle moving forward on her own.