'Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll' Recap: Johnny Whiffs in Belgium
This show is still about drugs, rock'n'roll, and the idea of sex
This week, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll took a definitive step back from last week’s character-building and near-two-dimensional drama and, as if relieved, dived back into farce and misbegotten jokes. The episode finds Johnny getting one last shot at being a frontman, when Ira’s (that’s the manager’s name, FWIW) faked death stunt reignites Belgium’s very-Spinal Tap-like interest in The Heathens. They are offered a lavish stadium show there for $175k.
Flash is resistant to take the opportunity, as he wants to focus solely on Assassins, i.e. Gigi’s revamped Heathens sans Johnny. “Look, we kicked ass at Glasslands,” he raves, delivering the first most ridiculous line of the show. The second one ends up also being Flash’s, kicking off the longest scene of the episode: a lengthy, semi-improvised, comedic debate over the set list and the band rider. This is one of those forced-feeling, extended romps à la that miserable groupthink about what to call the different parts of Gigi’s body (yep) in Episode 1.
Flash: “Song order’s dope, where do you want my solos?” (Yes.)
Johnny: “Every song that has an asterisk, then you do an extended jam on ‘Animal.’”
Extremely cool stuff. I’m not sure this is quite how any band functions or thinks about music, no matter how cock-rocky and dead inside they are. But maybe the writers had some sage advice from, say, Bret Michaels from Poison while plotting this sequence. (Speaking of hairbands, this is the first episode of the show to reference Nikki Sixx, the bass player of Mötley Crüe who claims to have died and came back to life during a heroin overdose. I was honestly wondering when Sixx, as the dumbest and most contrived example of rockstar excess possible, would come up on this show. Here it was, in this scene — we got four episodes in.)
After a handful too many lines clarifying that the Belgium show is going to be Johnny’s last chance to prove himself to the band, we fast-forward to the backstage area of the stadium. The band enjoying all of the decadent stuff they brainstormed for the rider: $3000 bottles of vodka in diamond-encrusted bottles, 27 peaches, an owl and snake, and so on (Alert: this was actually pretty funny).
Johnny, after ripping from a huge Batman bong and taking some pills, freaks out in the first song of their show, sabotaging it, as everyone predicted (endlessly) he was going to. He hallucinates some system-default computerized special effects — the owl and snake are loose on-stage! This must have been some very good weed they only know about in Belgium, as all signs here point to shrooms intake. But perhaps, by this point, we’ve accepted that the show has a very particular and outlandish sense of what actual drugs, music, and people are like.
Gigi saves the day, carrying off a two-hour stadium set despite the fact that, as she admits earlier in the episode, she only knows three or four songs. Her impromptu performance is not explained, but that’s the magic of fuckin’ rock&roll, brah! Belgium loves Gigi’s Assassins and invites them back. Flash wants to fire Johnny from the enterprise for good, but Gigi asserts her dominance, keeping her dad (one keeps forgetting that he’s her dad) in the inner circle to write songs (Though there’s really scant evidence of this, she loves and cares for him.) The only condition: He has to see a shrink.
What wacky hijincks that scenario will entail! Leary goes Woody Allen, next week on…Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll!! Until then, a bit of classic Leary to tide you over: