This season of Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll has excelled at quite a few things, including zeroing in on the family dynamic that runs through all rock bands and skewering music trends both old and new (which this episode does quite nicely). It has also crafted a handful of genuinely nuanced relationships, particularly between Johnny and Gigi, Johnny and Ava, Johnny and Flash, and Rehab and Bam Bam (the latter pairing gets an amazing secondary plot this week).
But if there’s one place the show has come up a little short, it’s in developing the relationship between Gigi and Flash. Way back in the pilot, Flash’s intentions are made abundantly clear: The only reason why he has agreed to re-team with Johnny Rock on anything is because he thinks Gigi is super hot and would like to sleep with her. Despite their age difference (they have the same number of years between them as Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood and his current wife have), Gigi is into Flash, though not enough to have actually slept with him (though she does admit at the top of this week’s episode that she has gone down on him a handful of times, much to Johnny’s horrified chagrin).
So we know that there’s a mutual attraction, but outside of the conversations about commitment (and the various butt ink) we saw in “Tattoo You,” we really don’t know much about the apparent ongoing romance between Gigi and Flash. Ira points out to Johnny that one of the reasons Gigi might be so enamored of Flash is because Johnny hates the idea so much, and it is Gigi’s job as a child to rebel against who her father thinks is a suitable mate. But isn’t Flash too much like Johnny for that logic to really line up?
Or maybe that’s the point? In an effort to draw her away from Flash, Johnny sets up Gigi on a date with Jim (Bryan Fisher), one of Ira’s latest signings and a founder of the mall fashion-clad “Normcore” movement (an actual thing). Johnny pretends to rag on Jim to make it look like he disapproves, and Gigi goes right for the bait. Soon, the new couple are making out and leaving the never-wants-to-go-out-dancing Flash to wonder if he has been left behind.
Speaking of left behind, neither Bam Bam nor Rehab want to get shut out of potential riches, and they open the episode wanting a full and equal share in the band’s success, just like U2 did way back in the day. They are shot down by the rest of the group, primarily because their point lands flat when they can’t recall the names of the rhythm section of U2 (Adam Clayton gets a mention, but shout out to the excellent and unforgettable Larry Mullen, Jr.). In order to avoid becoming mere footnotes, Rehab convinces Bam that they should launch a side project and essentially invent a wordless, guttural-noise-intensive new genre called “Beastcore.” It sounds ridiculous, but as Ira points out later in the episode, they got a standing ovation at their first gig.
Meanwhile back in the apartment, it turns out that maybe the reason Johnny paired Gigi up with Jim is because he saw something of himself in the sweater-wearing fuzz merchant. Ira is upset because Jim keeps blowing opportunities so as not to look like a sell out (a classic case of Johnny Rock self-ambush behavior), and after he fixes a morning Screwdriver with the same slovenly aplomb as Johnny did a few minutes earlier, everybody comes to the same unsettling realization. “Oh my God, you’re dating me!” Johnny tells Gigi as most everyone excuses him or herself to go be sick. Given those options, maybe the middle-aged but put-together Flash is the best-case scenario—both for her and for her still-ascendant band.
- Not only is Normcore a real thing, but so is “Viking Metal,” a subgenre that includes awesome bands like Bathory and Burzum.
- Johnny is relieved to find out that Gigi hasn’t actually slept with Flash. She has given him oral sex, which Johnny declares doesn’t count. Gigi and Ave disagree. “Since when does it count?” he asks. “Since Eve has been blowing Adam,” Gigi offers.
- Also, Ava is quite proud of her oral prowess. “I can suck the stripes off a candy cane,” she says.
- Johnny doesn’t quite buy into Normcore, though as Ira points out, “Looking douchey is the new not looking douchey.”
- Bam Bam is a little hesitant to form a side project with Rehab, and doesn’t want it to be about money or revenge. Still, Rehab knows how to sell him on the plan. “I barely eat,” he tells Bam. “All the food backstage is for you.”
- Rehab wants to name their new Beastcore band three dolphin noises, which he learned from Shark Week and closely resembles the band !!! (which is pronounced “chk chk chk”). He describes the group’s wordless sound as “like John Lee Hooker meets Marlee Matlin.”
- Jim and Gigi go shopping for Normcore clothes, and the song playing in the store while they pick out solid color button-downs is Blessid Union of Souls’ “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me),” which is a definitive heard-it-at-the-Gap tune.