Richie Finestra rages; he snorts, he screams…he reads? As episode 7 opens, the guy we’ve never seen skim more than a contract clause is all suited up, apparently sober, and deeply absorbed in the pages of humanistic psychologist Abraham H. Maslow’s The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.
That’s almost definitely good news for his mental health and a nice bonus for his employees, too. (One happy first responder when Richie’s newly liberated liquor cart is wheeled out: “S—, baby, Boss is on the wagon — it looks like Christmas up in here!”) Boss is also cutting up his staff’s Diners Club cards and pledging a newer, thriftier era for the label: “We’re running lean, guys. Hungry. That’s where we wanna be.” He’s also going to sell the company plane to an interested buyer, which he decides he wants to do in person, in Los Angeles — not just to close the deal but to clear his head. Zak (Ray Romano) says he’s coming too. “But you hate L.A.!” says Richie. “I hate everywhere,” Zak shrugs back.
Is he running away from the Great Bat Mitzvah Disaster of 1971? Does he really want to spend an extended amount of time with the guy he just had a knock-down fistfight with in a banquet hall? Is it wrong that I’m excited for a change of scenery? This trip could give us some real Don-Draper-in-the-Golden-State possibilities. On the cross-country flight, Richie is talking fun facts (apparently, Jim Morrison had his final threesome on this very plane) and Zen koans about perception from his new favorite book. “Does it say how you can get unf—ed?” Zak replies. “’Cuz I’d like to be unf—ed by you. Can you tell me when you get to that chapter?” Well, that picks the scab right off; suddenly they’re both going at it with every pent-up frustration and recrimination — no punches thrown this time, but we do get the deathless phrases “you wanna bust my scrote?” and “I trust my wife naked in bed with Burt Reynolds before I trust you with a hundred grand in cash,” among others. (“I partly see your point,” Richie concedes on the last one.)
It actually clears the air, and leads to what feels like the first good honest moment between them in a long time. Zak tells him about the kid singing Bowie at the bat mitzvah that he might want to bring in to make a demo; then Richie admits how weird and quiet it is to wake up without Dev. And the whole time he’s demurely sipping Coke, not shoving it up his nose. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss it.
Back in New York, Jamie Vine’s disapproving mother is trying (unsuccessfully) to bribe her to get out of the music business, and poor Clark (Jack Quaid) is the new punching bag for the mailroom crew. In L.A., the plane is officially passed over to its new owner, a rival record mogul, but Zak and Richie don’t jump on their scheduled flight back; instead, they head to Malibu with the intent to “steal half his roster.” The party’s guests include Mama Cass, Micky Dolenz, at least 75 percent of CSNY, and there’s Gram Parsons, selling Richie on peyote and sunrises in Joshua Tree. But the real white whale they want to land will require another kind of trip: The word is that Elvis Presley’s contract is coming up, and he’s not happy at RCA.
NEXT: Richie and Zak book it to Vegas