Staton House has found a new enemy, and this time it’s not The Head and the Heart. It’s oily and ill-natured music critic Bryce Newman (Rainn Wilson), whose Staton House review shakes up the tour bus so completely, Kelly Ann thinks someone must have died. Newman calls the band “relentlessly irrelevant” and accuses Rick of playing drunk and out of tune. They’re mopey and haven’t written a true song in years. The clincher? “Who would’ve thought that over time, a French pastrami-dipped sandwich would be more relevant than the songs of Christopher House?” No bueno.
The crew is livid, and with good reason — Newman didn’t even go to a show! He reviewed a YouTube fan video. (I’m still not quite sure how a review like this would be taken seriously, but alas, the guy’s got clout.) Kelly Ann, still on a quest to fit in and land that prized nickname, starts spending her free time watching online videos about how to win over coworkers. In case you were wondering, it just takes one good joke — but her jokes fall flat and she’s back to square one. (Though the girl sure knows how to craft the perfect bandana headband.)
Cut to Atlanta, where Bill lies in bed, caressing a naked, sleeping woman named Cassie. Right as they’re about to have sex, Cassie’s man-bunned roommate barges in, seeking a cuddle session after a bad MDMA trip the night before. She offers to make them all breakfast and Man Bun confesses that Cassie refers to Bill as “Mr. Once A Year.” Before Bill heads out of Cassie’s den of sex, MDMA, and pancakes, she tells him she loves him. Bill doesn’t say those three little words back; instead, he asks her to come to the show that night.
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Back in the arena, panicky Reg is doing what he does best — panicking. The Newman letter is a big effing deal, and they need to keep it from Christopher for as long as possible. In a twitchy moment, Reg decides to neutralize Newman and “lead with sugar.” They invite him to the show, plan to suck up to him big-time — they’ll even bring him a French pastrami-dipped sandwich and a cup of Wes’ ace coffee — and as a result, he’ll reverse his own review. Right? Wrong. This is the Staton House crew, so nothing ever works out as planned. Wes, with his far-below-average IQ, believes Reg wants him to make a “special” cup of coffee for Newman, so he buys the drug Joshua Tree 37 for a “savagely and ruthlessly hallucinogenic” trip. Oh, and Newman won’t be the only guest star of the evening. Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham will be hitting the stage as Staton House’s opener.
Meanwhile, Donna (Keisha Castle-Hughes) seeks out relationship advice from Shelli, the arbiter of making a long-distance relationship work. Her rules are as followed: Phone sex. Three times a week for at least 10 minutes. “There is no crisis that can’t wait 10 minutes,” she says. We later see Shelli having phone sex that is quickly interrupted by Bill’s voice coming through her earpiece.
NEXT: Newman gets drugged…and naked
Cut to our first glimpse of Newman. He’s wearing Hummer-yellow sunglasses that just scream “tool.” As he struggles to enter the venue — thanks to the oblivious millennial manning the VIP ticket desk — we get some great Newman-isms. Blogging is what amateurs do when they type. He’s the subject of a Katy Perry song. Enter none other than Natalie Shin, the wanted fanatic Puna escorted off the premises in episode 1. (Puna!) The crew agrees to let her stay backstage…if she works with them on Operation Newman. He drinks Wes’ druggie coffee.
The coffee is magic. Or at least Newman thinks so. “I don’t know if it’s the coffee or just me, but I’m on f—ing fire,” he says. Meanwhile, we start to see Newman’s hallucinations — rodents crawling everywhere, Lindsey Buckingham on fire. Natalie Shin gives Newman a massage, but he escapes from her seductive spell and starts roaming the arena, naked except for a bathrobe. Eventually, Kelly Ann skateboards (hello, old friend) her way to Newman, who’s crying to himself in the bathroom mirror. Reg is seriously pissed about, well, everything, and wants to fire Wes for lacing the coffee.
While Reg and Bill fight about the disaster that is the Staton House crew, drugged-out Newman slips out onto the stage — bathrobe and all. “I don’t even listen to the music I review… I am a fraud!” he screams into the microphone, before fully removing his robe. The stadium is ignited with cell phones, recording Newman’s every slurred word. All hands are on deck — Puna is only two minutes away (I swear, Puna is this show’s unsung hero), and Newman is ultimately taken to the hospital.
Throughout all of this insanity, Bill gets a text from Cassie (remember her?). She tells him she didn’t come to the show (I’m not sure he even realized that), and long-story short, she’s with Man Bun now, which means she’s no longer a “Once A Year” girl. In an attempt at a last hurrah, Bill drives past Cassie’s home and tries to get her to come with him. The two text back and forth while mere feet from each other (Oh, technology…just speak to each other! But I digress…), but Cassie is staying with Man Bun. Kelly Ann insists Bill text Cassie something profound before he says goodbye for good. “I’ll always remember you as the most beautiful painting — maybe the world,” Bill says. Cassie blows him a kiss. “Nice work, Serrano,” Bill says to Kelly Ann.
Cut to Newman, who has a new, post-hospital review of Staton House. “This can be the future. A glimpse of what rock looked like in America,” he writes, but not before thanking Wes for the coffee. Alas, all is right in the Staton House world — Reg got his wish, Wes landed 2,000 new followers, and Kelly Ann got a nickname. But can it last?
Song of the Day: Gary Clark Jr.’s “Can’t Sleep”
Live Performance: Lindsey Buckingham’s “Big Love”
Roadies airs at 10 p.m. Sundays on Showtime.