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'Vicious' recap: Dancing queens

Season 1 | Episode 4 | Aired July 20, 2014 (PBS)

After his disastrous foray into the world of acting last week, Ash finally finds a new job: handing out fliers at a local nightclub called The Shadow Lounge. In need of more customers, Ash invites the septuagenarian gang for a night out.

“You see, I get paid by the head …” Ash explains.

“He gets paid to give head?” Freddie repeats. God bless you, Ian McKellen.

At first, Freddie and Stuart don’t want any part of it. “The last time I went clubbing, Grace Jones punched me for stepping on her pet snake,” Stuart says. But they finally acquiesce to help Ash score a better paycheck.

And just like that, we are graced with McKellen and Derek Jacobi donning their best club wear from the 1960s, complete with pinstriped pants and snakeskin loafers. Props to the wardrobe department for Freddie’s bedazzled martini brooch—possibly the best prop I’ve seen since Matthew McConaughey’s Big Hug Mug on “True Detective.” The only thing better would’ve been a montage of Freddie trying on different outfits from the dusty part of his closet.

The couple’s friends, Grumpy Mason and Forgetful Penelope, come along to the club, impeccably dressed and looking splendidly out of place.

“Oh, there’s somebody older than us,” Freddie exclaims upon entering. Alas, it’s just a mirror.

Stuart doesn’t care much for the club’s atmosphere, but the group mulls over seeing straight and gay couples at the same club together.

“It is lovely they don’t herd us into police vans and throw us into prison anymore,” Stuart observes, in a moment of thought-provoking honesty for a sitcom.

Iwan Rheon as Ash and Ian McKellen as Freddie and Iwan Rheon.

Iwan Rheon as Ash and Ian McKellen as Freddie

Freddie wins over the club crowd (probably thanks to those striped pants, or the X-Men movies) and quickly abandons the gang. “One person buys him a drink and suddenly he’s Paris Hilton,” Stuart complains. Ash quickly invites Freddie to return again the next night.

Hurt, Stuart goes home early and refuses to go back to the club. For the entire day after, he gives up on all his favorite things, including answering the door and offering biscuits to guests.

Meanwhile, Freddie has trouble keeping up with Ash’s young mates on his second club night out. He pretends to know what Jägerbombs are (“I’d love to smoke one”), and realizes he’s the old bloke footing the bill for all the 20-somethings. They ask where he wants to go next, a concept he can’t fathom.

“Leave this location and go to another location? Tonight?” Club-hopping is hell when you’re over 50.

Derek Jacobi as Stuart and Ian McKellen as Freddie.

Derek Jacobi as Stuart and Ian McKellen as Freddie

Back home, Stuart turns to Penelope for relationship advice, since his best friend, Violet, is off with her new lover in Argentina.

“I feel so old,” Stuart whines. “What is the point of even going out and doing anything?”

Penelope has a rare, flickering moment of lucidity, convincing Stuart he’s a brilliant man who doesn’t need to rely on his looks. Of course, the entire time she thinks he’s Freddie, but it still gives Stuart the spark of confidence to get up and go out.

Stuart finds Freddie face-planted on a table at the club, and rescues him from another night of trying to keep up with the kids.

“I want to sit at home until we die,” Freddie admits to Stuart, exhausted.

Having learned his lesson, he tells Stuart, “You look very handsome tonight,” and asks him to dance. They do for one joyful minute, before agreeing to go home and go right to sleep.


Vicious insult of the week: “Your back was cracking so much last night, I thought you were making popcorn in bed.” —Stuart to Freddie

Vicious airs Sundays at 10:30 on PBS.

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