Entourage 7.1 – Stunted

For anyone that read my preview of the new season, you probably weren’t too surprised by the events that took place in tonight’s premiere, but I still enjoyed the episode a lot and think that it’s a strong start to what could be another great year for the series. With Eric more or less taking a backseat this week, the bulk of the episode revolved around Vince on the set of his new action film. And if you thought Vernon, the fictional German director of “Smokejumpers,” was intimidating, wait until you get a load of real-life actor/director Nick Cassavetes. Worried that the audience will know he’s cheating by using stunt doubles for Vince, Nick begs him to do an upcoming car chase sequence himself, and he agrees. That is, only because he doesn’t want Nick to think he’s a pussy, but the minute that Nick leaves his side, Vince goes running to Eric and Ari for help in breaking his promise without Nick knowing it was him who spurred them on.

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Ari has more important things going on in his life as the new head of the biggest agency in the world. He’s got big plans for the company, including a possible deal with the NFL regarding the league’s TV rights, and yet instead of sending someone else to get their hands dirty (much to the annoyance of Mrs. Ari), he visits the set to speak with Nick himself. It doesn’t quite go as planned, however, after he threatens Nick to get the studio involved when he learns that they haven’t been insured for the stunt because he hasn’t told them about it. Nick threatens Ari to keep his mouth shut, and then delivers a little payback later on by taking a full-page ad out in Variety with a picture of Ari in drag and the following text below it: “Ari Gold. My Friend, My Agent, My Bitch.” Has Ari Gold finally met his match? Apparently, because I don’t think we’ve ever seen him step down from a challenge before – and that includes the aforementioned “Smokejumpers” director, whom Drama once referred to as a “cocksucking Nazi bastard.”

Nick piles on the pressure, though, and Vince decides to do the stunt, which doesn’t go as planned when the car fails to brake properly after jumping off a ramp through a gauntlet of pyrotechnics. Vince emerges from the wreck unharmed, and though he appears to be a little shaken at first, once he realizes that he’s okay, he wants to go again. The look on his face seems to say otherwise, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Vince’s big storyline this season involved him becoming a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie. It would definitely be an improvement from previous years, as Vince tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to character development.

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Entourage 6.11 – Scared Straight

With the season drawing to a close, tonight’s episode put the finishing touches on all four major storylines, delivering one of the most well-rounded half-hours of “Entourage” in the process. Though Turtle’s story has been showing signs of wear lately (I blame Ms. I Only Wear Thongs), it looks like the writers plan to shake things up, because they’ve just placed his relationship with Jamie-Lynn on the backburner. Their last day together certainly started out sweet, with Turtle unveiling the ultimate lunch made up of Jamie’s favorite dishes, but it soon turned into a bout of jealously when she discovered that Turtle’s new admirer had friended him on Facebook. Though it’s a bit silly to think that Jamie-Lynn could even be jealous of Turtle, his decision to delete her from his friends list was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, that was merely the calm before the storm, as Jamie eventually tells Turtle that he can see other people while she’s gone. Of course, she didn’t actually break up with him, which makes me think that she’s really just testing him to see if he can stay loyal. And by the look of next week’s season finale, that may be harder said than done.

Eric, meanwhile, was given his first comedic storyline since the infamous Spooning the Guest Star incident a few years back, and I have to say that I really enjoyed the break from his more dramatic side. Usually, it would be Drama running around town worried about having contracted an STD from some random hook-up, but Kevin Connelly did a great job with the material – especially during the scene in the doctor’s office where he was forced to suffer through the long-winded background history interview. The fact that the girl hooked up with Drama only four months prior didn’t help his feelings on the matter, but what the hell was he thinking by not wearing a condom? Luckily, he escapes the situation disease-free, and as expected, swears off one-night stands and turns his attention back to wooing Sloan.

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Of course, even though Drama wasn’t the subject of the STD scare, he still had his own share of weekly shenanigans to deal with – this time revolving around his “Melrose Place” audition. While chatting with David Faustino in the waiting area, he discovers that the director in charge of the pilot episode (“Entourage” creator Doug Ellin) is the same guy he flipped out in front of during his original audition for “Five Towns.” Though he’s ensured there’s no bad blood between them and that it’s his job to lose, Drama has a panic attack when he learns that Dean “Superman” Cain is also testing for the role. One trip to the hospital later, Lloyd calls to inform him that they’ve offered him another chance to audition, but Drama turns it down. That’s bad news for Lloyd, because Drama was his only real client.

The even worse news, however, is that Lloyd might be seeing Ari back in his life sooner than he would have liked. Already on his sixth replacement assistant (the last two of whom were fired over a cranberry muffin and a “Saved by the Bell” reference), Ari’s patience is wearing thin when he gets a surprise visit by Terrence offering him a deal to buy out his agency for $100 million. Suspicious of why Terrence would be coming to him first, but still not willing to pay the overinflated price, Ari does a little investigative work and discovers that he’s trying to dump the business before his wife files divorce. Using Terrence’s desperation to his advantage, Ari not only talks down the price, but in doing so, also becomes Lloyd’s boss once again. It’s great news for Ari and Babs, because the merger will transform them into the largest agency in town, but what will become of poor Lloyd?

  

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Entourage 6.10 – Berried Alive

Consider this just another case of art imitating life, but I couldn’t help but think about T.R. Knight’s recent decision to leave “Grey’s Anatomy” during tonight’s episode. Drama has been put through the wringer ever since his altercation with Dan Coakley, and now that his character on “Five Towns” looks to be headed for Comaville, his screen time is sure to be reduced. Just like Knight, Drama is more concerned with the work than the paycheck, and when he learns that the producer of the new “Melrose Place” has him in mind for a role, he goes to Lloyd for help getting out of his contract.

What Drama doesn’t realize is that Lloyd has just left Ari for Adam Davies. Ari, meanwhile, has to find out about the betrayal from Vince, and in an attempt to spite Lloyd, he personally goes to Coakley to help out Drama and entice him to stay at the agency as one of his clients. It works at first, but when Lloyd tries to win back his only client with, I must admit, a damn good speech, Drama discovers where his best bet lies. Ari isn’t even mad about it since he wouldn’t have the time to properly invest in Drama’s career anyway, but it will be curious to see how far they take this new rivalry. I can’t imagine Lloyd will be gone for too long, but they’ll definitely drag it out until either the season finale or next season’s premiere. Drama, on the other hand, is taking a big risk by leaving “Five Towns,” and it would seem almost too easy if he did get the gig. Then again, maybe he’ll be able to win over the network by proving that he really can act – at least, when compared to the standards of other likeminded shows on The CW.

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While Drama ponders a career move, Eric decides to confront Ashley about why she’s been giving him the cold shoulder. As expected, it all boils down to her trust issues. When Eric laughs off the most recent incident involving a misunderstanding about Vince’s alias (check out last week’s post if you’re confused), she decides that if they’re going to stay together, he has to promise that he won’t screw Brittany the Assistant and give her the freedom to read his e-mails. Eric agrees at first, but after conferring with a few sources and realizing that Ashley may be crazy, he decides to break it off. As it turns out, Ashley is a little nuts (as evidenced by her mini breakdown in the middle of a restaurant), and it’s probably smart for Eric to get rid of her before things get worse. It’s a shame, because Alexis Dziena is pretty easy on the eyes. Then again, Kate Mara isn’t too bad herself, and we all know Sloan will be back before long.

Turtle’s current predicament might seem just as cut and dry, but he’s certainly making it more complicated than it needs to be. When Jamie Lynn admits to being jealous about his new admirer (which, for the record, I find totally ridiculous), Turtle begins second guessing his ability to stay loyal. While I understand where Turtle’s coming from in that this is the first time he’s ever had one woman interested in him, let alone two, it’s absurd to think that any sorority girl would trump Jamie Lynn Sigler. For starters, she’s obviously only interested in him because he’s famous (Best line of the night: “Is that Vincent Chase? Who are you?”), and second, he’s already dating Meadow freaking Soprano. Granted, her new job offer is certainly going to throw a wrench into their relationship, but if given the choice between Jamie Lynn and the new girl, is there even any doubt as to who he should pick? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  

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Entourage 6.9 – Security Briefs

Talk about wasted opportunities. Just when it looked like the writers were cooking up an interesting storyline for Vince involving a potentially dangerous stalker, it turns out to be a rush week prank by a bunch of sorority girls. Turtle is a little surprised that it’s his underwear they were after, but considering he’s dating Jamie-Lynn Sigler, he was bound to start getting more attention from ladies. Unfortunately, that’s only going to spell trouble for Turtle, who will likely find a way to screw up a good thing as Ms. I Only Wear Thongs continues to flaunt herself in front of him.

Getting back to the whole stalker subplot, it really did feel like a big fat waste of time. It might have been different had the storyline been contained to a single show, but the fact that it was drawn out over three episodes really made it seem like they were trying to turn it into something bigger. Perhaps that was the point, and the punch line is supposed to make light of how serious everyone has been reacting to it (namely Drama, who decides to interrogate Vince’s stalker himself), but it just didn’t have as much of an impact as it would have if the stalker really was a threat.

In fact, the only good thing that came of it was a funny little inside joke involving the caller ID on Eric and Drama’s phones. Instead of coming up “Vincent Chase” when he calls, it reads “Rupert Pupkin,” in reference to the lead character of Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film, “The King of Comedy.” For those of you who’ve never seen it, the movie is about an aspiring stand-up comic played by Robert De Niro (and named Rupert Pupkin) who begins stalking his idol (a late-night talk show host played by Jerry Lee Lewis) in an attempt to get his foot in the door. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a sick joke considering Vince could have really been in serious danger, and it’s ultimately going to prove even more troublesome for Eric. Ever since lying to her about Sloan, Ashley has been obsessing about every little thing Eric does. This isn’t going to help matters, as she now thinks Eric was speaking to someone named Rupert Pupkin when he told her he was talking to Turtle and Drama. Oh well, they weren’t going to last anyway.

While the stalker subplot ate up everybody else’s time, some progress was finally made between Ari and Lloyd involving the latter’s impending promotion. After Ari steals Zac Efron away from Adam Davies right in front of his face (well, technically, it was over the phone), Davies decides to fire back by offering Lloyd a job at his agency. Lloyd remains loyal at first, but after Ari goes all Principal Gleason on his ass by tacking on an additional 60 days to his original 100 Days of Hell, Lloyd decides that he’s had enough mistreatment and crosses over to the dark side. Ari can’t blame anyone but himself – he’s been a jerk in the past, but tonight he was a straight-up douche – and he’s already second-guessing his behavior. Can Ari even operate without Lloyd by his side? That’s what he was worried about when Lloyd first brought up the idea of becoming an agent, and it looks like we’ll finally get to see how he handles it.

  

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Entourage 6.8 – The Sorkin Notes

It was only a matter of time before Doug Ellin and Co. slipped up and delivered a bad episode, but considering it’s taken this far into the season for it to happen, it really isn’t worth getting upset about. Still, not a whole lot went down in tonight’s show, and even worse, the filler portions weren’t very entertaining. The only subplot that did accomplish anything was the one involving Andrew Klein’s midlife crisis, but although fans of Ari were no doubt happy to see Jeremy Piven back after his pseudo-absence on last week’s show, this story is really starting to get on my nerves. Gary Cole may have been a great addition to the back-end of Season Five, but this year, they’ve turned his character into a boring mess.

Now that Marlo has locked him out of the house and frozen his assets, Andrew has started crashing at the office, and Babs has taken notice. With his meeting with Aaron Sorkin set to take place later that day, Babs gives Ari an ultimatum: either Andrew signs Sorkin or he’s gone. Of course, when it’s time for Andrew to prove his worth to the agency by reeling in the big fish, he isn’t there because he’s busy trying to get his notes from his home. When Marlo refuses to let him, and then burns said notes for him to see, Andrew absolutely loses it and drives his car through the house. Not a smart move, as it forces Ari to take the meeting in his place. Sorkin, however, hates Ari’s guts, and refuses to even listen to anything he has to say. So when they discover that Andrew has been sent to county jail, they go to visit him, only for Andrew to miraculously sign Sorkin after telling his lame sob story. I can’t say I was happy about that, though, as it only means Andrew is bound to stick around. This was the perfect time to get rid of his character and allow for Ari to get back to business, but now he’s stuck babysitting Andrew for what looks like the immediate future. Le sigh.

Meanwhile, in Other Subplots That Just Won’t Die, Eric and Sloan get together for drinks to try the whole friendship thing again, only for Eric to suddenly bail on her when Ashley comes crawling back. This whole back and forth between Eric and Sloan was always going to play a big role this season, but what was the point of bringing them together for a few seconds only for them to end up exactly where they were before? If Eric was upset that Sloan can’t decide what she wants, then why did he decide to meet her in the first place? It’s a pretty maddening storyline that I hope gets settled soon, because while I’m sure Eric will end up with Sloan eventually, the writers just need to get them together and be done with it.

The other story of the night focused on Vince’s recent break-in after agreeing to meet with Ari’s security friend (played by Peter Stormare) for a demonstration of his services. There didn’t seem to be much to this plotline except for a chuckle-worthy scene where Drama stood in for Vince during a simulation, but the final scene of the episode did open a few doors for the rest of the season. At first, I was going to criticize the guys for even considering paying the outrageous cost for security (after all, the unwelcome visitor only snagged some underwear), but now that they’ve uncovered a possible identity with the driver’s license of a particularly creepy-looking guy named Curtis Tucker, it might be more serious than we were led to believe. That, or the security guy planted the evidence in order to scare Vince into paying their steep fee. I’ll admit that the former offers a more interesting premise, but don’t count my other theory out just yet.

  

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