”Entourage”: Ari counterattacks
It’s been seven months since the last episode of Entourage. That’s 28 weeks without my favorite Sunday-night palate cleanser. And though I loved the Titus Pullo-Lucius Vorenus duo in Rome, it just didn’t serve the same purpose of closing off the week with the requisite dose of bro humor, starlet eye candy, Hollywood inside jokes, automobile porn, and ricocheting dialogue.
This new episode, ”Less Than 30,” dropped us back into the guys’ lives some indeterminate period down the line. The setting is the same, but much had changed. Johnny Drama is still a preening dolt, but at least he’s not a preening has-been. His long-awaited, Ed Burns-created series Five Towns is just about to start on NBC; Drama spent most of the episode posing in front of his house-size billboard on Sunset Boulevard or attempting to get recognized. Who else thinks that the gritty, Irish-centered Five Towns seems an awful lot like NBC’s actual Celtic Mafia drama The Black Donnellys, which was created by Entourage guest star Paul Haggis? Coincidence or not?
As we quickly learned, doe-eyed Vince had found himself a new agent, one who’s a bit easier on the eyes than the old one. Goodbye, Ari Gold’s power suits and muscular jaw; hello to Amanda, played by Carla Gugino with the perfect mix of silk and steel. Amanda is a hot, plump-lipped, buxom beauty in a low-cut business suit. But she’s not just eye candy, and she doesn’t want to be treated like that either. ”Is that my agent,” Vince said to her, ”or America’s Next Top Model?” ”Don’t patronize me,” she replied. ”I know I look like s—.” Very quickly, she was on to business and quizzing the boys about their ”homework,” a.k.a. script reading. And if you need another reminder that she’s a different kind of agent than Ari, just think about the script Amanda was urging Vince to take on next: an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s Glimpses of the Moon. Aquaman, it isn’t.
Although Vince has moved on, Ari still hasn’t forgotten about the one that got away. The aftershocks of being fired still haunt Ari, and we got some classic Piven anxiety and freak-outs in his office (Yes, Lloyd is still the brunt of his Patton-like temper tantrums.) The Ari-Vince relationship was played out very cleverly, with scenes that riffed on male-female courtship rituals, complete with talk of exes, an awkward meeting in a restaurant, painful small talk, and nervous phone calls. In the end, Vince gave in and invited Ari to his big 30th-birthday bash as a ”friend,” but as we soon discovered, Ari ”can’t just be friends.” His birthday gift to Vince proved that: It was a leather-bound copy of the script for Medellín, Vince’s dream project. Ari’s motives are clear — he wants, no needs to get his man back! For Ari, the line between professional interest and personal obsession are getting awfully blurry, no?
It all came to a head at Vince’s party, which was as crass and commercial as you’d expect from Turtle. It was a gauche, over-the-top blowout on the Queen Mary, in Long Beach, complete with enough corporate sponsors — Skyy Vodka, Victoria’s Secret, Carvel, and many more — to pay for the whole thing. You could have guessed what happened next: The new agent and the old went head-to-head. You probably wouldn’t have guessed, however, that Amanda would have the best put-down of the night: ”You want me to walk you to your car?” she asked Ari at the end of the evening. ”This town’s not safe for a bitch.” Still, she was obviously rattled. The Medellín role might be open — ”Benicio is falling out of love with it,” Ari said — and if Amanda can’t land it, then our pretty boy won’t be very happy.
So let’s start a countdown: How many weeks until Ari and Vince are back together? Is Vince going to end up playing Pablo Escobar? How will Drama’s new show be received? Is he going to hook up with that Hollywood Reporter writer? And is Turtle ever going to have a real job?