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''Entourage'': Ari gets outplayed

On ”Entourage,” Ari plots an in-house revolt at his company and winds up getting stabbed in the back; meanwhile, Mandy Moore dumps Vince again

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Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Entourage: Claudette Barius


TV Show
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In Season

”Entourage”: Ari gets outplayed

Throughout this season of Entourage, every article that has profiled Jeremy Piven, who plays Ari Gold, has pointed out a particular feature I had never paid attention to: his so-called Caesar haircut. It didn’t exactly seem to be the most important feature of the character, but after tonight’s long fall from the top, the haircut struck a chord.

I don’t want to be one of those people who overanalyze a show and try to give it some deep cultural significance (then again, as Avenue Q asks, ”What do you do with a BA in English?”), but after Terrance fired Ari, the first thing that popped into my head was Julius Caesar. How could you not see the resemblance? There is Ari Gold, a partner at a talent agency that has the biggest names attached as clients. He’s at the height of his power. And just like that — stab! — he turns into just another Hollywood casualty. In the unkindest cut of all, he was betrayed by his own Brutus, none other than Drama’s agent, Adam Davies, who snitched to Terrance about Ari’s plan to exit with his A-listers in hand. (Okay, maybe the debut of HBO’s Rome influenced my thinking a little.)

I, for one, was saddened by tonight’s events. We’ve never seen Ari become completely silent as he did after going head-to-head with Terrance. His little ”tsetse fly” gimmick was funny, but I actually felt bad when Ari lost his phone (which was basically his security blanket) and his car. Once again, kudos to Entourage for being able to run the gamut of emotions.

But a couple of other moments tonight were disappointing. Something didn’t feel quite right about the scene in which Ari left the agency with Lloyd in tow. That’s when my pop-culture-soaked brain remembered another superagent telling off an entire company and attempting to take an assistant and his clients with him. Jerry Maguire, anybody? To go easy on the writers, let’s assume the scene was a deliberate hommage and not a lazy steal. And the use of Stevie Wonder’s ”For Once in My Life” was uncharacteristically corny for the show. (Closing last week’s episode with the Stones’ ”Sympathy for the Devil,” for example, was just right.) Maybe they should have gone with ”Take This Job and Shove It.”

I guess I’m also forced to discuss the inevitable breakup between Vince and Mandy. Luckily, it was given subplot status next to Ari’s meltdown. Its only real importance is that Vince has decided he wants out of Aquaman. So Ari will not only have to try to persuade Vince to remain his client but will also have to talk him out of destroying his career. Next week’s season finale is going to be very juicy. I’m expecting that Vince will go back to the superhero-movie set. I’m sure it’ll break his heart to do romantic Aquaman-Aquagirl scenes with Mandy, but it’s either that or abandon Marlon Brando’s mansion and head back to Queens — or Queens Boulevard-style indie films. I’m also sticking with my earlier prediction that Ari will eventually win. He always does.

Before we go, let’s give a shout-out to one of Entourage‘s most underrated characters, Lloyd the loyal assistant. All season long, he’s been a fantastic punchline. (One reader’s favorite quip was when Ari said Lloyd looked like Michelle Kwan in drag.) Yet the way Lloyd handled Ari showed depth. Sure, nobody likes to kick a man when he’s down, but Lloyd knew he could get Ari to at least tone down the homophobic and racist remarks. Plus, his little pep talk in the car was just what Ari needed. I’m hoping Lloyd gets a return ticket for season 3. A lot more surprisingly poignant moments between agent and assistant could be coming our way.

What do you think? Are you feeling sorry for Ari, or did he have it coming for his betrayal of Terrance? Will next week’s finale resolve the Vince-Mandy issue? And will Ari’s firing ruin the budding relationship between Eric and Sloan?