Entourage 8.4 – Whiz Kid

After the misfortune of being present during Carl Ertz’s drug blowout and subsequent suicide, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Vince would have his back against the wall for most of this week’s episode. But even with the paparazzi on the hunt for some juicy gossip, the guys didn’t seem too concerned that Vince would be in any real trouble. After all, though he may have been in Ertz’s house at the time of his death, Vince didn’t do any actual blow, so a drug test would clear him of any suspicion that he broke probation. Of course, Vince always seems to make things more complicated then they need to be – a lesson that Eric was unfort when Vince reveals that he smoked a joint recently to prove to himself that he wasn’t an addict.

That’s all fine and well, but it made passing the impending drug test a little trickier. Drama’s suggestion to use home remedies like vinegar to clean out his system didn’t go over too well when Vince could barely hold down a single sip, let alone the gallons necessary, and with only four hours to go until the test, he was forced to call in the big guns. You’d expect Billy Walsh to know quite a bit about cheating drug tests considering his past history, but even he seems too smart to try something as silly as a fake penis. Eric certainly didn’t think it was a very good idea, and rightfully so, because being caught with a contraption designed to cheat a drug test would likely yield a far worse punishment than if marijuana was found in his system. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Vince from doing it anyway, and you really have to give him kudos for having the balls (no pun intended) to take such a big gamble. Let’s just hope he’s finally learned his lesson, because this subplot wasted an entire episode.

The only other major story development of the night revolved around Ari’s old and new relationships, with his night of fun with Dana Gordon ending on a sour note after he mentions that he’s late for couple’s therapy with his wife. Not exactly the most romantic thing to say to someone that you’ve just had copious amounts of sex with, but Dana didn’t seem as offended as other women might. Like, say, Mrs. Ari, who was so upset over Ari’s late arrival to their session (due to dealing with the whole Vince situation) that she decided to give him a taste of his own medicine by walking out midway through. You’d think that since Vince is considered family she would have understood, so I’ll just chalk that up to how ridiculously out of character she’s been acting all season.

I really don’t understand why she’s being so childish, but it’s only bringing out the worst in Ari, as her refusal to believe that he could possibly be seeing someone else was no doubt the motivation behind his decision to take Dana out to dinner at Bobby Flay’s restaurant. Even Flay knew it was a pretty low-ball move, and when Dana figured out that Ari was using her to get back at his wife, she was understandably a little pissed. Too bad, because they made a fun couple. But now that Dana is seemingly out of the picture, I’m still not entirely convinced that Ari will be getting back with his wife any time soon – at least, not as much as I was at the start of the season. Mrs. Ari really seems to mean business, and with only four episodes left, Ari’s going to have to do a heckuva lot more if he has any hope of winning her back.

  

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Entourage 8.3 – One Last Shot

If there was ever any doubt that Vince would be able to kick his drug habit without relapsing even once, then tonight’s episode surely put an end to that debate, as it’s hard to imagine him even thinking about cocaine after what he witnessed. Though everyone warned him not to trust producer Carl Ertz (who, in addition to screwing him out of a movie a few years ago, didn’t appear nearly as drug-free as he claimed), Vince was all too willing to give him a second chance.

And though it looked like his faith in Ertz was actually going to pay off after CBS agreed to produce Vince’s TV movie with Drama attached, it all came tumbling down when he realized that Ertz was only doing him a favor so that he could pitch him some crappy action thriller called “Tax Man.” Turtle knew right away that something wasn’t right, but Vince was determined to stay and help Ertz get through his latest drug bender without anyone getting harmed. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t going to end well, and sure enough, Ertz ended up locking himself in his bathroom and shooting himself in the head. Talk about scaring someone straight. I’ve never seen Vince that shaken up before, and that includes his recent brush with death on that Nick Cassavetes movie.

While Vince tried to play sponsor to Ertz, Eric and Scotty were busy making sure that Drama didn’t shoot himself in the foot by siding with Dice over his contract demands. Though Drama wasn’t exactly opposed to the idea of making more money, after Phil reminded him of a past gig he had (a ‘90s cop show called “Concrete Heat”) that tested through the roof only to last a single week on the air, Drama agreed that it probably wasn’t worth the risk. Unfortunately, Dice refused to budge, and though Eric told him that the network would just fire him if he threatened to walk off the show, Dice decided to take his chances. As it turns out, it was a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. Dice got the boot, and in trying to replace him with an impersonator (played by Jamie Kennedy), Phil may have just ruined the only good thing that “Johnny’s Bananas” had going for it. Drama definitely didn’t look too happy about his new castmate, while Billy Walsh threw a king-sized hissy fit and stormed out of the building in classic fashion.

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Entourage 8.2 – Out with a Bang

After focusing pretty heavily on Vince’s return from rehab this week, the actor was stuck in the background for most of tonight’s episode, leading me to wonder whether he’ll even get the chance to mount another comeback before the end of the season. Sure, there was a tiny subplot involving him writing the script to that Romanian miner movie he wants Drama to star in, but apart from getting Billy to read the outline and agree to help flesh it out, Vince was surprisingly MIA this week.

He mostly just followed the rest of the gang around like he was part of Drama’s entourage – a scary thought, I know, but things are once again looking up for Vince’s older brother. Despite my personal feelings about “Johnny’s Bananas,” the guys seem to think it has the potential to become a runaway hit, even if Andrew Dice Clay has reservations about it performing well with the public. So when Phil drops by the recording studio to inform Drama and Dice that the show is being screened for a test audience, Dice practically begs him to tag along.

Unfortunately, that may not have been the best decision, because as soon as the Dice Man hears that “Johnny’s Bananas” tested through the roof, he immediately starts planning a mutiny to walk from the show. That’s pretty amateur behavior on his part, no matter how much he thinks they’re being underpaid. After all, the cartoon isn’t even on the air yet, and as Jerry Seinfeld (whose own show famously scored terribly with test audiences) can probably attest to, those scores mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Drama would be wise to keep his cool and not let Dice get into his head, because if he screws this opportunity up, it could very well be his last.

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Entourage 8.1 – Home Sweet Home

Tonight’s season premiere of “Entourage” was about one thing and one thing only: picking Vincent Chase up out of the gutter and getting his career back on track… again. After a 90-day stint in rehab, Vince is finally free to return home, but little does he know that Drama has been obsessing over making sure that his baby brother doesn’t relapse. Along with getting rid of all the real drugs and alcohol in the house, Drama goes so far as to even prevent any pill-shaped substance from being in sight, whether it’s an Advil or a Tic-Tac. It doesn’t take long for Vince to realize that the gang is babying him (even more than normal), and how could he not? Everyone was acting so awkward the minute he stepped out of the rehab clinic that it was only a matter of time before he called them out on it.

Vince seems willing to put up with all the coddling, however, if it means he can get back to work. And amazingly, Warner Bros. still wants him as the star of that Stan Lee superhero film, “Airwalker,” as long he’s willing to take a drug test. But the movie doesn’t start shooting until March, and Vince is raring to go, so he suggests directing his own film about a real-life story of Romanian miners getting trapped underground. The rest of the guys think it sounds terrible (a Lifetime movie-of-the-week at best), but because they’re trying to be supportive, they refrain from telling him the truth. That is until Eric, who’s still a little pissed at Vince for ignoring him while he was away, speaks his mind.

You can hardly blame him for being so grouchy lately. Though he’s enjoying professional success after taking over Murray’s management agency alongside Scotty Lavin (who, despite being partners, still fight like a couple of siblings), Eric’s personal life is in the dumps following Sloan’s decision to call off the marriage when he refused to sign a prenup. I’m guessing it was more of a matter of integrity than Eric simply being greedy, but that didn’t stop Sloan from sending back the engagement ring in an envelope. And as the gang so humorously points out, “not even a padded one.”

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HBO Bids Adieu to “Entourage” After Eight Seasons

To be completely honest, “Entourage” probably should have called it quits a few seasons ago after Vincent Chase reemerged from the failure of “Medellin” to reclaim his spot among the Hollywood elite. But now that the final season is just around the corner, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited to see how it all ends. Even with the chance of a potential big screen adventure, it’s hard to imagine that creator Doug Ellin won’t want to provide at least some kind of bookend to the series – particularly one that’s a little happier than the way he left off things last season.

With perhaps the exception of Eric, whose rekindled relationship with Sloan led to the pair getting engaged, the rest of the guys ended Season Seven on a low. After bringing in Mark Cuban as a potential business partner for Avion tequila, Turtle was seemingly pushed out of the deal with nothing to show for it; Drama gave up a plum job on network TV only to wind up settling for a new animated show conceived by Billy Walsh; Ari managed to save his career but not his wife after she walked away from their marriage; and Vince was thrown into rehab following his arrest for possession of cocaine.

Fortunately, the only place to go from there is up, which means that even if Season Eight doesn’t cap off the series with a completely happy ending, it’ll at least have a much brighter outlook than the previous season. Though everyone involved is holding their cards pretty close to their chests in regards to what we can expect to see, HBO has released a few promos and snippets of information that tell us a few things. For starters, the season will begin with Vince being released from a 90-day stint in rehab and eager to get back to work. But when he finds it difficult to land an acting job due to his recent tabloid-worthy exploits, he decides to write a starring vehicle for himself.

The rest of the guys will also continue to try and forge their own careers now that they’ve severed their dependency to Vince, with Turtle launching a new business venture to open a Hollywood location of the New York-based Italian restaurant, Don Peppe; Drama beginning production on “Johnny’s Bananas” alongside Andrew Dice Clay (presumably as one of the other voices); and Eric opening a new management company with Scotty Lavin. Interestingly enough, it also looks like his engagement to Sloan has hit a snag, while Ari will dedicate his time solely to winning back Mrs. Ari following their separation.

It all sounds promising enough, as long as things don’t get too serious. That was one of the main problems with last season, which often forgot it was a comedy at times by focusing all of its energy on the darker and more dramatic moments. And with only eight episodes for its grand finale, Ellin and Co. will have to be especially mindful of staying true to the story they want to tell while still delivering the show that fans know and love.

The eighth and final season premieres July 24th at 10:30 pm EST on HBO.

  

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