Tonight, on this episode of Cameo: The Series: John Cleese! Ryan Howard (and some other guy, who may or may not have been famous)! Drew Brees! Christina Aguilera! Lyla Garrity! Eminem punching Vince in the fucking face!
Steve Heisler was so worried about Entourage’s beloved ensemble that he couldn’t bear to cover the finale. I suspect he’s curled up in a ball in his new apartment in Brooklyn, silently weeping because Christina Aguilera’s so-on-the-nose-it’ll-require-reconstructive-surgery performance of “You Lost Me” sent him over the emotional edge. Steve, I’m here for you, buddy.
After Season 6, when literally nothing happened with Vincent Chase, Entourage dove into the darkness on this season’s back stretch and actually found some emotional traction. Granted, it was via an obvious trope, but with Entourage, you take your victories, however small.
The last episode teed up tonight’s many confrontations: Vince vs. his friends and family, Ari vs. Mrs. Ari, Turtle vs. Mark Cuban’s Jaw. For a show that has specialized in spinning its wheels, these were surprisingly high stakes. Would this episode actually avoid Entourage’s signature tidy resolutions?
Let’s dispense with the one that had the lowest stakes first: Does anyone care about Turtle and his tequila? I’m not even sure what the resolution was; it doesn’t look like Cuban’s going to buy out the company. That story arch collapsed at the finish line, propelled only by its inertia and cameos by sports stars. Assuming Entourage gets renewed and returns next summer, will anyone remember this?
Adrien Grenier’s Vincent Chase is nominally the center of the Entourage universe, but it’s no secret that he’s the least interesting person on the show. And he’s generally considered the weakest actor among a low-wattage cast. (Don’t believe me? Check out his moribund IMDB page.) Season 7 offered him a chance to flex some dramatic muscle, with mixed results. The hopelessly cliché story arc did him no favors. The drug-fueled downfall of a Hollywood star is pop-culture folklore at this point; Entourage rehashed the usual plot points without offering any original spin on them—unless you count tying them to another cliché, the porn-star bad girl enabler, as originality. No, you can’t do that when Entourage followed that story arc down the path of predictability: Vince can’t handle his famous adult-film star girlfriend banging dudes in adult films! “If you cared about me, you wouldn’t do this movie,” Vincent says on the set of Sasha’s new movie (apparently titled The Cumback), lifting a line from The Big Book Of Hollywood Clichés.
Vince’s downfall was telegraphed early in this season, so his angry confrontations with everyone tonight felt anticlimactic. Who didn’t see where things were headed when the room-service guy mentioned the Eminem party? (I’ll say this: I didn’t expect to see Minka Kelly telling off Vince, so that’s a bonus I guess.) The last scene of the episode had a grim air of inevitability, and not in a good way. We all knew this was coming, and I think we’re all ready to move on.
For at least three seasons, Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold has Entourage’s only interesting character, so it wasn’t surprising that the finale’s real emotional center lay in the potential dissolution of his marriage. The anger on Perrey Reeves’ face in episode nine presaged it, to the point that I was shocked to see the two of them more or less behaving normally at their son’s little-league game early in the episode. I couldn’t believe she was speaking to him, especially when he chided her, “Some of these people saw you let me walk out of that place alone!”
The season has less been about Vincent’s boring drug escapades and more about the undoing of Ari Gold. Episode nine provided his most damning moment in a season full of them, and I was happy to see it have real consequences. For all of his bluster, Ari loves his wife deeply, and losing her will completely unravel his life. Mrs. Ari has apparently come to her senses, and no manic, grand gesture is going to undo years Ari has spent tethered to his cell phone. And just in case you missed it, Christina Aguilera sang “The love is gone” just as Mrs. Ari hung up on hiim. For fuck’s sake, Entourage, give us a little credit for having a modicum of intelligence. WE GET IT.
For all of the drama pumped into Season 7, Entourage’s fatal flaw has never been more apparent: Vincent and his coterie just aren’t that interesting. Does anyone doubt he’ll continue down the well-worn path of rehab and image makeover to emerge basically the same guy in Season 8? (I think it’s safe to assume there will be one, even with ratings down as much as 25 percent this season.) I really hope something more interesting happens, but I doubt it will.
No, the real center of Entourage, now more than ever, is Ari, and not just because Piven is the show’s best actor. That’s a bad for Entourage—but good for a potential spinoff.
• Fret not that this season is over, remaining fans of Entourage: Over on the show's website, you can read "8 good reasons to marry Sloan,"—in case E needs convincing after the pre-nup business—and "get to know the French Canadian Actor [Emmanuelle Chriqui] who has made Sloan a fan favorite." And hey, be part of the discussion! "Do you think Sloan and E's engagement will ruin the guys' dynamic?" Says Mark K.772: "Dare I compare the two but it feels like when Lois Lane and Superman get together in New Adventures and the writers were like well what the fuck do we do with this now." Mark's completely right, though not (only) about Sloan/E: That's a question Entourage's writers seem to be asking about the show itself.
• I was looking on Variety.com to verify how many seasons HBO renewed Entourage for—looks like Season 7 is it for now—and was once again struck by the publication's forehead-slappingly terrible slang. In this piece about rival networks showing new episodes of shows during the Emmy broadcast, I learned some new words: "kudocast" (awards show), "Acad" (the TV Academy), and "competish" (competition). What's the suicide rate among Variety's copyeditors, I wonder?
• Speaking of the Emmys, how could Steve have forgotten to mention that ENTOURAGE TOTALLY WON AN EMMY!!!*
• This week I received several e-mails from a publicist about Heavy.com's "pint-sized" parody, Tiny Entourage:
Tiny Entourage is a spoof remake of this season’s most memorable scenes in which the roles of the characters are recast with little people. These “shorts” are the perfect appetizers for Entourage fans looking forward to the main course this Sunday night.
It's just as "hilarious" as you think it would be.
* - For Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation.