Am I tripping, or was that a pretty damn decent episode of Entourage. There's no doubt in my mind that it was the best of this season, and I'm pretty sure I know why: It wasn't about process, it wasn't really about this season's main storyline exactly, and there was some dumb, totally believable stuff going on. I think it was just last week that I was bemoaning the lack of Busey, and here we got Eric Roberts to take his place on an adventure-filled, funny episode.
In case you haven't been following: Vince is about to make a serious decision. He's been offered $3 million to do Benji In Alaska, and he's conflicted. He needs the cash, even though Eric and Drama offer to help him along–right before the posse's cars get repossessed. Ari wants him to take it, of course, saying "You take it for the reason most people in America take jobs, because they need the money!" The gang figures the best way to make the decision is to buy a bunch of magic mushrooms and head out to Joshua Tree to trip. "Where do we get shrooms? Eric Roberts, where else?"
So they head to Roberts' house, where Julia's crazy brother insists that Ari punch him in his rock-hard abs. (Pretty damn funny moment, actually.) Roberts decides to join them for the trip to the desert, and they take his one-of-a-kind Winnebago.
Let me get the B-plot out right here: Ari bullies Lloyd into dog-sitting (Mrs. Ari is out of town), and Lloyd's boyfriend bullies him into having game night at Ari's empty house. Of course, Mrs. Ari and the kids come home early, and there are 25 naked dudes in the pool. Cue sad trombone noise here.
On their way to the desert, the producers of Entourage insist that the nudity clause in the show is honored, so they have porn star Katie Morgan (who also hosts some HBO softcore) and her friends drive by the Winnebago and somehow realize it's our dudes. And flash their tits. Not that I have anything against said tits, but these tits seemed awfully convenient.
But then they get to the desert and things actually get funny. Eric can't speak, but gives some great quizzicial looks. Ari gets lost when he goes looking for cell phone reception, then does a pretty great job tripping–especially when he flips out and calls Lloyd for guidance. When those two aren't meaninglessly fighting (do they ever actually do any work?) they're pretty great together, and when Piven tones down the bullishness (of his apparently real personality), he actually seems like he might deserve those Emmys. Meanwhile, Vince and Turtle are trying to complete the actual mission: decide whether Vince should do the Benji movie. Everything is a sign about whether they should, and E is charged with keeping track of those signs. "It feels nice to say, maybe that's a sign." "The script floats, maybe that's a sign."
When they find Arnold, who's been missing as long as Ari, still-tripping Vince sees it as the ultimate sign. Arnold found Ari and Ari found Benji, and they found the boys. So that means they're doing Benji. Now, to be honest, I think there could be some amazing scenes if Vince were to do Benji. Because this is the typical Hollywood arc, right? The actor fucks himself over, either by hubris or dumb luck, and he ends up doing a piece of shit, then maybe bouncing back. A couple of episodes of Vince freaking out, maybe drunk on the set of Benji, would be pretty amazing. Even better would be some footage of Benji. And maybe they're gonna get there. But the end of this episode pointed to the idea that Vince actually has some integrity (or maybe $3 isn't enough). When the gang sees a bunch of firefighters on the road, Vince pictures his face on one of them. To him, that means he has to do Smoke Jumpers, and he wants Ari to convince the studio head (one of the Eastern Europeans from The Wire's second season!) to try harder to get him the part.
If this season ends with Vince happy and doing the movie he wants to, it'll be disappointing. But if he goofs off and does some weird shit like on this episode for a couple more weeks, I'll be reasonably happy.
-- Drama: "I thought I pulled my cock off. It's okay, I didn't!"
-- Eric: "My mouth won't talk."
-- Turtle says what the audience thinks, finally: "I got no job, no purpose."