I think I realized at least part of Entourage's problem tonight, in an episode that actually seemed like it was working to correct it. In getting caught up in all the flash and shit-talking, there was never a sense that characters were being honest with each other. That gets boring, even in a town/scene where nobody's supposed to be honest with each other at any point. Even Ari Gold, who alternates between being too honest and lying through his teeth, rarely seems to have an actual honest, sincere moment anymore. In tonight's halfway-decent episode, he had three.
Out golfing with his buddy/client Mark Wahlberg (Entourage's exec producer and the star Vincent Chase is at least partially based on), Ari admits–after swearing to Vince that things would work out–that Vince only has a 50/50 chance of recovering from the disaster that was Medellin. His plan is to keep Vince out of work until a greenlit studio film comes along ("No indies! Think of it like the Holocaust, never again!"). Next, Ari really lets loose on Eric, telling him that he's fucked up Vince's career, probably beyond repair. And this isn't the usual easy-joke Ari, it's seriously pissed-off Ari.
Finally, in this episode's big scene, Vince arrives at Ari's office to try and figure out what to do about his career. He tells Ari that he's willing to do anything and everything in order to get his career back on track, but he wants to know if Ari thinks he's a good actor. Ari's response–that he's not sure, but that he thinks he can make him a great movie star again–was pretty telling and a little bit great.
As for the rest of the episode Well, sweet fuck-all is going on in Entourage land. Johnny Drama's long-distance relationship with a French girl was bound to crash and burn, but the scenario was really long-winded and stupid. Turtle spent the episode trying to get laid and smirking. Eric went off to see some rednecks–played by Giovanni Ribisi and Lukas Haas–who wrote a great script they want Vince to star in. That last story has a little potential, but I'm gonna make this prediction right now: Eric starts repping the screenwriters, the script gets super hot around town, Vince wants in, but for some reason Eric has already promised it to someone else. Conflict, etc.
Oh, and then there's Vince's new girlfriend–his old crush and longtime virgin Justine–who's now apparently a slut (Vince's words). They decide on a whim to be in a relationship of some sort, and the paparazzi click away. Like the Eric storyline, it's all about setting up future episodes And it feels like something we've seen before. Still, there were some high points tonight that make me feel like this dog still has a couple of tricks left in her, even if they're just variations on tricks we've seen before.
-- Rex Lee gets his name in lights in the opening credits now. Good for you, Lloyd.
-- Oh yeah, Tony Bennett cameo. Yawn?
-- "Rusty cuntbucket!"