As the final season of Entourage continues, the Hollywood world of the four guys from Queens is getting crazier. And more serious. And bigger. And it’s all working well.
Remember all those years of “walking” conversations? The foursome on the move, maybe crossing Rodeo Drive, keeping the banter going in one of the most trademark Steadicam shots in modern TV history. Well, the group of four is now six, a telling sign of how fame — and infamy — can expand the gang. Enter Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro) now partnering with Vince to get his buried-miners-and-a-dog movie made with Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) in the lead. The other new man walking? Andrew Dice Clay, finally more than a monkey voice, joining the crew as he works with Drama, looks for management with E and Scott, and soon shows that he’s possibly lost his marbles.
Clay adds a welcome taste of crazy badass to the crew, mixing it up as a grateful has-been with a dangerous level of overconfidence. Clay’s Entourage persona is a guy just hanging on to the edge of the entertainment industry, a version of the stage character that made him immensely famous 25 years ago. The idea of someone gaining and then losing pop culture supremacy over the decades is a perfect fit for the show and, as usual, Clay gets the joke. When reminded of his former glory, he spurts “That was a long time ago. Now you have me playing an orangutan.” (In life imitating art, Clay is experiencing instant cred thanks to the show, and is even playing Brooklyn’s Cyclone Stadium in the months to come.)
A couple other storylines float around, and Turtle’s (Jerry Ferrara) continues to lag behind the others. His relationship with girlfriend Alex is strained as she becomes an overnight sensation representing Avion tequlia (even Dice knows her face) and he’s forced to wear Season One clothing since the boys’ house went up in flames. Feeling rotten about his impending breakup and an unsure future with Avion, matters get worse when people accuse him of looking very “2004”. Not a good time for Turtle, and the whole little storyline is just about Ferrara’s speed.
The plot between Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) heads toward wrapping up, thankfully in a compressed manner. Between fighting, making up and a new revelation, The E-and-Sloan connection undergoes a practically full romantic story arc in just two episodes. Unless you’re a diehard Chriqui gawker, this is a good thing.
As the addiction plot moves into Episode 3, Entourage heads into dark, dramatic territory. Far more intense than Vince’s dalliances with porn and coke last season. As a troubled producer who’s painfully desperate to work with Vince, veteran character Kim Coates (right, in FX’s Sons of Anarchy) gives an incendiary performance. He hits all the cliches you’d expect from both a slimy Hollywood producer and a frenetic addict, and does so with a believable fear that has its own lifeforce on a show that’s usually light and airy. Again, further proof that the Entourage brains are preparing the fan base for legitimate big-screen opportunities.
For the comic relief, there’s always Jeremy Piven as Ari, especially in his comedy partnership with Rex Lee as Lloyd. In episodes 2 and 3, Ari figures out who the long-suffering Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves) is spending time with — yes, it’s somebody famous — and even tries his hand at dating. Piven gets a chance to bring a little emotional depth, finally coming to the realizations that come with being in your 40s, trying to figure out what’s important. When a saddened Ari leans on an old flame, he comes off more sympathetic than stud.
Over these two episodes — strong improvements over the Season 8 premiere — look for two classic rants. One is Ari, of course, “Agent meets fist!” The other is William Fichtner as Johnny’s Bananas producer Phil Yagoda. Crackerjack dialogue.
Quick fact: Coates and Fichtner co-starred in the 2001 Ridley Scott movie, Blackhawk Down.
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