Well, two episodes into season five, Vince’s (Adrian Grenier) career has pretty much hit its lowest point; he’s worse off now than when he was doing those Mentos commercials!
I mean, it's pretty safe to assume he’ll ascend once again in the coming episodes, but Vinnie’s currently in "movie jail," as Ari (Jeremy Piven) puts it--and frankly, it’s nice to see Entourage’s impervious golden boy step aside, however briefly, and make room for others to shine.
And with the way this season is going so far, it seems like Eric’s (Kevin Connolly) career, not Vince’s, might be the one Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) should latch onto.
Eric appears to be on the cusp of signing the two screenwriters (guest stars Lukas Haas and Giovanni Ribisi, who are superb and will be back) behind the script that is of great interest to him and Vince and of zero interest to Ari.
This would bring E’s client roster up to four and certainly help boost the legitimacy of his talent-management co. But I digress to speculate about future episodes.
This one was mostly about Vince stuck in the unfamiliar territory of not getting what he wants--be it the onetime virginal singer Justine Chapin (Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester), who naturally winds up with Vince by episode’s end, or the movie role.
Ari breaks the latter news to Vince in a rare moment of sheer honesty, telling him that Medellin was awful and he was awful in it and that essentially there’s not yet a reason to believe that he can act. Ouch.
And just when you thought your hatred for Ari had peaked, he redeems himself with a human side!
But Vince, even more uncharacteristically, tells Ari that he’s ready to play "the game" and sell himself to skeptical studios and producers--whatever it takes. Good for him, but he’s got some serious selling to do.
Things are actually worse for Drama (Kevin Dillon), who after a fit of paranoia-dialing his French girlfriend Jacqueline to see if she’s out cheating on him, is promptly dumped. Ouch again--just one big ouch for the Chase brothers in this one!
Cameo-wise, Entourage exec producer/chief inspiration Mark Wahlberg had a solid two-minuter, while Tony Bennett probably should’ve stuck to singing in his scene.
More than a year has passed since the last Entourage episode (thanks, writers’ strike!), but in season five (premiering Sept. 7 at 10/9c on HBO) it feels like the boys never left. Which is a testament to Doug Ellin and Co.’s sorely underappreciated writing, because a lot has changed and, in fact, some of the boys have left.
Last we saw Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), he was poised to become the toast of the Cannes Film Festival before his movie Medellin flopped miserably. Season five opens with film critic Richard Roeper simultaneously recapping Vince's Cannes demise and voicing his disgust with Medellin--which, by the way, was relegated to a straight-to-DVD release. Ouch!
Ever since, Vince has been in self-imposed exile on a Mexican beach inhabited by supermodel-ish servants who attend to his every need--a few of which aren’t sexual. He has also grown an I-don’t-give-a-f*** beard that’s reflective of his six months of inactivity.
Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), being the caring and loyal mooch, er, friend he is, has tagged along to watch after Vince--and pounce on any of his female leftovers.
Meanwhile, back in L.A., Vince is never far from the minds of his other entourage members, who have more or less gotten on with their lives since the Medellin debacle.
Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) is still the oldest cast member on his Edward Burns-created TV show, still vain as is humanly possible, and still dating Jacqueline, the Frenchwoman with whom he was caught frolicking on the beach in Cannes. They’re trying to make their intercontinental relationship work via Webcam, which is both difficult and hilarious for obvious reasons.
Then there's Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Ari (Jeremy Piven), who, despite their continued hatred for one another, have almost become interchangeable. Yes, sadly, E is a genuine “suit” nowadays with a fledgling talent-management company (and even a receptionist!) whose non-Vince client roster consists of one person: a rising actor named Charlie, played by Shad Moss, aka Bow Wow, aka Lil Bow Wow.
Early in the episode, Eric and Ari come across a script for Danger Beach, which they both agree is atrociously titled but would be perfect for Vinnie’s proverbial comeback movie. But there’s one problem: Vince is in full-on stubborn mode. (OK, two problems: That beard makes him unemployable!)
So E and Ari private-jet down to Mexico to persuade Vince to consider the movie, and Vince’s reluctance to accept the deal is mirrored by the movie industry's reluctance to accept him post-Medellin.
Thus season five exists in heretofore uncharted territory, whereby Vince is genuinely at the top of Tinsletown’s s**t list (or at the bottom of its in-demand list).
The themes of redemption and vulnerability are such a welcome change from one of constant invincibility--or more aptly put, inVince-ibility.
And while it’s a safe bet that Vince will at some point this season rise again to A-list status (that’s a guess, not a spoiler), it’s nice to see that he is, at least for now, not immune to the hot-cold dynamic that is Hollywood. Indeed, this might be Entourage’s peak in terms of realism.
Elsewhere, everyone’s favorite aspects of the show are still in place--including but not limited to Ari’s vulgar one-liners hurled at his beleaguered assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee), and the bevy of cameos and guest stars.
The latter is in full swing in the second episode, during which Tony Bennett and (Entourage exec producer) Mark Wahlberg have cameos, Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) and Carla Gugino reprise their roles, and Giovanni Ribisi and Lukas Haas become the latest guest stars.