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Entourage

Entourage is a half hour long comedy-drama about young movie star Vincent Chase and his best friend and manager Eric Murphy. Filling out the entourage are high school friend Turtle and Vince's brother Johnny "Drama" Chase. High powered, ambitious and foul mouthed agent Ari Gold also helps to manage Vince's career. HBO 2004-11

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Episode 11 - Play'n With Fire

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Verner fires Vince and admits that the studio forced him to accept him. Ari, Vince and Verner all go to the studio to make their case to Dana Gordon. When Verner can’t get what he wants he bursts in on John Ellis’ meeting demanding to know his opinion. Ellis shuts down the whole movie because it is over budget and problematic. Meanwhile Turtle gets a booty call from Jamie-Lynn Sigler which starts to turn into a relationship. He tells her his dreams and his real name: Sal.

The Good: Phew. It’s not often that a show can confound all your expectations and leave you surprised by how good an episode was. But this is one of those occasions.

After the sensible and mature discussions between Vince and Verner last episode, we now see what is really going on. Verner fires Vince, telling him that he never wanted him in the movie, but Dana Gordon insisted. That revelation makes sense of all Verner’s behaviour for the last few episodes. The really interesting aspect of what we see is that Vince has no believable passion in the takes we see. After criticising aspects of his performance in Medellin (502), I am willing to believe that Vince was meant to look like a bad actor.

Whether or not it was intended as it came across, it still makes Verner look entirely justified in his anger. That is the key to why the arguments which follow feel so authentic and are so dramatic. You can feel sympathy for Verner even though he is insulting the star of the show. When Vince extends his hand to Verner in Dana’s office and Verner snaps, it actually feels like a genuine dilemma. Verner has made his case as eloquently as possible and he realises that if he compromises his integrity by letting Vince back on the movie, he will ultimately lose as a director. You have to respect Verner’s decision even as he unprofessionally rushes into John Ellis’ meeting.

Vince too plays his role well, looking a little broken hearted at what has happened. It’s easy to believe that he is now having doubts about his own acting talent and his retreat to Queens is a really nice plot development. It suggests that Vince has literally got to start all over again from scratch and perhaps will allow some real character revelations once we see the families and origins of the entourage.

Ari’s wheeling and dealing is what you would expect from him and poor Dana Gordon is once more suffering the consequences of Ari’s decisions. It will be interesting to see what happens to them with Ari gone. An important story now for the show is what the industry reaction is to Vince being partly responsible for a movie being cancelled. Presumably Ed Norton won’t be happy and many directors will be reluctant to work with Vince at all.

Finally we have some real character development for Turtle. He has played his role so well for five seasons and yet this is the first time that he has had a plot all to himself which has some significance. It’s good to see Jamie-Lynn Sigler return because it means her cameo wasn’t a one-note joke (508). Around her Turtle gets to show some real modesty and decency when he is just happy to be around her and doesn’t want to embarrass her in public. Then we get the revelations about his past as a bookie (and a hint from Vince that he may have had gambling problems) and how he helped pay for Vince to come out to L.A. which is a nice way to show his worth to the group. Finally we discover that his real name is Sal, a revelation which has been five years in the making and the idea of a restaurant gives us a glimpse of his hopes and dreams. The final scene where he refuses to tell the guys about Jamie shows his maturity as the group head home to face their past.

Turtle returning Dom’s limo for him is a nice bit of continuity (from 506).

The Bad: Andrew making a homophobic joke at Ari’s bidding is a little annoying. It would be good to define him as different to Ari, but I’m sure that will come later.

John and Dana both liking Vince’s work sends a slightly confused signal. The story is so much more powerful and courageous if Vince really didn’t act well (as we saw). By implying that maybe Verner was wrong Vince could be in for a far softer landing than he should get.

Comic Highlight: Amidst Ari’s relentless sexual and racist jokes Johnny offers to call Barbet Schroeder who made Barfly (in 1987) because he worked as an extra on it. “How fucking old are you?” Ari asks.

Victory?: This is the best episode of Entourage I have ever reviewed, possibly the best ever. Entourage’s greatest strength is that they don’t go in for the silly melodrama of other shows, they try to keep it real. This episode is the apotheosis of that philosophy. Verner and Vince reach a crossroads where both are equally sympathetic. Their arguments feel real and important, a credit to all involved with their creation.

Entourage shows here a glimpse of the depth and quality that it has for so long threatened to deliver. Superb stuff with believable consequences.

('DiggThis)

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