Monday, October 20, 2008

Entourage S.5 E.7 - "Gotta Look Up to Get Down"

On the heels of remarking that I was finally able to accept that E is truly the main character this season arrives an episode that completely inverts his prominence. In last night’s episode Ari took center stage (in my estimation he clocked in more screen time than the boys combined) as the plot focused on the aftermath of WB studio head Alan Gray’s sudden death and Ari learning that he’s being groomed to take over Alan’s position. Obviously I don’t know much about studio hierarchies but it struck me as quite surprising to think that promoting an agent to head of a studio would be common practice. Although, apparently Guy McElwaine did it. I guess it makes sense in that a high-profile agent would have a strong understanding of talent from both the acting and technical side of business. An interesting by-product of this plot development was that we received a bit of light shed on Ari’s past relationship with Dana Wheeler and that it didn’t negate with his “I’ve never cheated on my wife” credo.

Meanwhile, Vince reluctantly agreed to appear in a fashion shoot but when his past relationship with another model in the campaign led to her dismissal, he returned to his familiar territory of maintaining his principals and refused to participate in the campaign, losing the one million dollars he would have netted.

Relegated to third fiddle for the night’s episode, E’s plot involved him being hounded by a leggy supermodel several inches taller than him much to Drama and Turtle’s chagrin. In the end, it turned out she wasn’t trying to sleep with E but rather was propositioning him to manage her fledgling acting career. Much of this plot revolved around the show’s continued investment in reiterating E’s short stature. This wearied concept was given a bolt of vitality by some exquisite staging and Connelly’s pitch-perfect timing when E jutted his head in from the bottom right of the screen during introductory handshakes with an altitudinous model.

All in all it was a fairly average episode that was bolstered by a tremendous conclusion. It began with the fairly obvious sitcom convention of having Vince and Ari boarding separate private planes in the same hanger at the same time but it paved the way for some stirring emotion. Shot with contrast to emphasize a picturesque LA sunset and incorporating Radiohead's mellow "Fake Plastic Trees" on the soundtrack, Ari revealed to Vince that he was considering taking the studio position. Vince responded with insecurity and bewilderment but tried to stay calm. Personally, I’ve always found it difficult to believe that Ari really considers Vince to be a friend and not just a meal ticket but Piven’s performance in this scene momentarily convinced me otherwise. From a business standpoint, revealing this to Vince is a huge mistake but Piven’s performance conveyed his giddiness about the position and his glee of wanting to share the news with a close friend.

Despite the power of the sequence, I was plagued by the same problem I had with episode 2 of this season, “Unlike a Virgin”, where Vince was dealt with some brutal honesty about his acting talent by Ari but still managed to bed the elusive Justine Chapin at the show’s end (speaking of which, I guess that subplot was dropped?). Same thing happened last night, Vince is crushed to learn that Ari might be taking the studio position yet he’s still able to board a plane full of supermodels and head off to Hawaii with the boys. Even though the writers are finally willing to put Vinnie in a bleak career position, they can’t bring themselves to ever really end things on a down note; his star may be waning but don’t worry, he’s still getting laid.

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