Entourage – “The All Out Fall Out”

“The All Out Fall Out”

September 21st, 2008

From those who had seen screeners of the start of Entourage’s fifth season, it was this episode that in Alan Sepinwall’s words, that “gave [them] some faint hope that “Entourage” might be at least decent again.” A blisteringly paced half hour, it gave us two interesting, funny, and well-balanced storylines that interweaved in numerous recurring characters along with introducing yet more tension into our already complicated situation.

What it represents first and foremost, though, is that Entourage is a show still capable of being complicated without being bogged down by it – seeing as Eric loses sight of the script he’s selling for his new clients, or as Vince plummets further into bankruptcy, doesn’t feel tonally inconsistent with the sheer absurdity of Ari Gold’s feud with Adam Davies which involves human feces and male strippers. The show is at its worst when either of these two elements overpowers the other, but through some shrewd guest casting and some smart touches, “The All Out Fall Out” is, indeed, a harbinger of hope for Entourage.

This will be brief, as I have three too many shows to be catching up on, but it’s really just a sharp half hour. Vince’s gig at the Sweet 16 party was as embarassing as you could get, but the show had a lot of fun with Fran Drescher and Kevin Pollack as the parents. Sure, it played to type, but the daughter’s crassness, the mother’s particularness and the father’s ability to sit back and laugh at the absurdity of it all played well into the tone of the episode and Vince’s situation. As he slums it up in Bel Air, relatively speaking, there is a sense that he’s running into a black hole: if he isn’t going to declare bankruptcy, and if every job is going to be damaged by either high expectations or Drama puking on a birthday cake, what options does he really have left to him?

And it feels like the show, again, knows this: I loved how Vince was actively surprised that he used to say that “Everything will work itself out,” because we were tired of hearing it. The show isn’t treating this as an easy task, and although the boys are still living above their means there seems to be some real stakes this time around. As long as the show doesn’t pull out a “Vince wins the lottery/books giant studio picture without effort” card, there’s some good potential here.

Otherwise, the show just let Ari be Ari (something that won Jeremy Piven his third straight Emmy on Sunday) – he takes part in some illegal streetracing, he sends some dog shit, gets molested by male strippers, and most importantly gets back any lost Mojo with the eviscerating raid on Davies’ office. Of the uses of Mrs. Ari in the past few seasons, this is by far the best: using her naked photo as motivation for Ari made his anger less a symptom of general insanity and more a reaction that only such an angry man could channel. I like Perrey Reeves, but too many attempts to integrate her into the main storylines were disastrous last season: her and the kids’ involvement here were note perfect, and made for a strong Ari storyline.

Together, they represented a funny, dramatically interesting and hopefully trend-worthy episode.

Cultural Observations

  • I personally think that Ed Norton wouldn’t go anywhere near a studio picture considering the hell he went through rewriting the Hulk, so I question the realism present in his apparent desire to turn Eric’s picture into something bigger. But, regardless, it does the job of waiting for the inevitable explosion when Eric’s clients find out that Norton is mangling their script while he watches Drama puking on a cake at a Sweet 16 party.
  • Great little scene with T.I. desiring to star in Black Sabbath, an indie film about an interracial relationship with an elderly Jewish woman he wants played by Meryl Streep. These are the best kinds of cameos: short scenes, nothing too big, focused mainly on them observing the insanity of Ari Gold.
  • Nice to see Debi Mazar’s Shauna and financial manager Marvin return – surrounding Vince with reminders of his past (Justine, Amanda, and now these two) is kind of taking us through a tour of his better moments to give us a sign of where his life stands now. Makes me wonder how one spoiled return will go later down the line.

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