Entourage – Episode 6-1 Review

Man, oh man. Gone are the days when our favorite Hollywood quartet partied at a high schooler’s house in the valley awaiting the opening weekend tally for “Aquaman”. The sixth season of Entourage kicked off last night, and I’ll be the first to admit my sides weren’t splitting with laughter as they have in years past.

But, that is not to say I did not thoroughly enjoy myself. At it’s heart, the show has always been about friendships. The fact that the whole action takes place in and around the kill-or-be-killed Hollywood movie industry is merely to show us how strong the friendships depicted on the show really are. For five long seasons, we’ve watched Vince, Eric, Turtle, Drama and Ari navigate various obstacles for the betterment of both Vince’s career and, deep down, the health of their own friendships.

Last night’s opener, “Drive”, was all about growing up. We learned that E has grown leaps and bounds as a manager and both his client roster and his little black book are filling up accordingly. This led to more good-natured ribbing from his cohorts, particularly Drama who referred to E’s recent success with women not as a “hot streak”, but as  “an episode of the Twilight Zone.”

The maturation of Eric didn’t stop there. Former flame Sloan made him aware of a prime sublet opportunity via a friend. Sure, on the surface it was just a nice house that E would squat in for a year, but really it was about becoming a man. Though Vince is the lifeblood of the show, the growth of E from second banana to legit Hollywood player has been fascinating to watch. All  the scenes between he and Sloan were top notch (Mostly due to the lovely Emmanuelle Chriqui, who is one of the most beautiul women on television, I don’t care what anyone says). These scenes also showcased some pretty intriguing writing, an area in which the show has always come up a bit short for me. The idea that E would have this conversation about this house with this woman is very complex and deep and I dug every minute of it.

In a show practically built on “boys being boys”  moments, none may ring truer than the guys’ reaction to E’s dealings with Sloan. Everything was perfect, the way they surrouned him, the way they expressed their feelings of not being important enough to know about her, and then promptly pretending not to care…absolutely golden.

Vince, too, was spreading his wings a bit for the season 6 premiere. I think having him take his driving test was nothing short of brilliant to set the tone for the season. The mot fascinating thing about the character of Vince is that even though he has always been the one that keeps the group afloat, he is, in many ways, the most insecure. He’s never really had to work for anything, he’s been leading a charmed life for quite some time, and only last season did he encounter some real, career-challenging adversity.

So it’s appropriate this stunted character would finally do something most of us have been doing since we were sixteen. Once again though, his charmed lifestyle allowed him certain privelleges. Ater mowing down an array of orange cones, he was promptly given his license, having promised his instructor tickets to the “Gatsby” premiere.

After a typical double “date” with E, Sloan and Sloan’s friend, wherein Vince closed in the back of a car for the first time, we were given the episode’s best scene. It was the last one of the night and it saw Vince coming home to empty house, with his housemates all off doing various things signifying independence. Drama was on the set, Turtle was in the midst of a jacuzzi soak with Jamie-Lynn (really hope we see more of her in the coming episodes) and E was making his somewhat rekindled romance with Sloan much more interesting. Vince called out to his empty dwelling and was left to sit and ponder the general state of things while The Verve’s “Lucky Man” blared for all of us to hear. A big, successul movie star in a big empty, dark house. If that metaphor doesn’t play, I can’t imagine what will.

But, I have saved by far the most intriguing story for last. I’m speaking of course about Lloyd and Ari. Lloyd, of course wanted to get into this whole growing up act and demanded a promotion from Ari. Ari handled it as he usually does, dropping several pearls of wisdom, littered with some good-natured shredding of Lloyd’s ethnicity and sexual orientation. My favorite line of Ari’s was this gem, ater Lloyd complained that they hadn’t even talked about a promotion: “I talked. I just hope you listened.” That is Ari in a nutshell

In any other season, that likely would have been the end of it and Ari would have gone back to managing Vince’s career. But Lloyd would not go quietly, going so far as to berate Ari for some daytime drinking with Andrew Clark, as well as placing a call to Mrs. Ari. The scene with Ari’s wife and kids pleading for Ari to keep Lloyd was absolutely priceless.

It would appear that all of Lloyd’s efforts finally got through, as Ari then forced him to wait on his doorstep when he was good and ready to have a serious discussion about Lloyd’s future in the agency. What followed was a cryptic “100 Days” edict from the superagent. After that time, if Lloyd could survive it, things would seem to be looking up for the best assistant in town.

Overall, I’d say the episode was good but not fantastic. It did, however, do a superlative job of setting the tone for where the season is going. Let’s hope they can sustain and build on this solid foundation.