Entourage, Season 5: Episode 2

We're back for the second episode this season, yet more testosteronized shenanigans from E, Vince, Drama, Turtle and Ari. Your participants: Time In editor Andrew Johnston and copy chief Noah Tarnow. Missed last week's discussion? Lloyd's got it for you right here.

Noah: My general reaction to last night's episode: I see three trends developing, one encouraging, two discouraging. Actually, two, since the discouraging ones are similar. Encouraging:  It really looks like they're trying to make Vince a more developed character.
Andrew: And the discouraging ones?
N: Well, they're both possibly a function of laziness: Drama is more and more becoming  completely unrealistic clown. And the other was the introduction of those hick screenwriters: The obnoxious, self-absorbed savants. It's Billy Walsh all over again.
A: Oh, I thought Drama was much worse last season. Much, much worse.
N: Really? Didn't you think his breakup with Jacqueline last night was just ridiculous?
A: Yeah, it was pretty lame, but he's been much dumber in the past. That Comic Con episode a year or two back...oy. Now you're going to say you liked that one, I know it.
N: Well at least that had a clever, happy ending. [He hooked up with an old costar from his Viking Quest days.] But you're right, he's always been silly. Maybe I was expecting more from Drama this season, just because I felt like last season they'd set up a role reversal: Drama would be on top while Vince was having problems.
A: And it's pretty obvious those screenwriters are going to be the jumping-off point for the main story arc this season. Anyway, I'm not gonna complain so long as they provide an excuse to bring Carla Gugino back.
N:Heh heh. She didn't look so good, though. Sorry to be catty.
A: If they're gonna give Ari a female nemesis, I'd much rather have her than Beverly D'Angelo, much as I loved BD'A in my youth...
N: Yeah, almost forgot about her. It's still the Miller Gold Agency, so it's only logical she'll return. Getting back to the screenwriters: I hated Walsh. I know we were supposed to hate him as a character, but I hated watching him. I was so glad when Medellin bombed. I wish we'd had a scene of him crying or something.
So I don't want to go through that all over again with Giovanni Ribisi and Lukas Haas.
A: But sheesh, I almost feel defensive about taking the show somewhat seriously after the pasting it just took from Gawker's Richard Lawson and the peanut gallery over there…but they don't seem to know the difference between a celebrity cameo and an actor playing a role. They count Ribisi as a "celebrity cameo" rather than "GR playing a role", which is just crazy talk. Though I gotta say I'm really surprised they cast Ribisi given the similarity to his role on My Name Is Earl.
N: Again, the whole concept of these screenwriters feels a little lazy to me. But the encouraging aspect: developing Vince into a real character. Maybe that's what the haters need: Vince is the ostensible focus of the show (even though E's really the protagonist), and he's never been developed beyond caricature. But we saw glimmers of more last night.
A: Let's hear more about that...
N: He really seems upset that his career is foundering, and last night implied he's working his ass off to correct that. Then the end: Do you think that thing with Justine Chapin (Leighton Meester) was meant to make Vince look like a jerk? Or mercenary?
A: I'd say desperate for affirmation above all. He and Drama really are brothers in that respect.
N: But it was cold how he treated that girl who was crazy about him. She was beautiful and he threw her away.
A: Well, he's used to being able to do that, and thinking he was getting fobbed off on her by Leighton really screwed with his ego.
N: Do you think he wanted to be with Leighton/Justine because she was famous? Because he knew being seen with her would help his career?
A:  Well, she was the hotter of the two... In any event, as always, I was obsessed with minutae--the weirdness of having the Tony Bennett thing take place during the daytime, for example. The nerd in me immediately speculated if they did that so Drama could realistically be speaking to the French girl when it's night for her (since I think the time difference between France and L.A. is either eight or nine hours depending on the time of year).
N: Also so Vince could run out and catch Ari during office hours. Another weird thing: Leighton Meester was playing a faux Britney Spears, yet in the same episode Ari made reference to the actual Britney Spears. So they both exist on Earth-Entourage.
A: Well, Vince and Mark Wahlberg both exist on Earth-Entourage, as this week's episode reminded us.
N: Yes! Great cameo from Wahlberg. I didn't recognize him at first. That scene between Vince and Ari, by the way, was classic. Those great moments when Ari's actually honest with him, telling him he doesn't know if his career will recover.
A:Yeah, Ari looked like a real pro this week. If we don't see these people being good at their jobs every so often, the show falls apart, and this week it was Ari's turn.
N: Of course. But we never have reason to doubt Ari's genuine dedication to Vince's career. He's clearly the pride of his career. His life, even; I mean, how often do we see Ari's kids?
A: And he actually made a funny Holocaust joke!
N: Yeah, that was beautiful. Some good writing on this show, despite all the bad writing sometimes. I picture the writing staff being a bunch of very bright stoners: talented but inconsistent.
A: Verily. IMHO, real life saved the writers from seeming badly out of touch. The Lance Armstrong reference would have come across as way too 2005 if he hadn't announced his comeback a few days ago…
N: Well, it was the end of the scene. Always could have cut it…
A: That's the thing, though, it was on the screener they sent out weeks before the announcement
N:They live according to Vincent Chase's philosophy: Everything will work out somehow. I'm just hoping that this season, things are a little different.
A: Anyway, we come to praise Entourage, not to bury it (at least I do). This one was pretty clearly about setting up the rest of the season, and I'm sure it'll play a lot better for people who watch the whole season at once (if anyone watches Entourage that way).