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Entourage 8.8 - The End

Well, that’s a wrap – the guys of “Entourage” have slammed their last car door, and though it’s a little sad to see the series end, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it probably should have happened sooner than it did. But while the last few seasons weren’t quite up to par with the early years, Doug Ellin has done a nice job of rewarding the fans who stuck by the show with a fairly conclusive series finale that delivered the feel-good happy ending that just about everyone was expecting. "Entourage" has gone to some pretty dark places in recent seasons, but it was always going to end only one way.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t have its problems. For starters, I don’t really believe that a woman who was so opposed to the idea of even dating Vince would suddenly agree to go on a date with him and then accept a marriage proposal in the short span of 24 hours. Not only is that incredibly disrespectful to the audience, but it completely undermines who Sofia is as a character and what made Vince fall so head over heels for her in the first place. Nevertheless, Vince and Sophia have decided to tie the knot in Paris, and Drama and Turtle have taken it upon themselves to convince Sloan to be in attendance – although she doesn't entirely believe their story at first.

But while Sloan is honored to be considered important enough to be there for the big event (how Billy Walsh, or even Scotty Lavin for that matter, was left off the guest list is a mystery), she’s concerned that it’s all just a ploy to get her and Eric in the same room together. I’m sure that was partially the plan, but Vince and the guys were never going to let Eric run off to New York without at least trying to fix things. And though Vince initially made it worse by accidentally dropping the news to Terrence that Sloan was pregnant, he made things right in the end. That speech to Sloan was both sweet and touching, and it’s yet another example of how much Vince has matured since the first episode.

You could say the same thing about Ari, who’s been fighting tooth and nail to win back his wife all season. But while he’s always been able to talk a big game, Ari showed that he could follow through on his words as well by impulsively quitting the talent agency when he realized that it would be the only way to save his marriage and his relationship with his kids. I have to admit that it took me a little by surprise, because while I fully expected for him and Melissa (whose first name reveal was awfully nonchalant considering all the attention it's been given throughout the years) to get back together, I never thought that he’d give up the only other thing he loved in order to make it work. In hindsight, however, it makes sense that quitting would be the only way that Mrs. Ari would take him back, and I applaud Ellin for allowing Ari to make that kind of sacrifice.

So, to recap: Vince is headed to Paris to marry Sophia; Eric has hopped on a plane with Sloan to work things out; Drama’s star is on the rise; Turtle is a millionaire; and Ari quit his job and moved to Florence with his wife… only to receive a call from the head of Warner Bros. days later offering him the chance to take over as CEO. That was a pretty cheeky move on Ellin’s part, but if a big screen movie really is in the works, then it’s the next natural place to take the story. Because even though they got their happy ending, you’d be crazy to think this is the last we’ve seen of Vincent Chase and his entourage.

Entourage 8.7 - Second to Last

Entourage 8.6 - The Big Bang

Is it just me or does Vince’s career seem like the least of his concerns at the moment? I thought for sure that his big story arc this season would revolve around yet another comeback, but instead, it appears to be more about him becoming a better person – first in his unselfish decision to write a starring vehicle for Drama, and now in trying to find a meaningful relationship with a woman that isn’t just about sex. So what spurred this sudden moment of self-reflection?

Believe it or not, it was that reporter from last week (as if anyone thought that was the last we were going to see of her), whose interview with Vince pegs him as a bit of a womanizer. You can understand why he would want to do everything in his power to prevent a piece like that from ever running, but I’m a little surprised at his overall reaction. Vince seemed genuinely shocked at her portrayal of him, which makes me think that they either erased his memory “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”-style at the rehab center or he’s even dumber than he looks. Of course, at the rate this season is going, I’m sure that Sophia will eventually fall for Vince's movie star charm, domesticate his inner wild child, and they’ll go on to live happily ever after.

It might seem crazy to think that Vince could ever adapt to that kind of future, but we’ve certainly seen crazier things happen – like Eric’s recent run of form. In fact, it’s almost as if the two friends have swapped bodies. Eric has been acting completely out of character lately, and after learning that Johnny Galecki might be sleeping with Sloan (isn’t she supposed to be in New York?), he gives Scotty the ultimatum to either dump Galecki as a client or say goodbye to their partnership. I get that Eric is still upset about his break-up with Sloan, but what kind of grown man acts that way? This definitely isn’t Eric’s finest hour, and only the writers are to blame, who have practically ruined one of the show’s most complex characters over the course of only six short episodes.

And while Eric’s business sense has seemingly gone down the drain, Ari has begun planning for the future by meeting with his lawyer about the possible financial ramifications of his impending divorce. Though he was noticeably disturbed by the idea that Mrs. Ari would be entitled to half of his earnings for the rest of his life (she is, after all, the wealthy one in the relationship), he positively balked at the idea that she might get a share of the company if he doesn’t pay back the $11 million that she invested.

Babs is more than willing to give him the money in exchange for a majority stake in the agency, which Ari simply isn’t willing to give up, so he instead decides to talk to Mrs. Ari about it face to face. Fortunately, Ari didn’t have a complete breakdown when he discovered that Bobby Flay was in his house, but he did manage to make Mrs. Ari feel really awful about the situation before leaving, claiming that she had changed for the worse. And though it was only for a fleeting moment, you could see that his comment hit her pretty hard. Who knows? Maybe those crazy kids really will work things out after all.

Other thoughts from the episode:

* The “Johnny’s Bananas” drama is finally over, and although I always expected it to end this way, it was nice to watch Drama stand by his values for once instead of selling out for money and fame. He could have easily given in after Phil threatened to derail production on the TV movie, but he stuck to his guns and proved that he believed in the show so much that he would rather walk away than make something of bad quality.

* Speaking of Phil, William Fichtner has been nothing short of great in the role, and tonight’s scene (especially the parts about replacing Drama in the TV movie with a look-a-like just to spite him) was one of his best.

* Just when it seemed like Turtle’s storyline might finally being going somewhere, the whole subplot turned out to be a bust, as the representatives from Don Peppe’s were more interested about seeing movie stars and receiving the four-star treatment than getting down to business. You have to feel bad for Turtle at this point, but quite frankly, I feel even worse for Jerry Ferrara.

Entourage 8.5 - Motherfucker

Entourage 8.4 - Whiz Kid

After the misfortune of being present during Carl Ertz’s drug blowout and subsequent suicide, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Vince would have his back against the wall for most of this week’s episode. But even with the paparazzi on the hunt for some juicy gossip, the guys didn’t seem too concerned that Vince would be in any real trouble. After all, though he may have been in Ertz’s house at the time of his death, Vince didn’t do any actual blow, so a drug test would clear him of any suspicion that he broke probation. Of course, Vince always seems to make things more complicated then they need to be – a lesson that Eric was unfort when Vince reveals that he smoked a joint recently to prove to himself that he wasn’t an addict.

That’s all fine and well, but it made passing the impending drug test a little trickier. Drama’s suggestion to use home remedies like vinegar to clean out his system didn’t go over too well when Vince could barely hold down a single sip, let alone the gallons necessary, and with only four hours to go until the test, he was forced to call in the big guns. You’d expect Billy Walsh to know quite a bit about cheating drug tests considering his past history, but even he seems too smart to try something as silly as a fake penis. Eric certainly didn’t think it was a very good idea, and rightfully so, because being caught with a contraption designed to cheat a drug test would likely yield a far worse punishment than if marijuana was found in his system. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Vince from doing it anyway, and you really have to give him kudos for having the balls (no pun intended) to take such a big gamble. Let’s just hope he’s finally learned his lesson, because this subplot wasted an entire episode.

The only other major story development of the night revolved around Ari’s old and new relationships, with his night of fun with Dana Gordon ending on a sour note after he mentions that he’s late for couple’s therapy with his wife. Not exactly the most romantic thing to say to someone that you’ve just had copious amounts of sex with, but Dana didn’t seem as offended as other women might. Like, say, Mrs. Ari, who was so upset over Ari’s late arrival to their session (due to dealing with the whole Vince situation) that she decided to give him a taste of his own medicine by walking out midway through. You’d think that since Vince is considered family she would have understood, so I’ll just chalk that up to how ridiculously out of character she’s been acting all season.

I really don’t understand why she’s being so childish, but it’s only bringing out the worst in Ari, as her refusal to believe that he could possibly be seeing someone else was no doubt the motivation behind his decision to take Dana out to dinner at Bobby Flay’s restaurant. Even Flay knew it was a pretty low-ball move, and when Dana figured out that Ari was using her to get back at his wife, she was understandably a little pissed. Too bad, because they made a fun couple. But now that Dana is seemingly out of the picture, I’m still not entirely convinced that Ari will be getting back with his wife any time soon – at least, not as much as I was at the start of the season. Mrs. Ari really seems to mean business, and with only four episodes left, Ari’s going to have to do a heckuva lot more if he has any hope of winning her back.

Entourage 8.3 - One Last Shot

Entourage 8.2 - Out with a Bang

After focusing pretty heavily on Vince’s return from rehab this week, the actor was stuck in the background for most of tonight’s episode, leading me to wonder whether he’ll even get the chance to mount another comeback before the end of the season. Sure, there was a tiny subplot involving him writing the script to that Romanian miner movie he wants Drama to star in, but apart from getting Billy to read the outline and agree to help flesh it out, Vince was surprisingly MIA this week.

He mostly just followed the rest of the gang around like he was part of Drama’s entourage – a scary thought, I know, but things are once again looking up for Vince’s older brother. Despite my personal feelings about “Johnny’s Bananas,” the guys seem to think it has the potential to become a runaway hit, even if Andrew Dice Clay has reservations about it performing well with the public. So when Phil drops by the recording studio to inform Drama and Dice that the show is being screened for a test audience, Dice practically begs him to tag along.

Unfortunately, that may not have been the best decision, because as soon as the Dice Man hears that “Johnny’s Bananas” tested through the roof, he immediately starts planning a mutiny to walk from the show. That’s pretty amateur behavior on his part, no matter how much he thinks they’re being underpaid. After all, the cartoon isn’t even on the air yet, and as Jerry Seinfeld (whose own show famously scored terribly with test audiences) can probably attest to, those scores mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Drama would be wise to keep his cool and not let Dice get into his head, because if he screws this opportunity up, it could very well be his last.

Meanwhile, Ari’s mounting jealousy over the news that his wife is seeing someone else takes him to his breaking point when Lloyd spots Mrs. Ari at celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s new restaurant while meeting with a potential client. But when he learns that her new beau might actually be a young waiter/actor with an upcoming audition for “Mad Men,” Ari makes it his mission to destroy the kid’s budding career. After Mrs. Ari catches wind of what he’s been up to, however, she marches straight into the TMA offices to confront him, only to discover that he may have pulled the trigger a little early.

It turns out that she wasn’t dating the waiter at all, but rather Flay himself, causing Ari to launch into a classic rant in front of his employees declaring war on the “red-headed fire crotch” and anyone who eats or recommends one of his “boy meets grill” restaurants. He’s definitely not helping his cause in trying to win Mrs. Ari back, but surely she has to recognize the extreme lengths he’s been going to just to get her attention. Their inevitable reunion can’t come soon enough.

Other thoughts from the episode:

* It may have been an almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, but Christian Slater’s run-in with Drama ranks up there as one of the series’ funniest. I’d really like to know what his beef with him was all about, but it’s probably best left a mystery.

* I love the idea of Lloyd becoming the new head of the TV division at TMA (as he said, the department is defunct, and he wants to take over and “refunct it”), but he’s been talking about Steven Levitan now for two weeks and nothing’s come of it. What gives?

* We’ve already had an entire season where Turtle mopes over the loss of a girlfriend, so why in the world are we being forced to sit through the same storyline with a different girl? It’s hard to believe that Alex is becoming so famous that she can’t even pick up the phone and call him, so let’s hope that their relationship is resolved sooner rather than later so that Turtle can get back to doing something that actually matters.

* Is it just me or does this whole break-up between Eric and Sloan feel like a cheap plot device to delay their inevitable wedding for the season finale? They obviously still care about each other, and if there’s been one constant on “Entourage” throughout the years other than the friendship between the five guys, it’s been the on again, off again relationship between Eric and Sloan. She may be moving to New York, but that’s a hardly a deal breaker on this show.

Entourage 8.1 - Home Sweet Home

HBO Bids Adieu to "Entourage" After Eight Seasons

To be completely honest, “Entourage” probably should have called it quits a few seasons ago after Vincent Chase reemerged from the failure of “Medellin” to reclaim his spot among the Hollywood elite. But now that the final season is just around the corner, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited to see how it all ends. Even with the chance of a potential big screen adventure, it’s hard to imagine that creator Doug Ellin won’t want to provide at least some kind of bookend to the series – particularly one that’s a little happier than the way he left off things last season.

With perhaps the exception of Eric, whose rekindled relationship with Sloan led to the pair getting engaged, the rest of the guys ended Season Seven on a low. After bringing in Mark Cuban as a potential business partner for Avion tequila, Turtle was seemingly pushed out of the deal with nothing to show for it; Drama gave up a plum job on network TV only to wind up settling for a new animated show conceived by Billy Walsh; Ari managed to save his career but not his wife after she walked away from their marriage; and Vince was thrown into rehab following his arrest for possession of cocaine.

Fortunately, the only place to go from there is up, which means that even if Season Eight doesn’t cap off the series with a completely happy ending, it’ll at least have a much brighter outlook than the previous season. Though everyone involved is holding their cards pretty close to their chests in regards to what we can expect to see, HBO has released a few promos and snippets of information that tell us a few things. For starters, the season will begin with Vince being released from a 90-day stint in rehab and eager to get back to work. But when he finds it difficult to land an acting job due to his recent tabloid-worthy exploits, he decides to write a starring vehicle for himself.

The rest of the guys will also continue to try and forge their own careers now that they’ve severed their dependency to Vince, with Turtle launching a new business venture to open a Hollywood location of the New York-based Italian restaurant, Don Peppe; Drama beginning production on “Johnny’s Bananas” alongside Andrew Dice Clay (presumably as one of the other voices); and Eric opening a new management company with Scotty Lavin. Interestingly enough, it also looks like his engagement to Sloan has hit a snag, while Ari will dedicate his time solely to winning back Mrs. Ari following their separation.

It all sounds promising enough, as long as things don’t get too serious. That was one of the main problems with last season, which often forgot it was a comedy at times by focusing all of its energy on the darker and more dramatic moments. And with only eight episodes for its grand finale, Ellin and Co. will have to be especially mindful of staying true to the story they want to tell while still delivering the show that fans know and love.

The eighth and final season premieres July 24th at 10:30 pm EST on HBO.

Read episode blogs from the show's first seven seasons!

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