Of course, whenever people write or converse about Entourage, the same points are hit every time. Folks make jokes about Kevin Connolly and Adrian Grenier, the lack of stakes, the absence of compelling plots or a plot at all. Yet, each July, the conversation in the pop-culture universe turns toward Entourage. I doubt this happens if not for HBO because HBO's built the reputation for quality television, so Entourage becomes a show that must be discussed because of its network. The only reason the Emmys nominated Entourage for Outstanding Comedy or various acting awards is because of the premium channel that broadcasts it. Sadly, positive name recognition matters more than good storytelling and good acting. In certain circles, people argue that they'd know Fincher directed The Social Network because of his trademark style. Are you kidding me? No one would guess David Fincher as the director of that film without the credits directly telling the audience that he directed it. I'd like someone to show a group of people some episodes from Entourage without any sort of back story, and I doubt any one would compare it to Sex and the City or argue that it's a show worth remembering.
"Home Sweet Home" marked the beginning of the end of the series by jumping ahead five months so audience could avoid the fall-out from last season's finale, in which Vince was busted for possession of cocaine. Vince is sober, excited for the future and the hope to reclaim his spot on the A-list in Hollywood. His head's a-buzz with ideas for movies, and his buddies reluctantly tell him that his idea has potential lest they risk sending Vince into an all-night bender that'll undo three months of rehab.
Drama runs around the entire episode, hiding any kinds of substances that his brother could abuse. E sulks around because Vince never called him and Sloane doesn't want to marry him. Turtle wanders around, smoking pot and turning down threesomes because his girlfriend's promoting the whiskey business. Scott Caan follows the entourage around because he's one of them now. Ari, meanwhile, remains separated from his wife. Jonah, Ari's son, refuses to attend school until Ari returns home. Ari's a fixer. The man wants to save his marriage but the wind's taken out of him when Mrs. Ari confesses that she's been seeing someone else. Later, he silently cries as he watches half of Vince's house burn because of that hurt his wife caused him.
Doug Ellin crafted not one or two but three arcs for three of his characters in the premiere. Vince wants his career and stardom back. Ari wants his wife and family back. E wants Sloane back (but he always does). The stakes remain practically non-existent, of course. "Home Sweet Home" provides the illusion of stakes. Ellin wants the audience to believe that Vince could relapse; however, eight seasons in one must be daft to believe that Vince would relapse, especially after a season that was terrible because of its focus on Vince's addiction. Ellin's not a fool. He knows what people want in the final season.
For the most part, the characters remain successful. Drama and Billy's animated show's doing well, ditto Turtle's whiskey business. E and Scott are successful agents, working as a team rather than against one another. Ari's Ari in the agency world. The conflicts come from the characters lives like E and Sloane or E and Vince. Vince and E have trouble mixing friendship and business because E and Vince always disagree about projects; their conflict, though, is the same as it's been the last few seasons. E and Sloane have the same boring issues, except this time it's an issue of a pre-nup. All is not well but everything will be eventually because it's Entourage.
As a whole, I actually enjoyed the episode. I enjoyed the sober party Drama threw for Vince. Scott Caan brings another dose of charisma into the scenes (Kevin Dillon was the only source of charisma before). I'm long past asking much from the show. If I laugh a few times and I avoid nodding off then the episode succeeded. Remember, I don't care about any of the characters nor how the show ends. I have no investment whatsoever in the on-going narrative. I have no expectations for the show to wrap anything up because there's nothing to wrap up. I've just watched the previous seven seasons, so I feel obligated to watch the final one (and why not write about it, you know?).
Some other thoughts:
--Emmanuelle Chiqri is one reason to always watch the show. Her scenes might last 15 seconds but she is amazing looking. Actually, no word conveys how awesome looking she is. If the opportunity presented itself, I'd date her.
--Kevin Connolly's framed Jon Tavares jersey has actual signatures on the #91 this season. He's the only famous Islanders fan. In Scott Caan's office hangs a framed Dan Carcillo jersey (unsigned). Of course, Carcillo's no longer a Philadelphia Flyer. And why the hell does Scott Caan's character have a framed Carcillo jersey? Caan and Connolly's characters were rivals but in no way are the Flyers and Islanders rivals. The Islanders exist to add easy points to the Flyers' point totals.
--The final season's only eight episodes. HBO cancelled the show. Ellin wants to make an Entourage movie. I hope each studio passes. Ellin wrote and directed "Home Sweet Home."
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK