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April 24, 2014

'Entourage' Series Finale Recap: Everybody Wins, Except the Audience

by Alex Moaba, posted Sep 12th 2011 1:40PM
For eight seasons, 'Entourage' has been a fun, breezy buddy comedy about a group of childhood friends living the good life in Hollywood. It's been a good time to watch, despite the fact that everything always works out for the guys in the end, which often led the show to hastily resolve season-long conflicts and gloss over tension between the characters.

But last night's series finale was dripping with more gloss than usual. In fact, it was all gloss. In one of the most baffling, problematic half-hours of TV I've ever seen, everything worked out for everyone -- except the audience. We were left feeling cheated over rushed catharsis, a love story that the show didn't bother to show us and characters that reconciled without ever earning it.

The whole thing revolved around an allegedly torrid love affair between Vince and Sophia, the Vanity Fair reporter who'd interviewed him several weeks before and adamantly refused his advances on the grounds that she's a serious journalist who doesn't date her subjects.

But, as we know by now, Vinny Chase's charm knows no bounds, and they fell madly in love with each other and decided to get married in Paris after hanging out for just 24 hours. All of which would have been fine, if 'Entourage' hadn't asked its audience to just take the show's word for it.

Instead, that major development happened completely behind the scenes, and it left the Vince-Sophia relationship feeling like an elaborate joke. The show spent three episodes with Vince jumping through hoops to woo her, but literally zero time showing them getting together. We get that love conquers all, but why weren't there any scenes of Vince and Sophia that might have gotten the audience at least somewhat invested in the major "love story" that was driving all the action of the series finale?

When Vince went to talk to Sloane on E's behalf, Sophia was "waiting in the car." There were more scenes of Turtle and Drama cajoling Sophia by proxy than there were of her and Vince doing anything! The only time we saw her in the episode was on the tarmac, and even then she only had a throw-away joke about getting to see if she and Vince were good travel buddies. It didn't add up. Maybe they were putting the whole thing on for some really meta, satirical Vanity Fair piece that we will no doubt hear about in the movie ...

That whole affair felt as lazy as the Turtle turns into a millionaire storyline from the second to last episode. Everything working out for the guys is one thing -- we've made our peace with that -- but it'd be nice to see them earn it, just once. Who wants to see these characters win without any struggle, triumph or tension? When Turtle becomes a millionaire because of a stroke of good luck from his friend and benefactor, or Vince finds the "love of his life" but the audience is given nothing to understand why they'd be so head-over-heels for each other, I couldn't help but feel that, not only was there no reason to care about these characters now, but maybe there never was.

Onto E and Sloane (as the crowd groans audibly). Just like Turtle and Drama did on Vince's behalf with Sophia, the gang stopped by Sloane's place to try to convince her to get back with her baby daddy Eric. The main issue that would actually come between almost any couple in the real world -- that E had been sleeping with Sloane's ex-stepmom, Melinda, for weeks -- was completely brushed under the rug. Well, not completely. Vince did dispense his wisdom that even if Eric did sleep with Melinda, he did it because he was still hung up on Sloane. Yeesh.

It's going to be really awkward, after E and Sloane get on that giant 747 that Vince rented to take them anywhere in the world, when Sloane asks E about that whole thing. "Sloane, I banged your stepmom because I love you." But nevermind that, because Sophia had some words of wisdom of her own: "They're fabulous together." If only she had ever seen them together before. Let us never speak of this again.

Finally, the one storyline in the finale that seemed somewhat credible, involving the only character that even the 'Entourage' writers seemed to agree was worth continued exploration: Ari Gold. While everyone else's storylines were wrapped up in a bow because Doug Ellin said so, the after-the-credits scene showed Ari getting the job offer a lifetime -- the opportunity to run not only a studio, but be the CEO of a billion-dollar entertainment corporation.

Unfortunately, he had just reconciled with his wife by giving up his agency and re-dedicating himself to his family, but you could just see his eyes tempted by the chance to "be God." Jeremy Piven's Ari is the only 'Entourage' character with the depth to handle that kind of internal struggle. His battle to be a good family man or to thrive as a business tycoon has him pulled in opposite directions, and true 'Entourage' fans probably still care about how he'll deal with those competing forces in his life.

Speaking of Ari, his driveway meeting with Lloyd was my favorite moment of the finale, one that actually felt earned and genuine. It was moving when Ari told Lloyd that he would shine in the agency without him. After all the berating, abuse and plenty of gay jokes, their relationship actually became something resembling a friendship. The show was at its best here because two characters, whose personal battles the audience had watched for years, actually had a face-to-face conversation where they shared what they meant to each other, and came to an understanding about how they'd each move on in the future.

The show's finale would've come a lot closer to justifying the years its audience has invested in it if a few more of the characters had done the same. 'Entourage' was a show that always had promise to be a buddy comedy that meant something. It never reached that potential, because it couldn't muster the depth to invest in its own characters in a way its audience wanted it to.

But, that's 'Entourage' for you: frustratingly shallow until the end. We'll see you at the movie, though. Did you hear Vince got the part?


Tell us: What did you think of the 'Entourage' series finale? Sound off in the comments.


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Robin

A. It was way too easy and simple of an ending, very disappointing.
B. Just because there is a movie in the works doesn't mean the show's finale shouldn't stand on it's own.

The only parts that felt right was the scene with Lloyd and Ari and the scene at the end with Ari. Those were the only scenes that felt honest.

September 16 2011 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James

Here's a tip for Doug Ellin: if you show a gun in act one it better fire by act three.

You can't have Malcolm McDowell threaten to have Eric killed and just drop it, while Vince saves the day by throwing money at problems.

I am convinced this is the worst written show in the history of HBO.

September 15 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Arthur Cohen

Not only was I disappointed in the sugar sweet wrap up that reeked of laziness in writing and directing, I felt manipulated--way more than usual in this show. Actually, I got angry at how stupidly it all played out--exactly what Alex wrote about. And like Alex, I agree that the only plot line that made sense and had any whit of intelligence and engagement was Ari's. Seeing Sloane standing on the tarmac, her Red Carpet red gown billowing in the wind, waving to E as if he were her savior (when in fact he'd been behaving like an annoying jealous school boy for too many recent episodes) was laughable and profoundly insulting. Vince and Sophia? Oh C'mon. Jeremy Piven should get an Emmy for this episode, and the others (including the writers) all ought to be banished to some daytime soaper. If this is the direction the rumored movie will take, I'd rather sit through Sex And The City 2, chained to my seat.

September 14 2011 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MichaelR

Oh come on! I understand that this site is about TV and every show needs its review but this is almost surreal.
You say the show is 8 years of shallowness but you are indignant at the finale's shallowness?
I'd love to have read your review of the end of I Love Lucy (or whatever title the end had). "For lo these many years Lucy has gotten into one mess or another. And every single time Ricky has forgiven her like nothing happened! What the hell is that? Most of the time she doesn't earn that forgiveness! How can we be expected to invest in these characters if we don't see real work being done by Lucy and Ricky with a counselor? Won't Fred and Ethel ever be nice to one another? Well, this show is just shallow!"

I like this show quite a bit. I liked the finale quite a bit. It's a sitcom about 4 guys in Hollywood having a dream life. Well my dreams are not the fully plotted novels you may enjoy. But they are sure entertaining.

September 13 2011 at 2:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shadowracer

I think the bigger news here is that there's a post here that's thoughtful and worth reading. Good job sir.

And I completely agree with all of the points you made, except I felt that every issue that was magnified in this final episode persisted through out this entire final season. It easily my least favorite season of entourage.

Count me as feeling completely cheated.
There was a scene after the credits? As soon as the credits rolled I destroyed the TV.

September 12 2011 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Elaine Corriero

Am I the only one who liked the way it ended? Oh no - I'm not. My husband liked it, too!

September 12 2011 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Elaine Corriero's comment
Daniele

No I liked it too. There is a movie people relax!

September 16 2011 at 9:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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