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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
aybe my expectations are just set extraordinarily high, but “Entourage” has had a shaky last few years. It’s gotten to the point where the show has even adopted its own version of the famous “Star Trek” film curse, in which every even-numbered season is superior to its odd-numbered counterpart. That’s certainly been the case in recent years, at any rate, with Season Five representing the series’ all-time low and Season Six proving to be one of its highs with an incredible return to form. Unfortunately, the seventh season continues that erratic pattern, and although it wasn’t a complete disaster, it did serve as yet another reminder why it’s probably time to say goodbye to Vincent Chase and the rest of the gang for good. It was a fun ride, but the show’s golden years are clearly long gone.
When the season begins, Vince (Adrian Grenier) is back on top of the Hollywood food chain after working with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Frank Darabont. His new action film with director Nick Cassavetes has just begun production, and though Vince typically has someone else perform the more dangerous stunts for him, Cassavetes convinces him that it’ll look better if he does them himself. But when a car stunt goes horribly wrong, everyone fears the worst, only for Vince to reemerge from the wreckage a little shaken up but excited by the prospect of doing it again. This one moment proved to be the turning point for the entire season, leading to a radical lifestyle change that saw Vince become an adrenaline junkie, get hooked on painkillers and cocaine, and fall hopelessly in love with real-life porn star Sasha Grey – a destructive cocktail of bad decisions that not only threatened to ruin his newly rehabilitated career (including the chance to work with Stan Lee on a new superhero project), but his friendships as well.
The problem, however, is that all of his friends are too busy trying to fix their own lives to even notice how badly Vince is messing up his. Eric (Kevin Connolly) has given up the bachelor life in order to convince Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) that he's ready to take their relationship to the next level; Drama (Kevin Dillon) finds himself unemployed after his decision to quit “Five Towns” backfires; Turtle’s (Jerry Ferrara) new car service bombs, leading him to invest in an ambitious tequila venture; and Ari’s (Jeremy Piven) dream of bringing an NFL team to L.A. is put into jeopardy after Lizzie (Autumn Reeser) leaves the agency and teams up with one of Ari’s old nemeses to exact her revenge.
Unfortunately, none of the main storylines are very engaging. Vince’s downward spiral, in particular, initially seemed like a cool direction to take the character, but by the time he became a full-blown cokehead (not to mention an insanely jealous asshole), it had gone too far. Series creator Doug Ellin seems to think that he has to constantly knock his characters down in order for them to earn the right to live such lavish lifestyles. But while there’s nothing wrong with putting them through the ringer now and again (that’s the only way they’ll grow as characters), he doesn’t need to totally destroy them either.
Case in point: Ari Gold. The guy may not exactly be a model boss, but tearing apart his marriage because of some racist and sexist comments he made to his employees is a bit extreme. In fact, if there’s anything that Ari does seem to do right most of the time, it’s being a loyal husband and father. You’d think that a smart and strong female character like Mrs. Ari (Perry Reeves) would recognize that, but instead of having her stand by her husband during one of the most difficult moments in his career, the writers created a potentially marriage-ending dispute between the couple that felt false and unearned.
There were some great moments in the season too, like Eric’s ongoing rivalry with Scotty Lavin (a very funny Scott Caan) and the return of the now-sober Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro), but they paled in comparison to its many problems. It's not that Season Seven was terrible, but it felt like Ellin was running all of his characters into the ground just for the sake of building them back up again in the next (and what looks to be final) season. Drama's attempts at finding a new job may have provided a fun guest spot by John Stamos, but it turned out to be a giant tease that resulted in one of the show’s dumbest ideas to date (“Johnny’s Bananas,” really?), while Turtle was stuck playing babysitter to Dania Ramirez in a subplot that had viewers pining for the return of Jamie-Lynn Sigler.
Instead, we got Sasha Grey playing a hyperbolized version of herself as Vince’s love interest. And though she was a breath of fresh air in the beginning, by the end of the season, she became the ire of most fans as the whole Vince storyline proved to be a little too dark for its own good. I’m all for raising the stakes and exploring the psyches of characters, but not if it completely dominates the overall tone of the show. Who knew that the one thing that made the season so intriguing to begin with would ultimately be its undoing by the end? That’s Season Seven in a nutshell, and if it’s remembered for anything at all, it’ll be as an unnecessary detour to the show’s inevitable happy ending.
Special Features: The two-disc release of Season Seven is a little better than previous years, but not by much. There are three audio commentaries with creator Doug Ellin, executive producer Ally Musika, and stars Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven on the final three episodes, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the season ("Inside the Hollywood Highlight") and a candid interview with Sasha Grey.