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THE GOLDEN RULE: Never leave your friends behind; especially when there’s a woman involved. It seemed like that was the unspoken law between the four guys, but now that Vince is without Mandy he’s, well, acting like a baby. Both Ari and Eric are trying to getting him back in the groove before “Aqua Man” begins shooting, but Vince wants off the film completely. Not such good news for Ari, who is of recent unemployed since trying to make a move to steal all of the good agents from Lawrence’s agency. At least he has Lloyd at his side, though I’m not sure being carted around in Lloyd’s ricer is exactly the kind of credibility he needs at this time. It’ll be interesting to see how Ari gets along next season with his new agency, but we can only hope that his meetings will be taking place in an actual office rather than a rundown café.

And now that Vince has seemingly decided to throw in the towel, E is off to look for a new job, but finds that he doesn’t have to look far when Lawrence offers him a spot as an agent. This is the perfect chance for Eric to branch off as a professional in Hollywood. It’s a real shame he doesn’t accept, opting to stick behind Vince instead, because this was the big step forward that his character really needed. Vince, meanwhile, meets with James Cameron about the film, and just when he’s about to quit in front of one of the biggest directors in the business, he decides to stick it out. That’s a big sigh of relief for Eric and the other guys, but wrapping that drama up in the final three minutes of the show was completely ridiculous. The writers could have at least made the audience think there was a chance that things might continue downhill with a cliffhanger ending until next season, but I guess they have another plan in mind.

Turtle’s out promoting his new client Saigon and promises that Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre will be at his upcoming show, but the only guys that show up are the rap stars’ assistants. That’s still better than nothing, and I’m really excited to see how Turtle’s newfound business lifts off during the next season. This subplot is just screaming potential for the otherwise pointless character, so here’s hoping they don’t mess it up. And then there’s Drama. He’s out an agent (thanks to Ari and Vince leaving the agency) with no work for weeks. Ah, the cycle continues.

This season finale was certainly lacking in some parts. I was pleasantly surprised to see the series take a turn from its usual happy-go-lucky direction by implementing some serious dramatic tension into the mix, but they forfeited the chance to really take off by fixing everything at the very end. Ari is still in a state of flux, but there’s no doubting he’ll be back to his normal self by the start of season three, and Drama, while not having the best of luck, isn’t any worse off than he was at the beginning of the season. So what exactly was accomplished this season? I’m still trying to figure that one out myself. ~JaeZ

It’s funny how things all come together in the end. I have to be honest though, I never really saw where the writers were going by bringing Lawrence (Ari’s boss) into the picture. Sure, he was a major pain in the ass for Ari, and he really poured on the pressure over the past few weeks, but watching the two butt heads made Ari exhibit too much weakness. The payoff came this week, though, when Lawrence mentions that he’s coming back fulltime, and Ari flips out and plans a secret coup de tat that would bring all of the agency’s biggest earners to Ari’s new camp. Unfortunately, Ari gets ratted out by a small-time agent looking to make a big impression, and before he can right the wrong, Lawrence catches him red-handed. With one final move before he’s promptly kicked out of the building, Ari goes all “Jerry Maguire” on the office, but only Lloyd follows. Does that mean he’s Renee Zelwegger?

Meanwhile, while the guys are out shopping for watches (Vince’s treat, as usual) they catch Mandy hanging out with her ex-fiancée Chris and decide to follow them. With Drama and Turtle on her tail, Eric keeps Vince busy until they have concrete evidence that Mandy’s cheating on him. Nothing solid comes out of Drama and Turtle’s reconnaissance – a few shopping bags and a trip to Blockbuster – but the guys are sure that something’s up. And it turns out they're right. Vince goes over to Mandy’s for a nice quiet dinner and confronts her about Chris, and when she finally decides to tell the truth, she reveals that she’s thinking about getting back together with Chris. Not exactly the answer Vince was hoping for, so he breaks it off and comes home to tell the guys.

But with Mandy and Vince broken up, what does the future look like for “Aqua Man?” Well, not very promising, actually. Vince wants out, and he may just leave acting for good. And with the loss of Ari’s ace client, his upcoming agency may be in store for some bumpy roads . I’d like to see Ari back to his old self again by the beginning of next season, and I’m sure Vince will come around in the end. He kind of has to, or there’s really no entourage. And with no entourage, there’s no show. Here’s hoping for an exciting and fulfilling season finale. ~JaeZ

: If I were representing Vinnie Chase, I’d be a little pissed off right now as well. Despite warning him not to let his new relationship with Mandy control his life, Vince missed yet another important meeting because he was spending time with her. And if Vince is missing meetings, then that means Mandy is too, and this doesn’t make her eight-man team of managers, agents and publicists very pleased. They try to talk Eric into keeping a leash on Vince until the movie is finished shooting, but E isn’t impressed with their big words and even bigger titles, and so he just walks out. Nice move. Unfortunately, this isn’t the worst of the day’s news. Ari’s got a little secret to tell Eric, as long as he doesn’t run home and squeal to Vince: Cameron says that Vince is replaceable. So what does Eric do? He runs home and squeals, but Vince isn’t buying Ari’s five-cent bluff.

It doesn’t take long before they break down Ari into telling them the truth: he made it all up as a means of motivating his number one client, but Vince doesn’t find it very funny. He decides to give Ari a lesson by spinning a little lie of his own, and Eric drives it home with a frantic phone call that sends Ari seven hours north to Napa Valley in search of a love-struck Vince. OK, so maybe it wasn’t very nice making Ari drive all the way up there for nothing, and consequently missing his scheduled dinner with his wife, but he deserved it… sort of. Ari has gone from the tough guy agent to a puddle of melted Jell-O in a matter of only weeks, and it’s curious to see this side of the usually demanding powerhouse. Desperation is literally seeping from Ari nowadays, and he’s got to pull it together if he plans on lasting through the next season. I like the way the writers are going with further developing the core group of characters, but if there was one guy that needed little revising, it was Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold.

And finally, there’s Turtle, the one guy who still really hasn’t done anything of merit throughout the first two seasons of the show. After discovering a demo CD in Eric’s stolen Maserati by an unknown rap artist, Turtle thinks he’s found the perfect end credits track for “Queens Boulevard,” but director Walsh claims he’s scoring the entire soundtrack himself. That is until he listens to the track and gives Turtle the go-ahead to snag the rights with the final $10,000 of the budget. Turtle tracks down the rapper, who goes by the name Saigon, and strikes a deal that will secure the rights of the song and land Turtle his first client as a music manager. Way to go Turtle. It’ll be interesting to see how far they decide to take this new subplot with Turtle. I’d personally like to see the guy do something with his life, but with only two episodes left, it may have to wait until season three. ~JaeZ

I was pretty confident that most serialized television was shot far in advance of its broadcast date, but now I’m not so sure. After apologizing last week to the writers of the series for calling them out on a few items that were dutifully taken care of, I still had the last word as to the direction the writers were taking with the characters of Drama and Turtle; namely, nowhere. Suddenly, this week’s episode polishes that issue as well by giving Drama a new dilemma with his career. Granted, he’s still only getting tiny roles in movies-of-the-week (MOWs), but this time it’s opposite Brooke Shields, and he’s got a great idea for a kissing scene. It’s too bad, then, that he’s only playing her little brother, but that doesn’t stop him from getting a boner on set during a scene where he’s supposed to be consoling her. Brooke gets a little poke, and Drama gets the boot. Even Turtle gets a little serious this week during a mano a mano sitdown with Vince about the future of his friendship with Eric, but when it comes to developing a guy like that, it’s going to take baby steps.

Vince isn’t one to wait around. Mandy’s called it quits with her fiancée and is back together with Vince, much to the disapproval of the crew. The relationship is all over the news, and Warner Brothers is weary of bad press for “Aqua Man.” Eric is having a little lady luck of his own with Sloan, but dating the sexy daughter of Ari’s boss Lawrence may not sit well further down the road. If you thought that Lawrence would be out of the picture after last week’s Bat Mitzvah, you’re seriously mistaken, and it looks as if he will be playing an integral part of the final half of season two.

After meeting with Lawrence, Vince has already been secured a meet-and-greet with Quentin Tarantino, and Ari is getting mighty nervous. He’s going to do whatever it takes to protect one of his most valuable clients from going to the Dark Side – even if that means making a gift of a $100,000 Niche painting that Vince wants to give Mandy for her birthday. Correction. Make that a fake Niche painting that Eric discovers after grilling Ari for info. Ari’s got the real thing at home, but it was an anniversary present to his wife. Surely he won’t choose Vince over his wife. And he would never run home to switch out the fake for the authentic print. Right? I’m sure that you already know the answer to that question, but that’s what makes Ari one of the more appealing characters on television today.

I don’t have any predictions for this coming week, but I’d like to leave a quick note to the writers of “Entourage:” Give me a call. Great minds think alike. ~JaeZ

: Ah…the Bat Mitzvah, the universal symbol of love. Well, not exactly, but love was definitely in the air this week on “Entourage,” and it all just happened to take place at Ari’s daughter’s “special day.” First off, I’d like to apologize to the writers of the show for blowing up last week after a very uneventful episode that seriously lacked in memorable Ari moments. I’d also like to shout out a big “touché” for thwarting my attacks on forgetting about Eric’s love life, and thankfully, both of these issues were quickly remedied this week. By far the best moment of the night came when Ari returned from a jog to find his neighbor’s dog taking a crap on the lawn, and yelling “Don’t even think about not picking that up Frank, cause I’ll fucking kill you,” without even stopping mid-run to take a breather.

The future of “Aqua Man” looks to be in turmoil when James Cameron overhears his two stars bickering about their shaky past, but E’s hit with an even bigger surprise when he hears Vince exclaim to Mandy that he’s still in love with her. Oops, bad move. Eric would usually throw a big fit about Vince lying to him – and he still stirs the pot a bit – but he’s much more interested in hooking up with the beautiful daughter of Ari’s boss. And because Eric told the other guys about Vince’s little chat with Mandy, Vince decides to mess with him by competing for the girl at the Bat Mitzvah, though its clear right away that she would much rather be with a schmuck like Eric than with a big Hollywood star like Vince.

Meanwhile, Ari begins to get nervous when his ex-boss, Lawrence, requests a sit-down with Vince about his blossoming career. Afraid that Lawrence is going to steal his client, Ari approaches him about staying away from Vinny. Lawrence responds with a $50,000 check for his daughter, though the gift smelled more like a shut-up-and-sit-down bribe than a present. Still, it was nice to see Ari both stand up for himself and prove that he really is a family guy when it comes down to business. Here’s hoping that the writers are a little smarter next time about what they do with their star characters. Eric and Ari are easily the series’ two most interesting personalities, so it’d be nice to see them continue to develop through the end of the second season. As for Drama and Turtle, they’ve once again been turned into a big, fat subplot that’s meant to amuse the viewers. Smoking a lot of pot and getting really hungry, though, is not the most original idea for the duo. Nice try guys, but I wasn’t going to let you off that easy. ~JaeZ

: So little happened during this week on “Entourage” that U2 had to make an appearance just to ensure that the episode would last the usual runtime. With this season already running longer than the first, I’m beginning to doubt the stamina of the series, but I’ll let them off on a verbal warning. The reason this week’s episode was such a drag was mostly a result of MIA star Jeremy Piven. I’m not sure if HBO heard correctly, but it was Piven (and only Piven) that was nominated for an Emmy. And for good reason too. His performance on the series has quickly made Ari Gold one of the most interesting characters on television today, second to Denis Leary’s work on “Rescue Me.”

The events preceding the concert were really a complete waste of time, and the majority of the episode was spent at San Diego’s massive trade show, Comic Con, where Vince was scheduled to announce “Aqua Man” alongside co-star Mandy Moore. The chances that the film will actually be completed are starting to become slim though, mostly because Vince can’t bring himself to work with Mandy, let alone have dinner with her. News of her recent engagement, and Eric’s revelation of Vince’s romantic past with the singer/actress, have created a roadblock in the project, so it’ll be interesting to see next week how Cameron takes the news when the two stars begin production on the movie. And to make things worse, if that’s even possible, Vince pisses off a popular online journalist who vows to badmouth “Aqua Man” once a week until the movie opens. E and Turtle work on fixing the problem by enlisting in the help of porn star Jesse Jane (who’s at Comic Con promoting her new comic book “Pussy Patrol”) to convince the nerdy writer to do otherwise, and it looks like it might have worked.

Drama visited the show as well, making his annual trip to geekdom in order to sign autographs for, and take pictures with, fans of his cult sci-fi series “Viking Quest.” And for once, Drama was the star. He was finally in his environment, surrounded by fans of his work (no matter how lame) and he even scored his sexy co-star in the end. Still no Ari, save a short scene where he calls Drama to let him know about the U2 tickets. Big whoop. I guess Bono was more important, but isn’t he always? And what ever happened to the possibility of Eric and Emily getting back together? The writers are finally working on Vince’s love life, so why drop Eric’s off the drawing board? It was a nice holiday, but here’s hoping next week’s episode gets back on track. We’ve got a handful of issues that need to be settled before the season finale. What do they think this is, “Lost”? ~JaeZ

: The age-old maxim “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” doesn’t necessarily suit every guy in the world, and believe it or not, Vincent Chase is one of those men. After receiving a list from James Cameron of the Top 5 women he wants as Aqua Man’s love interest, Turtle and Drama become suddenly worried when Mandy Moore’s name pops up. Eric, who doesn’t know about Vince’s shaky past with Mandy, discovers all about the break-up depression he went through while still acting in New York. This, of course, included a steady diet of tuna fish and saltines, late-night drive-bys, the dreaded hang-up calls, and the notorious mix tape ending with “Tiny Dancer.” So, Vince has had a serious girlfriend before. It’s nice to see his character finally getting a little bit more development this season, because up until now, Vince was the most indistinct character on the show.

Despite any decision from Vince or E, Cameron decides that Moore is his gal, namely because her skin tone looks great against the water. Puh-lease. The casting of Mandy is put into hiatus though when the studio unveils her and Vince’s heinous break-up five years prior. To set things right, Mandy agrees to a meeting with Vince, and if Vince feels any bit awkward by the situation, then she will turn down the offer plain and simple. Pretty big words coming from a girl whose career could seriously use a jolt like “Aqua Man” on her resume, and I have a pretty good feeling that she’s going to take that role no matter how uncomfortable her co-star feels.

Finally, there’s Drama. Good ol’ Johnny Drama, who’s always capable of a few laughs when things get too serious. While hanging out down in Malibu at Jessica Alba’s beach pad, Drama receives a phone call from his agent about an audition for a Hallmark Movie of the Week. Drama and Turtle quickly finish up their shopping – which includes stealing the last box of Froot Loops from Dr. Joyce – and high-tail it to L.A. Drama just barely makes the cut only to discover that the audition is for the same group of assholes he went off on last time for not paying attention to his reading. Already mad about his mediocre audition, Drama gets furious when some Malibu bleach-blonde surfer dude (in a convertible PT Cruiser, nonetheless) cuts him off on the highway. So Drama does what every other New Yorker would probably do. He pops open the trunk and grabs E’s Callaway driver so that he can bash the shit out of this guy’s hood and windshield. The cops promptly arrive to take him away, but not before he finds out that he got the part in the Hallmark movie. And while it’s nice to see Drama continue to stay afloat in the business, I’m still waiting to see him get that big career boost that he desperately needs. Here’s hoping that he gets that matador movie and some major critical praise next year at Sundance. ~JaeZ

: In our summer TV preview, I described “Entourage” in the following way: “Surprisingly unfunny for a comedy, this show does provide an interesting look at the Hollywood scene.” The first season was fairly entertaining (which isn’t saying much for a show on HBO), but Turtle and Drama annoyed me. Many of their jokes were clunkers and I suppose the writing was ultimately to blame. I still don’t like Turtle’s wiggerish manner of speaking – if the four friends grew up together, I don’t know why he talks one way and the rest another. But seven episodes into Season 2, the show is markedly better. While not all of the jokes are home runs, they definitely have a higher on-base percentage. It’s difficult for an unknown actor to play somebody famous, so during the first season I wasn’t really buying Adrian Grenier as the superstar Vince Chase, but he has since settled into that role. It’s good to see the group face some adversity this season with Vince’s financial situation coming into question. I think it has caused the foursome (or at least Vince and Eric) to grow up a bit. The decadent lifestyle displayed in the first season honestly made me a little sick. But the reason I kept watching was simple: Jeremy Piven (as Ari). I’ve been a fan of his since “PCU” and “Grosse Pointe Blank”; the veteran actor has been excellent throughout the series run. I’m convinced that if Piven were a bit more likable, he’d be having the same career that Vince Vaughn is having. Anyway, congrats to the show for improving on what most thought was an already solid product – you’ve earned another fan. ~John Paulsen

: The boys hit Sundance this week with only one thing on their mind: James Cameron. And if Cameron doesn’t like “Queens Boulevard,” Vince won’t get “Aqua Man.” To make matters worse, Ari breaks the news that Cameron isn’t visiting Sundance just for Vinnie, but has his eye on a long list of young actors to fill the role of the underwater superhero. On the upside of things, Eric runs into Hollywood producer Harvey Weingard in the airport restroom and discovers that Harvey wants to offer Vince the lead role in a surfing film. The movie begins shooting in Australia in three weeks and Vince needs to make up his mind quick before he loses out, so without any real hesitation, thanks in part to Ari’s incessant pushing, Vince signs up. Water’s water after all, and Ari couldn’t be anymore excited about visiting the Down Under: “We’re gonna get drunk with Russell Crowe and head butt some goddamn kangaroos.”

Meanwhile, Drama and Turtle spend their weekend in snowy Utah fighting over a girl like they were in an episode of “Saved By the Bell,” until finally, she chooses both of them. Yup, Drama and Turtle swallow their pride in order to have a threesome with a hot piece of ass, but it doesn’t end well when the two accidentally cross “swords.” Now, Drama’s completely freaked out whenever Turtle even touches him, so he spends the rest of the day nagging the hottest new director out of Spain about a role in his upcoming matador film. And what do you know, he snags an audition. Johnny’s future is finally looking bright, although that can only spell trouble for Vince.

Despite initially agreeing to star in Harvey’s surfer epic, Vince and Eric decide to bail and take their chances with James Cameron. Things don’t look good at first when director Billy Walsh informs the audience that his film has a four-hour runtime, especially after Cameron leaves 10 minutes in, but “Queens Boulevard” kills and Vince’s future looks better than ever. Only hours after the screening, the guys hit the slopes for some quality snowboarding action when Cameron phones Vince directly with the offer to play “Aqua Man.” It’s finally time to cash in that check boys, but that still doesn’t clear Vince from flopping. Hopefully his rave reviews from “Queens Boulevard” will keep him in the game after filming on “Aqua Man” wraps, and we still have half a season to find out. ~JaeZ

: Have you ever come across an international commercial starring a Hollywood actor? Well, if you have, then you already know how ridiculous they usually are, but that doesn’t stop Vince from signing up for a one-day shoot worth half a million dollars. The product? An incredibly popular Red Bull-like energy drink that’s huge in China. The man behind the shoot is none other than Chang Chung, the hottest director in Hong Kong who Tarantino has reportedly already decided to steal from next. And according to Vince, “Tarantino only steals from the best.” Cha-ching! Vince even takes full advantage of the situation by hooking up with Chang’s technical advisor, Li Lei, a Chinese beauty who kicks Drama’s ass when he challenges her to a sparring match.

Now that the money situation is handled, Eric goes to work on securing a print of “Queens Boulevard” from director Billy Walsh, and enlists the help of the film’s producer, Bob Wickman. But to no avail, Walsh remains a torrid asshole, and E finds himself shit out of luck. It looked like Eric’s possible fuck up was going to spell trouble for his and Vince’s friendship, but after confronting him with the bad news, Vince just shrugs it off and says that Cameron will agree if the project is meant to be.

And it looks as if it might just turn out that way after Ari informs the guys that Cameron wants Sharon Stone to play the mother of Aqua Man. Stone also just so happens to be represented by Ari, and has said that Vince is her favorite actor in Hollywood. Big words for the new kid on the block, but Stone’s praise has impressed Cameron enough to seduce him to Sundance in order to see “Queens Boulevard.” If the movie blows up at the festival, then it looks like Vince will be the next Spider-Man, underwater, of course.

And to blogger JayC, who has complained that the series never capitalized on some of the more interesting events from past episodes -- like the Vegas Trip and the Playboy Mansion Pajama Party -- this week’s episode finally cashes in, kind of, with the debut of Vince’s commercial for the Chinese Red Bull knock off. Will this come back to haunt him, or is there still a chance that “Aqua Man” will flop? ~JaeZ

: “Now that James Cameron’s doing this movie, I want it. Badly. So get up off your asses and accomplish something, or I will find people who can.” And with that pep talk from Vince, Ari and Eric set off to try and get Vince back on “Aqua Man.” Actually, the good news is Leonardo DiCaprio will not be playing the “underwater Elton John,” but the bad news is, Cameron has no idea who Vince is, which means the role is still up for grabs.

After threatening to blackmail Warners’ Dana Gordon several times, Ari finally arranges a sit-down with Cameron and Vince. Meanwhile, Eric wants to have Cameron screen “Queens Boulevard,” currently being looped by director Billy Walsh. Now he just needs to sweet-talk Emily, Ari’s former assistant who now works for Cameron and apparently holds a grudge for the way Eric treated her in the first season. E obviously says something Emily likes, though, because Cameron agrees to see “Boulevard,” and actually cancels the meeting with Vince until after the screening. But when Eric tells Walsh the good news, Walsh refuses, saying nobody sees “Queens Boulevard” until Sundance, not even Cameron. Fuck.

This is the first time we’ve really seen Eric in hot water. Ari, after all, had the sit-down all set to go, which means everything now falls on Eric’s shoulders. If E can’t convince Walsh to let Cameron see “Boulevard” or get Cameron to meet Vince without screening the film, he’s toast. Vince is currently broke, having spent all his money on the down payment for the new house, and now he’s jacked about doing a Cameron movie. If “Aqua Man” doesn’t happen, the boys are out of the new crib and E could be out of a job. Plus, I’ve got to think firing your best friend would kind of put a strain on your friendship.

On a side note, have you ever wondered what happened to Bob Saget? Well, he’s Vince’s next door neighbor and, apparently, he’s a divorced pothead with a taste for high-priced hookers. One of the things I’ve loved about this show from day one was the cameos, and Saget was absolutely priceless this week. I never thought I’d see Danny Tanner on TV hitting a bong and calling a girl “a fucking thoroughbred.” ~JayC

: Apparently, Vince wasn’t paying attention when his mom handed down those words of wisdom because, after accepting Warner Brothers’ verbal offer for “Aqua Man” but before actually signing the contract, Vince closed on a new $4 million crib, started throwing 50-inch flat screens up on the walls and hired a hot-shot decorator with a $150K retainer. The problem is, Ari hasn’t received the contract from Warners yet, so when Josh Weinstein tells the guys that James Cameron has been brought on as the “Aqua Man” director, E really starts sweating, wondering if Vince is still on Warners’ radar. Ari, meanwhile, explodes, placing calls to just about everyone in Hollywood trying to confirm the Cameron rumor before being reassured that, as soon as Cameron is locked up, Warners will finalize everything with Vince.

This is all, of course, great news – as Turtle says, “James Cameron, baby! This could be the worst piece-of-shit movie ever and it’ll still make a billion dollars.” – especially after learning earlier in the episode that “Queens Boulevard” got into Sundance. Unfortunately, the good times end when Ari and Eric hear that “Leo” is in Paris talking to James Cameron about “some fish movie.” Gulp.

Putting aside the fact that I just can’t see Leonardo DiCaprio playing a superhero (even if it is only Aqua Man), this news puts Vince in an interesting spot. Ari and E spent the past three episodes trying to sell Vince on “Aqua Man,” and after finally agreeing to do the film (with final suit approval, of course), it looks like he may not get the chance. With a fat new mortgage payment and an interior decorator on the payroll, Vince needs the big payday that comes with doing a Cameron film. Plus, with his latest movie hitting Sundance instead of the mainstream, Vince needs a big hit just as badly. Looks like it’s time for Ari to get to work.

On another note, we’ve been cheated by the writers once again. After refusing to show us anything from the trip to Vegas a couple episodes ago, I was hoping they’d make up for it by delivering the goods on the Pajama Party at the Playboy Mansion. No dice. In fact, nobody even mentions the party at all, which is hard to believe since you know Turtle would've been talking about it for months. We’re supposed to believe that Eric is ready to embrace life as Vince’s manager after nailing the Perfect 10 model and dumping his girlfriend, and yet we never heard anything about the Vegas trip and now we don’t see anything from Heff’s party. Seems to me that the writers really missed out on two prime character-development opportunities for Eric, which is a shame considering he’s potentially the most intriguing character on the show. ~JayC

So what happened in Vegas, fellas? When the last episode ended, the boys were headed to Vegas for the night and E was finally ready to cash in on the sliver of fame he’s achieved as Vince’s manager. So do we see anything from the trip, hear any good stories about Eric hooking up with some strippers or banging a cocktail waitress? Nope. They don’t even mention the trip. What a rip.

Nonetheless, lots of interesting things happened this week. The guys are headed to the Playmate Pajama Party, but learn that Drama has been banned for life from the Playboy Mansion for setting loose a bunch of monkeys a few years back while partying with the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio. Later, it’s revealed that Pauly Shore actually liberated the apes and Drama, who scaled a wall to sneak into the party, is allowed to stay.

Meanwhile, Vince, E and Ari meet with Warners to talk about “Aqua Man.” Ari and E both want Vince to do the movie but when they see the Aqua Man outfit he’d be wearing (“No way I’m gonna be on a 70-foot screen looking like an underwater Elton John”), Vince tells Ari to never mention the movie again. Warners, though, loves Vince and wants to do a trilogy: $5 million for the first one, $7 mil for the second and another $12 million for the third. Apparently all Vince needed was proper motivation because when he hears those numbers, he tells Ari to get it done since he just bought a $4 million house formerly owned by Marlon Brando. Of course, Vince needs final suit approval, and Ari promises, “You can wear tube socks and a yarmulke.”

It’ll be interesting to see where the writers go next. Ari finally has his big-budget movie, and if “Aqua Man” is a hit, Vince will officially become a huge star. But if the movie busts, he’ll be a flash in the pan and he’ll likely hang Ari for talking him into doing the film. And what about Eric? He wanted Vince to do “Aqua Man” too, so would Vince hold E responsible as well? Or, if the movie tanks, would Vince start relying more on Eric’s advice and less on Ari’s? The easy conclusion is that “Aqua Man” is huge and everyone stays happy, but where’s the fun with that? We’re about to find out if HBO actually wants to develop a quality story with “Entourage,” or if they’re only interested in showing Vince and his boys living the good life. Based on the network’s track record, I’m betting on the former and crossing my fingers.

Finally, what exactly is going on with Eric? He seems like he’s finally ready to break out of his shell a bit, but aside from hooking up with the Perfect 10 model last week, the new Eric hasn’t been much different from the old. If he’s truly embracing his situation, E should take a Playmate or two home from the Mansion. I just hope we get to see more from the Pajama Party than we did from Vegas. ~JayC

: Throughout the first season-plus of “Entourage,” Turtle has never been reluctant to cash in on his relationship with Vince, freeloading his way to all the hot rides and hot women they can handle. E, meanwhile, hasn’t really jumped on Vince’s gravy train yet, even insisting on driving his beat-up Honda Accord home from the airport in the season premiere. Well, that heap is on its way to the junkyard after Vince gave Eric the keys to a brand new Maserati in this week’s opening sequence.

At the Lakers game that night, Ari continues to push “Aqua Man” and, in a later scene, he makes Eric promise he’ll read the script tonight, which isn’t going to happen now that the boys are on their way to Vegas, celebrating the end of E’s relationship with Kristen. Eric and Kristen hadn’t seen each other for three months while Eric was in New York for “Queens Boulevard,” so when he first got back into town he was understandably looking for a little action. Not so fast, said Kristen, who supposedly was having her period. She proposes a romantic evening in a hotel room once Aunt Flow leaves town, but hours before he’s supposed to pick her up for the big night, Kristen cancels with a case of food poisoning. Turtle, Drama and Vince smell a rat and tell E that they think she’s cheating on him. Moments later, E is skinny dipping with a gorgeous Perfect 10 model who assures him that it’s not really cheating if he doesn’t love her. Excellent point. “Just don’t fall in love with me,” she adds after taking off her shirt.

Kristen calls the next morning and wants to get together but Eric, who found a way to use his $400 hotel room after all, has a full schedule. Says the Perfect 10 model, “I’ve never been with a guy that didn’t want to fuck me in the morning.” Another excellent point. E agrees to meet Kristen later that afternoon but first, he picks up some “I Fucked Up” bling-bling at the jewelry store and, against everyone’s advice, decides to tell Kristen about the model. Instead, Kristen tells Eric about her fling while he was in New York and that she was with the guy last night. Eric’s response? “I got drunk last night and fucked a Perfect 10 model. Oh, and I fucked her again this morning.” Way to fire back, Eric, even if you lied about that last part (we find out later).

That’s when they decide on the Vegas road trip, but first E’s got to return the necklace he bought and, after hearing all episode that he should take advantage of his situation, he casually drops into his conversation with the girl at the jewelry store that he’s Vince’s manager. Moments later, phone number in hand, he hops into his brand new ride and takes off. It looks like Eric’s ready to get a little crazy, though I guarantee we haven’t seen the last of Kristen.

Favorite Ari moment: When invited to a party, Ari says, “It’s actually anal-sex night at the Gold house. I’m going to go home and punish my wife.” Later, when Eric asks Ari if his wife cheats on him, Ari responds, “That’s the mother of my kids, Eric. Don’t be an asshole.” I love it. ~JayC

Fresh off filming “Queens Boulevard,” Vince and E already have their next movie picked out: “The Pablo Escobar Story.” Ari, of course, has other plans, offering “Aqua Man” while adding, “It’s ‘Spider-Man’ underwater.” That’s one hell of a sales pitch, not to mention a god-awful tagline. You’ve got to love Ari, though. Vince wants nothing to do with “Aqua Man” and when Eric conveys this to Ari at lunch the next day, Ari predictably gets fired up, saying that Universal wants Tom Cruise for the Pablo Escobar movie and, if they miss out on him, they’ll move on down the list to Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves. When Eric asks where Vince is on the list, Ari says he’s not on it, and when Eric follows up by asking how to get Vince on the list, Ari says, “You do ‘Aqua Man,’ you stupid fuck.” The casting for this show is pretty much dead on, but nobody fits his role better than Jeremy Piven, and in this second season it’s obvious that Ari and E will continue to butt heads, which is great news.

Meanwhile, Drama’s movin’ on up – not only does his agent have a snazzy new office, but he’s also got a smokin’ secretary. The agent has a hot lead on a TV Movie of the Week, but the first order of business is updating Drama’s headshots from 1992. Good call. Turtle hooks up a free shoot at a Photoshop seminar, using an advanced autographed copy of the “Head On” DVD to get Drama in front of the camera. The new pictures are a hit with the agent, who predicts a big year for Drama.

Things aren’t looking so good for Vince, though. Pressed about getting in with Universal, Ari tells Vince that he’s cooled down since the initial success of “Head On” and that “Aqua Man” is his best option, unless (no joke) he wants a role in an upcoming Olsen twins movie. It’s sobering news for Vince, obviously, who tells Ari that he’d rather do a play than another movie that he doesn’t love, an admirable stance but one that may not last very long. Ari then tells Eric that, if he can’t get Vince to do “Aqua Man,” they’ll have to find new representation.

Talk about an intriguing season premiere. Does Vince bite the bullet and do the lame pop film? Does he hold out for “that one special project”? Will he find a way to land the Pablo Escobar lead? Will big bro step out of little bro’s shadow? Plus, let’s not forget that E is now officially Vince’s manager, which no doubt swings the spotlight squarely on Eric during this cold spell while also potentially putting some serious strain on E and Vince’s friendship. Rough waters ahead. ~JayC