TV Review: ENTOURAGE, 8.8 - 'The End' - Series Finale

Entourage goes out with more of a whimper than a bang as the appropriately titled finale 'The End' brings the curtain down on the glossy Hollywood dramedy after eight seasons.

€œI just want you to know that I€™m coming to find you, and when I do I€™m going to shoot you...€ €“ Terrence

rating: 2.5

The series finale of Entourage was the very definition of bittersweet for me. On the one hand I was sad that a show I€™d watched since day one and invested eight years in was coming to an end, but on the other hand I was glad, because the end of the show also signified the end of my reviews. Constantly casting a critical eye over the show this season has left me resenting it for consistently failing to deliver anything of substance for me to analyse, and I don€™t want that to be the way I remember a show that for seven years previously I€™d enjoyed almost every minute of. €˜The End€™ was indicative of everything that€™s been wrong with this final season of Entourage though, and as a result, from what I€™ve seen, has been met with near universal negativity from the majority of critics and fans alike. We all knew the show would finish with happy endings for all the characters, but one would at least have thought that they would have been resolutions that would have evolved from arcs we€™d seen develop over the season and series, not feel like they€™d just been cobbled together at the last minute as the show rapidly ran out of time to wrap everything up satisfactorily. The biggest culprit of the above was without a doubt Vince€™s arc that revolved around his pursuit of Sophia Lear (Alice Eve). When we last left Vince, yes Sophia had agreed to a date with him, but prior to that had steadfastly refused his advances. A mere twenty-four hours later though we€™re supposed to believe that this intellectual, sophisticated woman would do something as a rash as get married after one, admittedly long, date? It certainly, as Turtle rightly pointed out, required a gigantic leap of faith even by Entourage standards. And with one fell swoop, all those weeks of presenting Sophia as breaking the mould of the stereotypical Entourage love interest went out of the window as she, like thousands before her, melted after just twenty-four hours in the company of the irresistible Vinny Chase. I€™d honestly have took issue with Sophia just sleeping with him after just one date given how the writers had written her up until this final episode but for her to agree to marry him was utterly ridiculous - it felt rushed, they didn€™t even have the decency to let us see the relationship on screen other than for a brief glimpse of Sophia at the end of the episode and ultimately robbed long-term fans of the show of the pay-off of finally seeing Vince grow up. At the beginning of the episode when Vince announced his engagement the rest of the group assumed he was back using again, I think it€™s fairer to assume that it€™s those responsible for the writing in this finale that were on drugs. Elsewhere in Entourage€™s land of speedy developments, although we€™d last left Ari and Mrs. Ari (I€™m still refusing to address her as Melissa) a long way from reconciliation €“ yes the seeds had been planted that there may be a glimmer of hope for the Golds, but moving to Florence together for a year seemed a bit of a stretch €“ by the time the credits rolled everything seemed rosy again for Ari. By the time the credits finished however, things were a little different, but I€™ll get to that later. Having spent much of the season a broken man, as former NFL coach Mike Ditka remarked €œhe€™s a fucking mess€, Ari getting back together with his wife and reassessing his parenting skills did feel like a resolution he€™d earned and we€™d earned as viewers having watched this man neglect his family in favour of work for eight years. Having Ari finally realise the error of his ways was about the only way this could end for him, if he was to get a happy ending, after making his devotion to his job the catalyst for the break-up of his family. It was kind of ironic that his daughter uncovering a potential new star act €“ those Italian Jonas Brothers opera singers €“ was the moment of epiphany for Ari. He seemed to view it as a realisation that he€™d missed his kids growing up, but it could also be argued that Ari€™s unrelenting addiction to work had rubbed off on his kids and he had to give up the former to save the latter from ending up like him. Ari€™s driveway reconciliation with his wife, utilising those same opera singers that had helped him reach the decision to finally put family first, was about the only bit of real, heartfelt emotion on display in this episode. His subsequent chat with Lloyd also carried some real weight to it as we€™d seen poor Lloyd abused and mistreated for so long by Ari that to finally see him show not only respect, but also love, for Lloyd was a touching moment, even if it was wrapped in Ari€™s usual colourful language: €œ€You€™re the gay son I never wanted€ You€™re more cunning and cuntier than she€™ll ever be€. E and Sloan meanwhile, the other potential reconciliation of the series that all logic would have suggested would never occur, also ended up with a happy ending of sorts. At least in the context of the episode, they ended on a happy note, but giving their circumstances any sort of thought whatsoever makes it painfully obvious that it€™s all going to end in tears. E, also sporting a beard (as was Ari) as unshaven is the universal TV look of internal turmoil, had made the decision in between episodes to stalk Sloan cross-country to New York even though Sloan doesn€™t want anything to do with him. Of course the rest of the group can€™t stand by and watch one of their own suffer so Turtle and Drama try and convince Sloan by virtue of Vince€™s wedding to at least see E. Sloan, rightly sceptical: €œhe was single last Wednesday€, is suspicious of their motives and suspects the two of them of trying to trick her. Turtle€™s explanation that Sloan was €œcarrying our baby€ seemed to remind Sloan of some of the positives of being with E and by proxy the rest of the entourage. But the elephant in the room is E€™s tryst with Melinda, although Drama and Turtle lie and say it never happened, with Drama going as far as to swear on his career: €œI had my balls crossed€, when it does eventually come out, and it will, what€™s going to happen then. I don€™t think Vince€™s later argument that if it did happen E did it because of Sloan is going to wash somehow. I don€™t understand why, if the intention was always to at least suggest at an E-Sloan reunion, they would have even put E with Melinda (Sloan€™s ex-Stepmom) a mere three episodes before the end of the show, surely all hope of these two living happily ever after went out the window then. The one good thing about the inexplicable reunion of Sloan and E was that it prompted the brief return of Sloan€™s Father Terrence McQuewick (Malcolm McDowell). Terrence€™s reaction to Vince inadvertently breaking the pregnancy news to him and his subsequent threat to E (see opening quote) were rare highlights in an episode surprisingly low on guest stars. Although recurring guest stars Billy (Rhys Coiro) & Scott (Scott Caan) were present, they were given so little to do I€™m guessing their inclusion was just to give them a presence in the finale of a show they€™ve both been a big part of for a number of years. Speaking of merely a presence, the finale was also very light on Turtle (thankfully) and Drama (criminally). Last week€™s episode must€™ve been the culmination of their journeys, so I€™m assuming we€™re not supposed to ask what has become of Turtle€™s restaurant plans €“ maybe now he€™s a millionaire all his desire to succeed on his own has gone out of the window and he€™ll revert back to smoking weed all day and playing video games. Drama meanwhile, well we know he€™s now got two chances to get his career back on track, his cartoon and the miner movie, but whether either of those does actually lead to a career resurgence for Johnny Chase we€™ll just have to wonder about. Of course, maybe I€™m being slightly harsh on the way things ended, because if the long-mooted Entourage movie does actually happen then we may get to see some of the questions this finale failed to address actually answered. If that is the plan though then it€™s an awfully cynical move to not give fans of the TV show a genuine emotional pay-off to eight years of investment just to try and hawk a few cinema tickets. A movie version of a TV show should stand alone and only add to what preceded it on the small screen, not answer questions left unanswered by poor writing. That post credits scene with John Ellis (Alan Dale) offering Ari the chance to be €œGod€ as chairman and CEO of presumably a Time-Warner-esque company certainly seemed to suggest though that a big screen version of Entourage is definitely on the horizon, otherwise why would they undo the happy ending they€™d just given the show€™s most memorable character within seconds of giving it to him? Ultimately €˜The End€™ was sadly a huge let down. I didn€™t feel for one minute like I was watching the last episode ever of the show €“ there was no sense of occasion, nothing to make it feel special in any way, it just felt like any other episode of Entourage. Everything that went down on screen in this finale felt rushed, it was almost like no one bothered to tell the writers that they only had eight episodes this season and once they realised they had to squash episodes worth of material in to one half hour clusterfuck. If a show is cancelled and doesn€™t get the opportunity to finish things off the way it would have chosen to then, although frustrating, I can live with that, but when a show has a year or so to plan its climax and then doesn€™t deliver to millions of loyal fans then that€™s pretty poor. I don€™t know whether it€™s a result of the extra depth I€™ve been forced to look at the show with this season or whether it€™s just been a bad final season but season eight has really disappointed me. I don€™t want my lasting memory of Entourage to be a negative one though so I think it may be worth just writing off season eight as a season too far and remembering the show in the earlier days when it was at its best, after all there aren€™t many TV shows that know when to call it a day. A Hail of Bullets: - Seeing Jeremy Piven with a beard again reminded me of his time on Ellen as Ellen DeGeneres€™s cousin, he€™s come quite a long way from that dire step backwards after starting out with prominent roles on Larry Sanders and Seinfeld. - How great is Lloyd€™s run!? I can€™t believe I€™ve only just noticed it now the show has ended. I think there may have to be some repeat viewings to see if it makes an appearance at any other points in the show€™s history. - The writing for €˜The End€™ may have been pretty terrible but at least someone had the thought to at least have a throwaway moment where Vince has the decency to let his own Mother know that he€™s getting married. - Mrs. Ari€™s magnificent posterior got a whole lot of attention in those final moments of the show; in fact I think Perrey Reeves€™s ass got more screen time than Sophia did.

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