Vince and Ari, as Predicted, Hit Rock Bottom, but Did They Deserve It?
To quickly recap, here's what happened to all the characters in the episode:
Vince: Still strung out on coke and booze, he shows up at Scotty's place at 4 a.m looking for coke, then misses Ari's kid's baseball game later in the morning in order to make an appearance at Sasha's gangbang DVD cover shoot. They get in a fight, and she breaks up with him. When he finally comes home, after buying a sweet car (was it a Maybach?), the guys confront him and try to hold a quasi-intervention. He tells them to f*ck off and storms off to the Roosevelt Hotel. He does more coke, drinks more booze, and crashes a party being thrown by Eminem. He wanders the party looking for girls to f*ck; when his not-so-smooth advances don't go over well with Minka Kelly, security comes over to ask him to leave. Drama shows up at this point to try to get his Bro to leave, but Vince refuses. Eminem tries to clear things up, but when Vince tells him to f*ck off, too, Eminem punches him. Really punches him. Don't f*ck with Detroit. A melee ensues, with Vince and Drama, but especially Vince, getting the shit kicked out of them. At the hospital, Vince tells all of his friends once again to f*ck off, but as he's trying to leave, a police officer holds up a baggie of coke that was found among his things. In other words, Vince is f*cked. An arrest, TMZ headlines, and rehab — as predicted — are all imminent.
Ari: Things are not well in the Gold household, as Mrs. Ari is still furious about the incident with Amanda Daniels at the restaurant (and the tapes that leaked to Deadline Hollywood). Vince skipping the little league baseball game doesn't help things, and when Ari leaves work to go home and try to spend the day with Mrs. Ari, he finds her sister there trying to console her, who's balling her eyes out. Ari's harsh dealing with the sister only helps reinforce Mrs. Ari's current feelings (telling her that he was going to hit her with a frying pan probably doesn't help things) and she goes upstairs. This is a problem because Ari's throwing a surprise birthday party later that night (complete with Christina Aguillera cameo), and he needs Mrs. Ari out of the house for a few hours, but to show back up at 7:30. Mrs. Ari gets drunk and decides that she's not showing up. Then the shoe really drops: she tells Ari that she needs a “break” from him. A separation, but probably not a divorce — as predicted — is imminent.
E: Terrence, who I completely forgot was Sloan's father, invites him out for dinner for a little future-father-in-law/son-in-law chat. It doesn't go so well. He questions whether he's really been getting clients other than Vince at his job (remember, Murray is Sloan's godfather, so probably a good friend of Terrence's). Then Terrence tells E that he'd like him to sign a pre-nup before the wedding. This infuriates E, who tells Scotty that he's willing to join him in his bid to take over Murray's company.
Turtle: I can't believe this stupid Avion tequila storyline is still going on. End result: Mark Cuban isn't going to buy the company for $20 million, he's just going to invest the $5 to build the factory, so Carlos could keep his part of the company, or something. I dunno. The Ryan Howard and Drew Brees cameos were funny though (especially Brees holding the duck).
Drama: He's definitely going to end up with E's sexy British assistant. Good for him. He deserves her.
O.K., so that's the character-by-character recap. Now let's get back to Vince. The reason why I had long predicted this type of flameout by our hero from Queens was that up until this season all of Vince's problems came from whether or not he landed a role, and whether or not the film was ultimately any good. Yes, making movies that do well at the box office or at film festivals is one part of life as a Hollywood star. But so is dealing with what I've called the “TMZ-ing of Hollywood.” When paparazzi cameras follow you everywhere you go, TMZ and Perez hyperventilate over every little step or misstep you take, and Us Weekly will splash anything that a “source” tells them about you on their covers, you're biggest enemy isn't always the studio system and conniving directors and out-for-revenge producers. It's the Hollywood gossip machine — and the resulting public perception of you, the star, the brand. The things that feed that the most are sex tapes, getting arrested, Mel Gibson- or Christian Bale-style tirades, and, yes, drugs. I'm still convinced that the writers originally intended Vince's f*cking of the UCLA co-ed last season to be a sex tape scandal, but they ultimately put it off for this season (the harmless one in the pool that Turtle inadvertently posted to Twitter). So it's drugs that are ultimately Vince's downfall. But does Vince the coke head make any sense? Let's retrace the possible causes, working backwards.
There's Sasha, the adult entertainment star who none of his friends really ever warm up to. They think she's just another flash in the pan, another girl that Vince just likes to f*ck. Sasha never really discourages the coke, but we never see her take it herself and she doesn't supply it. O.K., maybe she was strung out in the now infamous “bush” scene, but she wasn't the impetus for Vince's new-found habit.
It wasn't Turtle's tequila. Vince has drank plenty in his life and will continue to drink plenty. Not that they mix very well, but you can't blame the coke on Avion.
Was it Scotty? Vince's partying ways have certainly intensified since befriending Scotty, and there's no doubt that some of the babes Scotty brought around early in the season had some powder in their purses. But after that first time at the party, Vince always got his coke from other sources, whether his usual pot guy or elsewhere. And although Scotty likes to party, he always seemed a little wary of this new side of Vince, if for no other reason than that he didn't want to piss off E. He's the one who told him to end it, after all.
Which leaves us with the stunt-gone-awry that opened the season. Here's the path of logic that we're expected to follow. Everyone in Hollywood thinks Vince is a pretty-boy p*ssy. So when he gets triple-dog-dared into doing the stunt himself, he does, trying to prove that he's worthy of being mentioned alongside the Will Smiths and Tom Cruises and Bradley Coopers of the action movie world. Something snaps in him when the stunt goes wrong and life, I suppose, flashes before his eyes. He walks out of the wreck with a strange look on his face that tells us that he loved the adrenaline rush but also that a screw or two were knocked loose. So first come the painkillers, then the shaved head, then the bad interview with Maria Menounos, then he jumps out of the airplane with Scotty, and finally buys a T-Rex skull. In an episode or two he'll meet Sasha, who provides a drug of another sort (sex), but before any of that happens, there's the party.
You remember the party: the most ridiculous display of talent the casting agents ever dreamed up, with Vince and Scotty going after the auctioneer and her friend. Before the threesome happens and before the skull is broken, someone brings out the coke and Vince dives in. I think this is the biggest bridge we must cross as viewers. Do we buy that Vince, who has always had a good head on his shoulders, would so readily dive into a drug that, although it might seem recreational to some, always leads to bad things in Hollywood. That's not to say that it's not everywhere in Hollywood, because it is, but it usually leads to very bad places (hello Paris Hilton, Robert Downey Jr., Robin Williams, Mickey Rourke, Courtney Love, goodbye Heath Ledger, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Mitch Hedberg, etc etc etc). Did the events of the previous week or so really compel Vince to throw caution completely to the wind and not care at all about consequences? It seems like a quick change of character to me — maybe too quick. If you ask Doug Elin and his writers, I think they'll justify it by saying the following: these days the real “gateway” drugs to drugs like coke are not pot or booze but rather painkillers. After the post-crash percocet, coke was the next logical step. Their other justification would be that when Vince took that first rail, E wasn't there. He was at home with Sloan having a quiet night in. Vince tells E later that he'd “done it before,” but never around E because he knew that he'd stop him. E, in this scenario, is not only his manager and his best friend, but the angel on his shoulder. Elin & Co. are saying that when you abandon your best friend and your guardian angel, you do bad things.
O.K., I get all that. But I still don't completely buy it. I can't completely cross that bridge from stunt crash to the first rail. Everything after that, more or less makes sense. An arrest and/or rehab was inevitable — it is for most Hollywood stars, after all. But did Vince earn that coke habit? Not entirely, in my book. What do you guys think?
As for Ari, the separation was inevitable, yes, but I'm still surprised that after all these years of marriage, the revelation that Ari is an a**hole to his employees and studio colleagues is such a big shock to Mrs. Ari. It's as if up until this point the only problem in their relationship was that he was always at the office or always on the phone or always missing another appointment to pick out more shit for the house. Really, Mrs. Ari? You never overheard one of your husband's conversations? Never witnessed the way he treated Lloyd or any of his other assistants? Never heard the gossip around town that Ari was the biggest prick in Hollywood? The tapes that Lizzie was shopping were always suspect to me. What could possibly have been on them that all of Hollywood didn't already know about Ari? In all the excerpts that we heard, none of them were that shocking. Mrs. Ari's naivete on this subject matter just rings pretty hollow at this point. If you want to take a break from your husband because you're sick of waiting for him to come home or you're sick of him talking on his phone or caring more about his business than his family, fine. But don't pull the “you're an a**hole to your employees” excuse. You've been married to him for 15 years. You know he's an a**hole. You have to be over it by now. I still think there's an adultery sub-plot lurking in the Gold household. Mrs. Ari has always been suspicious that Ari has cheated on him, and Lord knows Ari makes many suggestions to that effect — even though he insists he never has. I wonder if that's at the root of what's really going on here. I also wonder if in the beginning of next season it's revealed that Mrs. Ari has another man of her own.
Finally, let's talk about E for a second. I've got two issues with how things went this season and how things are going to go in the next season. The current pre-nup bullshit is just an excuse for the writers to create drama between Sloan and E before next season's wedding. If it means we'll actually get to see more of Sloan, then I'm all for a pre-nup. But the business side of things is what really irks me. First of all, the biggest problem with Scotty's bid to take over Murray's company is that for all the b*tching and moaning he does about Murray, we never actually see the boss. Scotty has set him up as this evil guy, but we never actually see him do anything wrong. So this takeover bid doesn't seem very provoked or justified other than Scotty trying to get ahead. (By the way, Scott Caan stars in the new “Hawaii 5-0,” so I wonder how successful the takeover will be.) I like E and Scotty's ambition here and desire to do something without riding someone else's coattails, but it just doesn't seem all that necessary. One of the reasons why that's so is my other issue with E: get some new f*cking clients. Terrence was right — who else has E brought in other than Drama and Billy Walsh and their dumb animation show? If you want to prove yourself in this business, get someone other than your friends. Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity to bring in some legit big stars, rather than trying to shoehorn them into Turtle's dumb attempt to find money for Avion?
All right, I've written too much. It was a very strong season, and I'm looking forward to the last one. What do you guys think?