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'Entourage': Independence day

July 12, 2009 | 11:00 pm

690423_ENT_601_3_19_CB_0222a It’s summer, folks, and that means one thing: The "Entourage" boys are back in town. Last time we saw them, Martin Scorsese had swooped in to save the down-and-out Vince by offering him the lead in his upcoming “Gatsby.” And while I had hoped that Scorsese would make another cameo appearance, this fun, engaging sixth season premiere picked up, alas, after the movie had already been filmed. Vince and his crew are flush with money and possibility and back to living large, moved back into their ginormous mansion in L.A. (with a two-year lease, no less) and riding high on the movie’s positive pre-opening buzz. Much like the titular protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, Vince and his crew have transformed themselves (once again) into made men.

It’s independence day for many characters in this episode: Vince has asserted his own position in the driver’s seat and on the A-list — he has an appearance on Leno and a test to get his driver’s license the same day — but E himself has also been weighing his options around town. And by that, I mean he’s been sleeping around with a slew of women. Apparently now that he’s a hotshot manager who rolls around in an Aston Martin, E’s had no shortage of ladies who come a-calling. And from the looks of it, he likes them young. None seem to hold his interest as much as ex Sloan, however. Particularly when she insistently rings her way back into the picture with an offer to sublet a friend’s house that’s much too good to refuse. Anyone else see these two getting back together in the near future? The way that she hedged her way back into E’s life, challenged him to get his own place, abruptly asked about his dating life, and then relented to his advances and invited him up for a drink gives me the sense that their romantic entanglements are far from done.

E’s not the only one branching out.

Turtle, still going strong with the pot and with Jamie-Lynn, has his own ideas cooking under those hats of his. Even Drama had an acting project that kept him up at night. He also had the best zingers of the night, mostly aimed toward the vertically challenged E. My favorite: “You miniature stud!”

The one who enjoyed being attached at the hip was Ari, who has seemingly found a most welcome partner-in-crime in new Miller Gold hire Andrew Klein. Andrew (played with great smarmy effect by Gary Cole) signed “My Name is Earl” show runner Greg Garcia to the agency, got Ari to drink at work, "Mad Men"-style, and is the Butch Cassidy to Ari’s Sundance Kid. “This tandem is unstoppable!” Ari declared.

The one who wants some independence but can’t have it is Lloyd, who, after loyally serving as Ari’s whipping boy for more than three years, is hankering for a promotion. Which is bound to happen after you’ve been ripped a new one by a disapproving, winery-owning father. As sad as I was to see Lloyd looking like a man-child in his suits, his mopey face staring back at him from a blank computer monitor, I didn’t think that that surly, petulant hissy fit would get him very far in his cause. And indeed, Ari shooed Lloyd’s initial proposal off with his typical aplomb. “Did you know my father was very strict?” countered the power agent. “He berated me and he pushed me and it made me feel very insecure and lost. But I became a man—my own man and now I berate and I push!... Make your own man, Lloyd.” But after Lloyd shrewdly enlists the help of Ari’s family (“Daddy, no!” “We love Lloyd, Daddy!”), Ari offers Lloyd a proposition: Make it through 100 days of Ari hazing, then he’ll earn a seat at the big kids’ table. First task: Lose 15 pounds. And while Ari warned his long-suffering assistant that this probation period will be “worse than when you had your anal cherry popped,” I, for one, cannot wait to see the arsenal of hurt that Ari has up his sadistic sleeve.

So now that Vince is basking with success on the eve of his movie’s premiere, standing on his own two feet and driver’s license firmly in pocket, everyone else has the freedom and energy to pursue their own paths as well. But all this success can also be lonely, as seen in the closing scene, in which Vince, fresh from taking a “ride” with Amy, returned to a dark and empty crib (which no doubt made the echoes in the cavernous playhouse reverberate that much more). As he assumed a very “Mad Men” Don Draper-esque pose, left arm out, on the couch, one wonders if there are darker days ahead for this self-made man. Sure, Vince is on top of the world, but is it still as sweet if he has no one to share it with?

Overall, it was nice to see the boys doing well, and finally branching out of their own inner circle. And it was funny that everyone in this town – even the dowdy, bald, bow-tied DMV employee – is industry-savvy and knows a thing or two about scoring premiere tickets (“plus one, right?”). Though the Leno appearance and the announcement that Andrew had signed Garcia — now that Leno has passed the “Tonight Show” torch to Conan and “My Name Is Earl” has been canceled — give this episode a whiff of the old and outdated. Ah, well. Here’s hoping that the boys will update their pop-culture points soon.

What did you think? Were you as bothered with the out-of-date references as I was? Are you happy to see the boys venturing out on their own for a change? How long do you think it’ll take before E and Sloan get back together? Or for Turtle and Jamie-Lynn to break up? Think Lloyd’ll get promoted before the season’s through, or will he strike out on his own? Post below!

—Allyssa Lee

Photo credit: Claudette Barius/HBO

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