Entourage Recap: A Dark Turn for Vince and the Boys

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Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) talks movie strategy with Vince (Adrian Grenier) in Episode 3 of Entourage's final season. (Photo Courtesy of HBO)

The standard structure of a three-act drama goes something like this: in the first act, you get your characters stuck in a tree (some sort of sticky situation); in the second act, you throw rocks at them (i.e., you make things worse); and in the third act, you bring them down (there is some sort of grand resolution). Last night’s episode of Entourage blew through the transition between acts I and II and set up for the rock throwing to begin next week.

The episode opened with Vince speaking at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, explaining that he has met the challenge of staying sober by channeling his angst into writing a screenplay. At the end of the meeting, Carl Earnst, another attendee, told Vince he wants to help him produce the screenplay into a T.V. movie. Way back, Earnst once screwed Vince out of a movie, but Vince, motivated by his new found sobriety, wants to give Earnst another shot. When Ari screamed that he would rather cut off his own genitals than allow Vince to work with Earnst again, it’s clear this is a terrible idea, but what Vince wants, Vince gets.

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On our menu of subplots last night, we learned that Drama was having major issues with the Diceman, who has been serving as Drama’s co-star on the cartoon, “Johnny Goes Bananas.” Diceman has a real problem with is salary because, well, there isn’t much of a salary at all. Because he’s been out of the business for so long, Dice, tired of making a pittance, tried to get Drama to walk away with him in hopes of more money. Drama, on good advice from E, stuck with his contract and it appears that’s it for the Diceman. In a strange vortex of reality meets fantasy meets reality, Andrew Dice Clay, who has been missing in action for a few years, appears to have concluded his cameo on the show. Fare thee well, Diceman. We hope that this short stint helped get you back in the spotlight, and that you’ll be back on stage soon.

In perhaps one of the best subplots this season, Vince and Lloyd (now interim head of the agency’s T.V. division, Yay!) convinced Ari that after four months of being separated from Mrs. Ari, he needed to get out and try his hand at dating. Lloyd set Ari up with a friend, an early-20s cutie who’s an “excellent manicurist.” Ari took her to a nice restaurant, where she told him she’d basically never been on a dinner date and suggested they order shots. Ari came to his senses and called Dana Gordon, the high powered executive who was his last fling before he got married a couple of decades ago. Dana’s brilliant and tough, one of the few woman who can go toe to toe against Ari’s bombast, and though this looks like a fling, it’d be nice if she stuck around for a while.

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When we came back around to the central plot, Vince and Turtle paid Carl Earnst a visit, where Earnst revealed that, to no one’s surprise, he was using Vince to try and get a movie greenlit. Earnst fell off the wagon in a big way, locked himself in the bathroom and blew through more than a bit of cocaine. Just when Vince insisted that he can’t leave him in such a bad state, Earnst pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head.

Beyond the horror of having a man kill himself in front of you, Earnst’s death looks likely to have some ripple effects in the coming episodes. A preview of next week indicates that because Vince was in a house with drugs, his parole officer will insist on a drug test. The problem there is Vince admits to the crew that he smoked a joint. Next week promises a scramble to help Vince pass the drug test, while it looks like Ari will be taking Dana out on a date at Bobby Flay’s restaurant, giving us the showdown we’ve been expecting for a while now. Better stay tuned.

Nate Rawlings is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @naterawlings. Continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.