Pick any old cliché about fire (trial by fire, out of the frying pan and into the fire, etc.), and you could apply it directly to Vince’s situation as he rides out in a production truck to the dry, sweltering hills of his first movie set since Medellin. Despite Ari’s immaculate rejection of a studio head position that lead to much celebrating and Vince’s new role, the whole tone of the show is shifting towards the more tense and dramatic side. Three new characters are thrown into the mix and Vince has to fight his way back into the spotlight that used to shine on him with little effort on his own part. On the plus side, we still get to watch a bunch of mountainsides explode in flames. Explosions are always a nice balance to character development in my book.
As soon as he refuses a home-cooked meal from Drama in the first scene of the episode, we know something’s changed in our normally so-laid-back-you-want-to-strangle-him superstar. He tasted bitter defeat, which is a much nastier cocktail to sip on than the Cuervo body shots licked off of naked models that he enjoys so much. Now he’s waking up early, studying his lines, and preparing to really stretch his dramatic muscles to regain his respectability.
That’s where the hypocrisy and craziness of most Hollywood movie sets rears its slimy, bluetooth-wearing head. Vince’s headlining co-star, Jason Patric, acts like a prima donna from the get-go and starts stepping on Vince’s lines. Verner, the film’s über-improvisational European director, only does one take of each scene, which essentially cuts out all of Vince’s speaking parts.
Vince desperately needs his lines to get back to his star status, but can’t bring himself to criticize the protein-swilling Patric for fear of getting his pretty cheeks bashed in. Verner tries to reassure him that he has control over the set, and Vince will get his big scene in the third act. When Patric pilfers a piece of pie at the end of the episode, Vince finally gets the balls to ask about his lines, and it turns out that Verner has been feeding Patric the lines all along.
Turtle, Drama, and Eric: They are just along for the ride in this episode, literally and figuratively, to provide a little comic relief. E says about three things, and the two stooges prank Jason a few times to get back at him. Drama steals a scene when he drops a massive deuce in Patric’s trailer and quips that "Revenge is best served á la commode." That’s the smelly truth.
Ari: With each episode in the fifth season, Ari manages to rise higher in his status as a Hollywood mogul, maintain most of his integrity, and actually become less of a complete douche bag. First he showed his loyalty to friends in regard to the studio head position, and now he meets an old friend that forces him to ruminate on and appreciate the decisions that he has made in his career. Andrew Klein (played by Gary Cole, or as everyone will always know him, the loathsome Bill Lumbergh) came up in the biz with Ari and somehow ended up as an TV Lit agent in Encino who pounds Scotch and needs a huge loan. Ari pities him at first, until he realizes that Klein’s company turns a tasty profit. He wants to give Klein the shot he never had by offering to buy his company, but Babs thinks he is a loser and will block his entry into the Miller Gold. Just goes to show…never trust a blonde. Lloyd is fantastic as usual as his uses what Ari calls his "Asian skills" to check over Klein’s books.
We are getting to a turning point in the season. Ari’s mounting success and nostalgic appraisal of Klein offset Vince’s stress over his career and what it may or may not become. After four seasons of wine, roses, and beautiful chicks, it’s nice to see Vince struggle a little bit. The Klein subplot seemed a little pointless and weak compared to the head-of-the-studio decision, until the end of the episode when Babs tries to block Ari and you realize how afraid he is of ever being labelled a "loser" the way Klein is. Klein’s story could become interesting once Ari takes a closer look at him–or maybe just at his drinking? They pound enough scotch in two meetings to make an Irish rugby player blush.