Billy submits ''Medellin'' to Cannes without Eric's approval, but as usual this season, the ''Entourage'' conflicts lose their edge way too easily

”Entourage”: Where are the beefs?

On one hand, Entourage this season has been the perfect summer treat — a light, cool confection you can consume quickly and with relatively little guilt. Who wants to get all, you know, lost in a heavy, meaty storyline right now? Those are for fall, when it’s getting chilly and all you want to do is hunker down in a hatch somewhere.

But for those of us who remember Entourage‘s more interesting days — back when you weren’t always sure that Vince would be golden again by the end of the half hour — last night’s ”Malibooty” continued a frustrating pattern of ratcheting up tension only to let it seep out again. And I had high hopes for this episode, since last week’s left Vince and E staunchly at odds as to whether Medellin ”sucked” or not. (For the record, judging from Billy’s footage, I was on E’s side — looking at Vince in his Pablo Escobar getup, I couldn’t help thinking, What is Tony Clifton doing in the middle of that gunfight?)

That tasty beef, however, was pretty much quashed at the top of the episode, when the boys gathered in Drama’s kitchen and E announced to Vince that he’d ”thought about it all night” and had a change of heart: Now he suddenly thinks Medellin has ”greatness in it…it’s just too long.” And then Vince kind of agreed, and told E to go talk to Billy about possible cuts. Yawn.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s entertaining to watch Billy come up with new and creative ways to insult Eric, but at this point their constant head-butting is also pretty predictable. You just knew the minute E waltzed in and tried to give the temperamental director his notes, Billy was going to throw a s— fit and remind the suit that he had final cut. Luckily, there was an extra, unexpected kink: Mr. Walsh sent the movie to the Cannes selection committee, without consulting his star or producer. ”I thought we agreed to wait for Sundance!” a stunned Eric wailed, freaked out that the committee would reject Medellin and thus kill it before it even had a chance. ”F— the ‘Dance!” Billy retorted. ”Been there, done that.”

And for a few minutes, I saw glimmers of the Entourage I love: that familiar look of panic dancing across E’s face as Ari hilariously berated him for giving Billy so much power; the phone spat between E and Vince over how to handle the situation (so very season 1 of Vince to bring up E’s pizza-slinging days!); the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, as E tried to wrest control by offering the movie to ”Harvey,” the Weinstein stand-in the gang had previously screwed over with Queens Blvd.

But then, of course, Medellin ends up getting into Cannes — problem solved. Hooray? I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it difficult to root for Vince and Eric when they never have any real obstacles to overcome. (Prediction: Next week’s episode, in which Eric has to tell Harvey the movie’s no longer on the table, will be titled ”Now That Was a Sticky Situation!” and will show E squirming for, oh, 23 minutes or so before ending with the boys clinking beers on a rooftop somewhere.)

Indeed, what a world this would be if we all had Vincent Chase’s good fortune. Not only did he score a beautiful stranger on tonight’s episode, but he also got to hang out with the girl’s ”family friend,” Dennis Hopper. Betting on a soccer game at the Apocalypse Now icon’s beach house, Aquaman (as Hopper amusingly referred to him throughout the episode) dropped 100 grand on the wrong team — but glory be! Hopper’s hippie hanger-on forgot to place the bet! I’m telling you, even when the boy loses, he can’t lose.

Nope — losing is decidedly Johnny Drama’s territory. Our favorite C-lister finally had a chance to close the deal with ”the love of [his] 20s,” Donna Devane (played by a delightfully bawdy Lisa Rinna), but he had to convince Turtle to ”take one for the team” and entertain her friend, a ”fat whore” (Donna’s words, not mine!) named Marjorie. Just when it seemed Drama was on the verge of getting lucky, Donna pulled a switcheroo and went for Turtle instead, leaving Drama to Marjorie and her long, scary tongue. As Drama-Turtle subplots go, I guess it was funny, but it also (a) grossed me out and (b) made me wish I knew what was happening with Five Towns and Kelly, that cute girl Turtle was seeing.

But that’s just me — your regular TV Watcher, Paul Katz, will be back next week to give you his take. In the meantime, what do you think? Are you feeling invested in this season so far? Do these episodes need more Ari? And will Marvin’s constant warnings about Vince being broke actually lead somewhere?

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