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As I sat down Sunday to watch the Sopranos I had to wonder what would be on store for me. Will we go back to the gay Vito storyline or perhaps get a chance to see even more aging starts getting physically assaulted? I personally had my fingers crossed for a little of both. A veritable double whammy of Vito on his hands and knees after “getting an offer he couldn’t refuse” and Mickey Rooney getting punched in the nuts. Or maybe Richard Widmark getting the wedgie of a lifetime. He’s still alive right?
Well there were no golden age film stars in sight (unless you consider the first season of ER part of the golden years), but there is lots of sex of the hetero and homosexual kind. Unfortunately it mostly involved middle aged fat guys. The episode was like one part Godfather; one part Last Tango in Paris and one part King Ralph.
The show starts off with the delightful image of a water buffalo mating ritual. Oh wait, its just Tony Soprano banging his wife like a jackhammer. And on a Sunday night no less. Fantastic. After Tony finishes his gentle lovemaking, they here A.J.’s drums coming from his room. When Tony goes out to investigate he sees a bunch of hip hop kids walk by. A.J. is selling his drums for money and they were one of his potential customers. When Tony tries to confront A.J. on this he goes into his “My Super Sweet Sixteen” impression. Waah, I work at Blockbuster. Waah, my dad won’t give me thousands of dollars. Jesus, you’d think his 800 dollar Roman column birthday cake was ruined.
In the gay friendly hamlet that Vito is hiding out at we see him relaxing in bed one evening at the local B&B. He hears a noise outside and goes to investigate. It seems there’s a commotion in the quaint New Hampshire town. Oh they got trouble. Right here in River City. With a capitol T which rhymes with P which stands forâ€¦. Well, you get the picture. When Vito goes outside to check it out he sees that there’s a house on fire. And even the fires have a quaint new England charm. Such a nice orange glow. Actually I would call it Burnt Sienna, with just a hint of ochre red. As he joins the crowd of onlookers, the ruggedly sexual handlebared mustached Jim, the owner of the local diner, comes up on his Harley in full firefighter gear. When Vito gets a load of that he has a mangasm that makes him quiver in his jumpsuit. Let that image swirl around in you head for a while.
The next day aboard Tony’s boat the Stugots II, Tony and A.J. are relaxing over a few beers. A.J. wants to know what “they” are going to do about Uncle Junior. Not sure what “they” means. Sure Tony could have him killed, tortured or whatever. The only thing A.J. could do is rack up hundreds of dollars in late fees in his name at Blockbuster. Tony simply tells A.J. that as far as he is concerned Junior is a walking corpse and he isn’t going to do anything about it. He also says it’s not A.J.’s concern and he should just drop it.
Back on dry land Patsy and Burt, soldiers in Tony’s crew, are shaking down the neighborhood businesses for their payoffs. They stop off at the fancy new Starbucks like coffee place in the neighborhood. They inform the manager that they are with the local “merchants society” and are their to offer protection to make sure nothing bad happens, god forbid. When the manager catches on as to what they mean he tells them in plain English that in the big corporate chain world, every penny is counted to the last cent and even if they do rough him up, they will just send in another manager tomorrow. As a former Subway “sandwich artist” I can attest to this. God forbid you try and sneak in a little 6 inch overstuffed meatball sub home after a long Saturday night. But I digress. A dejected Patsy and Burt walk out lamenting that its “over for the little guy”.
Later we see Tony and the boys sitting outside Satriale’s as he is greeted by a real estate agent named Julianna, played by ER’s Julianna Marguiles. Quitting a top rated show for a 3 episode stint on Sopranos 6 years later. Not exactly the soundest career move. Let’s hope things turn around for her soon when she stars in the soon to be top grossing film of 2006, Snakes on a Plane with Samuel L. Jackson. That’s right. Snakes on a mother f*ckin plane.
Juliana wants to talk with Tony about some real estate that he owns around the corner. She works for Century twenty one who have apparently traded in the yellow jacket for the red leather one. She has investors who want to buy it and turn it into a Jamba Juice. The current occupant of the building is a place that sells live chickens for some ungodly reason. Are freshly dead chickens somehow fresher? Am I missing something here? Do they make raw chicken sushi? I’d definitely eat it. I’ve been thinking for years now that raw chicken Sushi is an untapped market ready to break out. Juliana cites the recent upswing in the neighborhood as the reason for the offer. She just bought a loft over at the new development where the old glove factory used to be. Hmmm, shouldn’t it be Ye Olde Glove Factory? Anyways, Tony is hesitant citing all sorts of stuff about keeping the neighborhood, the “north ward” intact.
Back in New Hampshire, Vito stops by the diner to see his new crush Jim. He’s been “Dreaming about them Johnny cakes” he tells him, in the most painfully awkward double entendre all season. What ensues is a scene positively dripping with sexual tension, as they both let out some major gay vibes on the downlow. Vito might as well have worn a giant t-shirt with the words “Cock Inspector” on it. All those years of pent up repressed gayness are ready to burst forth.
At Melfi’s office, Tony is ranting about A.J. being such a lazy douche. Melfi is trying to have him go easy on him, telling him that “26 is the new 21″. Kind of like how I like to call Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke the new Diet Coke. Layer that night A.J. is hanging wit a bunch of loser friends. They get wasted and stiff him with the bill. 2 bottles if Cristal and a bottle of grey goose. Add in the 20% gratuity and the bill comes to $1890. I know the feeling. While I myself usually frequent the two dollar pint nights at my local Irish bar, sometimes, when I’m feeling daring, I’ll have the nine dollar bottle of Chimay. They serve it to you in a glass chalice. It’s how I roll. Then, as A.J. is leaving the bar he gives a midget 200 bucks. I enjoyed that.
While Vito is having the time of his life in the gay Pleasantville, things are still brewing back home. As more proof if this we see Tony taking a late night meeting with Phil Leotardo, who is probably so angry because he grew up being called “Phil the Retardo”. Phil is a member of Johnny Sack’s crew, yet his cousin is Vito’s wife. He wants Vito dead and demands Tony take care of it. Tony tells him that Vito is his problem and to stay out of it.
Meanwhile in NYC, A.J. is at his friends apartment where they are all doing coke, dropping E, and having lots of fellatio. It’s clear that the only reason they bothered to have A.J. along is because of who his father is. A.J. tries to impress the girl with teh big hooters giving him a massage by talking about how he will probably have to take care of Junior himself. Clearly A.J. is in a room full of idiot drug addict losers. Still, there’s fellatio.
The next morning we overhear one of the guests talk about his missing cell phone. We soon find out why. Vito stole it so he could call his beardâ€¦ I mean wife. His wife is kind of a little behind on the whole way they do things at the mafia since as soon as they start talking she begs him to come home. She thinks that if he just gets some “help” everything will be OK. There are two things wrong with that theory. 1, being gay is not something that you can be “cured” of and 2, they will shoot him dead as soon as he comes back. Two things lost on Marie. Being married to a gay man for so long kind of lets us know she isn’t the most perceptive person in the world. She’s the kind of woman who still to this day can’t believe its not butter and still believes that the local Chinese laundry that says it uses an ancient Chinese secret, is in fact just using Calgon.
At the Bada Bing Tony is pleasantly surprised when Juliana stops by to talk more business. Which is good because the topless dancer we get to see this week isn’t nearly as toned as the one from last week. Juliana’s client’s urge to sell refreshing juice drinks has not gone away and they are willing to up their offer. Tony is more interested in hitting on her. He seems to be fully recovered from his gunshot wound from early in the season because he’s ready to get right back in the adultery saddle again. I admit his pickup line is a new one. He says that ever since he was shot he wants to “make the most of his life” and if he wants something he feels he should try and get it. If his brush with death has taught him anything its that you have to focus on the important things in life. Like cheating on your wife even more.
Amazingly Juliana’s reaction to Tony’s advances aren’t what you would expect. She’s actually tempted. She tells him if this was another time she would take him up on the offer. So she is saying that she would under most circumstances jump at the chance to have sex with a balding middle-aged fat guy from Jersey? Stargate: Atlantis is more believable than this show sometimes.
Later that night at the bar Vito runs into Jim and his other gay friends and buys them a pitcher of beer. When they are walking to their cars Jim makes his move and goes in to give Vito some tongue. Vito’s reaction is quite surprising. He freaks out and calls him a fag. Then they get into a huge bitch slap fight, with arms flailing and lots of hair pulling. OK, that was a gay stereotype. The fight is actually a bunch of brutal hits with Jim ending up leaving Vito on the ground and driving off.
The next morning when A.J. crawls out of bed at around 11 AM, he tells his parents that he needs money for new clothes. The money he got from selling his drum kit is for “living expenses”. Even though he lives at home and eats his parents food. Next A.J. asks, or whiningly demands depending on how you look at it, for them to stake him in a club. Since he’s been spending a few nights getting drunk in one, he is now experienced enough in running one. Later at the club A.J. shows us how he spends money on his living expenses as he does a few lines of coke (not the diet cherry vanilla kind) in the bathroom of the club. When he returns to sit with his loser friends he starts to finally get the impression that they are losers using him for his money and his name.
The next morning when he sleeps until noon, and then sits in his underwear watching TV until 4, or as I call it “the B-side Monday”, he finally decides to make something of his day. He grabs his huge Rambo knife, goes to the nursing hime where Uncle Junior is, and tries to kill him. But since this is A.J. and he couldn’t screw in a light bulb without accidentally maiming 5 people, he screws it up and drops the knife before he can even get near him. THe orderlies tackle him and he is arrested.
When Tony goes to pick him up at the police station he waits until they get outside before he almost chokes him to death for being such an idiot.. A. J. then starts crying like a little bitch to which Tony responds by trying to console him. He needs to grow up, he says. Then A.J. dry heaves on the parking lot. All jokes aside, the whole scene is actually very well written.
The next day Julianna calls Tony with her 3rd and final offer. The citizens of the north ward will not be denied their juice. Tony relents and when Julianna tries to plan on meeting up to sign the documents Tony suggests they meet at her apartment. She agrees without hesitation. When Tony arrives and signs the documents its not long before they both start going at it. Ripping at each others clothes, the pulling off of panties. Sadly we don’t get to see any Margulies cooter. I guess she thinks of herself as a ‘real actress” and is above all that stuff. A mistake I will not make when I become an actor. In a surprising bout of conscious, Tony stops her before they can get anything going and walks out. Baby steps. One day give up your goomar, and then someday maybe give up the cold blooded murder part.
The net morning Vito, feeling guilty, goes over to the diner to apologize to Jim. When he gets there he simply sits down and asks for some of those delicious Johnny Cakes. “short stack or tall” Jim answers. Christ, get a room guys. When Jim turns around to make him his Johnny cakes, Vito grabs his hand, looks him lovingly in the eye and says “Sometimes you tell a lie so long. you don’t know when to stop. You don’t know when its safe”. Then his voice drops to a whisper and he continues “How can we be lovers if we can’t be friends? How can we start over when the fighting never ends? Baby, how can we make love if we can’t make amends? Tell me how we can be lovers if we can’t be, Can’t be friends…” Apparently his little speech works as later Jim and Vito both go on a scenic drive in the country. They find a secluded spot, lay out on the grass, and go at it like bunnies. Really gay bunnies.
That night A.J. is back at the club hanging with his loser friends. When some geek comes up and asks him for a favor from his father, A.J. gets up and goes to the bathroom where he has one of the Soprano patented panic attacks. Could this be the moment where he finally turns his life around? Could this be A.J.’s epiphany? We’ll see.
And finally I would like to add that I am currently writing this recap from the maternity ward at St. Francis Hospital. My little niece Sadie was born this morning at 9:55 AM and she is as cute as can be. Uncle Ed is doing fine too. My brother and his wife were thinking of flying to Namibia to have the baby but they figured that’s kinda been done to death lately. You’ll all get to know her in the future when she starts writing TVgasm recaps for Real World 32. See, sg-dub isn’t the only one who gets to show off the whole baby thingâ€¦.