Yes, yes, I know. This recap is late. Well I can just rattle of the usual excuses, (real life, new job, writers block, it takes three full days to spellcheck my work, etc.) but wouldn’t you rather just get to the recap?
Well last week’s Sopranos focused a lot on my favorite character. Good old Paulie Walnuts. What’s not to love about this guy? That hair, that face, that lisp, that weird tan, that feeling that if you look at him funny he will beat you over the head with a pipe. He’s had a strong showing so far this season, what with his famous MY BALLS! moment, and the fact that he disowned his mother when he found out that she was his aunt and his real mother was a nun. This week Paulie gets a featured role along with junkie Christopher, whose low hairline gets creepier by the week. He’s like an inch away from having no forehead at all. The episode starts with Christopher’s girlfriend Kelli (with an “I,” natch) telling him that she is carrying a little gangster in her tummy. She’s in a panic when she tells him. “I’m sorry I told you to take off the rubber,” she says, sending a bone curdling jolt through every single guy watching the episode as one of the worst things you can hear after “I like you as a friend” and “You better get yourself tested.” Christopher isn’t mad however. He’s happy. So happy that he asks her to get married right then and there. Go down to Atlantic City and make a day of it, he tells her. Perhaps they can get married at the fabulous Trump Taj Mahal, where getting a quickie marriage is a 30 BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!
Over on the other side of this northern Jersey town they call home, Paulie and Patsy (not the best name for a gangster if you ask me. It’s like naming a chef Salmonella) are meeting with the priest about the upcoming Feast of St. Elzear. The usual priest, however, is out sick and they have to deal with Father Jose, who shakes them down for a 50 grand “contribution” as opposed to the usual 10 grand. Paulie, being Paulie, refuses, forcing Father Jose to not allow them to use the golden hat, the traditional headpiece for the statue of St. Elzear. Because if Jesus taught us anything, it’s to wear more gold hats. I think he might have said some stuff about poor people but mostly it was about gold hats.
At the Bada Bing, Chris is there to share his joy in the holy sacrament of marriage next to some coked out strippers. Tony and the gang are all happy for him and even order some nice Cristal. “Just water for me. My son’ll be my strength,” he tells them. See, when the temptations of whether or not to do heroin or kill a snitch come over him, he will look to his son to show him the way. Just like sg-dub and baby-dub. Tony then tells him he has some business in Pennsylvania and he needs him along for backup.
That night after Tony and Christopher finish up their business in Penn, they get lost on the way home. “Are we point .7 miles past route 62 yet?” Christopher says as he’s looking at his printed out directions. They decide to take a quick piss stop (get it?) next to a restaurant. While Tony is relieving himself he notices some commotion in the back of the restaurant. Some bikers are lifting crates of wine out the back. This gives Tony an idea. They decide to go a little old school and drive up when the bikers are inside and steal some of the wine for themselves. When the bikers come out and see them, Christopher pulls a gun on them and tells them to drop to the ground. “You’re messing with the Vipers, man!” one of them tells him. This made me laugh out loud, or “LOL” as the kids say these days. After a brief gun battle ensues in which Christopher drops one of them, they stop off at a local restaurant to revel in their glory.
While eating dinner Tony is savoring the wine they just stole while Christopher is eyeing it like a baby eyes his momma’s teat. “I miss it sometimes,” he says, with ironic understatement. Then we get the typical alcoholic’s reasoning “I just need to set limits for myself.” Tony pours him a nice glass of wine. “You know some on the other side consider wine food,” he says. “The other side?” You mean Yoda and Obi-Wan consider wine food? I did not know that.
After dinner they both stumble outside drunk. Tony goes right for another bottle, saying he needs a “nightcap.” Then they sit on the curb and drink the wine while they get all mushy with each other. They even start to reminisce about tough times. With normal people, drunken reminisces would be about graduating college or their first child. With these guys however they reminisce about the time Tony had to have Adriana whacked for talking to the feds. We even go right to a Lost-like flashback where we get to see the moment Christopher told Tony about it. Hmm, Lost and The Sopranos. That’s a crossover I’d love to see.
The next day Christopher and his wife Kelli go to look at a house. Christopher, seeing its New Jersey cheesiness in full effect, buys it sight unseen, calling it his “stately Wayne Manor.” He could even get his own preteen boy, call him his “ward,” dress him up in yellow tights and slide down his pole into his batcave every night.
Later that night the feast begins. Aaah, street festivals. The sounds of carnival music, the smell of friend dough. Nothing like it. Just the idea of the onion rings at the VT state fair makes me salivate. This however is an Italian festival, so along with fried dough and hot dogs, we get espresso and cannoli booths. And lots and lots of jumpsuits.
In between mouthfuls of endless amounts of fried food, Tony grabs Phil Leotardo and tells him about a situation that has just arisen. He has a tip on a van full of multivitamins. If his men take it they can split the profits 50/50. Phil goes for it but then adds that he wants to “spare John the stress of having to hear about it.” Looks like Phil is getting ready for a power grab. Tony, not wanting to get in the way of a train wreck that could help him, agrees.
At the other side of the fair, Carmela sees Adriana’s mother. Adriana of course was whacked last season and is now in hell, or “Joey” as its’ known to some. When Carmela goes over to ask how she is, the mother snaps at her, saying that she is doing horrible, since her daughter was murdered by Christopher. Carmela is stunned, since she bought the whole “she ran off with another guy” storyline Tony concocted to cover up her murder. Carmela pretty much believes what she wants to believe.
Chris meanwhile is babbling about his impending home and fatherhood with his junkie contact. The guy doesn’t care of course, he just wants his heroin. When Christopher gives him his “payment” he asks if he can shoot up in the car. Christopher then sits there eyeing him as he injects himself with some sweet chiva. It’s like drug porn. But it’s OK, Christopher’s son will be his strength. Well, apparently Christopher’s son will be a pansy ass because he then says “I guess I could toot some.” Sure. Just a taste. No big deal. You see he’s only snorting heroin, not injecting it. No, only junkies inject it. Of course, the next thing you see is Christopher injecting himself with some heroin and wandering around the fair in a drugged-out haze. Staring at the sky, petting a dog, sitting in his own filth. Like my Friday nights only without the heroin.
The next morning Carmela confronts Tony about what Adriana’s mom said about Christopher killing Adriana. Tony says that that is crazy talk. His men took care of it for him. Well, he doesn’t say that, he just sticks to the storyline that she left him and it was all for the better. They had a toxic relationship, Adriana had a horrifying butterface, and he’s happy, clean and going to have a baby. She should leave well enough alone. And besides, he says “If he killed her, with the forensics they got these days, with the fibers. Believe me we’d now about it.” This show cracks me up.
Back at the festival Paulie gets a call from his doctor. After his recent checkup he says his numbers were elevated and he wants to do a biopsy to make sure its not prostate cancer. Of course Paulie calls it his “Bi-OP-sy” emphasizing the o sound, which I find endlessly amusing. It’s like listening to midwesterners call soda “pop” or Candians pronounce “about.”
Elsewhere at the fair, Tony’s good for nothing sister Janice, who is probably one of the most unattractive women I’ve ever seen (and I watch every season of Surreal Life) is going on the teacup ride with her Bacala baby. Since they couldn’t hire an actual gargoyle to play the art of their baby, they had to hire a cute kid, thus forcing us to suspend disbelief that they created it. While the ride is in full swing it breaks down and halts to a stop, causing people to get hurt. There are screams all over, but the Bacalas are fine. Later, Little Paulie calls Paulie Walnuts on the phone about the accident but Paulie is too distracted with his health problems to care. “What am I, a f*ckin dentist?” he says when little Paulie tells him about a kid losing some teeth. Oh Paulie, you had me at “Go f*ck yourself.”
That night at a family dinner at Tony’s house, with the full set of tacky NJ china out, Janice recounts her experience on the ride. But since this is Janice, who takes after her conniving mother, she acts as if being on a broken teacup ride was worse than storming the beaches at Normandy. When Meadow starts talking about damages, Janice rubs her neck slightly. Sensing Janice working on another scheme, Tony eyes her and says “Leave it alone, Janice.” She doesn’t, of course. The next day she has a neck brace on and everything and Bobby Bacala goes to the motel to pistol whip the ride owner and demand he give him 25 Gs. When he tells Bobby that the reason the accident happened was because Paulie didn’t want to pay for his A crew or for repairs that would have prevented the accident, Bobby is incensed.
Bobby races over to the festival to angrily confront Paulie. A lot of “F you’s” are tossed around, ruining the joy that should be the cannoli eating contest. “Everybody wants to get rich, but you don’t scrimp on safety!” Bobby screams at him. It’s like Smokey the Bear gone wild. Paulie is Paulie and doesn’t back down, telling him and his wife, Tony’s sister, to go F themselves. Paulie is not the most tactful of men.
Paulie’s bad day continues when he runs into his mom, who also chastises him for being responsible for the accident on the ride. She’s also mad about the stupid gold hat for St. Elzear. It was a sin to let him go out without it. Man, is there like a book somewhere with everything that’s considered a sin listed? Because I had no idea not putting a gold hat on a saint’s statue was in there. I mean, spelling mistakes aren’t a sin, right? Cuz if they are I am so burning in hell.
That night at Christopher’s post-marriage bachelor party, Bobby and Paulie aren’t speaking to each other. Bobby leaves early saying that he has to go tend to his kids and shrill wife. When Tony confronts Paulie in the bathroom and tells him to get things right with Bobby, Paulie tells him about his “bi-OP-sy” and that he may get whacked by cancer. He has headaches now and he’s afraid it might have “mastasticised.” Tony tells him “Don’t go workin’ yourself into a state like you do.” Which means descending into brutal violence.
When Paulie can’t sleep he ends up calling his doctor’s office in the middle of the night. When he finds out that his doctor is actually out of town for a few days he gets even more panicked. Not being able to sleep, he goes to the Bada Bing early and sees a vision of the Virgin Mary on the stage doing a trick that includes ping pong balls and her… well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is Paulie is sent into an even bigger panic so later that night he goes over to his fake mother’s place at the rest home. Instead of arguing with her he just sits next to her quietly and watches Lawrence Welk. Paulie then looks outside wistfully at the changing leaves and quietly whispers “fuhgeddaboutit.”