Last week’s episode of The Sopranos really didn’t do much to advance the plot, although it was very interesting to see which of Tony’s captains decided to step up in his absence. That honor goes to Silvio, but his decision to step up and take care of Tony’s business as well as Carmela and the kids was made because he thought Tony would wake up soon and be very appreciative of what Sil did for him when he was out of commission. Now that it looks like Tony may be out of commission permanently, either through death or some sort of brain damage, Silvio has discovered that being the boss brings a lot more than just huge responsibilities.We all love the characters on the Sopranos, but we must never forget that all of these guys are here to be earners. With that being said, Vito tips Paulie off to a score in an apartment building nearby. We aren’t quite sure what sort of operation they are hitting, but since it is being run by Columbians, we can all take a guess. Vito’s tip said that there would be nobody around, so this was supposed to be pretty easy. Unfortunately, there were a few people hanging around, so Paulie and one of his boys roll in there, they have to take out four guys to get to the money.
It’s not like these guys were opposed to murdering people for money, but if this hit was only going to net them $10,000, it probably wasn’t worth the risk. To make it worse, Paulie got hit in the balls. Now, I am immature, so when Paulie got hit in the nuts I laughed (after the mandatory groan of course), but it was even better because Paulie kept on saying “my balls”. Again, maybe you don’t find it as funny, but I was cracking up the whole time. If you don’t think hearing “my balls” is funny, try finishing every sentence with the phrase for an hour or so, especially out in public. “Ah yes (my balls). I think I will have the lobster bisque for an appetizer (my balls). For the entree, let me try the filet mignon medium well (my balls). No, make that medium rare (my balls). Oh, and I’ll have a bottle of the house merlot (my balls).”
Luckily for Paulie, he found the Columbians had hid their cash in the dishwasher and the money inside was worth getting hit in the balls five or six times. If you are as immature as me, turn up the volume and listen to Paulie complain about his balls (parental guidance suggested). Audio Clip 1. Audio Clip 2.
All together now. MY BALLS!
Back at the hospital, Bobby and Christopher are busy putting an end to AJ’s idea of killing Uncle Junior. AJ had tried to buy a gun from one of Christopher’s guys, who wouldn’t sell it to him. Just in case AJ had any thoughts of buying from somebody else, Christopher wanted to step in and tell him that it would be impossible to get to Junior while the feds have him. AJ says that it is “difficult, but not impossible”, like that scene from the Godfather Part II where Michael is trying to figure out how he’ll be able to kill Hyman Roth. Although AJ decides to listen, he thinks that it was his mother who put them up to it. They tell him to channel the rage elsewhere, like the Golden Gloves or dumbbells or something, but assure him that his father would not want him involved.
The doctors are still worried about Tony’s brain function, which segues us into another dream sequence. Dreaming Tony has been served a summons by the Buddhist monks. He goes to the temple, but only because he thinks that these people who want to sue Finnerty might have a way to find Finnerty. The monks laugh at silly Tony and his Roman Catholic sensibilities. To them, it doesn’t matter to them that Tony is different from Finnerty, and after dropping some Eastern religion on him, say that somebody needs to take responsibility. Again, I usually don’t worry about the symbolism of these dreams (feel free to discuss in the comments), but I will say that I find it odd that these monks in Costa Mesa need heating equipment do desperately. In the coldest months, the average low is like 40 degrees. Buddhists talk about sacrifice, so wouldn’t being a little cold at night be a better idea than say, self-immolation?
Like I said, Sil is now filling the big shoes. He’s even got Benny Fazio driving for him now. His wife Gabriella is the one with all of the ambition. Nobody wants to talk about what happens when Tony is gone, but Gabriella reminds him that he is going to be one of those people in line. She says that Sil is firm, but not obnoxious, but in reality, he is kind of wishy-washy and disinterested in other people’s problems. It was nice to see inside of Silvio’s home life for once, and it was particularly hilarious to see his collections of silk shirts. All of these guys have bad taste, but Silvio’s is particularly gauche.
Having too many shirts to choose from is probably about the most stress that Sil can take. He wants to go to the hospital to pay his respects to Tony, but his is being bothered by Bobby and Vito, who are still arguing over who is going to start to collect in Junior’s old neighborhood. Technically, it should go to Bobby, but Vito makes a claim as well. Sil makes a decision he says is temporary, but it’s not really good for either of the guys, and he so desperately wants some peace and quiet, he heads to the stall in order to drop a “duece” (pronounced doo-chay in Italian). He’s just about to sit down with the Newark Star Ledger and “break in the dumpster”, when Vito comes in and starts talking about Paulie’s take down. Then Paulie comes in, still complaining about his balls (he needs an MRI), and Silvio decides that Paulie and Vito will split it 50/50 – that’s the take from the Columbians, not Paulie’s balls – and Carmela gets 100K a piece.
First order of business: drop kids off at pool.
Just because all of the guys want to see Tony get better doesn’t mean they aren’t going to take advantage of his absence. Tony never liked it when Christopher was getting into movies, but it’s a dream that Christopher still holds dear, and he still has one friend in the business that owes him a lot. That man is JT Dolan, who I believe Christopher met when he was in rehab, and JT has a gambling problem, so he owes a lot of money to Christopher, so Maltisanti decides to collect. He sends Benny and another guy to grab JT while he is lecturing to prospective members of the Writers Guild, and gives this sap a way out of his problems.
Christopher wants to make an independent horror film, dubbed as Saw meets Godfather, and he wants JT to write it for him. Although it’s not completely modeled after Christopher’s life, there are some aspects of the lead character, a made man who gets killed and cut up (Ralphie anybody?), but comes back to life and gets revenge on everybody who wronged him including the “cunt who he was engaged to” that was “porking the boss” on the night he was killed. The story sounds like shit, but if they can make two sequels to Saw, what can’t Chrissy’s movie get made?
I’ll show YOU high concept!!
An obvious undercurrent to this season is Vito’s closeness to Phil Leotardo. By the way, what are the chances he was called Phil “Reotardo” in grade school? Also, what are the chances the kids that called him Reotardo had unfortunate falls off the teeter-totter and/or monkey bars? I was wondering what made them close and we learned that Vito married Phil’s cousin. Phil has actually been a good leader for New York, and hasn’t let his personal problems with Jersey stop him from taking care of business and Ginny Sack. That’s not to say he will ever forget what happened with Tony Blundetto killing his brother Billy. Maybe the overtures are a little too obvious, but you have to wonder what is going to happen. Vito even starts to question about kicking up 100K to Carmela when Tony might die the next day, but Phil says that you just can’t think that way.
But let’s get back to JT’s movie. He may have thought this was a good way to get out from under his debts, but may be having second thoughts. Little Carmine, who is known for such hits as “South Beach Strumpet” and considers himself very “hands on”. JT talks about his script to a bunch of possible investors in order to get some notes. A new kind of slasher film about a “wise guy with a big mouth and bigger dreams” as Christopher says, like he is making the Mob Version of “In America”. He gets some good input, but there are a lot of problems with the script, like not being able to call the killer “the butcher” because there was already a guy named the butcher in Atlantic City. The biggest problems is that none of the guys can figure out that the movie is not a documentary, and they spend more time splitting hairs on the definition of slasher film than the details of the movie.
Paulie is also having some problems with the idea of giving Carmela the money. He earned the money, but has to give so much of it away, he needs to cut coupons. Looks like he isn’t doing horribly, because he did buy himself a new car recently. Carmela has had a difficult time holding things together, but has done a great job when you think about it. Something was bound to make her snap, and that something was AJ, who was quoted in the news as saying “Growing up Soprano? It’s just plain weird”. That sent Carmela over the edge, and she goes home and tells him that he is nothing but a cross to bear for the entire family, and he is an embarrassment to boot. She felt bad afterwards, although AJ has always been a fuck-up, so I think A) she should be fairly immune and B) she shouldn’t feel bad about screaming some sense into him.
Carmela feels so bad that she goes to see Dr. Melfi, played by our favorite braless wonder, Lorraine Bracco. Dr. Melfi basically tries to get Carmela to, surprise, surprise, think about addressing all of these problems she sees her kids having herself. With Tony in the hospital, the kids have had to come to terms with what their father does for a living. It’s not only “Growing up Soprano”, but it’s having their father’s shooting compared to Marvin Gaye’s shooting on the local media, and reconciling all of the lies and facades they have placed to insulate themselves. Carmela admits that part of the issue is that she always knew what Tony was, but couldn’t decide if she loved Tony in spite of his lifestyle, or because of it. We know that Carmela has tried to deal with these issues with her priest (Ryan Chappelle), but the problems are bigger now. The kids are older, and it’s not just that they will have to face what their father has done in front of their friends and peers, but the more they know, the more they could become complicit in those crimes.
Sil’s reign as acting boss didn’t last long. His asthma was starting to bother him, and he was taken to the hospital himself. I personally think it was more stress than Asthma, but it left a lot of the questions about who was going to pay Carmela in the air. Vito has been chomping on the bit to make a power play, but Sil was always been a clear second in command. After that, it’s anybody’s ball game so to speak.
Last week, Carmela made a big deal about how AJ was scared to confront his father in ICU, but was proud of how he made the effort because it was difficult to see somebody that you looked up to in such a state. I thought it was very interesting this week how they showed that AJ wasn’t the only one with that problem. First Silvio and later Paulie came in to see Tony, and you can see how scared they looked. If you’ve never experienced somebody who was in the ICU, the tubes and the monitors can really shock you. They did a pretty good job of showing this effect to us, but it’s still hard to get that emotion across the small screen.
Meadow was there to tell Paulie to be very positive, since that was what her father needed: positive energy. She then left to see her boyfriend Finn, and rescue him from Vito. Finn is too scared to say anything about Vito sucking off construction workers, but Vito makes sure to let him know that he isn’t forgetting anything, and even caresses his hand gently as a reminder. Even though Meadow says Vito is harmless, Finn is really happy when she gets there. Getting a hug and kiss from Meadow is enough to make anybody forget Vito’s amorous advances.
In the ICU, Paulie is trying to stay positive. I’m not sure what it is, but as soon as Paulie starts talking, Tony’s heart rate goes up. Paulie keeps talking, and yes, mentions his balls, and eventually Tony’s heart rate is so high he is going into tachycardia. The doctors rush in to save Tony, but it doesn’t look great. They have the defibrillator out and are shocking his heart. While the family gathers round, we peer once again into Tony’s dreams, in which he is interpreting Paulie’s yapping as noisy hotel neighbors that he is trying to get to shut up.
Dream Tony had found a flyer for the Finnerty family ruin. After calling and getting directions, he takes his rental up there to look for Kevin Finnerty. When he gets to the location, it’s late at night, and Tony Blundetto is there to greet him. Tony doesn’t recognize him, but explains that he needs to get to the Finnerty family reunion. Tony B. says that everybody has been waiting for him, and hall he has to do is let go of his briefcase and walk inside (to the light of course). Tony doesn’t want to give up his briefcase, saying that his whole life is inside, but Tony B says everybody is waiting to greet him. It looks like Tony is not going to be able to hold on, and wants to go inside, but he hears a voice in the trees saying, “Don’t go! Please daddy, don’t go!”
MY BALLS We love you daddy.
The voice is, of course, Meadow, who is in the hospital room pleading for him not to give up. Even thought the briefcase “looks like it weighs a ton”, he is scared and doesn’t want to let go. Tony B. tells him it is OK, and then we hear a flat line. Next thing we know, we see Meadow and Carmela watching over Tony’s head. His eyes are open. He’s going to be OK. Everybody is celebrating, although some (Paulie, who blamed himself since he was in the room when it happened) are happier than others that he is alive (Vito, who now has to give Tony that money).
Tony isn’t out of the woods, and as Carmela is feeding him ice chips, he doesn’t even realize that he is alive. He has a string of visitors, and although there was a lot of worry, he passed his first basic mental exam. He had us all a little worried there, but Tony is back.
I thought this was another good episode, much better than last week. Although Tony is going to be in the hospital awhile, from the previews it looks like he is going to be back next week, fiery as ever. Aside from all of the high comedy with the balls jokes and the horror movie, we have a great setup for the season. It’s taken three weeks to get there, but I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.
What did you think of this episode? Will Vito make a play for some more power? Who will get Uncle Junior’s business? Will AJ look to get into the family business? Will Christopher make his movie?