This is it. The penultimate episode of The Sopranos for the season. Well, until the “second half” of the season, but since this is HBO and The Sopranos, that means we will be waiting another year at the least. So let’s just savor what we got while we got it.
Remember last week my bitching about the low whacking count? Well, in a further testimony to the power that TVgasm has in this industry, David Chase read what I wrote and he listened. This week’s episode was a veritable whackfest. A Whackapalooza if you will. Dare I say, a Whackgasm. We had not just one, but two brutal slayings this week. And I’m not just talking about Carmela’s slaying of the French language. Hey-Ooooh! Thanks. I’ll be here all week. Enjoy the veal.The show opens on a family note with Carmela and Tony learning that A.J. got fired from Blockbuster for selling promotional movie items. The lure of making a quick buck off selling White Chicks movie posters was too much for him. You can’t really blame him. That movie was a phenomenon. I mean, they were the Wayans brothers masquerading as white chicks! It turned all our notions of race and gender on its head in hilarious fashion! Unfortunately that’s not all the bad news they are going to have to deal with this morning. Meadow, the good offspring, comes in to tell them that she has decided to move to California to be with Finn in dental school. She is going to see about a boy. Tony doesn’t seem too concerned about it, but Carmela is clearly upset.
Next Tony and Silvio are meeting with Phil Leotardo to talk mob business. For some reason they decide to do it in a Home Depot. Where else can you talk about extortion and racketeering while getting a new doorknob? Now that Johnny Sack is in prison and essentially out as boss, Phil is flexing his muscles a little bit. Phil is cutting Tony’s end on the Tidelands project. When Tony tries to protest, Phil says he doesn’t care. “It’s my decision. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to look at paint swatches.”
At home Tony is watching the History Channel in the kitchen when Carmela comes to tell him that she wants to take that trip to Paris she was talking about. Tony can’t get away for the week. What with the NY boss convicted and one of his crew being gay he’s just swamped with work. He’ll be toiling away at the strip club for a good 18 hours a day keeping his nose to the grindstone. “Grindstone” being the nickname one of the strippers has for her labia. Carmela says she’ll just go with Rosalie Aprile. Tony agrees. He says after all she’s been though lately with the spec house, and A.J. being a loser, she deserves to get away.
Later at the mall (Home Depot, the mall. Whatever happened to back alleys and smoke filled Italian restaurants as mob hangouts?) Tony is having coffee when he is approached by Vito wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap with the words “I love cock” inscribed on top. Vito tells Tony he wants back in. He’s sorry he had to leave. “Things got complicated,” he says. “Sure it’s complicated when you’re taking it up your fag ass.” Tony sneers at him. It’s not like that, Vito explains. He’s not gay, it was just a side effect from his blood pressure medication. He’s right. It says so clearly on the bottle. “Side effects include nausea, diarrhea and an urge to toss a hairy man’s salad.” Or am I confusing that with Luden’s cough drops? Either way, Vito says he can get a note from his doctor if he wants one “proving” it. “What? That you don’t like to suck cock?” Hey, it worked for Clay Aiken.
Vito tells Tony his plan. He can’t work construction, he knows. But meth and girls, they have a more “tolerant” atmosphere he says. One of the few positive aspects of being a methamphetamine junkie with a taste for hookers. You become less of a gay bigot I guess. Wait. Does that mean I need to start taking meth and banging hookers to coincide with my already accepting view of homosexuals? Cuz I will if I have to.
Vito’s idea, while a ridiculous pipe dream (it’s been a countdown to his death since the moment he came back as far as I’m concerned) gives Tony pause. He even tries to sell it to his crew later when he tells them what happened. “Say what you want about Richie Aprile. He did the right thing and disowned his son,” says Silvio. Sure he was a murdering gangster traitor, but we can at least be thankful that he was a bigot!
At the Soprano household Carmela is getting ready for her trip. Apparently she must think going to Paris means logging into some sort of computer matrix because she is wearing a black leather outfit. Like one part Jersey cheese and one part Trinity. Tony gives her a small going away present. It’s a Louis Vuitton handbag filled with crisp hundred dollar bills and a Players Club card. If it was good enough for Telly, it’s good enough for Carmela.
Now that Vito is in town he needs to keep a low profile, but he also wants to reconnect with his family. So he does the obvious thing and decides to have lunch at the giant glass walled restaurant right outside Rockefeller Center. Just call him “Mr. Incognito.” He is trying to explain to his kids that he’s a gay mobster whose life is in danger because the mafia world is violently homophobic. But instead he just tells them he works undercover for the CIA. I guess up until know his job working construction was all a “cover.” When his kids buy the story I then simply assume that they are functionally retarded.
As they are watching their kids ice skate Vito still proves the age old axiom “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt” as he explains to his wife that he’s back for good. All that stuff about him being gay is hogwash. Balderdash. Poppycock (tee hee). In fact he even wants to have another kid. With that he pulls out a Turkey baster and says “Here. You’ll need this.”
Later that night he calls Jim from his motel room. Vito tries to say he had to leave because of his family and he didn’t want to drag him down to his level. Jim says that’s BS. Jim says it’s because he missed the “life.” He was used to not working and having people kiss his ass. But hey, who wouldn’t? Jim tells him to never call him again, and he hangs up. Jim then puts on a Sarah McLachlan album and has a good cry.
In Paris Carmela and Rosalie are in a cab in the way to their hotel. “Don’t your bowels just jam up when you fly?” Rosalie says. Ahhh…Paris!
3000 miles away from Rosie Aprile’s impacted bowels Tony is meeting Phil in Jersey beneath the Lou Costello statue located in scenic Patterson, New Jersey. Mob families like to meet at famous landmarks. This of course led to the tragedies of the great massacre at the St Louis Arch on 1921, and the whacking of Tommy Five fingers at the Four Corners monument in Utah (His body was found in 4 different states!). Phil has his panties in a bunch because he’s heard word that that Vito is back. “You said you were gonna take care of that f*ckin’ finook,” he tells Tony. And then he says that if Tony heard about it and didn’t say anything to him so help him he will… Tony doesn’t even wait to hear the end of the sentence. He just walks off in disgust. It’s his captain and he’ll deal with it. Besides, he’s got a noon meeting on top of the Statue of Liberty.
In Paris Carmela and Rosie are having a grand old time. When they try to walk to the Louvre from their hotel they get lost. As Carmela is walking along looking at her map she looks up to realize they are on a beautiful bridge that is covered with beautiful golden sculptures. She is left almost speechless at its beauty. “Who could have built this,” she says in awe. Actually Carmela, it was Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin who were the primary architects. They are on the Alexander the Third bridge, built for the 1900 Worlds Fair. It was created to symbolize the freindship between the Tsar of Russia and the French president. I mean seriously, how does she not know that?
We cut right from her admiration of the statue’s beauty to New Jersey, where workers are washing off the Bada Bing sign. “Make sure you clean that shit off her tit,” Silvio yells. I love this show. Tony is telling Sil that all their business is intertwined with Phil’s and the Vito situation is screwing it all up. He is becoming a liability and has to be dealt with. He says to have Carlo take care of it.
Back in Paris Carmela is getting even more moved as she is walking through a beautiful church. Looking at the architecture, the kids in the pews. It’s all moving her to her soul. We then cut to Tony getting a blowjob from a stripper as he drives her home. A moment that moves him to his soul as well.
That night Vito is on his way to his motel room in Fort Lee. He calls Tony and sets up a meeting for the next morning. Tony wants to know who his Atlantic City contacts are. As Vito gets in his motel room he is jumped from behind and beat with some pipes by a couple of thugs. They gag him with duct tape and shove him to the floor. Then out of the closet comes Phil. No, not in the euphemistically gay sense. He literally comes out of the closet. As he slowly sits on the bed Vito can tell he’s a dead man and starts pleading through his gag. Phil just looks at him and calls him a “fucking disgrace,” gives a nod and then his goons beat him to death right there with pipes. Now that’s a good whack!
The next day at Satriale’s the word gets out. Not only was Vito beaten to death, but they found a pool cue rammed up his ass. There is a moment of silence. “Lover’s quarrel maybe?” Christopher says. “Look, we all know who did this.” Tony answers. He sits there quietly and sees the look on his men. Tony decides to do some damage control, spinning the whole episode as Phil saving him a lot of trouble. But he is pissed. He takes Sil outside for a talk. “This wasn’t about Vito. It was about me. Phil is saying he can do whatever the f*ck he wants including killing one of my captains, and I can’t do shit about it.” Then Sil floats the idea of going to war with Phil. Tony isn’t for it saying that the last time two families went to war it lasted seven years. And when his people are out on the mattresses they aren’t earning. “All Phil cares about is f*ckin’ money,” Tony tells him. Hmmm, So they leave us thinking that Tony will strike soon, but at one of Phil’s money interests. They mention a “wire room” in Sheep’s Head Bay that Phil runs. During their conversation Carmela calls to say hi. Tony asks her how the French bread and French fries are out there. That’s about the extent of his knowledge of French culture. And he wants to know if she’s seen Inspector Clouseau yet. The funny one, not the Steve Martine one.
In Paris Carmela is still waxing poetic about the beauty of the city and its history, while Rosie is waxing poetic at the prospect of getting her 95-year-old cooter aired out when she makes a date with a 26-year-old French stud. As they walk along the ruins of some ancient Roman baths, she gets even more melancholic (is that a word?). “When Tony was in the hospital. When it was touch and go, he came out of his coma one night and said ‘Who am I. Where am I going.’ Now I know what he meant.”
Back in Jersey Phil is comforting his sister, Vito’s husband. “I loved him like a brother-in-law,” he tells her. Nice one. But still, with his lifestyle, he says that for the kid’s sake “Maybe it’s better not to have him as a role model.” So it’s almost a good thing that he got beat to death and had a pool cue rammed up his ass. Phil is a glass half full kinda guy.
At Melfi’s office Tony is complaining about his loser son A.J. He caught him in his underwear laughing like a pansy while talking with friends on the internet. Which is true unless it was the TVgasm forums. The only people who go there are super cool. “I wanted to smash his f*ckin face in.” he confesses. If only he grew up like Tony did, maybe getting smacked around a little bit, he would be more of a man. Melfi takes the opposite tact saying that maybe because he didn’t grow up that way that means he won’t grow up and take his anger out on other people. He won’t feel the need to dominate others.
At a fancy French restaurant Carmela is continuing her mood trip. As they are getting served their meal Carmela decides to ask Rosie about her dead son. Rosie, correctly, asks Carmela why she wants to talk about this stuff while they are on a vacation in Paris. Talk about a buzzkill. “Why would you bring New Jersey here?” she asks. Then she tells her she is going out with her boy toy tonight. Carmela says that’s fine, she is going to spend the night walking the Seine one last time.
Back in Jersey Silvio is cleaning up in the back at Satriale’s as Carlo is chopping up some vegetables and making lunch. Fat Dom then shows up with some money from a “business venture.” Fat Dom mind you is part of Phil’s crew and was one of the guys that killed Vito. He sits down and starts to break Sil and Carlo’s balls about Vito being gay. The first few times he gets a few dirty looks but they let it go. Fat Dom keeps at it. Then he says something about how the guitar playing on Darkness on the Edge of Town was substandard at best. This sets Silvio into a rage and he smashes his Handivac over his head. He grabs him from behind and the Carlo stabs him with his chef’s knife over and over again until Fat Dom collapses on the table covered in blood. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Nothing like a good whack to get the blood pumping!
Once Sil realizes they have a 300 pound dead body laying on their table, he is pissed. They’ll wait until later and cut the body up somewhere offsite. His plans don’t go so well as Tony shows up later on. When he sees the back door is locked he starts banging on it. Sil meets him there and stops him from coming in. “You don’t want to come in here,” he warns him. Tony pushes his way in and sees Fat Dom laying in a sheet on the floor. “Sil hit him first,” Carlo says like a 5 year old. Tony just storms out pissed.
That night Tony goes into the living room to see A.J. playing Xbox with his loser friends. He says he wants to see him in the garage a minute. He has a job for him working construction. He is gonna show up there tomorrow morning at 7 AM, no matter what. He grabs him buy his hair. “You’re my son. I love you. I just wanna see you do good.” He tells him. “I’d just as soon keep looking online,” A.J. says. Yeah right. Tony doesn’t buy it and to make his point more forcefully he smashes the windshield of his car and says that if he doesn’t show up there tomorrow, he’ll lose his car, his clothes, and eventually his room. “Don’t put me to the test.” he whispers in his ear as he goes inside.
In Paris on their final night Carmela dreams of Adriana walking the streets. Wow, that must’ve been a nice gig for Drea de Matteo. Fly her out to Paris for one shot and one line. Where can I get that gig. The next morning as they are leaving the hotel Rosie stops and exclaims “Shit. The Toulouse Lautrec placemats!!” She runs back to their room as Carmela wanders the street, her eyes fixed on a statue of a child’s face. Who knew Jersey mafia wives were so introspective?
Finally, the episode ends for some odd reason with a photographer noticing Vito’s picture in the paper and saying that he knows who he is. He took his picture for the Thin Club. Then he shows the woman next to him the picture he took of Vito showing him doing the Jared “I’m wearing my big pants now to show how much weight I lost” look. F’ing Jared. I hate that prick.
So what did everyone else think? Does anyone miss Vito? Or even Fat Dom?