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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 September 2019 at 9:07pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

“The Strong, Silent Type”.


Another great episode. I had a feeling about this one when I saw that David Chase had a story credit. I was not disappointed, since the opening scene—with a heroin-addled Christopher sitting on and killing Adriana’s beloved dog—features the sort of gleefully macabre humor which is a trademark of the show. A horrible moment which also somehow manages to be shockingly funny.

Speaking of which, Paulie's appropriation of the painting of Tony and Pie-O-My, only to have it repainted so as to assuage his guilt, is also quite hilarious. Tony repainted in Napoleonic garb and hanging on Paulie’s wall is one of the most gloriously absurd images that the show has yet produced.

Meanwhile, the Carmella-Furio flirtation is heating up. I continue to be amazed at how much depth that Furio—introduced seasons ago as a mere thug—has been given by this subplot. And of course, this episode also has Tony’s bizarre tryst with, of all people, Svetlana. It’s a nice study in contrasts, what with Tony having casual affair after casual affair, whereas Carmella has struggled for episode after episode regarding whether or not to seal the deal with Furio. And very possibly seal Furio’s fate by doing so.

We also have Tony grappling with the aftermath of his murdering Ralphie. Clever move to turn the suspicions of his crew against Johnny Sack and the New York crew after Sack threatens him over the HUD scam. 

And then there’s Christopher and his drug addiction. The intervention is a highlight of the episode, and features a fun bit part by the great Elias Koteas. In proper SOPRANOS fashion, the intervention ends with Chris cursing out his own mother, and then being beaten to the point of a skull fracture by his own friends and partners. Yeah, there’s always that extra twinkle of dark humor in the episodes which Chase takes a more direct hand in.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 13 September 2019 at 6:38am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

The intervention! I forgot all about that. The show is at its best when dying mob culture clashes against more current cultural trends. (Like when 2 goons tried to rob a Jewel concert). I remember thinking at the start of the scene "A mobster intervention? This can't end well". And nope, it did not disappoint.

And of course there was that little tidbit of Tony getting incensed upon hearing the Chris killed Adriana's dog. There wasn't too much to it, but it was a reminder of Tony's affinity for animals.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 13 September 2019 at 8:08am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Yeah, the culture clash between the mobsters and their Old World code/culture and modern-day life is a subtle-yet-important part of the show’s appeal, I think.


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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 30 September 2019 at 10:16pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

“Calling All Cars”.


A solid episode which is clearly doing the job of moving chess pieces into place before the final two episodes of the season. It’s nice to see Tony’s relationship with Dr. Melfi moving back to the forefront after such a long period of relative inactivity. And we get two properly surreal dream sequences in the style that the show has established so well. I’m glad that they brought back Joey Pants and Annabella Sciorra for just a handful of shots. Unlike the (of course) necessary use of a body-double for the second dream, which features the shadowy image of Tony’s mother.

The show’s depiction of the weirdness of human behavior and relationships is definitely a factor which elevates it into the pantheon of all-time greats. Bobby buying and burying a cake at his wife’s gravesite is simultaneously bizarre, pathetic, and yet poignantly human. And, of course, professional victim/grifter Janice uses deceit—and Bobby’s own children—to get him to accelerate his mourning process so that she can latch onto him. Despite AJ’s earlier seance prank, which freaked Bobby’s kids out, Janice’s more subtle manipulation of the kids’ grief is much, much worse.

And the plot threads are definitely coming together regarding the HUD scheme. Listen, I know very little about where the show is going, but...the situation is stacking up against Paulie, since Tony is now suspicious of him. I don’t yet know if Paulie makes it to the end of the series or not, but losing him would be a crushing blow! I don’t think it’s likely, but one of the great joys of this show is that no one is safe, and relationships can quickly take a turn for the worse.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 October 2019 at 9:35pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

“Eloise”.

Lots of moving parts in this buildup to the fourth season finale. After several episodes which have heavily focused on Tony, Carmella now gets the spotlight. Her emotional affair with Furio has reached a boiling point...only to end(?) with the crushing anticlimax of Furio abruptly leaving the country. Of course, prior to that, we get the great moment where Furio very nearly thrusts the drunken Tony into the helicopter’s spinning rotor.

Some great laughs with Paulie in this episode. Just as I’d love to watch a miniseries about Paulie’s adventures in prison, I’d also love to see Paulie’s adventures while driving his mother and her friends around. Comedy gold. Another big comedy moment would be the (again, anticlimactic) pay-off to the subplot of Paulie maneuvering around Tony to possibly try to take charge of the crew. But, when he speaks with Carmine, not only has Johnny Sack NOT been buttering up Carmine with the idea of Paulie getting promoted, but Carmine barely knows who Paulie is. Tony Sirico’s facial expressions and reaction to this realization are priceless.

On a much darker note, we then see Paulie break into Minn’s home to rob her and in order to give the impression of being a big “earner” and thus slyly smooth over his relationship with Tony. And then he ends up murdering her with a pillow when she surprises him in the act. Dark, yes, but still grotesquely funny, in the way that only Paulie can be. 

Meanwhile, we get to catch up with Meadow, and I appreciate how the ever-rocky Carmella/Meadow relationship is used to crystallize just where Carmella’s head is at. She’s basically sublimating her pain and anger over Furio’s departure into her relationship with Meadow, and it ends up throwing a huge wrench into their traditional mother-daughter lunch. Meadow then quickly puts the clues (which AJ is, typically, completely oblivious to) together, and realizes that Carmella feels miserable enough to nearly fall into an affair with Furio.

Big shock to see Johnny Sack not-so-subtly indicate that he and Tony should whack Carmine for the sake of both their crews. Looking forward to seeing how that plays out.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 November 2019 at 11:42pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

“Whitecaps”.


Man, what a powerhouse episode, and a great season finale. I see that both Gandolfini and Falco won Emmys for their performances, here, and they’re richly deserved. 

Lots of payoffs, in this one. It’s a near-feature-length episode, but it flies by at a rapid clip. Christopher finally gets out of rehab. Junior gets his mistrial. And, most centrally, the simmering tensions between Tony and Carmella finally explode into confrontation and separation, which was long in coming. We get several fantastic scenes between them where all the cards are laid on the table, from Carmella’s emotional affair with Furio to Tony calling out Carmella for her materialism and willful ignorance about his mob life and his family background. 

The big fight between them is a staggering and immensely satisfying scene, and, as noted, most definitely Emmy-worthy. And the later scenes between them are less heated, but no less incisive. And then there’s that moment where Tony very nearly hauls off and punches Carmella square in the face, only to BARELY contain himself enough to punch holes in the drywall, instead. 

The subplot with Johnny Sack plotting to murder Carmine also comes to a head in a satisfactory manner, while clearly setting up conflict for the next season. Christopher’s cold orchestration of the hit on Carmine’s would-be assassins (in order to silence them after the contract is terminated) is a shocking and well-executed sequence. This being the same Christopher who is still working on the whole “apologizing to people he’s wronged” step of his 12-step program.

The other big subplot, with Tony buying-then-not-buying Alan Sepinsly’s house, is a lot of fun. Torturing Sepinsly and his wife with Sinatra and Martin songs might just be one of the best (and most non-lethal) jokes in the entire series, because it’s so ridiculously tame (yet effective) in comparison to Tony’s many, many other intimidation tactics. 

Fantastic episode. One of the best in the whole run.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 18 November 2019 at 4:30pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I remember liking the bit where Carmella accuses Tony about finding Svetlana's fingernail in the house, and he's about to vehemently deny it, since it belonged to another woman he was sleeping with, but he realizes that of course that's not going to help so he stops short.

Edited by Vinny Valenti on 18 November 2019 at 5:16pm
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