As I type these very words, it's 10:46 pm EST, on Saturday, March 31st, 2001. I've been up since 6:30 am, there's a new episode of The Sopranos airing in less than twenty-three hours, and I'm hoping to finish this recap by sunrise. That's a bit later than I usually like to get started on these things, but in my defense, it's been an incredibly busy week in my real job, and also David Chase hates me. It's the only explanation. Never mind the whole no commercials/no repeats thing, this week he's also gone and blown my whole Start-to-Robe grading system straight to hell. Can a cease-and-desist on the conversations be too far behind? Anyway, for the first time this season, Tony actually stays dressed for the ENTIRE episode, generating a mind-boggling StR of 3,468 and counting. That's also a world record (in the other direction, since this was a long episode), and the real reason this episode gets a lower grade than last week. I spend four weeks praying for pants, and now they decide to listen? I guess God hates me too.
Melfi's office. She and Tony share a long, awkward silence. They're dressed differently, so it's not a continuation of last week's session. We're supposed to think she's going to tell him about the rape this time, but to be honest, that thought never even crossed my mind. I'm proven correct when the camera rotates around Tony to reveal Carmela sitting beside him. More awkward silence. Carmela asks about the knee. Melfi says it's fine. Tony's stomach growls. Heh. Finally, they get down to brass tacks (or should that be knuckles?). Carmela claims that Tony's panic attacks leave her feeling (among other things) helpless. "Because of your inability to help him?" asks Melfi. "Actually, I was referring to your inability to help him," Carmela snarks. Now Melfi proved last week that she's a pretty tough chick, but this one isn't even close to a fair fight. Carmela could chew her up and spit her out and still have enough leftovers to feed Father Intintola for a week. Melfi goes back to talking about root causes, and once again I mistake her for my boss and tune out. Flip. Anyone else expect Marcia Gay and Marisa Tomei to share similar career trajectories along with their similar names and similar Oscars? Plus, if Marcia Gay Harden ends up dating George Costanza, that would really be worlds colliding. Anyway, Tony tries prompting Carmela by saying that "maybe [she] does things that have an effect on [him]. People affect each other in life, you know." Ain't that the truth. Carmela rails against Tony's unwillingness to accept blame for "sticking [his] dick into anything with a pulse." I'm sure there's a sheep joke in there somewhere, but I just don't have the energy to look for it right now. "It's like those people who smoke all their lives, and then sue the cigarette companies when they get cancer," explains Carmela, and to a certain extent, she's right. I don't have a whole heck of a lot of sympathy for those people, and I smoke more than a pile of non-flame-retardant children's pajamas. "You're both very angry," observes Melfi, and both Tony and Carmela snort. Angrily. "You must have been in the top of your fucking class," opines Tony, and to a certain extent he's right, especially since I used basically that same joke last week.
In the car on the way home, Carmela is upset. "I find it very sad that after nineteen years of marriage we have to pay someone to teach us how to communicate." Tony responds to this by flooring the gas and swerving through traffic. She goes on to complain that Melfi took Tony's side in everything, and from what little of the session we saw, I'd agree. Suddenly, lights flash in the mirror, and they get pulled over. The cop is played by Charles Dutton, and I'm kind of interested to see whether this turns into a recurring role or not. It was sort of odd for just a one-off appearance, but you never know with this show. When he asks for Tony's license and registration, Tony tells him that he just bought new shoes, "and the soles are a little heavy." Well, it wasn't Paulie making the reference this time, but again I'm forced to ask, "Is it the shoes?" And I'm telling you people, it's gotta be the shoes. Tony casually mentions having dinner with the police chief the other night, and at least now I understand why Sars was laughing so hard last week. Tony offers a bribe, which Cop Roc doesn't accept, and then refuses to comply when ordered to shut off his engine. Cop Roc calls for backup, and Tony finally gives in, but not before asking if this is "the high point of [Roc's] career." When Cop Roc heads back to his car to write up the ticket, Carmela wonders why the cops aren't out arresting drug dealers or Mafia kingpins or something, and Tony closes the scene with the obligatory racial slur. Or three.