Sopranos
Another Toothpick

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Aaron: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Requiem For A Gladiator

Cut to a funeral, with Father Intintola presiding. The Soprano clan, along with Carmela's parents, are in a mostly empty church, mourning the dearly departed "Febbie." Febbie, we're told, was a devoted father, a supply sergeant in the Pacific theater, and a devout Catholic. Say what you want about Father Intintola, but he's got that priestly funeral drone down perfect. Bobby Bacala, Junior, and Burt Young enter, and Tony looks especially pleased to see Burt. I guess they knew this episode was going up against the Oscars, what with all the stunt-casting going on. Burt did get nominated for Rocky, after all. On the other hand, Sylvester "Yo" Stallone actually snagged a nomination for Best Original Screenplay on that one too, which shows you just how truly weird the world can be. Anyway, that's why I keep wanting to refer to Burt Young as "Paulie" before realizing that I can't. Also, we need to talk about the cough. Burt coughs a lot. I mean A LOT. It's sort of an omnipresent, omni-directional phlegm spray. It may also be omniscient, and possibly omnipotent. It's the Zeus of coughs, so to speak. We get some subtle foreshadowing as Father Intintola explains that Febbie was frail and wracked with pain from cancer, over a shot of Junior sitting stoically in his pew.

God: I don't know…so far, it's not as good as last week. Plus, I really hate that Father Intintola guy. He's such a schnorrer.
David Chase: Don't worry. It'll get better.
God: I suppose. I remember in the beginning, when I created the heavens and the Earth, and the Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
David Chase: Yeah, but have things really gotten better since then?
God: I think so. I do wish there were more Ewoks, though. Friggin' Noah screwed up and got two males.
George Lucas: Don't tell anyone, but I once got drunk and did the same thing.
God: I know. I'm omniscient, remember?

Outside of the church, AJ is relating the tale of a friend's father who died of cancer and had his head frozen. Meanwhile, Father Intintola greets Carmela and her mother. Mom calls Dad over, and he hands the Father an envelope "for the poor box." I'm intrigued by these two, because they don't appear to be the kind of people who would be okay with what their son-in-law does for a living, but they obviously must know and they don't seem to care. Father I stutters through a few words with Carmela before heading off past a smirking Tony, who knows exactly what's up with those two. Burt Young coughs his way out of the church, and envelops Tony in a hug. He's identified as Bobby Bacala's dad, and while I don't see much of a family resemblance, Burt does look like he belongs on this show. He sends Bobby Jr. to fetch the car, and then goes off for a private conference with Tony. Tony explains the Mustang Sally situation, and asks for Burt's blessing on the hit, because Burt is Sally's godfather. I'm gonna save the obvious joke for later in the recap. Burt doesn't care what Tony does to Mustang Sally, possibly because the cough has already foretold his future. They make fun of Junior for a minute, and I'm struck by how different the present-day, played-for-laughs Junior is from creepy, scary Flashback Junior. Finally, Burt and his cacophonous cough depart, leaving Tony, Janice, and Junior alone on the church steps. Tony expresses dismay at Burt's obvious illness, especially when he discovers it's lung cancer. "What do you expect?" asks Junior. "He's been smoking those Camels since he was in short pants." Oddly enough, I'm smoking Camels in short pants right now. It's a very liberating experience. Also, I initially forgot to capitalize the 'C' in Camels, which gave those last two sentences some radically different imagery. Janice describes the situation by saying, "Another toothpick…" and I'm left to simultaneously ponder both what the hell that's supposed to mean, and also if it's a personal goal of The Sopranos writing staff to actually speak the title of every single episode this season.

Vesuvio. Adriana escorts an elderly couple out of the empty restaurant, and it looks like they're closed for the night. I have some serious issues with Adriana's dress in this scene, because it's got the ugliest print I've ever seen (I think it's leopard-skin lamé), but the fit is fantastic, and it looks great on her. She joins Artie at the bar, and he expresses delight at the evening's receipts. He offers her a drink and some dessert, but she delivers the bad news: she's quitting, and she's not even giving two weeks' notice. Now I'm fantasizing about doing just that at my own job. Artie is heartbroken, but he puts on a brave face and says he'll get Charmaine to fill in. Adriana goes off to the bathroom to fix her make-up, and I have a question for the female viewers -- can you dye a dress to be a different color? I know you can do it with shoes for proms or weddings or whatever, but does that work on dresses? ["Depends on the fabric, and on the original color of the dress." -- Sars] And by the way, it's still gotta be the shoes. Trust me.

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