Another Toothpick

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

Vesuvio. Artie approaches Charmaine, who's working the front door. They bicker over to the bar and back, and Artie insists that he is going into business with Tony, with or without her support. When Charmaine tells him not to choose Tony over her, he casually mentions the word "divorce." This sets Charmaine right off, and she starts screaming at him, ending the marriage and assuring him that he won't be getting the kids.

Cut to Junior's doctor's office. Tony and AJ arrive, and Tony brought Junior a large paper bag filled with "the last of [his] sweet corn." Junior immediately sends AJ to wait outside, saying he needs to talk to Tony alone. Tony climbs onto the scale, and I immediately start anticipating wacky weight-related comedy hijinx, but alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, Junior announces that he has cancer, or, as he likes to call it, "The Big Casino." Tony is shocked and obviously sincerely concerned for his uncle. Junior reports that the cancer is in his stomach, and he's having surgery in two weeks to determine how bad it is. "These things come in threes, you know," he laments. First there was Jackie, then Febbie, and then Burt was supposed to be the final member of the cancer troika, but instead he died in the car accident. That's why Junior was so opposed to his doing the hit, and now he believes he's going to die. Tony is incredulous that the old man could be so superstitious, but Junior makes him swear to keep the news a secret. Yeah, like that will last.

God: Sweet corn, huh? That must be one hell of a garden he's got. By the way, get it? Hell?
David Chase: Yeah, I got it. You laughed at the "cough-ee" joke, didn't you?
God: It's still not as nice as my garden, though. Except for that whole poisonous Fruit of Knowledge thing, of course.
David Chase: I know. I read the recap.
God: Man, I hate that Aaron guy. He's so…smarmy.
David Chase: Yeah, I was hoping they'd get Djb to do the show, but what are you gonna do?

Well, the secret lasted exactly two seconds, because the very next shot is Tony calling Janice to spread the news. Then we cut to Livia's house, and Tony and Janice are lounging on the sofa, drinking wine and reminiscing about the deaths of yore. Turns out, "another toothpick" was something Livia used to say, even about the death of her own brother (who also died of cancer). Tony admires the way the old-timers like Livia and Junior could suppress their feelings and fears, but Janice thinks they were just trying to ward off evil. She repeats Junior's "everything comes in threes" theory. "And then there's the Holy Trinity," she says. "You think that's a coincidence?" Don't forget there's three pages to a recap, too. I'd say that's definitely one of your more significant cosmic constants. Tony sits up and stares into his glass, pondering the philosophical ramifications of MBTV and the number three. After a moment, Janice asks whatever happened to Big Pussy. "Witness protection," says Tony with a grimace, but Janice already knows what that particular euphemism means. "Would you like to stay and pray with me?" she asks, but Tony swallows a laugh, stands, and walks out.

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