The house. Doorbell. Carmela, swaddled in an afghan, brays, "Who is it?" God, she really does have a grating voice. Lightning flashes outside, and a lurking figure answers, "Father Phil." "Just a second," Carmela says in a friendlier tone, and she dashes into the bathroom off the foyer to let her hair down and fluff it up a bit, and then she changes into a clean Lanz of Salzburg...robe...muumuu thing...and hurries to the front door and lets Father Phil in. Oh, boy. Banter: how wet he's gotten, he hopes he's not "barging in," the clothing drive (it seems that the Moschino pedal-pusher suit Carmela donated sold right away -- um, a pedal-pusher suit? Does it get tackier than that? Because I don't see how. And since when does a priest even know what "pedal pusher" means?), "Jean Cusamano said you were ill," she's better now, blah dee blah. Carmela takes his jacket, and Father Phil, who's standing juuuuust a little too close to her, says he has a confession to make: "I -- I have a jones for your baked ziti." Oh, is that what the kids are calling it these days? "Oh, sure, any time," says a flattered Carmela, and offers to reheat him some, and Father Phil says too-enthusiastically that "it's so much better that way" because the mozzarella gets "all nice and chewy," and Carmela says she likes that too. "Yeah," breathes Father Phil. Okay, Father Phil? Take a BIG step back and think about baseball. Because -- ew. Carmela says she's having a little Fernet to settle her system, and would Father Phil like something? He'll have a little wine, "if it's open," and asks over the clatter of Foreshadowing helping itself to a glass of grappa how Tony and Meadow's trip is going. "I should know?" Carmela gripes. "He doesn't have time to talk to me for two lousy minutes." "Oh jeez," Father Phil says under his breath. Yeah, no kidding.
At a restaurant, Tony folds his hands and smiles tenderly at Meadow. Meadow, who has her hair up in chopsticks with curly tendrils around her face, blushes and asks what he's staring at. "It's an exciting time," Tony says, and Meadow smiles self-deprecatingly as Tony continues, "I can't tell you how proud I am a you -- a real student at Casa Soprano. And she looks like one a the models right out of Italian Vogue." Meadow makes a big show of mock-complaining, "Italian, Italian, Italian," adding sweetly, "Thank you." You know, I don't hate Meadow so much in this episode either...and it's a pretty Meadow-intensive episode. Meadow wags a finger at him: "You're definitely up to something." "Oof," Tony says, "how'd you get so cynical?" Meadow grins, then glances over at a group of students laughing and drinking at the bar, and the grin melts away. Tony asks if what they talked about before is sitting okay with her, and she shrugs, "It's not like I wasn't ninety percent sure already." "What about your brother? Does he know?" Meadow looks deliberately blank: "I think so." Tony tells her that, at one time, "the Italian people didn't have a lotta options." "Oh, you mean like Mario Cuomo?" Meadow asks. ["Bada burn!" -- Wing Chun] Tony glares at her; she apologizes. Tony goes on to say, kind of defensively, that he puts food on the table, and his father and his uncle "were in it," and maybe he should have thought for himself more and rebelled; maybe "being a rebel in [his] family would have been selling patio furniture on Route 22." For those of you not fortunate enough to have driven on Route 22 in New Jersey, it's basically the world's longest strip mall, and it functions the same way as the background in an animated cartoon does -- you pass a Red Lobster, and a diner, and a bookstore, and a Pathmark, and an Army-Navy shop, and a consignment shop, and a car dealership, and a Red Roof Inn, and then you cross the border into a different town and here comes another Red Lobster and another diner and another bookstore (or a music store) and another Pathmark, and it repeats over and over again until you hit Newark. And I defy you to try to turn around on Route 22. If any single road in the Garden State bears out the stereotype of Jersey drivers, it's Route 22, so let this serve as a public service announcement for those of you not from New Jersey, because Route 22 might seem like a handy shortcut, but Route 22 will send you raving into the desert, my friends.