Previously on The Sopranos: Paulie's mom got picked on; Tony admitted his miserable prickitude and quit therapy; the judge ruled Junior competent to stand trial; Paulie sucked up to Johnny Sack, and Johnny Sack pretended that Carmine knew Paulie from a hole in the ground; Carmine and Tony scuffled over the HUD deal; Vic The Appraiser got a fat lip; Vic The Appraiser got another fat lip; Carmela and Furio got naked on his kitchen floor and did unmentionable things with marinara, except that they totally didn't, and I've seen subtler flirting from drunk eighth-graders so could they please get on with it already; Tony reached out to Little Carmine, and Little Carmine reached out to a bottle of self-tanner.
Woke up this morning, got myself a sixty-five-minute episode. Madon'.
Courtroom. A prosecutor suffering from Kim Delaneyitis delivers his closing arguments to the jury, droning on about how Corrado Soprano looks like an innocent old man but is in fact "a ruthless and calculating Mob boss who controls a vast [beat] criminal enterprise." As Junior scribbles on his legal pad, the prosecutor confirms for us that the flirty nurse from the season premiere is indeed an FBI plant; we get a shot of her glaring disapprovingly at the back of Junior's head from her seat in the gallery. Cut to Bobby Bacala looking vaguely menacing, then a pan across the jury box to a guy who looks like John Pankow. Bobby squints at the juror thoughtfully while the prosecutor comments with rhetorical non-flair that Junior "orders up murder [beat] like you and I [beat] order up [beat] coffee." You know, I feel like we should have seen more of the trial so far this season, and while I can understand why we didn't -- Chase et al. probably felt that getting too deep into the way RICO cases work would occasion far more nitpicking from the fans than the storyline warranted -- I can think of at least three subplots that should have taken a backseat to the trial now and then.
Oh, look -- here's one of those subplots now. Carmela's taking scones out of the oven when AJ schlumps into the kitchen, grumbling, "All right, so I rewrote it." He begins to read from his paper on Billy Budd, which, not surprisingly, is written at about the seventh-grade level; mercifully, the doorbell interrupts him. Carmela goes to answer it, occasioning an eye-roll from young Harold Bloom; it's Furio, kitted out in a puffy Peroni sweat suit and looking like he might throw up from nerves. Carmela invites him in, beaming. Blah blah blah Furio's mother's apartment blah blah blah leak in the foundation blah blah blah Carmela's father is a contractor, so he can take a look at it blah blah blah get-on-with-it-cakes. Carmela offers Furio a scone, which he declines, and AJ whines about the "fat and carbs" in said scones (shades of Meadow's "get outta here with that fat" from the series premiere). Carmela ignores that in favor of bitching at him to greet their guest, and AJ in turn ignores her and keeps reading his paper aloud, and Carmela and Furio ignore him to give each other The Look while Carmela pours Furio a cup of coffee. I haven't read much Melville, so upon first viewing I ignored AJ also, as is my usual custom, but as far as what happens later in the ep, here's what you need to know: 1) Billy Budd is often viewed as a Christ figure; 2) many critics point to a marked homosexual subtext in the novella; and 3) many critics also make note of the narrator's "alienation and dehumanization." All interesting concepts to apply to The Sopranos, and all totally lost on AJ, at least according to what we hear of his paper.