Pine Barrens

Episode Report Card
Aaron: B+ | 1 USERS: A+
Pine Barrens

And now for the scene that's stirred up almost as much debate in our forums as the whole "Chasidic Homeboy" slur. Although I do take a somewhat perverse measure of pride in noting that The Sopranos forums now sport the most inane thread on the site not started by an employee of Anyway, Paulie and Christopher are at some gas station somewhere, and Paulie is (against all laws of common sense and the state of New Jersey) pumping his own gas. Christopher suggests heading over to [crappy fast-food chain name deleted] because he's hungry, but Paulie wants to bring Drunk Guy down to the eponymous Pine Barrens and dump the body. They'll even be able to head over to Atlantic City when they're done. That way, "the day won't be a total loss."

Back to therapy. Tony is alone this time, and props to the costume people who are very subtly changing Melfi's outfits depending on the scene. When she was with Tony and Carmela she had on the standard power suit, but now with just Tony, she's in a much softer blue sweater and pants. She also strikes a more flirtatious pose, as she's been wont to do when they're alone lately. She inquires about Carmela, and Tony again credits the therapy with the improvement in their relationship. Then he breaks down, and admits that he's been seeing one of Melfi's patients. Melfi isn't sure whether to act relieved or surprised that he's finally confessed. Tony lists off all of Gloria's good qualities, but when he mentions that she's Italian, the Richard Detector in Melfi's head goes off and she snarks, "What is this, West Side Story?" When she goes on to ask if Tony attaches any particular significance to having met Gloria in therapy, he volleys back, "Maybe she reminds me of you…smart, sexy, Italian. Actually, she's nothing like you." Insert patented bad-boy smile. "Well, maybe a little. You've both got great legs." I overcome my shock that he didn't say "great knees," and notice that Melfi looks simultaneously pleased as punch and annoyed as hell by his flirting. "The point is, she makes me feel happy," Tony explains, but now Melfi wonders if lying to Carmela is the best thing for his panic attacks, especially since their whole marriage is now "predicated on a lie." "Predicated on my ass, what's the difference? The bottom line is that I'm a better husband and a better father. If you want to know the truth, as much as I love my wife, being with Gloria makes me happier than all your Prozac and your therapy bullshit combined." Melfi's got nothing to say to that one.

Down in the wilds of South Jersey, Paulie and Christopher cruise along some snowy back roads before ending up deep in the forest. They park at a little picnic roundabout, and Chris heads back to open the trunk. Except that when he does, Drunk Guy turns out to still be alive, and pretty upset about the whole being-locked-in-a-trunk thing. Paulie giggles and hassles him some more, which results in a torrent of profanity that's extreme even by Sopranos standards. While Paulie holds a gun to Drunk Guy's head, Christopher digs in the trunk for a shovel. Then we fade to a Fargo-esque shot of snow falling on cedars as they make their way through the woods. Actually, it's really nothing like Fargo at all, but with Buscemi in the chair, the comparison just seems to come naturally. ["It's actually a dead ringer for a scene in Miller's Crossing, another Coen Brothers movie that Buscemi also appeared in, albeit briefly." -- Sars] Paulie teases Drunk Guy about being stuck out in the woods in his pajamas (like that's really the worst of his problems at this point), and when they finally pick a spot, he rips off the tape binding Drunk Guy's hands. He hands over the shovel and commands DG to start digging, and to use some "of that Siberian action," because the ground is hard. DG swears a bit more in Russian, claiming that the cold doesn't bother him, because he "washes [his] balls in ice water." Heh. Maybe the Russian kid Furio kicked should try that. As Drunk Guy digs, Paulie explains that they "didn't come to your house to kill you. That mouth of yours…you gotta learn to shut the fuck up." After eleven episodes, I am completely and totally out of pot/kettle jokes, so you'll just have to make up your own here. Although, given what happens later on in this episode, I'm mildly surprised he doesn't pull off a shoe, bang it vehemently on the nearest tree, and exclaim, "We will bury you!" Although I suppose if he did, it'd mean that he'd probably also be able to tell the difference between Chechnya and Czechoslovakia. He'd still invade them both, though. Anyway, Drunk Guy makes a few feeble stabs at digging, and then suddenly whacks both Paulie and Christopher with the shovel (including a nasty blow to Chris's forehead) and takes off into the woods. The boys slowly climb back to their feet and give chase, firing their guns all the while. This is no knock on Stevie, but just once I'd like to see a chase through the woods where the director doesn't rely on quick cuts with varying depth of field every time the characters pass a tree. Paulie finally gets off one last shot, and with a spray of blood shooting off of his head, Drunk Guy goes down like a French prizefighter. Not a Russian prizefighter, mind you, because Ivan Drago could have wiped the floor with these two losers. Paulie and Chris speculate over whether or not they got him, but when they check the area, the body is gone. Chris has got a HUGE welt on his forehead. They follow DG's bloody tracks for a few yards, but then the footprints stop, and they can't find him anywhere. As they walk off to search, Buscemi cuts to a high-angle shot looking down the trunk of a tree at them. I too thought that meant Drunk Guy had climbed the tree, but further review indicates that there's no branches he could have used for purchase. I honestly have no idea how he managed to disappear.

Das Sopranohaus. AJ watches some sort of a milk-carton-related music video while Tony futzes around in the kitchen. Carmela comes downstairs, sporting a Russian-style fur hat, and heads off to the market. Meanwhile, out in the woods, Paulie and Christopher are still searching when Tony calls on the cell phone. Paulie explains that they had a bit of a problem, and that "the package…hit Chrissy with an implement and ran off." The call starts breaking up as Tony frantically asks if there's any way "the package" could have survived. AJ sits in the foreground, listening to all this with a raised eyebrow. Eventually, after much static and screaming, Tony hangs up, still worried about his meeting with Joey Stalin, because he "could be walking into a fucking buzz-saw." Out in the woods, Paulie and Christopher bitch about the boss while Christopher searches for a match to light his cigarette. Unfortunately, they both left their lighters in the car. Now that sucks. Of all the things that happen to them for the rest of the episode, that's still probably the one that would piss me off the most. All those cigarettes, and no fire to light them with. You know what? Hang on a sec. Flick. Ahhh. Much better. The boys decide that Drunk Guy must be dead, and head back to the car. When Christopher questions Paulie's sense of direction, however, Paulie replies, "Four years in the army, kid. We just follow our own footsteps." Fade to the official Forest-Montage-Of-Passing-Time, and come back to Christopher bitching that they've been walking in circles. Paulie tries to do some orienteering based on the direction of the sun, but Chrissy bemoans the fact that they're clearly lost. I'm again surprised that Cadillac passed up on the opportunity to mention the usefulness of the "NorthStar" system in these situations. There's more bickering, and then they head off.

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