...flash cut to Tony, Steve, and Auntie Q arriving at Vesuvio for a big surprise party. Artie comes out to greet them, and God do I hate Artie. He does, however, get the best line of the night here by asking Steve, "Where's Tubbs?" while tubby Tony is standing right next to them. Hee! There's some more here, including a recap of last season's Incredibly Annoying Artie Incident, but...well, did I mention that I hate Artie? Carmela comes over next, and seems genuinely happy to see Steve. He asks her if "Nancy and the twins" have arrived yet, and Carmela is forced to deliver the worst excuse since the last time I was late turning in a recap (what? Dogs can eat computers. It's not that far-fetched) when she tells him that Nancy was too busy with her "aunt in Bayonne, with the sciatica." Steve shrugs this news off with a perfectly pitched "Whaddya gonna do?" that makes it seem like he's been a member of the cast since day one. Next up on the receiving line is Janice, who practically sprains something in her rush to introduce Steve to her "family." It soon becomes evident that Bobby Jr. inherited his brains from Daddy, because he pipes up to say that he's never even heard of Steve Buscemi. Which does sort of make sense, because the kid is too young to have seen Fargo, and Steve never worked with Quasimodo. After the Baccalieri clan, Meadow and AJ come over to join their parents, and Steve does seem to linger just a little too long over his hug with Meadow. That really jumped out at me on the first viewing, but with each subsequent time through the scene, it seems to be a little less of an issue. Don't forget the guy has spent the last fifteen years either in prison or his mother's basement, and (as long as her mouth is shut, at least) Meadow is definitely the hottest girl in the room. So who knows? Meadow asks after Kelly, but Tony heads off that line of inquiry by changing the subject to their weekly Thursday-night dinners. Um, Thursdays? Weren't we just thanking Janice for keeping the Sunday-night dinner tradition alive? Or have I somehow slipped into Stars Hollow? This segues into Tony's making a crack about his marital woes, and everyone just sort of stands there for a moment, marinating in the awkwardness. Steve excuses himself to go find "Uncle Zio" (geddit? Do you?), and the little group breaks up, leaving Tony and Carmela standing there by themselves. As always, Gandolfini and Falco are superb as they both do more with ten seconds of silence than the entire cast of Tru Calling has managed so far in an entire season.
Episode Report CardAaron: A- | 654 USERS: B-
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