The Sopranos

Episode Report Card
The Sopranos

Melfi's office. Tony leads into the voice-over of AJ's birthday party by bitching that Carmela invited the priest: "He's always at the house." The Sopranos' backyard; Father Phil says hello to Tony, and Tony kind of blows him off while making himself a sandwich. AJ comes out and grouses that Livia just called; she's not coming, and she started crying on the phone and hung up. Tony says Livia needs "a purpose in life," and Carmela makes a snide remark about how Livia is tougher than Tony thinks, and then AJ pipes up, "So what, no fuckin' ziti now?" and both his parents go, "Hey!" I didn't cut the slimmest figure myself at his age, but if anyone needs fuckin' ziti, it isn't AJ.

Flames coming out of the barbecue. Tony smokes a cigar and beams at the ducks, who have taken over the pool. Opera plays. Duck montage. Tony, chuckling. The baby ducks finally nail the water take-off, take wing, and beat it out of there. Tony's eyes cross, and he clutches his chest and describes the sensation in voice-over as "like ginger ale in my skull." I've had panic attacks before, and -- yeah right, pass the Schweppes. The cigar falls out of Tony's mouth. The cameraman makes panic-attacky swooping motions. Tony drops the can of lighter fluid onto the grill and yard-sales onto the grass. Off-camera, we hear Meadow and AJ bleating and Carmela saying she's coming, and just as the rest of the Sopranos enter the frame, a tower of flame shoots up from the grill. Everyone's clustered around Tony. Carmela warns everyone away from the grill while Meadow says, "Dad! Dad! Dad!" like ten million times. Shut up, Meadow. Silvio comes out with the fire extinguisher, Carmela tells someone to call 911, Tony's out like a light.

Tony, about to get loaded into an MRI. Various shots of Tony, lying corpselike on the gurney. His voice-over tells us that Dr. Cusamano, his family doctor, made him go to the hospital and ran all kinds of tests. The lab tech instructs Tony not to move. Carmela comes in; Tony's happy to see her. She thought he might want some company, but she says so in a martyred tone that, alas, we will come to know very very well as the series progresses. Tony asks after the kids. Carmela says, in the same begrudging tone, that "they're worried about you," and that she told AJ they'd "rain-check his birthday." Another lab tech puts little anti-UV glasses on Tony. Tony asks Carmela if she thinks he has a brain tumor. "We're gonna find out," she says. "What a bedside manner. Very encouraging," he says, smiling. Carmela shrugs. Tony waxes nostalgic about their marriage, Carmela reacts sarcastically, Tony points out that "no marriage is perfect," Carmela says snidely that "yeah, having that goomah on the side helps ['goomah,' at least where I grew up, means 'piece on the side']," and Tony grunts that he's not seeing the girl anymore and then bitches that the priest is always coming over, but Carmela tells him not to "go there" (no, really) and pointedly describes Father Phil as a "spiritual mentor" who is helping her "to be a better Catholic," and she's really spitting nails now as Tony says wryly, "Well, we've all got different needs." Carmela, on the verge of tears, says what's "different between" her and Tony "is that you're going to hell when you die." She regains her composure and smoothes her Jersey-matron frost job back into place. The tech loads Tony into the MRI. Carmela remembers which side her Bulgari is buttered on, so she downshifts from fire-breathing back into silent-martyr gear and holds Tony's hand as he goes in, then waves at him with her French manicure as the door closes. Carmela might want to switch her spiritual-mentor allegiance to a little device called the Hitachi Magic Wand. Just a suggestion. ["Yeah, because those nails would not be conducive to any, shall we say, hands-on attention to that area. Whoops, did I say that out loud?" -- Wing Chun]

Centanni's, nighttime. Tony voice-overs about the garbage-hauling problem, then tells Melfi he won't get into that either. As Tony speaks, we see Christopher dorking out inside the darkened shop, practicing karate kicks as "Mannish Boy" plays in the background. Snerk. Nice blow-dry, Tacky Chan. He hears a car pull up out front and opens the door for Emil Kolar, and after the introductions, Christopher rambles on about Italian sausages and gets two Budweisers out of the cooler. Emil says that his uncle (Emil's, not Christopher's) doesn't know he came, but if they make any progress, he'll have to tell him. Christopher says they have to make progress, to "stop the madness," and spouts a bunch of other clichés that make it sound like they work in cancer research instead of trash pick-up, and mispronounces "Emil" and thinks a Czech "is a type of Polack, right?" "Polack"? People still talk like this? Turns out Kolar went to high school in West Essex. Also turns out Kolar wants to get to the point: "Where's the stuff?" Christopher brings out what he calls "the reason for the visit" -- cocaine, which presumably Christopher et. al. want moved along the garbage routes they control. He has it all cut up in lines on the side of a cleaver, and he invites Kolar to "sample the wares, E-mail." Heh. "'Emil,'" Kolar reminds him. Kolar bends down to take a toot, and Christopher pops him in the back of the head. Kolar's body slumps to the floor, and Christopher shoots him a few more times just in case; with each report of the gun, we see photos of various "our thing" heroes: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Lucky Luciano. Christopher stops shooting and glares at a cold case of pork shoulders. Um, okay.

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