Of all the actors on all the shows I watch (or at least all the shows I get paid to watch), the last one I ever expected to be writing scripts like this was Michael Imperioli. I don't know why, but it just seems like he shouldn't have it in him. Maybe it's how bad his season two screenplay was, because I could buy Edie Falco, or maybe even Bracco (plus we know Bogdanovich can bring it), but Imperioli? Who knew? Heck, I can even close my eyes and see Gandolfini himself clacking away on an IBM Selectric, chomping a cigar and wearing nothing but a robe and a pair of Little Lord fuck-pants. Kate Moss is feeding him grapes, by the way. But, in spite of my initial disbelief (and my overactive imagination's inexplicable obsession with yesterday's has-been Kate Moss), I gotta make a confession: I want to be like Mike. This kid's got game.
Carmela comes home to an ostensibly empty house, but before she can get even three feet inside the door, Tony's disembodied voice starts belting out a bizarre birthday serenade that's equal parts Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, and Patty & Mildred Hill. He appears from around a corner, bearing a small gift, and with less than thirty seconds elapsed in the episode we finally get the answer to the question that's plagued our forums for weeks. No, not the Chasidic Homeboy one. But yes, Tony does kiss his wife. He hands over the gift, which in the particular frame I've pressed pause on here bears a disturbing resemblance to a half-melted Rubik's cube. It's okay, though, because even that still wouldn't be the worst gift she'll get today. She opens the box to reveal an immense sapphire ring, which she of course adores. As they mack some more, AJ wanders in behind them. There's a weird moment where Carmela looks at the ring with suspicion, and then AJ greets her with a gift of his own, which he neglected to wrap because "it's wasteful to the environment." Of course, the non-biodegradable plastic bag he's got it in now is nothing if not nature-friendly. She pulls out a DVD, and Edie Falco leaves me in stitches with perfect delivery on "The Matrix? I haven't seen that one yet." Did you know that over sixty-eight percent of DVD owners own a copy of The Matrix? In fact, due to a minor NetFlix snafu, I actually have two at the moment. At this point Meadow joins the birthday celebration and oh. My. God. What in the name of all things risen and holy is she wearing? Is that a throw-rug? Maybe some sort of converted-for-civilian-usage construction sign? I don't know, but it's bright orange and fringed, and it's frightening me. Anyway, Meadow's gift is a day at some spa in New York that was highly recommended by her friend Bathsheba. "I got one for myself too, so we can go together. I put it on your credit card." Cut to Tony, who saw that credit-card bit coming from a mile away.
Somewhere in the asphalt hinterlands, we're at a random Jersey club called "The Lollipop." Inside, the owner is whining to Furio about the loss of his business, and oh. My. God. Again. Believe it or not, the bartender at The Lollipop is none other than erstwhile former Doogie-chum Vinnie "Max Casella" Delpino. I don't think I've laid eyes on this guy since about 1989, and he still looks EXACTLY the same. Now that's frightening. The owner babbles about losing it all on one missed extra point, and now you know how Scott Norwood feels there, buddy. Sorry about that. The Penguins Principle compels me to kick Buffalo when they're down. Anyway, Furio responds to Whiny Winkelson's torrent of sobs by tossing a drink in his face and ordering him, "No bitch to me!" Furio is a golden god, my friends. A magnificent golden god.