Whew. Well, we've finally made it to the dream sequence, kids. But before I continue with the recap, there are two things I'd like to say. First, this episode doesn't need to be recapped as much as it needs to be annotated. Secondly, it should be obvious by now that "The Test Dream" isn't testing Tony as much as it's testing you and me. Especially me. Because here's the thing: if you watch religiously and you "get" the show, it's easy to appreciate the brilliance of the dream sequence. If you're just a casual viewer, however, who doesn't catch all the references and nuance, I can totally see why you'd think it was a giant waste of time. And please, don't assume that I believe not "getting" the show is a bad thing, because it's David Chase's responsibility to make sure that you do. That said, I think a lot of the "jump the shark" outcry we've heard this week comes from people who never made it past the surface superficiality of seeing twenty minutes spent inside Tony's head when we could have been watching Billy Leotardo's brains getting sprayed all over Hackensack. I mean, let's consider the reaction of a random, everyday Sopranos fan. You know, like, oh say, maybe...Keith Olbermann. Now, Keith was kind enough to quote my recaplet on national television as part of the ever-burgeoning plot for world domination represented by our unholy MSNBTWoP alliance, but then in his very next sentence somehow managed to prove that he never understood a single word he said by asserting that Aristotle would have disapproved of this episode because the Rules of Tragedy forbid the late introduction of a "new" character like Tony's high school football coach. The problem with that, of course, is that one of Tony's very first issues in one of his very first sessions with Melfi in the very first episode of The Sopranos was the shame he felt over not having the makings of a varsity athlete. So Coach is actually about as old a character as you can have, but only if you've seen every episode ten times and written a fifteen-page recap of nearly all of them. Ahh, Keith. You were so good back in the day. And now? Now you're 206.
"You want me to suck your dick now baby?" asks the disembodied voice of the Jade Hooker. "Is that what you want, baby?" And so it begins. Tony is lying asleep in his hotel bed, but the voice awakens him enough to roll over and check to see who is beside him. As anyone who's ever watched Six Feet Under can tell you, the only person we can be sure it isn't is the hooker herself. In this case, it's Carmine Sr., and the shock sends Tony scrambling out of bed to crawl across the floor in his boxers. "Tony, I'm so lonely," complains Carmine. "I miss my Violet." "What violin?" shrieks Tony. Heh. He could have just as easily said "What violence?" you know. There are plenty of people out there who would certainly agree with that sentiment. The "Violet" in question, of course, turns out to be Carmine's wife, whom I don't believe we've ever met. "She was everything to me," Carmine wails. "I'm all alone on the other side. It ain't right." I don't think I need to throw in a link for you get the subtext on that one. Carmine turns his attention to the phone, which starts ringing a second later. Tony reluctantly crawls over to answer it, and it's here that his light blue boxers and flabby naked gut almost perfectly create the image of a baby in diapers. "If it's him," says Carmine, "tell him you ain't seen me." "Tell who?" asks Tony. Carmine: "The man upstairs." Rumor has it that the voice on the phone here is actually David Chase's, so I guess the God analogy is appropriate. "We need you to do something," explains the voice. "Our friend. He's gotta go." "No problem," replies Tony. "Don't fuck it up," adds the voice. "It's important." "I know it's important," agrees Tony, and then he slowly hangs up the phone.