Cut to the one scene which (along with the purloined parmesan, of course) makes recapping this episode all worthwhile for me. Tony and Furio, both sporting red Santa caps, climb into a cab driven by that guy who beat up Janice that one time. You know, in episode three? When she stole the leg? It's been longer than a month of Sundays since that one. ["Incidentally, our Episode III is being filmed with the latest in digital Ewok-Vision™ technology. It makes the screen all furry. You'll love it." -- George Lucas"] The driver (who, according to Tony's left hand, is named Igor), seems to feel that Tony looks familiar, but Furio explains the coincidence by saying that "he's the designated driver." "No, you're the desigigignated driver," replies Tony. It's really the hats that make it funny, but Tony's take on drunk does manage to elicit giggles, and I don't think I need to tell you my thoughts on Furio. More jingling sleigh bells take us out of the scene, and Igor dashes off over the fields to the airport Ramada, with Tony and Furio laughing all the way. Ho ho ho.
Casa di Soprano. This time it's Carmela in bed when Tony arrives. She asks how his dinner was, and then starts right in quizzing him about Charmaine and how good she looks now. "What are you, disappointed?" asks Tony. "Her husband dumped her and you thought she was gonna look like a croll?" Carmela, proving that AJ's linguistic difficulties are deeply encoded in his DNA, doesn't know what a croll is. Nor does Tony, apparently, who defines it as "a crone…a troll. I don't know." He climbs into bed, and Carmela gives up the argument and turns out the light, moaning about her holiday-stress-induced headache. I bet Tony hears that one a lot. There might have even been some parthenogenesis at play in creating AJ. That would explain a lot. Tony flips on the TV and finds It's a Wonderful Life, prompting him to mutter, "Jesus, enough already." I know how you feel, my friend. I know how you feel.
Christopher, on the other hand, is feeling worried that they haven't managed to find anyone to play Santa this year. He's back at the Bing with Paulie, Silvio, and Tony. Chris claims he can't be Santa because he doesn't have any kids, and when Silvio points out that being childless never stopped the real Santa, they all go off with a whole slew of elf jokes. According to Paulie (who saw "something on TV"), the elves used to serve as Santa's enforcers, beating up the bad kids while the good ones got the toys. A Google search on "elf death squad" turned up some truly frightening results, but nothing that would confirm or deny this week's Paulie Proclamation. The guy's been right about a lot of weird shit over the years, though, so I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. There's some mention of the Grinch, and I guess Christopher still hasn't kicked his Hollywood jones, because all he can think about is the hundreds of millions the Jim Carrey flick raked in. Before he gets the chance to give his own personal (and reasonably well-informed, one would assume) viewpoint on the resolution to the writer's strike, Bobby Bacala arrives, carrying a stack of toys for the party. He explains, "They're from [him] and Junior. They're not wrapped, but that way they can see what they're getting." Plus, we all know wrapping is wasteful to the environment. Silvio appraises Bobbie for a moment, and then prompts Tony to look as well. Without saying a word, suddenly everyone is on the same wavelength. Everyone but Bobby, that is, who refuses to play Santa, largely because he's "shy." Heh. I've know I've complained a lot about trading plot for cameo clips here, but it is worth noting that the individual segments themselves are all pretty good. Paulie doesn't buy the shy-guy line, and gets in Bobby's face, reminding him that "the boss of this family told you you were Santa Claus. So, you're Santa Claus. Now shut the fuck up about it." Tony nods his head in agreement, and a supremely non-jolly Bobby slowly walks out of the room.
Janice's Joint. She's in the kitchen, cleaning and preparing an entire goose, head and all. I've never eaten goose, so is that really how you serve it? On the TV in the background, a reporter is surprisingly not discussing OJ Simpson. Instead it's the "strange and macabre Christmas story" of a Russian guy found beaten and left for dead under a sleigh in the front window of [oddly product-placed company name deleted]. Janice gasps in surprise when she realizes who the victim is, and the reporter goes on to mention that police are questioning members of "a marauding youth gang, known to claim Newark as their turf." Ha! I won't say I told you so, except that I did tell you so. Just so you know. Janice storms into the dining room and wakes up My Narcoleptic Doppelganger. She knows exactly what's missing from their song: "It's the brother concept." "He ain't heavy?" wonders Aaron, and I had me one heck of a mother-jumping laugh at that one. "No. I mean, not exactly," replies Janice, and I only caught that one on the second time through. Plus she seems to have taken my "Tattoo You" jokes (also from way back in episode three) literally to heart. Twice, in fact. She's got the Stone's tongue logo right there on her left breast. Aaron notices that she's crying, and she sniffles that "sometimes we really don't see our loved ones."