AJ and Meadow arrive at this point, and Meadow manages to be almost pleasant when she thanks Aunt Janice for keeping the Sunday dinner tradition alive. AJ more than makes up for that, however, when he complains about the "canned clam chowder." "What, no fucking soda crackers now?" he completely fails to add. Incidentally, viewers with excellent hearing might have caught this little gem from Manny, which is barely audible over all the other conversations: "The older you are, the more you're entitled to eat." He's probably referring to the mob's corporate hierarchy or something, but this show sure does love its foreshadowing, doesn't it? Everyone slowly makes their way over to the dining-room table, and then the cheesy news broadcast finally ends with Manny's opining that it's going to be "a great year for crime reporters" as the screen freeze-frames on an image of Johnny Sack. Make of that what you will. And then a ridiculous drum beat kicks in, and a goofy legend saying "Mafia: Class of '04?" appears on the screen, further anvilizing the notion that focusing on anything as tacky and tawdry as a simple mob war is far beneath the dignity of a show that once gave us Janice shoving a vibrator up Joe Pantoliano's ass. And yeah, this whole little segment was very meta, and also very pleased with itself, but more than anything it's indicative of the growing scorn David Chase can no longer even be bothered to hide for the legions of fans who'd rather watch a bunch of guys ogling strippers and getting whacked than sitting around in their cars and crying over an unrequited romance subplot that was better suited to the talents of Fabio and Cameron Diaz than Furio and Carmela Soprano. But I digress. And I rant. And actually, I sort of agree with David Chase. I just wish he'd shut up about it. Then again, I'm sure he feels the same way about me.
Oh, and just for the record, Bobby and Janice are married now. How do we know this? Janice mentions that she lost her wedding ring, and then searches the trash can for it. Yeah. I have no idea what that's supposed to mean.
Casa di Soprano. Carmela comes home to an empty garage and her equally empty-headed son, who is banging away on his brand-new drum set. Oh, yeah. That was a good idea. Carmela tries to strike up a conversation because she's lonely and nosy about what Tony might be up to these days, but AJ acts like a little snot because...well, because he's AJ. What? You were expecting Adam Brody, perhaps? Although Mom does ask him to bring in the "power vac" from the "pool house," so I can't help wondering what might have happened if Ryan Atwood had fetched up in New Jersey instead of Newport. Hell, he'd probably go straight back to Chino. Heh. And don't think for a moment, by the way, that I won't be relishing every opportunity to rip New Jersey with impunity now that Sars isn't reading these damn things every week. I just need to remember to stay away from beer, moose, Michael J. Fox, socialized medicine, and the metric system and we'll all get along fine. ["Yeah, because I am as protective as a tigress about Michael J. Fox's reputation, not. And I know that you'd only take swipes at socialized medicine out of jealousy." -- Wing Chun] Maybe I'll go and make myself a nice little maple leaf collage out of medical waste to hang over the computer so I don't forget. At any rate, Carmela adds that her father will be coming by to pick up the pool house power vac, and she doesn't want him to have to drag it all the way in from outside when he does. To be fair, however, I'm sure if Papa Carmela were here to defend himself, he'd be the first to point out (at length) that he used to hump a half-dozen power vacs across fifty miles of frozen tundra every single day back during the Great Battle of Nova Scotia, or Greenland, or Reykjavik, or Schenectady, or wherever the hell he was supposedly stationed during World War II. "It's so nice to have a man around the house," sings Carmela, by way of attempting to persuade her recalcitrant offspring to embrace his assigned chores. AJ, however, doesn't look adorable at all when he mutters "You should have thought about that before" in response. Uh oh. Carmela puts her foot down, and insists that he head out to the pool house immediately. AJ thinks about refusing for a moment, but then he remembers that he's a Soprano and she's his mother, so he folds like a prom dress on a cheap card table that just took a punch from Todd Bertuzzi.