Despite the fact that I'm now quite well rested, and possessing of a (reasonably) sound mind and body, I'm about to share a shockingly embarrassing personal revelation with all of you: I think this was one of the best episodes of The Sopranos I've ever seen, and yes, I've seen them all. And while I know it can sometimes be hard to tell with me, that last sentence was not, in fact, a joke. Or was it? This is also the first episode that's actually a sequel to a previous one, but we'll talk more about that later. And while you can say what you want about its implications for the season at large and the direction of the show, the episode itself was forty-eight minutes of excellent writing, directing, and acting. And also editing. And music selection. Heck, even the strippers had some good routines.
We fade up this week at the Bada Bing, as dancers gyrate to the opening strains of my new favorite song, the Kinks "Living On A Thin Line." Incidentally, if you were curious, Napster still works just fine. Over at the bar, Tony and Silvio are discussing whether or not "Beansie" should go to see "Gigi". The bouncer comes over and points out that "We Italians we're the only ones who use nicknames to that extent." Which is true. You'll never see a Beansie Rabinowitz. Although I did once know a Gigi Weinberger, but she was eighty-five and had blue hair, so I doubt that's who they're talking about. Silvio, however, insists that the Chinese also prefer nicknames, citing Yo Yo Ma (which I don't believe is actually a nickname, but okay) as the quintessential example. "Sobriquet," announces Bouncer Bob, before clarifying, "It's another word for nickname." Tony and Silvio look variously annoyed, irritated, exasperated, and, in a suggestion from the MS Word thesaurus function, cheesed off.
One of the strippers (and I'm just gonna call her Tracee from the get-go to avoid confusion. There's a lot of strippers in this one) comes over and starts blabbing to Tony about taking her kid to the hospital like he suggested. Tony plainly has no idea who she is until she finally jogs his memory. "That's nice," he says, and turns back to his paper. Tracee hands over a "date-palm bread" she made for him, but Tony doesn't seem too excited. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you can't be doing stuff like this," he tells her. I'll say. Date-palm bread? Eww. Why not just scrape his colon with a plumber's snake? While we're at it, eww too on that nice little mental image. Silvio tells her that giving gifts is "No good," and that transcription just doesn't do his line reading justice. I know he turns out to be an asshole later in the episode, but he's cracking me up here. Tony goes on to say that he already has a family that buys him gifts, and that since she's dating Joey Pants, it would be better if they maintained an "employer/employee" relationship. Silvio shoos her away, and Tony dumps the bread in the trash, which might be the smartest thing he does for the entire episode. They stare at her ass as she walks away, and with good reason. I'd give it a nine.