Church. Joey Pants stands in Father Intintola's office, and opens the scene by saying, "Pleased to meet you." And since that's now our second official Stones reference, I guess this is where I explain (for the benefit of those of you who don't read the forums) that a significant portion of the dialogue from this episode is lifted from the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy for the Devil." It's a very clever way of illustrating one of David Chase's central tenets, which is that we should never root too strongly for characters who are, after all, really bad people. It's also possibly a shout-out, as I once revealed in a recap actually entitled "Sympathy for the Devil" that I personally consider Rolling Stones puns to be "the height of hilarity." Anyway, Joey takes a seat, and Father Tool Time tries gently to explain that God often works in mysterious ways. "Our Lord gave His only begotten son to suffer," he says, which prompts Joey to reply, "Nothing like this." Perhaps Joey is forgetting that crucifixion and death are at least marginally worse than a single puncture wound to the shoulder. "Were you there," wonders Father Rin Tin Tin, "when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain?" Bwa! They exchange looks, and then Paul Schulze gives a perfect little head-bob that acknowledges the joke without tipping the writers' hand. I know I give the character a lot of crap, but this guy always gives a good performance. And if that was a shout-out, it worked. That's probably the hardest I've ever laughed at this show. The good Father delivers some additional religio-babble about getting right with God, and then offers to pray with Joey. They join hands, and Tool Time delivers a prayer that may or may not be recognizable to people who aren't Jewish like myself.
And even though Joey refused an offer to give his confession in the previous scene, we now learn from Carmela that he's doing penance anyway. It's morning at Chez Soprano, and Tony is sitting across the kitchen counter from her in his robe (StR=1,103). It seems that not only has Joey endowed a scholarship at Rutgers in Jackie Jr.'s name, he's also asked Rosalie to marry him. "At least she had the presence of mind to say no," adds Carmela. Heh. I'm still stuck on the scholarship thing. Can you imagine telling all your friends, "Well, I was really worried about all my student loans, but then I got the Little Lord Fuckpants Fashion Design Scholarship. Next stop, Paris!" Since we've now gone at least three minutes without subtext, AJ comes wandering in to remind his parents how much they love their own children. They indulge his sullen complaints about being overfed at breakfast, and Tony even teases him a bit about his relationship with "Blondie." AJ is dating Debbie Harry? Now that would be cool. Tony playfully pokes the kid a few times, and then scoops him up in Chokehold Of Foreshadowing II: Oxygen Deprivation Bugaloo. He holds AJ in this position for a beat longer than is strictly necessary, and then plants a tender kiss on the back of his head. Carmela looks on approvingly.