May 01, 2006

Brokeback Sopranos

After watching last night's "Sopranos" episode- on HBO On Demand at 1 AM since I got home from the airport at midnight- I can already predict the outraged reaction from a certain segment of the show's fanbase: "We don't watch Sopranos to see men kissing each other- we watch it to see people get whacked! I'm canceling my HBO!"

Vito's flirtation with the Morgan Spurlock-lookalike dinerkeeper was awkward, but ultimately it worked, although I'm quite glad that after he took his shirt off, Vito didn't follow suit. And it's a funny juxtaposition with what Tony told Dr. Melfi a few weeks ago: "You can't turn on the TV these days without seeing that!" Indeed, there's been a lot this year of David Chase answering his show's critics through plotlines and one-liners.

The other major thread of the episode involved AJ, and while he's been a kiss of death for many an episode, this one was especially poignant, as he makes a clumsy attempt on Uncle Junior's life (there's no way Tony's son would be let into such a facility, but nonetheless...) The conversation in the parking lot between AJ and Tony may have been the season's best scene, getting back to Tony's speech to Jackie Jr. (early in Season 3) that he doesn't want the mob life for his son, just as Jackie's father didn't for Jackie. And juxtapose Tony's counseling AJ not to kill Junior with the first episode of Season 4, when Tony gave Christopher the name of the man who killed his father.

A few other notes:

- Not sure where the Julianna Marguiles plotline is going, but it's good to see her on TV again. It was smart of "Sopranos" to wade into the gentrification wars too, especially with Patsy Parisi lamenting that Starbucksification makes it harder to shake down local businesses. Usually the reduction in crime is one of the upsides of a "neighborhood changing," but not for the mob, I suppose. And it makes me wonder if Starbucks and corporations like it really do have specific anti-protection racket policies.

- The scene where Julianna visits Tony at the Bing was groundbreaking, in that it featured the first attractive Bada Bing stripper in the show's entire six-season run. Usually, they're downright homely.

- Lots of weird film technique in this episode, especially those weird dissolves from the street outside the pork store to the street of Vito in New Hampshire, and of Tony with Melfi to Melfi with her therapist. Alan Sepinwall noticed this too:

"Even the individual scenes were closely linked to each other through editing. We cut from Tony and Carm in bed in Caldwell to Vito in bed in Dartford; from Vito walking down the main street of Dartford to an identical shot of two women walking past Satriale's; from Melfi giving advice to Tony to an identical shot of Melfi seeing Dr. Kupferberg.

There is one big picture here, and if we can't see it all yet, we will."

- Also, have I mentioned that I'm glad we have the pork store once again as a location? It was all but absent in the past few seasons.

Just four more episodes; back with more next week.

Posted by Stephen Silver at May 1, 2006 03:16 PM

Another interesting note: The credits listed Vincent Piazza. Now, I'm not sure if that's the same Vincent Piazza who is Mike Piazza's father, but around Philly Vince is rumored to be a friend of ours. Ironically, Mike Piazza is rumored to be a homo. So I guess the Sopranos and real life baseball intersect. The circle is complete ...

Posted by: LilB at May 2, 2006 06:42 PM
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