TV Club

Week 4: What Was That All About?

Dear Tim,

You wrote at the beginning of our exchange four weeks ago that “to tire of The Sopranos is to tire of life.” I don’t know about you, but I got awfully tired last night, and I don’t think I’m tired of life.

What, exactly, was that episode? To me it was disjointed and strained and draggy and discursive and not even funny. It had its moments, of course—and here I acknowledge the fundamental truth of The Sopranos, which is that at its absolute worst it is better than the most stellar episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, and most everything else—but it seemed pointless given that this 86-hour story arc has only five hours to go. Let’s start murdering off the cast already, for goodness sake.

Also, and let me get this out of the way, I don’t particularly like watching people take shits on shower floors, or anywhere else. I think that bit of business was unnecessary on two levels: One, in its grossness, it overshadowed the rest of the episode, and two, why are we being introduced to an entirely new character and an entirely new subplot this late in the story? I mean, you have a character like Junior, who has been with us from the beginning, who is absolutely central to the story, who is a fully realized character who happens to be obsessed with the same things as the series creator, David Chase (along with most of the rest of us), mainly sickness and death, and you bring him back full-on in last week’s episode, to excellent effect, and then you abandon him and instead focus on the screwed-up son of a dead secondary character from last season. And then have him take a shit on the floor.

This is HBO, of course, and HBO is allowed to portray characters taking shits on shower floors, but I think it was Akira Kurosawa who said, “Just because you can show someone taking a shit on the shower floor doesn’t mean you have to show someone taking a shit on a shower floor.” (It sounds better in Japanese.)

I get the point, by the way, of this new story line: It feeds the tension between Phil Leotardo and Tony, and it might very well be a war between their two families that undoes Tony. (I happen to think that this subplot is a diversion from what will actually happen, but it’s an entertaining diversion for Mobophiles such as myself.) But just because I get the point doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Man, I sound like I had a glass of vinegar for breakfast today.

There were interesting moments last night, to be sure. We learned that Tony is a supporter of Tommy Thompson for president; we learn that Tony’s Jewish adversary, Hesh, has similarly dyspeptic views of Italians, and we see that Carmela is as deeply corrupt in some ways as her husband. But we knew that already, just like we knew everything else.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Don Timothy, but this goes into the basket of least favorite episodes.