Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 8
Dear Jerry and Jerry,
I'm sorry, but I think I'm going to have to rule in favor of Jerry on this one. I'm not sure which Jerry, though. Give me a minute.
Actually, I think Shargel is wrong. Look, it can't be bang-bang all the time. This was a setup episode; we're right at the point in the narrative arc that the writers have to create the dilemmas that will lead to some sort of explosion by the end of the season, and I think that Michael Imperioli, who wrote the episode (and gave himself no lines, by the way), did an able job. Jerry S. is right about two things: The ethnic question was handled, as ever, in a ham-handed way, and that sausage would definitely have leaked fat all over Tony's shirt. (By the way, I have this image of you, Jerry S., from several years ago, in the hallway of the federal courthouse downtown, eating a sausage sandwich. You were defending a resident of Staten Island on what must have been phony charges related to the non-existent Mafia, and it was lunch break. I happened to be making a phone call nearby and saw you standing with a group of the defendant's female relatives, who brought with them a courthouse picnic. You were eating a sausage and pepper sandwich, if I recall correctly, and doing a fine job of praising it to the sky. I thought to myself, "There's a good lawyer, complimenting his client's mother's cooking.")
But I digress. I think last night's episode was not, in fact, slow. I think it captured the jarring, disjointed, and unsatisfying qualities of real human interaction, especially human interactions at parties no one wants to attend. And, Mr. Shargel, it would have been a hack move to have the gun go off at the party. Maybe the gun will go off in the third act, but it didn't have to be fired last night. Its appearance created more dread than its actual firing ever would.
But back to the setup: I think that the episode perfectly captured the pendulum of Tony's life. His family life is on the upswing—Meadow was more affectionate to Tony than she's been, ever—and his wife (his increasingly pathetic wife) had sex with him, for what I believe is only the second time in five seasons. But business is once again threatened, this time by his cousin Tony's freelancing. Things will explode soon enough. Have patience.
By the way, has the New Jersey mob ever played so key a role in a New York Family civil war? Who knew New Jersey would get such props?
Hey, Jerry C.: Do you think Shargel will ever admit even knowing the Gottis?
Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.