Dear Brian and Tim,
Brian, Brian, Brian—please don't worry, you're not here because someone dropped out on us this week. You are—dare I say it?—our anchor. At least until Katie returns our phone calls.
I never had a Lincoln Log sandwich growing up. Maybe it's not a Jewish thing. What is it, anyway? It looked repulsive, like something you would find at a Cracker Barrel or at Stuckey's. Have I ever told you the story of John Gotti Jr. and the chicken-fried steaks at Cracker Barrel? I know, I know, "remember when" is the lowest form of conversation. But it's funny. (I do fear, by the way, that I'm going to end up like Paulie—not the vampire hair or the willingness to smother old ladies to death with their pillows, but in my preference for nostalgia over actual conversation.)
Tim, I'm glad you noticed that great Carmela lit-crit moment; I also laughed out loud, in part because her condemnation of Yeats echoed her earlier criticism of the late Leslie Fiedler. You might recall this from an earlier season: Carmela and Tony get trapped in an undergraduate bull session about gay subtexts in American literature, and Meadow quotes Fiedler, who asserted that Melville's Billy Budd had a little touch of the old Vito Spatafore in him, to which Carmela responds, "Well, she's wrong."
Tim, one more thing, and I'm sorry to get all Tipper Gore on your ass here, but maybe you should take Will's Gears of War game and, ummm, throw it out? Or better yet, give it to me, a grown male who will curb-stomp responsibly and in moderation?
Department of Corrections Department: I slandered AlJazeera.net in my previous post by confusing it with Aljazeera.com, which is the Web site of Aljazeera Magazine, not the television network. Aljazeera.com has a section devoted to conspiracies. AlJazeera.net would never, ever make a market in conspiracy theories.
Since obviousness is a subtheme of this week's dialogue, I'm surprised at myself—and youse guys, too—that we didn't see the significance of Tony's pool as the location of A.J.'s incompetent suicide attempt. (I don't think it was a cry for help, by the way; I think Tony's right—the mathematical calculations necessary to complete the mission successfully were simply beyond A.J.'s capacities.) Luckily, Emily Yoffe, Slate's perspicacious Prudence, did see the significance. In an e-mail, she first insulted us—"I think Sopranos commentators are the rough beast"—and then noted, "The whole series began with Tony jumping into the pool, enchanted with the duck family that had landed there, then heartbroken when they flew away." It is no coincidence, she said, that A.J. tried to end his life in the pool. The ducks symbolize life and family tranquility; why not end the illusion of Soprano family happiness in the same place?
Brian, not too shabby in the perspicacity department himself, points out that the most wrenching moments in the episode concern a family in a world of hurt. There is nothing else just then—everything else is stripped away. I know we're under a self-imposed ban on rank speculation, but it seems to me that we're being clued in here about the series' climactic episodes; if tragedy is to strike Tony, it will strike his family, not his business, because he is not a sociopath when it comes to his love for Meadow and A.J. Of course, I've been known to be wrong before.