Tuesday, November 12, 2002



All I can say is Wow about this week’s episode of the Sopranos. Last week Tony gets himself a new mistress behind Ralphie’s back, then discards her when he’s finished; and gets involved in a deal ripping off the public via HUD. Par for the course this season; not much action, a little plot development, more “Day in the Life of a Sensitive New-Age Mobster” stuff.

This week, his horse dies in stable fire and Tony contradicts his own order by beating the shit out of – and strangling to death – Ralphie. It was brutal, gruesome, unexpected and surprising. Then Christopher shows up for the dismembering scenes, which were also graphic and bizarre.

That’s where the anti-drug thing comes in. You know all those commercials with young teenagers arguing with their parents about where they’re going, but telling the camera What I Need Is Discipline; A Parent, Not a Friend. They always end with “Parents: The anti-drug.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this week’s episode received a grant from the federal government for promoting a positive anti-drug message. Christopher shows up high on heroin, and as they dismember the body and clean up the blood Tony spend the rest of the episode bitching about drugs messing you up. Look kids, Christopher can barely chop of the corpse’s hands without risk of chopping off his own!

The surreal capper for me came when Tony ordered Christopher off the backhoe he was trying to operate, saying “See? That shit messes up your hand-eye coordination” because Christopher couldn’t figure out how to pick up the bucket to move the darned thing. Tony then climbs aboard, fires it up and succeeds in burying Ralphie’s head and hands (snug in the bowling bag) with minimal effort while at the same time bonding with Christopher over a reminiscence about Tony’s dad. Ah, the good old days!

This sort of episode is gross, repellant and yet also the very reason we fans love The Sopranos. You just really have no idea where they’re going to go next. No idea what is going to happen next week: Will it be more ho-hum financial planning and troubles with a spoiled daughter? Or will Tony get sprayed in the eyes with a can of Raid while strangling someone over barbecuing his beloved horse? You just never know.

------ Contracts update: As I type this during class, a girl in front of me is surfing the Epicurious website. I’m not the only one easily distracted these days. -----

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