My first recap of the show! But don't blame me, it took them 2 years to put out another new season - and boy was it worth the wait!!! Um... not so much. Actually last night's episode was surprisingly good. The first week was full of stuff - not really action so much as "stuff" that sort of all got thrown on the page in a rather incoherent manner and then someone got whacked - but not anyone we'd seen before - and the guy who whacked him killed himself - but he was someone we didn't really even know so who the fuck cares, and then Tony ate a lot of Japanese food. Huh? Yeah, we waited over 2 years for that. Oh yeah, at the end Uncle Junior shoots Tony. So that was kind of cool. And sorry I ruined it for anyone waiting for the DVD. It happened over a week ago. And buy fucking HBO for crying out loud. Let's just move on.
I hate dream sequences. I despise them. In movies, television, literature (there's dreams in books, right?). Can't stand them. I usually fast forward. Anything with psychedelic mood music and floating clouds and then a unicorn walking across in the background. Not good times. So the fact that most of this week's second episode of The Sopranos was a dream sequence was not a particularly good sign. And yet, I found it rather enjoyable. Not so much the extended dream sequence - I don't know what the hell was going on there or what the hell the point of it was but at least it was a realistically portrayed dream (normal shit happening, no unicorns) and it was a nice break from the amazingly dramatic scenes around Tony in the hospital bed. Very well done indeed.
Tony's not looking good after the gunshot wound from a mentally unstable Junior, who didn't mean to shoot Tony but was too disoriented to even call for help, instead hiding in the closet after throwing the gun under the bed. Tony was able to make it to a phone and dial 9-1-1 before passing out, which apparently saved his life, although it remains uncertain for how long. He's got a big gaping hole in his gut and there's serious damage to his pancreas or something that is making him susceptible to some infection that could kill him. He was also in a coma, using a tube to breathe, which he briefly came out of early in the episode before the doctors induced him back under to allow for the antibiotics to heal him without any more violent fits. It's in the coma that the dream sequences come from.
In the dream, Tony's in Cosa Mesa (Arizona?) for some weapons conference, as a salesman of some sort. He's not a mobster but still a semi-loving husband and father (although with a wife who sounds distinctly unlike Carmela (was it Annabella Sciorra? - I couldn't tell), and a much younger daughter). His briefcase and wallet get switched with a man named Kevin Finnerty at a bar the night before the conference, a man who looks quite similar to Tony but sells heating and cooling systems, possibly to monasteries. So he ends up stuck in this city without money or an identity, unable to go home again. I'm pretty sure that has some deeper meaning but I don't get paid to think on this blog, so let's just move on.
Back at the hospital, the family is waiting bedside with Tony, hoping for his condition to improve which, according to the doctors, seems unlikely. There's discussions of death and brain damage and not a whole hell of a lot of hope is offered, although Carm is definitely trying to remain optimistic. Meadow has grown up a lot since we last saw her, and handles the situation with rather striking bravery. AJ remains the same immature jerk as always, although by the end, he does show a bit of concern, albeit misplaced, when he vows to avenge his father's shooting by taking out "that old mummy" Uncle Junior. I'm not real sure who in a confrontation between them would be the smartest. Maybe we should throw George Bush into the mix as well.
As far as the other "family", Silvio is taking over the day-to-day duties with everyone pretty much falling in line except for Vito - who's half the size we saw him last season but still fat and just as gay, and angling to make an upwards move in the mob. While there aren't yet any implications to the possibility of replacing Tony as the head of the family at this point, the coming attractions certainly point to an upcoming struggle involving Sil, Christopher, Paulie, Vito, and the New York family. That could be very interesting and suggests that Tony may not actually come out of this coma for a while - if ever. Which seems a bit unbelievable, but if they keep Gandolfini happily acting out in this alternate universe maybe it's possible. Although that would kind of suck. It should be interesting at least.
But this episode was quite good on its own accord, bringing about a lot of sympathy for a character from which little sympathy could be derived in recent years. Edie Falco was great as the desperate, grieving wife, and Jamie Lynn DiScala did a surprising turn as the courageous daughter. Janice was a useless mess as expected, and the hospital scenes were bracingly graphic, but it was well-acted and poignant and very good drama. Here's hoping the rest of the season can keep up this pace.