''Sopranos''

Mad World

Revenge is best served as cold cuts, says big T. But barely suppressed rage is just waiting to boil over, says Liane Bonin, and everyone on ''The Sopranos'' has got that to spare

James Gandolfini, The Sopranos | YOUR ANGER ISSUES ARE MAKING ME ANGRY Tony and the fellas
YOUR ANGER ISSUES ARE MAKING ME ANGRY Tony and the fellas

Revenge is best served as cold cuts, says big T.

Leave it to ‘’The Sopranos’’ to celebrate Mother’s Day with a good, old-fashioned soccer-mom catfight. Granted, I wasn't exactly weeping over that pushy blond's unscheduled facial rearrangement (hey, her kid WAS a monster on the turf), but there was something disconcerting about how an episode that seemed so much like a PSA for anger management classes kicked things off with a smackdown that not only felt justified, but darn well deserved. Come on, you know Blondie was just begging for it.

As for Janice, she was begging for a beating herself during her riotous anger management group, where I thought for sure the well-dressed professionals around her would suddenly rise up and whup her senseless while the shrink at the front of the room nodded, took notes, and asked them how pulling her hair out by the roots made them feel, physically.

That Janice actually sees herself as the racially "enlightened" one in her family was a brilliant, if horrifying moment, and it seemed a shame the topic was changed before the justifiably outraged African-American woman in the room had the opportunity to give her a much-needed talking to. Considering that after two anger management meetings Janice was able to blather on and on about her remarkable advancements in self-realization before hysterically chasing her brother around the dining room table with a dirty butter knife, it probably would have been a waste of time.

As Tony says, revenge is like serving cold cuts, or something about refrigerated deli platters, and just in case we didn't get the hint that fracturing someone's skull isn't great for business unless you do it quietly and bury the body in your uncle's lawn, Tony had to one-up his sis by cracking open a bartender's brainpan later in the episode. I'm still trying to figure out what the guy could have done to diffuse the situation, perhaps tell an Osama bin Laden joke or deliver the Pledge of Allegiance, but clearly when Tony hasn't been getting his beauty sleep due to nightmares of Armageddon, even Dr. Melfi couldn't sweet talk her way out of getting a beer glass to the head. Is there any way to get this guy an Ambien prescription or something?

I suppose Tony's decision to sucker punch his bartender was really an attempt to make up for missing his chance to push Carmela head first into the cement lining of his dried-up swimming hole. You'd think that knowing about Tony's little problem with impulse control would deter Carm from doing something petty like draining the pool, a move so clearly calculated to tick him off, but I guess even he knows that offing the mother of his children would result in a fate worse than death: A.J. moving back in with him.

Lately Carmela, like everyone else, seems to be letting her rage get the better of her common sense. Did she really think that Tony would happily sign divorce papers, hand over a crooked drycleaning business or two for her future income, and call it a draw? Taking pot shots at Tony by robbing him of stress-relievers is pretty much like putting beehives in the backyard for bear control. Yes, she'll annoy the bear, but not before he destroys everything in his path, including her.

Carmela should consider hanging out with Christopher sometime, since both of them are chafing so badly under Tony's rule right now. It was tough to watch Tony Soprano and Tony B. a.k.a. Ichabod Crane (Steve Buscemi) revert to the teenage bullies they once were while Christopher clung desperately to not only his sobriety but his self-esteem, though I suspect that someday soon 'Bod may be wishing he hadn't made fun of his little cousin.

Even if Christopher is about two cans short of a six pack for thinking he's got a shot at a male modeling career (no offense, but we've seen him in his undies, and Ashton Kutcher he ain't), he's savvy enough to bide his time until he can hurt 'Bod so badly he'll wish he could get back into the massage business -- even if he won't have enough fingers left to do it.

That being said, 'Bod is shaping up to be one of the richest, most intriguing characters on the show. Seeing him charm Christopher with bitchy jokes and stories of the good old days was like a watching a master salesman or really slimy real estate agent at work, massaging his mark into a warm and fuzzy place just before going in for the kill. When he spoke so frankly about the simmering jealousy over his casino gig, he caught Chrissy flat-footed and babbling, and in a moment he had the once-bitter younger man firmly in the palm of his bony white hand.

Our complicated jailbird isn't happy until he's screwed everything up, whether that means offing Joey Peeps or reducing his young cousin to tears in the cab of his Hummer. You just know the day is coming when the raging bear that is Tony Soprano finally loses his patience, and his revenge will be serving up his beloved cousin like a finely sliced pastrami, cold or otherwise.

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Originally posted May 10, 2004