”The Sopranos”: A wedding, an outing, a beating
Johnny Sack cried. Tony collapsed, then beat up an underling, then puked. Uncle Junior appeared to have momentarily grasped the extent of his mental impairment, and his face crumpled with despair. Outed in his roughwear at a leather bar, Vito quite possibly ate his gun. And why? As the Buddhist monks no longer haunting Tony’s fantasies could have explained, loss of face, Grasshopper, is a terrible thing for a man — all the more so for a mobster.
And here are exhibits A through D.
Yes, dream time in Sopranoland is over for the moment — goodbye to an exegesis on birth, death, resurrection, purgatory, karma, the whole cram course in paths to salvation. And that’s probably just as well, since it’s time to get on with some head-banging action among the living.
Certainly the season’s fifth episode took place firmly in the here and now — and may I be among the first to wish a mazel tov to the beaming, baby-faced, surprisingly wholesome Mafia bride Allegra Sacrimoni, plump apple of her daddy’s eye. Usually, it takes a funeral to gather the extended cast of Sopranos characters in one room. This time it was a wedding of fabulously sincere ostentation, to which scripter Terence Winter and director Steve Buscemi paid delighted attention. (I loved Ginny and her drop-in-the-bucket diet goal! The angry, skinny younger Sacrimoni daughter, sandwiched between the two food-obsessed plus-size women in the family and, from the looks of her, probably nursing a whopper eating disorder! The deaf old aunts who unknowingly sat in on Tony’s business conversation with Johnny!)
”I’m happy to be alive,” Tony announced to Dr. Melfi with a humility that had already curdled into sour frustration by the end of the hour. (Now’s the time to salute that classic, low-to-the-ground, middle-distance camera angle ceremonially employed to announce the start of a scene shot in Dr. Melfi’s office. And while we’re at it, here’s to Tony’s icebreaker greeting to his longtime shrink: ”Is there any chance of a mercy f—?”) But gratitude gives way to frustration when a man of powerful professional standing, still weak from emergency surgery to repair a gunshot wound, is forced to bend over and untie his shoes to go through a metal detector in church — and in so doing, nearly faints in front of all assembled.
For Johnny Sack, doting adoration of his wife and daughters and the opportunity to play the role of splendiferous host at the nuptials of his little girl gave way to embarrassment — mortification, really — when the feds assigned to monitoring his six hours of freedom mocked and emasculated him with a showy handcuffing and carting away in front of all his guests, and in front of his Allegra!
For Junior, which is more pathetic — the interludes of lucidity during which the old geezer senses what he’s done (and lost), or the increasingly long stretches during which he’s mentally unmoored? (I suppose there’s always the possibility that Uncle June is crazy like a fox, putting on a show of looniness as a legal defense. Plausible, do you think?)
And as for Vito, well, weddings always stir up swells of emotion and sexual longing among the invitees, as singles and couples reflect on their own romantic state, mirrored by the duo at the altar. Shifting from foot to foot in a miserable approximation of slow-dancing with the wife he doesn’t desire, and gazing at Meadow and Finn (especially at Finn) doing their own approximation of happy young love (not that I believe there’s smooth sailing ahead, do you?), it’s small wonder that Vito became hungry for men as he likes them. Poor Vito: The guy slips away from his marital bed and lets loose at a leather bar (he was just on the way to getting lucky, too), and at that moment, two asinine, homophobic goons who have to collect their skim (just asking — why at that hour?) recognize the guy in the Village People outfit and discover the Mob captain’s deepest secret.
”You make your own luck in life,” Tony declared, ready to beat young guys up if that’s what it takes to make himself feel tough again. Or at least to look tough. But does T have the stomach to clean house among his own flabby, middle-aged crew? And, oy, are we in for a tedious subplot involving Tony’s desire for a grandchild and Finn’s desire to skedaddle before he’s married to the mob? What do you think?