Monday, April 30, 2007

Sopranos Rewind: Chasing It

Spoilers for last night's "Sopranos":
And the inner circle draws tighter.

Each episode of this season has seen Tony driving a wedge between himself and a trusted ally -- first Bacala, then Chris, then Paulie and now Hesh, whose friendly $200,000 bridge loan last week turned ugly once Tony realized Hesh actually expected him to repay it.

We've had hints in recent episodes that Tony was gambling too much, but episode four, "Chasing It," has him in full-on Davey Scatino mode, losing big at every game he tries: horses, roulette, blackjack, football, everything short of jai alai or an Oscar pool.
The full thing is at NJ.com, but you can comment here.

57 comments:

Curious George said...

Alan, is there not some signficance to A.J.'s desire for normalcy? He imagines working for the next several years in a legitimate position. He imagines that by working so, he can achieve a dream of restaurant or club ownership. He imagines a normal life with a wife and children.

No Sopranos character can have a normal life with a wife and children, though. Not Tony, not Christopher, not Vito, not anyone. But in expressing a desire for such, aren't we seeing that A.J. is doomed? With Tony cutting off all of his associates, will he turn inward and think he can only trust his son? Tony remembered his first hit at age 22, and perhaps that will parrallel A.J.'s entry into the family business?

Adam said...

Tony's sister has a normal life. As I wrote on ALOTT5MA, much of this episode felt like an elaboration on Leslie Bennetts' new book The Feminine Mistake, regarding the need for married women to keep working, even if they have kids, and develop financial security independent from their husbands. Because you can't trust men. It unifies Carmella, Marie, Dr. Melfi and Blanca this week.

Also, what do you make of the Ojibwe shoutout?

Undercover Black Man said...

RE: the season to date... why is there no sense of a building crescendo?

I love the small moments, the small stories, of this season -- Tony and Paulie's road trip, Uncle Junior's nut-house follies -- but these are small. They play out at very subtle levels of character and theme.

I was hoping for Chase to bear down and focus and construct a Fourth-of-July fireworks display of final episodes. Not variations on the melancholy theme of aging.

Alan Sepinwall said...

With Tony cutting off all of his associates, will he turn inward and think he can only trust his son?

Tony has never wanted this life for AJ, and the scene last week where he seemed disgusted at having been turned into a 22-year-old killer by his father reinforced that.

Also, what do you make of the Ojibwe shoutout?

It's been Tony's go-to piece of psychoanalysis ever since he got out of the hospital. And, of course, it essentially translates to "Poor you!"

I was hoping for Chase to bear down and focus and construct a Fourth-of-July fireworks display of final episodes. Not variations on the melancholy theme of aging.

Unfortunately, I don't think fireworks interest Chase anymore, if they ever did. I think what you see is what we're going to continue to get, UBM.

Curious George said...

I assume by Tony's sister you mean the one that is not Janice. Didn't she move far away years and years ago? She escaped.

Adam said...

CG: Yes, I meant Barbara. She lives about an hour away in New York.

Homertojeebus said...

Alan,
I think one of us completely whiffed on reading this ep. Time will tell.
Most glaringly, to me it was obvious that Tony had had Renata killed, as a message to Hesh. Any explanation of her cause of death was conspicuously absent, and the scene was queasily reminiscent of the horse's head scene from "One".
As for the gambling, I think Tony is panicking about the downturn in business, chasing those losses, as evidenced by his rebuke to Carlo vis a vis Vito's superior earning. He also mentioned Vito's top earner status earlier in the ep, decrying Phil's whackage of said earner and subsequent refusal to indemnify the widow.
AJ's girlfriend is pregnant with AJ's baby, and split with him a la Diane Keaton's Kay from "One." She doesn't want her child to grow up among monsters.
Tony killing Renata is an illustration of two sides of Tony that have always been at odds, but are coming to a crescendo. The false "standup guy" persona he has constructed for himself and a large part of the audience is being eaten away at by his monstrous true self.
We'll see who's right soon enough, but I think our varying interpretations, in any case, are a function of a lack of objectivity about these characters on one or both of our parts. I hope I got it right, because these characters all deserve to be unmasked, at least to the audience.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Most glaringly, to me it was obvious that Tony had had Renata killed, as a message to Hesh.

Why would Tony do this? It's not remotely his style. Him killing Hesh to get out of paying, I could buy. Him having Renata killed and then refusing to pay, I could maybe buy. But why on earth would he have Renata killed -- in a completely bloodless, subtle manner that no one on this show has ever before used -- and then give Hesh the $200,000, anyway? What's the point of that? What message is he sending?

Pandyora said...

I found this episode dissatisfying, especially after the very strong opening three episodes.

I like the theme of the show - how Tony responds to risk, whether in the context of being a boss or gambling - but the execution was fairly weak. It lacked subtlety and became a bit repetitive.

How many scenes did we need of Tony losing a big bet at the last possible second? And the use of slow-motion to emphasize emotion, which worked so well in the scene when the Hairdo was whacked, felt very after school special in the context of the horse race.

I also saw a lot of missed opportunities. I initially thought the writers were going to play around with the notion of fatherhood and draw more direct parallels between the Vito Jr. and AJ storylines. Instead, these plots just sort of meandered in parallel.

I also found the Hesh stuff slightly unbelievable. I thought Tony's juvenile anti-semitism was perfectly in character, but I didn' t buy the idea that Tony might whack Hesh after all these years over a loan.

One final gripe: I thought the therapy scenes were also unusually unsubtle, specifically Melfi's line (and I'm paraphrasing here) "do you gamble for the money or the rush?". Over the past couple of seasons, the writers have occasionally used Melfi as a narrator, having her bluntly state the theme of a particular episode. Maybe Melfi is tiring of Tony's evasions, but these lines always feel forced.

Homertojeebus said...

Alan,
I'll get to the message in a minute. Remember, the show was deliberately vague regarding Renata's COD. Also, there's no indication that the bag contains $200,000.00. There could be 1000 singles in there, with a couple of pennies thrown in for good measure (of Tony's ugly, offhanded antisemitism.) That makes the message question kind of moot.
If the money really was all there, then the message is a combination "F you, get back in your place" to Hesh and a warning to others who might think that Tony could ever let his personal feelings interfere with the icy execution of his personal agenda.
I could be wrong\, but until I read your post, I didn't even consider another possibility. What do you say to a friendly wager? 1 box of ziti to the victor. (An actual box of ziti.)

dez said...

It's been Tony's go-to piece of psychoanalysis ever since he got out of the hospital. And, of course, it essentially translates to "Poor you!"

And it was completely lost on a little kid. Not only do these men not know how to relate to each other, but they don't know how to relate to anyone. Is it any wonder their house of cards is falling, albeit slowly?

No way Tony whacked Renata. Apart from the implausibility of an assassin slipping in while Hesh was making yet another bathroom trip to relieve his prostate problems (and then what did he do that was so quick and quiet?) or slowly poisoning her or whatever, it's not Tony's style, as mentioned here and elsewhere.

What's really cracking me up is reading in other venues how surprised people are that Tony could be so mean and petty with Carm and Hesh. Seriously, what show have those people been watching all these years? He's an effin' mobster, for crissakes!

Homertojeebus said...

"No way Tony whacked Renata. Apart from the implausibility of an assassin slipping in while Hesh was making yet another bathroom trip to relieve his prostate problems (and then what did he do that was so quick and quiet?) or slowly poisoning her or whatever, it's not Tony's style, as mentioned here and elsewhere."

OK, I am willing to wait and see, but I don't think either of these arguments holds water. How did Tom Hagen arrange for that Horse's head in "One"? As for Tony's "style", this is a guy brimming with contradictions and melting down. Maybe he hired the middle-eastern gents to do it, maybe she bled out eslewhere and was dumped, maybe there was bodily trauma not evident onscreen, who knows? There's a million ways it could have happened. Do you not think Tony watches "CSI"?
Why would the show be so vague about how she died? If Tony paid up out of pity or compassion, why pass Hesh a paper bag and say "Sorry for your loss?", when no other transaction in this show is ever remotely this ham-handed?
So, whaddaya say? Want a peice of that ziti action? I could use a little extra Buitoni.

paul c. said...

This was actually the first episode of the new semi-season that I didn't care much for. It felt contrived. When in the 5.5 seasons leading up to this has there been any indication that Tony was a compulsive gambler? Yes, I know some hints have been dropped recently, but that didn't make last night seem less out-of-the-blue.

Also, why isn't Tony beating up on his guys to bring in more money if that little cash is coming in? I seem to recall he's done it in the past. Certainly, he's done it to Bobby. Are we supposed to assume he's done it and it hasn't worked? One crack in the car last night is all there's been.

I'll be interested if Alan's theory about Chase revisiting minor incidents from prior seasons proves to be correct. Hell, I'd love it if Chase would be consistant about showing lasting consequences. That's been a major gripe of mine of late, the seeming arbitrariness of the writing.

I wonder if Chase's randomness hides some pattern or meaning. Or if he just wants to do what he wants to do without hindrence. It's dangerous to read too much into any particular episode or season because Chase routinely changes direction and undermines theories that sounded pretty good at the time.

Teresa said...

Homertojeebus, thank you! I also think Tony had Renata killed. Perhaps the cause of her death was left ambiguous to allow audience members to make their own conclusion about her death; to decide for ourselves what we think T is - or isn't - capable of.

For me, it doesn't matter that we've never seen him kill anyone like this before. We know this man is petty and vindictive and that aspect of his persona is coming to the foreground with more clarity and force this season.

I found his body language peculiar (and his expression of sympathy seemed insincere) when he paid off his debt to Hesh. And the look on T's face when he left Hesh's home was creepy -- not quite but almost a smile.

I think that final scene can be read in multiple ways and I think Tony very well could have killed Renata.

Edward Copeland said...

I'm not sure about Tony killing Renata, but it definitely seemed odd. This was the first of the new batch of episodes I didn't really care for. Tony's sudden financial problems seem odd. It would seem as if those would have been mentioned before. I think it's interesting though that Tony lost both of his "top earners," Vito to Phil's vengeance and Ralphie to his own. As for AJ's girlfiend calling off the engagement, I've been getting the impression that she's none too eager to marry into the Sopranos family, knowing what they are capable of. I saw someone comment that they thought this entire season seems to be geared toward making Tony as unlikable as possible, so the audience will feel bad for enjoying him so much for all these years. Chase might not be out to kill Tony literally, but just in the viewer's mind.

Kemazi said...

Renata died of a Stroke:

From HBO.com:

"When Hesh goes to rouse Renata for breakfast, he finds her dead in bed - a stroke. Tony stops by to pay his respects - as well as the balance of the 200k loan. "I'm sorry for your loss," he says as he leaves the devastated and broken Hesh."

paul c. said...

As an aside, I thought Blaca's funny looks had more to do with the spec house than with news of the cousin's impending baby. Perhaps she's wondering why she and AJ are (were) living in squalor instead of the mansion.

Teresa said...

Thanks for the info, Kemazi. I wish Renata's death had been left more ambiguous on the HBO website. It was much more fun to speculate!

TL said...

Not buying that Tony had Mrs. Hesh killed; not only is it not Tony's style, it's not "The Sopranos" style. It just doesn't make sense on a number of levels. If the bag didn't settle Tony's debt, where's the payoff of Hesh looking in the bag? That's not the kind of thing that you can carry over to a later episode.

Rather, I think that we are seeing Tony cut ties with another of his long-time associates, one of which has gone down in each episode (Bacala, Chris, Paulie, now Hesh). This one was especially painful because Hesh was always the person who was just far enough removed from cosa nostra to be a real confidant and advisor to Tony. (Aside: Sil can be a really awful consigliere sometimes, as we saw last night.)

Another thing that hasn't been mentioned but that came up again last night was that things are not what they seem: We've been lead to believe that Tony is a very wealthy man, but now we find out that he (and Carm) always spent it as fast as he makes it. Notably, Hesh estimates his cash on hand at "about 6" -- the same amount Carm made on her house.

I disagree about what is going on with Blanca. I don't know if she's pregnant, but clearly she can't abide by the Soprano family's opulent, bourgeoisie lifestyle. Look at her POV shots of Carm's earrings and the wine glasses, her comment that cousin Brian is buying "a mansion." She knows it's a life that will always be dangled in front of her without her ever really being a part of it. Her uncomfortability visually echoed when she took her son out of AJ's car-seat equipped SUV and put him in the front seat of her brother's old convertible. This reading also puts Tony's lifestyle at the core of ruining AJ's life, just as it lead to him ruining Vito Jr.'s life a few scenes away.

Finally, I too am thinking that Mohamed and Ahmed are going to be more than just a red herring, but in that the FBI will bust them, find out that they have some kind of 2-bit terrorist operation, but that it leads the feds to incriminating information on Tony et al. or Mohamhed/Ahmed flips.

Edward Copeland said...

One other thing about a change in Tony's finances that just occurred to me: Tony mentioned that he and Paulie were about to lose their "legit W2 earnings" as their piece of Barone Sanitation goes away (though Tony doesn't know that Paulie is still demanding cash from the Barone son). If I'm remembering correctly, Johnny Sack will become the full owner but now that he's gone, what will be the status of the company? Did the Feds seize it or will it be Phil's baby and spark another reason for conflict?

Kristin said...

The terrorist angle could possibly be something that brings Tony down permanently...and in a much worse way than other mobsters. If he is included with a terrorist organization b/c he supplied something to them, then they could just jail him without an attorney or any real trial...hello Patriot Act. Thus, Tony would not be able to use any of his connections of any of his money to help him in prison. He would get lost in the system and disappear. The world would move on without him. And no one would care b/c he is starting to alienate everyone close to him...including his wife.

What I thought was interesting about Hersh was finding out that he never trusted Tony completely as a friend. He was always looking over his shoulder in that relationship. For many seasons, we have seen Tony rely on Hersh's friendship to get him through some difficult times. And now we find out Hersh never saw his relationship with Tony in the same way at all. Very revealing.

Curious how AJ's moping next week will affect his life and what Tony will do about it.

dez said...

OK, I am willing to wait and see, but I don't think either of these arguments holds water. How did Tom Hagen arrange for that Horse's head in "One"?

"The Sopranos" is not "The Godfather," no matter how many homages Chase may make. Plus, Chase has always been good about showing us what's going on. Or so Alan has been telling me all these seasons ;-)

SJ said...

My favorite line:

Tony on Cleaver: "It's a negative portrayal of Italian-Americans".

Exactly what people complained about The Sopranos when it first aired.

SJ said...

The last one was very strong in my opinion...though Tony would obviously not kill Renata, he took satisfaction in the fact that she died. Once again, props to James Gandolfini for portraying that so deftly.

Or am I completely wrong in thinking that Tony did not seem satisfied? He was complaining about "his Jew friend" the whole time and he knew he was going to have to pay him back anyway, but the monster within him seemed satisfied that something so dear to Hesh was taken away.

And yeah, I think AJ's gf is pregnant too...

Eric said...

It seems to me that it's part of the show's M.O. that whenever the New Jersey Family hires an outsider for a hit, we see the transaction. And there's clearly no one in the Family who can pull off something like Renata's death. To these guys and all their associates, killing someone quietly means using a silencer (or maybe a pillow.)

I haven't seen last night's episode yet, but I've always had the impression that no one but Tony has the full measure of his finances. No accountant, no launderer, no lawyer knows about all of the others. So I doubt Hesh has the full story either.

Something I've always been intrigued by is the way that even as the Mafia's reach, influence and power collapsed, the actual amounts of money available seem to have mushroomed. Compare the house Tony lives in to where Junior lived. Lower-upper class vs. solid middle class. And a Boss seems to make exponentially more than a Captain, who makes only incrementally more than a Soldier.

Anonymous said...

I can't get to closure about Renata's death. It's very unlikely that someone that young would have a stroke, without "outside intervention". Perhaps she was poisoned and that caused a stroke? A high dose of blood-pressure meds might do it. I know this topic has already been discussed, but the whole thing cries out for a better explanation.

Homertojeebus said...

Stupid HBO.com! My story's better! A stroke? That's just stupid. Out of the blue, a fit young woman coincidentally has a stroke with all the rest of this going on? I don't buy it. It doesn't fit at all, and it wasn't shot like that, either. I would still bet ziti that my version was what was originally written, and someone changed it to back off Tony's monsterhood.
As far as Hesh and Tony never really trusting each other, this kind of thing goes way, way back, think Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. This type of racial/ethnic mistrust, it seems, can be soothed by individual relationships, but never eliminated. A lifetime of worthiness counts for nothing in the face of it.
Make no mistake, however, there is no equivalence here, since Tony is clearly the agressor and in a position of power.
Anyway, I still think I'm right about Renata. I'll stay out on the limb until it's over.
Also, I loved Tony's malapropism of the week:"...and all that that entrails."

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of Tony's mom in Tony last night. The whole argument with Carmela where he snatched her and said vile things (especially the part about her using lousy parts and killing the unborn baby and her living in a dumpster), that's all his Mom. He wanted to make Carm suffer and he stuck deep. Same thing with the smile when he left Hesh's house. Tone liked that Hesh was miserable too. Tony thrives on that. He's sick... and as Janice pointed out, just like their mother.

I think what Chase is doing is amazing. Tony's been pretty likable the past 5 seasons. He did plenty of evil things, but then you saw him with his daughter or Chrissy or do something decent or say something funny and you realized that no one--not even a mobster-- is evil all the time. Seems Tony's nice-guy persona is unravelling. We're not used to seeing all ***hole all the time and it's not pretty when we do. Character is defined by the response to adversity. Tony's isn't so pretty now that he's in super-sticky situations.

I was thinking the other day about how Tony's story could end. I don't think he will be dead or in jail. That's too obvious and it's only a "bad" fate not the worst possible. Look at Uncle June. His fate is worse than death or jail-- a fading memory, cast to a wheelcahir and beat up by an crazy kid and in the mental ward. (Not to mention his family has alienated him and he's prone to urniate on himself.) Now that is suffering. What is the worst possible thing that could happen to Tony? It's not jail. It's not death. But what is it?

Great, great writing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Homer, I appreciate your passion, but Tony somehow killing Renata in her sleep -- while Hesh was busy pissing in the next room -- is so counter to both Tony's methods and the writers' (who have never relied on twist endings) that I just can't see it.

I asked one of the writers, who may or may not choose to answer, as they often prefer to let the work speak for itself.

Crewgrrl said...

People. Get over Renata. Her death isn't that interesting. You can't handle a young woman having a stroke? How about she smokes cigarettes and takes birth control pills? Tony didn't do it.

I love the irony of Tony and Phil trying to make a kid shape up. That is so messed up.

Teresa said...

Anonymous, I know what you mean about not finding closure on Renata's death. I found it much more provocative to leave the cause a mystery because in my mind it was an ambiguous ending.

Whether or not that's how the writer's intended it, that's how I interpreted it.

dez said...

I can't get to closure about Renata's death. It's very unlikely that someone that young would have a stroke, without "outside intervention".

A friend of mine had a stroke when he was in his 30s. It happens. Hesh mentioned that Renata suffered from migraines, too. What's with the need to turn this plot point into a cheap "CSI" trick?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, when has Tony ever been into killing civilians, especially innocent women? If he was going to kill someone, it would be Hesh, or, at worst, Hesh's son-in-law Eli, who's also in the shylocking business.

Crewgrrl said...

Ok, on second thought, maybe I'm wrong. Apparently a lot of people find speculating about Renata interesting. I stand corrected.

I was surprised Melfi didn't press Tony more on the gambling addiction. I felt like they were both just going through the motions in that session. There are so few people in Tony's life that hold him accountable for anything and I was hoping she would. Maybe next week. As always, I want Tony to shape up and do better. Since this season is about him falling apart, I will continue to be disappointed.

Homertojeebus said...

A young woman having a stroke is not impossible. A young woman having a stroke just as her boyfriend butts heads with a psychotic mobster? The coincidence is distracting. Narratively, it makes no sense. It'd be like Lenny suffering a coronary at the end of "Of Mice and Men..."
I also think that the notion of Tony "not killing civilians" is crap. The mob was built on "protection", a racket that relies exclusively on making an example of innocent civilians.
I admit, my contempt for Tony as a human being has me holding on to this theory, but the narrative cues were all there. In the scene where Tony sees the muslims on the street, I took that to be his suspicion and disdain for "the other" welling up, a consistent theme for this ep. Anyway, let me know if you hear anything.
A note about Tony chasing his whacked earners' losses: I don't think it starts as financial desperation, but as a way to maintain his crazy lifestyle instead of tightening the belt. From there, it has mushroomed. A sinking ship floats for a long time, until it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"about 6," means $6 million. Carm made $600k on the house.

Anonymous said...

I never really post here, but my wife made an observation that made me sit up. All of the past few eps, as Alan noted are showing Tony losing a little bit of ground with his closest people. My wife mentioned that since he needs his "oasis" with Melfi, could she possibly be getting killed off? Not a hit, just something more out of the blue -- car accident? -- that leaves T without yet another branch of his support system...

TL said...

"about 6," means $6 million.

I'll look at it again, but I don't think we know that for sure. Hesh was pretty clear that his guestimate was without assets (boat, house). A guy with $6M doesn't need a $200K bridge loan; a guy with $600K might. Either way, I find the use of the same number striking.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, $600,000 is how much Tony gave Carmela in the first place to purchase the lot and materials. And she had to spend even more given all the delays, thefts and replacing a lot of the bad wood her father initially used, so I'm guessing the total cost ran even higher than that. So cousin Brian spent, what, $1.4 million on the place?

TL said...

Maybe I'm imagining it, but I seem to remember a reference to Castle Soprano being in the high $1 millions. Add 10 years of appreciation and that's probably a good yardstick for what Mr. & Mrs. Cousin Brian paid.

Anonymous said...

I have another question no one seems to have brought up...did Carmellla give Tony the money to pay back Hesh after he told her about his losses? Or did he just come up with it elsewhere. Also, about Ahmed et.al...what if Tony ends up helping the feds in some capacity and in turn, they drop charges and place him in witness protection program, and that is how things end. I mean, talk about a fate worse than death for him....losing his family and his way of life and having to be a "regular guy" with Carmella would be worse than Uncle June's fate.
And one final thing...does anyone else forsee a breakdown for AJ with a possible suicide in his future???

Kristin said...

Tony has been talking for years about the importance of family, how he has done things (in his eyes) differently than his parents in relationship to his children, that he has this great wife, etc. If he loses them, that will be the end of Tony. That would be the worst fate for him.

When John what's-his-face (I'm bad with names) was in prison dying, his wife and daughter still came to see him, were with him when he died, were devastated about his condition. He still had his family loving him, being with him as much as they could.

I think if Tony goes to prison or gets carted away by the Homeland Security guys, it will be the absolute worst thing for him because no one will care. His wife, who stood by him during his gunshot days in the hospital, won't be there anymore. She'll be glad to see what kind of money he left her, so she can live her own life. The kids barely even talk to him anymore. Chris is gone. Hersh is scared of him. Etc., etc., etc.

The more people he alienates, the closer he is to being absolutely alone. Once his money and power are taken away from him, he will end up with nothing. That would be the worst ending for him.

Ted F. said...

Tony is having money troubles:

1) That lawyer he needed in Episode 1 didn't come cheap.

2) Hesh mentions the expensive yacht Tony bought; that has no resale value.

3) We've seen big gambling losses in earlier episodes, and Tony's been chasing here, not settling for small wins, but trying for the big score.

4) Meadow's Columbia isn't cheap.

5) They're not investing the money they're making; at best, it's getting squirrelled away in the bird seed (presumably to avoid asset freezes in worst-case scenarios).

6) The one investment they have made, "Cleaver," was likely relatively expensive and hasn't started paying off yet, if it ever will.

7) The loss of Vito was expensive to cash flow.

So it doesn't surprise me at all that Tony is so cash-poor that he needed a $200k bridge loan to cover a gambling debt and could only afford to put $10k on the Jets game.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Per one of the writers:

"It was natural causes and you're right - had it been murder it would have been much too difficult for these guys to have pulled it off -- unless of course Tony hired the guy who so expertly snuck that horse's head into Woltz's bed without even waking him up."

Anonymous said...

Renata didn't strike me as being all that young--I'm guessing mid-50s, well-preserved. My impression of her at her first appearance in the ep was to be surprised that Hesh was with a woman who wasn't young. Mid-50s is, sadly, a time when many African Americans, who are more prone to hypertension and strokes than Caucasians, get sick.

DonBoy said...

In the meantime, I'm wondering who's taking Tony Soprano's action, considering the danger of having him owe you a lot of money. (I also wonder if any harness track can absorb an $18,000 win bet without turning a 2-1 into a drastic odds-on favorite; I looked up last night's Meadowlands charts, and the total win/place/show pools for a single race maxed out at about $40k.)

I may know too much about racing...

Ted F. said...

To be fair, I had the same thought about the $18,000 bet. But even sportswriters don't understand gambling: just look at how PTI botches the "Oddsmakers" portion of the program every week.

(A favorite recent example: What are the odds that Larry Brown is coaching Greg Oden at Memphis next year? Let's see, X% chance Brown coaches Memphis, 25% chance that Memphis gets the #1 pick--and Kornheiser comes up with 37% for the combination, even after recognizing that there's only a 25% chance Memphis gets the ping-pong balls. Furrfu.)

Ted F. said...

A better question re the sports gambling: Didn't Chris (or Paulie) run a bookmaking operation? What happened to that? Why is Tony limited to betting $10k on the Jets if he's not physically placing money at a window in Las Vegas? The only possibility I can think of is that he's using the New York Family's bookmakers, which would solve the fear-of-welshing issue, but not the cash-poor situation.

TL said...

Hey, one question for the Jersey natives: I saw Southside Johnny credited in the closing roll. Where? Did I miss this completely?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Southside Johnny explanation is up at the NJ.com blog, but long story short: he's in Nancy Sinatra's band but he's either just barely in frame or so out of focus that you can never really see him.

TuckPendleton said...

In regards to the harness racing bet, they weren't at the track; they were at a big casino in Atlantic City. And a big casino would absolutely be able to handle that kind of bet on a harness race.

I'll have to re-watch the episode to judge Tony's reaction after giving Hesh the money. But earlier in the ep he tells Hesh how much he likes hanging out with him, since he's away from the crew and all the expectations.

It's only once Hesh starts in with asking for the loan payback that Tony really lays into the anti-Semitic comments and stereotypes.

While I think Tony derived some satisfaction that Renata died, I think he also realized that he truly did enjoy Hesh's company, and Tony's repaying the money is as much as about returning Hesh and he to their 'equal' (i.e., no money owed) status, as much as it is a mercy act after Renata's death. Now Tony can once again hang out with Hesh as an oasis, of course completely oblivious to Hesh's fear of him.

I also feel like his gambling problems have been thrust into the spotlight with little buildup. My first thought when seeing the Arab-Americans was that Tony would turn them into the Feds for the reward money that he'd receive.

DonBoy said...

Do the AC casinos have separate pools? This is an aspect I don't know about.

By the way, I just flashed on a bit in, I think, S2 -- the plot about the guy who lost his sporting goods store to Tony by getting in gambling debts -- where Tony says even if he was in a hole, "One thing's for sure...I wouldn't go bet on football."

Anonymous said...

TL- a guy with a net worth of $6M could definitely need a loan of $200k.

Especially a guy that spends $3.2M on a boat.

Tony has assets, but not a lot of cash, and what cash he does have is literally in cash-- not earning anything for him.

"About 6" is definitely not $6M, not $600k. His home and boat alone are worth way more than that.

SI, MF

Anonymous said...

Where is Entourage this week?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Where is Entourage this week?

On HBO.

Oh, you mean my review? Too many other things to do to write about an episode I was completely bored by, especially given the lack of general reaction to the last few Entourage reviews.

I don't write up every show every week.

TL said...

Anon -

"About 6" is definitely not $6M, not $600k. His home and boat alone are worth way more than that.

Yes, which is why Hesh explicitly said that his estimates were "excluding assets," i.e., just the Soprano cash on hand. And a guy with $6M cash on hand (or in the bird feeder) doesn't need a bridge loan.

I still think that Hesh meant $600K, unless we're supposed to believe it was just a coincidence that Carm also made "about 6" on her spec house, but there's nothing else to go on.

Anonymous said...

I think Tony did have Renata killed, because it was one thing that would really hurt Hesh, more than not being repaid. Tony tried to smother his own mother with a pillow; Paulie smothered the woman in the senior citizen home with a pillow. Tony spitefully hurt Bobby Bacala by making him murder a guy, after losing the fight on his birthday at the lake; Bobby had said earlier that one thing he felt good about was he never whacked anyone. Returning the money to Hesh at a time like that was, to me, saying "paid in full" in more ways than one.