Sunday, April 09, 2006

Middle-aged men, you don't need to feel down

"The Sopranos," episode five. From today's review (spoilers abound, as always):
High on my list of Things I Don't Need To See: Vito Spatafore dancing at a leather bar.

Now, "The Sopranos" has had plenty of things way up on that soul-scarring list: Sean Gismonte going to the bathroom mid-robbery, Janice having sex at gunpoint with Richie, Janice doing things in bed with Ralphie that I'm not legally allowed to describe. But Vito going all Village People biker man may top them all.

So what happens now? I'm told that was a New York club, which makes sense: even Vito wouldn't be dumb enough to shake his groove thing at a Jersey bar. And since those two soldiers looked like they were about to tell someone, that means Phil Leotardo -- Vito's cousin-by-marriage -- knows. Does he kill Vito to defend his cousin's honor and the wiseguy code? Or does he hold it over Vito to use him in his quest for brotherly revenge on Tony? Assuming Phil's already been told, let's just say things are about to get mighty interesting across the Hudson River line.

The leather bar scene was a little cheap and over-the-top, even for a show that once had a character die on the toilet. This season's first four hours had done an impressive job of turning Vito into a creepy, unique character, but once the writers put him in that outfit, they turned him into a joke again. Loved the motel scene, scored to Jim Ed Brown's "The Three Bells," but there were ways to out Vito that weren't so Al Pacino in "Cruising."

But before we all bleach our eyeballs to cleanse them of that image, let's look at the center of this great episode: the wedding of Allegra Sacrimoni and the loss of face suffered there by both Tony and Johnny Sack.
From there, the review mainly focuses on Tony and Johnny, but that image of Vito in leather is unfortunately lodged in my head, so I had to lead with it. To read the rest of it, click here, then come back to comment. And since I didn't have enough time/space/mental energy to include all my observations, here are a few day-after thoughts:
  • The Rusty-as-Dick-Cheney parallels were strong again. Also ironic that Johnny's so busy worrying about Rusty when his real enemy is Phil. Of course, the last time Johnny was a free man, Phil was his most trusted ally and Rusty and Little Carmine had just surrendered.
  • So why were the marshals such dicks at the end of the wedding? Because one of them realized Johnny and Tony were talking business with the old people?
  • This is actually the second time in two weeks the show has used that "Three Bells" song. When Paulie confronted Jason Barone last week, we got the verse about the birth of Jimmy Brown; when Vito checked into the motel, it was Jimmy Brown's wedding; as I understand it, the bells ring the third time when Jimmy Brown dies. Anyone want to speculate both on the meaning and on what kind of scene might be accompanied by that third verse?
  • Loved that Johnny and Ginny have another daughter who looks anorexic and hates that all the rest of the family ever talks about is eating.
What did everybody else think?


Alan Sepinwall said...

Johnny's paranoid. He's been in the can for nearly two years with no end in sight (RICO trials can drag on for a long time even after they get under way), and, again, his last real memory of fresh air involved Phil being his loyal stooge and Rusty pulling his Dick Cheney routine with Little Carmine. He needs to lash out at someone, and Rusty seems like the most obvious threat.

I'll have to investigate the timestamp. I haven't really messed with the template since I started the blog last fall, but I could swear I picked Eastern time back then.

bill komissaroff said...

I didn't like the Vito scene for the same reason's you mentioned in your review. I know he is stupid, but is he that stupid to go into a leather bar that might be on someone's collection route?

It reminded me of when they "outed" Rawls on The Wire. It was just a quick glimpse, but we got it. He did not have to look like he was auditioning for a Village People Dinner Theater Tribute Act.

Although now that I think about it...

Anonymous said...

While I agree Vito in the leather bar was comically over the top, I think there was a serious purpose to the scene-- namely, to contrast the joy he exhibits just before being exposed with the misery of his married life shown throughout the rest of the episode. He clearly was unhappy being in the closet, and it will be interesting to see if instead of running or killing himself, he actually tries to come out and continue as a gay mobster. I know it doesn't seem likely, but there doesn't appear to be any other dramatically satisfactory outcome for this storyline.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No way would Vito survive as an out mobster, Oz. I think if Tony was the only one who knew, he could get away with it; Tony's just enlightened enough to not consider it a death sentence so long as it's not common knowledge, and he could use it to bleed Vito for extra money. But the guys won't tolerate this, and Tony can't afford to seem weak again.

Like I said in the article, I can see Phil and his guys keeping Vito's secret so they can use him against Tony, but as soon as his usefulness comes to an end, so does he.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I suppose Vito's no Omar. But I'm wondering if Tony might not be able to use the Phil-Vito connection in reverse-- if he somehow finds out about the nightclub before Phil, then maybe he uses the information to force Vito to take out Phil (who is now dangerous because he's emboldened by Johnny's perceived weakness)? Guess that really wouldn't make Vito an "out" mobster, if only Tony knew (and maybe Christopher based on the line from the previews), but again it would be more interesting than just killing him off or having him pull a Furio and run away.