Many insightful and eloquent eulogies have been penned in praise of David Chase’s creation, and this episode contains all the best ingredients of the show.
Tony has some business to conclude with a pair of French Canadian drug dealers, and now the Feds are hassling him over the gun he left behind when Johnny Sack was arrested, it seems an opportune time for some R and R by the Great Lakes. Only problem is that he and Carmela will be house guests with sister Janice, Bobby, their daughter and the mountains of sibling neurosis which dwarf the vast North American rural landscape.
What follows is an existential, Sartrean piece of drama as we wait for the simmering pot of vitriol to overflow. Sure Tony, to the outside world has changed but we are privy to his sessions with Dr. Melfi and realise it’s only a matter of time….
Bobby is caught betwixt and between the results of Tony and Janice’s fatally dysfunctional family and upbringing, but for him the consequences now seem potentially unimaginable, and he crosses a line previously he assiduously avoided, as he was the oil on Tony and Junior’s troubled waters.
On the surface it appears the men are the evil ones, casually dishing out mindless physical and psychological violence but here we see that it takes not just ambivalence, but active encouragement from the women who appear in total denial at all times about why they have such opulence on tap.
All human frailties and anomalies are here. Every scene has a vital part in the narrative and not one second is wasted by the writers, directors or the brilliant cast. Savour every moment. It is pure genius.