Friday, September 26, 2014

The Sopranos 1.4: “Meadowlands”

Airdate: 1/31/99

Nephew Christoper, in a neck brace, complains to Tony what ostensibly Uncle Junior did to him, so Tony talks turkey with the man, and ultimately decides to make him “real” boss after Jackie’s death from cancer. Tony also develops feelings for Melfi, and has her followed by a detective, who overzealously pulls her over in a fake DUI stop and beats the dickens out of her boyfriend. Son A.J. unknowingly gets a school bully to back down; he realizes what dad does for a living when Meadow informs him that’s why he won the school fight.

We finally get a watchable episode, at least in terms of plot – but the characters are no more likable and their dialogue still annoyingly quippy. (Ever notice how no one thinks about their words on these kinds of shows?) This is still a problem, particularly with Tony, whose panic attacks and anxiety elicit no sympathy due to his completely feckless behavior (this week, we get to see him staple a guy’s chest with an industrial staple gun). Also in this episode, we see the son, AJ, get into a couple of fights at school (where, apparently there is no adult supervision whatsoever), and then face his bully out on the playground. The bully backs down – not ­because he has learned the error of his pugilistic ways, but because he (apparently) knows what his nemesis’ father does for a living. Once again, the show displays its cynical colors by taking a potentially sweet situation and turning it ugly in all shades of brown, black and blood red.

On the topic of incredulity, why doesn’t Melfi end her role as Tony’s psychiatrist after figuring out it was he who hired the cop to rough up her boyfriend? It makes zero sense for her to continue, knowing her life and well-being could be in danger.

Rating: **

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