‘Whitecaps’ is the longest episode of The Sopranos. Is it the greatest episode of the series up to this point? Probably. Gavin and Hannibal focus on James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, whose Emmy winning performances in this Season 4 finale, raise the bar for what can be achieved in the medium of television. ‘Whitecaps’ also displays once again, the writers’ sophisticated understanding of psychology and mastery of storytelling. Plot points quietly set up throughout the season are decisively paid off in this episode, resulting in an epic climax that delivers on all levels.
Gavin and Hannibal interpret this episode as a story of heartbreak... and its consequences. Carmela without warning loses the love of someone very close, and Paulie unexpectedly finds that a friendship he depended on isn’t quite what he thought it was. Your hosts call attention to the many funny, suspenseful and even tragic moments that define another typically strong script from Terence Winter. ‘Eloise’ is special for delivering the traditional penultimate episode of the season fireworks... but in a much quieter and menacing way than usual.
‘Calling All Cars’ is bookended with ominous dream sequences that suggest Tony is in greater danger than he knows. Gavin and Hannibal examine the symbols in this tension heavy, occasionally hilarious, and somewhat spooky episode. Plus your hosts explain why this is the worst time for Tony to quit therapy, and question whether the ends justify the means, when it comes to Janice’s aggressive pursuit of Bobby.
It’s not easy to be “the strong, silent type” if you’re Tony, Christopher or Furio. Gavin and Hannibal address Tony’s emotionally complex dynamic with cute animals, Chris at rock bottom, and Furio’s increasingly risky forbidden love. Plus your hosts get caught up in the logistics of one legged sex, identify their favorite props from the series, and arrive at the first Sopranos storyline that Hannibal just doesn’t understand.
‘Whoever Did This’ is one of the best episodes The Sopranos ever did. Of course, Gavin and Hannibal spend much of their time praising Joe Pantoliano’s Emmy winning performance, which convincingly reveals a side of Ralph Cifaretto never before displayed. Plus, Burgess and Green’s flawless script delivers surprises large and small, culminating in some of the most unanticipated and graphic violence the series has ever depicted. Ultimately, a fitting and unforgettable exit for one of the series’ most memorable characters, in a story that still has the power to shock, years after its initial airing.
‘Mergers and Acquisitions’ is a great example of how The Sopranos often finds hilarity in unexpected places. The various funny dilemmas in this episode keep Gavin and Hannibal laughing - from Paulie’s response to senior citizen bullying, to Tony’s investigation of Ralphie’s sex life in the hopes of finding a way to rationalize cuckolding his capo. Plus, your hosts parse the nuances of an amusing and masterful final scene that says everything that can be said about the state of Tony and Carmela’s marriage, and the price of infidelity.
Gavin and Hannibal tackle ‘Watching Too Much Television,’ discussing the desperation that leads Adriana to fast track her marriage for all the wrong reasons, and the unexpected emotional fallout that results when Tony and his business partners join forces on what should be a straightforward real estate scam. This episode emphasizes the costs of doing business with Tony, and forever leaves your hosts unable to think of The Chi Lites’ ‘Oh Girl,’ without also thinking of Tony’s belt...
Gavin and Hannibal view ‘The Weight’ as a highly entertaining return to the urgent and emotional high stakes storytelling that makes The Sopranos what it is. Terence Winter’s script convincingly depicts how the fallout from a single mean joke can escalate to a near bloodbath, while giving Vincent Curatola the opportunity to take full ownership of the character Johnny Sack, with a performance that is both chilling and sympathetic.
‘Christopher,’ is the widely agreed upon fan ‘least favorite,’ of the series. Gavin and Hannibal attempt to get to the root of just what exactly went wrong here. Low dramatic stakes, a misleading title, and a few too many cheesy jokes make ‘Christopher’ infamous, though it’s not a complete loss! This third installment of the season is redeemed at times with laugh out loud moments and politically relevant cultural observations.
Gavin and Hannibal examine the many well written and acted confrontations of “No Show,” an episode which culminates in one of the more powerful scenes ever performed between James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Your hosts also discuss the implications of the choices made by Silvio, Christopher, Adriana and Paulie in this episode, and how they may or may not prove to have major consequences for all involved, as Season 4 continues to unfold.