Gavin and Hannibal bid a fond farewell to Johnny Sack in their discussion of the magnificent ‘Stage 5.’ Your hosts agree that everything about this episode works: from Vincent Curatola’s beautiful performance, to the surprisingly consequential fallout of the ‘Cleaver’ screening, to the story’s thematic statements on the downsides of being a leader. ‘Stage 5’ is another great script from Terence Winter, with high levels of comedy and drama, providing a prime example of ‘The Sopranos’ doing what it does best.
Gavin and Hannibal arrive at the beginning of the end! ‘Soprano Home Movies’ is one of the greats, blending flashbacks, callbacks, bad karaoke, and the most unexpected fist fight of all time, from a script that would make Edward Albee proud. Your hosts examine the ways in which Livia manages to haunt this episode, and the events that compel Tony to take what is arguably his darkest act of vengeance yet.
Once you realize what the title of this episode references, it’s hard not to see it as the funniest title of the series. Gavin and Hannibal wrap up Season 6A with a discussion that touches upon the successes and failures of the season overall, the plausibility of AJ’s new romance, and why Tony’s “every day is a gift” philosophy is difficult to maintain when one is part of the mob.
‘Cold Stones’ is a fitting penultimate chapter for Season 6A... which is both great, and at times, not so great. Gavin and Hannibal explain what makes the traditional late season main character death not all that surprising, and dig into the intriguing subtext of Carmela’s Paris trip. Your hosts also discuss Phil’s terrifying wife, Tony ‘back in black,’ and the right and wrong time to pick nits.
Moe n’ Joe has Gavin n’ Hannibal confused about a couple things... like the meaning of the title itself, or what Jim sees in Vito. Still, the episode has its high points: Chris’ sole scene is hilarious, Melfi does a great job leading Tony to an important epiphany about Janice, and a snowy murder towards the end channels ‘Fargo’ in all the right ways. Your hosts also discuss the latest news out of ‘Newark.’
There are many rides in ‘The Ride,’ both literal and metaphorical. Gavin and Hannibal examine Chris’ reasons for falling off the wagon yet again, Tony’s war against boredom, and the events that push Paulie to look deep into himself as never before. Plus Gavin explains why he now views this episode more favorably than he did in the past, and your hosts discuss why many fans (themselves included) tend to have issues with Season 6A.
Your hosts have mixed feelings about ‘Johnny Cakes.’ On one hand it contains profound and powerful scenes that rank amongst the series’ best. On the other hand, are several scenes so cliche ridden and implausible, they’re unintentionally hilarious. Gavin and Hannibal discuss the unsavory nature of Julianna Skiff, AJ’s sad and misguided attempts to live up to the family name, and how Jim could ever question whether or not Vito wants the tall stack.
Gavin and Hannibal agree that ‘Luxury Lounge’ ranks very high on the ‘funniest Sopranos episodes’ list. It makes hilarious use of cameos (‘Sir Ben’ Kingsley, ‘Betty’ Bacall) to lampoon Hollywood culture, and does a great job updating dilemmas previously established in Seasons 2 & 4. Plus, Gavin points out that Tony, for the first time, correctly deploys the Ojibwe saying, and Hannibal defends his love of Charmaine Bucco from unjust attacks!
Gavin and Hannibal can’t quite figure out how a Chase-Winter-Green-Burgess script directed by Tim Van Patten, winds up being one of the more mediocre Sopranos episodes, but they have some theories. Though ‘Live Free or Die’ just never quite comes together, your hosts single out the quality moments of humor that keep it entertaining.
In honor of this nuptially inclined episode, Gavin and Hannibal grapple with the age old question; when is it ok for a grown man to cry? From Johnny Sack’s tears, to Vito’s outing, to Tony’s fear of being thought weak, mob society’s rigid definition of masculinity presents major dilemmas for the main men of “Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request...” Your hosts also explain why they agree with Johnny when he calls the Feds “heartless pricks,” and decode the thought process that leads Tony to make an example of Perry.
Though this episode has its faults, (one too many philosophical discussions, an implausible Bobby Baccala subplot), Gavin and Hannibal agree that Tony Sirico is in top form, impressively revealing a vulnerable new side of Paulie Walnuts. Your hosts also point out how ‘The Fleshy Part of the Thigh’ links to an episode from the first season (with some improvements), and comment on how this story painfully teaches several of its central characters that life just isn’t fair.
The intentionally misspelled title is a hint that this laugh filled episode is a wild ride. Gavin and Hannibal point out what makes the explosive ‘Scarface’ style opening such an entertaining change of pace, and describe how this relatively Tony-light story depicts what the show might have been like without James Gandolfini. Plus Maureen Van Zandt (Gabriella Dante) returns! ‘Mayham’ shows us the Dantes as we’ve never seen them before, and Mrs. Van Zandt shares her perspective on shooting scenes with her husband, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the premiere, and the upcoming Sopranos movie.
Gavin and Hannibal join Tony in “Finnertyland,” discussing an episode that propels The Sopranos to dramatic new heights of symbolism and poignancy. Your hosts focus on the not-exactly-a-dream sequence that gives James Gandolfini the opportunity to portray a Clark Kent version of Tony journeying through a purgatory-like plane of reality. Also of note, is a definitive performance by Edie Falco, which features the delivery of an unforgettable monologue, sensitively crafted by David Chase.