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.
The premiere of Season Six throws a LOT at the audience and climaxes with one of the most shocking moments in series history. It can’t be a surprise then, that it takes Gavin and Hannibal nearly 90 minutes to unpack it all. Your hosts hone in on the themes of health, aging and misplaced trust that dominate this episode, and describe how it places Tony and Carmela in a position to embark on journeys more complex and dangerous than ever before.
Gavin and Hannibal agree that ‘All Due Respect’ is a fitting and fulfilling conclusion to Season 5. This finale manages to do an incredible job of bringing Season 5 full circle, and in typically understated fashion, sets up the climactic seasons to come. Your hosts describe how this episode presents a fresh examination of Tony’s role as a leader, as well as a couple surprising twists, and the establishment of a potential new Mafia supervillain.
Gavin and Hannibal work their way through an episode that no true ‘Sopranos’ fan will ever forget. This is the one where they get back together. This is the one where a new King of New York is crowned. This is the one where she dies. This is ‘Long Term Parking,’ and it’s the ultimate penultimate season chapter. Your hosts break down the rapid fire plot developments that lead to Chris and Ade’s moment of truth, and how that moment is a conclusive statement on our main characters’ twisted pursuit of the American dream.
Dream analysis is always tricky, especially in “The Test Dream” - one of the more experimental episodes of “The Sopranos” ever produced. Gavin and Hannibal do their best to identify and explain the many symbols, cameos and references that make this story such a trippy and meta journey into Tony’s subconscious.
‘Cold Cuts’ is an unnerving exploration of how little things change over time. Gavin and Hannibal cover an episode that presents Tony at his most unlikable, and note the unexpected sympathy felt towards the traditionally unlikable Chris and Janice. Also explored: the occasionally unorthodox directorial choices of Mike Figgis, and the perils of recording a podcast after the consumption of several margaritas... Happy Holidays from ‘The Sopranos Show!’
When writers Matthew Weiner and Terence Winter join forces, the outcome is about as monumental as you’d expect. Gavin and Hannibal unpack the revelatory ‘Unidentified Black Males.’ This episode is filled with shocking developments, social commentary, the most powerful Tony-Melfi scene yet, and yes, a lot of Meadow and Finn... but it all works! The result is one of the true highlights not just of Season 5, but the whole series.