OK. I was wrong. This was a very surprising episode and a good one because the writers resisted the impulse to turn it into a warmady: it was not soft.
The major plot which, presumably announces the theme for the season, was the impossibility of getting out. Tony will not release a minor character, who comes into an inheritance, from is mob obligations and the character, who it turns out has been ratting to the feds all along, squeezed between the mob, the cops and his family, hangs himself. It echoes the Adrianna theme: the feds lose an informant by turning the screws too tight.
it's the echoes of earlier episodes that make this series a cut above the usual and provide an aesthetic unity that make it, as I still believe, the Great American Novel. Carmella does lunch with Angie Bumpasera, widow of Pussy who's gotten whacked, and they compare their new cars. Carmella, impressed, asks Angie if she's bought the car herself and Angie, who doesn't get it, says that she paid cash because it was a better deal.
Recall the episodes following Pussy's whacking. Tony, in the finest traditions of the Mob, takes Angie on as a financial dependent, but gets angry when it turns out that she is driving a Cadillac while pleading poverty to Carmella. He smashes in the windows of her car and warns her that if she needs money he is the only legitimate source--she isn't to complain to Carmella or attempt, what he regards, as scams. Angie, who has been trying to pick up extra cash by passing out samples in the local supermarket, then persuades Tony to let her run Pussy's body shop, and does a decent job of it--such a decent job that she can buy her own car, and a very nice one at that, for cash, something Carmella envies.
Carmella's pseudo-business, financed by Tony, is not doing so well. In partnership with her father, she's built a "spec house" on a $600,000 lot in the woods where Tony buries his bodies. Predictably De Angelis pere has cut corners illegally expecting that that inspectors can be bought off and, it seems, they can't. Without being smarmy, there's a heavy moral message here: if you run an honest business, like Angie's body shop or Hesch's music business, even if you get help from the mob, you will get a car, or a horse farm, and do ok. If you run a pseudo-business or a front operation, like Carmella's construction business or Adrianna's night club, you will not do ok. The theme here should be the Mob and the Protestant Work Ethic.
There are other fascinating threads that will be picked up. Artie and Charmaign are getting back together, which I predicted. And I suspect that the deal is that Vesuvio will not be a front for the Mob. Then there is the solidarity of mob women theme--Carmella mending fences with both Angie and Ginny. I'm not terribly worried about Tony's being shot by Uncle Junior--he did dial 911 even if he didn't manage to say anything when they answered. The paramedics will come to the house, keep Tonly alive and get him to the hospital.
I'm more interested in Janice and Bobby. Bobby plays with model trains--wearing a train-drivers cap. Who's surprised? Janice, awful as ever, has had a baby. This is really, potentially at least, a story of redemption. I am still convinced that at the end, Tony will die (or less likely be incarcerated), the Jersey mob will collapse, and Bobby and Janice will walk out unscathed, possibly into a sitcom. Maybe because Janice, that perfectly appalling fat, curley-haired, redheaded, hippie bitch is a little bit of an alter ego but I'd also like to see Virtue triumph, and the only virtue left so far is Bobby.