Two whack jobs are narrowly avoided. The season's fourth episode details Johnny Sack's love for his overweight wife, and dazzles in the process, says Bruce Fretts
James Gandolfini, Vincent Curatola, ...
Credit: The Sopranos: Barry Wetcher
James Gandolfini

Two whack jobs are narrowly avoided

Last week, I complained about ”The Sopranos” because it left so many plotlines dangling while focusing on a completely out-of-nowhere topic: Christopher Columbus. This week, ”The Sopranos” continued to leave plotlines hanging while focusing on a completely out-of-nowhere topic: the obesity of New York underboss Johnny Sack’s wife, Ginny. But I’m not complaining.

That’s because Terence Winter’s script for ”The Weight” was a tour de freakin’ force. True, we still don’t know if Adriana has been flipped by the feds (she was seen only briefly in the background at Furio’s housewarming party). Yet the episode was a brilliant case study in how a single remark can nearly escalate into a gang war.

A few weeks back, Ralphie made a cruel joke (”Ginny Sack had a 90-pound mole removed from her ass”) before a roomful of fellow wiseguys. The comment eventually made its way back to Johnny via the imprisoned Paulie, who’s been reaching out to the New York mob since Tony started treating him like a persona non grata. Anger ate away at Johnny, who took it out on an unsuspecting New Jersey crew member he mistook for one of Ralphie’s underlings.

Unable to accept Ralphie’s half-assed apology, Johnny asked permission to whack him. Instead, Johnny’s boss — concerned that all this agita would endanger the potentially lucrative Newark Esplanade deal between the New York and New Jersey families — gave Tony tacit permission to put out a hit on Johnny.

This led to one of the show’s most bizarrely funny scenes ever: Christopher and Sil were sent to visit Lou DiMaggio, an elderly, blind mobster from Rhode Island who’d been contracted to kill Johnny. Uncle Junior had recommended him for the job, since it’d be hard to trace him back to the Sopranos, but Chris and Sil clearly weren’t prepared for the sight of Lou and his equally infirm crew.

Meanwhile, a disobedient Johnny ordered a hit on Ralphie, to be carried out during one of his mysterious trips to Miami. But after a gutwrenching scene in which Johnny caught Ginny sneaking snacks and professed his love no matter her weight, he decided to forgive Ralphie and called off the whack job. In the process, he may have unknowingly saved his own life as well.

The last thing I would’ve expected from ”The Sopranos” was an episode exploring the psyche of Johnny Sack (Vincent Curatola, who plays him so effortlessly, wasn’t even a regular before this season). But ”The Weight” movingly laid out the dichotomy of a man sensitive enough to love his wife blindly yet sick enough to brutally degrade a guy because of a paranoid delusion that he might be laughing at her.

In addition to Adriana’s fate, the episode left other questions unresolved, like: What’s up with Carmela and Furio? More goo-goo eyes were made between them, and Carm couldn’t get his Italian pop music out of her head, even when she was making love to Tony.

And where the hell is Janice? Ralphie threatened to kill her for breaking up with him and pushing him down a flight of stairs. But so far all he’s done is falsely tell his goodfellas he was the one who rebuffed her. Maybe we’ll find out the answers next week. In the meantime, we’ll just have to weight… er, wait.

What did you think of ”The Weight”?

James Gandolfini
The Sopranos
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