Will Paulie Walnuts incite a gang war? Who knows? says Bruce Fretts. But with just two episodes left, we'd better see some action quick.

By Bruce Fretts
November 26, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
The Sopranos: Barry Wetcher
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Will Paulie Walnuts incite a gang war?

You know it’s a bad sign when a ”Sopranos” episode opens with a dream sequence. At least this one didn’t feature any talking fishes. Instead, Tony was riding in the backseat of a car driven by Carmela. He was sitting behind a toupee-free Ralphie, who had a caterpillar (which turned into a butterfly) crawling on his head. Beside Tony was his late mistress Gloria, who turned into his most recent one, Svetlana. ”We didn’t seem to get anywhere,” he later told Dr. Melfi about the dream. ”Kind of like this therapy.”

Or this episode. True, ”Calling All Cars” did advance a few storylines slightly: Tony dropped out of therapy, prompting Melfi to phone her own shrink with the titular S.O.S. Bobby Bacala finally heated up his dead wife Karen’s last tray of ziti. And Tony flew to Miami for a sitdown about the HUD scam with New York mob boss Carmine’s son, which led to… another pointless dream sequence. (Who was that shadowy female figure on the stairs? Who cares?)

After the last two action-packed episodes, you’ve gotta admit, it was a bit of a letdown. Why didn’t we get to see Christopher in rehab? Or Adriana dealing with fallout (not to mention the feds)? Or Meadow doing, hell, anything? Jamie-Lynn Sigler has been so MIA this season, one EW message-board wag recently claimed to have spotted her in the family kitchen — on the side of a milk carton.

While we’re on the topic of the Soprano children, when did A.J. turn into such an A-hole? He was always sullen and surly, but torturing Bobby’s kids by playing with a Ouija Board and holding a séance to contact their deceased mom was downright cruel. Maybe the writers are punishing Robert Iler for his off-screen misbehavior.

And where was Furio? Annabella Sciorra and Joe Pantoliano had more screen time than ”the guy with the ponytail” (as Bobby Jr. called him), and their characters are corpses. Is Carmela ever going to horse around with the Italian Stallion, or is this yet another poky ”Sopranos” subplot that’ll never pay off?

Meanwhile, Uncle Junior’s trial is moving even slower than our actual judicial system. The judge denied his lawyer’s claim that the elderly wiseguy was mentally unfit to stand trial (an old ploy that also provides the plot for the soon-to-be-released sequel ”Analyze That”). So now Tony and Bobby are trying to tamper with a member of the jury, but so far, they’ve had no success.

Okay, there was one major turning point in the episode. Tony suddenly became suspicious that Paulie’s been feeding inside info to the New York crew. So the boss decided to take Silvio with him to Florida and freeze out his skunk-haired underling. I don’t know what triggered this realization in Tony, but if it moves us closer to a gang war across the Hudson, I’m not complaining. Chop chop, it’s only two weeks until the season finale.

What do you think will happen in the last two episodes?

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