Tony should be smelling a rat (or 10) right about now. And the biggest one of all, Adriana, is on the verge of losing it, says Alynda Wheat

By Alynda Wheat
January 30, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
The Sopranos: Barry Wetcher
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Tony should be smelling a rat right about now

If last week was all about the bear, this week’s theme is rats.

They say in New York City that you’re never more than 10 feet away from a rat. Same apparently holds true in ”Soprano”land. But here’s the thing: If you’re ratting on the Mob — and judging by this episode, who isn’t? — make sure the feds following you aren’t themselves being followed by connected cops. And the Rat Pack portrait… beautiful, right? Freudian slip much, Massarone? Yeah, we know you can’t answer any questions now, you being dead and all.

Hey, Tony, that increasingly uncomfortable feeling you have might be the ever-tightening noose around your neck. So many people are lined up to blab, the feds have a whole department devoted to them. And they won’t all go as easy as the guy wired under his M.O.S.T. baseball cap.

The most critical issue is, of course, Adriana, Christopher’s flipped fiancée. Wearing the isolation and guilt of a turncoat, she seeks solace in her FBIce Queen handler, which at first seems painfully naive, but hey, Ms. Fed warms up a bit. And still Adriana nearly spills everything to Carmela’s cinema circle.

It’s moments like these, when characters are on the verge — Furio almost having an affair with Carm, Paulie nearly killing Chris in the woods, Dr. Melfi coming thisclose to asking Tony to 86 her rapist — and then pull back, that ”The Sopranos” is at its best. In a world full of unchecked sociopaths, humanity lies in restraint.

Showing no such restraint is Johnny Sack at his coronation, otherwise known as Carmine Lupertazzi’s funeral. (How funny was it that little Carmine’s big issue wasn’t the jokes being cracked in the back of his father’s service, but the Opus Dei charm on the old man’s rosary?) Whether T. realizes it or not, battle lines are being drawn. If he thinks Johnny’s forgotten about their little failed operation, he’s delusional. But what else is new?

Tony’s other weak fronts are closer to home. Uncle Junior’s mind is slipping — who knows what he could spill in a moment of weakness? — and cousin Tony B. is out of the joint. Looking to earn? No. Waiting for his license to be a massage therapist. Almost as comical as his ”Miami Vice” party duds (too bad it was a surprise party, otherwise maybe Tony could’ve stopped by the Men’s Wearhouse before the shindig). We’ll see how long it takes for T. to pull him back in. And how bad an idea that is.

We leave the way we came — with rats, but with a twist. Adriana is a changed woman, owning the power of her new federal connections to stick it to the bimbette best friend trying to make time with Christopher. But Miss ”I have to wear a fox on the outside, on account of being bare everywhere else” is pure chump change. Wonder what’ll happen the next time Paulie pisses Christopher off?

What it all boils down to is the ultimate animal kingdom deathmatch: Will the bear sit on the rat, or does the rat bite the bear in the ass?

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