These two episodes are all about Tony and his mother Livia. All the gangster stuff is peripheral to the wonderful family story playing out. Occasionally I felt that the violence became secondary to the family saga playing out. Tony as an ongoing battle to get his mother into a retirement home that she believes is a nursing home and she tells him that he may as well kill her. Threaded into the story is a subplot involving the theft of a car belonging to a teacher at the school Tony’s children. The episode opens with Tony junior wondering whether his father could help the teacher get the car back. And of course he does allowing the plot to make some wonderful observation about Italian families in US
One of the other subplots is the activities of Tony’s cousin Christopher and his friend Brendan. They plan to pull off a job behind Tony’s back but Christopher has second thoughts posing the question for at 5.00 am ‘What be a gangster?’ And pointing out that being part of a crew is important. But Brendan can’t accept the advice is angry and hijacks a truck.
The subplot in the third episode involves a Hasidic Jew who hires Tony to persuade his son-in-law to accept terms for a divorce. When the Jew tries to go back on his agreement with Tony he has to face the consequences. A lot of the scenes are told by way of flashback from the psychiatrist’s chair with Tony displaying regular outbursts of anger. He finds it hard to accept the reality of a friend who’s dying in hospital while treating the lives of his enemies as an expendable commodity.
So many of these sorts of gangster movies/dramas use caricatures that shout and overreact. There’s a great line by Uncle Junior when he says ‘We’re not making a western here?’ as he tries to calm a situation. And when Uncle Junior talks to Livia about the problem with Brendan he misinterprets her comments as suggesting he’s killed. But perhaps he was right.
The plot is fantastic throughout and he script has a magic crisp quality that never falls into cliché.