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The Sopranos: Pine Barrens (2001)
wise guys but not so smart in the woods
I saw this episode and laughed like crazy at the usually tough and 'in control' Paulie lose his composure while stuck in the pine barrens of the title. Christopher wasn't too composed either. It's always interesting to take characters out of their comfort zone and place them in a hostile setting to see how they will react. Both Paulie and Chris learned that it doesn't matter how many bullets are in your gun when you are freezing to death.
Tony also ventured out of his 'comfort zone' with a head case like Gloria. Actually he didn't realize that he was revisiting his childhood with yet another unhappy, demanding, and manipulative woman like his own mother.
The Sopranos: Everybody Hurts (2002)
Everybody does hurt
OKay,this is a bit of a touchy feely episode similar to a soap opera. But on some level I've always viewed The Sopranos as a 'soap opera with guns.' Feelings and actions are often heightened and exaggerated. As for Meadow and AJ's newfound empathy with the poor and unfortunate, they are not much more than lip service,at least in AJ's case. It doesn't take much effort to just SAY you feel sorry for someone which is all that AJ really does.
I enjoyed seeing Tony finally feeling guilty about the train wreck he caused in another person's life. In this case it was Gloria. However it all comes back to Tony and his self-centered world. He wants to know what HE did, is HE a bad guy, DID Gloria blame HIM??
I find the utter "me,me,me" attitudes in this episode in total keeping with the theme of 'The Sopranos'. Still maybe too much talk and not enough action for some viewers.