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On January 10th, 1999, America was introduced to two families that would make history: The Soprano family headed by Tony Soprano, and The Soprano "family" headed by... Tony Soprano. ' 'Four Stars! The first gotta-watch, gotta love, Gotti-like TV series of 1999. Across the board it's an A-plus.' ' - The New York Post ' 'Achieves a fresh tone to match its irresistibly winning concept.' ' - The New York Times
01 - The Sopranos
Tony Soprano tries to be a good family man on two fronts - to his wife, kids and widowed mother - and as a capo in the New Jersey mob. The pressures of work and family life give him anxiety attacks, so Tony starts seeing a psychiatrist; which is not the kind of thing a guy advertises in the circles Tony moves in - it could get him killed. So he keeps it to himself.
What caused all this stress? On the home front his marriage is shaky and his mother needs to be put in a nursing home (he calls it a "retirement community" but she still won't go). Uncle Junior wanted to use Tony's childhood friend's restaurant to whack a guy named Pussy Malenga, but Tony prevented the hit by blowing the place up. When a Czech mob attempted to move in on the Sopranos' waste management business, Tony's hot-headed nephew Chris "handled the problem" by murdering their representative and dumping him on Staten Island without getting the permission of the administration. To top it all off, Tony is haunted by the feeling that the glory days of mob life are long gone, and that he might not measure up to the titans of the past.
Madon'! It's enough to make anyone want to see a shrink.
02 - 46 Long
Giacomo "Jackie" Aprile, acting boss of the family, is deathly ill with cancer - and Tony's about to get into a power struggle with Uncle Junior he doesn't even want. Tony finally gets Livia to live in the retirement community after much fuss. When the car belonging to Anthony Jr.'s teacher is stolen, Tony sends lieutenants Big Pussy and Paulie Walnuts to work over the thieves and get the car back. After Christopher and his associate Brendan agree to pay Uncle Junior a 15K "tribute" for accidentally jacking a Junior-protected truck full of DVD's, the none-too-bright Brendan hits the same trucking company again -- this time ending up with a casualty and some gorgeous Italian suits.
03 - Denial, Anger, Acceptance
Junior Soprano has not been smiling much lately.
Although Christopher and Brendan returned the stolen goods to Comley Trucking like he demanded, Comley thanked Tony for it, not Junior. Now Mikey Palmice is telling him that if Tony won't do something about those two guys, somebody else should - and Junior's starting to agree with him.
But Tony's got other things on his mind. He's worried about Jackie Aprile, who's in the hospital with inoperable cancer. He feels guilty about Artie and Charmaine Bucco, who are broke and going through a second arson investigation for the Vesuvio fire. And he's uneasy about Carmela using their home to host a big hospital benefit.
If that weren't enough, he's having trouble with a new business partner: a Hasidic man who agreed to give Tony 25 percent of his motel in return for "persuading" his son-in-law to give his daughter a divorce. After Tony, Silvio, and Paulie spent the better part of the night getting the old man what he wanted, he tried to renege.
Meanwhile, Christopher and Brendan's judgment is put to the test again when Meadow and Hunter ask them for some crank to help them study for the SATs. Christopher's rationale is that to protect the girls from strangers, he'll give them some "just this one time."
But here we go again - this is exactly the kind of thinking that got Christopher and Brendan into trouble with Junior.
Speaking of Junior, he visits Livia at Green Grove and tells her about his problem with Christopher and Brendan. While Livia goes to bat for Christopher - Tony loves him like a son, and he once put up her storm windows - she tells him "she doesn't know" Brendan. Those few words from Livia result in a mock execution for Christopher and a real one for Brendan.
And a smile on Junior's face.
04 - MeadowlandsTony hadn't been sleeping well.
He had dreams - not nightmares, exactly, but unsettling just the same. He didn't dream about the ducks; they've been replaced...by Dr. Melfi - a not-completely-dressed Dr. Melfi. And what did this self-respecting capo do when he found himself having racy dreams about his therapist? He had her followed, of course.
Tony called in Vin Makazian - a police detective with a gambling habit - to get information on Jennifer Melfi, but didn't tell him why. So Makazian, assuming Melfi was one of Tony's goomahs, did Tony a "favor" by beating up a guy she was on a date with.
Meanwhile, Christopher, leaving the emergency room after his beating, was frantic. He thought Tony had him mock-whacked for giving Meadow speed, but he's not sure. And when he went to Brendan's place for answers, he found him in the bathtub with a brand new hole in his head. But Tony didn't order the hit, Junior did. And when Tony found out, he made a beeline for the Sit-Tite Luncheonette, where he stapled a parking ticket to Mikey Palmice and confronted his uncle. Junior may be old, but he's not the kind of guy who kowtows to his own nephew. He tells Tony that the next time he comes to see him, "come heavy, or not at all."
After the Sit-Tite incident, Tony decided to resolve his issues with Junior. Over lobsters at the Bada Bing, he and the other capos decide that, with Jackie Aprile in a coma and not long for this world, Tony should take over as Boss. But they also agree that Junior should be allowed to think he's running things. After all, it makes the old loffa happy and gives the rest of them a lightning rod to take the hits from the FBI.
While it seems things are finally falling into place in one family, they're falling apart in the other. When Tony tells Carmela he wants to quit therapy, she tells him she'll leave him if he does. Anthony, Jr. is getting into fights at school, and Meadow complicated things by telling him what their dad really does for a living.
05 - College
This week Tony found that no matter where he goes, his business goes with him.
Tony escorted Meadow on a series of visits to colleges in Maine, and the trip went pretty well. Tony and Meadow even talked about Tony's "business." But then Tony spotted an old "friend" at a gas station, and everything changed.
The "friend" was Fabian "Febby" Petrulio, made man turned rat, who entered and then dropped out of the Witness Protection Program. Febby's now known as Fred Peters, travel agent.
So Tony spent the better part of his trip to Maine dropping Meadow off at college interviews and then trying to get the drop on Petrulio. When he finally did catch up to him at the travel agency, Tony sent Febby on a one-way trip by means of a wire around his neck.
Meanwhile, back home, it rained like the Great Flood and Carmela was laid up with the flu. Caring for his mother made Anthony, Jr. climb the walls, so Carmela sent him to a friend's to lose himself in Nintendo for a few hours. Soon there was a knock at the door, and it was none other than Father Phil dropping by to give her a status report on the parish clothing drive...and mangia. Carmela was happy to see him--maybe a little too happy.
While Carmela and Father Phil ate ziti and chewed the fat, the phone rang. It was Dr. Melfi, trying to reach Tony to reschedule his appointment. With Tony's therapist's gender now known to Carmela, all hell broke loose so it's a good thing a priest was in the house. Carmela poured out her heart about her marriage, her fears for her children and her soul while simultaneously pouring the Father several glasses of Chianti. Before long, they wound up in a near kiss, and Father Phil--being a little too Chianti-enhanced to drive home--spent the night on the Soprano couch.
When Tony and Meadow returned, Carmela came clean about Father Phil spending the night. But before Tony could get too worked up about it, she let him know that "Jennifer" Melfi called for him. The cat's out of the bag and Tony's in the doghouse.
06 - Pax SopranaJunior's dream has become Tony's nightmare.
After years of playing second fiddle, Junior Soprano finally became the new Boss of New Jersey and proceeded to drive everybody crazy. Not only did he refuse to honor any deals made during Jackie Aprile's reign, he also didn't let any of his newfound wealth trickle down to the guys below.
So Tony's fellow capos told him they're tired of his uncle "eating alone" and they wanted Tony to do something about it. If that weren't enough, Junior - after a heart-to-heart with Livia - decided to tax Hesh.
Hesh had never been taxed before - certainly not when Tony's father was running things - and Tony didn't want him taxed now. So what's he going to do about it?
In a time-honored Soprano family tradition, Tony went behind his uncle's back.
He arranged a meeting between Hesh, Junior and New York capo Johnny Sack, ostensibly for Hesh and Johnny to get Junior to change his mind. Junior wanted to appear magnanimous and keep the New York bosses happy so he cut a deal with Hesh.
What Junior didn't know was that the whole thing was an act: Tony and Johnny Sack planned the whole thing in Johnny's Manhattan restaurant.
Chitchat with Johnny Sack was not the only reason Tony was in the restaurant. He and Carmela "celebrated" their 18th anniversary, although Carmela cried over more veal than she ate. Carmela knows Tony's therapist is a woman, and she realizes that she's jealous of Dr. Melfi in a way she'd never been with Tony's goomahs. She may have reason, because Tony's been having erotic dreams about Melfi and even attempted to kiss her at the end of a session.
Tony's been suffering a side effect of his Prozac - impotence - and to put it delicately, the dreams about Dr. Melfi are the most stimulating thing in his life right now.
But at least Tony got Junior under control, and he even proposed a loving toast to the new Boss at his initiation dinner. It was a touching thing to see; in fact, it was seen by a lot more people than Tony had intended. The whole thing was recorded by the FBI.
07 - Down NeckAnthony Jr. is proving to be a regular chip off the old block, and Tony's not sure he likes it. He especially doesn't like that he and Carmela are called to the Verbum Dei principal's office because A.J. and his posse stole some sacramental wine and showed up drunk for gym class.
But it's nothing to get worked up about, right? Madonn', boys will be boys. Unfortunately the school psychologist thinks Anthony Jr. may have Attention Deficit Disorder, and it means Special Ed if he does.
Anthony Jr.'s problems get Tony thinking about his own boyhood, when he lived with his parents and two sisters, played catch with Uncle Junior...and found out his dad was in the mob. Tony's cheerful childhood memories include his dad and Uncle Junior beating up the guy who lived across the street and his mother threatening to put a fork in his eye. He tells all this to Dr. Melfi, who assures him that biology isn't destiny and Anthony Jr. isn't doomed to live the wiseguy lifestyle of his father and grandfather. But Tony's not so sure.
Meanwhile, as part of his punishment, Anthony Jr. can't watch TV or play Nintendo, and has to visit Livia at Green Grove every day for three weeks. On one of his visits he tells his grandmother that he's seeing the school therapist, and she acts as if it's the worst news he could bring her...
...until he tells her that Tony is seeing a psychiatrist, too.
08 - The Legend of Tennessee MoltisantiThis week, an ugly rumor made its way around Essex County, and it can be summed up in one word: "indictments."
At the wedding of Larry Boy Barese's daughter, all the wiseguys talked about were the indictments coming down and how half of New York has already left for Fort Lauderdale. So the question was, what are Tony and his associates going to do, lam it or stay? The decision was for everyone to stay - but do a little "housecleaning" in case anyone shows up on the doorstep in an "FBI" jacket.
Later, there's a television broadcast naming everybody in the Soprano crew as possible subjects of a grand jury investigation. Everybody but Christopher, that is. So he got upset because he's not named. Very upset. Depressed, even. After all, if he's not significant enough to warrant a warrant, what's the point of his life?
To put it mildly, Christopher started falling apart. He had nightmares about Emil Kolar. He infuriated Tony by shooting a clerk in bakery. When he tries to take his mind off things by writing a screenplay, it only makes things worse. Madonn' - what's going on with him, anyway?
Not to worry. Just as Christopher is about to hit bottom, he's named in the newspaper as a "reputed gangster." Life is good and he's got a new lease on it.
Meanwhile, Junior drops in to visit Livia and gets more family news than he bargained for: she tells him that Tony is seeing a psychiatrist.
Federal indictments could turn out to be the least of Tony's problems.
09 - Boca
The grand jury hasn't indicted anybody yet, but the tension in Essex County got thicker than homemade marinara. Junior decided to get away from it all for awhile and headed to Boca Raton with his ladylove, Roberta. Junior and Roberta have been together for sixteen years and she's the one person to whom he can show his tender and to put it delicately - "giving" side. Even so, Junior warns her that if she ever told anyone about their sex life, the two of them will "go ten rounds."
Meanwhile, Meadow knows a secret about one of her girlfriends. Their soccer coach had sex with the girl and Meadow finally told Tony and Carmela about it. Meadow wanted the coach to be sent away and Tony was more than willing to do it - permanently.
But before he could, the cops arrested the coach and Tony found himself actually relieved that, for once in his life, he didn't have to hurt anybody.
As for Roberta and Junior, Tony learned that his uncle "developed a taste for her." Now he and his uncle know each other's deepest and most dangerous secret, and during a golf game they got annoyed with each other and started making not-so-veiled references. Junior became angry enough with Tony to think seriously about having him clipped.
And Roberta? Junior dumped her by shoving a lemon meringue pie in her face.
By the way, in Italian "boca" means "mouth" and it pays to know when to keep yours shut.
10 - A Hit is a Hit
This week members of the Soprano crew explored new worlds - socially and professionally - with mixed results.
Both Carmela and Dr. Melfi thought it would be a good idea for Tony to meet new people. So against his better judgment, Tony and Carmela started socializing with the neighbors. They went to backyard barbecues and Tony was invited to play golf with "the guys" at Dr. Cusamano's country club. Sounds nice, eh? The problem was, every time he was around these "mayonnaisers" all they wanted from Tony were stories about the mob.
Meanwhile, Christopher and Adriana struck up an acquaintance with a gangster rap star, Massive Genius, and were inspired to try their hand at the music business. Adrianna's old boyfriend, Richie Santini, just so happened to have a band called Visiting Day, and Christopher agreed to put up the money for Adriana to produce a demo for them.
Unfortunately, Richie never fully recovered from a near-fatal accident (he tried to grill a trout with a downed power line) and Christopher saw that Visiting Day's music - and Adrianna's producing abilities - were, to put it mildly, not very good.
Christopher also realized that the only reason Massive G is encouraging Adriana is because he wants into her pants. But when Christopher told Adriana this, she accused him of trying to hold her back. So she walked out on him.
On top of all this, Massive G tried to shake down Hesh for $400,000 in music royalties he claimed Hesh stole from an African-American recording artist in the '50s. Just when it started to look like things could get bloody, Massive G announced that he's going to sue Hesh for the money.
It's a brave new world for the Soprano crew, that's for sure.
11 - Nobody Knows Anything
Somebody's wearing a wire.
That's the news Vin Makazian had for Tony: New Jersey's got a rat. And it got worse. Makazian claimed the rat is one of Tony's oldest and most trusted friends: Pussy Bonpensiero.
Was it possible? These are the facts:
Should be this: Pussy was busted, along with Jimmy Altieri, in a raid on Jimmy's social club. He tried to run away, and only succeeded in throwing out his back. Since his wife bailed him out, all Pussy's been doing is popping pain pills like M & M's and napping in his La-Z-Boy. He didn't even make his rounds anymore. And with all those tuition bills for his kids - the last place Pussy would want to go is prison. But would he really rat out his fellow "cugines"?
That's what Tony wanted to know. So he told Paulie to check Pussy for a wire, and if--and only if - he saw it with his own eyes was Paulie to take the next step.
Meanwhile, it turned out Makazian was into Pussy for 30 large. But before Tony found out whether that's his motive for fingering the big guy, Makazian got busted at a bordello and committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. So who's going to solve this dilemma for Tony?
Jimmy Altieri, that's who. He showed up at Tony and Carmela's, suddenly needing to talk to Tony - alone - about the safehouse hit. He couldn't have been more obvious if he'd been sporting antennae.
So the news is good - Pussy's not the rat, Altieri is. The only problem is, Pussy disappeared.
Well, not the only problem:
Junior put a contract out on Tony.
12 - Isabella
Ever had one of those days when you don't feel like getting out of bed?
Since Pussy disappeared, Tony's had a string of them. Madonn', this is the most depressed he's ever been. He avoided Carmela and the kids, neglected the business - and as for personal hygiene? Fuhgeddaboutit. Dr. Melfi tried to jump start his system by having him take so much Prozac and Lithium it's practically its own food group; but it still looked like nothing would ever get him up and on his feet again.
Until he saw Isabella.
Isabella was a beautiful young Italian woman staying next door at the Cusamano's. Tony saw her through the window one morning and managed to drag himself out to talk to her. She told him she was an exchange student in dentistry, and when she talked to Tony about the old country, it almost made him shake off his haze. But not quite. Shaking the kind of funk Tony was in was going to take a lot more than some pills and a pretty face. He needed a REAL shock to the system.
Like an attempt on his life.
Junior finally made his move, and when Tony stopped to buy some juice at a newsstand, two young would-be whackers went after him with guns blazing.
But Tony Soprano didn't get where he is today by letting people shoot at him. When the smoke cleared, one of Junior's assassins was dead, and the other was tossed from Tony's Suburban like an empty soda can.
While Tony was in the hospital, Agent Harris of the FBI tried to convince him and Carmela Soprano that the hit was a sign they should enter the Witness Protection Program. To Tony it wasn't a sign of anything, but it certainly convinced him that he didn't want to die. In fact, he felt a lot better than he had in weeks.
The same can't be said for Junior and Livia. Since the hit on Tony failed, they know he'll be looking for who's responsible. So they experienced more than a little agita.
And what about Isabella? Turns out she never existed. According to Dr. Melfi, she was a side effect of the Lithium, an expression of Tony's need for a nurturing maternal figure.
If there's anyone who ever needed one, it's Tony Soprano.
13 - I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano
The cat's out of the bag, and the rat's in it - a body bag, that is.
Junior agrees with Tony that Jimmy Altieri is wearing a wire; he then gives his blessing for Tony to do what's necessary, "and send a message."
So Jimmy's body, punctuated with bullet holes and a rat stuffed in his mouth, is left in an alley as a clear statement of what happens to made men who make deals with the FBI.
But no sooner is one problem solved than an even bigger, more dangerous one comes along. The FBI brings Tony in to listen to a tape - and it's not Springsteen. They've bugged Livia's room at Green Grove; and they let Tony listen to his mother and uncle planning the hit on him. If that weren't bad enough, Tony now knows that Junior and Livia, and the FBI, know he's seeing a psychiatrist.
So now Tony's got a lot to take care of: he warns Dr. Melfi that her life may be in danger, and that she should get out of town. He tells Silvio, Christopher and Paulie that Junior planned the hit on him so they can "take care of" Chucky Signore and Mikey Palmice.
Oh, and he tells the crew he's seeing a shrink.
Their reaction? Silvio feels it's not a bad thing and Paulie admits he saw a shrink himself for a while. As for Christopher, he's not sure what he thinks. But Tony can't be concerned with that right now, he's got Livia and Junior to contend with.
Before Tony can get to him, Junior's arrested by federal agents who offer him immunity if he'll testify that he was never the boss - Tony was.
And Livia? She's had a stroke - at least that what Tony's told as he show up at Green Grove. But Tony knows Livia better than anyone, and he can see her poor, stroke-stricken face smiling cruelly at him through her oxygen mask.
At the end of the day the only place Tony can find refuge is with Carmela, Meadow, and Anthony Junior at Artie Bucco's Nuovo Vesuvio Restaurant. As Tony raises a glass to his family a storm rages outside, literally and figuratively...
...and we wait for the next season.