The Sopranos/Meadowlands

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Meadowlands
"T, check out the government."
Season 1, Episode 4
Airdate January 31, 1999
Production Number S104
Writer(s) Jason Cahill
Producer(s) Ilene S. Landress
Director(s) John Patterson
← 1x03
Denial, Anger, Acceptance
1x05 →
College
The SopranosSeason One

Meadowlands is the fourth episode of the first season of The Sopranos, and the fourth episode overall.

Starring: James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano), Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Jennifer Melfi), Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano), Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti), Dominic Chianese (Junior Soprano), Vincent Pastore ("Big Pussy" Bonpensiero), Steven Van Zandt (Silvio Dante), Tony Sirico (Paulie "Walnuts"), Robert Iler (Anthony Soprano, Jr.), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano)

And: Nancy Marchand (Livia Soprano)

Guest Starring: John Heard (Vin Makazian), Jerry Adler (Hesh Rabkin), Michael Rispoli (Jackie Aprile), Mark Blum (Randall Curtin)

Also Guest Starring: Al Sapienza (Mikey Palmice), Anthony DeSando (Brendan Filone), Drea de Matteo (Adriana), Tony Darrow (Larry Boy Barese), George Loros (Raymond Curto), Joe Badalucco, Jr. (Jimmy Altieri)

Co-Starring: Sharon Angela (Rosalie Aprile), John Arocho (Kid #2), Oksana Babiy (Irina), Michael Buscemi (Lewis Pantowski), T.J. Coluca (Jeremy Piocosta), Michele de Cesare (Hunter Scangarelo), Guillermo Diaz (Salesperson), Daniel Hilt (Kid #3), Ray Michael Karl (Teacher), Theresa Lynn (Stripper), Shawn McLean (Yo Yo Mendez), Annika Pergament (News Anchor), Sal Petraccione (George Piocosta), James Spector (Kid #1), Corrine Stella (Woman), Anthony Tavaglione (Lance)

Contents

Plot Overview

Tony is having second thoughts about therapy, as he worries about what might happen to him if he were caught going by his fellow mobsters. To reassure himself, he hires a cop on his payroll, Det. Vin Makazian, to follow Dr. Melfi around and report back to him. Det. Makazian is overzealous, however, and mistaking Dr. Melfi for a woman with whom Tony is having sex, he detains and beats her date, Randall Curtin, who suffers from paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder afterwards. Nonetheless, Det. Makazian's report to Tony is clean, although he does reveal to Tony that Dr. Melfi is herself seeing a psychiatrist. What's more, Tony has a fourth, minor panic attack, Carmela threatens to divorce him if he stops going, and Dr. Melfi reasserts the value of therapy to Tony when she gives him advice on more pressing problems in his life.

Christopher comes out of the hospital believing Tony may have learned about his selling drugs to Meadow and thus be behind his beating and his friend Brendan's murder, but when he learns it is really Uncle Junior who is responsible, he demands Tony take action. Tony attacks Junior's lieutenant Mikey and confronts Junior, who threatens to take Christopher away from Tony and makes threats on Tony's life. With Jackie's condition worsening, Tony's fellow captains Larry Boy Barese, Raymond Curto and Jimmy Altieri nominate Tony to fill the power vacuum soon to be left, but Tony fears a power struggle with Junior if he tries to step up, and all the captains fear a war. Tensions mount further when Junior tries to take over the drug trade on a corner in Christopher's territory. At last, Jackie succumbs to his cancer, and under Dr. Melfi's advice, Tony names Junior to be the new acting boss of the family in exchange for some business holdings. The arrangement seems to bring peace to the family.

Meanwhile, A.J. is having his own rude awakening. After getting into a fight at school with a former friend, Jeremy Piocosta, he challenges Jeremy to an after-school fight. In the meanwhile, Jeremy's dad George runs into Tony and is visibly nervous. At the fight, Jeremy backs down, and A.J.'s friends suggest it is not out of fear of A.J. Confused, A.J. comes to Meadow, who points her younger brother to a Website that details information about their father's "other family."

At Jackie's funeral, Tony and the other captains and bosses secretly discuss the truth behind Junior's ascent: Tony is to be the acting boss in practice, with Junior as the family's public face, drawing the attention of both the federal government and rival families. Meanwhile, the feds watch the funeral, and A.J. looks on his father with a whole new understanding.

Notes

Music

  • Prisoner of Love, performed by Perry Como: Tony visits Uncle Junior at the restaurant and tries to head off a war, but Junior threatens to take Christopher's business away (background).
  • Ugly Stadium, performed by Tipsy: Bada-Bing dance music as Tony and the other captains eat lobsters and discuss the possibility of an impending war.
  • Floor Essence (Day Glo Mix), performed by Man with No Name: Bada-Bing dance music when Tony and the others learn Jackie has died.
  • Look on Down from the Bridge, performed by Mazzy Star: A.J. watches Tony at Jackie's funeral and the closing credits.

Whack List

  • Jackie Aprile
    • Killed by: God
    • Method of death: Intestinal cancer
    • Ordered by: God
    • Notes: Jackie succumbs to the intestinal cancer from which he has slowly been wasting away since episode 1x02 - 46 Long. The death happens off-screen, and Tony and his crew learn it has happened from a breaking news report while they are at the Bada-Bing.

Total Episode Body Count: 1

Title Significance

The Meadowlands is a wetlands area in northern New Jersey, best known as the home of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, where the New York Giants, the New York Jets and the New Jersey Nets play. Christopher identifies it as the place where his mock execution took place, the effects of which reverberate throughout this episode.

Dream Diary

Tony has The Therapy Dream.

Arc Advancement

Happenings

  • War of '99: Jackie Aprile, the acting mob boss of New Jersey dies of cancer. Tony and the other captains get together and decide to give Junior Soprano the title of boss of New Jersey. Despite Junior being given the title, Tony is elected to be the actual boss secretly. Also in this episode, Big Pussy gives the war its name shortly after he, Tony, Silvio, Paulie and Christopher learn of Jackie's death.

Characters

  • Tony: Tony has a minor panic attack (fourth).
  • Tony and Dr. Melfi: For the first time, Dr. Melfi gives Tony advice which he successfully incorporates into his business, as she suggests he make Junior feel important. Also, she confides in him something about her personal life for the first time, as she tells him of her friend Randall Curtin's beating by a cop, although she does not know the cop, Vin Makazian, beat Randall in what he believed was a favor to Tony.
  • Tony and Carmela: Carmela threatens divorce if Tony quits therapy, but she still believes Tony's therapist is a man.
  • Tony and Uncle Junior: Tony elects Junior nominative boss of the family but secretly runs things behind his back in exchange for control of a paving union.
  • A.J. and Meadow: A.J. learns the truth about Tony's work, and as the one who tells him, Meadow reveals she knows it, too.

Referbacks

  • 1x03 - Denial, Anger, Acceptance: The episode in which Christopher's mock execution and Brendan Filone's real execution took place. Also in that episode, Christopher sold crystal meth to Meadow, whose friend Hunter had a crush on Brendan. When first he's out of the hospital, Christopher suspects Tony may know this and may have ordered the hit on himself and Brendan.

Trivia

The Show

  • Whack List Stats: This is the first episode in the series in which no one is murdered by another human character. As the only death is Jackie Aprile, it is also the first episode in which no character dies onscreen.
  • In His Dreams: The opening scene of this episode is the first dream sequence in the series. Dream sequences would become a trademark of the series in later episodes.
  • Dr. Melfi's Life: In his report to Tony, Vin Makazian says Dr. Melfi is "divorced, one kid, 19." He also says "she sees a shrink once a week. His name is Elliot Kupferberg." This is the first reference in the series to Jason La Penna, Melfi's son, her ex-husband Richard and Dr. Kupferberg, all of whom would appear later.

Behind the Scenes

  • Awards & Nominations: Writer Jason Cahill won a WGA TV Award for Episodic Drama for his work on this episode.

Allusions and References

  • Super Mario Kart: A 1992 racing video game featuring characters from bestselling Nintendo games. Tony and A.J. play it together, and Tony beats A.J. by cheating.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker: Classic 1970s horror series about a journalist, played by Darren McGavin, who uncovers strange supernatural cases. It can be seen on the TV in Brendan Filone's apartment when Christopher and Adriana discover his body. The episode seen is episode 1x05 - The Werewolf, which has a special significance for Sopranos creator David Chase: It was the first TV episode for which he received script and story credit. (The first episode for which he received script credit only was episode 1x02 - The Ripper.)
  • The Godfather: The discovery of the manner of Brendan's death leads Tony's crew to a discussion of its similarity to the death of Moe Greene, the loudmouthed Las Vegas mogul who was shot through the eyeglasses while he received a massage near the end of the classic 1972 mob film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
    Later on, Junior's joke is a reference to a famous line in which Michael Corleone, the protagonist of The Godfather, talks about his father Vito making a bandleader "an offer he couldn't refuse"—with a gun to his head, Vito had told the bandleader "either his signature or his brains would be on" a contract regarding one of Vito's friends.
    Also, at the end of this episode, the scenes of Tony discussing business at Jackie's funeral echoes the scene of Michael discussing his own ascent to power at Vito's funeral.
Christopher: Brendan's brains are floating in his bathtub. Message job, through the eye.
Big Pussy: Moe Greene special. ... In I, Moe Greene's eyes got too big for his stomach, so they put a small caliber in his eye.
Paulie Walnuts: In his glasses, you mean.
Uncle Junior: You hear about the Chinese godfather? He made them an offer they couldn't understand.
  • Twelfth Night: William Shakespeare's play about a woman named Viola who disguises herself as a man after a shipwreck and goes into service for a duke, Orisno, with whom she falls in love. Junior quotes a line from a famous discussion in the play between Orsino and Viola, in which Viola describes the loyalty and fealty of a sister she claims to have, who, she says, "sat like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief." "Patience on a monument" refers to Renaissance tombstones featuring the figure of Patience.
Uncle Junior: I'm sittin' here like fuckin' Patience on a monument waitin' for discipline to be handed down.
  • Scarface: Classic 1983 gangster movie which traces the rise of Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, from lowly Cuban immigrant to powerful drug lord in 1980s Miami. In the film's famous climax, with his house besieged by an assassination team from a rival Bolivian family, Tony arms himself with an assault rifle and grenade launcher, kicks open the door of his office and shouts the famous line, "Say hello to my little friend!" as he takes on the entire assassination squad alone before being shot and killed.
    Actor Guillermo Diaz, who has a brief cameo in this episode as a salesman at a gardening store, played a character named Scarface after the 1983 film in the 1998 comedy cult classic Half Baked.
Christopher: This ain't negotiation time. This is Scarface, final scene, fuckin' bazookas under each arm, "Say hello to my little friend!"
  • The Doors: A 1960s psychedelic rock band who rose to fame with such hits as "Break on Through (To the Other Side)," "Light My Fire" and "Riders on the Storm." Their 1967 hit "People Are Strange" opens with the lines, "People are strange/When you're a stranger./Faces look ugly/When you're alone." In 1971, while living in Paris, Doors frontman Jim Morrison died of an apparent heart attack while in the bathtub at the age of 27. (It is worth noting that Brendan Filone is found dead in the bathtub near the beginning of this episode.)
Randall Curtin: I-I... I've got this crazy idea that... that I'm being followed, and this song keeps runnin' through my head, "People Are Strange," the Doors, where faces look evil when you're alienated. ... God, dead at 27 in a Paris bathtub.

Memorable Moments

  • Tony walks up to Mikey, pretending to be friendly, but when Mikey gets out of the car, Tony beats him up and staples his suit to his chest.
  • Det. Vin Makazian beats Randall Curtin.

Quotes

  • Christopher: What? What?
    Adriana: Nothin'.
    Christopher: No, what?
    Adriana: You don't want to know, okay? Trust me.
    Christopher: No, what?
    Adriana: I heard the nurse say you made number two in your pants. Is that what happened?
    Christopher: Get the car! Please can we just go to Brendan's, score some shit and find out what the fuck is going on? Please!
  • Livia: I wish the Lord would take me now.
    Tony: You know, I come here to get cheered up. You think that's a mistake?
  • Vin Makazian: You got prime rib at home. Don't be going out for hamburgers.
  • Jimmy Altieri: I heard Mikey had to give up that nice suit. He got too attached to it.
  • Tony: My uncle, he's got me in a box where I gotta do something I don't want to do. Then there's my mother. I pay four grand a month for this place, and she acts like I'm an Eskimo pushing her out to sea.
  • Silvio: Now we got a brand new lightning rod on top to take the hits.