The Sopranos/The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti

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The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti
I thought I was daed but I manuged to get the drip on him.
Season 1, Episode 8
Airdate February 28, 1999
Production Number S108
Written by Frank Renzulli,
David Chase
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Produced by Allen Coulter,
Ilene S. Landress
← 1x07
Down Neck
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The SopranosSeason One

The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti is the eighth episode of the first season of The Sopranos, and the eighth 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: Richard Romanus (Richard La Penna), Drea de Matteo (Adriana La Cerva)

Also Guest Starring: Al Sapienza (Mikey Palmice), Tony Darrow (Larry Boy Barese), George Loros (Raymond Curto), Joe Badalucco, Jr. (Jimmy Altieri), Frank Santorelli (Georgie), Sam Coppola (Dr. Reis), Brian Geraghty (Counter Boy), Will McCormack (Jason La Penna)

Co-Starring: Ed Crasnick (Comedian), Joseph Gannascoli (Bakery Customer), Barbara Haas (Aida Melfi), Timothy Nolen (Jeffrey Wernick), Barbara Lavalle (Band Leader), Robert Anthony Lavalle (Band Leader #2), Frank Pando (Agent Grasso), Annika Pergament (News Anchor), Brooke Marie Procida (Bride), Bill Richardone (Joseph Melfi), Matt Servitto (Agent Harris), Bruce Smolan (Emil Kolar)


Plot Overview

Christopher is having troubling dreams in which he is haunted by the ghost of Emil Kolar, the Czech mobster he killed, who warns him that he made what could be a fatal mistake in disposing of his body. To relieve his anxiety, he tries to realize his dream of being a screenwriter, but he soon learns writing a screenplay isn't as easy as he had expected, and his concerns that he has no "character arc" only deepen his funk. He begins to act out by shooting an Italian bakery Counter Boy in the foot and digging up Emil's body. When Tony chews him out for his "cowboy" actions, Christopher confesses feelings similar to depression. Tony tries to open up to Christopher about his own mental problems, but Christopher's dismissal of the possibilty of being a "mental midget" cause Tony to sidestep the issue.

Christopher's biggest complaint, however, is that in news reports of a fed crackdown on the mob, his name is not mentioned. Tony and the capos, on the other hand, wish they could have such worries. When Larry Boy Barese warns them of possible indictments, Junior at first dismisses the fears, but Tony suggests—and Junior agrees to—a little "spring cleaning." Tony pulls his hidden stash of cash and guns out of his house and hides them in Livia's retirement home, while Big Pussy and others burn documents. Tony also tells Dr. Melfi he may soon be going on a "vacation," and indeed, when the feds show up to search his house, he misses an appointment. As for his family, Tony tells Meadow and A.J. the FBI harrassment is due to a prejudice against Italians, and he and Carmela talk about several of the hardships and accomplishments Italians and Italian-Americans have been through over the decades.

When Melfi charges Tony for the missed session, however, he becomes angry and intimidates her, tossing money at her and comparing her to a call girl. This intersects with problems Melfi has had with her ex-husband Richard, who has been urging her to refer her mobster patient to another doctor. Richard, Melfi and their son Jason visit their family therapist, Dr. Reis, who seems thrilled at the danger of Melfi's client.

Whether or not Tony's relationship with Melfi is strained, it may be too late. When Junior visits Livia at the nursing home, she tells him Tony has been visiting a psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Christopher's depression cloud seems to break when he learns of a newspaper report naming him. Excited, he runs to a newspaper stand and steals all copies of the issue.



  • You, performed by The Aquatones: Christopher has a nightmare about Adriana and Carmela.
  • Wind Beneath My Wings, performed by Barbara Lavalle: Larry Boy tells Paulie about the possible indictments.
  • Turn the Beat Around, performed by Barbara Lavalle: Jimmy tells Christopher about the possible indictments, and Tony, Junior and the other capos discuss the situation.
  • Welcome (Back), performed by Land of the Loops: Tony hides his guns and cash in Livia's room.
  • Summertime (fm Porgy & Bess), performed by Booker T & the MG's: Paulie visits Christopher's apartment.
  • Frank Sinatra, performed by Cake²: Christopher steals the newspapers and on into the closing credits.

²Included on The Sopranos: Peppers & Eggs soundtrack collection.

Whack List

  • N/A

Total Episode Body Count: 0

Title Significance

The title is a play on Christopher Moltisanti's name and that of noted 20th-century American playwright and sufferer of depression Tennessee Williams. Adriana calls Christopher her Tennessee Williams when he struggles with the screenplay.

Dream Diary

Christopher has The Emil Kolar Dream.

Arc Advancement


  • Rumor is out that federal indictments are coming, so everyone starts "spring cleaning" as a precaution.


  • Tony: Tony's home is raided by the FBI, but nothing is found.
  • Tony and Dr. Melfi: Melfi sees her first glimpse of the violent side of Tony when he intimidates her after she charges him for a missed session.
  • Tony and Christopher: Tony tries to discuss the possibility that Christopher may be depressed—and thus confess his own battle with the illness—but Christopher dismisses it.
  • Tony and Uncle Junior: The capos anger Junior by asking Tony's advice about the indictments in front of him.
  • Dr. Melfi: Melfi's family, particularly her ex-husband Richard, push her to drop Tony as a client. Richard points out he is a sociopath who cannot be rehabilitated.
  • Christopher: Christopher makes his first attempts at writing a screenplay.
  • Uncle Junior: Livia reveals to Junior that Tony is seeing a psychiatrist.


  • 1x03 - Denial, Anger, Acceptance: Much to Christopher's dismay, on the news, mob expert Jeffrey Wernick mentions the "execution-style slaying" of Brendan Filone.
  • 1x06 - Pax Soprana: Wernick says it is known amongst the feds that Junior is the new boss of the family.


The Show

  • Same Actor, Different Characters: Actor Joseph Gannascoli, who plays the Bakery Customer, would later appear as Vito Spatafore, a recurring character from seasons two through six of The Sopranos, with a particularly large role in season six. However, Vito is not the same character seen in this episode, who is identifed by the Counter Boy as "Gino."
  • Paulie Walnuts' Background: While consoling Christopher, Paulie reveals details of his past, including that he spent time in both the Army and in prison.

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

  • GoodFellas: Christopher fires his gun at the Counter Boy's feet until the Counter Boy fills his order. Afterwards, Christopher shoots him in the foot. When the Counter Boy screams, Christopher calmly replies, "It happens." Christopher should know. Prior to The Sopranos, actor Michael Imperioli's most famous screen role was in the 1990 gangster classic GoodFellas, in which he played Spider, a waiter who was accidentally shot in the foot by a short-tempered gangster (Joe Pesci).
    Also, later, Christopher and Georgie dig up a dead body, and Georgie vomits at the smell. This recalls a famous scene in GoodFellas in which Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) pukes in a similar situation.
  • Ernest Hemingway: Twentieth-century American author known for such novels as The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. He was a bullfighting enthusiast who wrote about the sport in The Sun Also Rises and his nonfiction works Death in the Afternoon and The Dangerous Summer. A lifelong sufferer from depression, in 1961, Hemingway committed suicide with a shotgun to his head.
Paulie: That writer with the bullfights blew his own fuckin' head off.
  • Dr. Richard Kimble: Hero of the 1993 Oscar-winning film The Fugitive, an adaptation of the classic 1960s action-adventure series of the same title. In the film, Kimble, played by Harrison Ford, is wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wife (Sela Ward) but escapes from custody and sets out to prove his innocence while evading the relentless Federal Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones). In one of the film's most famous scenes, Gerard has Kimble pinned down at gunpoint at the end of a tunnel with a waterfall, but Kimble dives off the waterfall and swims to safety.
Christopher: Like take Richard Kimble, all right? No, that's no good, y'know? His arc is run, run, jump off the dam, run.
  • The Devil's Advocate: Sleeper hit 1997 film about an ambitious young lawyer, Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), whose boss John Milton (Al Pacino) turns out to be the Devil. During the course of his descent, Kevin's relationship with his wife Mary Anne (Charlize Theron) is strained.
Christopher: Keanu Reeves, The Devil's Advocate, you see that? ... Keanu's a lawyer, gets all turned on by money, power and the Devil. Then his wife says to him, "You're not the man I married," leaves him.
  • Connie Francis: New Jersey-born Italian-American pop singer known for such late 1950s and '60s songs as "Who's Sorry Now?," "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You."
Dr. Melfi: With all the poverty, starvation, ethnic cleansing and generally horrible shit in this world, you devote your energies to the protection of the dignity of Connie Francis.
  • Famous Italians: At dinner after their house has been searched by the feds, Tony, Carmela, Meadow and A.J. discuss famous Italians and Italian-Americans in history. Among them are:
    • Antonio Meucci: Italian-American who developed a telephone-like device in 1857, 19 years before Alexander Graham Bell patented a similar device. Two US House of Representatives resolutions in 2001 and 2002 have suggested that, were it not for his inability to raise the money to file for a patent, Meucci would be credited as inventor of the telephone.
      Tony: Antonio Meucci invented the telephone, and he got robbed! Everybody knows that!
    • Bank of America: Formed through the merger of several banks, beginning with the San Francisco-based Bank of Italy, which was founded in 1904 by Italian-American Amadeo Giannini. In 1928, Giannini proposed a merger with the Bank of America, Los Angeles. The resultant corporation would become what is today the largest bank in the United States.
      Tony: The Bank of America, you ever heard of it? One of the biggest banks in the world, started by an Italian.
    • Sacco and Vanzetti: Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolemeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants who were executed in 1927 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for murder. Many historians maintain they were wrongfully convicted out of prejudice against their ethnicity and anarchist political beliefs. Although Tony suggests Sacco and Vanzetti are obscure, their case is well known amongst Italian-Americans, who frequently cite them as the poster children for anti-Italian racism in America, and their story is told in most junior high and high school history textbooks.
      Tony: And they won't tell you about Sacco and Vanzetti, either.
      A.J.: The two Antichrists that got the electric chair in Massachusetts.
    • Frank Sinatra: New Jersey-born Italian-American, full name Francis Albert Sinatra. As a pop singer and actor, he is one of the dominant pop culture icons of the 20th century.
      Tony: And, of course, Francis Albert.
  • Murder Incorporated: A group of Italian and Jewish-American gangsters in the 1930s and '40s who acted as enforcers for organized crime in New York. Among the group's known members was the racketeer Louis "Lepke" Buchalter.
Dr. Reis: You know, on my mother's side, we have a few dark sheep. ... Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, you know, Murder Incorporated. My mother's uncle was Lepke's wheel man, his driver. ... Those were some tough Jews.

Memorable Moments

  • Christopher forces the Counter Boy to serve him at gunpoint then shoots him in the foot.


  • Meadow: Boot your computer. The cops are coming.
    A.J.: So?
    Meadow: You want them to see all that porno you downloaded?
    A.J.: Shit!
  • Christopher: I love movies. You know that. That smell in Blockbuster, that candy and carpet smell, I get high off it. You want all this love and knowledge go to waste?
  • Richard La Penna: Ah, Italian male seeing a shrink. Let me guess, mother issues.
  • Counter Boy: He was in line, man. He just went out to go get gas for his car.
    Christopher: Oh, so I can go out and fuck your sister, come back Saturday, and I go to the front of the line?
  • Christopher: I don't wanna just survive. It says in these movie writing books that every character has an arc, you understand? Like everybody starts out somewheres, and they do something, or somethin' gets done to them, changes their life. That's called their arc. Where's my arc?
  • Georgie: (Having dug up Emil Kolar's body.) Is that him?
    Christopher: Now, that would be some fuckin' coincidence if it wasn't, wouldn't it?
  • Dr. Melfi: We all know you're a sucker for those Irish girls. Every Italian boy bows down to the freckles.
  • Richard: Call him a patient. The man's a criminal, Jennifer, and after a while, finally you're going to get beyond psychotherapy with its cheesy moral relativism, finally you're going to get to good and evil, and he's evil.