The Sopranos Essay, Research Paper
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 gave him anxiety attacks so Tony started 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 kept it to himself. So what caused all this stress? On the home front his marriage is shaky and his mother needs a nursing home (call 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 was haunted by the feeling that the glory days of mob life are long gone, and he just might not measure up to the titans of the past. Madon’! It’s enough to make anyone want to see a shrink.
What a week it was! Hot-headed Chris, and his even hotter-headed friend, Brendan Filone, wanted to make some extra cash, so they started highjacking trucks. Ordinarily they’d be applauded for showing this kind of initiative, but the trucks belonged to a guy who paid protection to Uncle Junior. Naturally Junior demanded the stolen goods be returned and thattribute be paid to him as well. Brendan — always high on crystal meth– decided to hell with Junior, and pulled yet another truck job without Chris, who took a pass. During the highjacking the truck driver caught some “friendly fire” and was accidentally clipped. Anthony, Jr.’s science teacher’s Saturn was stolen from the school parking lot, and Carmela insisted that Pussy find it and get it back.
Livia set her kitchen on fire, broke her best friend’s hip — and her own wrist — with a Buick, all the while denying that she needs help. And nobody at the Bada Bing figured out the new voice mail system. And in the middle of all this…was Tony Soprano.
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 is in the hospital with inoperable cancer. He’s 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; but then, 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 Brendans’ judgement 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.
Tony 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’s 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 bee-line 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 tolds 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.
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’s 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 to 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 dog house.
: PAX SOPRANA Junior’s dream has become Tony’s nightmare. After years of playing second fiddle, Junior Soprano finally became the new Boss of New Jersey and proceeed 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 to 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. Chit chat 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.