Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #11: Nobody Knows Anything

US Transmission Date: 21 March 1999
UK Transmission Date: 23 September 1999

Writer: Frank Renzulli • Director: Henry J. Bronchtein
Cast: Karen Sillas (Debbie), Giancarlo ‘John’ Giunta (Kevin Bonpensiero), Doug Barron (Dr. Mop-N-Glo), Veronica Bero (Girl), Britt Burr (Traffic Cop), Ramsey Faragallah (Fed #1), Bobby Rivers (Male Anchor), Matthew Lawler (Fed #2), Chance Kelly (Fed #3), Tim Kirkpatrick (Detective #1), Peter Bretz (Detective #2)

Storyline: Tony, Paulie and Pussy are enjoying a visit to a high class brothel when Pussy injures his back. Their departure is watched by Detective Vin Makasian. Four days later the FBI raid a property rented by Jimmy Altieri. They catch Jimmy, Pussy and two others gambling at cards. A search reveals a pool table full of guns. Pussy tries to escape but is easily caught and arrested. He is soon bailed out by his wife. Detective Makasian tells Tony that Pussy is wearing a wire for law enforcement agencies. Bonpensiero was facing a mandatory life sentence for dealing heroin and cut a deal. Tony is stunned and demands to see the 302 report as proof of Pussy’s complicity.

The Sopranos hold an open house party. Pussy refuses to help shift a piano because of his back. Tony asks Paulie and Christopher to keep a watch on Pussy. Paulie says an eminent back doctor thought Pussy’s back problems were psychological, rather than physical. Tony asks Dr Melfi whether physical problems could cause such symptoms. She says a heavy burden of responsibility could be responsible, but secrets also bring a heavy load of guilt. Tony meets with Makasian at the brothel but the detective has no further proof about Pussy. Makasian uses the brothel as a refuge from the world.

Tony goes to see Pussy at home. Pussy hints that things are happening. Tony offers him a chance to come clean but Pussy says nothing. Afterwards Tony shares his suspicions with a shocked Paulie, who offers to whack Pussy. Tony makes him vow not to make the hit unless Paulie sees the wire. Tony drops off some CDs for his mother with Bonnie DiCaprio at Green Grove. He also leaves a message from Livia’s house sale is going through. Paulie takes Pussy for a steam and sauna but Pussy refuses to get undressed. He says the doctors warned him away from heat. Silvio tells Tony that Makasian owes Pussy $30,000 from gambling and loans, sufficient motivation to lie about Pussy being a government informant. Tony is still not sure – he wants absolute proof.

A police raid on the brothel snares Detective Makasian and mob captain Raymond Curto. Makasian is released and put on administrative leave. He drives to the Route One bridge and jumps off. Tony hears of the detective’s suicide, which stymies efforts to discover the truth about Pussy. Tony visits Debbie, the madam at the brothel. She says Makasian didn’t have much to say about Tony and his crew, except he wasn’t worried about the money he owed. Makasian trusted Tony, Debbie says. Junior visits Livia, who is upset that Tony has sold her house. She mentions that the captains are holding secret meetings at Green Grove. She says Larry Boy Barese and Jimmy Altieri have bother shifted their mothers into the retirement community. She also lets slip that Johnny Sack from New York has been at the meetings and ventures that perhaps the captains are talking about Junior behind his back. Junior is outraged and believes Tony is organising a move against him.

Jimmy gets out on bail and visits Tony. He asks a lot of pointed questions about the hit on the Colombian drug dealer and its proceeds. Tony realises that something is wrong and becomes evasive in his answers. Once Jimmy has gone, Tony rushes to the office at Satriale’s Pork Store. Tony tells Silvio that Jimmy is the rat, not Pussy. Paulie arrives and Tony demands to know if the hit on Pussy has happened. Paulie says it hasn’t. Nobody knows where Pussy has gone. Chucky Signore delivers a stolen microwave oven to Mikey and JoJo Palmice. He says Junior is going ahead with the hit on Tony and they are to look out of town for the killers…

Mobspeak: Pussy complains that the FBI robbed him of four dimes ($4000). Detective Makasian says Pussy is wired for sound (wearing a surveillance device to record conversations). Mikey Palmice tells his wife that Junior is old school (a gangster who respects and follows the rules and oaths of being a mobster).

Mamma Mia: Livia refuses to attend the open house party, as she does every year. Tony calls this negative attention getting. Next day Carmela visits Livia at Green Grove and asks her mother-in-law to stop manipulating Tony with emotional blackmail. Livia pleads ignorance. She has no friends, she’s been abandoned and this would never have happened when her husband was alive. ‘Johnny was a saint’ Livia says, sobbing into her ever-present handkerchief. Carmela says it’s good that Junior comes to visit but Livia takes umbrage at any suggestion of a relationship between herself and her brother-in-law. However, she says having someone who will listen gives her some purpose in life. Livia puts that someone to good use when Junior comes to visit. She weeps about Tony selling her home but Junior isn’t very sympathetic. Livia tries another tactic, casually revealing Tony’s secret meetings at Green Grove with the other captains and Johnny Sack from the New York mob. She even hints that they are discussing Junior. He is outraged, seeing this as a move against him. He has to act against Tony, even though they are blood relations. Livia has gotten her revenge against her son…

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Carmela serves a finger food buffet when the Sopranos have their open house party. Next day Carmela takes a ricotta pie made with low fat cheese to Livia, but the old woman turns her nose up at it. Carmela leaves it so Junior can have some when he next visits Livia. Tony goes to Pussy at his home, bringing a box of cannoli from Spirelli’s. Carmela cooks the family a breakfast of pancakes, bacon and syrup. When Jimmy visits after getting out on bail, Tony, Carmela and AJ are eating lasagne, salad and bread. Jimmy declines joining them for dinner. Chucky brings Mikey and JoJo a microwave oven. JoJo has prepared bowls of salad and brews some coffee.

Mobbed Up: Paulie’s car horn plays the theme music from ‘The Godfather’.

How Do You Feel?: Tony says he feels like someone walking down the street and looking up, worried that a safe is going to land on their head. Dr Melfi suggests this is a feeling of pending doom.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Detective Vin Makasian, who commits suicide by jumping off the Route One bridge. He clips his detective’s badge onto the breast pocket of his suit before jumping.

Quote/Unquote: Paulie describes the different assessments Pussy has had on his back: ‘MRIs, cat scans, dog scans, you name it.’ Paulie says he must be dreaming when Tony tells him Pussy is wearing a wire. ‘Get used to it. I’ve been walking into walls all week.’ Tony reveals his attitude to sexual discussions with his children at breakfast: ‘Out there it’s the 1990s, but in this house it’s 1954.’ When Mikey Palmice tells his dim wife JoJo that Tony Soprano is on his way out and forever, she asks if Tony is going to jail. ‘No, the other forever.’

Soundtrack: ‘Micky’s Monkey’ by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. ‘Lick It Up’ by J. Evans Quarter. ‘Manifold de Amour’ by Latin Playboys. 'It's Bad You Know' by R.L. Burnside. My Heart's Hangin' Heavy' by Johnny Adams. 'Slide Slide' by The Hotheads. 'The Highs Are Too High' by Johnette Paolitano. 'Walking on a Tightrope' by Johnny Adams.

Surveillance Report:
There is a caption after the opening scene, to indicate that four days have passed. The manager at Green Grove, Bonnie DiCaprio, sits in a comedically low chair which means her head and shoulders only just get above the level of her desk. Tony brings his mothers CDs of half-ass tenors.

The Verdict:
‘Things are happening, Tony.’ Someone in the Family is wearing a wire for the feds and suspicion falls on Pussy. Meanwhile Livia goads Junior into ordering a hit on her own son. After the detour episode ‘A Hit Is A Hit’, the season hits the accelerator and surges towards its bloody climax. Livia reveals just how far she is willing to go to punish her own children, forcing Junior into an action he doesn’t want to take. Detective Makasian takes his leave, but not before dropping a bombshell about Pussy. The impact of that news will resonate all through Season Two. This is a cracker as the heat gets turned up on Tony and his crew. Just as the three episodes immediately after the pilot episodes were a trilogy, so this begins a three-part endgame to Season One.

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