Monday, April 16, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #13: I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano

US Transmission Date: 4 April 1999
UK Transmission Date: 7 October 1999

Writer: David Chase • Director: John Patterson
Cast: Frank Pellegrino (Agent Cubitoso), John Aprea (U. S. Attorney), George Bass (Janitor), Gene Canfield (Police Officer), Frank Dallarosa (EMT), Santiago Douglas (Jeremy Herrera), Militza Ivanova (Russian Woman), Candy Trabucco (Ms. Giaculo)

Storyline: Junior and his captains have a meeting. Afterwards Junior agrees with Tony that Jimmy Altieri is a rat and approves having Jimmy whacked as a message to everyone. Christopher takes Jimmy to an apartment for some quality time with two Russian prostitutes. Once Jimmy sits down he is executed by Silvio Dante. Meadow is on the sofa at home necking with her boyfriend while AJ is upstairs masturbating in his bedroom. All three are disturbed by Livia, who wanders past outside, apparently confused and lost. The police arrive after getting complaints about a woman wandering. Dr Melfi confronts Tony about his mother’s recent actions. She suggests Livia has borderline personality disorder with no love or compassion. Tony becomes enraged, smashing Melfi’s glass coffee table top and storming out after threatening her physically. Melfi is terrified.

Carmela and Rosalie Aprile have lunch at the newly opened Vesuvio restaurant. They are joined by Father Phil. He is wearing the late Jackie Aprile’s watch, which Rosalie has given to him. Jimmy’s corpse is found behind a building. Tony is persuaded by the FBI to listen to surveillance tapes. They document Livia goading Junior into ordering the hit on Tony. Artie Bucco visits Livia in the Green Grove nursing unit. She tells him about Tony having the original Vesuvio restaurant torched. Tony tells his crew that it was definitely Junior and Mikey Palmice that took out the hit. Tony begins plans to strike back. Silvio points out that Junior might want to finish the job on Tony, probably using Mikey’s associate Chucky Signore. Tony says that Chucky has to disappear without raising any alarms.

Tony is suffering low self-esteem after absorbing the fact that his own mother wanted him dead. Carmela believes Livia is faking the Alzheimer’s symptoms to escape retribution for her actions. Tony surprises Chucky Signore on his boat, executing him and then dumping the body out at sea with the help of Silvio. Later Tony goes back to Dr Melfi, who eventually agrees to let him in for a session but sits behind her desk rather than opposite Tony in a chair. He warns Melfi that she is in danger and should get out of town until he can remove the threat. She is appalled that people will be murdered on her behalf. Tony thanks her for being a good doctor. Artie confronts Tony behind Satriale’s Pork Store, threatening to shoot him with a hunting rifle. Tony convinces Artie that he did not burn down the old Vesuvio restaurant. Artie smashes the rifle against his own car and drives away.

Junior and Livia come to the Soprano’s house for the regular Sunday dinner. Livia is ranting about families dying because of uncooked pork. Tony asks about Artie visiting her in the nursing unit, but Livia denies all knowledge. Artie seeks guidance from Father Phil. The priest suggests Artie tell all to his wife Charmaine and risk losing everything in a police investigation. Tony tells his crew that he has been seeing a psychiatrist for five months. Paulie admits to seeing a therapist previously for some issues and learning some coping skills as a result. Carmela takes a bowl of home cooked food to Father Phil but finds him being served pasta by Rosalie Aprile. Carmela leaves, dumping her food into a rubbish bin outside.

Charmaine hires Adriana to work at the new Vesuvio. Artie decides against telling his wife about what really happened to the old restaurant. Christopher and Paulie execute Mikey Palmice while he’s out for an early morning job. The FBI swoop, arresting Junior, Larry Boy Barese and others on federal racketeering charges. Tony and his family watch Junior doing the perp walk on the TV news. Tony gets a call from his lawyer about the charges. They relate to a telephone calling card scam and a technical stock racket in which he had no involvement. The feds have stuff on Tony from surveillance and informants, they just don’t have a case yet. U.S. Attorney Gene Conigliaro tries to persuade Junior to testify against the Family, claiming that Tony is the true acting boss. Junior won’t co-operate.

Carmela gets home to find Father Phil already inside. He’s brought a DVD to watch. Carmela confronts the priest about his actions, accusing him of playing a game of sexual frustration with spiritually needy woman. Father Phil leaves, taken aback by what she has said. Tony goes to the Green Grove nursing unit, intent on smothering his mother with a pillow. Livia is being wheeled out to a hospital after suffering an apparent stroke. Tony tells her he knows she influenced having him whacked and threatens to do the same to her. Security guards pull Tony off his mother, who smiles as she is taken away. Tony drives to Melfi’s office as a storm closes in but she has disappeared, officially going on vacation. Tony and his family are driving around in the storm, unable to get home. They stop at Vesuvio and Artie agrees to cook for them by candlelight. Inside Silvio and Paulie are eating while Christopher and Adriana are sitting at the bar. Tony makes a toast to good moments like this…

Mobspeak: Junior tells the FBI that his nephew is a strunz (piece of shit).

Mamma Mia: Livia turns up at the Soprano house at one in the morning, babbling incoherently. She is shifted into the nursing unit at Green Grove and gets tested for Alzheimer’s disease. When Artie Bucco visits her in the nursing unit, Livia turns her nose up at some home-cooked Italian food because it’s a Northern recipe. She cold-bloodedly tells him about Tony torching Vesuvio, hoping this will drive Artie to finish the job on Tony where others failed. At Sunday dinner, Carmela says Livia has to admit it’s a nice nursing unit that lets someone be signed out for family occasions. ‘I don’t have to admit anything,’ Livia says – never were truer words spoken.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Carmela and Rosalie Aprile enjoy a meal at the new Vesuvio. Artie brings them a free plate of Buccatine matriciana with imported pancetta and apologises for a bug in their salad. Father Phil joins them for lunch and sings the praises of a zabaglione he had at the Soprano household. When Artie visits Livia in the nursing unit he brings her a plate of gavadel pasta with a nice duck ragu. At the Sunday family dinner the Sopranos, Livia and Junior have pork with the usual pasta, salad and bread. Carmela takes a bowl of pasta to Father Phil but he is already eating some home-cooked food, served to him by Rosalie Aprile in his office. Artie takes a lunch break at Vesuvio, eating spaghetti and sauce. Carmela cooks the family scrambled eggs for breakfast. AJ eats ice cream from a carton while watching Junior on the TV news. Artie covers a simple meal of pasta and sauce by candlelight for the Sopranos. AJ asks if Vesuvio has any peanut butter in its kitchen. Paulie and Silvio are also eating pasta at Vesuvio in the storm.

Mobbed Up: AJ hums the theme to US gameshow ‘Jeopardy’ during the Sunday family dinner. Mikey Palmice claims it was Junior who shot Brendan in the bath but Christopher rejects this, likening Junior to the TV cartoon character Mr Magoo which was turned into a bad film starring Leslie Neilsen. Father Phil brings round a copy of ‘One True Thing’ on DVD to watch with Carmela. But she recalls telling him just a week before that she is not a big Renee Zellwegger fan.

How Do You Feel?: Tony feels bad about his mother being transferred into the nursing unit at Green Grove – the fate she dreaded and feared. Dr Melfi suggests that Livia was involved in ordering the hit on Tony, but he rejects this. Melfi diagnoses Livia as having borderline personality disorder. When she reads out the symptoms from the textbook Tony flies into a rage. He smashes the glass top of Melfi’s coffee table and threatens to smash her face into fifty thousand pieces before leaving. The terrified therapist locks her office door. After Tony has heard the FBI tapes, he returns to see Melfi. Tony says he is humbled that the therapist accepts his assurance that she is not in any danger from him. Melfi suggests Tony is suffering feelings of worthlessness because of his mother’s plot to have him killed – he doesn’t disagree. He thanks Melfi for being a good doctor to him.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Welcome to the end of season bloodbath as three cast members meet their makers. Jimmy Altieri is executed by Silvio for turning into a rat. Chucky Signore is gunned down as a precautionary measure by Tony, who pulls his firearm from inside a large fish. Christopher and Paulie chase Mikey Palmice through a forest before ventilating him with more than a dozen bullets. Junior only escapes a similar fate because the FBI arrest him first.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano: Dr Melfi tells Tony that in his worst dreams, a duck flies off with his penis, symbolising castration. Tony relates sex dreams he has been having about his neighbour, Jean Cusamano. They are doing it doggy style and Tony climaxes. He describes Jean as having a big ass but Dr Melfi says that Jean is quite slender. Tony moves the conversation on to other topics.

Quote/Unquote: Jimmy Altieri asks Christopher whether he is wearing enough cologne: ‘You smell like Paco Rabanne crawled up your ass and died.’ Christopher extols the virtues of East European prostitutes: ‘Russian boo-boos, you go for some basic foreplay, they’ll detail your car.’ Dr Melfi tells Tony it has been a long odyssey with his mother. ‘These last five hundred years just seemed to race by,’ he replies. The FBI want Tony to hear some tapes, but he is unimpressed: ‘The Springsteen boxed set. I already got it.’ Tony ponders the twin causes of his problems: ‘Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this.’ Tony tries to get back on topic while discussing sex dreams with Dr Melfi: ‘We got bigger things to talk about than Jean Cusamano’s ass.’ The FBI tells Junior they want New York mobsters Mangano and Teresi. ‘I want to fuck Angie Dickinson, see who gets lucky first,’ Junior says.

Soundtrack: ‘Inside of Me’ by Little Steven. ‘Woodcabin’ by Saint Etienne. ‘I’ll Remember April’ by Bobby Darin. ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ by Frankie Valli. ‘Rave On’ by Buddy Holly and The Crickets. 'El Gorrito' by Lucho Argain. 'Groove Me' by Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies. 'The Four Seasons (Andrea Parker Mix]' by Steve Reich.

Surveillance Report: Adriana is working two jobs to become a music manager. According to TV news reports, Mikey’s mob nickname was Grab Bag.

The Verdict: ‘I’m gonna live a nice long happy life, which is more than I can say for you.’ Tony takes revenge for the attempt on his life while the FBI swoops on Junior and several of the captains. The season finale is the big pay-off, where virtually all the major plotlines culminate in a gripping conclusion. David Chase’s script is dripping with great lines, the body count reaches an all-time high and Carmela resolves her issues with the religious predator, Father Phil. A great episode for regular viewers who get rewarded for their loyalty but probably too dense and self-referential for any casual watchers. The final scene emphasises the twin concerns of the show – the family and the Family. This episode was written as a grand finale if ‘The Sopranos’ was not renewed for a second series. This would cause some problems for the second season…

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