Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #14: Guy Walks Into A Psychiatrist’s Office

US Transmission Date: 16 January 2000
UK Transmission Date: 12 October 2000

Writer: Jason Cahill • Director: Allen Coulter
Cast: John Billeci (Manager), Darrell Carey (Proctor), Dan Chen (Ernest Wu), Robert Cicchini (Dr De’Alessio), Mark Fish (Caller #2), Karen Giordano (Samantha Martin), Bryan Greenberg (Peter McClure), Ian Grimaldi (Philly Parisi), Philipp Kaner (Caller #3), Katrina Lantz (Sylvia), George Loros (Raymond Curto), Wayne W. Pretlow (Caller #1), Kevin Sussman (Kevin), Roberto Thomas (Lee)

Storyline: A stand-in sits a stockbroker’s exam on behalf of Christopher. Pussy is waiting for Tony when he goes to collect his morning newspaper. Pussy says he has been in Puerto Rico, where he got involved with his 26-year-old acupuncturist. But his financial problems remain so Pussy says he has come back to start earning again. Tony is dubious but eventually welcomes back his friend. Philly Parisi has taken over running Junior’s crew while Junior is in jail. Philly goes to the airport to pick up Gigi Cestone, who has just been left there by Paulie. Gigi is supposed to have just come back from Boston. Gigi shoots Philly twice in the head for gossiping about the attempted hit on Tony. Dr Melfi is seeing clients in a room at the Anthony Wayne Motel. Tony calls his former therapist to say it’s safe for her to go back to her own home.

Christopher is working as Stock Exchange Commission compliance officer at a call centre, where stockbrokers are pushing an internet stock called Webistics. Adriana persuades Christopher to have the afternoon off. Two young wannabe mobsters working at the centre, Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Giamonte, beat up one of the brokers who complains about pushing Webistics. Hesh and Tony’s lawyer Neil Mink visit Tony at the Bada Bing strip club. Mink says Junior is trying to get out of jail on medical grounds while awaiting trial. Tony has no objections – with Junior facing twelve federal charges, Tony has become the new acting boss. Carmela calls to say that Tony’s sister Janice has come to stay after twenty years away from New Jersey. Tony decides to stage a family reunion, excluding his mother.

Pussy meets the rest of the crew again. Paulie and the others have been collecting on Pussy’s behalf. Silvio tells Tony what happened at the brokerage. Paulie has confirmed Pussy’s story about going to a clinic in Puerto Rico. Next morning at breakfast Tony welcomes home his sister. She’s on disability benefit, courtesy of the state of Washington. Her last boyfriend Rolf has returned to Andorra. Janice says she wants to take her turn looking after their mother. Tony doesn’t believe the diagnosis that Livia had a stroke. Janice thinks she might stay at Livia’s house but Tony says he has put it up for sale.

Tony confronts Christopher about what happened at the brokerage. He also warns Christopher against letting Matt and Sean steal cars from the brokerage building. Tony and Carmela are shocked when they visit Livia’s house with an estate agent. The house has been vandalised, apparently by local teenagers. Carmela wants Tony to go back into therapy. He is self medicating and they have not had sex recently. Christopher passes Tony’s message on to Matt and Sean. He also requests a part of their proceeds from any car crimes. Janice takes Meadow to visit Livia in hospital. Tony passes out while driving. He has an accident but is unhurt. He tries a new therapist but the doctor refuses to treat Tony because he is a mobster.

The family reunion becomes a barbeque party at the Soprano’s house. Tony’s sister Barbara and her family come along, as do Carmela’s parents. Janice complains to her sister about Tony putting Livia’s house up for sale. Barbara says Janice should not get involved. Tony finds the ‘For Sale’ sign from his mother’s house in the back of Janice’s car. Adriana and Christopher argue while having a drink with Matt and Sean. Adriana complains about Christopher cooking drugs on her stove. She slaps his face so Christopher slaps her. Adriana storms out. Tony approaches Dr Melfi, who is having lunch at a roadside diner. She refuses to take him back as a patient. One of her patients died because she had to leave her office and her home. Melfi tells Tony to get out of her life.

Mobspeak: Pussy says he has to get back his action (illegal betting business). Tony Tells Pussy that Junior is facing twelve RICO predicates (RICO stands for Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organisation Act – predicates are offences under the statutes of this act). Christopher tells Matt and Sean that if they steal any Porsches, he wants a taste (percentage of the take). Matt asks if Christopher has capped (murdered) anyone with Tony.

Mamma Mia: Livia asks Meadow to let her die in hospital. The old woman says she saw a light and voices were calling out to her. Livia says Tony blames her for everything. She claims the hospital staff beat patients at night. Livia gives Meadow jewellery so she won’t be forgotten.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Carmela is twice seen cooking food during the opening montage sequence. Philly Parese’s wife calls out to remind him to get pastries. At breakfast Meadow and AJ eat scrambled eggs, cooked by Carmela. Tony complains about a smell, which Janice says is her Miso seaweed soup. When they visit Livia’s vandalised house, Carmela says she needs Tony to pick up sausage. He wants precise instructions on how many pounds are required and whether the sausage should be hot or sweet. In hospital Meadow tries to feed Livia food, which looks like slop. She turns her nose up at it. At the family reunion, Carmela’s mother makes pound cake using canned pears. She sends her husband out to get the canned pears and some basinigol’. Tony barbeques the meat at the party, with Pussy helping later. For dessert Carmela has some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to go with the cake. She saves some for Janice. Dr Melfi is having lunch at a roadside diner when Tony approaches her. He asks how the bagels are there. After Melfi rebuffs him, Tony goes home where Carmela microwaves some cold pasta for his lunch.

Mobbed Up: Silvio revives his beloved Al Pacino/Michael Corleone impersonation after a request from Pussy. He performs a selection of dialogue, including a Diane Keaton imitation. Dr De’Alessio refuses to treat Tony and cites the film ‘Analyse This’ which had psychiatrist Billy Crystal treating mobster Robert De Niro. Tony protests that ‘Analyse This’ was just a comedy. Carmela’s mother likens Livia to ‘Mommie Dearest’, a scathing book written about Joan Crawford by her daughter which became a cult film starring Faye Dunaway.

How Do You Feel?: Tony rejects a suggestion from Carmela that he goes back into therapy. But he tries a new psychiatrist after passing out while driving. He tells Dr De’Alessio that things were good since the falling out with his mother until Janice turned up. Now his feelings about her are starting to bleed into his business. The therapist refuses to treat Tony because he’s a mobster. Tony goes back to Dr Melfi but she refuses to treat him or refer his case to another psychiatrist. He swears that nobody got killed because of her but she doesn’t believe him.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Philly Parisi, shot twice in the head by Gigi Cestone for gossiping about Tony and Livia.

Quote/Unquote: Tony predicts the outcome of Janice’s visit: ‘I’m gonna be five grand lighter before she rain dances back to the commune.’ Tony reveals his catchphrase for this season when talking to Janice about his mother: ‘She’s dead to me.’ Tony questions the value of Christopher’s work at the stock brokerage: ‘What did you get your license for, Christopher, your resume, huh?’ Carmela’s mother is bemused by Janice’s change of name to that of a Hindu goddess: ‘Parvati – she’s a cheese now?’

Soundtrack: ‘It Was A Very Good Year’ by Frank Sinatra. ‘Con Te Partiro’ by Andrea Bocelli. ‘I’ve Tried Everything’ by the Eurythmics. ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple. ‘Nod Off’ by Skeleton Key. Tony’s crew sing the advertising jingle for a perfume called Charlie. ‘Time Is On My Side’ by Irma Thomas. 'Guilty' by Alejandro Escovedo. 'You Bring Out the Freak In Me' by Leon Haywood.

Surveillance Report: Tony tells Janice ha had just put Livia’s house up for sale. This contradicts events in #11, when he said the sale had gone through. Presumably, the first sale fell through in between seasons one and two. Both Tony and Carmela’s mother say that Carmela’s parents were unwilling to visit the Soprano’s while Livia was on the scene. This contradicts events in #02, when Livia was to give Carmela’s parents a lift to dinner at the Soprano’s house. Janice Soprano is played by Aida Turturro, a cousin of actors John Turturro (star of ‘Barton Fink’) and Nicholas Turturro (from the TV series ‘NYPD Blue’). She has appeared in dozens of films including ‘Deep Blue Sea’, ‘Mickey Blue Eyes’ and ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’.

The Verdict: ‘How many more people have to die for your personal growth?’ Tony Soprano’s sister Janice comes to stay and Pussy returns from Puerto Rico. Tony claims that life is good but his blackouts have returned and psychiatrist Dr Melfi refuses to take him back as a patient. The opening episode of Season Two seems like a very slow start after the dramatic finale to Season One. There are a lot of loose threads to resolve, but this first helping hardly scratches the surface. Instead, new agita is introduced by the arrival of Janice while Pussy returns with just a brief explanation. By comparison to the pilot, this episode is much less satisfying. David Chase admitted in interviews to being terrified by the pressure created by the first season’s success. By comparison to most other dramas on TV, this episode of ‘The Sopranos’ is top quality. By comparison to the show’s own high standards, this is only average.

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