Friday, April 20, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #17: Commendatori

US Transmission Date: 6 February 2000
UK Transmission Date: 2 November 2000

Writer: David Chase • Director: Tim Van Patten

Cast: Vittorio Duse (Zi Vittorio), Mike Memphis (Jimmy Bones), Jay Lynch (Partner), Emme Shaw (Nurse), Ciro Maggio (Raffaelle), Danton Stone (Mr Sontag), Melissa Weil (Mrs Sontag), Jason Fuchs (Jr Sontag), Jessica Peters (Sis Sontag), Gano Grills (Antonio), Anthony Alessandro (Waiter), Frank Caero (Host), Gina Cutolo (Mother), Raffaele Giulivo (Nino), Guido Palliggiano (Pino), Alida Tarallo (Prostitute), Alex Toma (Kid), Giuseppe Zeno (Tanno), Ricardo Zinna (Hotel Manager)

Storyline:
Tony is going to Italy to visit business contacts in Naples. He visits Junior at the doctor’s office to seek his advice. Junior used to ship stolen cars in containers to Italy but Tony has inherited the business as acting boss. Junior says he used to deal with Don Zi Vittorio, but lately the contact has been called Furio Giunta. Junior regrets never visiting Italy. Carmela is angry with Tony for not taking her on the trip. Pussy meets with FBI Agent Skip Lipari at a party story. He feeds him disinformation, protecting Tony. The pair bump into an Elvis Presley imitator called Jimmy Bones, who asks uncomfortable questions. Pussy panics.

Carmela has lunch with Rosalie Aprile and Pussy’s wife, Angie Bonpensiero. Angie says she is depressed and suicidal since Pussy returned from his disappearance. When he came home her heart sank. She found a lump under her arm and is awaiting the results of a biopsy to find out if the lump is malignant or benign. Either way, she wants a divorce from Pussy. Tony, Paulie and Christopher arrive at the Hotel Excelsior in Naples. They are met by Furio and his associates.

Christopher notices that one of Furio’s men, Tanno, has needles marks on his arm from taking heroin. Carmela and her friends gossip about the Bonpensieros' problems. Tony and Paulie have dinner with Furio and other representatives of the Vittorio Family. Tony is disappointed that Don Vittorio is not attending. He suggests a price of $90,000 for each stolen car – they are top of the range Mercedes ML series vehicles.

Don Vittorio arrives at the dinner in a wheelchair, pushed by his daughter Annalisa. Don Vittorio is senile and can only talk about streetnames in American cities. Christopher misses the dinner because he’s too busy shooting heroin with Furio’s assistant Tanno. Tony learns that the Family is now run by Mauro Zucca, but he’s in prison serving a life sentence. Furio suggests Tony talk to Annalisa – she is Mauro’s wife. Annalisa offers to give Tony a guided tour of Avellino, where his ancestors lived moving to America. Outside the restaurant a teenage boy throws firecrackers. He is beaten by Furio and others. They also punch the boy’s mother. The police just drive away. Tony is impressed by Furio’s ruthlessness. Pussy is having nightmares about Jimmy Bones revealing his secret.

Christopher stays in his hotel room, claiming a bad case of food poisoning from the in-flight meal. That leaves Paulie on his own to check out the docks while Tony meets with Annalisa. Carmela and Janice argue about the role of Mafia wives. Janice says her sister-in-law is content with too little but Carmela says marriage and family are sacred institutions. She also points out that Janice getting back with Richie Aprile is hardly extending the boundaries of feminism. Tony goes to stay with Annalisa at the Vittorio family home. She runs the family because all the men have been murdered or sent to prison. Annalisa says Italian men are in love with their mothers, so taking orders from a woman boss is not a major problem. Paulie wanders around Naples but the locals seem unfriendly.

Tony and Annalisa continue to haggle about the price for the stolen cars. Tony wants to recruit mob soldiers from Naples to join him in America, starting with Furio. Annalisa gets angry and refuses. Angie tells Pussy her biopsy came back negative – she doesn’t have cancer. He is preoccupied and walks out. Pussy drives to Jimmy Bones’ house, where he beats the Elvis imitator to death. Carmela visits Angie, trying to persuade her against divorcing Pussy. Paulie finally gets close to the locals by sleeping with a prostitute from the same town as his ancestors.

Tony and Annalisa visit the sit of the Sibylla of Cumae, a famous oracle centuries ago. Annalisa offers Tony sex but he refuses because it would be bad for business. They agree a price for the cars and the men. Tony, Paulie and Christopher fly back to New Jersey. Christopher finally gets around to buying a present for Adriana – at Newark Airport. Tony gets home. Upstairs, Carmela hears him arrive – but how does she feel about his return?

Mobspeak: Tony tells Junior that he’s going over to the other side (Italy).

Mamma Mia: Annalisa looks after her senile father in her own home. Tony says she takes good care of her father. To Annalisa, this seems only natural. She would never send her parent to a home.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Carmela is cooking a roast dinner when she and Tony argue about his business trip. Meadow salivates at the idea of real Italian cooking. Carmela, Rosalie and Angie eat pasta for lunch when Angie talks about divorce. The conversation is being eavesdropped by lunching ladies at the next table. Rosalie yells at them to eat their monigott’. At the welcome dinner everyone eats an antipasto of cold meats. This is followed by a course of black pasta, which Paulie turns his nose up at. He requests macaroni and gravy, which is interpreted as spaghetti and tomato sauce. The local mobsters are unimpressed by his taste. ‘And you thought the Germans were classless pieces of shit,’ one says in Italian. Tony phones home and interrupts Carmela as she prepares dinner. He says the local food is okay, with lots of fish. She is cooking pasta and roasting meat. Tony suggests she get Chinese takeaway which infuriates Carmela. Pussy talks in his sleep about shoving a turnip in Jimmy Bones’ mouth. Christopher claims he got food poisoning from the shrimp hors d’oeuvres on the plane. Tony eats a pear while he watches Annalisa have her nails trimmed. He and Annalisa eats massive prawns at a seaside café. After they argue, Tony wants to go back to the hotel but Annalisa invites him down to a family dinner. He despairs at how much Italians eat. Paulie tries a plum from his hotel breakfast tray after sex.

Mobbed Up: Tony and crew sit down to watch an advanced DVD bootleg of ‘The Godfather’ with alternative takes. Paulie’s favourite scene is where Michael Corleone says: ‘I know it was you, Fredo.’ Tony doesn’t want to have another conversation about the Coppola trilogy. But he says his favourite scene is when Vito goes back to Sicily. Christopher can’t get the DVD to work. Paulie says Paramount Pictures should get their shit together as the crew will be stealing thousands of copies.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Jimmy Bones, beaten to death with a ball peen hammer by Pussy for seeing him with an FBI Agent.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano: Tony has a dream about Annalisa. She is bending over an ancient stone wall, dressed in a toga. Tony is fucking her from behind while wearing the uniform of a Roman centurion. Pussy has nightmares about Jimmy Bones revealing his secret. Pussy talks so loud in his sleep, he wakes up Angie in her adjoining bedroom.

Quote/Unquote: Tony scoffs when Paulie says the DVD has alternative takes of ‘The Godfather’: ‘What, are you gonna call Coppola with ideas on how to fix it?’ Junior says any blood relations between the Sopranos and the Vittorios is well diluted: ‘It’s so far removed, by now Tonto’s a closer cousin to you.’ Tony planned to give Don Vittorio a special golf club but Paulie has other advice when they see the Don is senile: ‘Ton’, you give this guy a golf club, he’ll probably try to fuck it.’ Janice defends renewing her relationship with old school mobster Richie Aprile: ‘Carm, Richie, because of his life experiences in prison, he has a sensitivity to the plight of women.’

Soundtrack: ‘Perdido’ by Notables. ‘Con Te Partiro’ by Andrea Bocelli. ‘Andalucia’ by Pink Martini. ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Water’ by Wyclef Jean & C&B Product. ‘Certamente’ by Madreblu. ‘Cuore Ingrato’ by Beniamino Gigli. ‘Piove’ by Lorenzo Jovanotti. ‘Song of the Black Lizard’ by Pink Martini.

Surveillance Report: Creator David Chase makes a cameo appearance when Paulie is sitting at a café in Naples. Paulie calls out to the men sat at the next table. Chase turns and regards Paulie with contempt before turning away. Paulie is offended and walks off, muttering ‘Cocksuckers’ under his breath. In #02, Paulie said that Americans ate shit before Italians gave them the gift of their cuisine. But when Paulie actually gets to sample real Italian food, he doesn’t enjoy the experience and asks for macaroni and gravy. Tony confirms Carmela’s statement in #01 that his favourite scene from ‘The Godfather’ trilogy is when Vito returns to Sicily.

The Verdict: ‘You are your own worst enemy.’ Tony goes to the old country on business and has problems adjusting to dealing with a woman boss. Carmela ponders her future when Angie Bonpensiero decides to divorce Pussy. In Season One, the ‘College’ episode sent Tony away from home on business while Carmela stayed home and contemplated her situation. ‘Commendatori’ attempts the same trick but less success as the stakes involved are much lower for everyone. Carmela’s greatest danger seems to come from an Andrea Bocelli overload as ‘Con Te Partiro’ is played over and over again. These problems are offset by the comedy cutaways to Paulie’s interaction with Naples and its citizens, and the introduction of Furio. He seems destined to become a significant character in future episodes…

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