US Transmission Date: 17 January 1999
UK Transmission Date: 22 July 1999
Writer: David Chase • Director: Daniel Attias
Cast: Debrah Ellen Waller (Perrilyn), Mike Epps (Jerome), Yancey Epps (Arnaz), Tibor Feldman (U.S. Attorney Braun), Harvey Levin (Talk Show Host), Steven Randazzo (Vincent Rizzo), Kate Anthony (Counter Person), Anthony Caso (Martin Scorcese), Victor Colicchio (Joe), Marcia Haufrecht (Fanny), Desiree Kehoe (Nude Dancer), Michael Parr (Bouncer), Sharif Rashed (Antjuan), Charles Santy (Truck Driver), David Schulman (Mr. Miller), Manny Silverio (2nd Truck Driver), JD Williams (Special K)
Storyline: Christopher Moltisanti and his drug addict friend Brendan Filone hi-jack a truck shipping DVD players. All of Tony’s crew get a share of the spoils. Anthony Jr announces at breakfast that his science teacher’s car was stolen from the school. Carmela persuades Tony to have someone investigate. The Bada Bing strip club has a new phone system but barman Georgie keeps losing calls. Tony phones his mother while she is cooking. Livia gets distracted and her mushrooms catch fire, threatening to burn down the house. The fire brigade put out the blaze. Carmela invites Livia to live with the family, but the old woman refuses.
Big Pussy gets a lead on the stolen car. The Saturn was taken to a garage by someone wearing the uniform of a coffee house chain. Pussy and Paulie Walnuts go in search of the thief. In the aftermath of the fire, Livia agrees to having a home help. Carmela has an agency send a Trinidadian woman, Perrilyn. When Tony visits his mother, she says Perrilyn is stealing. Tony meets with Uncle Junior and Jackie Aprile. Jackie is acting boss while his father is in prison. The truck hijacked by Christopher and Brendan was from a firm called Comley, which pays protection money to Junior. Jackie rules whoever hit the truck should make restitution to Junior. The acting boss is suffering side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. Carmela visits Livia just as Perrilyn quits and storms out of the house.
Christopher is dragging his heels about paying restitution to Junior. Tony makes it clear that he will hurt Christopher and Brendan unless they pay. He offers to mediate between them and Junior for a commission. Pussy and Paulie find the thieves. But when all four reach the garage, the car has already been chopped for parts and its number plates put on another vehicle. Pussy and Paulie force the thieves to take back the plates and steal another Saturn to put them on. Livia accidentally runs down her friend Fanny, breaking her wrist and smashing Fanny’s pelvis. Doctors say Livia should not live alone anymore, but she is unwilling to shift into Green Grove retirement community.
Christopher and Brendan discuss their situation. Brendan says there’s another Comley truck worth hitting soon, full of Italian suits. Christopher says the mobs are in chaos. Do they still have a future in the new millennium? Tony tries to persuade Livia to shift into Green Grove. When she refuses, he threatens to get a durable power of attorney and place her there. Christopher decides against hitting the Comley. He believes there’s no point in being a gangster unless they respect the chain of command. Brendan hits the truck anyway and the driver is accidentally killed. Tony and Carmela move Livia into Green Grove. Christopher calls with news about the hijack . Tony tells him to take the shipment back to Comley.
At school, Mr Miller’s Saturn reappears in its parking space. However, the keys are different and the paint is still wet on the chassis. Tony nearly passes out while clearing possessions from his mother’s house. At a therapy session, Dr Melfi asks Tony if he can admit he has feelings of hatred for his mother. He needs to own his anger, instead of displacing it. Tony storms out in disgust. Back at the Bada Bing, Georgie still can’t cope with the phones. Tony loses patience and beats the barman unconscious with the receiver. It seems Tony has not yet learnt to own his anger…
Mobspeak: On the TV talkshow, the host asked whether disregard for the rules that served the old dons (heads of the Families) lead to the decline of Mafia power. The host introduces one of his guests, Vincent Rizzo, as a former soldier (a bottom-level member of an organised crime Family) in the Genovese Family (an organised crime clan), and a real wiseguy (a made man). Rizzo talks about when mobsters started to rat (to divulge information to the police). The TV host also mentions the Omerta (a Mafia code of silence, punishable by death). Tony and Uncle Junior meet with Jackie Aprile, their acting boss (the head of the Family, he decides who gets made and who gets whacked – he also gets money from all Family business). Tony tells Christopher the books are closed (there is no chance for promotion to full membership of the Family). He berates Christopher for not paying tributes (giving higher ranked mobsters their due slice of proceeds from criminal activity). Christopher says there was a time when being with the Tony Soprano crew (the group of soldier’s under a capo’s command) was all he ever dreamed of. He tells Brendan to shut up or else Christopher will get clipped (murdered).
Mamma Mia: Livia has a very busy episode, but ends it in the one place she did not want to be. Tony phones his mother, who complains that he never calls – even though he called her the day before. She dismisses the answering machine at Tony’s house as fancy and manages to set fire to her kitchen. Livia refuses an invitation to move into Tony and Carmela’s home, saying she knows when she’s not wanted. Livia doesn’t want to leave the house that she and her husband shared. He was a saint. Unusually, she does ask about Tony’s health. Livia finally agrees to have a home help but determines to get rid of Perrilyn, the woman sent by the agency. The old woman accuses Perrilyn of stealing and eventually succeeds in driving her out of the house. Tony is proud of his mother because she drives her friends around. But Livia gets her gears wrong and runs over her best friend. Livia still refuses to shift to Green Grove. He threatens to get a power of attorney over her. Livia implores him to kill her instead. ‘Go into the ham, and take the carving knife and stab me, here, now please! It would hurt me less than what you just said!’ By the end of the episode, Livia has been moved into Green Grove. She just refuses to talk to anybody, especially Tony.
Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: After the feast of food in the pilot, meals take a back seat in this episode. At breakfast AJ eats scrambled eggs, sausage and toast when Meadow picks at fruit. Tony drinks orange juice and steals a sausage from AJ’s plate. After the kitchen fire, Carmela offers to make Livia a little pastina but the old woman refuses. Later Carmela brings her mother-in-law some fresh bread and a box of other food. Paulie says Americans ate pootsie before the Italian people gave them the gift of cuisine, such as pizza, calzone, buffalo mozzarella and olive oil. Just before Livia runs down her best friend, Carmela is preparing a meal for the extended Soprano family. Carmela’s parents and Livia are both bringing some antipasto. Carmela has chopped the ingredients for a salad. Tony eats a lunch of cold meat and peppers at Livia’s house. He praises the quality of her Virginia ham, but turns down another helping. After Livia is moved into Green Grove, Tony offers to make his wife some lunch. Carmela says there’s some fantastic prosciutto in the fridge.
Mobbed Up: Silvio Dante tries to cheer up Tony by imitating Al Pacino in ‘The Godfather Part III’: ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!’
Tony’s crew discuss the lesser range of movies available on DVD, compared with laserdiscs. Brendan says the sound is way improved. Tony sarcastically says nothing beats listening to ‘Men In Black’. Pussy gets frustrated when a mechanic at his garage gives him insufficient information to track down the stolen car. ‘Watchung Avenue and what? I’m fuckin’ Rockford over here!’ When Tony and Junior argue about the hijack, Tony offers Junior his DVD player from the robbery. He suggests his uncle watch ‘Grumpy Old Men’. Later Tony extols the virtues of W. C. Fields on DVD, giving a passable imitation of a line from ‘The Bank Dick’. Goodfellas director Martin Scorcese sweeps into a nightclub while Christopher and Brendan are waiting behind the velvet rope. Christopher calls out that he liked the Buddhist epic ‘Kundun’, unintentionally damning Scorcese’s film with faint praise.
How Do You Feel?: No matter what he does, Tony feels guilty. He can’t let Livia live with him because, he says, Carmela won’t allow it. Tony says his sisters cut themselves off from Livia a long time ago. He believes he should take care of his mother and describes her as an old sweetie pie. But when Dr Melfi challenges him to relate a warm, loving experience with Livia, he struggles to cite an example. Finally he recalls when his father tripped and the whole family laughed, including his mother. After Livia’s car crash, Dr Melfi points out that depression can cause accidents, alluding to Tony’s blackouts in the pilot. He takes this as suggesting his mother tried to whack her best friend! Tony is sad after shifting his mother into Green Grove. Dr Melfi angers Tony by suggesting he has feeling of hatred for his mother. But he cannot acknowledge this and walks out of the session.
Sleeping With The Fishes: Hector Anthony, a driver for Comley Trucking. He is accidentally shot and killed by one of Brendan’s accomplices when they hijack a truck full of Italian suits.
Always with the…: Paulie is infuriated that others have co-opted Italian cuisine. (This becomes ironic when Paulie gets to sample true Italian cuisine in Season Two.) Most galling for him is the vogue for coffee house culture. Italians invented espresso and now everyone else is getting rich off it, he says. Pussy loses patience with his friend: ‘Oh, again with the rape of the culture?’ In retaliation, Paulie steals a coffee pot from a trendy coffee house.
Quote/Unquote: Tony’s crew contemplate a letter to the local newspaper asking what if scientists had cloned Princess Di. Silvio wonders about her death. ‘You think the royal family had her whacked?’ There’s a wicked spoof of Starbucks and similar upmarket coffee houses, which are misnamed as Buttfucks by a mechanic at Pussy’s garage. When Paulie tries to order just coffee, the woman at the till points to a sign behind her. ‘Our cafe du jour is New Zealand Peaberry.’ Brendan and Christopher complain about their treatment by Uncle Junior. ‘It’s like, not only does he shit on our heads, we’re supposed to say thanks for the hat.’ Dr Melfi describes Green Grove as a beautiful facility which is more like a hotel at Cap D’Antibes. When Tony tries to use this line on his mother, it comes out as being more like a hotel at Captain Teebs. Livia is understandably baffled and asks who her is. ‘The Captain who owns luxury hotels or something. That’s not the point!’
Soundtrack: Tony serenades Carmela with an inaccurate, rambling version of Procol Harum’s ‘A White Shade of Pale’ at breakfast. ‘Battleflag’ by Pigeonhead featuring the Lo-Fidelity All Stars.
Surveillance Report: This episode has a rare pre-credits sequence when Tony and his crew watch TV. Acting boss Jackie Aprile is played by Michael Rispoli, who co-starred as Joe Fusco Jr in While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock. Drea de Matteo caught David Chase’s eye while playing a restaurant hostess in the pilot. When The Sopranos was commissioned for a full series by HBO, she was picked to play Christopher’s girlfriend, Adriana.
The Verdict: ‘Time and patience change the mulberry leaf to silk.’ This episode is full of bleak comedy and despair. Crisis in the mobs is the larger theme of this episode, with the Mafia under attack from without and within. For Tony, the pressure just keeps building. The agita between himself and Junior is worsened by the hits on Comley Trucking. But the real problem revolves around his relationship with his mother. He spends the whole episode trying to get Livia into Green Grove. When he finally succeeds, it just makes him feel worse. The light at the end of the tunnel Tony saw last episode now seems more like an oncoming train…