Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #21 Full Leather Jacket

US Transmission Date: 5 March 2000
UK Transmission Date: 30 November 2000

Writer: Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess • Director: Allen Coulter
Cast: Saundra Santiago (Jean and Joan Cusamano), Vinnie Orofino (Bryan Spatafore), Susan Blackwell (Therapist), Joseph Carino (secretary), Raymond Franza (Donny K), Patty McCormack (Liz La Cerva), Marek Przystup (Stasiu), Stelio Savante (Gaetano Giarizzo)

Hunter Scangarello has been given an early acceptance into Reed College. Meadow wants to go to Berkeley in San Francisco but Tony forbids it. Christopher cracks a safe, assisted by Matt and Sean. Carmela can’t sleep for worrying about where Meadow gets into college. Great grades aren’t enough anymore, you need an extra edge to get into the best universities. Silvio and Paulie visit Richie and ask him to build a ramp to make Beansie Gaeta’s home more wheelchair accessible. Richie refuses. Carmela approaches her neighbour, Jeannie Cusamano, whose twin sister Joan is regional secretary of the Georgetown University alumni association. Carmela asks if Joan could write a letter of recommendation for Meadow and Jeannie reluctantly agrees to ask her sister.

Richie visits Beansie in hospital and threatens to cripple him further. Beansie knows nothing about the ramp request and wants nothing from Richie. Christopher forces his way into Adriana’s mother’s house. He proposes to Adriana with a three carat diamond ring – she accepts. Junior is visiting Tony at home when Richie arrives, still complaining about the ramp. Tony says it was his idea. Richie gives Tony a prized possession, a tan leather jacket Richie took off another mobster many years ago in a fight. A bemused Tony accepts the gift but doesn’t grasp its significance to Richie, who believes it will help him let go of the past. Carmela intercepts a letter to Meadow from Berkeley, seeking more information to process her college application. She puts the letter in the trash.

Christopher, Matt and Sean crack another safe. Christopher tells the two wannabe mobsters that Tony’s cut from this job will come out of their profits. Carmela gets the letter back out of the bin and leaves it out for Meadow. Richie’s men go to the Gaeta house to install the ramp. Matt and Sean are introduced to Richie, who complains that Christopher has an attitude. Richie indicates he is willing to let Matt and Sean work for him. Jeannie Cusamano visits her sister, who is a lawyer. Jeannie tries to get Joan to write the letter of recommendation for Meadow but she refuses.

Janice and Richie join the Sopranos for Sunday family dinner. Carmela gets a phone from Jeannie about Joan’s refusal. Next day Carmela visits Joan at her office and politely bullies her into writing the letter for Meadow. Matt and Sean see Tony at the Bada Bing. They follow him into the toilets and try to engage him in conversation. Tony storms out after Sean mentions work in a room that could be wiretapped. Richie is summoned to Satriale’s, where Paulie and Silvio complain that Richie’s men only did half the job on Beansie’s house. Richie took the men away to make alterations to Livia’s house. Tony arrives and Richie asks him about the jacket. Richie proudly tells the others about it.

Jeannie visits Carmela to say Joan has written a letter for Meadow.
Furio and an associate visit Matt and Sean at their apartment to collect Tony’s cut from the safe job - $7500. Furio demands another $1000 from them, which they meekly surrender. Christopher and Adriana are living together again. Christopher has stopped taking drugs and other distractions to be completely focussed. Richie takes food to Carmela as thanks for the Sunday dinner. The husband of the Soprano’s maid Lilliana arrives to collect a television. Richie is shocked to see him wearing the leather jacket. Matt and Sean realise they are getting nowhere as mobsters. They decide to take drastic action to get ahead.

Carmela and Meadow argue. Carmela almost tells Meadow about her efforts to get her into Georgetown but bites her tongue. Matt and Sean ambush Christopher. Sean shots him repeatedly but is killed by a lucky shot from Christopher. Matt runs away while Christopher passes out, bleeding profusely. Matt goes to Richie for help but is chased away by the furious mobster. Christopher is in intensive care, surrounded by his family and friends. They do not know whether he will survive the night…

Sean wonders how many stockings a company has to sell to pay the nut (the bottom line) on a factory. Matt is surprised that Big Pussy started out chipping safes (cracking a safe by chipping it open with a hammer and chisel. Christopher says Pussy stepped up (went to war) for Johnny Soprano during the unrest of 1983. Matt says it would be an honour to kick upstairs (pay part of profits from crime to the boss) to Tony Soprano.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti:
The Sopranos are eating Chinese takeaway for dinner when it is announced Hutner got into Reed. Junior uses grocery shopping as an excuse to visit Tony. Junior’s assistant Bacala has some green vegetables, arugala rabe. Tony warns him not the drench the leaves in oil this time. Bacala says Junior likes to mop the late with bread afterwards. Matt tells not to eat burritos before doing a job, because his farts are so noxious as a result. The Sopranos have a crown roast of meat for Sunday family dinner. Carmela takes a ricotta pie with pineapples to Joan Cusamano. Silvio and Paulie have a plate of pastries with their coffee outside Satriale’s. Tony joins them and scoffs an almond croissant. Jeannie Cusamano returns the pie plate to Carmela. She says Joan’s family loved the delicious ricotta pie. Richie takes a plate of tripe and tomatoes to Carmela as thanks for the Sunday family dinner. Richie says he and Carmela must be the only two people who still like tripe.

Mobbed Up:
Junior mentions someone having a bootleg copy of ‘The Mummy’ before it was in cinemas. Richie says the tapes are real Hollywood quality broadcast movies, without timecodes or blurry pictures.

How Do You Feel?: Tony is bothered about giving Eric Scatino’s car to Meadow. He knew she would freak out before he gave it to her. Tony says he spent years shielding Meadow from certain truths and now he is rubbing her nose in them. Melfi suggests Tony was preparing his daughter for reality and life outside the family home. He refutes any suggestion what he did was noble.

Sleeping With The Fishes:
Sean Giamonte, killed by a single shot to the head by Christopher during the ambush.

Quote/Unquote: Tony reveals his sensitivity to gay men when Meadow talks about how many Nobel Prize winners live in San Francisco: ‘Nobel Prize for what, packing fudges?’ Tony sees Richie arrive: ‘I was wondering why the squirrels went quiet.’ Richie says Christopher’s nose is like a natural canopy: ‘Did you ever notice he’s the only motherfucker who can smoke a cigarette in the riad with his hands tied behind his back?’ Tony says he wants Richie where he can see him and Carmela agrees: ‘That’s what we mean when we say family.’

Soundtrack: ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty. ‘Dancing in the Dark’ by Tony Bennett. ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting. ‘Up ‘N Da Club’ by 2nd II None. ‘F**k With Your Head’ by DJ Rap. ‘Lap Dance’ by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

Surveillance Report: The title of this episode alludes to a Stanley Kubrick film, ‘Full Metal Jacket’, about Vietnam and the dehumanising effect of the war. The roles of twins sisters Jeannie and Joan Cusamano are both played by the same actress, Saundra Santiago. Adriana’s last name is La Cerva. Her mother’s name is Liz. This episode breaks the norm of having a song play out over the closing credits. Instead there is just the sound of Christopher’s life support machine, emphasis the uncertain ending.

The Verdict: ‘You got to shut one door before another one can open.’ Richie tries to reach out to Tony as Christopher puts his life in order – but both suffer major reversals. Carmela uses all her mob wife charms to improve Meadow’s chances of getting into Georgetown University. This episode is a solid, workmanlife instalment made much more memorable by the attempted hit. ‘Full Leather Jacket’ gently develops a range of subplots then creates the show’s first true cliffhanger ending.
The shooting of Christopher is all the more shocking because the audience knows at the back of its mind that almost every character in ‘The Sopranos’ is expendable, unlike most television series. However, the twin irritants of Junior and Livia are conspicuous by their absence in this episode and even the scene with Dr Melfi feels like an afterthought. When Tony questions the value of his session, he seems to be speaking the subconscious words of the screen writer…


Sadako said...

Great write up. Loved this show so much.

Nick said...

Tripe and tomatos??? Yech!

I do love this show!

William Tyszkiewicz said...

my fiance and I argue this for ever.I told her that Genie and Joan cuazamano is the same actress.she did not believe me and would not budge on this.your summary on this episode proves me right and we could finally put this argument to rest...thank you for helping us clear it up...SINCERLY Billy James