Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #25: The Knight in White Satin Armor

US Transmission Date: 2 April 2000
UK Transmission Date: 3 January 2001

Writer: Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess • Director: Allen Coulter
Cast: Jason Cerbone (Jackie Aprile, Jr), Richard Maldone (Albert Barese), Andy Blankenbuehler (Richie Aprile, Jr), Alla Kliouka (Svetlana)

Storyline: Tony helps Janice begin moving furniture into the house she has bought with Richie. Richie’s son, Richie Jr, is ballroom dancing around the house – he’s ranked in the world top ten. Also visiting is Jackie Aprile Jr, son of the late boss and Richie’s nephew. Tony has sex with Irina and then dumps her. She threatens to commit suicide unless he comes back. Tony meets with Larry Boy Barese’s cousin Albert, Richie, Jackie Jr and Dick Barone to divide up lucrative garbage contracts. Tony takes away one of Richie’s contracts as punishment for continuing to sell cocaine on his routes.

Junior meets with his lawyer, who wants an extra $400,000 for litigation against the wiretaps which could send Junior to jail. Junior gets home to discover Tony has cut off another of his cash supplies. Richie wants to whack Tony but Junior suggests he seek support from Albert Barese. Pussy tries to give a gift to his FBI handler, Agent Skip Lipari. Pussy is now ridiculously co-operative and imagines a future where he could tour police departments giving lectures about organised crime. He gives Skip an airline ticket from the Scatino bust out. Skip wants Pussy to wear a wire to the engagement party for Janice and Richie which the Sopranos are hosting.

Carmela smells CK One on a shirt of Tony’s in the laundry basket. This means he is still seeing his Russian mistress. At the engagement party Pussy tries to get information from Tony on tape, but Tony is obsessed with Richie. Carmela is cold and distant with Tony. When Janice gives a speech about how Richie is her soulmate, Carmela leaves the room and bursts into tears. Tony gets a phone call from Irina’s friend Svetlana, Irina is in hospital after getting drunk and taking twenty sleeping pills. Tony visits Irina and agrees to pay her medical bills.

Carmela helps Janice choose a wedding dress. Carmela says Janice will have to accept Richie having a mistress within a year. Janice doubts any mistress would let Richie fuck them with a loaded revolver held to their head. She says he usually takes the ammunition out. Skip and his boss, Agent Cubitoso, discuss Pussy’s conversion to gung-ho informant. Cubitoso warns Skip not to get too close to Pussy. Richie finds Victor Musto in a decorating store and thanks him for not getting involved with her.

Tony asks Dr Melfi for a psychiatrist for Irina. He says he is dumping the mistress because he’s supposed – and it’s not fun anymore. Richie reports Albert Barese’s reluctance to Junior. After Richie has gone, Junior decides he is better off with Tony – nobody respects Richie. Pussy visits Christopher at the stock brokerage in search of fresh information for Skip. Christopher invites Pussy along on a planned raid on a truck loaded with Pokemon trading cards. Pussy phones Skip with this news but the FBI agent warns him not to get involved in violent crime.

Tony tries to give the therapist’s number to Irina but she refuses it. Richie tells Janice to stop spending on the new house as money may be tight, thanks to Tony’s rulings. Janice says Tony stopped AJ seeing Richie, turning Richie further against Tony. Pussy follows Christopher on his way to the hijack but has to swerve to avoid another vehicle. Pussy collides with a cyclist and crashes his car into another. He limps away from the scene. Irina calls Tony at his home but he hangs up on her. Carmela confronts Tony about his mistress. Afterwards Carmela wishes Tony were more like Victor Musto, but Gabriella Dante tells Carmela that Victor stayed away from her because he feared Tony.

Junior tells Tony that Richie plans to whack him. Tony increases Junior’s income by 50% in gratitude. Junior wonders how much influence Janice has over Richie in this matter. Tony orders Silvio to whack Richie. Janice and Richie argue at Livia’s house about whether Richie’s son is gay. Richie punches Janice in the face and then goads her. She gets a gun and shots him twice in the chest, killing Richie. Janice phones Tony for help. He arrives to find her having a cigarette by the body. Tony calls his crew for help. Skip confronts Pussy at the hospital where he is being treated. He tells the mobster he will never be able to join the FBI. Pussy sulks.

Christopher and Furio take Richie’s body to Satriale’s Pork Store, where they chop it into small pieces for easier disposal. Livia comes downstairs just as Tony arrives to take Janice to the bus station – she is going back to Seattle. Mother and son argue, then Tony storms out. He trips and falls as he leaves – Livia laughs at him. Silvio gives Irina $75,000 for her future from Tony. When Tony finally gets home, he hints to Carmela what has happened to Richie. She says she is going to Rome for three weeks with Rosalie Aprile after Meadow graduates. Tony will have to look after the children when she’s away.

Mamma Mia:
When she hears that Richie is missing, Livia says he probably jilted Janice and it’s the story of her daughter’s life. Livia denies nagging Janice about her weight or calling her a tramp. The old woman reveals her philosophy of child rearing: ‘Babies are like animals. They’re no different than dogs.’ Livia sobs and whines one of her beloved catchphrases about giving her life to her children on a silver platter. She calls Tony cruel when he won’t kiss her goodbye, then laughs at him when he trips and falls.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Carmela serves finger foods on trays at the engagement party for Richie and Janice. Tony sends Frank Cubitoso a large tray of cold meats, bread and cheese with balloons for the FBI Agent’s birthday. Junior is eating a sandwich for lunch when Richie reports that Albert Barese wouldn’t support a hit on Tony. Junior loses his appetite. Janice cooks Richie his last supper, tomato sauce and pasta. Christopher cuts up Richie’s body using the equipment at Satriale’s. He says it will be while before he eats anything from the pork store again.

Mobbed Up: Tony asks if Richie Jr is still ‘Flying Down To Rio’, a ballroom dancing reference to the first film to feature Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Tony asks Junior if he’s become a secret agent like Matt Helm, who was played by Dean Martin in four films.

How Do You Feel?:
Tony says he is ending relationship with Irina because he thinks that what he’s supposed to do and that’s what Dr Melfi has been telling him to do all the time. The therapist refutes passing judgement on a patient’s sex life. Tony admits he dumping Irina now because it’s not fun anymore.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Richie Aprile, shot twice by Janice for punching her in the face and taunting her. He had already been marked for death by Tony, so Richie was not long for the world anyway. Janice just got her retaliation in first.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano: Livia says she had the strangest dreams all night long. People were coming and going but she couldn’t get off her bed. In fact, Janice had given her mother two Nembutals to keep Livia quiet.

Quote/Unquote: Irina tells Tony she is reading ‘Chicken Soul for the Soul’ but he suggests a different book. ‘You should read “Tomato Sauce For Your Ass”,' he replies, 'it’s the Italian version.’ Melfi asks Tony if he feels responsible for Irina’s suicide attempt. He says he was banging Irina for two years. ‘Was that a hardship for her?’ Melfi asks. Carmela is upset with Tony’s reason for the perfume on his shirts. ‘You’re putting me in a position where I’m feeling sorry for a whore who fucks you?’ Carmela sums up Richie and Janice’s fatal attraction: ‘That… that was not a marriage made in heaven.’

Soundtrack: ‘I Saved The World Today’ by Annie Lennox. ‘The Memory Remains’ by Metallica.

Surveillance Report:
There’s a bizarre use of subtitles in this episode for some of Irina’s dialogue – even though she’s speaking English. Her accent is thick but not so thick it can’t be understood. The subtitles are reminiscent of scenes from the David Lynch TV series ‘Twin Peaks’. When Richie and Albert discuss whacking Tony, Richie calls Larry Boy Barese the king of dermabrasion, a reference to his recent facelift. At the end this scene a sound like machine gun fire breaks in from the next scene. The picture changes to show the sound coming from a paint mixer at a DIY store. This clever transition was also used in the film ‘The Usual Suspects.’ Christopher pronounces Pokemon as ‘Pokey-Man’. Irina retells the story about her friend Svetlana’s prosthetic leg falling off in a Gap store and her boyfriend carrying her out. Irina previously told this story to Tony over the phone in the ‘College’ episode during Season One. Irina creates this episode’s title by combining the romantic notion of a knight in shining armour with the song title ‘Knights In White Satin’ by the Moody Blues. Livia laughs when Tony trips outside her home. This echoes dialogue from a first season episode in which he recalled his mother laughing when his father fell over as an example of a loving memory of Livia.

The Verdict: ‘All and all though, I’d say it was a pretty good visit.’ Richie tries to organise a hit on Tony but meets his own death at the hands of an unexpected source. Tony dumps his Russian mistress but not without difficulty. Junior allies himself with Tony for the foreseeable future. All the agita between Richie and Tony finally pays off in this gripping episode. Rather than meet the audience’s expectations of having Tony pull the trigger, it’s Janice who does the deed. She might put up with being fucked by a man holding a loaded pistol to her head, but she won’t stand for being punched in the face by her fiancé. But with Janice leaving town, who’ll look after Livia? As that plotline reaches its bloody conclusion, FBI informant Pussy is becoming increasingly unstable. The groundwork has been laid for the finale of Season Two, but it won’t be what viewers expect…

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