Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #26: Funhouse

US Transmission Date: 9 April 2000
UK Transmission Date: 4 January 2001

Writer: David Chase and Todd A. Kessler • Director: John Patterson
Cast: Ajay Mehta (Sundeep Kumar), Dan Grimaldi (Patsy Parisi), Robert Lupone (Bruce Cusamano), Barbara Andres (Quintina), David Anzuelo (Flight Attendant), Ray Garvey (Guard #1), David Healy (Vice Principal), Jay Palit (Indian Man), Kathleen Fasolino (Meadow’s Friend)

Storyline: Tony meets with Livia and Barbara to decide whether Livia should live. Tony gives his mother illegally obtained airline tickets from the Scatino bust out for Livia and her sister Quintina to go stay with Aunt Gemma in Tucson. Tony and Pussy have an Indian meal at a restaurant and collect a fat envelope of cash from the owner. They go on to Vesuvio where Tony gives Silvio a cut of the money. They have another meal with Silvio and Furio. Patsy Parisi – brother of the late Philly Parisi – arrives with a sable coat for Tony. Tony goes home and presents the coat to Carmela. They make love with Carmela wearing just the coat. Tony falls asleep and starts having a series of surreal dreams. He wakes up and realises he’s about to vomit. Tony just makes it to their en suite bathroom in time.

Pussy meets with Skip Lipari and has to hand over nearly all his cut from a telephone calling card scam. Tony has another dream, including a section where he thinks he wakes up and has a session with Dr Melfi. Artie Bucco arrives to finalise the menu for Meadow’s graduation party. Tony accuses Artie of giving him food poisoning but Artie blames the Indian food Tony had already eaten by the time he got to Vesuvio. Tony runs for the bathroom again. Artie calls Pussy but he only had a touch of diarrhoea, so Tony’s illness can’t have been caused by the shellfish he shared with Pussy at Vesuvio. Livia and her sister are arrested at the airport.

Tony has another dream about Dr Melfi. The Soprano’s next door neighbour, Dr Cusamano, visits and thinks Tony has food poisoning which will pass. Tony dreams that Pussy is a fish who confesses to working for the feds. Tony gets out of bed and gets dressed. He and Silvio visit Pussy, not giving their friend enough time to put on his wire. Tony invites Pussy to help him decide whether to buy a new boat. Tony fakes another stomach cramp and goes through Pussy’s things while Pussy and Silvio have a coffee downstairs. Tony discovers the wire and tapes from a recording device – there can be no doubt that Pussy is a rat.

Tony, Pussy and Silvio are met at the docks by Paulie. They take the boat out to sea when Pussy is confronted with the truth. He claims to have given the feds disinformation and titbits, nothing substantial. He’s been a rat for 18 months. Pussy asks not to be shot in the face. His friends gun him down, wrap his body in a black tarpaulin, weight it down and throw the corpse overboard. Livia calls Tony from the airport to say she has been arrested. FBI Agents Harris, Cubitoso and others arrive to arrest Tony. They’ve already found more illegal airline tickets in his four wheel drive. They are taking Tony away in cuffs just as Meadow gets home with her friends.
Tony is soon bailed out by his lawyer who says the charges are relatively minor. Tony is angry with himself for giving the tickets to his mother.

Dr Melfi senses Tony is full of sorrow about something but is covering it up with rage. She feels she hasn’t confronted Tony enough in therapy because she was frightened of him. Tony walks out, waving goodbye and singing. Meadow graduates. Afterwards Tony tells Christopher he is recommended him to be a made man. Tony talks to Davie Scatino, who has split from Christine and is moving near Las Vegas to become a cowboy. He invites Tony to visit him. The Sopranos host a graduation party for Meadow, with guests from the family and the Family. Tony smokes a cigar. At the seashore, the sun sets and the waves keep rolling in…

Mobspeak: Tony tells Christopher he is proposing him for his button (becoming a made man, a full member of the Mafia).

Mamma Mia: Livia whines that Tony won’t accept food from his own mother. She says she never conspired with Uncle Junior. Livia refuses to go back to Green Grove but Tony the retirement community has already refused to take her back because she was abusive to the staff. After she gets arrested Tony denounces his mother as a goddamn idiot and a fucking demented old bat.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Livia tries to get Tony to eat some eggplant. Tony and Pussy have a meal at an Indian restaurant. Tony has chicken vindaloo, which gives him food poisoning. The pair go on to Vesuvio where they order zuppa di mussels and zucchini flowers stuffed with melted dry ricotta. Tony says Artie should put the flowers on the menu for Meadow’s graduation party, for which Artie is doing the catering. After he starts vomiting Tony wonders if the chicken vindaloo was actually cocker spaniel in disguise. Artie visits the Sopranos to finalise the party menu. He denies Tony’s claim that the mussels caused the food poisoning. Artie picks every piece of shellfish himself and Tony had top of the line Prince Edward Island mussels. Artie talks about Indian cooking’s use of clarified butter and how it is also used to light funeral pyres, like the one for Indira Gandhi. In one of his dream sequences Tony joins the rest of his family for a dinner of Chinese takeaway food. When he gets arrested Tony tells Agent Cubitoso not to expect any more deli trays to arrive on his birthday. There is a massive cake at Meadow’s graduation party along with all of Artie’s delicious food.

Mobbed Up: In one of Tony’s dreams Silvio repeats his impersonation of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather’ films: ‘Our true enemy has yet to reveal himself.’ Tony sings the theme tune to the TV sitcom ‘Gilligan’s Island’ as he dreams, to the bemusement of Carmela and Dr Cusamano.

How Do You Feel?: Tony pretends to sob in a mocking manner when Dr Melfi suggests his mother inflicted serious psychic injuries on him as a child. The therapist tries to get past his rants about Indian food and his mother because she suspects there is something else which is causing him sorrow. Tony refuses to be drawn and walks out, waving his fingers at her and singing.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Salvatore ‘Big Pussy’ Bonpensiero, shot repeatedly by Tony, Paulie and Silvio for being a rat. They abide by his last request not to shoot him in the face. The trio weight and dump Pussy’s body at sea.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano:
This episode goes for the record of most dream sequences, although the ‘Isabella’ episode from Season One might run it close. But where those dreams were drug-fuelled fantasies, these dreams are brought on by food poisoning. Here’s a full list of the surrealisms – can you say fish? In the first dream sequence, Tony is walking along a snowy, deserted boardwalk by the sea. He meets Paulie, Hesh, Christopher, Pussy, Silvio and one of the Parisi brothers on the boardwalk. They are all waiting for someone who hasn’t arrived yet. Tony has been diagnosed with a terminal disease and has decided to set fire to himself, rather than put everyone through the agony of his illness. The crew praise his bravery. Tony thanks Parisi for the sable coat, thinking the brother is Patsy. But it is Philly, who turns to reveal the gunshot wound in the side of his head. Tony gets impatient and decides to go ahead with the burning. He pours a can of petrol over himself. Pussy has disappeared. Philly is getting a shoeshine from Gigi Cestone, the man who killed him. Paulie lights a Zippo and hands it to Tony. Christopher asks what if the doctors are wrong? As Tony thinks about this, he in engulfed in a fireball. In the second dream sequence, Tony is walking on the boardwalk again but the snow is gone. Junior looks at him from the broken window of an abandoned building. Silvio talks to him and imitates Al Pacino. Tony smiles widely. He looks throw a viewer out to sea, but the view is of the inside of a huge, empty railway station terminal. Tony sees himself playing cards with Paulie. He pulls out a gun and shots Paulie in the chest. Tony wakes up and hears Carmela’s voice. He goes to a session with Dr Melfi and talks about his dream. Melfi turns into Annalisa, the mob boss he met in Italy. She speaks with her own voice, then with the voice of Dr Melfi. Tony realises this is all still part of the same dream. In the third dream sequence Tony gets into a red car with Adriana in the driver’s seat and Christopher in the back. Tony asks who Pussy is but gets no response. Somebody hands him a roll of toilet paper from the back of the car – Furio is now sitting beside Christopher in the back. They all drive away in the car – a tiny, bright red bubble car. In the fourth dream sequence Tony sits in Dr Melfi’s waiting room. She calls him in and he follows, his trousers bulging with a massive erection. They talk about his penis, the dream about the duck stealing his penis, pussy and Pussy. Tony gets understandably confused and knows he’s in a dream. Melfi says she finds Tony immensely attractive, even though he goes out of his way to repulse her. He fucks Dr Melfi on her desk. In the fifth dream sequence, Tony has a conversation with Pussy who is represented by a talking fish on a fish stall at the seaside. Pussy admits to being a rat and says he gave the feds a lot of information. He jokes that the fish on either side of him are asleep. Tony tips the fish stall over in anger. In the sixth and final dream sequence, Tony arrives at a typical Soprano family dinner. He announces that he bought a boat today. Meadow announces that she has decided on going to Columbia University. Everyone is happy.

Quote/Unquote: Tony remembers how his mother slowly destroyed his father, a tough mobster. ‘He was a squeaking little gerbil when he died.’

Soundtrack: ‘Thru And Thru’ by the Rolling Stones. ‘Free Fallin’’ by Tom Petty. ‘Baubles, Bangles & Beads’ by Frank Sinatra. ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ by the Temptations. ‘Diamonds And Rust’ by Joan Baez. ‘Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupier’ by Pierre Henry.

Surveillance Report: In Tony’s first dream sequence, the Parisi brother says he is Philly and shows his gunshot wound to the head. In the episode where Philly was shot, he was played by Ian Grimaldi. Yet the credits for this episode only mention Patsy Parisi, played by Dan Grimaldi. Patsy does appear earlier in the episode but doesn’t speak and only speaking parts are mentioned in credits. In Tony’s final dream sequence he imagines Meadow announcing that she has chosen to go to Columbia. In Season Three she does exactly that, making Tony’s dream eerily prescient. The final sequence for the season shows shots of everyone celebrating at Meadow’s graduation party intercut with scenes of the many activities controlled by the Soprano Family – pornography, garbage collection, the stock brokerage, the telephone calling card scam, the motel and others. The final image is of the sea rolling in as waves onto the beach as the sun sets.

The Verdict: ‘Not in the face, okay?’ Tony contracts food poisoning and realises Pussy is a rat. Tony, Paulie and Silvio execute their friend at sea. Meadow graduates from high school. The FBI finally manage to arrest Tony, in connection with illegally obtained airline tickets. But they lose a significant informant with the ‘disappearance’ of Pussy, who is left literally sleeping with the fishes. This brings sadness for Tony, but it is balanced by Meadow’s graduation. This episode ties up two long-running plot threads with the revelation that Pussy is a rat and Christopher finally becoming a made man. But unlike the finale to Season One, this episode does not paint the series into a corner for future instalments. Instead it sets up several new plots for the coming year, such as Meadow going to college, Tony’s feelings about having to execute his friend and the FBI tightening the net around Tony. Season Three should make for very interesting viewing, but one very significant character will be absent…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding Soprano's Episode: "Funhouse"...Can anyone properly identify what Brand or Make is the Red Bubble Car used in this dream sequence?

"Tony realises this is all still part of the same dream. In the third dream sequence Tony gets into a red car with Adriana in the driver’s seat and Christopher in the back. Tony asks who Pussy is but gets no response. Somebody hands him a roll of toilet paper from the back of the car – Furio is now sitting beside Christopher in the back. They all drive away in the car – a tiny, bright red bubble car." Again, what is the Brand or Make of this car?