Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #34: He Is Risen

US Transmission Date: 15 April 2001

Written by: Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess and Todd A. Kessler • Director: Allen Coulter
Cast: Carl Capotorto (Little Paulie Germani), Anne Asante (Caterina Cella), Kieran Campion (Epsilon Zet), R. J. Reed (Epsilon Zet #2), William Da Ruffa (Joe), Michael Hogan (Dov Ginsberg), Margo Singaliese (Lisa Cestone).

Storyline: Meadow and her roommate Caitlin attend a 1960s theme party at Columbia’s Epsilon Zet frat house. Caitlin gets high on Ecstasy from Jackie Jr, who is also at the party. He is affiliated to Epsilon Zet at Rutger’s University. Meadow tries to buy Ecstasy from Jackie Jr but he gives her the first hit for free. Ralphie and the rest of the Aprile crew are having a good night at a private casino when Tony and Paulie arrives. The crew pay their respects but Ralphie does so very reluctantly. He turns down Tony’s offer of a drink. Ralphie is still bitter that Tony punched him, a made man, over the murder of Tracee.

Meadow and Jackie Jr have gone to Meadow’s dorm room. Jackie wants to fuck Meadow but she says no before passing out. He resists the urge to rape, just sneaking a peak at breasts before leaving. Tony and Silvio discuss the problem with Ralphie after dinner at Vesuvio. Silvio says Ralphie has a legitimate grievance. Tony only has two choices – make nice or make Ralphie disappear. Ralphie will become a captain only over my dead body, Tony says.

In another restaurant Ralphie is bitching about Tony. He is not looking forward to having Thanksgiving dinner at the Soprano household. Rosalie Aprile asks Jackie Jr if he will be coming to the Sopranos’ dinner with her and Ralphie. Jackie wants to know if Meadow will be there. Carmela phones Meadow to find out if her daughter will be attending Thanksgiving dinner. Meadow is reluctant to come unless Jackie Jr will be there. Rosalie phones Carmela about the dinner and the two mothers realise their children are romantically involved. Tony comes home and asks Carmela to cancel the dinner invitation to Rosalie and Ralphie.

Tony arrives at Dr Melfi’s office to discover he is double-booked with Gloria Trillo, an attractive Mercedes sales rep. They flirt for a few minutes until Dr Melfi comes out. Tony volunteers to let Gloria have the appointment, he will come back later for a 7pm session. Carmela calls Rosalie and cancels the dinner invitation by lying that her father is unwell. At his rescheduled therapy session, Tony praises the strategy in a book recommended by Dr Melfi - The Art of War by Chinese general Sun Tzu. He asks about Gloria Trillo, wondering why she needs a shrink. Dr Melfi says she cannot discuss her patients. When the session ends it is dark outside. Tony offers to walk Melfi to her car but she says she has work to do.

The Sopranos’ extended family gatherings for Thanksgiving dinner. Janice brings Aaron Arkaway, a narcoleptic man from her prayer group. Tony tries to make peace with Meadow, who is close in age to dead stripper Tracee. At the Aprile house Ralphie is in a foul mood. Rosalie turns to match-making, suggesting Jackie Jr go see if Meadow wants to go to a movie. He arrives to find the Sopranos still around the dinner table. Jackie Jr takes Meadow out. Later they kiss outside Hunter Scangarello’s house. Jackie Jr wants to sleep with Meadow but she asks for some time. Jackie Jr roars off in his car, sulking about being rejected.

Tony and Carmela discuss the budding romance between Jackie Jr and Meadow. Tony watches a Mercedes ad on TV. He is thinking about Gloria. Tony meets with Gigi at the Bada Bing to discuss Ralphie. Gigi is stressed by his new role as captain of the Aprile crew, along with the cost of house renovations and sending his children to college soon. Tony says Gigi is doing a good job. Silvio comes in as Gigi leaves. Silvio says all this stress is killing Gigi.

Ralphie visits Johnny Sack at home, complaining about Tony’s attitude. Ralphie threatens to whack Tony but Johnny Sack dissuades him. Ralphie asks if he could switch Families, give his allegiance to New York. Johnny says that would jeopardise the long-standing ties between New York and the Sopranos. Ralphie blames murdering Tracee on cocaine. Johnny tells Ralphie to apologise, then Tony will make things right. Johnny Sack and Tony meet at Vesuvio. Johnny suggests making Ralphie a captain but Tony rejects the idea. He is unhappy at Johnny’s intervention in New Jersey business. Johnny phones Ralphie and see Tony wants a meeting. Afterwards Ralphie offers to help Jackie Jr secure regular supplies of Ecstasy for sale.

Ralphie meets with Tony at Vesuvio and apologises for his recent actions. He blames events on the coke and swears the problem will not happen again. Tony does not apologise for punching Ralphie. Gigi arrives at a card game for members of the Aprile crew. He complains that his bowels are clogged by Thanksgiving turkey. Johnny Sack watches a TV news report about work starting on the New Jersey esplanade project. The mob will need its own bulldozer to take away all the money it will make from the project. Ralphie storms in, furious about Tony. Johnny tries to calm him down. Gigi is on the toilet, straining against constipation.

Tony visits Junior and they discuss the Ralphie problem. Junior says there are no easy answers when you’re the boss. Vito and the rest of the Aprile crew discover Gigi dead on the toilet. At the funeral home, Tony discusses the situation with Paulie and Silvio. A new captain has to be appointed for the Aprile crew and Ralphie is the only obvious candidate. Later, Tony has a meeting with Ralphie at Vesuvio. He makes Ralphie captain but refuses to have a drink with the newly elevated mobster.

Meadow goes out with Jackie Jr. When he refuses to give her a lift, she pinches his car keys and tries to drive off. Meadow crashes the car outside but escapes unscathed. Jackie Jr says he doesn’t care about the car – it’s stolen – he only cares about her. She agrees to sleep with him. Tony visits the Mercedes dealership where Gloria works. They flirt and then take a test drive together. The pair go to Tony’s boat, the Stugots, where they fuck. Gloria phones Dr Melfi to cancel an appointment for later that day. Dr Melfi thinks she hears Tony’s voice in the background…

Deep and Meaningful: Tony embarks on an affair with Gloria after two brief moments earlier in the episode. He watches a TV ad for Mercedes and tells Carmela he is thinking about getting one. She says he should, not realising the subtext of what her husband is saying – he is thinking of sleeping with a Mercedes sales rep. Later, Tony gets a second, unwitting approval from Junior. His uncle says a boss has to find their pleasures where they can.

Mobspeak: Silvio talks about living through the walyo (Italian) version of Thanksgiving dinner.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti:
Turkey, turkey and more turkey – the big bird dominates this episode as part of the Thanksgiving dinner tradition. Ralphie complains about eating with Tony. ‘Fuck him and his turkey. I ought to shove a drumstick up his ass.’
Reverend James Jr visits the Bada Bing where Tony and his crew discuss the coming feasts. The priest says everyone has to love eating turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. The mobsters disagree. The Italian-American version is much bigger, beginning with major antipasto, then soup, meatballs, baked manicotti and then turkey with all the trimmings. Christopher delivers a truck of stolen frozen turkeys to the Bada Bing. Carmela unloads food shopping as she discusses Thanksgiving dinner with Rosalie Aprile. Carmela is counting on Rosalie for her almond torte. Tony brings home a massive frozen turkey from the Bada Bing. At Thanksgiving Janice reveals she was a waitress at a Kenny Rogers restaurant. When Tony sees Meadow carrying a plate of food to the table, he remembers Tracee giving him date and walnut bread. At the Aprile house, Ralphie picks disconsolately at his turkey dinner. Jackie Jr complements his mother on the food. When Jackie arrives at the Soprano house, everyone is still at the dinner table, picking at fruit and cheese. Jackie Jr turns down turkey sandwiches. When Ralphie first visits Johnny Sack at home, he also turns down leftover turkey, this time offered by Ginny Sack. Johnny and Tony eat pasta at Vesuvio when they discuss Ralphie. Jackie Jr has a bowl of cereal while Ralphie is on the phone with Johnny. Tony eats pasta at Vesuvio while Ralphie apologises. Gigi brings a brown bag filled with turkey sandwiches when he joins the rest of the Aprile crew for the card game. Vito Spatafore hungrily examines the sandwiches. Gig complains that the turkey is clogging his bowels. Tony takes Junior a bag loaded with leftover turkey, stuffing and manicotti but his uncle turns it down. Food is going right through him, unlike the unfortunate Gigi.

Mobbed Up: Junior is watching a daytime soap opera, The Bold and The Beautiful, when Tony comes to visit. Tony, Silvio and Paulie discuss famous people who died on the toilet. Silvio talks about a Hollywood guy called Don something who had a similar fate. Silvio thinks he was the producer of The Simpson. In fact, he’s referring to Don Simpson, producer of films Top Gun and The Rock.

How Do You Feel?: Tony complains about having problems sleeping, due to a ‘management’ problem with an underling.

How Do You Feel, Doctor?: Dr Melfi tells her therapist that she feels like shouting at her own patients to stop whining. She is still recovering from the trauma of being raped but feels that no-one is listening to her feelings. She just wants to say she hurts and be heard. Melfi relates the moment where Tony offered to escort her to her car. She says she almost fell in his arms crying.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Gigi Cestone, dead of a heart attack after straining too hard on the toilet. Not a very dignified way to go.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano:
Tony has a fleeting flashback to dead stripper Tracee when he sees Meadow carrying a plate of food.

Quote/Unquote: Silvio sums up the Ralphie problem for Tony: ‘Make him disappear or make nice – you only got two choices.’ Tony sums up the Ralphie problem for Hesh in a different way: ‘He refused a drink because he’s a despicable fuck that I bitch-slapped in a moment of very justified anger.’ Gloria tells Tony why she is seeing a therapist: ‘Serial Killer. I murdered seven relationships.’ Janice feels a chill when she see Jackie Jr taking Meadow out to a movie: ‘ A Soprano and an Aprile…’

Soundtrack: ‘Rag Doll’ by Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons. ‘(Ghost) Riders In The Sky’ by Ramrods. ‘Whoa!’ by Black Rob. ‘The Captain’ by Kasey Chambers. ‘Funky Sex Machine’ by Bo Baral. ‘It’s Good To Be The Queen’ by Sylvia. ‘Touch Me (Thrillseekers Mix)’ by Taskforce.

Surveillance Report: This episode was first broadcast on Easter Sunday in America, so the title ‘He Is Risen’ is a sly pun on the resurrection of Jesus Christ while actually referring to Ralphie’s elevation to captain. Sales of the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu surged dramatically after Tony endorsed its strategic value in this episode.

The Verdict: ‘Have you heard the good news? He is risen.’ The conflict between Tony and Ralphie escalates towards gunfire until an unexpected death provides a solution. Meanwhile Meadow gets it on with Jackie Jr and Tony begins a new affair with a Mercedes sales rep. The Tony and Ralphie war of words seems to be building towards a major conflict but is defused by the all too convenient death of Gigi Cestone. This episode wraps up many of the plot threads from the first half of this season, such as the captaincy of the Aprile crew and the fallout from Ralphie murdering Tracee. But it also brings two new relationships centre-stage, where they will remain for the rest of the season. Meadow and Jackie Jr become a couple, while Tony finds a fresh mistress in Gloria Trillo. But he should have paid more attention to her joke about being a serial killer who murders relationships…

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