Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #23: Bust-Out

US Transmission Date: 19 March 2000
UK Transmission Date: 14 December 2000

Writer: Frank Renzulli and Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess • Director: John Patterson
Cast: Susan Campanaro (Mother at Mall), Janis Dardaris (Karen), Mitch Holleman (Boy at Mall), Olga Merediz (Fran), Chuck Montgomery (Larry Arthur), Antone Pagan (Detective Ramos), Holly Regan (Carol Arthur), Vince Viverito (Detective Giardina)

Storyline: Concerned citizen Larry Arthur identifies Tony Soprano from a mugshot as one of two men he saw driving away from the scene of Matt Bevilaqua’s shooting. Arthur picks Tony from a book of mugshots, not knowing the true identity of who he has linked to the murder. Tony meets Richie at a mall to discuss business. Richie complains that Barone Sanitation is overcharging him for tipping garbage. Tony says he will see about getting Richie a better rate. Tony tells Carmela he wants to spend more time with AJ. Tony thinks his son needs toughening up.

Tony, his crew and Richie have lunch at the Ramsey Outdoor sports equipment store. Dave Scatino is ordering large quantities of picnic coolers, mineral water and books of airline tickets on instructions from Tony – all of it charged to the store. FBI Agent Harris and Detective Harold Giardina from the Essex County Task Force come to Tony’s house. They want him to come to the police station to talk about Matt Bevilaqua, but Tony declines the invitation. Pussy meets with Agent Skip Lipari. Skip demands to know if Pussy was with Tony when he murdered Matt. Pussy denies all knowledge. Skip says a witness puts Tony at the scene. He demands that Pussy wear a wire to record Tony talking about the shooting.

Tony talks with his lawyer about the case. Neil Mink advises Tony to stall for time and not to give law enforcement any excuse to arrest him. Carmela meets with other mothers to discuss plans for the graduation party for Meadow’s class. Afterwards Christine Scatino stays behind to talk with Carmela. Christine is picked up by her brother, a decorator called Vic Musto. Carmela gets his business card because she wants the dining room redecorated. There is an immediate attraction between Vic and Carmela. Davie Scatino considers blowing his own head off but is interrupted by Christine arriving home.

Janice and Richie have sex on the couch in Livia’s house. Richie holds a gun to Janice’s head as he takes her from behind. She talks dirty with him but irritates Richie by saying he should be Boss as they fuck. Richie wants to remain loyal but Janice suggests he talk to Junior. They are interrupted by Livia coming down from her bedroom on a stairlift. Carmela has an erotic dream about Vic. She wakes up feeling guilty but Tony isn’t in bed with her. Tony and Pussy wait for Paulie and Furio at Ramsey Outdoor. Paulie says there’s an eyeball witness who saw Tony at the crime scene. Tony decides to make preparations in case he has to go on the run.

Carmela and Christine have lunch at Vesuvio. Christine says Davie has a serious gambling problem, but the store is safe because it’s in her name. She says Vic is a widower – his wife died of breast cancer. Tony invites AJ for a trip to the movies but his son wants to go to the mall with his friends. Tony lets him go but is disappointed. Tony tells Dr Melfi he may be going to prison for a long time. She says he seems scared. Tony doesn’t believe he deserves jail.

Paulie and Tony meet that night at Ramsey Outdoor. Paulie hasn’t been able to find the witness yet. Tony sends Paulie home, then discovers Davie sleeping in a tent in the store. Davie says some of the airline tickets have arrived. He asks why Tony let him into the card game which got him into debt. Tony says it’s his nature to take from others. AJ comes third in his race at a swimming meet, watched by Carmela. AJ is disappointed Tony didn’t attending, breaking a promise. Tony takes $400,000 to his lawyer for safekeeping. If Tony has to lam it, he wants Mink to make the money available to Carmela.

Tony and Carmela argue about his broken promise. Carmela becomes furious with Tony for shutting her out and attacks him. He throws her on to a sofa and she storms off to the bedroom. Meadow gets home and finds her father alone, drinking in the dark. Tony says everything he does is for his children. Vic and his assistant Ramone redecorate the dining room. Carmela takes Vic into a downstairs bathroom to discuss its décor and they kiss passionately. Both excited and embarrassed, they stop and Vic returns to redecorating.

Richie and Janice visit Junior, bringing him goods from Ramsey Outdoor. Richie tries to talk Junior into killing Tony but Junior won’t have it. He warns Richie to be careful of Janice. Meadow gets letters from the colleges she applied to. She visits Livia to share the good news. Meadow was accepted by Berkeley, N.Y.U. and B.U. and is on the wait list for Columbia, Penn and Georgetown. Vic phones Carmela to talk about what happened between them. Vic says he has two jobs booked for the next day and he could go to the other job while Ramone finishes the job for Carmela. She suggests Ramone go to the other job so she and Vic can talk over lunch. He agrees.

Larry Arthur’s wife sees a newspaper article which mentions that Matt was an associate for the Sopranos and the suspect is a high ranking Mafia members. Larry is terrified of any reprisal against him. Vic meets Davie in a bar. Davie says he has gambled away everything – savings, the business, even his son Eric’s college fund. Vic offers to pay for Eric’s education. Davie says he can’t go to the police because he owes money to the Sopranos. Paulie calls Tony to say the witness has withdrawn his statement – Tony is in the clear.

Tony tells Dr Melfi about meeting Annalisa in Italy and how she said he brought his troubles on himself. Dr Melfi agreed that was at the root of things. Tony gives Beansie $50,000 to give to the spinal cord injury foundation. Carmela prepares an elaborate lunch for Vic but it is Ramone who comes to finish the decorating. Liquidators close down Ramsey Outdoor and break up the business. Davie Scatino will be declared bankrupt. Tony take AJ out in his boat and lets him steer.

Mobspeak: Paulie says the FBI has an eyeball witness (someone who says they saw Tony at a crime scene). Tony tells Davie he is not the first guy to get busted out (bankrupted by mobsters ordering goods through a legitimate business but never paying the bills).

Mamma Mia: Livia over-reacts when Janice suggests buying a second television for Livia to have in her bedroom. ‘Listen to her. Like Rose Kennedy with all our money to throw around.’ Livia complains to Meadow that Janice never locks the front door. Livia doesn’t trust that new mailman.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Tony and his crew order cases of Ramlosa mineral water through the books of Ramsey Outdoor. They charge takeaway to the store, including four pizzas and a chicken and peppers sandwich for Richie. When Carmela and Christine go to Vesuvio for lunch, Artie offers to make them a special tasting menu. He also suggests they try some Ramlosa mineral water, on which he got a great deal. Carmela makes sandwiches for Vic and Ramone. Vic says he is hungry for a home-cooked meal – his late wife was a gourmet cook. Janice takes Junior some salami and eggs. Livia is watching an infomercial for kitchen equipment when Meadow visits. The equipment enables the user to make homemade sausage, pasta and even chocolate pasta for children. Carmela invites Vic for lunch. She offers to cook a du poulet with mesculin salad and a nice bottle of Barollo. Next day Carmela is cooking up a storm, including a whole chicken, when Ramone arrives instead of Vic.

Mobbed Up: Junior is watching a daytime soap opera when Janice and Richie visit. Junior says one character is a whore who fucked an arson investigator in the previous week’s show. Tony watches a show about General Patton on the History Channel.

How Do You Feel?: Tony is sad that his son would rather go to the mall than be with his father. Dr Melfi asks Tony how he feels about the idea he could be sent to prison. Tony says he wants to stay around until his children have grown up and left the house, after that he doesn’t care if they give him the electric chair. He doesn’t know how he feels. Dr Melfi says he seems scared. When the witness recants his testimony, Tony seems he feels relieved. He recalls meeting Annalisa and says she was right – he brings his troubles on himself. But Tony is feeling so good about avoiding the murder charge he waives the rest of the therapy session.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano: Tony has a brief flashback to murdering Matt Bevilaqua, triggered by a small boy calling for his mother at a mall. Carmela has an erotic dream about Vic. She mentions the dream to his sister Christine, but says Vic was wallpapering her dining room. (Never heard it called that before!)

Quote/Unquote: Vic says he would never get involved with a married woman like Carmela Soprano because he respects the wedding ring. His sister agrees: ‘Especially that ring. Probably came off a dead person’s finger.’ Tony mentions a mobster who ended up in Elvis country. Furio doesn’t understand, so Paulie explains: ‘Anywhere there are no Jews or Italians.’ Paulie says it is difficult getting information from inside the FBI, especially compared to local law enforcement: ‘Local cops, you buy them a Christmas tree, they’ll give you their grandmother.’ Tony sums himself up quite neatly by alluding to a fable; ‘It’s my nature. The frog and the scorpion, you know?’

Soundtrack: ‘Cast Your Fate To The Wind’ by the Wince Guaraldi Trio. ‘Wheel In The Sky’ by Journey. ‘Con Te Partiro’ by Andrea Bocelli. ‘You’re Still The One’ by Shania Twain. ‘Sugar Coated’ by Bitch Funky Sex Machine.

Surveillance Report:
Tony quotes Junior’s line about Virginia ham from ‘The Happy Wanderer’ but Richie doesn’t understand. Later Janice quotes Sun Tzu to Richie, a writer Dr Melfi previously suggested Tony read if he wanted to be a better gangster. While Carmela is preparing lunch for Vic, she listens to Shania Twain sing ‘Still The One’ – a song about fidelity.

The Verdict:
‘Sometimes… we’re all hypocrites.’ Tony and his crew bankrupt Davie Scatino through his sporting good store, while Carmela gets the hots for Davie’s brother-in-law. Tony contemplates spending the rest of his life in prison. This episode proves how much the viewer empathises with Tony Soprano. He murdered Matt Bevilaqua in the previous instalment and now faces imprisonment for his actions, yet the audience wants him to get off the hook. When it happens, the sense of relief is palpable. This just shows the strength of the writing and James Gandolfini’s acting. ‘Bust Out’ is another fine episode as Season Two builds to its climax. The script concentrates on the impact of Tony’s action, both on his own family and how it affects other people. This is what ‘The Sopranos’ does best.

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