Monday, April 30, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #24: House Arrest

US Transmission Date: 26 March 2000
UK Transmission Date: 21 December 2000

Writer: Terence Winter • Director: Tim Van Patten
Cast: Will McCormack (Jason La Penna), Patricia Marand (Helen Barone), Jennifer Albano (Connie), Vito Antuofurmo Snr (Bobby Coniglio), Sabine Singh (Tracy), James Biberi (Maitre’D), Ilene Kristen (Woman Smoker), George Xhilone (Man), Gary Perez (Agent Marquez), Ron Lee Jones (Michael McLuhan), Louis Petraglia (Sanitation Worker), Remy K. Selma (Siraj), Janet Busher (Nurse), Robert McKay (Orderly), Amy Hart Redford (ER Doctor), Roy Thinnes (Dr Baumgartner), Frank Adams (Guest #1), Alan Levine (Guest #2), Paul Borghese (Guest #3), Russ Brunelli (Guest #4), Gary Lamadore (Chucky), Mary Louise Wilson (Catherine)

Storyline: Richie is causing problems with the way he runs his routes on the garbage business. His men dump a load of rubbish outside a delicatessen which complained about the service. Tony retrieves his bag of cash from his lawyer’s office. Neil Mink says Tony needs to stay away from criminal activities and spend time at one of his legitimate businesses – otherwise he runs a greater risk of being caught and prosecuted by the FBI. Junior goes into hospital to have a small operation on his heart condition.

Dr Melfi drinks vodka in her office when she realises her next session is with Tony. He complains about being bored and admits to being behind on his medication. He can’t take part in the things which normally give him pleasure. Junior meets an old school friend as he prepares to leave hospital. Catherine Romano was married to a cop and her son is now a detective. She suggests they could have coffee but Junior says he can’t leave his house for medical reasons. Tony takes his lawyer’s advice and spends some time at the offices of Barone Sanitation. He admires the new secretary, Connie Desapio, who is a born-again Christian. The manager complains that Richie’s drivers are selling cocaine on their garbage routes.

In therapy with her own shrink, Dr Melfi admits her drinking is worse. She says she talked Tony out of giving up therapy. Junior is fitted with a breathing mask to help him sleep better and prevent strain on his heart. Catherine visits but Junior politely sends her away. At a party for New Jersey’s garbage bosses Tony corners Richie. He orders him to stop selling cocaine on the routes because it risks getting the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency interested in their business. Tony blacks out after talking to Richie. In hospital preliminary tests show no physical reasons for the black out. Tony has developed a rash on his arm.

Junior is washing up when Bacala brings round some shopping, including more detergent. Something gets stuck in the garbage disposal unit and Junior tries to get it out. Just after Bacala leaves, Junior gets his hand stuck down the kitchen sink. Tony turns down the chance to join his crew at the docks where a big shipment of World War II memorabilia has arrived. Dr Melfi takes her son out for dinner and gets into a fierce argument with a woman smoking at the next table. The Maitre’D asks Melfi to leave. Her son walks out, deeply embarrassed.

Richie and Janice visit Junior, who has been trapped by the garbage disposal for six hours. Richie helps Junior get his hand out of the plughole. Richie gives Junior his money from the garbage routes but the envelope is light, thanks to Tony’s intervention about selling drugs. Tony is back in office at Barone Sanitation, bored and listless. He scratches his rash so hard it starts bleeding. Dr Melfi tells her therapist about what happened in the restaurant. She denies being an alcoholic. Dr Kupferberg prescribes a drug called Luvox, which he uses to treat patients with compulsions.

Tony meets Junior at his doctor’s office. They argue about the drug sales but Tony’s rule is law as boss. When Junior gets home he decides to give Catherine Romano a call. Tony sees a doctor about his rash, who prescribes some cortisone cream. He suggests Tony talk to someone about stress management. Tony manages his stress by banging Connie from behind while she bends over his desk at Barone Sanitation. Junior and Catherine share a coffee and conversation at his house. Carmela and Tony go house hunting with Richie and Janice, who are engaged to be married. Richie nearly brings on another of Tony’s black outs.

Livia phones Junior and badmouths Catherine. Junior hangs up on his sister-in-law then takes a drink down to Catherine in the basement. He admits to being under house arrest and shows her the electronic tag around his ankle. She doesn’t mind and volunteers to bring him food. Dr Melfi tells Tony about a condition where antisocial personalities crave ceaseless action to avoid thinking about the abhorrent things they do. When they are not distracted, they crash – just as Tony has been doing. Tony returns to Satriale’s and his crew. Christopher is out of hospital and on the mend. Otherwise, not much else is happening. A car crash draws them outside. FBI Agent Harris visits and introduces a new agent. Harris and Tony talk about recent sports results, like two long time acquaintances…

Mobspeak: Tony asks Richie if he has any blow (cocaine). Catherine asks if her cop husband was ever on the take (receiving payments from mobsters).

Mamma Mia: Livia phones Junior because she’s heard he is keeping company with Catherine Romano. Livia says her husband Johnny said Catherine has let him feel her up behind the Sons of Italy hall. Junior hangs up on her.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Catherine brings Junior a plate of manicott’. Bacala eats most of it, to Junior’s irritation. Carmela says the finger food at the garbage manager’s party is better than the previous years. Tony eats peanuts just before he passes out. Bacala goes shopping for Junior. The shop has sold out of lady fingers so he gets Entenmann’s crumbcake instead. Tony eats ham when Silvio calls him about the memorabilia. Melfi takes her son out for dinner at a restaurant. They both have pizza. The doctor examining Tony’s rash asks if he is allergic to shellfish or MSG. Tony says he eats shrimp all the time. Junior offers Catherine a jar of vinegar eggplant but she declines, because she can’t handle the acidity. Paulie is cooking sauce in the office at Satriale’s when Tony arrives.

Mobbed Up: Tony shares a joke with his lawyer about being home alone, like MacCauley Culkin in the film of the same name. Tony talks to Dr Melfi about seeing a film with Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow. She prompts him for the title, hopefully suggesting ‘Sliding Doors’. He says it was the serial killer hit ‘Seven’. Tony thought it was a good film but he lost interest halfway through it. Pussy does a passable imitation of Sergeant Schultz from the 1960s sitcom ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ when the crew play with the World War II memorabilia. Junior snores loudly while Catherine watches ‘Diagnosis Murder’, a whodunnit TV series starring Dick Van Dyke.

How Do You Feel?: Tony tells Dr Melfi the therapy is starting to feel like a waste of time. He is bored and thinks everything is just a series of distractions until you die. He is behind on his medication and doubts its usefulness.

How Do You Feel, Doctor?: Dr Melfi says she is afraid and repulsed by what Tony might tell her, but she can’t help herself from wanting to hear it. At a session after the incident in the restaurant, Melfi is in tears at how she embarrassed her son. She denies being an alcoholic and then tries to make bargains about when she will drink in future. Dr Kupferberg says her continuing treatment of Tony is a compulsion and he prescribes a drug designed to treat obsessive compulsive disorders.

Quote/Unquote: Junior is underwhelmed when Bacala suggests he try using a bedpan: ‘I’m not a cat. I don’t shit in a box.’ Richie just stares at Tony after being forbidden to sell cocaine on any garbage routes. ‘Don’t give me your fucking Manson lamps,' Tony says. 'Just fucking stop.’ Tony has a laugh while Junior is being re-fitted with a breathing mask that makes him look like an ageing fighter pilot: ‘How many Migs you shoot down last week?’ Tony says America is the only country where the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed, but Dr Melfi notes only the pursuit is guaranteed – not the happiness. ‘Always a fucking loophole, right?’ Tony replies.

Soundtrack: ‘Space Invader’ by the Pretenders. ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ by Bob Dylan. ‘Disco Inferno’ by the Trammps. ‘More Than A Feeling’ by Boston. ‘Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’ by Johnny Thunder.

Surveillance Report: Melfi makes a very Livia-like gesture when Tony makes a good and then questions her sense of humour. Tony’s face when he is told the secretary at Barone Sanitation is a born again Christian is a picture - he obviously considers Connie’s religious beliefs an extra challenge to overcome, which he does. Tony hadn’t used his office at Barone Sanitation for eight years. Carmela and her reading group discuss ‘’Tis’ by Frank McCourt. The doctor who treats Tony’s rash is played by Roy Thinnes, best known for playing architect David Vincent in the 1960s sci-fi TV series ‘The Invaders’. Media rumours circulation before Season Two aired suggested the character of Catherine was an old flame of Tony’s – not very accurate.

The Verdict: ‘Where’s my happiness then?’ Tony is having black outs again thanks to agita from Richie and pretending to be a legitimate businessman. Junior is caught in his own home but gets a new flame in his love life. This episode is all about being trapped. Junior gets stuck in the garbage disposal for six hours, the terms of his house arrest are proving very restrictive and even his own body is becoming a prison as he gets older and his health declines. Tony feels trapped by the need to avoid illegal activities, which stops him having fun with his Family. Dr Melfi feels compelled to continue treating Tony, even though his revelations terrify and repulse her. The consequences of this are now bleeding into her relationship with her son. This episode is light on plot but rich in character moments. Like other Terence Winter scripts it’s packed with great lines, which the actors deliver with relish. In terms of story, ‘House Arrest’ is the calm before the storm of the final two episodes. But it’s still a great appetiser for the main event…

No comments: