Nobody Knows Anything (1.11)

Big Pussy’s back aches. And it turns out that Detective Makazian has some painful aches of his own.

Episode 11 – Originally aired March 21, 1999
Written by Frank Renzulli
Directed by Henry J. Bronchtein


The appearance of fetishist “Dr. Mop-N-Glo” almost right out of the gate makes us think that this episode is going to continue in the good-humored, knee-slapping vein of the previous outing.  A couple of scenes later, the playful ribbing that the guys give Pussy for running from the FBI, and then his clumsy, farting departure from the laughter of his buddies, seem to confirm that this episode will be one of fun and glee.  But this will not be the case.  The previous episode, “A Hit is a Hit,” started out somberly (with a murder) but quickly switched gears.  “Nobody Knows Anything” now makes the reverse switch, starting out playfully but turning very serious very quickly.  The seriousness begins with Det. Vin Makazian looking out over the Raritan River while waiting to meet Tony.  It is this river into which he will leap to his death later in the episode.  When Tony arrives, the reverse-angle shot captures the bridge from which Makazian will make the mortal leap:

vista and reverse

Makazian gives Tony very distressing news at this meeting: Pussy Bonpensiero is wired for sound, the Feds have flipped him.  The news must be particularly distressing for Tony because it fractures his simple view of the world.  His friend Pussy is a stand-up guy, he could never flip, no matter what.  But Makazian makes several observations that point to Pussy’s betrayal—which would imply that the world is not as simple as Tony would like to believe.  Over the course of the episode, events transpire that cause Tony to waver between believing and not believing that his friend has betrayed him.  Pussy is acting very strange, but this might be the result of his back pain and the heavy medications that he is taking for it.  Melfi tells Tony that back pain can be psychosomatic, because “psychologically, a secret is a heavy load” (but she says this only conversationally, not diagnostically).  Paulie doesn’t believe that the back pain actually exists—a mutual doctor informed him that Pussy has no physical ailment.  But Paulie admits, “When it comes to backs, nobody knows anything, really.”  The viewer’s suspicion rises when Pussy, perhaps wired, refuses to undress and take a schvitz with Paulie.  Tony visits Pussy to get a sense of his truthfulness, but is unsuccessful; in the next scene, we see a stressed Tony uncharacteristically smoke a cigarette (as opposed to his customary cigar).  Adding to the uncertainty, Tony discovers that Makazian owes Pussy $30,000—the detective may simply be trying to get rid of his creditor by fabricating this unbelievable story. 

Throughout the series, Makazian has been portrayed as disheveled, both sartorially and ethically.  We first see him here at a bordello in a stained undershirt.  As the episode progresses, we see him in a different light: soulful, tragic.  The shower that we see Vin take serves to humanize him; it is ablution, a physical and spiritual cleansing that helps to recalibrate our perception of him.

makazian ablution

David Chase has a habit of humanizing some of his more despicable or dislikable characters just before he kills them off.  (“Ralph Cifaretto” in Season 4 is perhaps the prime example.)  A couple of scenes in this hour are meant to garner our sympathies for Vin Makazian: Vin shares a story about his difficult childhood; he has a gentle and respectful attitude towards the cathouse Madam; he tries to be more personable with Tony.  Our newfound compassion for the dirty cop is one reason why his suicide feels so shocking.

The main reason that Vin’s suicide feels so unexpected, however, is because the scene is edited in such a way as to surprise us.  The mundane sounds of traffic and trucks changing gears drop away very quickly.  Only about 10 seconds elapse from the moment we realize Vin will kill himself to the moment that his body hits the water.  His five-second freefall cuts between three cameras, adding dramatic power to the scene.

Tony is not saddened by Vin’s death—he is more concerned with the immediate consequence it has on his problem: Det. Makazian will now be unable to produce the 302 that Tony demanded, the FBI form that would unmistakably give Tony the proof he needs about Big Pussy.  When Pussy goes AWOL, it throws Tony into complete disarray, he cries out, “I can’t find Pussy anywhere, nobody knows anything!”

The title of this episode, proclaiming the impossibility of certainty, could function as the series’ thesis statement.  Uncertainty is part of the DNA of The Sopranos.  The two iterations of the episode title, “Nobody knows anything,” by both Paulie and Tony, form the double helix of the “uncertainty gene” that is the fundamental building block of The Sopranos.  Throughout this first season, Chase has refused to define notions of morality, identity, duty or culture in simplistic, black-and-white ways.  His approach is polytonal and ambiguous, and leads us to reach complex, uncertain conclusions.  In this episode, uncertainty is woven into the narrative itself.  Even the reason for Vin’s suicide is uncertain.  It may have been motivated by the embarrassing media coverage of his arrest; or perhaps a gambling problem exacerbated his serious financial woes; or possibly he was dissatisfied with the type of man he had become; or maybe the fucking regularness of life had just become too much for him.  (The heavy traffic on the bridge might have finally pushed him over the edge.  Anyone who routinely deals with NY/NJ traffic has pondered suicide at some point.)  It may be a combination of some of these things, or it may be none.  We don’t know.  Certainty is a luxury that David Chase does not indulge in.

Tony Soprano—unlike his creator David Chase—is deeply disconcerted by uncertainty.  His proclamation to Meadow that “Out there, it’s the 1990s but in this house, it’s 1954,” marks his desire to live in a simpler, Ozzie-and-Harriet world devoid of any complex ambiguities.  It is precisely “in this house” that he rids himself, to a large degree, of the uncertainty he has regarding Pussy; in his basement, Tony convinces himself that it is Jimmy Altieri who is the Judas.  In my write-ups for 1.05 and 1.08, I tried to show how Chase circles his camera from one side of Tony to the other in order to present the multi-dimensional ambiguities of his main character.  In the basement scene here, the camera remains fairly static; it is Tony who circles around, as he turns from ambiguity to certainty:

tony soprano turns

After making this slow turn, Tony shifts the conversation away from business, suspecting now that Jimmy may be wearing a wire.  Tony’s intuition usually serves him well, and it may be dead-on accurate: Altieri may indeed be a rat.  Still, it is only an intuition, and I believe Tony latches on to it primarily because it is an opportunity for him to exonerate Big Pussy—and thereby reassemble his fractured black-and-white view of the world.

This episode is prime evidence for the argument that ambiguity is a central concern of the series.  The episode title and the Vin Makazian/Big Pussy storyline underline the ambiguous, uncertain nature of SopranoWorld.  So does Livia’s appearance here.  Livia puts in motion an attack on her son, and she does so in a profoundly ambiguous way.

Livia Soprano is expert at dealing out verbal ambiguities.  She uses her forked tongue to drive her agendas forward, saying things she does not mean and meaning things she does not say.  She tells Corrado, in her typically ambiguous way, that several of his capos have been routinely meeting at Green Grove, leading him to believe that Tony is making a move against him.  She catalyzes Corrado’s decision to make a preemptive hit on Tony. (Livia has exhibited a filicidal tendency before, but this particular maneuver seems directly spurred by Tony’s efforts to sell her house.)

I suspect many viewers see David Chase’s use of ambiguity as they see Livia’s exploitation of ambiguity—as an underhanded way to promote some dark, selfish agenda.  I say this because of the angry tenor of much of the commentary and criticism after the supremely ambiguous cut-to-black in the series finale in 2007.  Many shrill voices attacked Chase for toying with his viewers.  They claimed that Chase was making a mockery of their investment in the show, or that he was mocking television itself, or nihilistically mocking the idea that any sort of meaning is possible.  It was all a big trick, they insisted, played by a big trickster.  Of course, some others were convinced that the ending was not ambiguous at all, concluding absolutely that Tony was killed that night.  But this camp sees Chase as a trickster as well, a brilliant rascal who peppered his show (and subsequent interviews) with clues which, when pieced together correctly, definitively reveal the final trick.  If you can’t see that Tony was killed, they argue, well then, the trick’s on you

The perception of David Chase as trickster may exist, at least partly, because of his public persona.  In interviews, he usually seems a bit bemused and distant.  His ironic sense of humor can seem mocking.  But the larger reason, I think, is because The Sopranos has not been adequately placed in the public perception as part of the long line of great works of art that explore the idea of ambiguity.  That final cut-to-black is not a trick.  It is one last example of Chase’s earnest refusal to present the world in black-and-white, life-or-death terms.  Ambiguity was the overarching preoccupation of 20th-century art, from Stravinsky’s polytonal symphonies to Picasso’s cubism to Faulkner’s novels.  First appearing in 1999, The Sopranos is stamped with the century’s concern with ambiguity.  Each artist must use the elements of his particular medium to create and explore ambiguity: Stravinsky composed with chromatic and dissonant scales, Picasso painted multiple perspectives onto one canvas, and Faulkner narrated from multiple viewpoints.  Chase uses the elements of television: characters, storylines, sound and imagery.

A television series, with the sheer amount of sound and imagery it is able to produce during its run, can create aural and visual motifs that associate themes and characters in expressive ways.  These associations are often opaque and indefinite, interpreted by each viewer subjectively according to the unique blend of knowledge and experience that each viewer brings to the series.  For me personally, the bridge that Vin jumps from now is strongly associated with the bridges that have appeared previously on the series in conjunction with Vin Makazian:

3 bridges Makazian

The bridges that surround Makazian triggered in me recollections of Edward Hopper’s paintings of empty industrial bridges.  My experience of Hopper’s work adds a dimension of desolation and sadness to the way I see the bridges around Vin:

3 Ed Hopper bridges

Chase obviously could never have known that some of his imagery would trigger a memory in me of Hopper’s paintings.  However, Chase is very aware that the distant vista that Vin looks out at early in the episode is the exact same vista that the viewer sees when Vin kills himself later:

same Horizon

By emphasizing the imagery through repetition, Chase creates—at least for me—a motif of sorts: bridge-water-death.  (I also associate Sopranos’ bridges with death for other reasons: Mahaffey’s life is threatened on a bridge in the Pilot, Rusty Irish is thrown off the same bridge in a subsequent episode, Jackie’s funeral is scored to the song “Look on Down from the Bridge.”)  When watching Season 1 for the first time, I began to be convinced—rightly or wrongly—that Chase was conscientiously making a connection between bridges, water and death.

The motif was also reinforced by another image at the scene of Vin’s suicide: the splash he makes when he hits the water.  In Episode 3, “Denial, Anger, Acceptance” (an episode which derives its name from a book about dying), Tony is anguished over Jackie’s terminal cancer.  Tony is transfixed for a moment by the Hockney painting, “A Bigger Splash,” which he seems to somehow associate with his friend’s impending death.  In the current episode, Vin Makazian’s last interaction with the world of the living is an even bigger splash:

two splashes - new

I am very unsure whether Chase knowingly led me to make this connection, or if it is simply further evidence that my interest in The Sopranos is actually an obsessive-compulsive disorder.  But it is besides the point whether Chase and Co. made this connection between death and the two splashes of water consciously.  For all we know, they may have made the connection subconsciously, or maybe not at all.  The point is that I made a connection, one that is tentative and ambiguous but significant to me nevertheless.

For me, the bridge-water-death motif adds to the enigma of the scene that closes out this hour.  I think this final scene is one of the most evocative and enigmatic of Season One:

JoJo Palmice is ostensibly referring to the coffee when she says, “It’s brewing,” but she could just as well be describing Corrado’s plan to hit Tony.  The slow, dreamy dissolve brings us to an image of Tony standing before the Pulaski Skyway, almost cryptic in that the location and scene are not directly connected to this episode’s plot.  Yet the location and imagery inspire all sorts of indirect, nebulous connections.  Tony, perhaps with some awareness that his life is threatened, is looking out over the river very much like Vin did earlier in this episode.  The Pulaski itself is part of Route 1, the same route that the Goodkind Bridge—which Vin leapt from—is on.  We have seen the Pulaski previously on the series, perhaps most notably in episode 1.07 where I studied Chase’s unromantic depiction of it.  (Even here, Chase undercuts the spectral, dreamy quality of the panorama by including the mundane detail of barge traffic.)  The track that scores this scene, “Manifold de Amour,” has a haunting quality, adding to the atmospherics.  If you don’t understand Spanish, the verse adds to the ambiguity:

Voy a navegar / Al puerto del alma / Cruzando el mar / Hasta que llegare

If usted habla espanol, or you translate the lyric, the verse contributes more water imagery but still remains steeped in mystical ambiguity:

I will navigate / To the port of the soul / Crossing the sea / Until I arrive

The intuitive right-brain can comprehend an episode like this well enough without the left-brain’s analytical contribution.  I only gave it a left-brain wringing to demonstrate how I found significance in the episode.  Anyone else watching this hour would have different emotions, associations, interpretations.  One of the great discoveries of 20th-century art (and science) is that more data and more knowledge do not necessarily lead to more certainty.  In fact, they sometimes lead to more uncertainty, more ambiguity.  A television series has a vast repository of information, imagery and sound that it can allude to and evoke, from both within itself and without, consciously or subconsciously or unconsciously.  The vast multiplicity of responses to such a work renders definitive interpretations impossible.  David Chase has amplified the ambiguities that are inherent in the medium of television, I believe, by creating a series that is often deliberately indeterminate and fluid in meaning.  If anyone tells you that they’ve “solved” The Sopranos (and I might seem guilty of this from time to time), don’t believe them: Nobody Knows Anything.



  •  Paulie’s car horn plays the opening notes to the Godfather theme, continuing the string of outright classic mob film references this season.
  • Somebody at the bordello likes bluesman Johnny Adams—his music is playing during two separate scenes at the cathouse.
  • Tony brings Mario Lanza CDs to Livia.  Meadow and Janice will talk about Livia’s fondness for this musician next season.
  • Tony mentions “Gravano,” which must be a reference to real-life Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, a high-ranking mobster who turned informer and brought down John Gotti.  He and Pussy have the same first name.
  • I love how the writers continuously have characters make mistakes in their references to pop culture and current affairs.  Here, AJ refers to Monica Lewinsky as “Monica Kazinsky.”  (It was just two episodes ago that Corrado similarly mislabeled the Menendez brothers as “the Escovedo brothers.”)
  • If the Goodkind Bridge which appears earlier in the episode looks different from the bridge that Vin jumps from, it is because Vin’s suicide is filmed from the other side of the bridge, where its restyled newer span is more visible.
  • It’s a shame that “Vin Makazian” won’t appear on any more episodes because I love how John Heard played the character.  (See Cutter’s Way for Heard’s incredible portrayal of another brooding, bitter, emotionally crippled man.)
  • The storyline of Livia maneuvering the assassination of her son marched along moderately—marcia moderato—for several episodes before picking up speed—alegretto—in 1.09 “Boca.”  But Chase dropped the storyline almost completely in 1.10 “A Hit is a Hit,” only to strongly bring it back now in 1.11.  The storyline reaches its climax in the next episode “Isabella,” but Chase is not yet done playing with the story’s pace; episode 1.12 is an hour that will feature an extreme tempo shift.
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48 responses to “Nobody Knows Anything (1.11)

  1. Excellent dissection! I really enjoy reading these.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I am very unsure whether Chase knowingly led me to make this connection, or if it is simply further evidence that my interest in The Sopranos is actually an obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
    I hear Zoloft is good for obsessive compulsives, but please don’t take it until you finish the site.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Juan Valdez's Donkey

    First off, I really enjoy your write-ups on this site. I have seen every episode some five times by now, but you add immensely to the depth that can be derived and analyzed from this 86-episode cinematic fresco. I wonder myself sometimes if I over-analyze art, but as post-modern critique of cinema tells us, if an allusion is made or inferred by the viewer, it does not mean that it should be discredited because it may seem far-fetched; the fact that the connection is made gives it validity.

    However, I would add a scene I found interesting as a comment here to your review. The scene where Makazian and Tony are talking about “the degenerate fucking gambler’s” childhood ends with the exchange “They have no class and are always on the hustle”, Makazian delivering his opinion on the prostitutes in the bordello, with Tony replying “That’s what their suppose to do, no?”. This frame is cut to Carmela driving to Green Grove. It might be a way to juxtapose Carmela and Livia with the whores in the cathouse. They are supreme hustlers after all, and both tied inextricably to Tony. As we all know, you really can’t retire from either family in this community, something that could be seen as a central theme of the series. The constant ebb and flow of a persons life trying to distance themselves from the Mafia but always unable to escape their surroundings, except through death.

    Livia’s pleading with Carmela about her lack of power is a hustler manipulating someone else to get her will, but can also be seen as a comment on the ambiguity of “Nobody knows anything”. In fact, Livia knows everything and uses that to push Junior toward murdering Tony.

    Greetings from the Penguin Exhibit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make a good observation about that cut, and it’s a solid example of how rewarding The Sopranos can be on a rewatch—a first-time viewer might not immediately think of Livia and Carmela as hustlers, but someone who has watched the entire series could certainly see Livia and Carmela in this way.

      Be careful at the penguin exhibit—people have almost drowned in only 3 inches of water there…


  4. I love reading this! Decided to watch the whole show again when I stumbled onto your website. You know, I think I’d really appreciate a “The Shining Autopsy”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The last scene in this episode is one of my favorites in the series, yet the reason why is not touched upon in your write up. To me, the final shot is set up to have Tony being unknowingly run through with a sword (the barge), representing the plot on his life that is in motion against him. Instead of waiting for the barge/blade to slowly pass through him, he steps off camera to the left, effectively “getting it over with” (like Makazian does earlier in the episode) by running himself through. I had not picked up on the bridge motif on earlier viewings, and love the tie in you saw with the splash painting. With such a focus on ambiguity(heh,oxymoronic much?) it is hard to know what is purposeful and what is happenstance in this show, but that makes it even more fertile ground for re watching and continued discussion.

    Cheers, love the site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Michael


    • There is no happenstance in the Sopranos. If everyone would accept that the show comes into focus real quick. There is ambuiguity, but no coincidences. It’s all there for the taking for you to interpret how you like. But it is there. It is all layered in.
      He has even laid in goalposts for you to follow to come to the conclusions he wants you to come to. If you’re paying close enough attention. I’ve learned to take Chase’s claims of it’s all up to your own interpretation with a grain of salt.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Watching the next Episode, Isabella, bolsters the barge/blade being purposeful:
    Tony to Melfi: “Getting stabbed in the ribs? That’s painful”


  7. Viewers had every right to think Chase was screwing with them. I, on the other hand, happened to support it. I liked this show because I knew it was mocking present day society in general. After all, here’s the classic rant by AJ about pop culture in the series finale, and remember that this is written by David Chase:

    “You people are fucked. You’re living in a dream. You still sit here talking about the fucking Oscars? “what rough beast slouches toward bethlehem to be born?” – huh? – yeets…. The world– don’t you see it? Bush let Al Qaeda escape…In the mountains…then he has us invade some other country….It’s more noble than watching these jack-off fantasies on tv of how we’re kicking their ass. It’s like, America….this is still where people come to make it.
    It’s a beautiful idea. And then what do they get? Bling? And come-ons for shit they don’t need and can’t afford?”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Just posting this for anyone that wants to see the discussion between Vin Makazian and Tony, where he tells Tony that Pussy has flipped and the reasons why that make Tony understand. 🙂

    Not my video, not my channel, no ulterior motive. Just figured you folks might want to see. 🙂


  9. “Nobody knows anything” is also William Goldman’s oft-quoted maxim regarding Hollywood (and indeed what constitutes ‘a hit’).
    It may act as some kind of… counterpoint? to ‘a hit is a hit is a hit’.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Did anyone notice that when Paulie is tracking down Pussy to take him for a shvitz, Pussy is seen walking past a glass door reading “AMERICAN CLUB: MEMBERS ONLY”?
    Not sure if it’s a mere coincidence that it’s placed there, but it’s the first time I’ve ever noticed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. After watching the series about 15 times now, I have come to the realization that Makazian was in on Pussy getting busted. There is just too much that goes on around him getting arrested that has no other reason to be there.

    Now, Makazian knows Pussy, in fact, he is much indebted to him from gambling ($30K I believe). And he has a good motive for both wanting Pussy gone, and wanting somehow out from under Tony Soprano. He is in the downward spiral of a degenerate gambler, and he decides to throw a hail Mary – a gamble – to try to make a few of his problems go away.

    Note how the scene with Mop n Glow ends. With a long, drawn out look at Makazian as he stares down at Pussy. He gets an idea – have his guys raid Pussy’s place. He can then either get rid of Pussy via prison (and hope that no one else comes to collect) or have him killed. There is an intentional black screen transition, with “4 days later” in white. Just 4 days later, Pussy’s place is raided. Pussy takes the offer to cooperate, and the very next day, Vin is meeting with Tony to tell him the news. I doubt he would already know the gossip if he were not in on it.


    • You may be on to something, it’s a good argument. But I think ultimately we’re unable to know for certain…


    • Only problem with the argument is the FBI raided the game, Makazian is a local homicide detective it doesn’t jibe.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Problem with that may be that Big P may have cooperated as far back as 1995, 4 years earlier. Paulie and Tony come to this conclusion in a later episode, where they remember Big P.
      But then again, when it comes to snitching, nobody really knows anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Bridges = death. Did not make the connection but re-watching this episode after reading your autopsy I feel l’ve missed quite a few things over the years of watching this amazing show. Another excellent analysis on this awesome episode. This is definitely a high point of the series. There is quite a bit happening with two major events taking place; the idea of Pussy being a rat, and the hit on Tony put in motion. The scenes with Vin and Tony are among the best, especially at the Raritan Boat Club where he reveals Pussy is a rat. (I also like the scene because it’s near my work). It looks like a storm was coming when this was filmed and a storm is coming in SopranoLand as well. I don’t know much about cinematography and such but the scene where Vin looks out over the river and the last scene where Tony is in front of the Pulaski are two of my favorite of the series. The final scene perhaps Tony is hoping its all a dream and Vin will come driving along for their meeting. Matt E makes an excellent point in the comments section: Vin appeared to us at a low enough point to make attempts to improve his situation by setting up Pussy. Good call on the extended glare from Vin when Pussy was being escorted out of the cathouse due to his back. (I also wonder if this when/how the feds got Ray Curto to flip since he was busted along with Vin). I think Tony did have feelings toward Vin committing suicide and could have possibly felt bad, however Pussy was on his mind. Perhaps he would have felt like a “toxic person” for adding to Vin’s problems leading him to suicide. It appears Tony doesn’t want to be believe the fact that Pussy can be a rat, but watching the schvitz scene I am a firm believer that he was already wired up and would not undress in front of Paulie. Doing so would get him killed and he knew that. Also, Skip says in episode 2-01 that he was on their “tit” since ’98. Nobody Knows Anything was 1998 or after. Ill say it again, major bummer we will only see John Heard one more time on this show in a dream in Season 5.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I disagree with the idea that the picture in Irina’s house reminds Tony of anything. I think since the picture in Melfi’s office triggered something, he was asking her if that picture had any significance to her. I believe Irina’s answer was, “Nothing, it reminds me of David Hockney..I doubt she knew who the artist was. He sometimes asks other people what their impression of things is so that he can see if he is alone in his associations…


    • I’m so glad you brought this up because I recently realized there’s a bit of a mistake in my write-up about that painting. The print on Irina’s wall isn’t actually a reproduction of “A Bigger Splash” but of a similar-looking knockoff painting. And that’s why Irina is actually correct to say that it only “reminds” her of David Hockney. But of course, she’s not perfectly knowledgeable about the painter – she mistakenly refers to him as “Hockey.” (Keith Booker and Isra Daraiseh discuss this in their book Tony Soprano’s America.)


  14. Ron, I am now rewatchin the series after over ten years, found your write-ups and enjoying them much, great work.

    One thing you often praise the series for is verisimilitude and I agree. However, to me this episode contains one of the few glitches in that regard and that’s when Jimmy Altieri is too desperate to squeeze some information from Tony to feed to the FBI, making it all too easy for Tony to figure him out.

    Nothing earlier led us to believe that Jimmy would be such a fool or take Tony for a fool or be grilled so much by the FBI as to go out on a limb rather than ‘drag his dick’ (as we hear from a fed later on to be Pussy’s MO). It is a minor problem anyway, but I’m curious if it’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not just you. I wonder if the actor who played Jimmy just lacked the ability to play such scenes with more subtlety (which would then explain why Chase decided to knock him off so early in the series).


      • Makes sense… although the dialogue Jimmy’s actor doesn’t leave much room. I’ll just continue with my interpretation that Jimmy Altieri was extremely stupid. Chase also removed the actor who played Larry Barisi after S1, I think he just looked ‘too right’ to play a mobster, and his character wasn’t interesting. Although Chase apparently had to bring him back in S6, after so many colourful characters had already been killed off. Actually, all of S6 is full of these weird little background flunkey characters filling Tony’s ranks, who just sort of pop in and out without any explanation.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. In the photo at the top of this page, or Makazian at the bottom of the boat ramp staring at the river before his meeting with Tony, there is a light pole in the right side of the frame that appears to be floating in thin air. Am I hallucinating? I’ve never heard another mention of this.


  16. I see that also it looks photo shopped.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It does look photo shopped. It’s in the show too when I watch it – it looks just like the pic. I’ve never heard a single comment on it anywhere on the internet. They must have added it when editing the show, and nobody caught the mistake. Thanks for confirming that you see it too – I thought I might be missing something.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. When Pussy, having been released on bail, rejoins the others at the Bada Bing, they make fun of him for running away during the raid. Junior says, with some authority, “We don’t run. It’s embarrassing.” I remembered this watching ‘All Due Respect’ (5.13). Tony and Johnny Sack are meeting in the summerhouse (or whatever) in Johnny’s garden when armed men appear. They both run away. At first they don’t know that it’s the FBI, but even when they do know they keep running. Very undignified.
    – – – –
    During the Sopranos’ ‘at home’, Tony asks Pussy to help him move the piano. Pussy says he can’t because of his bad back, and adds, “I’m thinking of going home, sitting in the tub.” But at the bathhouse with Paulie, he won’t have a hot bath – he says it would be bad for his back.
    – – – –
    “A couple of scenes are meant to garner our sympathies for Vin Makazian . . . our newfound compassion for the dirty cop.”
    I very much like the way Vin is given some dignity before he dies. My impression is that he and Debbie, the madame of the brothel, had a sincere and lasting relationship. When she says it’s easier to open up “when you’re naked and in the arms of someone who cares for you”, she is the person who cares for Vin.
    But it is poignant, how Vin misunderstood Tony. Debbie says he felt he could trust Tony. She quotes him: ”At least with Tony Soprano you know where you stand.” I think Tony despised Vin as a degenerate gambler; and, though I think he might respect an honourable policeman, he despised him for betraying his own side. Finally, he had to despise him so that he could feel superior to him, even though he needed him.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Considering how many rats there are in the later episodes, I believe Jimmy was a rat as well. Tony wanted to think it wasn’t Pussy, but I think they are both rats. The last season, practically everyone was talking to the government. Also, I bet because all of Tony’s friends are dead except Paulie (who he’s not thrilled with anyway) I bet you if he was arrested, he would flip just like everyone else. why shouldn’t he, his crew is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I love that you bring up Tony’s desire to see things in “black and white;” it stands to reason that he such an issue with Noah. Noah was not “just black” and not “just jewish” he had interlocking identities.

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  21. I think Vin killed himself because once he was arrested at the brothel, it would soon be discovered that he was squealing to the Mob.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. R.I.P. John Heard (Vin Makazian), 2017

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: The Soprano Onceover: #39. “Nobody Knows Anything” (S1E11) | janiojala

  24. I’m surprised that no one mentioned Livia in this episode. Tony brings CDs for Livia, but she’s not in her room, so he drops them off at the nursing home director’s office. When she tells Tony that his mother is getting water therapy with other residents, he gets ‘that look’ in his eyes – the same look he gets whenever he hears that someone else is doing well ( i.e., like when Janice tells him she’s feeling better because of anger management classes in season 6). Tony then tells the woman to tell Livia that her house was sold and that the offer was accepted. But we all know that the house wasn’t sold! He has inherited Livia’s sick, twisted mentality – the one that cannot accept the fact that joy really does exist in the world!

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  25. P.S. While I enjoyed this episode, something jumped out at me. First, when Makazian met with Tony by the nursing home, he told Tony that it wouldn’t look right to be seen with him. Now, I know that Makazian enjoys going to the brothel and spending time with the ‘madam’. But, to be there at the same time with so many mob members present doesn’t sit right with me, especially since he said it would ‘look bad’. So, I agree with 7x above that Makazian knew his name would be smeared in the ‘Star Ledger’ and make his life miserable at home, so the poor schnook jumped. One more sociopath bites the dust. 😟

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  26. Please "Bear" With Us

    Hi Ron, I’m a longtime reader, have jumped into the show again. Hope all is well.

    Wanted to say, very good writeup for a very good episode. The ambiguity thing is really what I got from this episode as well, and how it underlines the series.

    I also had a strange reaction to this episode, in that after Pussy farted near the beginning, the whole episode started looking like… shit. Everything is brown. A world of shit, in Tony’s eyes. The brothel, the river, and most everyone’s clothes. I think what set me off was the fart, followed by Makazian who stands by the brown river, looking like he’s peeing again (like the first time we saw him). Then “shit” and “up your ass” talk between Tony and Vin; then every single other scene’s look–even Melfi’s office made me think that way. And Pussy’s brown home with his brown easy chair and rose-pink pillow.

    From shit grow flowers and grass and trees, and floral arrangements are everywhere (the open house, with Carmela’s flowery blouse and at least three painting of flowers; Meadow’s blouse). From shit grows nature–the natural world, which Tony can’t control (okay, the thing about nature being something Tony can’t control–I cribbed that from the In at the End podcast). Debbie at the bordello melts into the lawn with her green blouse as she feeds Tony (wearing red like the bricks of the whorehouse) a major dose of ambiguity and uneasiness, cinching his mistrust (distrust?) of Pussy by telling him how much Vin trusted him. It all just speaks to me as: this is how Tony is starting to see the world. Even when you’re looking at the pretty stuff.

    On the lighter side, my OCD noticed doors. The FBI knocks and busts in; Pussy eyes another door and the camera singles it out. Carm knocks and busts into Livia’s with her own agenda. Tony knocks on Bonnie DiCaprio’s office door with CDs. A huge deal is made out of the doorbell ringing at dinner: it’s Jimmy. Junior knocks on Livia’s door so she can tell him to kill Tony. Doorways to betrayal all (or to impending knowledge of such), and Tony finally tells Paulie: “I’ve been walkin into walls all week.” It’s a fun motif here.

    The last thing I noted was that water, which you bring into your death equation, also connects Pussy (his refusal to bathe), Livia (aqua therapy so she won’t get Pussy’s bad back), and Vin (steamy shower). I could formulate a thesis on that, but for now I’d say it’s just connective tissue. Everyone’s lives mirror each other in some ways, in this fiction, and in real life, whether we notice it or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Please "Bear" With Us

    Are you working on any new stuff like this now… a new show or movie in the pipeline? Are you subjecting yourself to a Many Saints analysis? (Not sure I would want to do that.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many Saints isn’t really on my plate now but I’m giving serious thought to doing something for Succession, one of the most interesting HBO shows since The Sopranos…


      • Please "Bear" With Us

        Oh, nice. I’ve only seen the first episode, had trouble with the shaky camera aesthetic, but the writing and acting seems really strong and I’ve heard good things about it.

        I’m wondering what your favorite movies are after reading this site for so many years. I only remember you loved Seinfeld. Have you followed certain directors or writers more than others?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh too many directors and writers to count: Wong Kar-wai, Werner Herzog, Altman… One of my favorite TV writers is Dennis Potter who wrote The Singing Detective, Pennies from Heaven, Brimstone and Treacle… (A morbid but funny connection to Succession is that that show is based on Rupert Murdoch’s family, and Dennis Potter gave the name “Rupert Murdoch” to the cancer that eventually killed him…)


          • Please "Bear" With Us

            Good lord… “Rupert Murdoch” was his cancer’s name? Hahaha… wow.

            Yeah, In the Mood for Love is amazing, I’ve seen that and Chungking Express by Wong Kar-Wai. I am shamefully not well versed in Herzog except for his many interviews (and the one where he gets shot by a lunatic with a bb gun, with Mark Kermode) and The Bad Lieutenant. Altman is great of course, and mysterious to me. His movies sometimes don’t seem to have… meanings… they’re just kind of there to vibe on. I almost got that sense from the latest PTA, Licorice Pizza. I don’t know what it all means, but it feels like life, so I really like that stuff.

            Kubrick is my traditional favorite and I’m obsessed with The Shining, and love 2001 and Barry Lyndon. Also love Cuaron and Malick, especially The Tree of Life, which seems like the best movie ever made. Even though most ppl probably wouldn’t sit through it.

            Oh–and Out of Sight, with Clooney and J-Lo.

            Why am I writing this. I’m just procrastinating during my workday.

            Anyway, your site still helps me keep going in times of depression, etc., that I often come upon. As long as Sopranos Autopsy doesn’t disappear from the web, I’m good.

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