House Arrest (2.11)

Tony and Corrado both go batty as they have to
spend more time confined in their houses.
Richie Aprile glares at Tony with his “Manson lamps.”
Dr. Melfi drinks too much and picks a fight with a smoker.

Episode 24 – Originally Aired March 26, 2000
Written by Terry Winter
Directed by Tim Van Patten


Let me begin this write-up by clipping the opening scene of the episode:

I wanted to get this scene “on the record” because I will come back to it in my write-up for “Kennedy and Heidi” (6.18).  But this opening is interesting for more than its connection to that sixth-season episode.  The scene is scored to The Pretenders’ “Space Invader”—fitting, because by pulling into the parking lot and unloading their trash, the garbage men are certainly invading the shop owner’s space.  The Sopranos has been linking garbage and food right from the initial Pilot episode (“Garbage is our bread-and-butter,” said Chris) and the heap of trash dumped in front of the “Deli Catering” sign here is one more dramatic example.  The link is made again, more subtly, in a later scene: Tony eats ice cream while perusing the latest issue of Waste News.

Tony waste news

It is our culture of consumption that gives such copious business to the waste industry.  This culture supplies cheap consumables to us in abundance, even in the form of food.  Tony opts for a fatty, sugary ice cream bar rather than one of the nourishing fruits that sit within arm’s reach.

Tony is reading the Waste News because his attorney has advised him to spend time at his legitimate business after recently dodging a legal bullet.  Tony spent much of the previous episode at a high emotional pitch—he was genuinely scared that he was going down for the Bevilaqua murder.  All that fear and emotion has given way to utter boredom in this episode.  He makes no trips to the Bada Bing in this episode.  He spends much of his time at home.  (Instead of cavorting with the Bing girls, he has to dodge the ladies of Carmela’s book discussion group.)  Not knowing what to do with himself, he listlessly looks out the window:

Tony in fishbowl

The high, wide camera angle captures the rounded corners of the room and the multiple windows along the walls, giving the room the air of a fishbowl.  Tony is essentially a fish trapped in a fishbowl here.  Later in the episode, Melfi compares Tony’s need to keep moving to that of a shark.  But right now, Tony must curtail his shark-like tendency and just accept being a little fish.  The episode title ostensibly refers to Corrado’s house arrest, but it applies to Tony as well, who must confine himself while the Feds have turned up the heat.

We might remember the funny scene in 2.02 when Corrado tried unsuccessfully to avoid having an ankle bracelet be a condition of his house arrest.  Michael McLuhan from the U.S. Marshal’s office now arrives in this episode to attach the bracelet.  A nurse recognizes that the combination of title and surname makes this gentleman “Marshal McLuhan.”  No one else in the room seems to get a chuckle out of the punning reference (Corrado certainly doesn’t get it), but we should recognize its significance.  Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian philosopher of media and communications.  Some of his theories on media, television and culture were groundbreaking.  He coined several expressions, the most well-known being “the medium is the message.”  The basic meaning of this expression is that the characteristics of a given medium have more of an impact on culture than does the content of that medium.  It is a controversial idea that has not been universally accepted in academic circles, but one that nevertheless has helped us to understand the media-saturated culture that we now live in.  David Chase seems to have taken McLuhan’s idea to heart.  He exploits the characteristics of his chosen medium—television—to convey The Sopranos‘ most important messages: the roles of verisimilitude and connectivity in life and art.

Chase has committed The Sopranos to a high degree of verisimilitude; the series portrays life as authentically and realistically as anything we’ve seen on TV.  Such a commitment dictates that he include those weary periods of boredom and inactivity that are an inescapable part of every life.  This episode is the strongest expression of that dictate.  Todd VanDerWerff of describes “House Arrest” as the “epitome of the ‘nothing happens!’ episode.”  The hour is short on plot, but that doesn’t matter because—as McLuhan said—content is not the most important thing.  The lack of plot points, in fact, is the main point of the episode.  The lack of exciting plot points in Tony’s life leads him to feel an intense boredom.  Tony finds the Carting Association’s Golf event (“the Garbageman’s Ball” as Richie calls it) so tedious that he has a fainting spell.  He tries to amuse himself at his office at Barone Sanitation in various ways: organizing an office basketball pool, doodling sketches, doodling the secretary.  One of his sketches reflects his sense of being trapped in a fishbowl:

tony draws fishbowl

Tony descends into such a state of malaise and ennui that he no longer finds pleasure in everyday things.  He tries to watch a Gwyneth Paltrow movie, but can’t get through it because movies are just one more in that “series of distractions till you die.”  Tony tells Melfi he is thinking of doing the “George Sanders long walk.”  (Sanders was an Academy Award winning actor who left behind a suicide note reading “Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored.  I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool.”)  In episode 1.08, Moltisanti flirted with the idea of suicide because “the fuckin’ regularness of life” was becoming too much for him; Tony is in a similar mood here.  Tedium is divesting Tony’s life of any sense of meaning or purpose.  The philosophy of Existentialism has been explored previously on the series, and boredom is one of the primary concerns of Existentialism.  Existentialist writers such as Sartre and Camus addressed the subject in their works.  In “D-Girl” (2.07), Meadow quoted Madame de Stael when trying to give some explanation of Existentialism to her parents: “In life, one must choose between boredom and suffering.”  Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who was a great influence on the Existentialists, wrote that:

If life possessed in itself a positive value and true content, there would be no such thing as boredom; mere existence would fulfill and satisfy us. (Essays and Aphorisms)

Tony’s nihilistic mother finds life to have no “positive value” or “true content”—it’s all “a big nothing” to her.  The exploration of boredom in this episode is really an investigation into this nihilistic philosophy.  Tony, as Livia’s heir, is particularly vulnerable to the feelings of meaninglessness and purposelessness that this philosophy can induce.  In a Dec. 2010 Psychology Today article (unrelated to the show), physician Alex Lickerman describes the situation that Tony finds himself in: 

Nothing in the world is quite so awful as boredom…I’m not talking about being bored for a few hours while waiting in line at Disneyland or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. I’m talking about finding life itself not only uninteresting but also purposeless. I’m talking about what I call existential boredom.

But the doctor, a Buddhist, gives his readers advice on how to combat this awful predicament:

If we insist on always being passively entertained by life, we’ll find ourselves bored by much of it. On the other hand, if we can transform that expectation into a determination to make an effort to create value at every moment, we can begin to make even the most mundane experience interesting…We can, in short, embrace whatever circumstances in which we find ourselves as infinitely interesting and purposeful. (“Boredom: Why the solution to boredom is value creation”)

Ok, it smacks a little bit of oversimplified “self-help” (as does much of the stuff in Psychology Today).  I quote the article because I think David Chase intuitively reaches for a similar solution—he gives value to the banal, the mundane, the fuckin’ regularness of life.  Perhaps the most notable example of this occurs at the end of “Guy Walks Into A Psychiatrist’s Office…” (2.01), when Chase depicts a completely quotidian domestic scene between Carmela and Tony in real-time.  A television series, being dozens of hours long, has ample opportunity to include these moments of pure monotony.  By allotting minutes—or in the case of “House Arrest,” a full episode—to the depiction of the banal, Chase creates value in even the dull moments of life.  Chase uses the medium of television to provide the message that it is indeed possible to find meaning and purpose in the face of existential boredom.

Like Tony, Corrado must come to grips with the banality of his life, especially now that he is under house arrest.  There is a clever juxtaposition of scenes that clarify this particular link between Tony and his uncle.  Corrado’s kitchen garbage disposer is acting up, probably due to a faulty flange.  He sticks his hand down the drain to fiddle with the flange, and ends up getting stuck—for six hours:

corrado house arrest

Chase cleverly follows this scene with the one in which Tony is drawing fishbowls at Barone Sanitation, desperately trying to occupy himself.  So: Corrado is trapped by his garbage disposal while Tony is trapped by his garbage disposal business.

The third character who must deal with a house arrest (of sorts) is Richie Aprile—but he doesn’t know it yet.  Domestic life with Janice Soprano would be an almost unimaginable trap.  Tony sees it coming, and feels bad for the guy:

richie house arrest

Richie looks out the window (we see him over Tony’s left shoulder) which formally connects his entrapment to Tony’s, who similarly looked out the window of his house earlier in the episode.  Richie will soon feel like he is in a fishbowl too, albeit an $850,000 one made of brick-and-mortar.

The closing scene shows gangster life at its most mundane.  In the back room of Satriale’s, the guys play cards, look at porn, cook a meal.  Paulie and Silvio discuss moisturizers.  The sound of a car crash draws the men out on to the sidewalk, but the banality continues outside: Paulie tans himself, and the guys joke with each other and talk about the NBA playoffs.  The hour comes to an end as the camera cranes up to a high, wide shot:

life is fishbowl - satriales

By mimicking the earlier high, wide shot that made Tony seem like he was in a fishbowl, Chase seems to be saying that even this street is a fishbowl—and by extension, so is the whole world.  Banality and the quotidian are inescapable characteristics of every life; whether we can accept this reality and still find meaning and purpose, or instead fall into despair and apathy, is entirely up to us.

Connectivity may be Chase’s primary strategy against a philosophy of meaninglessness.  Television is conducive to the making of connections perhaps better than any other medium, and Chase uses the medium well.  He lays connective tissue between episodes and across the seasons, and this hour is no exception—connections to other episodes abound in “House Arrest.”  The opening scene is scored with a song that will be used again with significance in 6.18.  In 2.08 we learned that Tony’s house is on Stag Trail Road, and Richie mentions this road now when explaining why he is late to his own new house.   (This detail may perhaps be solidifying the link between Richie and Tony as men trapped by domestic life).  In 2.01, we saw one of Melfi’s clients complain of his troubles with a woman; that same man appears here, in a non-speaking role, with a lady who might very well be the same woman he had been discussing in the earlier episode:

guy in melfi's office3

(The guy is played by Terry Winter, who wrote “House Arrest” and became a significant contributor to the series as a producer/writer.)

The episode itself is assembled with edits, juxtapositions, camera angles, imagery and dialogue that stress the connections and parallels between characters.  “House Arrest” is also stitched together by cat references and imagery: not wanting to use a bedpan, Corrado says, “I’m not a cat, I don’t shit in a box”; there is a painting of a cat above Corrado’s telephone; and Tony draws a cat in his “fishbowl” doodle.  I doubt that the cat references have any major significance or symbolism here; they simply form a thread that further connects scenes within the episode.

The Sopranos is connected to the real world though allusions and references to things/events that exist outside of SopranoWorld.  This episode, perhaps more than any other thus far, is stuffed with allusions.  They include The Illustrated Man, Judge Crater, George Sanders, Marshall McLuhan, St. Swithen’s Day, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Charles Manson, Fountains of Wayne (not the band but the store), ‘Tis by Frank McCourt, Hogan’s Heroes, the movies Sliding Doors and Se7en, Cardozo School of Law, Wallace Beery, the New Jersey Nets, the New York Knicks, and post-structural psychiatrist Jacques Lacan.  The use of real-world songs (as opposed to a fabricated score) by The Pretenders, Bob Dylan, Boston and Johnny Thunders also connects the show to the real world.  Diagnosis: Murder, an actual TV show which plays on Corrado’s television, similarly connects SopranoWorld to our real world. (The snippet from Diagnosis: Murder mentions a fight and a deli, perhaps a meta-reference to the argument between Richie and the deli owner to whom he “delivered” garbage at the episode’s start.)

The multiple references to the NJ Nets and the NBA playoffs are particularly interesting, because they fuse together this episode’s concerns with verisimilitude and connectivity.  In the real world, guys often talk sports, it’s just a part of everyday conversation.  But rarely do these trivial, commonplace conversations get included in the script of a major primetime drama.  The subtle references to the NBA games run throughout the episode, and they are made by Richie, Tony, Zanone, Attorney Mink, and the FBI agents.  It’s almost as though the New Jersey Nets are a “net” that have captured all the men.  As different as they all are temperamentally and professionally, the men are all connected by their interest in the basketball games.

This episode also provides evidence that connections between people are possible.  Corrado is bored and frustrated by the limitations of his life.  Young women are no longer moved by his flirtations.  There’s nothing good in the refrigerator to eat.  He’s got death on his mind, as revealed in a conversation with an old acquaintance who marvels at how they have reconnected:

Catherine:  Funny how life works, the different paths…
Corrado:  Yup, all leading to the cemetery.

Corrado’s response is cynical, one that fits into the dark and bitter philosophy of meaninglessness that constantly threatens the Sopranos’ characters.  (In “D-Girl” Melfi similarly said to Tony that “All roads lead to death.”)  But in this particular context—two reconnected friends enjoying coffee at the kitchen table—the statement loses its bitter edge; in fact, Cat and Corrado are able to share a laugh over it.  Livia later calls Corrado and starts to badmouth Catherine, but Corrado tells her, “What you don’t know could fill a book” and abruptly hangs up the phone.  Livia cannot understand that meaningful connections between people are indeed possible.  As she glares at the disconnected phone in her hand, we understand that Livia’s cynical worldview leaves her disconnected:

disconnected Livia

I think Melfi’s mention of the film Sliding Doors may be significant, particularly when analyzed in conjunction with that exchange between Corrado and Catherine in which she mentions “different paths” and he responds “all leading to the cemetery.”  Sliding Doors presents a storyline that branches into two parallel universes.  When Gwyneth Paltrow’s character walks through the sliding doors of a subway train, she lives one life; when she misses the train, she lives an altogether different life.  It is a story about “different paths.”  (<<< Sliding Doors Spoiler Alert >>>  Both paths lead to death: in both universes, she loses her unborn baby.)  The significance of this to The Sopranos is that it underscores Chase’s concern with paths as opposed to the paths’ final destination.  I hate to constantly bring up The Sopranos‘ final scene at Holsten’s Diner, because the series is so much, much more than those final 3 minutes, but it is important in the context of this discussion.  Death is a given.  It is inevitable.  All paths lead to the cemetery.  Whether Tony dies or not at Holsten’s is an almost minor concern, when viewed against the absolute certainty of his death at some point.  Every character in SopranoWorld will die at some point.  Every actor playing a character in SopranoWorld will die at some point.  Every viewer watching an actor play a character in SopranoWorld will die at some point.  This is a rule of life in the fishbowl, and it applies to us in the real world as much as it applies to Tony in his fictional one.

Death is the ultimate certainty, but so much else is uncertain. The mention of Jacques Lacan, the post-structural theorist, by Melfi’s son in this episode is revealing.  The notion of uncertainty, which is in the DNA of The Sopranos, is at the heart of post-structuralist thought.  Wikipedia provides two important characteristics of this theory, which I’ll quote word-for-word:

  1.  Post-structuralism rejects the idea of a literary text having a single purpose, a single meaning, or one singular existence. Instead, every individual reader creates a new and individual purpose, meaning, and existence for a given text. To step outside of literary theory, this position is generalizable to any situation where a subject perceives a sign.
  2. A post-structuralist critic must be able to use a variety of perspectives to create a multifaceted interpretation of a text, even if these interpretations conflict with one another. It is particularly important to analyze how the meanings of a text shift in relation to certain variables, usually involving the identity of the reader (for example: class, racial, or sexual identity).

Hmm, “a variety of perspectives to create a multifaceted interpretation of a text.”  By having his series be so open to interpretation at so many different points, it seems like Chase was goading his viewers into approaching his series with openness and a diversity of viewpoints just as a post-structuralist critic would.  Holsten’s anyone?


Since this hour is, in VanDerWerff’s words, the “epitome of the ‘nothing happens’ episodes,” this write-up may be the proper place to compare The Sopranos to Seinfeld, a show in which “nothing happened” week after week.

In June 2013, The Sopranos was awarded the top spot on the Writers Guild of America’s list of “101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.”  The top ten is an incredible collection of shows, including the modern masterpieces Mad Men and The Wire.  Seinfeld took the #2 spot.  Now, I love Seinfeld, probably as much as I love The Sopranos, and I think it completely deserves the Silver medal.  And yet, in terms of writing, I think The Sopranos leaves the NBC comedy in its dust.  The gulf between the WGA’s #1 and #2 shows, when looking at their scripts, is large.

I’ve often thought about a major similarity between these two series.  Seinfeld was not a plot-centric sitcom (at least not in the traditional sense)—each episode was primarily a vehicle to express Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s wry observations about everyday life.  It was famously a “show about nothing.”  The Sopranos is also, arguably, a show about nothing (or more accurately, “a Big Nothing,” Livia’s philosophy of meaninglessness).  The four Seinfeld characters are like hilarious versions of Livia: they are callous and self-centered, without any significantly meaningful connections to other people.  In the Series Finale, they are put on trial for their callousness and are convicted after a long line of past associates testify to their cold-heartedness.  Seinfeld was hilarious because it was so enthusiastic and unapologetic in showing us the carelessness of its characters.  SopranoWorld can also be an unremittingly cold place with unapologetically careless characters, but it is presented in a serious, dramatic light rather than in a humorous one as in Seinfeld.  This is not to say that The Sopranos isn’t side-splittingly funny at times.  I think Winter’s script, in fact, makes “House Arrest” the funniest episode of Season Two.  Funny moments include:

  • Tony asking Corrado, “How many ‘MiG’s you shoot down last week?” when Corrado has a clunky medical device fitted over his head
  • Tony unloads his frustration onto a doctor after another fainting spell goes undiagnosed, and the offended doc retaliates by telling him, “You know, losing some weight wouldn’t hurt.”
  • Tony’s sexual interest in the Barone secretary gets piqued when he finds out she’s a Born-Again Christian

The sex scene between Tony and the secretary is so amusing partly because of how Chase builds up to it.   When Tony first arrives at Barone Sanitation, a hell-hound ferociously barks while straining against its chain.  Later, Tony’s interest in Christian Connie grows, as though he knows a thing or two about the sex habits of evangelicals.  When the scene finally arrives, it is scored with the dog’s barking as Tony goes at her doggy-style.

born again chick

Funny stuff. (Or as Banya might have said, “That’s gold, Jerry. Gold!”) In a 2012 interview with the New York Times, David Chase jokingly noted an ironic inversion between Seinfeld and The Sopranos:

“It’s just very difficult to end a series,” said the Sopranos creator. “For example, Seinfeld, they ended it with them all going to jail. Now that’s the ending we should have had.  And they should have had ours, where it blacked out in a diner.”


Janice wins. “Parvati” is nothing more than a memory. Over the last couple of episodes, Janice has been looking more and more like a mob wife. Now, when she arrives at the Carting Association event, Tony tells her, “Janice, you’ve completely transformed.”  Seeing her in a red, black and white outfit, we recognize that her transformation is complete.

janice in red black white

Red, black and white are the theme colors of The Sopranos. HBO has coated every Sopranos thing—from posters to DVDs to retail merchandise and tie-in books—in these colors. Janice is no longer pretending to be the West-coast hippy-chick with the spiritual name. She has revealed her true colors.



  • “The Doctor Is (sort of) In”: Melfi is hitting the bottle pretty hard before her sessions with Tony.  During therapy, she doesn’t quite seem there… She may be drinking too much outside of her office as well—the fight she picks with a smoker at a restaurant is very uncharacteristic of a sober Jennifer. 
  • Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” is playing at the Garbageman’s Ball.  Just a bit before Tony passes out, we hear its lyric, “I closed my eyes and I slipped away.”
  • The “Roberta Sanfilipo” that Corrado describes as “a piece of ass…as game as they come” is, of course, Bobbi from “Boca” (1.09).
  • Moltisanti is out of the hospital, back at Satriale’s.  Tony calls him a clay pigeon because of all the bullets he took in “Full Leather Jacket” (2.08).
  • Possibly my favorite Sopranos’ malapropism: instead of “catheter,” Tony says that Beansie has to pee into a “cathode tube.” (I used to also get the two confused.  Cathode ray tubes are the technology that older televisions employed—perhaps Chase is saying that most of the stuff on TV is piss-bad.)
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72 responses to “House Arrest (2.11)

  1. Thanks a lot for your analysis of this episode. I see how much deeper it is than I thought it was.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Question: when Tony was shot, and he went to talk to Dr. Melfi in her car, he finds cigarettes, which Melfi say they are “her son’s”. What? Only a couple of episodes later we find out her son doesn’t smoke (when they’re in the group family sessions, I believe that wasn’t long after the car scene I’m saying). Does Melfi smoke? Why would she hide it?


    • I think Melfi’s smoking (like her drinking) comes out of her stress over having Tony Soprano as a patient. Maybe she lies about it because it could be embarrassing (and even unprofessional) to allow Tony to recognize how stressed she is over him. And as someone who’s studied Freud, she might believe that sucking on cigarettes reveals some latent oral fixation, something she definitely may not want Tony to know…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Bang on the money, but I think it goes deeper than professionalism. Melfi is actually one of the most f-d up people on the show. She can’t let her guard down around Tony because she’s afraid of how he might use any advantage she gives him. But on the other hand, he is a patient: she won’t stop seeing him because to tell him the truth – that the therapy is actually causing her psychological damage – would probably send Tony’s depression spiralling downwards further. The idea of doing a patient harm is too much for her to bear professionally but then there’s the added threat of Tony himself… she doesn’t really know what he could/would do if she broke it off. That’s the foundation for quite a complex and adds to this sense of entrapment this episode conveys.

        So she props herself up with drinking and cigarettes and then hides it, not only out of fear for Tony spotting her weakness, but also out of shame. She bargains with her therapist and lies to herself simply because the other option is to face the situation she’s put herself in, and that’s too much to bear. I think that scene with the smoking lady was just Melfi cracking under the pressure. She was visibly stressed before the incident and possibly had a cigarette craving triggered by the wine. Her attack on the smoking lady was a pre-empt, not only to her son but to herself as well.

        Liked by 5 people

      • Ron – Talk about self-righteous! Dr. Melfi secretly smoking cigarettes, sucking down the booze and reprimanding a woman for smoking! The doctor is unraveling pretty quickly. And things will get worse for her in upcoming episodes!

        Liked by 1 person

        • PS. Did anyone else notice that Dr. Melfi is very nervous around Tony now? Whenever he raises his voice, her hand goes up to her face and she twitches. Looks like she might have some PTSD herself. Sigh. 😥

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Did anyone notice Richie looks at the camera after giving Tony the Manson lamps?


  4. One of the great comical moments in this episode occurs when Richie and Janice find Junior trapped in his kitchen, his hand stuck in the kitchen’s drain when he tries to clear the garbage disposal. The humor comes from the homoerotic undertones of the scene: Richie greases the hole with a lubricant (dish soap) and complains to Junior, “You’re clenching! You’re clennnnching!” Once you finish your analysis of the series, Ron, I sincerely hope you consider publishing this as a book. I’d certainly buy it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Ron, I love your website. Makes the show richer.

    This is one of the few episodes where Melfi pretty much comes out and tells Tony
    who/what he is, and the alcohol probably helped get her to that place.
    He’s a shark who can’t stop or else he would have to confront himself – the one thing
    Tony knows he can never do. He puts what she tells him into immediate effect.

    When the scene cuts to Satriale’s we get to look at all the other
    sociopaths, I couldn’t help thinking they all have the same problem. They are all
    so excited to be distracted from the mundane by the car crash. Gotta keep moving.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. This particular page is one of the most visited on the website, and I’d like to think that that’s because viewers are so compelled by this hour’s examination of our desperate desire to be distracted from the mundane, as you say. But I know the page’s popularity is probably due more to that pic of Connie the Christian getting boned from behind.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think this episode has very significant developing of Junior Corrado character. Despite one moment of self respect ‘I’m not a cat to shit in the box’, bunch of moments we see him very weak: he wears that ugly air mask, young nurse doesn’t respond to his compliments, he obeys afroamerican hospital attendant which commands him to sit in the wheel chair and most of all his hand stuck in drain. He is not a scary powerful mafioso anymore. He is on half of his way from ruling New Jersey to poor demented lonely old man at show final.

    Funny moment: the unusual word ‘transformed’ which Tony said about Janice’s look and her red-white-black colored suit reminded me of Transformers cartoon I watched as a child (the Optimus Prime character). May be there is a subtle reference to it?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Speaking of Seinfeld, someone actually made a Sopranos video in the fashion of Seinfeld.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I always thought Tony called Richie a poor bastard because after causing him another attack he made up his mind he was going to whack him.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. David J Noone

    Lots to say about a “nothing happens” episode. Excellent analysis as usual. I enjoyed Tony and Richie’s scene at the “garbageman’s ball very much. Gandolfini is just so goddam convincing when he is yelling at Richie. Their scenes together are fantastic. The Corrado parts are another source of amusement- especially his scenes with Baccala and yelling at him for eating the Manicotti. “Half a fuckin’ tray in there!” You brought up a great point about Janice- this is definitely her “coming out” episode and we are exposed to who she really is and what she is after; The status of a mob wife, the type of woman and life she was talking down about with Carmela not long ago. After reading this far, I find your links between Tony and his Ma very interesting. If you really break it down, he has many of his mother’s traits. So does AJ. As the seasons progress and the storyline darkens, I think this connection is very evident.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting point about Janice going after the mob life she criticized in a previous episode. Clearly this is true, but I see it as more of a power play by her. Yes, she is going after the life of a mob wife, but it seems less about status and wanting the life Carmela, for example, has. Janice wants to pull the strings, just as Livia does and just as she has been doing with Ritchie for several episodes now. It’s truly scary thinking about what this woman could become by the time she reaches Livia’s age.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It had never occurred to me before that Janice had used Carmela as a ‘template’ for her behaviour; that she could emulate in order to also reap the materialistic gains she has made by being married to a mafioso. Similarly, Janice was aiming to emulate Livia’s behaviour so that she could be as influential as her mother by manipulating and goading the powerful Mafia men in her life.
        If Tony did die, Janice would have had no problem stepping into his shoes…

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Yes, Janice killed him before he got a chance to.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When Corrado is in the house downstairs with the old woman, she ask him was her late husband Loui on the take. Corrado looks back at her funny and says no. But she says she used to find 100 of dollars in his pants. He probably worked for Sopranos back then. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. In the final scene outside the pork store, Pussy is the only member to go back inside shortly after the arrival of the 2 FBI agents. Was this due to his uncomfortable conflict of interests at that moment, or symbolic of him leaving the guys, as he will literally do in an upcoming episode?

    Liked by 2 people

    • André Lovelle

      Great catch. I think this actually foreshadows Pussy’s death. Notice when he re enters Satriale’s that he literally disappears into the darkness. All while Johnny Thunders sings You Can’t Put Your Arm Around a Memory. Pussy is also out of place because he’s the only person outside who’s identity is not clearly defined. The crooks are the crooks. The feds are the feds. Each of them knows where the other stands and even bears a grudging respect for the other. But Pussy? He’s a man without a home and he removes himself from the scene. Incredible show.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Steven Casalinuovo

    What are your thoughts on Tony’s rash? Is it just psychosomatic, and is it symbolic of his being uncomfortable in his boredom?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s a good take on it. The rash never appeared anywhere besides this episode, so I think it’s safe to say that it is tied to this episode’s theme of boredom…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Tony secretary love!


  15. Tony secretary marry!


  16. Watching the restaurant scene with Melfi and her son reminded me of the restaurant scene with Tony and Artie in “Boca” (Season 1). The situations are fairly similar, but the way they play out are completely different. It’s not illegal to wear a cap in a restaurant and it isn’t inconveniencing anyone, but it’s considered bad manners, especially in a white tablecloth restaurant. Tony gets the young guy with the cap on to take it off just by looming over him and being Tony. He does it without a lot of drama, Artie is impressed, and the waiter thanks Tony quietly. By contrast, Melfi tries to get the woman to move her cigarette. It’s not illegal to smoke in that restaurant at that time, but it’s bad manners to have your smoke inconveniencing another person. In this case, though, the woman isn’t intimidated by Melfi, and as Melfi, who did start with a fairly polite request, escalates into sarcasm, hostility, and a thrown napkin, the woman digs in her heels and is rude in return. So there’s a lot of drama. Melfi’s son is embarrassed, and the manager eventually asks Melfi to leave. It’s very likely that she’s had too much to drink, given that’s one of the issues in the episode (and she later tells Kupferberg that she won’t drink around her son, and he rightly calls her on bargaining, the way alcoholics do), and her drinking is connected to treating Tony. In the restaurant scene, it’s almost as though some of Tony’s behaviors and attitudes are rubbing off on her, except that she doesn’t know how to handle them and makes an embarrassing hash of her attempt to impose her will on the woman with the cigarette. I don’t have any larger point to make, but I noticed the parallel restaurant scenes this time through my rewatch, and it ties in with your excellent points about connectivity.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Favorite funny touch in this episode: Tony carefully dabbing Wite-Out to fix something on his basketball pool chart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pajama – Bette Nesmith Graham invented Liquid Paper (‘white-out’) in 1956, and sold it to Gillette Corporation for $47.9 million dollars in 1979. She is the mother of Michael Nesmith of ‘The Monkees’, a 1960s pop group that had a 2-year long TV series. Michael passed away December 10, 2021. 🕊


    • Loved that, too! Must’ve spotted something “irregular around the margins” 😉
      Bobby housed half a tray of manicott’ just like Monsignor Jughead did to Carmela’s ziti.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Tony and connie forever…


  19. “Tony goes at her doggy-style”
    A few words about two sexual acts. In this episode, Connie is getting carried away. But in the previous episode, when Richie takes Janice in the same position, her rhythmic gasps of pleasure are as genuine as the gasps of a prostitute or a porn actress. Richie is deceived.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I love the shot of Richie looking out the window. He looks so small and insignificant.
    To my main point, both Seinfeld & The Sopranos final scenes have a similar occurrence in the sense that something that was said in a past episode is brought up. Anyone who has seen both series should know this but I never thought about it as a similarity between the two.
    Obviously, AJ bringing up Tonys toast in the season 1 final.. and Jerry making the same observation he did in the pilot episode about the placement of a button on Georges shirt.
    Jerry & AJ, who repeat these lines, are on the right side of screen.. while George & Tony are on the left side. This is insignificant but it is a similarity from both scenes.
    I see the image you attached for this episode is of jail/prison bars.
    Its a little strange that the most Seindeldish episode of The Sopranos is all about being trapped or “caged”.. while the final scene of Seinfeld has its characters literally caged behind bars.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of people hated the way Seinfeld ended, but I thought it was genius: the image of the four characters sitting in a prison cell emphasized how trapped they were in their own self-absorption and pettiness (which are traits that many Sopranos characters certainly share).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ron – l completely agree with you! My former roommates thought that the Seinfeld ending was stupid, but I really enjoyed it. Elaine, Jerry, George and Kramer got what was coming to them. What people don’t get is that the characters on Seinfeld are almost exactly like those on Sopranos – self-serving, narcissistic people who think that they are owed respect (without having to earn it). The difference between the two shows is that Seinfeld was always funny and definitely not thought-provoking.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Regarding Corrado and his problem with the ladies…he can’t get Bobbi San Fillipo (who got a pie in the face) He can’t get the “little cupcake” and then Bobbie comes in and Junior says, “did you get the ladyfingers?” To which Bobbie answers, “no they were out of them.” So, no matter what Junior does, no lady fingers are going to soothe his boredom.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I always thought Tony said “Oh you poor bastard because he was thinking that he had to kill him.” I didn’t even think of

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I can’t believe you didn’t touch on the last few minutes with Carmine the asshole and the accident! This site was my first and only hope for analysis on that. Not to mention it was hysterical

    Liked by 1 person

  24. “And yet, in terms of writing, I think The Sopranos leaves the NBC comedy in its dust. The gulf between the WGA’s #1 and #2 shows, when looking at their scripts, is large.”
    This is kind of a tough call to make. I don’t think the Sopranos writers could craft a Seinfeld episode and I don’t think the Seinfeld writers could craft a Sopranos episode. What Seinfeld did with dialogue and plotting is basically unmatched, except maybe more classic farces like Fawlty Towers.
    “I’ve often thought about a major similarity between these two series. Seinfeld was not a plot-centric sitcom (at least not in the traditional sense)—each episode was primarily a vehicle to express Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s wry observations about everyday life. It was famously a “show about nothing.””
    I don’t think you are quite on point with Seinfeld. Seinfeld is unbelievably plot-centric, more so than most sitcoms. The structure of so many episodes having various plots that all reflect on each other and then collide in the end becomes absolutely lyrical by about halfway through the series. No other sitcom can even attempt it or would dare. Not only that, but the idea that Seinfeld’s plots are funny is a miracle in itself. How many comedy shows and sitcoms have plots that can make you laugh out loud just from the description? Most sitcom plots are “Joe goes to the office party” or “Betty asks a guy out.” Seinfeld’s immaculately constructed plots are all absurd and relatable and comical in their very bones (Curb is similar.) I’ve never seen another show like this and I watch a huge ton of comedy.
    Seinfeld isn’t a show about nothing, it’s actually a show about EVERYTHING. The “nothing” simply referred to the fact that there were rarely any sentimental stakes in the show. But Seinfeld covered countless areas of life, and even had long-form serialization much more ambitious than many other sitcoms. It’s truly a work of genius.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I say there’s a vast difference between the writing on the two shows, I guess I’m referring more to the written dialogue than the plotting. Chase and company seemed to be very conscientious about each and every line that was said on The Sopranos (requiring prior approval if actors wanted to change even one word), whereas Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David seemed to take a more loosey-goosey approach on Seinfeld. (Larry David famously doesn’t even write dialogue for Curb Your Enthusiasm—and yet that improvised show manages to be one of the funniest shows of all time.)

      Interestingly, Michael Imperioli recently discussed on his podcast how much James Gandolfini hated Seinfeld, hated how this grown man went through the series wearing sneakers and eating cereal all the time. Of course, most of us who love Seinfeld love it precisely because of this, how it reflects and mocks the adolescent, vacuous nature of Contemporary Man…


      • Oh no no, you have that totally backwards. Jerry and Larry painstakingly rewrote every script until it was perfect. Jerry in particular is obsessed with word choices and rhythm. Have you ever watched any interview with him about comedy? He is absolutely a scholar on the timing, placement of words, number of syllables and what to emphasize in a sentence. And the results of Seinfeld show it. The dialogue in that show isn’t so quotable and precise by coincidence. That’s staying up all hours of the night and making sure every single sentence is as perfectly funny as it can be.
        Larry wanted Curb to be improved precisely BECAUSE the writing for Seinfeld was so stressful and obsessive, by his own admission.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ironic because in so many scenes we see Tony eating cereal, sometimes carrying around an oversized box and just stuffing it straight into his mouth

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Also a point to note is the significance of the aggressively barking but heavily leashed Alsatian as Tony pulls up at Barone sanitation.

    Noting the camera pans from Tony’s suv slowly to being the Alsatian into frame.

    It’s an early visual symbolism of Tony essentially being put on a leash.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s brilliant


      • Ron – While looking up information about the ‘early’ movies (1940s), I hit on George Sanders’, a wonderful actor for over 40 years. He had many health issues, depression, and was eventually diagnosed with dementia. At age 65, he committed suicide. Oddly enough/as fate would have it, when Tony was complaining to Dr. Melfi about his frustration, he says he’s ‘ready for the George Sanders long walk home’. As we all know, Tony was certainly the old movie aficionado!

        Liked by 1 person

  26. no discussion on the melfi seizing the opportunity to get tony to realize he has anti-social personality disorder through the recognition of alexythymia?


  27. Daniel Desousa

    I sometimes wonder if Mink was on the phone with Alan Sapinsly in this episode. Could be a stretch, however.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Love the use of Disco inferno in the background during Tony and Ritche’s talk. Adds a brilliant layer to the tensions between them and nicely alludes to how close things are out of control between them and the troubles Tony will have with Ralph, who in his first appearance is setting fires on Albert’s garbage trucks.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. On a recent watch I noticed Tony tells Melfi she looks like she’s high on drugs, It might be that she’s taking the medication Elliot recommended for her, add a bit of alcohol abuse and she is out of it…

    Liked by 1 person

  30. With the possible exception of Silvio (Van Zandt), no one delivers deadpan, one liners better than Junior (Chianese).

    Liked by 1 person

    • maher – I think that Richie’s one-liners are a close tie with Silvio and Corrado (“What’s mine is not yours to give me”). And the guy scares me more than the other two! 🤯


  31. Poor AJ. He only comes in a mediocre third out of 5 at the swim meet. And mommy lies (once again) when she tells Tony that his son came in second. What is wrong with this family? 😖

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Pingback: The Soprano Onceover: #18. “House Arrest” (S2E11) | janiojala

  33. Kevin Rachner

    Did they actually specifically mention the NBA playoffs because playoffs are April-June, while this looks more like the beginning of the season in late october

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t remember if they mention the playoffs but it would be probably late in the NBA season, because Meadow’s graduation is in two episodes.


  34. Another example of non-symbolic connectivity could be the mention of George Sanders in this episode. Chase obviously knows the music of The Kinks, as they’re heard here and there throughout the series, so he must have had the line:
    ” If you covered him with garbage
    George Sanders would still have style”
    from “Celluloid Heroes” playing somewhere in his consciousness as he put together this episode.

    Liked by 1 person

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