Calling All Cars (4.11)

Tony and Dr. Melfi part ways.
Tony goes to Florida to enlist Lil Carmine’s help in the HUD scam.
Tony has a bad dream while in Miami.


Episode 50 – Originally aired November 24, 2002
Written by Chase, Green, Burgess and David Flebotte
Additional Story by Terry Winter
Directed by Tim Van Patten


A major event takes place in “Calling All Cars”: Tony decides to stop therapy.  Despite containing this significant and surprising twist, the episode originally felt like a comparatively minor one to me—I just didn’t find it very memorable.  After subsequent viewings, however, I have reassessed my opinion of the hour.  “Calling All Cars” is a very substantial episode.  It dives deeply into the well of imagery and symbolism (ugh, how I dislike that word) that the series has labored to establish over the last four seasons, while simultaneously providing a wealth of images that will be recalled in future episodes.  “Calling All Cars” also helps to break our preconceived ideas about how late-season episodes are supposed to function in the final stretch of a TV season.

The previous episode signaled that we were in the endgame of Season 4 by raising multiple mortal threats against Tony Soprano.  “Calling All Cars” continues to escalate some of this tension—but not to the degree that we would traditionally expect in TV drama series.  The friction between NJ and NY over the HUD profits is growing.  Though it is Vic the Appraiser gets the worst of it right now, Johnny Sac hints to Paulie that Tony might have to be whacked over the issue.  Tony hopes that a meeting with Little Carmine may ease the stalemate with Carmine Sr.  But the primary focus in this hour is not on these external tensions; it is on Tony’s internal anxieties.  The episode opens with a surreal dream sequence, one that alludes to several things that are eating at Tony, including his dalliance with Svetlana, Gloria’s suicide, Ralph’s murder and Carmela’s increasing self-determination.  In the following scene, Tony expresses to Dr. Melfi his dissatisfaction with the way his psychotherapy has been—or has not been—progressing.  He is still having nutty dreams that he can’t figure out or control.  And he still cannot exercise any impulse control, which is leading him to commit mistakes at work (i.e. the unsanctioned murder of Ralph Cifaretto).  He is angry and frustrated, and wants to take a time-out from therapy.

Arguably, the main story of the hour isn’t about Tony’s external or internal issues—in fact, it isn’t about Tony at all.  It’s about Bobby and Janice.  Bobby is having difficulty accepting Karen’s death, even going so far as to bury an anniversary cake at her gravesite.  He refuses the reality of her death by refusing to pay off the funeral bill.  Janice tells him that “This dispute with the [funeral] bill is morbid clinging.”  Soon after making this criticism, Janice does one of the most morbid things we’ve ever seen anyone in SopranoWorld do.

Valerie Palmer-Mehta, in her essay “Disciplining the Masculine,” describes Janice as being in “full feminine masquerade” in this episode.  Jan pretends to be matronly and caring but she has a devious, self-serving plan up her sleeve.  She knows that Little Bobby and Sophia are struggling with their mother’s death (mainly because she saw them freak out at the phony séance that AJ conducted), and she capitalizes on the children’s pain to draw Bobby closer to her.  She instant-messages Little Bobby and Sophia with the user-name Vlad666.  When the kids ask who it is that they’re conversing with, she gives the mysterious and frightening reply, “Rising Damp.”  Jan then leads them to the Ouija board.  (Throughout the seasons, Janice and AJ have seemed to be the truest inheritors of Livia Soprano’s cruelty and callousness, and their parallel use of the Ouija board here solidifies this similarity between them.)  After sending the kids into a state of terror, Janice sits and waits for Bobby’s inevitable phone call for aid.  When she comes over to Bobby’s house to help, she sensibly tells him, “The dead have nothing to say to us.”  She suggests that they reheat Karen’s last ziti, and Bobby quietly assents while a tear runs down his cheek.  Janice has definitively replaced Karen.  The Queen is dead; long live the Queen.

Meanwhile, Tony receives a call from Svetlana.  She thanks him for the diamond brooch, but she is unwilling to continue any romantic relationship with him, despite his attempt to keep the possibility open.  Chase notably cuts from this scene to Melfi’s office, where Tony finally terminates his therapy.  Svetlana’s rejection of him, along with her criticism of his weakness in the previous episode, may have played a role in Tony’s decision to nix therapy.  He may believe that going to a therapist confirms Svetlana’s insinuation that he is not “the strong silent type.”  Dr. Margaret Crastnopol at writes:

Tony has absorbed Svetlana’s excellent interpretation of his cowardice, and it has shamed him, and his solution is to look for aspects of weakness in himself and get rid of them by cutting off the treatment that exposes this vulnerability. Kinda like shooting the messenger. Not the operation that’s needed, but the one he would inevitably choose, like ordering the destruction of the painting of his beloved dead horse so he won’t have to see it.

Others have a different interpretation of why Tony ends his long-running relationship with Melfi.  Judith Shulevitz, also at, notes that in the first therapy session of the hour, Tony almost lets it slip to Dr. Melfi that he committed murder (of Ralph); he may be walking away from treatment now in order to prevent himself from saying too much to his therapist.  Some viewers think he walks away because of genuine frustration, while some said Chase was preparing to give Melfi the axe because she had become less of an important character over time.  Some viewers found the scene to just be another plot-twist.  Whatever the reason, Tony is done.  Doctor Melfi stands up to shake his hand.  Tony kisses her gently on the cheek and walks out.

Tony heads down to Miami Beach where Beansie Gaeta has arranged a meeting with Little Carmine.  We heard Tony refer to this younger Carmine as “Brainless the Second” in “The Weight” (4.04), and our first glimpse of him now hints that this description is accurate.  Little Carmine mispronounces words and makes his point so archly that Tony can’t even be sure what his point is.  Little Carmine agrees to intercede on Tony’s behalf, but we wonder if this boob might just make things worse between New Jersey and New York.

As I mentioned earlier, the threat of mob violence is something of a red herring in the homestretch of Season 4.  Tony’s internal disquiet is much more of a significant issue.  Tony may stay out of NY’s reach and away from the FBI’s noose, but he cannot escape his subconscious anxieties.  The dream that appears in the final scene is very short but it is one of the most haunting and evocative dreams of the entire series.  It is largely through this dream that “Calling All Cars” earns its high marks.  The dream-sequence pulls together a rich, complex set of symbols, associations and images, some of which have been appearing since the Pilot episode.  We may not even clearly recognize the symbolic quality of these images—their significance as metaphors may only barely register on the far edge of our consciousness.  Take, for example, the image of the legs (of an unknown woman as she steps out of a car) which opens the dream-sequence:

Trillo leg

There is a high probability that the leg belongs to Gloria Trillo, because she was sitting in the same spot in the car in Tony’s dream earlier in the hour, but also because Chase had highlighted Gloria’s legs throughout Season 3, particularly the first time Tony met her in Melfi’s waiting room:

Gloria's legs revisited

The first time we met Tony, it was also in Melfi’s waiting room, and he was framed by a pair of female legs.  By presenting leg imagery in the dream now, Chase may be suggesting that Tony is still in the same situation he was in all those years ago when the Pilot aired.  Tony still has a tendency to get ensnared and enclosed by dark, destructive women who approximate his mother Livia—but he no longer has the therapy sessions to help him through such emotional traps:

opening shot for C.A

Another evocative element is the prominent sound of crickets which scores the dream, perhaps recalling the conversation in 2.04 “Commendatori” where Tony says his favorite part of the Godfather movies is the cricket-scored scene when Vito Corleone returns to Italy.  Tony appears as an immigrant stonemason in the dream, evoking the times he told Meadow (in the Pilot) and Isabella (in “Isabella”) that this was his grandfather’s trade.  The house that stonemason Tony walks up to is also strangely evocative, something about it seems so familiar—I was convinced it was Hesh’s house from Season One, but I’m not so sure after taking a closer look:

Dream House number 2

Even looking at the screengrabs side-by-side, it’s difficult to determine whether it’s the same house, just with some trim and detailing changed.  (Not that it really matters; it just speaks to the dream-like way that Chase plants his images in our minds.  Many viewers were later reminded of this “dream” house when Tony/Kevin Finnerty came upon a similar looking home during his dream/coma/near-death-experience in Season 6’s “Mayham.”)  When stonemason Tony pushes the door of the house open, he comes across a surreal image.  A shadowy figure stands in the staircase, its dark particles seeming to resolve from out of its ghostly outline and bleed into the surroundings.  Is it Livia “rising damp” from her grave?  Or, if not her grave, at least from the dark recesses of Tony’s subconscious?

Dark Mother dream

I cannot be certain that the obscure figure is Tony’s mother, but David Chase hinted that it is Livia in a 2005 interview with Martha Nochimson (Dying to Belong.)  Additionally, because I’ve come to associate Livia with staircases, the Lady on the Stairs strongly conjures her in my mind:

Livia stairs

Janice may have been wrong in telling Bobby earlier that the dead have nothing to say to us.  Dead Livia appears now in Tony’s dream, and manages—without uttering a sound—to still somehow communicate her fearsome philosophy of meaninglessness.

Tony snaps out of the disturbing dream, startled and damp with sweat.  He lumbers into the bathroom to regain his composure but the red nightlight bathes him in a hellish glow and provides no comfort.  He sees a sliver of sunlight through the curtains and makes his way out to the balcony.  In the warm and bright Florida air, he can calm himself.

Calling All Cars final sequence

I love how Chase utilizes the Fontainebleau Hotel and Miami Beach here.  The hotel has appeared in several films over the last 50 years, its iconic curved form attracting many film directors and producers.  (For instance, the movie Tony Rome, starring Frank Sinatra, featured the hotel as a backdrop in several scenes.)  The sweeping lines of the hotel’s curved terraces lead our eye to Tony as he gets a grip on himself after the terrifying dream.

Tony Rome, Sinatra - Fountainebleau

Chase may have chosen this hotel to shoot the final scene simply because there is a long tradition of filming at the Fontainebleau.  But there may be more to it than that.  When it opened in 1954, the hotel was panned in architectural circles for being too frivolous, too gaudy, too curved at a time when the straight lines of High Modernism ruled American architecture.  It was not considered to be serious architecture.  And I think this is why the hotel and Miami Beach work so well here.  Miami Beach carries the connotations, in our national consciousness, as a place of frolicking, frivolous fun.  We associate the place primarily with sea, sand and superficiality.  By abandoning psychotherapy, Tony has essentially chosen superficiality over seriousness, and now he finds himself in a place that is an embodiment—at least in our collective consciousness—of superficiality.  As he stands on the hotel balcony, the Beach Boys’ easygoing “Surfin USA” wafts up from below.  Now that Tony has quit therapy, he is no longer able to delve deeply into his own psyche; he will only surf along the surface of his life.  Tony has some serious matters lurking in his subconscious (including some major mommy-issues, as the dream reminds us).  But he has beached himself by quitting therapy, leaving himself stranded without Dr. Melfi to help him find his way.  Melfi had told Tony at the top of the hour that “meaning is elucidated through verbalization.”  Without the therapy sessions where he can verbalize, the meanings of things will be more difficult for Tony to clarify and understand.  He is now at greater risk of being consumed by the philosophy of meaninglessness that he has inherited from his mother.


Janice is selfish, callous and insecure like both her mother and Gloria Trillo, whose legs seem to be evoked in this hour.  Janice’s legs are also highlighted in this episode, as she carries out her conniving plan to ingratiate herself back into Bobby’s life—the camera enters the scene of Janice waiting for Bobby’s inevitable call for help by tracking along her legs:

Janice Soprano legs



  • To his great dismay, Corrado has been found competent to stand trial.  (This is a significant event, but it’s dealt with so quickly in the episode that I’ve only mentioned it down here in this section.)
  • In the October 2005 interview with Martha Nochimson, David Chase said that the “Lady on the Stairs” dream will relate to a future dream-sequence.  (My guess is that he was referring to the sequence in “Mayham” which appeared six months after the interview.)

Dream House & Mayham house

  • Some viewers have noted that as Janice and Bobby sit down to eat Karen’s last ziti, Janice’s wine glass inexplicably and suddenly moves, as though it was shifted by Karen’s ghost.  I’m not gonna touch this one—come up with your own explanation:

  • Let me clarify why I say, in the intro paragraph, that I don’t like the word “symbol.”  Once something is perceived to be a symbol (for example, “staircases are a symbol of callousness and cruelty”), then some viewers/readers tend to always equate staircases with callousness and cruelty.  David Chase is far too devoted to ambiguity to present imagery that must be interpreted in some fixed, absolute way.  That’s why I prefer the term “association.”  It is justifiable, I believe, to associate staircases on The Sopranos with callousness and cruelty, but it is not necessary to do so every single time a staircase appears.  (In fact, a staircase becomes the setting for a warm and loving scene between Tony and Meadow in the very next episode.)
  • Morris Lapidus, the architect of the Fontainebleau, took us on a field trip to his famous hotel when I was in junior high.  He would have been in his 80s, but was still spry and vivacious.  I could sense a hint of bitterness as he recounted the criticisms that the “Less is more” crowd directed at his work.  He lived for over 10 more years after I met him, and I was glad to see that in those years, his talent and joyfulness were rediscovered and interest in him revived.  He became one of the Rock Stars of the architecture world.
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72 responses to “Calling All Cars (4.11)

  1. This is probably my favorite Janice episode, exploring both sides of her. It really showcases her at her worst as a comic villain in the first half, then provides one of her best moments of grounded wisdom near the end, leaving you wondering about the ends justifying the means of Bobby’s (and in turn, the kids’) healing process. As I see it, regardless of the possible spookings and paranormal events in the show, Janice’s line about the dead is a very strong philosophy that is supported by the events of the series – even when the dead appear to characters, if they speak at all, their message basically amounts to “You will die some day”. I’d say Janice’s line is one of the more prominent and unambiguous instances of the show’s themes being brought from subtext to text. I also love Aida Turturro’s acting in the “Rising Damp” scene. Janice seems so proud of herself for coming up with that creative line.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Love the framing of Tony during the second scene of the hour, in Melfi’s office. Even though that’s his usual chair, he looks entirely uncomfortable in every shot, as he sinks into the chair in these weird angles that the camera accentuates. That is, until he starts ranting at her about his frustrations. Then, suddenly, he looks like he was born sitting in that chair. Commanding. Great direction by Van Patten and acting by Gandolfini here, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The “Rising Damp” identity Janice replies to Bobby’s children during their AOL chat may refer to the slow upward movement of water and moisture by capillary action in the walls and lower structure of houses. When left unchecked this may cause invasive mold to walls and structures and is certainly not very healthy; much like Janice’s invasion of Bobby’s house and family.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The colonial-style house in the dream here — in addition to resembling the Mayham “Inn at the Oaks” and Hesh’s place — also looks nearly identical to the house that Tony B. dies on the porch of in All Due Respect, and (arguably) the similarly-styled building seen right behind Tony on the mural at Holsten’s. I believe these are all intentional, that Chase used the house as a sort of continuous symbol of death and/or the afterlife.

    Stray thought: The way Tony wakes up from the final dream recalls the Gloria nightmare in Everybody Hurts — in both cases Tony bolts awake just as he’s about to seemingly be exposed to (his) death by a black-enshrouded woman.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Enjoyable reading of Sopranos autopsy. Helped me to engage with series (3rd viewing) with a bit more depth and understanding. Have to add that Tony S left the psychiatry sessions as he had reasoned that they had taken him as far as he could he go – always on his perceived terms- he mentioned that he was appreciative of learning the “tactics” from the Art of War and really she could not give him any further strategies of dealing with his complaints than what had already been; and quite frankly, as a viewer, these meetings were becoming dull and repetitive, Soprano was never interested in changing self. He had taken what he needed from these sessions. Period. The tactics he learnt now being put into play…a very scheming mind. Never forget that Soprano is only interested to working towards his own advantage
    . He is a fool in many ways but not when it comes to dealing with like-minded individuals…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This is an amazing blog that has positively transformed the way I enjoy the show!

    About “Calling Al Cars,” Dr. Crastnopol, in the article you quote above, also has some interesting things to say about Melfi’s underwhelming response to Tony’s announcement that he intends to quit therapy:

    >>Jennifer once again shows herself to be undereducated, undersupervised, underanalyzed, and all too human like the rest of us. She fails to recognize that Tony needed to have his criticisms of the treatment taken seriously instead of pooh-poohed defensively. If she had been able to master her own longings in relation to keeping and/or curing him, she might have been more open to … understanding his self-disillusionment vis-à-vis the part of him that was engaged with her in self-exploration. <<

    Chase's less-than-stellar opinion of psychiatry seems to run through the entire series (also including the counselor who wanted to send Meadow to the University of Barcelona and the worse-than-useless shrink who reaffirms all of Janice's delusional opinions of herself). In just about every session with Melfi, there are junctures where the psychiatrist, say, clams up in response to Tony missing the point of her analysis or allows him to steer the conversation off course, when a more forceful response would have helped him understand his own feelings better. (I appreciate that silence is a legitimate technique to elicit a response, but Melfi still seems to over-rely on it.)

    But the ultimate condemnation of Melfi in this episode is that Tony is more influenced by Svetlana about what to do about his treatment than he is by the trained professional herself. Or is Chase saying that Tony listens to Svetlana because she let him sleep with her? Tony, a man of voracious appetites who is not used to taking no for an answer, has wanted to sleep with Melfi all along, and he makes another try for her after he and Carmella separate later in this season. Melfi is always firm and professional in spurning Tony's advances, but she doesn't seem to handle them well in terms of how Tony's lust for her affects his attitude toward treatment.

    The dream with the shadowy figure is, I think, the most (or only?) terrifying scene in "The Sopranos," like something out of a horror movie. I agree that it could be Livia, as if Tony's decision to "tough it out" without therapy, like the tough immigrant Svetlana, will lead him back to the darkness of the depression and nihilism he inherited from his mother. And there's nothing scarier than that!

    Thank you for this excellent blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I always found the Staircase scene in this episode to be terrifying. I think an idea running through the episode is between the jokey way that some characters treat the afterlife – particularly AJ and Janice – and the real possibility that there are spirits who are haunting them. The ghost of Livia, even if only in Tony’s subconscious, is clearly haunting him, and is something he no longer has Melfi’s help to deal with. As for the wine glass scene – again, it seems to imply that Caren is a spirit that is haunting the Baccalieri household, and one that has recognized the malevolent influence of Janice on her husband and children. I’ve always thought the Sopranos did a good job of taking quite a spiritual world view in this way, while also pointing out some of the problems/hypocrisies of organized religion.

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  8. As far as the Janice wine glass incident – If you notice, they are eating on a mat (notice Bobby’s wine glass and plate are on the same mat). So if the same goes for Janice, then she could have shifted the mat closer to her which would drag the wine glass with it as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As much as I am open to many interpretations about any given scene or incident, (especially on The Sopranos, with its central theme of ambiguity) I actually find the idea of the wine glass being moved accidentally by Janice a much more far-fetched idea than it being intentionally put in by Chase & Crew as an indication of something supernatural occurring. This is due to the fact that it occurs in THIS episode, particularly while they are sitting there eating Dead Karens’ ziti. If it had occurred in any other episode, I would assume it was probably a fluke that people were reading too much into….but not during Soprano Spook Fest hour. 😉

      Liked by 4 people

      • Right, but the timing of her hand is too slim for me to believe this. had both hands been present in the scene, then i may agree with you. I doubt that is the case, however. Supernatural themes have been touched before (Paulie and the psychic) but i honestly do not believe this is one of the situations.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Here’s one more thought: Bobby and Janice are eating the ziti by candlelight- reminiscent of the seance in AJs room. Perfect timing for Karen’s spirit to return.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Karen’s ziti has come in and out of that freezer a few times and contemplated but always put back in cryogenic stasis, the strongest link left for Bobby to her, a bit like ashes kept in an urn. Now, he has surrendered to Janice’s encouragement for him to move on by eating the ziti, eating away the link. I think if I were Karen’s spirit, I would respond to my ziti being bought back to blood temperature and eaten by shaking Janice’s glass of red wine (blood?), especially if i’d been lisening to Janice telling Bobby I had nothing left to say!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Ha! Just watched that scene again in full screen and yeah, I get it now – the glass is on a mat. Janice pulls the mat from the left. Ah, shoot. It’s easy to get carried away with this stuff eh?


            • I still prefer the Karen’s ghost theory. Along with the evidence other people have already brought up (a major theme of this episode being death, the candlelit dinner evoking memories of the seance, it being Karen’s ziti etc.), There’s also the fact that:

              1. We don’t see Janice’s hand in frame so we don’t know that she moved the mat
              2. Bobby’s glass isn’t on his mat and you never see Janice’s glass on hers, so we don’t know even know if the glass is on the mat
              3. We’ve seen plenty of supernatural stuff on this show
              4. The way the glass moves doesn’t seem like a natural movement if Janice was just pulling the mat closer. It kind of goes towards her and then moves away.
              5. David Chase and co. are extremely detail oriented, I can’t imagine someone on set not noticing that and correcting it to rule out any misinterpretations. Usually the stuff Chase leaves ambiguous are bigger moments (the dreams, whether Ralphie killed the horse, Tony’s death, etc.). I can’t see this being one of them.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Just re-watching the episode again and I always thought the reason Karen’s ghost moved the glass was either because she was angry at these two getting together or could be trying to warn Bobby about Janice being a snake in the grass (or maybe both). Karen certainly knew what kind of woman Janice was considering the amount of gossiping the mob wives do.

                When Sophia comes in to Bobby Jr.’s room cause she’s scared she says: “Sometimes when I’m walking down the hall, I can smell her hair.” (Could be argued that this is just a grieving child’s imagination) Bobby Jr.’s response is: “Well, maybe if we did something bad, she’d haunt us for our own good”

                We know there’s very few throwaway lines in this show.

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                • Nicholas McMaster

                  This is again a classic Chase-ian moment of ambiguity, with both “mat” and “ghost” interpretations equally plausible. I’d just note that the camera puts the glass in focus as the shot slowly zooms out, then moves it out of focus after the glass moves— whatever is the cause, the director wants you to notice it.

                  Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t know whether it has any specific meaning, but in the opening dream sequence, when Tony looks at the back seat the first time, Gloria is sitting next to him. The second time he looks, he has Svetlana next to him.
    Then, when discussing the dream with Dr Melfi, Tony only mentions Carm, Gloria and Ralphie, not Svetlana. Bearing in mind that Svetlana’s impact in the last episode of this series, I doubt that to be a coincidence?
    There is a similar “glitch” in the dream sequence at the end. In the first shot of Tony walking away from the car, he is still wearing the grey shirt he was wearing in the car. In the second shot, he is only wearing a singlet. The former fits in more with Tony’s status of mob boss/businessman. The latter more with a stone mason. Does it indicate that Tony is getting closer to his ancestors, and thus Livia?
    That being said, I generally tend to disagree with the common consensus that Carmine Jr is dumb. Some posts, on Reddit amongst others, claim that Little Carmine might be the one behind the presumed hit on Tony at the end of season 6. I think that is a bit far fetched, but putting Carmine Jr down to an unimportant secondary character, as is often done, equally strikes me as selling the man short. Carmine Jr’s claims to the throne of the Lupertazzi-family is the direct cause for the mayhem in season 5 and 6. So what would those seasons have looked like without him?
    Also, I do find his first appearance in this episode all but lacking intelligence. Looking at the situation from his perspective, he actually strikes me as playing a pretty mean hand of cards.
    He is the only son, and therefore at least a potential heir, to Carmine Sr. Who is running what we, throughout season 3 and 4, have been made to believe is a very profitable business. Carmine Jr can thus be expected to at least consider the possibility of him taking over the reigns one day. The more so as his father is getting of age.
    Except, he very well understands that Johnny Sack can hardly be expected to give him the welcome back long lost son treatment. And he grasps that his leaving New York for Miami has diminished the credibility of his claims to the throne.
    And then no less than the boss of Jersey seeks his help. What better opportunity to create himself a way back into New York and get a strong ally at the same time?
    From that angle, Carmine is actually handling the conversation with Tony very smoothly.
    In the beginning of the episode, we catch Tony saying Silvio that the meeting should look like a coincidence, certainly not like them reaching out. Carmine heads of by saying that he appreciates Tony reaching out to him, letting Tony know that he is on to his game. It’s brought so smoothly that Tony does not even seem to notice how Carmine immediately blows his cover.
    Then Carmines goes on trying to drive a wedge between Tony and Johnny. Obviously for the sake of weakening Johnny’s position and improving his own. Tony however rebukes him and he’s smart enough to not insist at this time. And moves away with, truth be said, a bit of a strange story.
    To finally offer Tony the help he’s looking for, laying down the first potential fundaments for a future partnership.
    Really, all in all, he does not strike me as lacking intelligence. A bit theatrical, bordering on pompous, sure, but dumb not.
    Sorry for a post that ended up longer than anticipated.

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    • Nah, he’s dumb.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if I would give Lil Carmine as much credit as you’re willing to give him, Tom, but I definitely don’t think he’s as dumb as Sopranos fans make him out to be. Of course, it’s all his little Carmine-isms that lead everyone to believe he is an idiot, but I’ve come to believe that some of his lines and malapropisms have a kind of genius to them. There’s an almost Zen-like quality, for example, to “A pint of blood costs more than a gallon of gold”…

      Liked by 1 person

    • The other “glitch” in the opening dream I found interesting was Carmella’s change in hairstyle midway through the dream. In the first part of the opening dream, she has her old hairdo; later she has her modern hairdo that Tony scolds her for getting. Carm sitting upfront with Ralph could suggest that Tony still associated the hairstyle with the absurd notion that Carm was in mourning over the death of Pie. However, I think the “glitch” is actually Tony still trying to work out why Carm changed her hairstyle. The other facets of the dream–discussed in more detail (though without reference to the hairstyle) in a good Sopranoland forum post, elsewhere–are all about the world around Tony changing and evolving. The hairstyle glitch is obviously another change/evolution, and seems to confirm his fear of Carmella gaining more control and independence–evidenced, for instance, by her driving, which Johnny Boy would have never tolerated.


      • Oops, the Sopranoland post does observe Carmella’s hair going from long to short. Not a novel observation I guess.


      • I never noticed the switch in Carm’s hair there but it certainly fits in with the dream-themes of control and change/transformation (which of course seems to be what Ralph’s bald dome—and the caterpillar atop his dome—are all about). Carmela is unwilling to really put herself in ‘the driver’s seat’ in the situation with Furio, but Tony must sense that she’s trying to exert more control over her life…


    • I think the dark figure represents his depression coming back since he left therapy

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  10. I think that the last dream and hotel balcony scene elicits two different sides of Tony ‘sad clown’ character, Introversial ‘The Sad’ turned inside, depressive and deeply mentally wounded by his mother. And extravercial ‘The Clown’ part cheerful, full of life, the whole bright and sunny world lies in front of him. We see transition from bad dream to good reality. My understanding authors tell us that may be its for good that he quit the therapy and hence stopped focusing on his dark side which therapy adresses.

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  11. Remember that Bobby’s daughter Sofia says she can still sometimes smell her mothers perfume or hair? This whole episode was creepy. Nobody mentions AJ’s deplorable behavior, and why does Carmela insist that he hang out with the kids? He’s a stupid, rude spoiled lummox…can’t she see that?? Talk about having your head up your ass.

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  12. These are great reads, Ron, I am getting so much more out of the show than I previously did. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the final scene in “Calling All Cars” and how it mirrors the last scene of “Whoever Did This”. In both episodes final moments, Tony awakens alone and in discomfort. He goes to the bathroom and looks in the mirror (also looking at Tracee’s picture in 4.09). He pauses to look at his empty bed and an empty stage. The artificial red light in the hotel bathroom shining down is similar to the Bing’s spotlights on the stage. Finally in both episodes the camera trails behind Tony in the exact same manner as he walks through the dark to a door to leave (escape?). He pushes open a door to emerge into bright white natural light that totally surrounds him. The main difference is the sounds that greet him in this white light. In 4.09 we hear car horns blaring from the freeway. In 4.11 it’s the pleasant sounds of birds, children, and the ocean.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s such an interesting parallel Matthew. As you say, the main difference is in the sounds. The sounds seems to underscore the radically different locations: a north Jersey roadside vs. a Miami Beach shoreline. It’s almost like Chase is using the parallel scenes to say that Tony will always be haunted (haunted by the killing of a stripper or haunted by his dead mother, for example) no matter where he is. There’s no location on earth where he can be free from all the stuff in his subconscious…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh my!

    Tony’ s room at the Fountainbleau corresponds with the room where the most beautiful corpse in cinema history is found dead.

    Covered in paint.

    Gold paint.

    And THAT film has a famously things-that-don’t-make-sense sequence where Goldfinger explains his whole scheme to a bunch of notorious American gangsters….

    Whom he then gasses to death.

    Interspersed with the sequence where Odd-Job takes the soon to be late Mr Solo for a ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great breakdown on the dream sequence- it’s one of my favorites. Very creepy indeed. There may be some significance to the white house, it certainly at least resembles Hesh’s house and the Inn at the Oaks. Little Carmine, what a character huh? I am on the fence about how “dumb” this character really can be. He certainly seems to fuck up everything he touches, especially trying to sit down with Tony and Phil in Season 6 when he brings up Billy’s murder by Tony B. Maybe he is that dumb- but he is a riot! Seeing Janice at her worst and perhaps her best was interesting, even if it was all for herself in the end. Her thoughts on the “dead” make some sense. I’ve watched this program continually from the beginning. Around this point of the show I was wondering what the hell they were doing in regards to the story line. I wasn’t very much into it after “Whoever Did This.” Not that the episodes were bad, but this particular part of the season was not nearly as compelling as seasons 1-3 were. I must keep reading further and hear your thoughts on the end of this season. Maybe it will change my feelings on what I feel as the “worst” season of The Sopranos, but still excellent television and better than nearly everything else out there.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Elizabeth Baptist

    Totally missed the wineglass! It couldn’t be more clear that this is Caren’s presence. It’s not Mountain Dew, it’s red wine, that most sacred liquid of Western literary/ spiritual culture. Even secularly, we know wine is more alive than any other.

    Portrayed in candlelight, her ziti ravened by Janice as a spoil of the scariest “witch”craft I’ve ever contemplated, this touch is crazily eerie.

    Re-watching with your fresh vision, noticed Caren’s framed portrait on Bobby’s nightstand : her face appears bifurcated in light & shadow, showing part of her (a watchful spirit) to remain present in this realm of her home, her bedroom. One eye gleams out vengefully at Janice.

    This step of Janice’s forcing herself on Bobby is wrong in every conceivable way: who would enter her intended conquest’s bedroom for the first time (with Bobby present, at least) uninvited, in the dark? Yikes.

    Thank you so very much for enlightening me so deeply.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I wanted to mention a few references to why Max Payne, the game Bobby Jr is playing on the computer, was most likely featured in this episode. The first being the mentioned scene, Janice is communicating to Bobby Jr through the computer, her username is “Vlad666”. Max Payne includes a character named Vlad, and the game makes many references to the devil and 666. Additionally, Janice directs Bobby Jr to an Ouija board through her messages. An Ouija board is mentioned in Max Payne. Another connection I thought of -Tony is the boss of the north Jersey Mob, while Max Payne, who once lived in Jersey, is hunted by the NY mob. Perhaps a reference to Tonys strained relationship with New York.

    I also wanted to bring up the two mentions of lights in this episode. The first comes when Tony notices left over shaving cream on Juniors face. Junior blames it on bad lighting in the bathroom, Bobby supposedly installed the wrong type of bulb. The second mention comes from Carms father, Hugh, as he disapproves of his installed recessed lighting. In the final scene, Tony wakes from his dream and goes into the bathroom, we are shown that the lighting is a recessed light fixture. Tony seems very uncomfortable after this scene, perhaps on the verge of a panic attack. He opens up the curtains to the bright natural light and seems to be recovered.

    I was also going to mention the similarities between this ending scene and the ending of “Whoever Did This”, but I see someone has. I really don’t know what to make of the mentions of lighting but the dream seemed to be the exact opposite of Tonys dream/purgatory adventure in “Mayham”. In this dream, which feels very isolated, he is following Ralph and possibly Gloria towards the house, two people who would most likely not be going to any “heaven” of sort. He then sees what seems to be a pitch black silhouette of Livia. In “Mayham”, the mood is very lively and the figure who appears to be Livia can be seen in a brighter fashion.

    So was the dream a representation of a sort of hell where Tony wasn’t Tony, and assumed the identity and accent of his stonemason grandfather? Similar to Kevin Finnerty in season 6? Is this why Tony seemed to be so hot under that red light after waking up?

    This is my fifth rewatch of the series and with no surprise, I only have more questions. At the same time im gaining new perspectives from this site along with everyones comments. I appreciate your work and dedication, I think most see this show as just a “mob show”, when in fact, the mob stuff is just a cover story. I’m a big fan of art-house films so having a show as artsy & entertaining as the Sopranos, well… it really cant get any better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s very interesting stuff Ray. This episode is a rich mine to explore…


      • Something else I thought of.. there are two dream sequences in this episode & there are two dream levels in Max Payne. The whole story of the game Max Payne revolves around Max losing his wife (and child). Bobby here is struggling with Karens death.

        I thought about it a little more.. Max is tempted by a quote, “femme fatale”, named Mona Sax. A femme fatale by definition, “an attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her.”

        As we know, Janice can = Janus.. simply put “two faced”. In Max Payne, the femme fatale Mona, has a twin sister.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I have just read your synopsis, I am going to watch the episode later tonight after work. I have seen every episode 10 plus times and I never noticed the wine glass moving (thank you for pointing it out), it could be tantamount to the expression “rolling over in your grave”, Karen is rolling over in her grave to see her husband bring an evil person into her family’s life. Janice is a very evil woman! In a show full of sociopaths, Janice’s actions of manipulating the children, after a terrible life changing tragedy, in my opinion was the most egregious action in the whole series. Janice might quite possibly be the most evil person in the series and Bobbies innocent children will have to suffer from it.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I think Ray Cordiano is spot on! I just finished watching the episode, the house reminds me of the House in Mayhem. Could the white house with the shadowy figure of an old lady (Livia) be Chase’s version of hell? An eternity of being locked inside and having to deal with a very difficult woman, who subconsciously Tony hates. In Mayhem, Kevin Finnerty was a Beta Male, in this dream he is a poor laborer in an unfamiliar country. Two things I found interesting, first he followed Ralph Cifferetto into the house, Cifferetto had just recently crossed over to the other side, and had many references equating Ralph with the Devil. Second, when Tony wakes up he turns on the heat lamp in the bathroom, and there is an eerie red glow, the color of hell.

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  19. The wine glass moving is strange, it appears Janice uses her left hand to adjust/move the mat (which holds the wine glass) after switching hands holding the fork to eat, moving the wine closer to her then slighty away. I think its simply that, not a spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Melfi’s legs also feature prominently in the scene where Tony quits therapy. And Svetlana is missing her leg. So many legs!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. What’s terrifying about the staircase scene—what makes that dream so rich—is Tony’s desire to enter the house, to approach the woman. She’s terrifying but he wants to reach her, is drawn to her, against all logic. It’s a kind of suicidal impulse, but it paradoxically springs from his deep love for her. To me, the desire to be with family in a pure and honest way is a constant motif through the show. But this scene really drives home the contradiction in that desire. And another thing I feel when I watch this scene (also a motif through the series) is time, inevitability, the sense that something is coming. But that something doesn’t just happen to us, like history happens; rather, it springs from us, is central to our human condition.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes. A lot of TV shows get massive mileage out of the idea that some fateful thing is out there, making its way toward the characters (i.e. “Winter is Coming”). But in SopranoWorld, fate seems—like you say—to spring from within the characters. Whether you define “within” as psychological impulses or genetics or personality or something more mystical and mythological, Chase has always put an emphasis on the interior aspect of inevitability.

      Liked by 1 person

      • that raises an interesting point about GoT that I’d never considered: while Winter is Coming, Jon Snow is repeatedly internally compelled to approach it, first signing up for the Night’s Watch, then desperately wanting to patrol north of the wall, right up until the last scene of the show.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. The house in the dream reminded me of the Blundetto farmhouse in Kinderhook, but they’re not quite equal either. For all we know it could be the “George Washington Slept Here” house near where Matthew Bevilaqua was hiding out. Maybe there’s some reason Chase turns to these bucolic, colonial style manors. Maybe not. Who can say? #Soprambiguity

    Liked by 2 people

  23. How long is it really between everyone telling Bobby to “Move on” and Karen’s death. It seems like a couple of weeks…does anyone get over the death of a spouse in that short a time? We know its after the funeral, but in days or weeks how long do you think it was? I’m curious if anyone has an idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The episode Karen dies was the episode with the Christopher Columbus parade and in this episode Bobby drives Sophia to baseball (softball?) practice. Columbus day in 2002 was October 14 and baseball season starts in late March/early April so at least 5 months have passed.. Maybe a little less maybe a little more

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  24. Probably one of my favourite episodes of one of my favourite shows.. The characters are so well devloped

    Liked by 1 person

  25. The audio during the dream sequence—the menacing nature noises as dream Tony stands on the porch of the white house—is exactly the same as the audio from “College” in season 1 when Tony stands outside of Fred Peters’ store and taps on the window.

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  26. Just discovered this site. Amazing. You all leave little to add, but I would offer this tidbit. At the beginning of the dream sequence as bald Ralphie fiddles with the radio, the first some to come on, albeit very briefly, is Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown” further underscoring the “sad clown” theme that has been so discussed.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. About time I weighed in on this one, for obvious reasons. Also, because this episode’s got my favorite title drop in the whole series .
    – Every fucking line either builds the world or furthers the plot. That’s it. That’s all great television has to do to be art. The juror plot in Eloise is set up by one line from Bobby. We meet Lil Carmine, by which I mean boy oh boy do we meet Lil “Lewis clapped ‘im in irons.” Carmine. Sil & Tony are on to Paulie. Janice completes her morbid conquest. Tony quits therapy. We’re reminded of late uncle Eckley. Gloria. Livia. I’ve slept on this episode far too long.
    – The ending is one of the more modern noir type endings, Tony in a hotel, albeit a landmark, some surf music. A lil Tarantino flavor. There’s also not much Dexter in the Sopranos DNA besides Carmine, Ralphie, and “College.” Unimportant sidenote but the Beach Boys are America’s Band, for better or worse.
    – Ray Cordiano make a great obvservation on Vlad. Janice, for all their Janice, is savvy. She has experience with many different people from every walk of life. Even if she believes in none of it, she knows some of a lot of it.
    – “She couldn’t even handle her Nancy Drew! It was too mysterious!” shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but…well. 92% of why Bobby is great is the earnestness imbued by Steve Schirripa.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. David Chase said the Kevin Finnerty sequences were not dreams. That is reason enough for me to not refer to them as dreams, though your post and many of the comments do. Just something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s why I referred to it as a “dream/coma/near-death-experience” in this write-up.. Chase’s explanations of the sequences have been pretty ambiguous, so the word “dreams” does well enough in the absence of any clearer description


  29. Ron, what can you say about the Car Dream scene where Carmela’s hair changed from a bit longer to short, this is in between the shots of Gloria and Svetlana. I think it’s from Tony’s POV on what Carm looked like on the certain time that he had affairs with these women. I’ve watched this episode multiple times but I just noticed it now. It’s so subtle that a lot of fans might have missed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. That house seems to show up several times (Hesh, the inn during the coma, this dream) including in the finale where the painting behind Tony in Holstens strongly resembles it as well.

    Also, interesting thoughts on “legs” which made me realize that there’s big poster in the Bing of a magazine called “Leg Show” that we see a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

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