For All Debts Public and Private (4.01)

Corrado’s legal and medical bills are mounting.
Paulie makes a phone call to Johnny Sac from
Christopher avenges his father’s death.

Episode 40 – Originally aired September 15, 2002
Written by David Chase
Directed by Allen Coulter


Like all the previous season openers, this one has a scene of Tony going out into the driveway to pick up his copy of the Star-Ledger.  But inside the house, Carmela is reading a different newspaper—The New York Times.  She believes she has found a story that AJ can use for his social studies project.  Here’s an excerpt from the actual 2001 article:

“Essentially, the judges are saying what everybody in Italy believes: It is not a crime, as long as you do it well,” Franco Ferrarotti, an Italian sociologist said of the Wednesday ruling on ”raccomandazione,” the Italian custom of seeking and receiving special treatment from people in power, or close to it.  ”This is our version of the Protestant ethic,” Mr. Ferrarotti said. ”When a favor works successfully, it ceases to be a crime and becomes a work of art.”

The article continues that Mario Campana, the director of an Italian court, received 88 pounds of fish from a plaintiff in return for expediting his legal proceedings.  This little anecdote introduces us to what this episode is all about—public and private debts, and how they get paid.

Virtually every character in the episode believes they are not getting paid the money or the respect that they are owed.  Corrado is feeling the pinch of legal fees running at $1 million (and counting—and this is on top of his medical bills).  He believes he is not getting his fair share of the famiglia’s incomeBut Tony is not willing to cut him a higher percentage.  Tony has got expenses of his own, like his two kids’ private school tuitions.

Tony pressures his crew to kick up more money, because he feels that he and Corrado are being shortchanged as heads of la famiglia.  Ralph Cifaretto, Albert Baresi, and Ray Curto all listen patiently to Tony’s tirade.  Paulie, notably, is not present—he is in an Ohio jail.  (Tony Sirico suffered from back problems this season, severely limiting his shooting schedule, so Chase used the “prison” story to give him time to recover.)  There’s also a new face in the crowd: Carlo Gervasi.  (I don’t know if Chase used Carlo to “replace” Paulie, but his character never really gets fleshed out.  He does become a more significant player in Season 6, however.)  Ray Curto wants to blame the poor receipts on the economic downturn but Tony doesn’t want to hear it.  It is true that the U.S. economy was troubled after the 9/11 terror attacks, but Mob earnings, traditionally, have been immune from economic downturns.  (More on 9/11 later.)

Christopher doesn’t believe he is getting the respect from Tony that he deserves.  We see the tension between the two men in their first scene.  Chris believes that Tony is giving Furio preferential treatment.  But Tony has big plans for his nephew.  He wants to eventually hand the reins over to Chris, because he is a blood-relative and therefore—ostensibly—trustworthy.  Tony gives Christopher a giant gift: information on who killed his father.  Chris forces Detective Barry Haydu to pay his debt to the Moltisanti family with his life.  Of course, there is a possibility that Haydu wasn’t actually Dickie Moltisanti’s killer.  Tony may have just wanted to get rid of the recently retired detective because he is no longer able to provide favors to the mob or engage in raccomandazione (the practice reported in the New York Times article).  Regardless of whether or not Haydu was Dickie Moltisanti’s killer, he clearly wasn’t an honest cop, and this is reflected by some of the Magnum P.I. dialogue heard on the TV set after bad lieutenant Haydu is killed.  We hear Magnum ask, “Police?  In a Ferrari?!” in a kind of meta-indication that Haydu used his position to profit greatly.  And the line about “impersonating an officer” points to Haydu’s ethical failures as a policeman.

Carmela also doesn’t feel she is getting the respect that Tony owes her.  After seeing mob widow Angie Bonpensiero working at the supermarket to make ends meet, Carm wonders if a similar fate would befall her should she become a widow.  She has no clear idea what her family’s financial situation is nor what kind of plan would go into effect were Tony to die.  Tony is dismissive, he insists he’s got it all taken care off.  Still, Carmela wants to bring in her cousin Brian Cammarata who could help them with some legitimate estate planning.  Last season, Father Obosi instructed Carmela to “learn to live on the good part” of Tony’s earnings; perhaps estate planning with an authentic financial advisor is part of Carm’s attempt to live on some legitimate income.  Of course, keeping Carmela out of the financial loop is not the only disrespectful thing Tony does to his wife.  He continues his philandering.  Carmela intuits here that the business meeting that will keep Tony out late is actually more than just business.  Indeed, after his meeting, Tony parties with a bevy of open-minded Icelandic Air stewardesses.  Carmela’s arc this season is set afloat primarily by these two issues: her money worries and her goomar worries.  (And the two converge with remarkable effect in 4.08 “Mergers and Acquisitions.”  The other major issue for Carmela in Season 4 is the lady-boner she develops for Furio, a storyline that is only hinted at here.)

Perhaps the only person in this episode who is completely happy with the way things are running is Assemblyman Ron Zellman.  But the people of New Jersey are being shortchanged by Zellman.  As a member of the State Legislature, Zellman owes it to the NJ public to perform his job with ethical diligence and conscientiousness.  But he does not pay this debt to the public.  Zellman uses his position of influence to practice raccomandazione (and he’s getting a lot more than 88 pounds of fish in return).  When he meets Tony to discuss their illicit plans, we notice that Zellman is wearing a new fashion accessory:

patriot Zellman

American flag lapel pins were all the rage after 9/11, particularly for politicians.  Assemblyman Zellman wears this signifier of patriotism while violating the trust of his constituency.  Following Zellman’s advice, Tony offers to buy a property on Frelinghuysen Ave. from Corrado.  Tony violates the trust of his uncle.  He makes it seem like he’s doing Corrado a favor by purchasing the property, but he is actually capitalizing on the old man’s financial difficulties.  Corrado berates himself for not being able to recognize that the nurse at his doctor’s office was in reality an FBI agent, but perhaps his greater mistake is not being able to see through his nephew’s underhanded machinations.

In the final scene of the hour, Chris sticks the $20 bill that he swiped from Det. Haydu’s wallet on to his mother’s refrigerator.  The $20 represents the collection of the debt that the unscrupulous officer owed to the Moltisanti family (and may further represent Chris’ indebtedness to Tony now for leading him to his father’s killer).

jackson closeup

As Chase slowly zooms in on the $20 bill, we understand that this final image speaks about the horrible ways that debts are assumed and paid—or not paid—in SopranoWorld.  Maurice Yacowar nails this closing image: “The climactic emphasis on money reminds us that the currency for paying off all the titular debts public and private is loyalty and trust.  In these, there are creeping signs of bankruptcy.”


 Old threats and new threats fill Tony’s life.  Driving with Chris, Tony worries about being followed by the FBI and constantly checks his mirror.  A car that they think may be the Feds turns out actually to be a Chevy full o’ nuns.  Tony is relieved he is not being tailed by the FBI, but Chase undercuts his relief by cutting to the FBI’s most effective (piece of) tail:

agent danielle

We’ve gotten used to these sorts of ironic cuts that are sometimes a bit too obviously ironic.  Perhaps less obvious is the use of the mirror to underscore Agent Ciccerone’s doubling as “Danielle.”  Definitely less obvious is the fact that the next scene also carries a threat—the nurse at Dr. Schreck’s office is also an undercover agent.  The nurse’s true identity is discovered by the end of the episode, but by that time, she has potentially gathered very damaging information.  Danielle, however, is not discovered.  She has gained Adriana’s confidence and now even enters the Soprano domicile (where Tony shows some interest in her).

Some of Tony’s capos also pose a threat.  We learned very early last season that Ray Curto has flipped, and will learn in a later episode that he was wearing a wire at the meeting that Tony called in this episode.  Ralph is doing cocaine and continuing a relationship with Janice.  And Paulie is building his friendship with NY mobster Johnny Sac from prison.

Perhaps most troubling, Chris—the man Tony is grooming to take the reins—has a worsening drug habit.  We first saw Chris’ inability to control his habit back in “Commendatori” two seasons ago.  Now, he is shooting up between his toes to hide the tracks, and is doing it almost everyday.  Tony, too, is becoming increasingly self-indulgent.  Chase makes a telling edit from Chris getting high to Tony in his kitchen:

Moltisanti and Soprano's addictions

You might think I’m joking comparing heroin to ice cream, but my point is that from this season onwards, the characters’ self-indulgences take on a darker tone.  Through the first 3 seasons, we may have envied the luxuries and pleasures that were so readily available to characters in SopranoWorld.  But from this season forward, we see more clearly how the inability to exercise restraint puts many of the characters on a road to dissipation.  Even if they are able to survive their gluttonous ways, the harmful effects of their excesses on their loved ones—and to the larger society in which they live—become more evident.  Many characters start acquiring bigger, brighter, shinier things, but their lifestyle nevertheless seems less enviable.  It stops being pretty.

Todd VanDerWerff expresses the view of several Sopranos commentators when he puts the series in the context of the Sept. 11 attacks:

…the attacks neatly cleave the series in two. Creator David Chase’s plan was likely always to have a long, slow build of the good times getting ever better, even as those good times had the taste of ashes at their core, followed by a long decline, a slow malaise that gives way to self-destruction. The vaguely apocalyptic tone of the rest of the series can’t entirely be blamed on the attacks, but those attacks inform the show nonetheless, right down to the opening credits (which the World Trade Center towers have been scrubbed from).

September 11 was certainly a fateful day, images from that day will never be scrubbed from our collective memory.  It is quite reasonable to think that The Sopranos would reflect some of the malaise and pessimism and gnawing sense of threat that settled upon us after that day (especially considering that the show’s cast, crew, writers and producers lived and worked within the New York/D.C./Pennsylvania triangle demarcated by the events of 9/11).  And yet…when the series picks up again after that fateful day, we see that things haven’t fallen apart, the center still holds.  The world still turns as it always has.  VanDerWerff continues:

…the overall sense one gets from this episode is that life has simply gone on…Hell, the episode ends with footage of a woman sipping coffee while “World Destruction” plays, as if this were the most action-packed thing in the show’s entire universe.

As shattering as 9/11 was, it was just one more event in lives of these characters.  9/11 doesn’t even get mentioned in this episode until the second half of the hour.  (And when it is finally mentioned, it comes in an absurd and hilarious conversation about Quasimodo/Nostradamus/Notre Dame.)  History professor Thomas Prasch writes that references to the terror attacks were “routinized” on the series in its final three seasons.  The attacks of 9/11, as horrific as they were, become a part of the routine: they fit into “the fuckin’ regularness of life.”

The final shot seems to underscore this point.  Clearly, we are meant to pay attention to the closing shot because—for the first time in the series—the final image is held on the screen as the end credits roll (as opposed to the usual black background behind the credits):

jackson credits

This final shot may evoke our thoughts of 9/11 because it is scored with Time Zone’s “World Destruction” which could trigger our memories of that cataclysmic day.  But perhaps the close-up of the $20 bill also stimulates thoughts of 9/11 because it represents American currency which is such a dominant instrument in financial trade worldwide.  We sometimes forget that the Twin Towers were part of New York’s World Trade Center complex, operated by the World Trade Centers Association.  The WTCA has over 300 complexes and buildings in 91 countries, with each complex  supporting and complementing the financial services of both private and government agencies.  The US private sector and US government are powerful players in international trade, and this is one reason why America is so hated by Al-Qaeda.  This episode’s final image of a $20 bill—a symbol of American financial power—may thus evoke 9/11, one of the most shocking and tragic days in world history.  But we know by now that Chase is more fascinated by personal histories rather than world history, by small-scale events, by the fuckin’ regularness of each individual life.  We can be sure that very soon, Joanne Moltisanti will notice the $20 bill and remove it from the fridge, exposing the “One Day at a Time” sticker underneath.  When she uses the cash to buy vodka or peanut butter or whatever, the $20 bill will lose all of its big metaphorical significance.  In the final analysis, 9/11 is just one more day in the long sequence of days that make up life.  Life continues in SopranoWorld (and the real world) as it always has—one day at a time.


The series seems to take on a darker tone from this episode forward, but Chase counters this nihilistic trend, it seems to me, by placing more emphasis on connectivity.  “Connective tissue” has always been a hallmark of The Sopranos, but Chase ramps up its use from now on.  Connections run rampant in this hour, some as thin as gossamer and barely noticed while others are glaringly obvious.  There are connections to other Sopranos episodes; to things within this episode itself; to other works of art or media; and to things in the real world.  Some examples:

  • The first scene of the hour connects back to the Pilot episode—Tony hopes that the family of ducks has returned to his backyard.
  • Tony watches Dean Martin sing “My Rifle, My Pony and Me” in the film Rio Bravo.  The song will be heard again later this season in “Pie-O-My.”  Another Dean Martin reference here: we learn Paulie got arrested as he was driving out to visit Martin’s birthplace in Steubenville.
  • When Ralph mentions Rosalie’s depression, Janice says, “Ah Bartleby, ah humanity,” the final words of Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener.  (Bartleby too displays symptoms of clinical depression.)
  • Adriana comes to borrow Carmela’s samovar, an item we saw last season in “Employee of the Month.”
  • Assemblyman Zellman mentions the Down Neck section of Newark.  “Down Neck,” of course, was the name of a Season 1 episode.  In that episode, we watched Tony make an ice cream sundae, just as he does here.
  • Immediately after Chris robs Barry Haydu of a $20 bill, Chase cuts to Carmela watching a news story that reports “the street where the robbery took place was littered with bills of all denominations.”
  • Early in the episode, Tony is suspicious that the FBI are tailing him in a Chevy Caprice.  Later, we see that it is a Chevy Caprice that Haydu drives.
  • We learn that Dickie Moltisanti was killed in payback for breaking some guy’s eye socket.  We may be reminded of this by the close-up of President Jackson’s eye that closes the episode.
  • Georgie takes a beating at the Bada Bing again, just as he did in 1.02, 3.06 and 3.07.
  • Connective tissue gone haywire: Bobby confusedly connects Quasimodo and Nostradamus and the hunchback of Notre Dame and the halfbacks and fullbacks of Notre Dame football.  (Tony stares at Bobby, wondering if the decision to promote him was a wise one.  But in Bobby’s defense, we all have certain clusters of information that uniquely confound us.  My brain gets foggy whenever someone mentions Rasputin or Rumpelstiltskin—I always get the two of them mixed up.)
  • Bobby is not the only one to mention Nostradamus; the lyrics of “World Destruction” make reference to him as well.

I am not claiming that these connections have some hidden narrative significance.  (I certainly don’t mean to suggest, for example, that it was Lt. Haydu that was following Tony in his Chevy Caprice earlier.)  I am claiming that the connections have a thematic significance.  As The Sopranos takes a downturn towards bleakness, Chase will make use of connectivity to counter-balance the fracturing and dissolution that will increasingly characterize SopranoWorld.

The idea that the series is now on a bleak path is given most credence by Carmela’s line here, “Everything comes to an end.”  Many “Tony is killed” theorists cite this specific line in their argument that Tony was whacked at Holstens.  While it is certainly true that everything eventually comes to an end (and possibly true that Tony bites the dust at the diner), it is also true that things can continue for a long time before finally ending.  A clip (heard but not seen) from the 1957 film Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, which plays on Corrado’s TV, confirms this: “…there’s no question about us surviving, we could go on here for years.  And I mean years.”



  • There is some meta-irony in Tony Sirico having to sit out part of Season 4 due to an aching back.  It was Paulie, after all, who doubted that Big Pussy was genuinely suffering from back problems earlier in the series.
  • Old School vs. New School: displeased old-schooler Carmine chastises new-schooler Tony, “John said he went to a cookout at your house…A don doesn’t wear shorts.”
  • Will Arnett is here as Agent Ciccerone’s husband.  Arnett in a non-comedic role?!  Come on!
  • This episode had the highest viewership of any Sopranos episode.  With 13.4 million viewers, it won its timeslot that night, and had the sixth-highest ratings for the week.  (A surprising feat considering that the vast majority of American households were not subscribing to HBO at the time.)
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71 responses to “For All Debts Public and Private (4.01)

  1. Perhaps to Rio Bravo’s Dean Martin, Tony would look somewhat like how AJ looks to Tony, sitting there on the couch nom nomming on his ice cream sundae. A product of the soft, tolerant, post 1960s America that would see nothing wrong with a grown man indulging in what would only be a child’s treat in Dino’s day. The America Tony thinks AJ’s a product of in Army of One.

    Paulie getting arrested while looking for Dean Martin’s birthplace demonstrates his incompetence. It makes me think of what Tony says to Paulie in “The Ride” (season 6a), “When are you going to realize, you’re a part of something big?”. Needing to see the birth place of Dean Martin is the pastime of a tourist or Rat Pack super fan, not your made man in the mob. The Valery disaster and this puts Paulie himself into a child-like status to Tony, until the series finale when Tony is forced to bump Paulie up when the rest of the family command is either dead or in a coma. Even when planning for the war with Phil in “Blue Comet”, Paulie is upset because he’s out of the planning process. Before Pine Barrens, Paulie’s status in the family is solid.

    Hard to believe the season 3 double header opener wasn’t the most viewed. The build up and buzz to that season was off the charts.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. One thing I’ve always wondered about with this season opener is where we are in time. Season 3 seemed to end sometime in early 2001, and we’re obviously picking up post 9/11 here. It seems to be September, with AJ going back to school and with 4.03 being about Columbus Day. What I’ve always wondered is are we picking up in September 2001 or 2002?

    It seems like things are too “normal” to be September 2001, and along with lines like Bobby noting that his mom “went downhill since the Trade Center” it makes it seem like time has elapsed. But then, AJ is getting newspapers in class from 2001.

    I know this show isn’t Mad Men, and it probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme anyway, but I’ve always felt that someone should try to compile a timeline of when the episodes take place. Might make a good companion piece to this brilliant site.

    Also, anyone else ever notice every Soprano’s character’s propensity to watch old movies? Netflix streaming would blow their minds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty sure that Season 4 takes place in the year that it originally aired, 2002. The show’s timeline doesn’t always correspond perfectly to real-world time: for example, “Kaisha” (in Season 6) ended with the family gathered around a Christmas tree – even though the episode aired in June. I don’t believe there was ever more than a six month discrepancy between the show’s timeline and real-world time. In any case, like you say, I don’t think the timeline is as important here as it is on Mad Men.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I wanted to add some thoughts to this one, regarding the scene where Chris kills Officer Haydu. I don’t know if there’s anything to it, but after seeing Brian De Palma’s Scarface on HBO the other night (a personal favorite of Christopher’s), a theory came to me. I’ve seen Scarface twice before (both times after this episode originally aired), but this was the first time I’d seen it in years, and the first time I noticed this possible connection. I’d never noticed how much the execution scene seems to reference the 1983 film.

    The first connection I noticed was the similarities to the infamous chainsaw scene. Both scenes see the victim’s arms tied to something (railing in the episode, shower rod in the film), and in both instances a cheesy TV show is turned up to maximum volume in order to block out the sounds of the action taking place. The camera angles used as the TV is turned up in the film are very similar to those used for the same action in the episode.

    Next, the scene where Tony Montana kills Lopez (played by future Sopranos alum Robert Loggia) and Mel Bernstein (a corrupt narcotics detective). Much of the dialogue in both scenes is remarkably similar, including Haydu trying to bargain with Chris to spare him (“I’ve got a boat!” mimicking Lopez offering Montana “a million dollars”), and both Haydu and Bernstein aggressively telling their assailant that “you can’t kill a cop.” There were also some visual similarities, including both Chris and Montana’s disheveled appearance, and camera angles used.

    While I might be reading too much into it, I took the references as clues that Haydu was indeed guilty of everything Chris believed that he was guilty of, just as Lopez and Bernstein were.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hmm, from my very first viewing as a teenager I never thought for a moment that this Haydu character killed Moltisanti’s father. Actually, I wasn’t aware that anybody even thought differently until recently. It was definitely a point where I as a first-time viewer really began to dislike Tony.
      Anyways, this is one of my personal favourite Sopranos episodes. Season 4 really starts the series journey into the darkness, and this episode establishes the tone of this season brilliantly.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Emmanual Kreisman

      This is an interesting read on the scene. Obviously, Heydu’s guilt or innocence is left ambiguous but there are a lot of things that make me suspicious of the version of events Tony gives Christophuh. The biggest is the way Tony describes his “process of bonding him ( Chris ) to me inseperably”. It makes the whole Heydu killing sound like a cynical gambit to indebt Chris psychologically to Tony, which may be the ugliest thing we’ve seen Tony do to this point in the series. Also heartbreaking is Melfi’s hope in this session that Tony is finally willing to confront the likelihood that he’ll either end up dead or in jail, and possibly quit the crime life ( “wait… didn’t let me finish”). Gandolfini also plays the scene in the car outside of Heydu’s retirement party with an air of suspicion and manipulation, closely eyeing Chris to see whether or not he buys the story. But I don’t buy the story and I don’t think Chris ultimately does either. He’s willing to acknowledge that Tony may just want Heydu dead for any number of reasons. So there is doubt in Chris’s mind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Emmanual Kreisman

        I also just wanted to add that I believe this is the point in which Chase starts telegraphing Tony’s eventual slide to complete moral decompensation, so it’s placement at the end of the very first episode of the downside of the series is an important one. This is a VERY dark moment in Tony’s moral arc and I’ve always wondered if Melfi would have been scared to explicitly call him out on it. She must have understood the significance of what Tony is telling her here. I think this scene is a precursor to the final scene between Tony and Chris in “Kennedy and Heidi”.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the dark, sarcastic humor hidden in the show.

    When Tony drives Christopher to the restaurant where Det. Haydu, who supposedly killed Christopher’s father, is celebrating his retirement:

    Christopher: They hit my dad right outside my house, right? – He was bringing home a crib for me?

    Tony: Yeah. Well, no he was outside the house, but he wasn’t carrying a crib. He had a bunch of TV trays.

    We as viewers realize that Chris’ family must have presented little Chris with an idealized version of his father–a kind man carrying home a baby crib to provide comfort to his beloved son, Chris. But Tony reveals the “fucking ordinariness” of the truth: It was really a mundane set of TV trays.

    Later in the episode when Chris confronts Haydu about murdering his father:

    Christopher: Are you inferring that you didn’t take cash from Jilly Ruffalo to whack my father while he was carrying a TV tray for me to watch TV?

    The absurdity here is that Chris has processed that his dad was not killed bringing him a baby crib, as he was always told, but has somehow twisted the mundaneness of the TV trays to where they weren’t just any TV trays, they were TV trays his dad specifically bought for little Chrissie so his son could watch TV.

    Liked by 5 people

    • That’s one of my favorite Christopher lines. (And poor Haydu – he’s already confused about the situation he is in and then Chris makes this totally perplexing statement about TV trays…)

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Everytime things get dark and dramatic, and operatic like it’s The Godfather, something silly and absurd like that happens. My fave example of this is when Tony gets mad at Joey Peeps’ funeral bc the tombstone reads “Peeps”….that was so damn funny!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. There are little mini-dramas that make the Sopranos so interesting.

    For example, when they are having Ralph and Ro to lunch, Ro is wondering if Janice is making a play for Ralph. Later when Ralph and Janice are upstairs in the bathroom the scene switches to Ro taking Danielle’s elbow and leading her out of the room as if leading her away from Ralph’s chair.

    The hit on Haydu was potentially a tactic to get Chris in debt to but also to tie him to Tony. In the scene with Dr. Melfi, Tony says he is grooming Chris to draw him closer so he can take over. If Tony knows Chris has killed a police officer then it will be less likely he will be able to flip.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think that’s the first time I’ve ever come across that particular interpretation of why the cop is killed. It’s a clever idea…

      Liked by 3 people

    • I think that’s totally the case. The more those two were interwoven the less likely it was for Chris to flip but also if he DID flip, the idea is that his crimes would render him a useless witness because of his baggage…..

      Liked by 3 people

      • I thought Tony was lying to Chris all along. Like, maybe Dickie actually overdosed, or was killed by an unknown hitman, and Tony created the idea of a killer cop just to toy with Chris and motivate him to do the hit. It was convenient for Tony: to boost Chris’s ego and make Chris feel indebted to Tony. Maybe not accurate, but the whole thing seemed staged.

        Liked by 2 people

        • We’ve seen Tony lie about Jackie Junior’s death. And we’ve seen everyone lie about everything.. Even Meadow does not tell the truth. I think the only ;erson in the family who has not lied is AJ which is very odd.
          I’ve been thinking how all the Sopranos who stay end up following their parent’s role in some way. For example Janice actually moved into her mother’s house and became as poisonous as Livia. Tony is as big an asshole as his dad. The Soprano sister who moved away seems to much more at peace with her self and her immediate family.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. “You might think I’m joking comparing heroin to ice cream, but my point is that from this season onwards, the characters’ self-indulgences take on a darker tone. Through the first 3 seasons, we may have envied the luxuries and pleasures that were so readily available to characters in SopranoWorld. But from this season forward, we see more clearly how the inability to exercise restraint puts many of the characters on a road to dissipation. Even if they are able to survive their gluttonous ways, the harmful effects of their excesses on their loved ones—and to the larger society in which they live—become more evident. Many characters start acquiring bigger, brighter, shinier things, but their lifestyle nevertheless seems less enviable. It stops being pretty.” Of all the things I have read on your analysis thus far, this was the biggest eye opener for me. The characters start to pay for their bad decisions. I suppose (besides my love of season 5) this is why I am not “crazy” about seasons 4 or 6. The show and characters and story lines I know are all going to shit. This however, doesn’t mean this season doesn’t have some unforgettable parts. I like how the storyline ventures off with things such as the HUD scam. I found this all very interesting, especially the political and professional ties with folks like Zellman and Dr. Fried. They seem to have it all but want more… You brought up interesting points about the rational behind the opening and closing song my timezone. This beginning episode and season really did seem to capture the feelings in this country post 9/11. The scene with Chrissy killing Haydu was both twisted and hilarious. He shot the goddam fish on the wall! I still find it strange that Tony would put everything on Chris. He really can’t be blind enough to see Chris is clearly not management material, plus all of his other issues. I happen to agree with Nagita’s statement of Tony intentionally drawing Chris in with information relating to his father. Someone like Tony always has a motive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Season 4—and this episode in particular—captured that moment in time so well, one year after 9/11. We still thought about the attack but we weren’t obsessed with it any longer, it didn’t enter into every conversation. Chase had a talent for reflecting the national mood and it’s unfortunate that viewers who didn’t see the show in its original run might not be able to fully appreciate that…

      Liked by 2 people

      • ” it’s unfortunate that viewers who didn’t see the show in its original run might not be able to fully appreciate that…”

        This is a great point.. Way off topic but I feel like another show that did this brilliantly was Battlestar Galactica. They took a sci-fi show then added all these themes like the war on terror, religious fundamentalism, “terrorists vs freedom fighters”, torture, the powerful using fear to take away civil liberties, suicide bombings, etc.

        Incredible show I highly recommend.. even though as you said, it might not seem as profound today as it did 10 years ago when it ended

        Liked by 1 person

    • The heroin ice cream juxtaposition was genius ….it shows how both men succumb to their vices…one is more destructive than the other but they both are manifestations of the same malady….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dude Manbrough

    This is definitely one of the funnier episodes in the series. “Quasimodo”, Paulie’s travails in the county lock-up, Tony’s hilarious reaction when Carmela finds him at the bird feeder (“this is the south to them”) and my favorite, the pan from Janice’s empty chair to Ralph’s empty chair during Sunday dinner.

    This episode marks Karen’s one and only appearance, correct? “Destruction”…Karen’s death, Carmine questioning Tony re: the esplanade, Chris killing on Tony’s command, Ralphie & Janice connecting…this episode is sort of the “halfway point” of the series and all roads lead toward destruction, in a way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • By the way I had forgotten about the John Lydon Afrika Baambata song used in that episode….what a fantastic song and how oddly it seems so perfect for the episode….and working the song lyrics into the dialogue…amazing….
      It’s redundant to say——but this show is so obviously the best ever that second best isn’t even on the same room….

      Liked by 2 people

      • What a great collabo, Johnny Rotten and Afrika Bambaataa. So ’80s and yet so timeless too…


      • Yeah. There was a period when I thought “The Wire” might be serious competition for the top spot, but upon re-watching both shows it doesn’t even come close. “Madmen” was good but ultimately I think its reputation was somewhat overrated, “Breaking Bad” was fun but nowhere in the same league. GoT… I know there are fans but I really think it’s just trash.
        So, The Sopranos still doesn’t have any real competition, after all these years..


        • I’ve only gone through The Wire once, I need to do a re-watch before I can say how close or far it is to The Sopranos on my own All-time list…


  8. Again in this episode the Sunday lunch is a true war room.
    You can see Ralph been framed with Janice not Rosalie.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Christopher threatens to poke out one of Artie Bucco’s eyes with a fork in a previous episode when he is being provoked by an Adrianna obsessed Artie. Loss of an eye is also referenced in this episode about a prison mate of Dickie Moltisanti. Seems like that’s not a coincidence.

    Liked by 3 people

    • And of course Livia threatened to stick a fork in Tony’s eye when he was still a child…

      Liked by 2 people

      • See, I never thought that was that bad, what she said….about the fork….maybe it depends on how one’s parents were, but it just never seemed that big of a deal… Livia causing derision amongst her family? THAT rings totally true….

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wonder if all those Dickie myths will work their way into the movie???

      Liked by 2 people

      • I won’t be surprised if that happens, but I hope Chase doesn’t get too meta or cute with it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Have you pondered this movie? The whole point of the show, or one of them, was the mob in decline, the break up of the Italian neighborhoods, the flight to the suburbs, etc, etc. That will NOT be the case with the movie. In 1967 the Italian mob was still at the apex of its power and stil had immense political clout. So, what are the themes of this flick? Besides Italians v blacks, I guess.

          Also, gandolfini’s son is going to play Tony but I’m guessing it’s a cameo at the end because Tony in 1967, when the riots were, woulda been 8 or 9….

          Liked by 2 people

          • Glenn MacDougall

            Yeah it’s not just 1967 though. I know it’s being promoted that way. But it goes to 77-79. You can tell by the cars and the fashion in the scenes Tony is in.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. I notice the guys aren’t concerned about leaving evidence at crime scenes. Here Christopher smokes a cigarette, and when hes finished he puts it out in Barry Haydu’s ash tray. Surely Detectives would have printed it and found Chris to be the killer. To me there were many crimes where evidence is left that never gets followed up, its either sloppy or deliberate.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m not convinced the nurse was the agent…Remember we see her in the courtroom and junior looks back at her? They seem to exchange a pleasant glance…also remember in one of the hospital scenes Tony and a male orderly exchange weird head nods? Like they know each other or like two people do when they awkwardly realize they are looking at each other ? This whole thing just eats at me bc I really don’t think the pretty black nurse was in fact an agent or informant ….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now that I think about it, it would probably open up an ugly can of legal worms for the FBI to pose an agent as a healthcare professional, or to turn an actual healthcare professional into an informant…

        But isn’t Corrado fairly confident that she is with the Feds? In any case, I think the writers’ main point is that Corrado is not the gangster he used to be, and he knows it; 20 years ago, he would have kept his guard up, remained much more suspicious of everyone around him, no matter how pretty they might be.

        Liked by 2 people

      • No, you’re right about the point of the scene for sure. It doesn’t matter if she is or isn’t….she coulda been. And junior is getting old and addled. Agreed….
        BUT….you know how they trick us! I really don’t think she was the plant….go back and watch that head nod between Tony and the orderly….I’m telling you…..THAT was the agent/source…because how odd is it that the nurse was in the court as a specter? Witnesses are NOT normally allowed to be in court like that….at least before they testify…..and that look they exchanged, it was so odd….it wasn’t even a second but there seems to be a real affection between them….
        Side note: I think more than dementia, home arrest and no family, extreme loneliness is what drives June into mental illness…I always thought the show was trying to tell us that, obliquely….obviously this is not some great deduction on my part bc June actually bemoans his fate but I think the point is that he feels he has nothing to live for so he just gives up his sanity…..

        Liked by 3 people

        • I am not quite as convinced, but upon this second viewing of the episode that nod between the doctor/orderly and Tony really did stand out. I don’t remember how the courtroom scene plays out with the nurse, but I had the same feeling as Decristo that maybe we were being duped. I came here to ask about it and see that I am not the only one. In the end it does not matter as the point of the scene is that whoever the plant was, Jr didn’t catch on (nor did Tony for that matter). But I think our mobsters are reaching to figure out what happened because what would it say about them if they know there was a plant and they STILL can’t figure out who it was? Getting duped causes them to seriously question themselves, much like when Tony flashes back to the Christmas with Pussy. We pretty much know he hadn’t flipped yet, but getting duped causes him to retroactively see signs. Same thing here with the nurse I think.
          I do think Haydu is the right cop though. Partly because he says exactly what a guilty guy would say. He does not seem bewildered at all by what’s going on. Instead he seems more like Tony when he was telling Artie he did not burn down his reataurant. Also, just before being shot Haydu says “I’m sorry” several times. Can’t imagine what he would be apologizing for if not for killing Chris’s father.

          Liked by 3 people

          • I had read on reddit the other day that the “I’m sorry” was actually coming from the TV and it was just a trick used to make it more ambiguous (as we Chase loves to do).. I haven’t watched the scene over yet though so I can’t confirm

            Liked by 1 person

        • Tony smiling and nodding his head when Corrado is getting flirty with the nurse seem to be a kind of acknowledgement, something like “I know there’s something a little creepy about this old guy trying to get some, but let’s let him have his fun.” (I have this same look on my face when I take my nonagenarian dad to the doc’s office and he starts flirting with the staff.) There may also be some gratitude in Tony’s nods, something like “Thanks for letting me meet my uncle here even though it violates the terms of his house arrest.” If Tony’s nods signify some kind of collusion with an undercover agent, that would mean Tony has turned rat—and Chase has never given us any other bit of evidence for that. (Why would the Feds use Tony to get evidence against Corrado anyway, when Corrado is already set to go to trial? If anything, they would be using Corrado to get evidence against Tony.) The fact that the nurse says she’s leaving the office to “go back to school” signifies that she will not be—and may never have been—a long-term employee there; she seems to me to be an agent who infiltrated Tony and Corrado’s clandestine meeting place and now that Corrado’s trial is about to begin, she’s leaving…

          Liked by 3 people

          • You’re probably right. There is definitely not enough to be sure it wasn’t NOT the nurse. To be clear though, I didn’t see the nods as any kind of collusion. More of Tony wondering why this wormy little sawbones is always around when I come out of this door. Neither seemed amused to me, but then again I probably should defer to your experience with senior citizen doctors office sexual politics, lol.

            Liked by 2 people

        • Isn’t there a doctor who seems to be hanging around in scenes at the doctor’s office?
          After Junior storms out in anger when Tony refuses to help him out with more money, Tony walks out and a doctor is standing in the hall. Him and Tony lock eyes.
          Then later when they call Baccala into the room to tell him he is being promoted, the same doctor walks over and stands outside the room, staring at them intently. Tony notices and slams the door closed.
          Couldn’t this doctor have been the informant?

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I find it interesting that the property Tony buys from Corrado is on Frelinghuysen Avenue – that’s a super-obvious Dutch name. I did a cursory Google search and on Wikipedia, the name brings up a decent-sized list of prominent American businessmen and politicians along with a couple of Dutch-born forbears. A mix of public and private. I don’t mean to besmirch the Frelinghuysen family tree; they were probably good people overall. It was just an interesting tidbit in an episode centered on commerce, debts, and the mix of politics and business. Obviously, the Dutch colonized New York and New Jersey in the name of commerce, and their imprint is all over the tri-state area. The East and West India Companies were super corporations that once spanned the globe running slaves, spices, and commodities. I think of Manhattan, and lower Manhattan in particular, as the glistening offspring of their ambition, and the Twin Towers were a sort of monument to all of that. Of course, with so many Dutch street names, Chase may have simply thrown a dart at a map and it landed on Frelinghuysen.
    And as for Bobby’s Notre Dame / Nostradamus mixup…when it gets right down to it they mean the same thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What could the nurse have actually heard? Through the door? They were speaking Italian when the scene opens. She may have picked up something but I don’t know how relevant it was. Also, does it drive anyone else crazy that NOBODY cleans up after themselves? Tony leaves the cream and toppings out and when Janice came back for the funeral of Livia she had a million snacks out while she was watching TV and just left everything there when she got up. Even with the maid it’s so careless and entitled. Just more fleshing out of the characters personalities. Good stuff!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I can’t un-notice how Tony sees Bobby’s plate of steak and decides to order one for himself. Another commenter wrote that “eating steak is tied to sin” in “FROM WHERE TO ETERNITY (2.09).” I speculate that Bobby’s obvious sin is ignorance/laziness. We never see Tony’s steak arrive: he remains disgruntled with Bobby’s inane banter as he toys with his eggs and tomatoes. Weird how Tony’s plate combines two symbols of death used in the show, almost foreshadowing the tone of the season (especially after Bobby’s 9/11 comment). If steak is tied to sin, then it shows Tony’s moral dialectic: he’s miserable with his eggs and tomatoes, but we can suppose he forgets about it all when the steak arrives. Just like Tony’s ice cream, it’s symbolic of a bunch of sins occurring simultaneously. Also, sorcery/prophecy is considered a sin (since “sin” is a Christian concept and Christians consider sorcery/prophecy sinful). This adds another layer to the “end days” theme initially symbolized by Y2K, 9/11, and the War on Terror.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In the end scene you can see orange cat magnet on the fridge. One more clue for “Last episode orange cat is Christopher”.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Carmelas worry of losing her financial crutch, Tony, is obviously resurfaced by seeing Angie at the market.. as a man with a crutch walks right into the scene. The scene doesn’t last 10 seconds but it gets the point across clearly.
    Nostradamus, Notre Dame, Quasimodo.. could you imagine that conversation in Seinfeld?
    George: Quasimodo predicted all this Jerry!
    Jerry: Who did what??
    George: You know.. Notre Dame..
    Jerry: Nostradamus, you idiot!
    Kramer: Nostradamus was a statute.
    Jerry: Fine, he was a sculpture of limitations…
    Might not be a connection here but the zoom in on the eye with the ending credits is also present in Cool Hand Luke.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Is there some deeper hidden significance with Chris bringing Adriana those size ten shoes?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The seeds of fate for many characters are planted in this episode. Carmela and her fate of life after Tony, Tony being confronted with “all things come to an end”, Chrissy and his ballooning drug problem, Adriana and her deepening acceptance of the FBI mole. Paulie begins his path to betrayal of New Jersey for New York.
    We definitely get some after the end clues here. Carm is likely treated as Angie is after Tony dies. Paulie likely betrayed Tony in the end, due to connections he began here.
    The first time I watched Sopranos I thought Paulie was Tony’s most loyal guy, somehow I missed the obvious set up in season 4. Paulie is the judas of the crew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Its an interesting point about Paulie: actor Tony Sirico made Chase promise that Paulie would never betray the mob to the FBI, but Chase never promised that Paulie wouldn’t betray the New Jersey mob to New York..


      • That’s always been my biggest question for life after Holstens…who set up the hit on Tony (for the purposes of this conversation we are stipulating Tony dies at the end). Paulie maybe? He would’ve been the boss, but he was tightest with Johnny Sack and Johnny Sack was dead. Also, when Paulie ran into Carmine at the wedding in season 5, Carmine didn’t even know who he was, which signaled to Paulie that Johnny had been shining him on the whole time, so Paulie robs Minn Matrone to get a fat envelope for Tony to get back into his good graces. I think that ended Paulie’s visions of leaving NJ for NY or trying to get higher on the pyramid. Also – in the last episode – Paulie didn’t want control over the cash machine that was the Aprile crew, even though he was already a captain. There’s literally no downside for Paulie – it doesn’t make him a bigger target for the Feds and his kick grows significantly, but he still has to be coerced into it by Tony. I mean, its possible Paulie went against Tony because he couldn’t help but feel that Tony would turn on him at a moments notice, but given his reluctance to tak eon more responsibility, I doubt he’d be looking to become Boss.
        For a long time, I’ve though the hit on Tony came from Patsy Parisi. A- during the Sil hit, somehow Patsy escapes unscathed. Also, he couldn’t just put the car in reverse and get he and Sil out of harms way? Also also – from 10 feet Patsy cant hit the side of a barn with his own gun? (neither of the NY guys is injured) and then he just runs off and no one follows him? Smelled like a setup to me, and it gives Patsy plausible deniability that’s hes a turncoat. And lets not forget Patsy already thought about killing Tony before because he KNOWS Tony ordered the hit on Philly.
        Then again, it could’ve just been someone from NY who didn’t know the beef was squashed. Possibly someone looking to up his own reputation within his own family, going off on his own to take out Tony.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. In the look between Tony and the nurse, I perceived not only, “Thanks for putting up with my old uncle’s flirtations,” but also, “Hey beautiful, wouldn’t you be interested in a younger, more powerful man like me?” and her sort of returning the attraction.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I just re-watched this episode last night, and a couple of things:

    A) I would have agreed with the idea that Tony was just setting Chris up to get rid of the dirty cop who was no longer useful. But when he finally realizes he’s not going to “play dumb” his way out of it, he relents and crawls away with an exasperated, “I’m sorry!” in what is a much more authentic, albeit scared tone – this signified to me that the cop knew he was about to pay his Moltisanti debt with his life, and exactly what he was paying for. That said, a previous commenter said that the “I’m sorry” came from the TV – so who knows!
    Conclusion: Ambiguity rules the day in SopranosWorld

    B) Like many, I’ve wondered what the role of the nurse would be even if she was an informant. She obviously could not hear any detail of what was being discussed in that office. So, my personal conclusion: the doctor’s office was bugged and the nurse (who may well have been a real nurse/medical professional) was being used to confirm who was speaking on the tapes – otherwise the tapes, even if incriminating, could have been passed off as someone other than Tony and Junior speaking? It would also account for her presence at Junior’s trial but in a more civilian role than you’d expect an informant to play? Sitting in the body of the court glancing at Junior? Conclusion: Ambiguity rules the day in SopranosWorld

    Anyways, Ron, I am on my Nth watch through of Sopranos but have just discovered your site and have been reading each Autopsy after each episode. I finally drummed up the confidence to add my two cents here. I told a fellow Sopranos friend that you and your write-ups are becoming as intertwined in the lore as the actual show for me. Thank you for all the work you put into this.

    Also if matteobrasi happens to read this, thank you too for your insights.

    This is a really great website and the quality of the comments and observations warm my social-media-shit-post dreary heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ron, is it just me or did they shot Season 4 onwards with like a different lighting? It’s a bit dark I think compared to the earlier seasons. Perhaps setting the mood for what will happen to our beloved characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Fucking fodder for cartoonists

    One of the slogans about sobriety on Christopher’s mother’s fridge was ‘Keep It Simple’, Zwingli says this to AJ in the final episode of S3, when he is outlining how his days will be structured should he join the military academy and how this could form a blueprint for how to live the rest of his life.
    Perhaps if the Moltisanti’s had ‘kept it simple’ and had the structure and blueprint from when they were AJ’s age – they wouldn’t have had such issues with booze and drugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Regarding the final shot of the episode:

    David Chase, Illuminati confirmed. 👁

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Glenn MacDougall

    Yeah, I take back my last comment. I just rewatched the trailer and the cars behind Tony are the late 60s.

    That sucks that they changed the whole Sopranos timeline just to fit in the 1967 riots as the backdrop.

    That’s a red flag for me. Now Tony wasn’t born in 1960 but now 1950.

    A decision that bad doesn’t bode well for the directing tastes for the rest of this movie in my opinion

    I was hoping the movie took place over a 10 year span. But that doesn’t look like the case from the trailer.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I was watching the episode again last night – absolutely no doubt in my mind that Tony was setting up Chris with Haydu. In my opinion he was just a police informant Tony needed to make disappear, now that he was retiring. And from this point on Tony’s relationship with Chris goes downhill.
    Also how well does this episode capture the post 9/11 atmosphere? The use of “World Destruction” to bookend the episode is absolutely on point. And of course the acting, dialogue and cinematography is top-notch as ever. The Sopranos is still the best 86-hour long movie ever made.

    Liked by 1 person

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