Whitecaps (4.13)

Carmela looks to a luxurious house on the
Jersey shore to ease her heartache.
Former mistress Irina calls the Soprano home.
Johnny Sac asks Tony for help in eliminating a problem.

Episode 52 – Originally aired Dec 8, 2002
Written by Green & Burgess and David Chase
Directed by John Patterson


Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, David Chase, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess all won Emmys for their work on this episode, and John Patterson won a DGA Award for Outstanding Direction.  “Whitecaps” ranked within the top 5 greatest Sopranos episodes on both Time and Entertainment Weekly’s lists, and was lauded by critics and viewers nationwide.  I don’t like to give the episodes a fixed ranking, but it is quite possibly my favorite outing of the first 4 seasons.

But the hour was not universally loved.  Some viewers didn’t find the sudden dissolution of the Soprano marriage to be believable.  Others thought the episode was very manipulative, making a game of playing with our expectations and emotions.  And “some people,” David Chase says on the DVD commentary track, “found it lacking because it didn’t have enough people get killed.”  Many viewers and critics just didn’t like Season 4 in general—it had a very different shape from the first 3 seasons.  They complained that:

  • there were too many storylines that marched out to nowhere;
  • the death of the biggest villain—Ralphie—came too early, in the ninth episode of the season (“Whoever Did This”);
  • “Christopher,” appearing early in the season, is the weakest hour of the series.  (I don’t share this opinion.)

Another factor that contributed to how Season 4 was perceived was that 2002 was the year that The Sopranos reached critical mass, and therefore Season 4 was the first season that many people actually watched in “real time” (as opposed to their “compressed” viewings of Seasons 1-3 on DVD; Season 4 is slower-paced and more languorous than the previous three seasons, and therefore watching it uncompressed, drawn out over a period of three months, might certainly have driven some viewers batty with frustration.

I haven’t been too concerned on this website with ranking episodes or giving them grades or stars or smiley faces or a thumbs up/thumbs down.  I’ve tried to focus more on how the episodes function—how they do what they do.  Regardless of how good or bad or loved or disappointing or manipulative “Whitecaps” may be, I think the episode is a brilliant showcase of technique.

The hour begins with a shot of Carmela in the foreground of Dr. Cusamano’s office, looking bleary-eyed and ill.  (Kudos to Edie Falco for going sans make-up, something that many actresses refuse to do but Falco does throughout the series when the story calls for it.)  Carmela’s emotional longings and moral struggles finally come into the foreground of the series.  We can guess that her illness doesn’t exactly have a physical cause, but that it is a psychosomatic manifestation of her depression and heartache over Furio.  This heartache is the major fault-line upon which SopranoWorld quakes in this hour.

But I think this first scene is also important because it sets up a major issue that hasn’t been much considered in most analyses of “Whitecaps”: ethnic identity and the American Dream.  When Dr. Cusamano says “Score one for the Italians—you don’t have lupus,” he calls our attention to Carmela’s Italian ethnicity.  The Sopranos has long been concerned with issues of Italian-Americanness, and Chase previously used the Cusamanos to pointedly highlight some of these issues in Season One’s “A Hit is a Hit.”  (We remember Bruce Cusamano’s white meddigan friends treating Tony like a dancing bear at the golf course, and Jeannie Cusamano mocking Carmela’s Murano glass during a dinner party.)  Issues about ethnicity, the American Dream, and the Soprano family’s attitude and access to this fabled Dream, play a subtle but significant role in the events of the hour.

The second scene of the episode has Johnny Sac in his backyard worrying about cash flow.  He gripes about Ginny shopping at Nordstroms while his daughter’s student loan is in arrears.  He loses his temper when he starts talking about the work stoppage at the Esplanade and how much money he’s losing.  We remember that it was for this reason that Johnny gave Tony the OK to hit Carmine, and we’re now led to believe that mob politics and violence will be the primary story of the hour.  These first two scenes are, respectively, about Tony’s family and his famiglia, and Chase cuts back-and-forth between these two storylines as the hour progresses.  I generally try not to do too much summarizing of episodes in my write-ups, but in the case of “Whitecaps,” I think a recap of the entire hour is the best way to study Chase’s technique of alternating between the family/famiglia stories as a means to keep the viewer unbalanced and build up dramatic tension.

Tony surprises Carmela with a trip to Whitecaps, a house that is for sale on the Jersey shore.  The realtor’s name, “Virginia Lupo,” recalls the lupus—and the good fortune of being Italian—that Cusamano mentioned earlier.  Tony tries to sell the idea of a beach house to Carmela: “When we were piss-poor, this was the biggest caviar wish we could come up with.  Kind of reminds you of the Kennedy compound, don’t it?”  The Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port is far more than a geographical place, it is a mythological territory within the American imagination.  It is the ground of our American Camelot.  We know that Tony has bought into the mythology of the Kennedy family because we remember from the Pilot episode that he has one of JFK’s hats in his possession.  Tony looks at Whitecaps too with a mythologizing eye.  A waterfront property like this would be the pinnacle of his American Dream, as it seems to be for the neighbor:

A.S. First glimpse

Alan Sapinsly stands before the American flag as he paints the picturesque landscape.  Like Alan, “Tony has his own little Ralph Lauren fantasies,” says David Chase.  (I’m gonna keep coming back to Chase’s commentary track throughout this write-up.)  Owning Whitecaps would certainly prove that Tony has come a long way from Bloomfield Avenue (“Guinea gulch”) where he grew up.  But there is a catch: technically, the beach house has already been sold.

Back at the Soprano home, AJ excitedly exclaims “Un-fuckin-believable!” to learn that his dad wants to buy a house down on the shore.  Carmela tries to discipline his foul language:

Carm: You’re fined $3 for the F-word.
AJ: I heard dad say ‘mother-F’ when I was coming down the stairs.
Carm: He’s fined too.  We’re gonna make this policy work.
AJ: It’s too late.

AJ is right, it is too late and Carmela knows it.  The camera captures her wistful recognition that it is indeed too late to bring some semblance of discipline into this home.  And too late to have any real shot at getting Whitecaps.  (And too late to ever gain the happiness that she dreamt of having with Furio.)

But in the middle of the night, Carmela decides she must salvage some happiness for herself.  Using her own version of gangster-speak, she tells Tony—without saying it outright—that she must have Whitecaps.  She tells Tony that “more is lost by indecision than by wrong decision.”  She is ostensibly referring to the beach house, but we know that she must also be regretting her indecision about Furio.  We can now fully recognize how brilliant “Eloise” (4.12) was in setting up this season finale.  In the previous episode, we saw how deeply diminished Carmela felt her life had become (especially because of that incredible camera dolly) after Furio bolted.  Owning a house on the water, with expansive views out to the horizon, could certainly be a way to counteract her sense of diminishment.  We also perceived in the preceding episode that Carmela was flustered by Meadow’s roommates.  All-American Colin and Old-money, Royal-blood Alex might have access to the American Dream in a way that Carmela may not believe herself to have.  As Martha Nochimson points out in Dying to Belong, the gangster-genre is undergirded by the gangster’s desire to assimilate into the larger culture and rid himself of immigrant anxieties.  What is true of the gangster is also true of the gangster’s wife.  Acquiring Whitecaps may be Carmela’s attempt to put herself on equal footing with those whom she sees as privileged by birth. 

Meanwhile, Chris Moltisanti has gotten out of rehab and has returned to work.  Chris drives Tony to meet Johnny Sac at Office Max, where the two men roam the aisles discussing Carmine’s assassination.  Tony clues Chris in on the planned whacking.  After Christopher suggests a couple of black guys to be the triggermen, Tony tells him to “make sure” that the New Jersey famiglia’s role in the hit is never allowed to surface.

Tony brings Chris to Whitecaps, where the young man immediately takes off his shirt and starts sunning himself, despite the fact that Tony has absolutely no claim to ownership—at least not yet.  This changes very quickly.  When Tony offers cash and a short escrow for the house, Alan Sapinsly calls the previous buyer and bullies him out of the sale.  We never meet Dr. Kim, the previous buyer, in person but we can guess that he is Asian.  His ethnicity may play into the twists of this episode.  Sapinsly’s decision to renege on his obligation to the Kims in favor of the Sopranos is primarily money-driven, of course, but the race-issue may also have contributed.  The Kims are quite possibly newer-money than the nouveau-riche Sopranos; the Asians may fit less into Sapinsly’s yuppified, Ralph Lauren conception of American wealth than even the Italian mobster clan.  To continue Dr. Cusamano’s earlier thought, score another one for the Italians.

Virginia Lupo calls with the good news that all obstacles for the sale have been cleared, and the whole family visits Whitecaps.  Even cynical AJ is impressed.  Tony and Carm share an idyllic moment along the water’s edge in each other’s arms.  But we shouldn’t expect the story to continue with such serenity.  After all, the titular term “whitecaps” refers to the white streaks and foam that appear in rough, turbulent waters.

Chase now pivots away from the family story to the famiglia story.  Chris meets with the two black men to give the down payment for the hit.  This scene adds to the long-running commentary the series has made on the intersection between Faith and Firearms.  Credenzo Curtis name-drops God (“Praise the Lord for sobriety”) and sports some major Jesus-bling as the men discuss the upcoming murder:

F + F Whitecaps Sopranos Autopsy

So, the hit has now been put into motion and we figure that this will be the generator of the hour’s climax.  But Chase performs a bait-and-switch here, immediately pivoting back to the domestic storyline.  Irina, with a bottle of her beloved Stoli in hand, calls the Soprano home and delivers what TVtropes.org calls a wham line to Carmela: “I used to fuck your husband.”  Carmela is stunned and gingerly places the phone back in its cradle.  When Irina makes a second call, moments later, Carmela gets over her shellshock and turns into an angry tigress, protecting her home and family, even mentioning her access to guns.

When Tony gets home, he drives over some of his belongings which Carmela has tossed out the window.  (Apparently the golf clubs getting crushed beneath Tony’s truck was Denise Chase’s idea.  Professor Susann Cokal calls the sequence “an excellent image of self-castration.”)  After a tense and physical showdown, Carmela kicks Tony out of the house.  Some viewers don’t find it believable that Carmela would toss her husband out so suddenly now; after all, she’s known for years about his goomars.  I think the most obvious explanation for her behavior is that Irina calls at a time when Carm is already overwhelmed by the sudden disappearance of Furio.  Learning about Svetlana now simply pushes her over the edge.  David Chase recognizes the problem of believability, and supplies the writers’ explanation: broadly speaking, Seasons 1, 2 and 3 were respectively about Tony as a son, a brother and a father.  But Season 4 was about his marriage.  After 4 years of showing Carmela’s passivity, “we just had to do this,” says Chase.

I think this episode’s concerns about the American Dream also come into play at this juncture.  Carmela has remained passive about her husband’s philandering for decades because marriage to him is the path that she has chosen to reach success, comfort and assimilation.  To find out that he is fucking a disabled Russian now, when she is already on the precipice of despair over Furio, is more than Carmela can handle.  She asks Tony, with genuine wonder, “What does she have that I don’t have?”  To Carmela, Svetlana is just a one-legged immigrant.  But Tony knows, as do we (particularly after we saw her reject Tony in “The Strong, Silent Type”) that Svetlana is in fact an industrious, resilient, self-sufficient woman.  Unlike Carmela, Svetlana chases the American Dream the hard way—she earns it.  This difference between Carmela and Svetlana is emphasized through the juxtaposition of this scene with the next.  Chase cuts from Carmela crying and hyperventilating to the sequence where Tony runs into Svetlana, cool and collected and self-possessed as usual:

Svetlana fills Tony in on the backstory behind Irina’s call—and it adds a vicious irony to the narrative.  After caretaker Branca got into a tiff with her employer Svetlana over withholding FICA and federal taxes, Branca vengefully gossiped about Svetlana and Tony to Irina—who then made the phone call to the Soprano house in a drunken, jealous stupor.  This backstory supplies the answer to Carmela’s earlier question; it shows exactly what Svetlana has that Carmela doesn’t have: Integrity.  Carm has made a deal with the devil, marrying a man who spends much of his life hiding his income from the IRS.  (Income, by the way, that Carmela has filched in the past to invest in $9900 chunks that do not have to be reported to the government).  But honest Svetlana is not willing to fudge on federal taxes, and this is what spurs Branca to rat out her fling with Tony to Irina.  Tony and Carmela have been able so far to avoid the IRS and the FBI, but they cannot escape the writers’ sense of irony.

Tony spends the night at Whitecaps.  Alan Sapinsly insists that Tony can’t stay there (liability issues) but gives him some excellent divorce advice (pollute the attorneys).  With a marital separation and eventual divorce looming, Tony decides that he cannot buy the place and asks for his $200k deposit back.  But Sapinsly won’t let him off the hook so easily: “You and your wife could be back together in a month, leaving A.S. here fucked in the ass.”  At first we think that his referring to himself in the third-person is just another one of his smug douchebag affectations, but then we realize that it calls attention to the fact that his initials are the same as our “hero” Anthony Soprano.  Lawyer A.S. and gangster A.S. are spiritual clones, each one holding the arrogant belief that the rules don’t apply to himself.  Tony reneges on his deal with Alan now just as Alan reneged on his deal with Dr. Kim.  (Tony had said in 1.07 “Down Neck” that perhaps he would have become a patio furniture salesman in a different life, but I think he could have become one of those asshole lawyers like Alan Sapinsly.)  Alan’s wife Trish warns him that Tony is a mobster.  But this doesn’t intimidate Alan, it’s not his first dealing with the Mafia: “I dealt with them on that Neapolitan copyright thing with Enya.”  Hmm, it’s an interesting line.  Alan may have chosen the Italian Sopranos over the Asian Kims to be his neighbors, but he represented that most white of artists—Irish/Celtic Enya—against the darker-skinned “Nabolidan” Italians in a legal matter.  Score one against the Italians this time.

Johnny Sac calls Tony with the news that Carmine has had a change of heart.  They meet at a park to hammer out a compromise on the HUD profits.  But Johnny is not happy.  He still wants the hit to happen.  David Chase can switch Carmine’s assassination on-again off-again multiple times only because this is an extra-long episode.  Clocking in at 75 minutes, “Whitecaps” is actually the longest episode of the series.  Chase now switches back to the domestic story.

In the backroom of the Bing, Paulie takes Tony’s side over Carmela’s a bit too enthusiastically, raising Tony’s suspicions about his loyalty.  It is at this point that Alan Sapinsly calls to discuss the deposit.  If anybody still hasn’t figured out that Alan Sapinsly is Anthony Soprano’s yuppie-doppelganger, Chase now drops an obvious clue: as the two men speak to each other on the phone, we see that they both have the identical photo of heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano behind them:

Heavyweight champ Rocky Marchiano Sopranos Autopsy

Alan may work in a corner office downtown while T operates out of a dingy backroom, but they are both essentially the same type of person—each is a selfish, arrogant thug.  Tony behaves like a thug not only in his business affairs but in his personal affairs as well.  Heavyweight Tony muscles his way back into the Soprano home over featherweight Carmela’s protests.  He moves into the converted entertainment room, reconverting it into a long-term residence for himself.  AJ comes in and tries to bunk with dad, but Tony thinks that Carmela might not appreciate such a living arrangement:

Tony: You can come here and watch TV with me, but you can’t stay here.
AJ: Fuck.
Tony: (Giving him cash) Here, go buy her one of those CDs she likes and some flowers.  Tell her you’re sorry, that you’ll try to be more considerate.

When AJ cussed earlier in the episode, Carmela tried to fine him $3.00.  But when he cusses now, Tony actually hands him money.  It is this flouting of rules, this lack of discipline and rectitude that Tony has demonstrated his entire life that Carmela can no longer endure.  This is why Tony now finds himself sleeping on an air mattress in the detached room rather than with Carmela in their bedroom.

Tony tosses and turns on the air mattress, sensing that something is not quite right about Johnny Sac’s request to kill Carmine.  He telephones Chris and tells him to call off the hit—and “make sure” that no one can ever know that this whacking was ever considered.  Chris understands that the only way to “make sure” the secret deal with Johnny Sac never comes to light is by killing the hitmen.  In the mob’s vicious and racist calculus, the secrets of Italian men are worth more than the lives of black men.  (Score another one for the Italians, I guess.)  After Chris meets Credenzo Curtis and Stanley Johnson out in the Meadowlands, Benny and Petey fill them with bullets.  Chase finally provides the “hits and tits” crowd the bloodshed they have been craving.

But the real “BANG!” is yet to come.  Tony lounges in his swimming pool beneath the trees, relaxed and acting as though nothing is wrong.  The tranquil water of the pool is a direct contrast to the roiling, tumultuous waters signified by the term whitecaps:

calm waters

Carmela, who is caught in the roiling tumult of her emotions, looks at tranquil Tony with consternation and anger.  She presses Tony to bring the theater seats inside, it’s not good for the lawn.  In a Chinatown allusion, Tony says in mock Chinese accent, “Bad for grass.”  (Chinatown starts out being about a water utility, but ends up being about dark family terrors; “Whitecaps” starts out being about a waterfront house, but ends up being about the darkness within the Soprano family.)  Chase now presents us with one of the most intense domestic arguments ever seen on American TV, the true climax of the episode.  Long running frustrations and grudges that have been simmering in the cauldron of their unhappy marriage finally boil over.  Tony and Carmela would skin each other alive if they could.  Carm vindictively plays her strongest card, revealing her months-long infatuation with Furio.  Tony comes close to striking his wife, but drives his fist through the drywall instead.  It is this searing scene that commentators surely have foremost in mind when they compare “Whitecaps” to Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, or Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  David Chase himself is disappointed that the scene is not as strong as it could be, humbly saying that “Arthur Miller would have done a better job,” but it is nevertheless a major reason why this Season Finale is so very memorable.

Tony’s yacht, the Stugots, arrives outside the Sapinsly’s home to blare out some Dean Martin, preventing Alan and Trish and their guests from enjoying their shark-fin soup.  (We might remember that in 2.11 “House Arrest,” Dr. Melfi compared Tony’s need to keep busy, keep moving, to that of a shark.  So: Alan tries to eat a soup that is made by finning sharks—a practice that often kills the creatures by causing them to become immobile—but he cannot immobilize shark Tony who has found a novel way to attack his prey.)  “Fuckin’ goombah trash,” mutters Alan as the music clamors, fully revealing the racism and class-ism beneath his button-down, Brooks Brothers exterior.

Chase now wraps up the famiglia storyline.  Tony meets Johnny Sac and tells him that he will not whack the NY Boss.  Johnny is angered by the news, and quotes Macbeth to convey his frustration about having to work under Carmine: “Tomorrow I go into work—‘creeps on this petty pace.'” (David Chase acknowledges that it is unlikely that Johnny is well-read enough to quote Shakespeare at will, but says that he may have picked up the line from somewhere in popular culture.  It’s a fitting allusion because Johnny Sac, like Macbeth, may want the boss killed in order to assume power for himself.  Interestingly, Macbeth contains the earliest recorded use of the word “assassination,” further connecting Shakespeare’s tragedy to this episode’s on-again off-again plans for assassinating Carmine.)  Johnny Sac’s bristling anger towards Tony leaves the possibility of mob warfare open for next season.

Chase now wraps up the domestic storyline.  After the blowup with Carmela, Tony decides the best thing would be for him to move out.  AJ and Meadow believe that their behavior had something to do with the breakup, as children often heartbreakingly do believe in such situations.  As contentious as this marriage is, and as evil as Tony can be, we still feel saddened by the breakup of the Soprano family.

But there is still one more scene left in the hour.  David Chase says he didn’t want to end the season with Tony leaving home, tail between his legs, but rather with a display of Tony’s power.  In the final scene, Alan and Trish Sapinsly step on to their patio, wine glasses in hand, ready to enjoy the evening.  But the Stugots is still anchored nearby.  This final scene underscores how complicated our relationship to Tony Soprano is.  As horrendous as Tony can be, we are glad—and we perhaps even envy—that he is able to put a douchewad like Alan Sapinsly in his place.  Dean Martin’s laid-back lounge act starts bellowing out of the Stugots’ speakers, forcing Sapinsly to retreat back into his house.  He knows that Tony Soprano has gotten the better of him.  (Score another one for the Italians!)


I focused pretty narrowly on the family/familia plotlines in this write-up, but there are other significant events that also take place in “Whitecaps.”  Perhaps most notably, Corrado gets a mistrial, thanks to an intimidated juror.  And Adriana is still meeting with the FBI, a storyline that gets intensified in the coming season.

Connections to previous episodes pile up in “Whitecaps,” there are multiple references to things we’ve seen or heard in earlier outings: Svetlana’s toast to Livia in “Proshai, Livushka”; Meadow’s complaint that there’s never any food in the house in “University”; Carmela’s condemnation of Tony just before he got an MRI in the “Pilot”; Tony’s beating of Ron Zellman with a belt in “Watching Too Much Television”; Valentina’s acrylic fingernail from “Mergers & Acquisitions”; drugstore magnate Dr. Stamfa, who we first heard of in “Second Opinion.”  The mob’s hiring of two black hitmen in this hour also connects back to the outsourcing of assassination to two African-Americans in “Isabella.”  This hour may also link forward to a Season 6 episode, as Credenzo Curtis mentions a “Kaisha” just before he is killed.

Connections are also made here to other works of art: Chinatown, Days of Wine and Roses (when Tony references Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick), The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” Macbeth, and those old Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn movies.

Other connections are made within “Whitecaps” through various means such as editing, echoing imagery and dialogue.  Prof. Maurice Yacowar notes that…

…Chase provides an aesthetic order, a surface of rhyming shots and phrases that suggest the possibility of coherence.  He cuts from the trial’s Allen Charge (instructions to a hung jury) to Alan’s firm charge of the lost deposit.  The real-estate agent ‘Virginia Lupo’ rhymes with the ‘lupus’ that Dr. Cusamano rejects as Carmela’s illness.  Svetlana’s butting out with her cane parallels Adriana’s lovely legged butting at the FBI agent’s car.

One connection that stands out for me is the (possible) link made between trees and death.  Just after Credenzo Curtis and Stanley Johnson are killed, Chase cuts to a shot of the overhead trees in Tony’s backyard:

Trees = death

Tree-imagery has been linked to death and depression in previous episodes, and will continue to be so linked in Seasons 5 and 6.  (I’ll give a more complete run-down of these “tree” connections in a later write-up.)



  • We can almost think of this hour as the breaking of contracts episode, as various contracts get broken: real estate contracts, the contract killing of Carmine, and even the marriage contract between Tony and Carmela is in danger of being broken.  (We might remember that in this season’s opener, Carmela said “Everything comes to an end.”  While many “Tony is killed” theorists cite this line as evidence for a whacking at Holsten’s Diner, at this point in the series the line seems to have been pointing more to the end of the Soprano marriage.)
  • Haha: Adriana informs her FBI handler that Ralph Cifaretto may be missing because he has drug problem and may have “hit bottom somewheres.”  We chuckle because we know that Ralphie “hit bottom” when Chris and Tony tossed his corpse off a cliff a couple of episodes ago.
  • Irina had a glass of vodka in her hand the previous time she called the Soprano home too, back in “The Knight in White Satin Armor” (2.12).
  • David Chase says that at the end of the episode, they purposefully cut-to-black just as Dean Martin says “My girl’s still here” as an ironic way to reference that Carmela is not “still here”—she’s out of Tony’s life.  I think it’s interesting that the Dean Martin song segues into “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I, because this track also may also underscore Carmela’s separation from Tony.  “I Have Dreamed” is a song about two star-crossed lovers, one of whom has just escaped the king’s harem; Carmela too has now made an escape from King Tony and his harem of women.  (The question of whether she can remain free will be a significant, central issue of Season 5.)

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93 responses to “Whitecaps (4.13)

  1. Yay, Whitecaps! Excellent analysis, as always!

    I really like Chase’s line about Seasons 1,2, and 3 being about Tony as a son, a brother, and a father. Even though I’ve noticed those general themes before, I guess I never thought about it like that. I really love how those themes are echoed in both in the family and famiglia storylines of their respective seasons… Season One focusing on Tony as a son to Livia, and a ‘son’ to to Junior. Season Two as brother to Janice, and ‘brother’ to Richie. Three as father to AJ and father-figure to Jackie Jr.

    I also like that Tony converts the pool house into his living space which – while not quite a garage – is exactly what Carmela worked so hard to help Furio do, as an excuse to spend time with him.

    I know I’m in the minority, but Season Four is probably my second favorite (behind Season Three). As you noted, this is the first season which a lot of fans watched ‘live’ (myself included), so perhaps a lot of it is nostalgia, but even today I continue to enjoy it immensely, and it will always be the season that cemented my Sopranos fandom.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Juan Valdez's Donkey

    Thanks again Ron, I’ve been checking the site from time to time and this write-up has now arrived!
    Surely one of the major episodes of The Sopranos, I remember somewhere reading that the most violent or disturbing scene in this gangster show is a domestic dispute. Indeed.
    A few thoughts:
    I like the whole American Dream undertone, how it gets set up and undone for several characters over the course of the episode. As you say, a house by the shore is the appropriate manifestations of climbing the ladder.

    Using an edit, Chase sets up the dismantling of that pipe dream. As Tony says “You’ll inherit this” to his kids and Finn, the next frame is water washing over the shore, perhaps suggesting that it will eventually get washed away.

    One of the most interesting narrative devices in this episode, I think, is the use of phone calls. This especially connected to the Credenzo Curtis line “Next sound you hear”. We take it to mean that the next sound Carmine Lupertazzi will hear, is a gunshot that will end his life. Using an edit again, the frame cuts to Irina calling the Soprano home, effectively ending a marriage.

    Most phone calls in this episode deliver someone some bad news or have disastrous consequences. However, Johnny Sack’s phone call about Carmine wanting to settle is a relief for Tony (and neatly interrupts his conversation about the down payment with A.S.) but nevertheless doesn’t bode well for Carmine.

    Further, and probably stretching the analysis here, but the sound (from his massive speakers) is literally the thing that gets Tony of the hook from the Whitecaps purchase.

    Using the viewpoint of connectivity, that I think you Ron lift up to great merit in these analyses, we can see a glimpse of Tony’s descent into darkness. During the fight with Carmela he rebukes her with the line “Oh poor you!” This is the classic passive-aggressive exclamation of hatred originally attributed to Livia. Connected with the broad themes as Tony as a son, a brother and a father, this could fit the pattern.
    Livia said this in the first season and Gloria, effectively a great legged re-incarnation of Livia, says it in the third season. Then, Tony’s psyche gets closer and closer to utter nihilism as the seasons progress. Here, explored mainly as a father (figure), he begins to adopt the behavioral patterns of the evilest of role models, his mother.

    A random reflection: in the scene where Tony’s speakers are taken out of the entertainment room he is eating “Guiltless” food. Is this a real product in the US?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Guiltless gourmet was a salsa available in Canada at that time too


      • What struck me is that several times only the “Guilt” portion of the jar is shown. I may be grasping at straws here, but I find Tony is having difficulty being responsible with his language to A.J. It’s possible “Guilt / Guiltless” is an oscillating moral conflict or dialectic: Tony feels guilty for being miserable, but he feels guiltless in the acts which worsen his misery. At the last second, perhaps because the Guiltless supply of black bean dip is all gone, Tony settles back into wholesome Guilt.

        Liked by 1 person

    • “Guiltless Gourmet” and guiltlessness in general are readily available in the United States…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve been watching the Sopranos again with my wife. It has been a couple of years and I am struck by just how brilliant it is. Been very much enjoying your comments and hope you finish the last two seasons. Watched whitecaps last night and was just blown away. The fight between Tony and Carmella is one of the most violent things I have ever seen on television. To me, far more violent than Melfi’s rape. I remember being struck by it the first time, but watching it a second time really hit home. To me, Chase is using the Sopranos to critique modern American society. He uses Tony primarily as a vehicle to criticize the modern American male and conversely uses Carmella to point out the hypocrisies of the American female. For instance, Tony never gets off the meds, never stops cheating, never ‘gets it’, gets fatter and fatter and winds up losing everything he held dear. He is a sad clown. All his fears come to fruition. This I believe is Chase’s outlook on where we are going as a society. The fight in whitecaps between Tony and Carmella is long overdue and Chase takes his two main characters and shows us true savagry. Tony cannot satisfy her and she cannot satisfy him. (the acting is incredible; Carmella’s hyperventilating is some seriously good acting) No one can cut you down like those closest to you. This is because everything that is said in the fight is true. Nothing hurts like the truth. All the time in Melfi’s office, she rarely gets him to really face himself. She gets close, but never really does he see his incredible hypocrisy. But here, in this fight, we see truth. We see anguish. Carmella’s cry ‘I am here’ is pure despair, and Tony’s most cherished relationships and are completely dysfunctional. And his volleys at her….! Wow. Again and again he hits with her own delusional thinking. His fist through the wall is nothing compared to the comment she not only chose, but wanted this life. It reminded me of those old naval battle where the ships just broadside each other into oblivion. Is not Chase trying to help us see ourselves? This may sound like bit much, but is he not trying to sit us down and show us brutally, methodically, painstakingly, our own blindness to our ‘sins’. The entire show perhaps, is a kind of trumpet call to help Americans see their own narcissism?

    The fight is a major high point to the entire show because it sums up so much and is foreshadowing of the true storm that is coming. Whitecaps are a sign usually of a bigger storm brewing
    Your choices will catch up to you. The road you are on will lead to misery. You will lose the ones you love the most and everything will be stripped from you

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Hello Ron, I love these write-ups. Anxiously looking forward to the rest! I was hoping you could clarify part of your commentary. You mention that you think The Sopranos may fit in better than The Kims in Alan’s Ralph Lauren idyll because of racial reasons, in Alan’s viewpoint. Based on stereotypes, Asians are considered to be intelligent, professional, well-mannered, etc (ie. he is Dr. Kim). Conversely, Italian Americans – again based off of stereotypes – are associated with a criminal element, more brute force than brains, etc (a theme that’s explored throughout the series). Can you explain this point further?

    PS – I’m African American so I have no dog in the fight here. Just appreciative of your unique perspective…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I only meant that Alan might find the Kims, on a superficial level, more “ethnic” because they likely would have immigrated more recently. Generally speaking, Asian families have been in the U.S. for fewer generations than Italian families, and thus have not assimilated quite as fully into American culture.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Juan Valdez's Donkey

        In line with Tony’s comment, “it was the cash and the short escrow”, one way to view this is that Sapinsly prefers a mobster as a neighbor because it connects him with the darker side of the American dream. One part of that dream is the wish to “beat the system”, in essence be a hustler and win over others in the predatory system of capitalism.

        By rubbing shoulders with Tony, dealing in cash and threatening and bullying his original buyer, Sapinsly can feel like a mobster and a hustler for a fleeting moment. This of course does not work, and we see over and over in the series that civilians drawn into the circle of the mob suffer dire consequences.

        The most egregious win, and within the American dream it is the mafia. And, they are, or at least used to be, recession-proof (like “certain aspects of show-biz”), perhaps suggesting that it can only unravel from within through the malicious and short-sighted actions of its members. And that might be what Chase is saying about American society; capitalist, paranoid and doomed.

        Liked by 6 people

  5. It’s amazing Tony would trust Benny and Little Paulie with the boat. I’m surprised they didn’t steer that thing right into a dock full of people like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Virginia Lupo is a Virginia Woolf reference. Lupo means wolf in Latin.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. “In the mob’s vicious and racist calculus, the secrets of Italian men are worth more than the lives of black men.”
    remember corrado had micky kill donnie in a similar situation. maybe you are too fast to bring up the race card here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Does John actually say “creeps on this petty pace”?

    I know that’s the correct Shakespeare quote, but I hear him saying “petty piss” instead.


  9. David J Noone

    Excellent work Ron. Some excellent responses as well. Stated before, this is not my favorite season finale, but taking another look at it after reading this I can see it’s brilliance. Alan was an asshole but I enjoyed the character very much; I thought we would see more of him in the future episodes. Chase did a good job setting up for Season 5, but it was a hell of a wait!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s interesting to me that Carmela is intimidated by the college kids because they are educated and of a better class. Her self-esteem is at a low point. But, she had no problem calling her mother out for being ashamed of being Italian at the barbecue in “Marco Polo”. Also, I love how comfortable Tony is with himself…he can put himself anywhere and rarely feels out of place. Through this whole series, I always thought that Carmela just tolerated the men that worked for Tony. I think she had a real affection for the wives, but still felt superior to them because she the bosses wife. She wanted a better class of people for her daughter…now that her fantasy romance is over…she finds fault with Meadows life, which Meadow points out. I know shes unhappy with her choices. Even while she was pining over Furio, and they cut to Tony and Furio eating alone, her note to Tony says where she is and she signs it with “I love you’. Hypocritical. Carmela has an ugly side. I think it insulted her that Tony slept with a one-legged woman…that and Furio’s leaving pushed her over the edge. Still, nobody sees reality…she could never be with him, and she would not be contented because he was not rich and had such a small house and not a lot of money. It’s mind boggling to me, this great love…that could have him killed if Tony finds out, and also, when she mentions it I am sure she is feeling vengeful and would probably welcome Furio getting killed….she just has a very bad side to her. I don’t know if she can really love in the true sense. Sorry for the rambling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are absolutely right. Carmela is one of the most evil, vicious, hateful characters ever written. She makes Livia look like a Mormon missionary.

      Which makes me wonder: Is Chase a misogynist?


      • “You are absolutely right. Carmela is one of the most evil, vicious, hateful characters ever written.”


        Liked by 2 people

      • I too have wondered if Chase is a misogynist. Though I wouldn’t call Carmela the most evil character ever, she is pretty terrible. As are Livia and Janice. And pretty much all of the old ladies. And many of the Goomars have their issues. But the men are pretty terrible too – they are vain, self-centered, greedy, corrupt, dishonest and unfaithful/disloyal – and that’s setting aside all the murder and other criminal stuff. And the regular characters who could be described as good or having integrity are pretty much Svetlana, Charmaine and Dr Melfi (and maybe Meadow if you squint just right) – and don’t suggest Artie – that guy only manages to avoid being evil because he’s weak. So Chase might be a misogynist, but he’s also a misandrist – which I guess makes him a misanthrope.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I always thought Tony decided to leave his home because he suspected Johnny Sac was going to have him whacked, rather than out of any consideration for his wife. The scene occurs immediately after Tony and Johnny’s tense meeting, and as he left he put on an unfashionable ballcap pulled low on his head. Carmela, seeing it, told him to “be careful,” like she knew he was in trouble.
    Looking forward to reading the rest of your write-ups as I march through the series, you always point things out I would never catch on my own, especially the more technical stuff!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Virginia Lupo’s name may also be a reference to the actual Italian phrase for good luck, “In bocca al lupo.” It means into the mouth of the wolf, to which you reply “Crepi,” may the wolf die. Kind of sets up the rest of the episode- we’re in the mouth of the wolf in many of the plotlines here- as well as the theme of “lucky” Italians.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Also, Virginia Lupo calls back not just to Virginia Woolf, but Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Albee’s vicious marriage play.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so funny, I referenced the play in the write-up but didn’t even think of that. That’s a super clever connection..

      Liked by 2 people

    • *Virginia* lupo–> the state of Virginia was originally a colony –> a biological colony is a group of organisms of the same species living together–> organism sounds similar to orgasm –> Tony enjoys orgasms –> Who else enjoys orgasms? The entire human race –> who else is of the human race? David chase. It’s all coming together guys

      Liked by 1 person

  14. So all along she has known about other women. Early on in series she talks with the other wives about their husbands other women and thier acceptance of them. She tells him to get a vasectomy if he is going to continue to see other women. Every other episode on the series is about carmella dealing with her feelings about tony’s other women. And now she gets really mad? Because of a phone call? Not much consistentcy or stability in carmella’s character. I’m not sure the russian girl is the biggest psycho in this lovers triad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I jokingly punched you on the arm every once in a while you might not mind but if I started hitting you harder and rubbing it in your face/talking trash you might get angry about it.. Human emotion is more complicated than the situation you describe.

      The fact is Carmela had every right to be angry.. I don’t understand the people that hate on her for this. If your girlfriend/wife cheated on you for years then one day you snapped and kicked her out, I wouldn’t be like “what an asshole”, I’d be like “finally!”

      I know she doesn’t pay for the house and I know she knew there were goomars but she’s completely in the right for getting pissed

      Liked by 2 people

    • Calling the house is different to knowing it goes on but not seeing it. Irina calling the house is invasion of Carmelas life/space. Keeping it at arm’s length she can make her peace with even if not happy about it but once she is confronted with it and has it rubbed in her face that’s another matter. Especially when she learns of Tony’s dalliance with the one-legged Russian, the lady she “mourned” (if that’s the right word haha) Livia’s death with. Its the straw that broke the camels back. I never had an issue with her reaction to this and in fact I’m surprised to learn that many people did. Perhaps it comes from not understanding how someone could be unfaithful to their partner, it seems like it’s a very entrenched part of the mob culture.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I love that the song Tony plays on the yacht is not only loud, but annoying as well…priceless!!


    • True, but on the other hand it’s fun that they didn’t go for death metal or something obviously torturous like that. Instead it’s Dean Martin, that assimilated Italian-Americans.
      On a similar theme, surely “Sapinsly” is an Anglicisation of a Polish “Sapinsky”; AS may be pale white but there’s potentially been some masking of his ethnicity. And Ralph Lauren’s birth name was Lipshitz.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. PS: She denies it to tony when he accuse her that its all about money, but she has already confessed to Father Phil that she wanted money and expensive things so she looked the other way. They both had good points in their argument, but Tony is who he is, and she should know that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I always blamed Carmela more than Tony and Meadow does too. Tony is what he is, he grew up in that life – it doesn’t excuse it but you can’t exactly blame someone for the way they’re brought up. Carmela was not brought up in that life but married into it because she wanted the luxury and extravagance (and excitement?) that goes with it without thinking about what that means for herself and her kids until it’s too late.

      Liked by 1 person

    • All she wanted was a Hyundai and a simple heart on a chain.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve said before that the fight in “Chasing It” is much hateful and intense, this is still the better fight in terms of drama and performance. This is one your best write-ups too, Ron. Thorough but brisk, and for the longest episode too! A top five outing indeed.

    Svetlana is one of a handful of people who get in bed w/ Tony (in this case literally too), and come out unscathed.

    I realize, Virginia Lupo? Lupo is Italian for wolf. Lupus is the Latin, and the physical appearance of the disease was once connected to wolf bites. Moreover, it means she’s Virginia Wo(o)lf. That’s the kind of dorky literary stuff Chase & Co throw in that’s just great, adds to the realism (Marshall McLuhan anyone?).

    Favorite male/male Tony dynamic is w/ Johnny Sac. I just like to hear Vince Curatola shout. “OH REALLY.” Gets me every time. The dynamic of the Sopranos/Sac friendship is so intense, their mutual respect coupled with unending schemes around one another. I love Tony’s “Mr & Mrs John Q. America” illustration; we most admire Tony when he speaks sense like this, I think, when he shows leadership, social practicality, and some moral responsibility, even if he’s just blowing this up John’s ass. We all know what a good liar Anthony “I Dedn’t Burn Down Ya Restrant” Soprano is.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I too was gonna mention “in bocca al lupo” but someone above beat me to it. But a couple of other thoughts:

    – Watching this episode for the umpteenth time, I caught for the first time Svetlana mentioning to Tony that Zellman “felt weak” in front of Irina after the belt-whipping, and “couldn’t perform.” Tony’s impulsive violence over his ex-goomar inadvertently led to the outing of his tryst with Svetlana to Carmela. Any other show might have staged a scene spelling this out to us. (“I can’t get it up anymore!” [sobs]) Not The Sopranos. What’s offscreen is often as powerful as what we see, and it’s incredible how it can be summed up in a couple of lines of dialogue.

    – In addition to the Marciano photo, I notice Sapinsly is holding a replica of the Heisman college football trophy. It’s a famous pose, and Alan is trying to give Tony the brush-off (the ol’ Heisman) as well.

    – Finally, I think Carmela’s reaction to Irina/Svetlana makes perfect narrative/character sense. Earlier in the season, Carmela finds Valentina’s acrylic nail in the wash, and leaves it on Tony’s nightstand with his things. Obviously she is sending a message that she’s got one on him, for leverage. But in light of “Whitecaps” I also interpret it as a sort of warning that if he’s gonna do that, not to rub her nose in it. It comes as a final insult when Irina calls and AJ answers, as now a goomar is interloping on Carmela’s domicile and her children. So while maybe she could abide that Tony had a lot of late nights and the smell of CK One on his collar, this goes beyond the pale for her. It signifies that Tony has gotten sloppy and lost “respect” (if you will) for his wife and children, AND cannot control his goomars from interfering with his family. And obviously the Furio heartbreak factors in as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Regarding your comments on Alan Sapinsly’s character traits with Tony Soprano, I also noticed that his wife resembles Carmela. Take a look.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Stellar write up and comments. I have only one thing more to throw in… watch Tony fight manfully to stifle a belly laugh when Johnny sac uses the allegory of ‘hauling a weight’ in reference to married life. This is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flashback to one of the seasons major plot lines, and all the more effective for being placed in an otherwise very tense and businesslike scene.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. A small addition to the theme of ethnic identity:
    When Sapinsly’s wife rebukes him for a small tactical lie he told Tony, he ironically says, “Thank you, rabbi.” So they’re Jewish. Another ingredient in the melting- or unmelting-pot. In the contest between Sapinsly and Soprano, it will be another one for the Italians.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. “I haven’t been too concerned on this website with ranking episodes or giving them grades or stars or smiley faces or a thumbs up/thumbs down. I’ve tried to focus more on how the episodes function—how they do what they do.”
    And that’s why we love you Ron

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Just when I thought I was out, THEY PULL ME BACK IN!

    your welcom

    Liked by 1 person

  24. tony going to the shore house to sleep after fighting with carmela was a bit clumsy. doesnt make much sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Watching this as part of a full re-watch, I now realise how much this brings up from all over the place in the series’ to date and is all the more powerful for it. The fact that both Tony and Carmela have valid points and justifications in their fight with each other (Carmela’s previous willingness to overlook Tony’s indiscretions, illegalities and violence because of what he brought in and previous acceptance of the housewife role, Tony’s lying and cheating and two-faced nature with Carmela) makes it feel much more powerful and true to life than the average TV domestic – it’s broken down to the point when they decide to actually hurt each other with what they say rather than try to make it work. We’ve followed their ups and downs through four seasons and it really does all come to a head here.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Not sure if anyone else noticed but the recording being played from the Stugots is “The Rat Pack Live at The Sands” They performed at a handful of Las Vegas casinos during the filming of “Oceans Eleven (1963)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. This whole webpage is so well written, and it is so interesting to read the analysis. But this time it felt so obvious that it was written by a man and I felt disappointed that you did not write a word about Carmela’s whole point – namely, that while Svetlana might be driven and have integrity – what about all the other women that T has slept with over the years? Were they all full of integrity and good conversation? Of course not. Sad that you did not find that worthwhile mentioning, because she is so right here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point. Not trying to make excuses here, but this write-up (as I mentioned above) was the first time I tried a “recap” model of analysis. Maybe I just got too caught up in focusing on this individual episode at the expense of looking at the larger picture..

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that’s a little harsh, Carmela has previously lived with Tony’s infidelity almost as part of the price she has to pay for the lifestyle that he brings, yes she struggled with it, but this is the one that finally hurt her enough to make her break up with him. What was different about Svetlana? Chase seems to be using Svetlana to show up the contrast between Carmela’s materialism and passive consumerism versus Svetlana’s industriousness (and some West vs East attitudes), but at the same time he doesn’t make it that easy because doesn’t she have a right to expect that her husband will show some respect and care towards her? And Tony has of course been an asshole towards her over a number of years, but he makes his living by cheating other people – why should she expect he would be any different with her?

        Liked by 2 people

    • Too true, she definitely called Tony out on his bullshit on that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I’m in two minds about this episode. On the one hand, all the Carm/Tony stuff is great, but on the other, I’m really not sure about the resolution to the Sapinsly storyline. Sure, the guy’s a scumbag, and he has a lot of Tony’s bad traits, the thing with that is, that means Tony has all of Sapinsly’s bad traits *plus he’s a mobster*. One of these men has a body count, and one doesn’t, and using Alan Sapinsly as someone to root against and, by extension, an excuse to root *for* Tony Soprano, seems to me to be at cross purposes with the show’s morality, especially when they went to great lengths to discourage that thinking with episodes like *College* and *Whoever Did This*. It’s a “hits-and-tits” storyline, something a lesser show would do, but not, up to this point, the Sopranos, and it’s a shame that it ends what is my favourite season so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is an interesting point. When I first watched the episode, I found myself gradually rooting for Tony to keep the pressure on this arrogant, selfish lawyer to finally cough up his money. And got a great kick out of seeing and hearing Dean Martin disturbing the Sapinslys’ snobbish upper middle class existence in their beautiful beach house paid for by this greedy lawyer’s life work. When the episode ended, I started thinking about it and realized – I’m rooting for TONY to get back HIS money? You mean the money that he has spent his life acquiring while stealing, swindling, brutalizing, and killing? Sapinsly may be an unattractive character, but, in the context of SopranoWorld, if they all end up in Dante’s hell, he’s certainly going to end up in a “better” circle than Tony or any of his associates. Disturbing swirl of emotional reactions concerning this episode.

      I also wonder who won out in the end, since (unless a missed a future reference) it’s unclear ta the end of this episode whether Sapinsly gives in or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Someone (I forget who) asks, “I wonder who is buying Whitecaps,” and in the next scene, we have our answer – the arrival of Asian food at the Soprano household. (Although I believe the food is Chinese, while “Kim” is a Korean name). This reminds me of the family whose car is hijacked, and the victim identifies the thieves as African Americans, and “Who else would do it?”, and in the next scene, again, we have our answer – Tony and his guys admiring photos of stolen cars.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. The Sopranos discussion on what to do when the wrong Chinese dish is delivered to their home has elements that parallel the contract to buy Whitecaps. (First you give it, then you take it away, then they want to return it, then it’s too late anyhow….). And also the back-and-forth contract to kill/not kill the NYC boss. Also, wasn’t the dish in question beef in orange sauce? Oranges on The Sopranos are a leitmotif of revenge/assassination/death.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Motherfuckin goddamn orange peel beef

      Liked by 1 person

      • It might also be worth noting that the shark fin soup proudly served by the Sapinslys is a Chinese delicacy. So, in this episode we see two differing examples of Chinese (or Chinese-American) food served in settings which themselves represent varying versions of the American dream, with an obvious referent to the other-ized, unseen East Asian presence in the Kims. To me, seeing the Sapinslys serve shark-fin soup reflected something about AS’ quickness to renege the Kims’ attempt to buy the house and claim a piece of the America in which they are living. I’m not sure I have a point to make succinctly here but I was thinking about cultural appropriation and cultural capital as I watched this scene.
        Thank you for these write-ups. I’m watching the show for the first time and getting so much more out of it for having this site as a companion!

        Liked by 1 person

  31. My husband and I are watching the Sopranos for the first time. Despite all the signs building up these past 4 seasons, he was not convinced the Carmella we’ve seen would have left Tony. I am more willing to believe that enough ground work has been laid to push Carmella over the edge … but I can also see where he is coming from. Still, in the context of David Chase initially planning only 4 seasons – this ‘finale’ makes sense because family (not familia) is what Tony feared losing the most in the opener (the ducks).

    Is Carmella a common Italian-American name? When Tony calls his obviously not calm wife “Carm” while she’s throwing him out – I had to chuckle.

    Tony tells Christopher that Johnny never forgave Carmine for not having his back (re Ralph) – surely that’s foreshadowing? Off to watch Season 5…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anon – Actually, the name Carmela is of Hebrew origin. According to charlies-names.com, Carmela means orchard, garden, or fertile land. It is an Italian and Spanish form of Carmel or Carmen. It also means song.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Kevin Rachner

    Also, I’ve never really seen it mentioned anywhere but there is graffiti reading ‘white power’ visible when Curtis and Johnson are murdered

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Been loving the website so far, first time through the series and these are an excellent companion. Just wanted to comment something that hopefully adds to the “rhyming” mentioned — there’s of course Lupo and lupus, but in the scene where Johnny Sack, Carmine, Christopher and Tony meet, Carmine very sharply says “acrimony”, which (to me) obviously seems like a throwaway reference to John Sacrimoni.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Matthew Robertson

    Hey Ron. I use your site as a sort of series guide. It’s great. I’ve read all of your write ups at least once and some of them a bunch. Skipping the preamble (lol), you say that Christopher is not considered by you to be the weakest hour of the series (it is be me); so what is? In your write ups you almost universally laud every episode. This is appropriate because it is an elite tv show. But I do not recall off the top of my head which episode you do consider to be the least. I say least and not worst because even Christopher is better than most episodes of a good number of tv series. Last thing, when is Made in America coming? Anyways… $4 a pound.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Matthew. It’s hard to answer because I’ve never ranked the episodes, and anyway my opinions change over time… I wasn’t crazy about “Chasing It” when it first aired but I’ve come to view it as strong episode now.

      I’m trying to get the final write-up out by the end of the week.


      • Matthew Robertson

        Yeah “Chasing It” has some skip moments for me too. It’s difficult to watch the dissolution of a fiendship that’s presumably lasted 30ish years (haven’t watched the movie yet maybe they establish Hesh and Tony’s friendship date, maybe not but I digress). Excited to read Made in America. You’re the man!

        Liked by 1 person

  35. Matthew Compito

    Just a quick thought. In the scene where Tony is eating the Guiltless salsa, right after he unmutes his war film on TV, there’s a guy saying “It’s tough getting them out of places like this. You can never be sure where the snipers are placed.” Then it cuts to Junior. At first I thought the quote was a subtle hint that it’s tough to convince Tony to move out of his house, but when I focus more on the edit (I may be reaching a bit) but could this have been intentional foreshadowing of Junior shooting Tony in season 6? Food for thought! Love these write ups Ron. You’re an incredible writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I quite enjoy the fact that in your thoughts and breakdowns of this show, you use the technique of positive visualization lol. As in, you take the time to properly research and analyze the episodes as opposed to using these write-ups to voice your own critiques and dislikes. Thank you for that.
    This episode (and by extension, your article) calls to mind the “IFT” episode of Breaking Bad, also one of the great domestic-argument moments of modern tv. With all the similarities between the 2 shows, an “autopsy” site like this dedicated to the BB series/universe would be amazing. But I digress.
    I’ve always wondered if Chase used the dream sequences to foreshadow Tony’s “death” and to highlight his fear of mortality. Seeing dead Livia on the stairs as he calls to her almost feels as if she’s pulling him toward her, a dark figure representing the afterlife “seducing” Tony to quietly give in and let go. The theme of fighting constantly to stay alive when we all die anyway is a constant through SopranoWorld.

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  37. I’m not enough of a critic to extrapolate a point out of this but when I saw Tony floating on an air mattress in the pool I was instantly reminded of the Great Gatsby. Perhaps there’s a connection between Wilson and Carmela?

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  38. Ron – I have to challenge your assertion that Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ “contains the earliest recorded use of the word assassination”. Actually, Sir Thomas Smile first used the word in ‘Letter to Dr. Wilson’, 15 April 1572 (per Miriam Webster). 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  39. That’s in English. But there word is from the Arabic but there is dispute about the etymology as to whether it is from the word Asaasi meaning basic or principle, a word was associated with Ismaili sect or the story that surrounded the assassins that they were young men plied with sex with young girls while hopped up on Hasheesh (Hasheesheeyeen in Arabic) until they were brainwashed into murdering a target. This view was popularized by Umberto Eco in Foucault’s Pendulum although it is supported by some scholarship on the Order of the Assassins. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Assassins#Etymology
    I agree that Carmela’s decision felt very well plotted out. The only aspect I’ve never found realistic was Tony’s rash decision to go beat Ron Zellman with a belt. Although we now see how it works in terms of building an ironic twist, it still feels forced to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. No one has mentioned Corrado’s mistrial?!
    Daniel J. Castleman (his real name) – the man who portrayed the prosecutor at Corrado’s trial – was once a member of a team that investigated major corruption in NYC. He was promoted to Chief of Investigations in the early 1990a, when he oversaw an investigation into a major corruption case that involved waste management and the mob. (Yes, all 17 defendants were convicted.) He served as a technical consultant on this series for 9 years.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. I understood why Tony didn’t want AJ to move into the entertainment room with him – Carmela would have been devastated by getting deserted by her son – but … the move might have led to some much needed father-son bonding. As things turn out, AJ does desert Carmela by ignoring and bad-mouthing her. But what else did we expect? There really doesn’t seem to be a whole lotta love and respect for one another in this family.

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Patsy should have gone to Irina’s house with the $75,000 ‘hush-money payoff’ instead of Silvio, and maybe let her know that if she ever contacted Tony again, “It won’t be cinematic”. Let’s face it, Tony knew full well that the gal was a ‘clinger’ and wouldn’t ‘go gently into that good night’! Carmela’s not the only one who’s “Always with the drama”!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Bruce MacVittie, the actor who played the intimidated juror who tanked the trial for Junior, has passed away.


    He was also a constant fixture on “Law & Order.”

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Carmela actually stole $40,000. (From the bird feeder)She only deposited it at 9.9 in 4 different establishments to avoid the IRS finding out.

    Liked by 1 person

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