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Headscratchers / The Sopranos

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  • Carmella repeatedly states that the reason she stays with Tony is because the Catholic Church frowns on divorce. If she's really concerned about her soul, wouldn't aiding and abetting a violent psychopath be much worse?
    • Cognitive dissonance is a thing and a very common theme of the show.
    • She's just looking for excuses anyway- the show makes it clear that she only stays with him because of all the (stolen) luxury goods and privileges he can provide her.
    • Not an expert on La Cosa Nostra but how I always understood that member of La Cosa Nostra saw their actions as somewhat justified, just playing their part. Not being a criminal because it is easier or because they want to be outlaws, but rather because it is literally "their thing", their way of earning a livelihood. Now Carmela has been deeply integrated into this world since her teens, so she probably takes it as a given as well. And surely she is not the only Catholic person involved with the mob.
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    • I always thought that Carmela’s devotion to Catholicism was an intentional irony written into the show.
  • The timing of Tony's therapy sessions seemed incredibly inconsistent. Some episodes showed Tony just sitting there in silence for about a minute and then they would have a brief discussion before Melfi would say the time was up, and I can totally believe that Tony would just sit there and brood for almost an hour before saying something. Other episodes, however, had him bring up a topic as soon as he sat down, and then maybe five minutes would pass before Melfi says, "Okay, time's up." This is still an amazing show, but the pacing of these scenes was always a little jarring.
    • It's possible that some of those scenes were legitimately short 10-20 minutes sessions that Tony could fit into his day. He's obviously on an unusual schedule and for much of the series he's trying to keep his therapy low key to avoid looking weak. Melfi probably agreed to this arrangement because she's fascinated by him, personally and professionally.
  • This may be more of a no-longer-applicable "It Just Bugs Me" than a true Headscratcher, but I am genuinely curious... what is up with that "I have come to reclaim Rome for my people!" line Ralph uses in "University"? It's ostensibly from Gladiator, except... it's not. Believe me, I know. My best guess is the script for the episode was written before the movie was out, ergo a(n old) script of the movie was appropriated somehow to cherrypick quotes from. But the episode originally aired in April of 2001 whereas the movie premiered in May of the previous year. Hard to say when shooting occurred, but it's strange that this was overlooked. Then again, maybe the Sopranos writers didn't have the same fastidious Fanboyism I do...
    • I'm guessing it's just Ralph being annoying and ignorant. I feel like that's something Tony would know and get pissed off by, the misquote and the attention Ralph's drawing as a result.
  • Why Tony B. doesn't kill Phil Leotardo when he has the chance? He leaves the scene with Billy dead on the floor, but Phil, the ruthless capo responsible for the death of Blundetto's friend is just there wounded. A final, personal point-blank shot is in order here. It's a hasty scene and he has to get away quickly and his mind is not in an ideal state, but Tony B. should have known better.
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  • How did AJ get past the guards when he "visited" Junior with a knife on him? Do those places really not check/pat down visitors in case of exactly what AJ attempted to do?
  • If Pussy really was the rat, then why did Jimmy get out of jail so suddenly? Just a bad coincidence?
    • It's possible (maybe even likely) that Jimmy was also a rat. When he's accused of being a rat by Silvio, Jimmy just utters, "Mother of God" before being executed.
    • Yes, they were both flipped. It's not a coincidence considering Pussy was flipped a long time ago and Jimmy was clearly a new addition.
    • When Tony, Paulie and Sil are reminiscing about Pussy's flip and subsequent murder, Tony observes that the feds want to put a flipped guy "back on the street and earning as soon as possible", so they don't have time for second thoughts. That's precisely the reason for Jimmy's swift release.
  • In Season 6, after Tony gets shot why is the entire family, with no gloves or hairnets even, in the room looking at his open surgery? Is that just Artistic License – Medicine ? Not to mention, why is Tony lying there staring into an OPEN wound? It should have a big plaster on it, at the very least, to avoid exactly what he's doing, and to keep it clean.
    • The above troper needs to rewatch the scene because he/she's misremembering it. When the family is in the same room with Tony, the surgery hasn't begun yet. Shortly after, they are rushed out by the doctor for precisely what you're stating here, to begin the surgery. It looks like they were initially in the room with him when he's rolled in and just doing some initial tasks.
  • With actual evidence against her, why Livia wasn't arrested by the FBI for conspiring to kill Tony with Junior?
    • Chances of a conviction would've been low. Any good lawyer could make the case that she was a senile old lady who also suffered from battered woman syndrome, and that she had been brainwashed over the years by Johnny Boy and Junior. All things considered, it would have probably been a big waste of time and money to bring her to trial. Besides which, it's not like Tony was a good guy anyway. With all the trouble he caused in North Jersey, do you think it would break the FBI's hearts if the hit was successful?
    • Also note that they only had one piece of evidence. The state would never bring a case for criminal conspiracy against a suspect without spending time and money building the case up with far more research and evidence. The FBI is building a RICO case against the Di Meo family and Livia's involvement is superfluous to that goal. Plus they'd be tipping their hand to Junior, who is their actual target at the time of that investigation (with the tape being presented to Tony as a means to convince him to rat on his uncle). Basically, Livia is a distraction at best for the feds and if they had tried to try her they'd probably get laughed out of their jobs.
  • Is the FBI helping anyone? Seems to me like everyone that the FBI turns ends up dead. And they don't provide much protection to people who are being sent into dangerous situations on their behalf. Yes, these people are cooperating because they're criminals, but the Feds don't seem too bothered whether they live or die, despite claiming to be on the moral high ground. Is there ever any repercussions for the FBI basically issuing death sentences for their informants?
    • They don't care about informants the way a viewer cares about Adriana or Pussy. Viewers see characters like Adriana or Pussy as human beings with complicated circumstances. To the FBI, Adriana is guilty of helping cover up a murder, facilitating a number of other criminal activities in "her club", including distribution of narcotics, bookmaking, and loan sharking; living with, and protecting, a multiple murderer who works for yet another multiple murderer who "runs crime" in the area. Pussy is caught running a large heroin distribution scheme that would send him to prison for decades, forcing him to "cooperate", guilty of several murders, including one while "working" for the FBI. And despite being a "cooperating witness", he lies to his handler constantly, continuing to participate in criminal activity. The FBI, as depicted on the show, are "working with" duplicitous criminals who literally aren't "bothered by" covering up or committing multiple murders. In other words, crimes that would send them to prison and/or ruin their life. These criminals are the bad guys, cutting a deal with the good guys.
    • Look at the prosecutor who lost the Junior trial. When he loses it, he chews out the agents and leaves. The head agent then says something along the lines of, “you know what this is about, right? He blew his chance for a mid-six figures job with a good criminal defense firm, so he’s angry.” It is very rare for a prosecutor to knowingly falsify evidence, but they’re human, and the only way they’ll get noticed and improve their prospects is with lots of convictions, preferring big ones. No one is looking to nominate someone to the bench or offer a huge salary to the prosecutor who dismissed or plead out the most high-profile cases three years in a row. That same attitude applies to the FBI. Running Adrianna and coordinating her bringing her mob captain boyfriend in to testify is going to look good on the next performance evaluation. Witness disappears? "Well, shit, there goes my promotion, better work on the next rat."

  • Why didn't the FBI just bug a car? There are many instances in the show in which Tony and a friend of his discuss business while driving. Tony openly discusses taking out Carmine in season 4 when Christopher picks him up (straight outta rehab). There's plenty of other criminal conspiracies that are discussed en route to whatever meeting. It seems like an easy task for the feds to plant a bug in a car overnight. If they can bug Tony's basement with the lamp, they could surely put a bug in his Suburban and everyone else's vehicles. While the Bing and Satriale's were swept for bugs once a week, its a far fetch that these fat gangsters would inspect their cars regularly enough to find a little recording device, or whatever.

  • How was Tony never considered a suspect for "Fred's" murder? Tony found Fabian Petrulio, who was relocated from the witness protection program. Tony does some digging to find out if "Fred" is his true identity and then after confirmation he strangles him outside his trailer where he conducted his travel agency business. But if law enforcement had done just basic investigation they would've discovered that he was ex mafia and would have had enough evidence to suspect Tony for the murder. Tony and Meadow left a lot of paper trail behind (college admissions, motel bookings, etc.). Carmela received a phone call from Dr. Melfi asking for Tony Soprano. In response Carmela tells her that he's not home so there goes his "I was home" alibi. The day before Fred's death, he went around town asking people if they've seen a tall man with a "New York" sounding accent, so there's witness testimonies. But okay, after all of this let's give the feds the benefit of the doubt and say that's not evidence to convict him. If the feds visit Tony in time for questioning, the cut on his hand could also be used as evidence against him for strangulation (and the mud on his shoes) making a case for murder.

  • Did Pussy really have "options" like Tony said? Let's imagine that during that meeting in Pussy's livingroom, Pussy would have come clean to Tony about working with the FBI. Would his fate have been any different? Friends or no friends, a rat is a rat, but coming clean about it would've meant some leniency from Tony.
    • Had Sal told Tony -in Sal's house, where Sal's wife could hear them- that Sal was working with the FBI, there would have been "options". However, none of them were good, for either guy.
      • First, had Sal told Tony he was working with the FBI, Tony would have had no choice but to leave the house immediately. Is the FBI outside, watching? Is the house bugged?
      • Second, Sal would still have had to prove his worthiness to the FBI. Which he could not do. Sal had no (provable) knowledge of Tony's "high crimes". Sal ran a chop shop where stolen cars were moved around for parts. He then delivered an "envelope" to Tony. That envelope probably also contained the proceeds of Sal's heroin trafficking. Neither of those criminal activities directly involved Tony Soprano. Thus, Sal's core competency as a criminal did not have applicability to the FBI's desire to "get Tony."note 
      • It would be very hard for the FBI to prove that Sal's payoffs to Tony demonstrated (beyond a reasonable doubt) that Tony was "directing" a heroin trafficking scheme. Had the prosecution advanced such a theory, Tony's defense lawyers could have defeated it in a number of ways, up to admitting a "stake" in the chop shop and making it seem like the payoffs were connected to that set of crimes. Which, unlike drug trafficking, carry much lighter sentences (and state, not federal) charges.
      • Basically, Sal had nothing the FBI could use on Tony. That's why they brought him back after his trip to see "The Jonas Salk of backs". Because while a low-level soldier getting 20 years for heroin trafficking is a goal for the FBI, the bigger goal was to use assets like Sal to "move up the chain" and connect Bosses to RICO predicates. However, that requires evidence and Sal had none. He could have testified to crimes he and Tony conducted together (for instance, the Bevilaqua murder) but he'd have to have told them about those crimes. And Sal had, up to his execution, been trying to play both sides. He knew he had nothing the FBI wanted, so he was "volunteering" to wear a wire but he was also withholding actual knowledge of actual crimes, in the hopes he could wiggle free of the FBI without giving up Tony.
        So, Sal could have told Tony. And Tony would have walked away, doing nothing, because Sal could have been under surveillance. (Also, Tony would have had to spend way more money on lawyers.) However, Sal would have had his "agreement" ripped up and he'd have been sentenced to ~20 years. His wife (and kids) would have lost all the assets - the house, the savings, the shop, everything. And he'd have been in the no-man's-land of prison: a known "informer" who tried, and failed, to sell out his Boss. So, he had an option. But it was shitty, awful option.

  • Is there anything Adriana could have done to avoid getting killed? Or was she just done for as soon as she got questioned by the FBI?

  • So how much did Tony and Richie get from "busting out" David Scantino? He owed about $53,000 to the two of them, not including interest. He gave Tony his kid's car, which could have wiped anywhere from $5-$15,000 off his debt as the car wasn't new. With all the stuff they ordered, the plane tickets probably being the most expensive, could he have managed to fully extinguish the debt? Related questions: 1) would it have made more sense to simply take a percentage of his profits instead of busting out his store, or would that have taken to long or possibly involved his wife. 2) Could Scantino have called the police or FBI on Tony, or sued him for monetary damages? Sure, he may well have been killed in that case, but he clearly could have recorded Tony and Richie discussing defrauding suppliers.

  • Why didn't the police investigate all those shootings and murders? Tony and his crew are endlessly worrying about the FBI, but shouldn't they also be worried more about state and local cops investigating them for their various crimes? Sure the Mafia has influence and leverage over some of the civil servants who can control the local police (e.g. Zellman) and some cops are on the Mafia's payroll, like Bobby's contact and Vin Makazian, but that doesn't cover everyone.
    • Hell, the shooting of the waiter is the most surprising. Some guy goes out to confront two known gangsters, gets shot and there were no repercussions for Chris and Paulie whatsoever. That case should have almost certainly caught up with the crew. You can't just pop somebody in a popular restaurant parking lot in Atlantic like it's the 1920s Boardwalk Empire. Not to mention a whole table of mobsters, including the boss of New Jersey, several of his capos, and the underboss of the Lupertazzis spend the rest of the evening gambling in the same building, AFTER having eaten a meal served by the waiter who was found dead. Another example is when Christopher is shot and manages to kill Sean Gismonte. Clear cut self defense obviously, but Christopher was still carrying a handgun. There's no way he could've had a concealed carry permit because they're tough to get in New Jersey, and by that time he would have developed at least a moderate criminal record which would make it illegal for him to carry or even possess a firearm.
    • There are so many other scenes where there are murders that are spur of the moment things, wherein it wouldn't have been hard for the cops to trace it back to the responsible and put their crew under a microscope. The Pine Barrens. The waiter. JT Dolan, Chris's sponsor. Tony killing Ralph. Janice and Ritchie. The guy Vito hits with his car on his way back to New Jersey. The only ones not really drawing heat are Ralphie and Ritchie, since nobody except maybe their spouses would report them missing, but most of the others, especially the ones who were civilians and not in the life would have drawn so much heat.
    • There's two things going on: 1) It’s implied throughout the series (and specifically called out in Season 2 with the Matt Bevilacqua storyline) that the Soprano crew (Tony especially) is feared and very good at intimidating witnesses. 2) In "Soprano Home Movies", the local police do try to bust Tony on a gun charge and they’re immediately chewed out by the Feds and that gets folded into their RICO case against him. Mink also mentions in the series finale that since Carlo is talking, they could potentially charge Tony with murder, which means all the murder Tony and crew hasn’t been forgotten, it’s been happening in the background. In either case, the show is about a sociopath Mafia Boss balancing his two families and how his upbringing/environment made him that way. Not a cops and robbers story in the same vein as the first two seasons of The Wire.


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