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Recap / The Sopranos S 1 E 11 Nobody Knows Anything

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Season 1, Episode 11:

Nobody Knows Anything

At a brothel, Paulie is getting a massage from a madam while complimenting another prostitute. They're interrupted when another woman runs in and mentions that someone is having a heart attack upstairs.

Paulie runs upstairs to find Pussy moaning in pain on a bed. The madam calls in someone she refers to as "Dr. Mop-N-Glo" to help diagnose him, but Pussy reveals that his back is in serious pain. The group helps him walk down the stairs to leave. It's also revealed that Vin Makazian is also at the brothel, and stares at them as they leave...

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Four days later, Pussy and Jimmy Altieri are playing poker at a pool hall owned by the latter. After Jimmy rags on him for his back injury, they hear a loud knock on the back door. Suddenly, a group of FBI agents busts in and reveals that they're under arrest. As the agents pull up a pool table and find a cache of guns underneath, Pussy uses the distraction to run out a side door and down the street. Jimmy is handcuffed, while Pussy runs headlong into an FBI officer just down the street...

Tony, Junior, Chris and others meet to discuss the raid afterwards at the Bada-Bing. After Chris points out how Pussy shouldn't have been able to run considering his injury, and how Jimmy is still in jail, the group is surprised when Pussy makes his way into the bar and begrudgingly greets them. He says that the raid made him throw his back out again, and the FBI stole money from him while arresting him afterwards. He goes to get a drink, while Tony stares at him as the rest of the group laughs.

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Tony meets with Makazian for another clandestine meeting. After Tony once again antagonizes him by saying he doesn't care about him or his family, the latter reveals that Pussy was wearing a wire, and that he's in league with the FBI. Tony is horrified after hearing the revelation, and Makazian tells him that he has a friend on the force who saw it himself and can provide a report attesting to the same fact. Makazian tells Tony that Pussy loves his family above all else, and was trafficking heroin on the side until he was caught by the feds a year earlier.

At an open house held by Carmela later that day, she tells Tony that his mother doesn't want to show up, and that she does the same thing every year. Tony is still bothered over the revelation about Pussy, and his suspicions are heightened even further when Paulie tells him that he referred Pussy to an expert chiropracstor who diagnosed that there was nothing wrong with his back.

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Tony goes to Melfi and asks for her advice on the matter, but obfuscating it by telling her it's in regards to a friend of his. She says a person convincing themselves that they have back problems is a possibility, and that it could be caused by a person being in doubt or harboring a lot of secrets.

Afterwards, Tony goes to the brothel and further antagonizes Makazian to get the report he needs. Makazian tells him about his life as a child and says that he has a lot of demons, and that Tony shouldn't insult him so often. He says that the madam at the brothel, Debbie, has looked after him for years before Tony leaves. At the same time, Carmela goes to visit Livia at Green Grove, and listens to the latter complain about how no one loves her and crying before she leaves.

Tony goes to Pussy's house to drop off some cannoli, and uses the opportunity to ask him how things are. Pussy tells him that he's stressed because of everything that's happening in his life. Tony tells him that he always has options, and asks if there's anything he wants to share. Pussy says he's fine otherwise and goes to make some coffee. Soon after, Tony meets with Paulie at the Bada Bing and reveals Pussy's duplicity to him. He authorizes Paulie to perform a hit on Pussy, but only if Paulie sees in person that Pussy has a wire on.

Paulie invites Pussy to a steam bath, ostensibly to help him relax his back and get himself back to normal. When Paulie asks him to disrobe and put a robe on, Pussy refuses and says the doctors have told him that heat is bad for his back. The situation escalates, and Pussy repeatedly tells him that he's not disrobing before storming off.

Soon after, Silvio arrives at the Bada Bing and tells Tony that he's learned that Makazian is in serious debt to Pussy, and is lying about his otherwise-platonic relationship with the madam at the brothel. Tony wonders out loud whether Makazian would feed them a story just so they would kill Pussy. At the same time, Makazian is having a shower at the brothel when it's raided by FBI agents, who arrest him, Debbie and other patrons.

Tony finds out about the raid on the news the next morning, and chuckles upon hearing that Vin was arrested. Sometime later in the day, Vin is released from jail and goes to drive home, taking his possessions with him. After being stuck in a traffic jam and becoming frustrated with how his life is collapsing around him, Vin drives to a nearby bridge and jumps off, killing himself. Tony finds out about the suicide soon after, and is further horrified when he Makazian trusted him, despite the abuse he levied towards him.

Junior visits Livia at Green Grove. Incensed at feeling abandoned by her family and finding out that Tony sold her house, she tells him that Tony has been holding clandestine meetings with Raymond Curto, Jimmy Altieri, Johnny Sack and Larry Barese at the retirement home. Junior is shocked to hear the news, and asks why he didn't find out sooner. Livia reasons that Tony was actively scheming behind his back, and believes that Tony may be trying to depose him as the head of the organization.

That night, Tony receives a visit from Jimmy, who has just been released from jail and asks him several pointed questions about certain murders and mob activities. Realizing what's happening, Tony plays dumb and avoids answering any questions, then sends Jimmy on his way.

Tony goes to Satriale's and tells Silvio that Jimmy is the rat, and that Makazian's information was mixed up. Paulie arrives soon afterwards, and says that he doesn't know where Pussy is. Tony doesn't know either, and realizes that Pussy may have fled town. Paulie tells him about the incident at the sauna, but Tony says that Jimmy is the actual mole...

Elsewhere, Mikey is given word that Junior has given him instructions to organize an assassination on Tony, and smiles in response...

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: It is revealed that Vin's father was very abusive towards his mother when he was young, and he hid under his own bed to drown out his mother's screams. It is this childhood trauma that reportedly led him to seek solace in the arms of the madam and the girls at the brothel.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The madam refers to Dr. Edelstein as "Dr. Mop-N-Glo".
    Madam: Don't worry, he's a real doctor.
  • Black Comedy: The doctor who comes in to diagnose Pussy's apparent heart attack, "Dr. Mop-N-Glo", nonchalantly walks into the room and asks what's wrong ... while dressed in a tiara, rubber gloves and a towel.
  • Continuity Nod: Junior begins the Enemy Civil War against Tony in part due to the latter's statements mocking him for his preference of going down on women.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: The crew is already having mild suspicions over Jimmy getting out on bail so quickly on a gun charge, but not Pussy. It becomes one of the first cracks in Jimmy's cover as The Mole, especially in combination with Jimmy being dumb enough to press Tony about the murder of the Colombian dealer and his stash of money. Jimmy tries to explain his early bail as being crafty arguments by his lawyer, but Tony only pretends to buy it. The crack will widen into a completely blown cover come the season finale.
  • Critical Research Failure: Invoked in-universe. A.J. claims that Bill Clinton "got Monica Kaczynski" while the family talks about whether Clinton deserved the impeachment hearings or not.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Vin Makazian, who gets a lot of dialogue talking about his childhood trauma and feelings of inferiority after Tony repeatedly antagonizes him. He eventually gets fed up after being arrested and jumps off a bridge in despair.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: It's revealed that Makazian had a troubled childhood, watching his father beat his mother and hiding under the bed in his room in his response. He suggests that this behavior is what led him to be a chronic gambler and alcoholic.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Invoked by Tony when he tells Meadow why they won't talk about sex at the breakfast table.
    Meadow: It's The '90s. Parents are supposed to discuss sex with their children.
    Tony: Yeah, but that's where you're wrong. Out there, it's the 1990s, but in this house, it's 1954. So now and forever, I don't want to hear any sex talk!
  • Despair Event Horizon: Makazian finally crosses the line when he's arrested at the brothel, hauled out in handcuffs, mocked on the six-o'clock news and stuck in a seemingly-endless traffic jam. After looking through the possessions returned to him by the jail, he drives to the nearest bridge and takes a fatal dive into the river.
  • Driven to Suicide: Vin, who takes a header off a bridge after getting busted at the brothel and being fed up with life in general.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Invoked.
    Tony: Hey, fuckface, where are you going?
    Vin: Why do you talk to me like this? I do a lot of risky shit for you.
    Tony: You're not doing charity work, remember? (sees the look on Vin's face) Alright, I'm sorry. Hey, Vin? How ya doing? What have you got for me?
  • Enemy Civil War: Junior instigates one against Tony in response to the latter supposedly making moves behind his back, and orders Mikey to set up an assassination on him.
  • Faster Than They Look: Pussy is surprisingly agile and quick for a man who had a back injury just four days earlier. This later becomes the basis for why Tony and the group suspect that Pussy is a rat.
  • Foreshadowing: Tony tells the administrator to relay a message to Livia that her home has been sold, but has received a counteroffer from another buyer...
  • The Gambling Addict: Makazian is revealed to be this, having gone $30,000 into debt to Pussy because of football gambling.
  • I Have This Friend...: Tony explains the problem with Pussy possibly being a mole in this way to Melfi, so he can hear her opinion on the matter.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Subverted. Paulie hears someone moaning upstairs in the brothel, and chuckles at "another satisfied customer". A few seconds later, another prostitute runs in and tells them that it's actually a man having a heart attack.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • The first thing Pussy does after arriving at the Bada-Bing is tell Tony and the others that he's going to get a drink.
    • This is also what Tony, Paulie and Silvio do after finding out that Jimmy is The Mole.
  • Ironic Echo: Paulie tells Tony early on that, when it comes to back pain, "nobody knows anything". Tony later says the same thing to Paulie after realizing that Pussy has skipped town.
  • Living a Double Life: The prostitute who is ordered by the madam to service Paulie in the opening is mentioned by him as a writer on her spare time, and that her work is supposedly very good.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Livia's frustration over supposedly being left to rot in a retirement home by Tony (who has also sold her house) leads her to reveal confidential information — namely, that Tony and other capos have been holding clandestine meetings at Green Grove — to Junior, who decides to assassinate Tony.
  • The Mole: Jimmy (and possibly Pussy) are revealed to be this.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tony realizes that because he treated Makazian like a Butt-Monkey (in tandem with Vin's other life problems), the latter was Driven to Suicide.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Livia continues to characterize herself as someone who has no friends and no companionship, even after Carmela points out that Livia was invited to the family's open house and pointedly asked not to attend. After being called on this, Livia starts crying and says that nobody loves her.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Pussy seemingly flees town after the conversation with Tony at his house, and is nowhere to be found afterwards.
  • Spotting the Thread: Chris is the first to ask why Pussy was running from the police raid, considering that he had just suffered a back injury four days earlier and was in no shape to do strenuous physical activity.
  • Tempting Fate: Tony's repeated putdowns of Makazian (including a line that Makazian is a "degenerate fucking gambler with a badge") cause the latter to spiral into depression and, ultimately, kill himself. This prevents Tony from getting the information he needed to find out whether Pussy was the informant or not.
  • This Bed of Rose's: Makazian claims that he has a platonic relationship with Debbie (the madam at the brothel), who not only allows him to stay at the brothel whenever he is drunk or despondent, but takes care to be respectful and honest around him. Later subverted when Silvio tells Tony that Makazian's story is a lie, and that he's heavily into prostitutes.
  • Title Drop:
    Paulie: When it comes to backs, nobody knows anything, really.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: After Makazian is arrested at the brothel, a newscaster twists the knife by claiming that the (unmentioned) cop is going to have a bad time explaining the situation to his family, and hopes the experience was worth it.
  • Wham Episode: The revelations in this episode have serious consequences for the rest of the season (and series).

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