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Recap / The Sopranos S 1 E 4 Meadowlands

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Season 1, Episode 04:

Meadowlands

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sopranos_meadowlands.jpg
Tony is having a dream where he stares suggestively at Dr. Melfi. He walks out of his office and sees Silvio having sex with a stripper while Paulie and Big Pussy look on passively. When he walks back into Melfi's office, Jackie Sr. appears and Melfi's face changes to that of his mother...
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He wakes up with a start in bed with Irina, then returns home and gives some advice to AJ about staying in focused in school before retiring for the night.

The next day, Chris walks out of the hospital with Adriana after his mock execution at the hands of Junior's goons. Despite her attempts to get him to lighten up, he is intensely paranoid and wonders if Tony did it to him because he gave drugs to Meadow. They drive to Brendan's apartment, but are horrified when they discover his corpse in the bathtub.

They drive to the local high school, and harshly question Meadow about whether she told Tony about the drugs. She tells him she had nothing to do with it, and says she hates being a Soprano. Chris apologizes before letting her go on her way.

Tony drives to Melfi's office, but narrowly avoids Silvio, who is coming out of a dentist's office in the same building. At their session, Tony expresses reservations about doing therapy as Melfi prods him about his narcissism and relationship with his mother.

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Later, he goes to visit Livia at Green Grove and tries to get her to participate in some of the group activities and trips. She continues to be belligerent and annoyed before he leaves.

He then meets a contact outside the retirement home — Dirty Cop Vin Makazian. Tony asks him to get as much information as he can find on Melfi, but not to bother or hurt her in any way. Makazian sarcastically agrees and heads on his way.

Tony goes down to the hospital to visit Jackie Sr., whose condition is fading rapidly. Chris arrives and tells him about Brendan's death. The group immediately figures out that Junior and Mikey were behind the hit. Chris wants to get revenge on the latter, but Tony tells him that he'll deal with it himself. On his way out of the hospital, Tony sees a staple gun and takes it with him.

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Mikey is sitting in his car outside a deli where Junior is eating lunch when Tony arrives. Despite his attempt to act friendly, Tony harshly beats him and uses the staple gun to attach a parking ticket to his chest.

Tony heads inside and finds Junior, who is eating lunch with his capos. When he attempts to smooth over the situation, Junior is angered and tells him that "his boys" had to be taught a lesson, before claiming that Chris works for him now. Tony is angered and tells him that it's not going to happen, and Junior says that he had better show up armed the next time he wants to talk, before rudely dismissing him.

That night, Makazian and his partner are trailing a vehicle who the former claims was at the scene of a triple homicide. They stop the car, where it is revealed that Melfi was being driven home after dinner by a date. The man, a lawyer named Randall, steps out of the car and attempts to understand what's happening, but Makazian brutally beats and arrests him. He then antagonizes Melfi before driving off.

Makazian meets with Tony the next day and gives him a breakdown of Melfi's schedule. He also reveals that Melfi is seeing a shrink of her own, Dr. Elliot Kauferberg. He thanks Makazian for his info before leaving.

Later, Tony meets with his capos and discusses the situation. Despite his attempts to argue otherwise, they all agree that Tony has the smarts and abilities necessary to lead the New Jersey crew. When he gets back home, he suffers from another panic attack in the kitchen. Carmela comes down to aid him, and he tells her that he's planning to quit therapy. She says that it's still good to go in the face of everything that's happening in his life, and insinuates that she'll leave him if he stops going.

He goes back to Melfi's and reveals his current stress with his uncle and mother. She offers to give him a book on letting others think they have the illusion of control, and his ears perk up...

A.J. gets into a fight with a fellow student, Jeremy, who insults him and rips his shirt at school. After Tony inadvertantly runs into Jeremy's father at a garden store and intimidates, the latter tells his son to apologize to A.J. and give him the money for a new shirt. A.J. is left confused and bewildered. When he goes to Meadow for advice, she claims that their father is part of the Mafia and his reputation caused Jeremy and his father to back down...

Tony is taking his medication and reading the book on elderly care at the Bada Bing when a news report comes on stating that Jackie Sr. died that afternoon. He and the rest of the crew break down upon learning about what happened and give a toast to their fallen leader.

At that moment, Chris arrives and tells them that Junior's crew are attempting to muscle their way in to their operations. Tony tells him that it's not the time, but Chris insists on action or else he'll question Tony's leadership. Tony threatens Chris before storming out.

Tony goes to Junior's armed, but reveals to the latter that he wants him to be the leader of the crew in exchange for a pair of front operations. Junior is incredibly relieved and happy to hear it, and hugs Tony in response.

Tony goes back to Melfi's after to explain how the book helped, but she appears to be distracted. She offhandedly tells him about how Randall got beaten up, then changes the subject back and asks if he still wants to continue with his therapy. Tony says yes, and agrees that it's given him a lot of good ideas...

A funeral is held for Jackie Sr., with the various mob crews in attendance. Silvio asks if making Junior the head of the family was a wise move. Tony reveals that he wants to let Junior think he has the power, but all the decisions really go through him.

Tony notes that the FBI is in the distance taking photographs of Junior and smiles to himself. At the same time, A.J. stares at the assembled members of the Mafia and stares in shock after Meadow gestures to them...

Tropes:

  • Bad Dreams: Tony begins to suffer from these.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Discussed. Adriana asks Christopher if he soiled himself in front of a nurse while in the hospital. He dodges the question.
  • Character Death: Jackie Sr.
  • Cleavage Window: Invoked. When Melfi goes to see Randall at the end of the episode and is standing outside the front door, she drops the shawl and pushes up her bra to make her cleavage more prominent.
  • Dirty Cop: Vin Makazian.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Adriana, during Chris' questioning of Meadow.
  • Due to the Dead: Tony and the rest of the crew give a toast to Jackie Sr. after his passing.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The episode features some oddball moments compared to the rest of the series, including Tony admitting to having someone killed while Melfi is distracted thinking about what happened to Randall, Junior not making a fool of himself at a funeral, one of the strippers at the Bada Bing getting a momentary focus when she talks about Jackie, and several shout-outs to The Godfather and Scarface (1983) (including wry commentary on their meaning).
  • Eureka Moment: Tony has one when Melfi suggests he allow his mother to have the illusion of being in control. He realizes this would be the perfect way to handle his power struggle with Junior.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Jackie Sr. wants his own son to stay away from the Mafia, and tells Tony as such.
  • Foreshadowing: Tony references the first hit he ever did during the session at Melfi's at the end of the episode.
  • Heel Realization: Both of the Soprano children get this. Meadow claims that she hates her family after Chris and Adriana drive through a parking lot at top speed questioning her, and A.J. gets it at the end when he sees the New Jersey crew at Jackie Sr.'s funeral.
  • I Let You Win: Part of Tony's plan involves making Junior think he runs the family (and take any heat from the police), while the day-to-day decisions are still made by him.
  • Improvised Weapon: Chris uses a yo-yo as a garrote when he nearly strangles the man dealing drugs on a corner he previously ran.
  • Learned From the News: Jackie Sr. death is discovered while watching TV news at the Bada Bing.
  • Male Gaze: During Tony's dream sequence, as the camera pans up Melfi's legs.
  • Manly Tears: Tony cries after learning of Jackie's death.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Makazian harshly beats Melfi's date (and steps on him) after being asked to find out more information on her by Tony.
  • Police are Useless: Discussed. Makazian and his partner are the only cops shown in the episode, they are shown trumping up charges against an innocent man and brutally beating him, and Melfi's threat to sue the department never amounts to anything.
  • Shout-Out: Pussy mentions that Brendan got "the Moe Greene special".
    • Tony's dream with the heart beat soundtrack and a mysterious figure he taps on the shoulder references a dream sequence in Angel Heart.
  • Single-Episode Handicap: Chris is forced to wear a neckbrace for the duration of the episode, causing him to rely more on threats and stationary attacks (attempting to strangle a man laying on the ground) than out-and-out fistfights.
  • Too Much Information: Makazian offers to give Tony pictures of Melfi undressing in her home, to the latter's disgusted reaction.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Tony puts a long-term plan into action, which involves letting Junior think he runs the New Jersey crime family. As a result, Tony settles the dispute with his uncle, gets a pair of front operations for his trouble and avoids any law enforcement heat.

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