Season 5, Episode 01
A year after the Sopranos' separation, Carmela lives alone with a largely hostile AJ while Tony has moved into his mother's old house. Meanwhile, a number of mobsters nicknamed the "Class of '04" are due to be released from prison, among them Tony's cousin Tony Blundetto. Watching a news report about the Class of '04, Tony is excited to see his cousin again, though trouble brews as the report suggests the numerous incoming New York mobsters, among them vicious hitman Phil Leotardo and consigliere Angelo Garepe, may cause discord among the ranks of the larger family.
Carmela orders AJ to retrieve a vacuum cleaner from the pool house one night, and he is confronted by a bear in their backyard. The bear leaves without causing any trouble beyond damage to the patio furniture, but AJ is terrified by the encounter and Carmela is shaken by her child's close encounter with the animal. The police send two officers from the Department of Fish and Game to investigate the incident, who dissuade any acts of violence against the wildlife and cite Tony's duck feed as the cause for the bear's intrusion. The bear returns the next morning, and Tony returns home as Carmela is calling the police again. Tony is slightly resentful that Carmela called the authorities instead of him, and they get into an argument about Tony spoiling AJ with gifts. As the topic turns to their separation, Tony threatens that he'll have Furio Giunta killed if he ever resurfaces in Italy.
The first mobster from the Class of '04 to emerge is Feech La Manna, a legendary old "Mustache Pete" in Jersey. He visits Junior and speaks to him and Tony, expressing eagerness to get back into business and set up a shy again. Tony and Junior seem amenable to this, though Feech briefly lets slip that he's heard about the bear in the Soprano backyard. In the interest of keeping up appearances and protecting his family, Tony sends low-level mobsters to guard the house at night, including Benny Fazio and Little Paulie Germani.
While hanging out at the Bing with the guys, Christopher and Paulie Walnuts recount their misadventure with the Russian from "Pine Barrens". Christopher offhandedly suggests the whole incident was Paulie's fault, causing tensions to flare up and rapidly accelerating the situation into a fight that has to be broken up. Paulie announces that his friendship with Christopher is over. This conflict spills over into other aspects of the life, as Christopher is expected to pay for dinner at "goomah night" with the guys, and notices Paulie deliberately ordering too much food for himself, evidently just to put financial pressure on Chris. Chris complains about this to Tony, who reminds him that his lower rank obligates him to pay. At the next dinner, however, Chris heads to the bathroom when the check arrives, forcing Paulie to pay. The next day Paulie informs Chris that he's now in debt to him, and must pay up or he'll start accruing interest.
While watching TV with Valentina after a tryst, Tony is briefly transfixed by The Prince of Tides. Inspired by the movie's depiction of romance between a psychiatrist and patient, he reconnects with Dr. Melfi, sending a gift basket to her office and flirting over the phone when she calls to thank him. Tony attempts to make romantic overtures toward Melfi, but she politely declines, taking note of Tony's separation from Carmela and suggesting that this romantic interest is suggestive of a desire to resume therapy. Melfi later has a sex dream about Tony.
Angelo Garepe, another of the Class of '04, is released and joins a meeting with Tony, Johnny Sack and Carmine Lupertazzi. During the meeting Carmine seems distant, commenting that he smells burning hair, and suddenly suffers a stroke, collapsing. As Carmine falls into a coma, Johnny makes a call to his son Little Carmine, who urgently comes down from Florida to care for his father. Tony and Johnny find themselves alone together in the hospital, and Johnny reminds Tony of his refusal to follow through with a hit on Carmine a year before, something Johnny still resents.
Tony briefly speaks to Silvio about a "platonic female friend" he's attempting to court, vaguely describing the difficulty of the situation. Silvio is left confused by this. Later Tony schedules a therapy session with Melfi, which he reveals was actually an excuse to meet with her in person and again float the idea of starting a romantic relationship with her. As Melfi attempts to let him down gently, again citing the unprofessional nature of such a relationship, Tony forcefully kisses her. Melfi becomes more assertive after this, and Tony leaves. Later, Melfi speaks to Dr. Kupferberg about the situation. Kupferberg is concerned, believing that a man like Tony will become dangerous if he doesn't get what he wants, and suggests calling the police. Melfi confesses that she used to find Tony attractive, but is morally repulsed by his lifestyle and behavior.
At another goomah dinner, Paulie deliberately overspends out of spite for Christopher, ordering multiple courses which he doesn't finish, then sending an expensive bottle of champagne to a table of unattractive women across the restaurant. Chris, resentful, picks up the check. He and Paulie argue outside, and their confrontation nearly gets violent when they are interrupted by the restaurant's waiter, who is disappointed by the meager tip Christopher left him. When the waiter refuses to back off and eventually insults the mobsters, Chris loses his temper and throws a rock at the back of the man's head, causing a seizure. Paulie then shoots the man dead and they both flee. The next morning they reconcile over the phone, both unsettled by the incident.
Tony approaches Melfi again, this time ambushing her outside her office and demanding she give him a straight answer. Melfi dances around the subject but ultimately explains that she could not abide a relationship with Tony because of his violent and immoral lifestyle. Tony loses his temper, storming out and calling her a cunt. He then drives to Carmela's house and takes over guard duty in the backyard from Benny, brandishing an automatic rifle while smoking a cigar alone in his old backyard.
- Abhorrent Admirer: A complex example in Tony's relentless pursuit of Melfi. She once was attracted him, and may still be, but this infatuation fizzled out over their years of therapy together and the ugliness she saw in his behaviour. Morally, a romantic relationship is also off the table, as she couldn't look the other way with his crimes in such a context and finds his values — or lack thereof — incompatible with her own. And of course, the professional ethics concerning sexual contact between doctor and patient is also on her mind to a degree, despite Tony's attempts to downplay or circumvent this one.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Dr. Melfi finally admits to Dr. Kupferberg that she did find a certain appeal in Tony. And she even has an Erotic Dream about him. But she's definitely moving past that, and ends up spelling it out to Tony.
- Ambition Is Evil: Johnny Sack takes distinct steps towards this trope by making a ruthless claim for the boss position, with the help of Phil.
- Argument of Contradictions combined with Never My Fault: Chris and Paulie initially try to retell the events of the Pine Barrens episode for Patsy and Vito. But they soon take to blaming each other for the events of that day. It devolves into a physical fight that Patsy and Vito have to break up.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Feech immediately asks Tony and Uncle Junior for a piece of the action. But his ambitions won't end there ...
- Blatant Lies:
- Paulie orders expensive champagne for some homely women at a nearby table on the stated reason that he visually enjoys their beauty. But he's obviously doing it to run up Chris' tab out of spite. Chris: "Get some fucking glasses!"
- Continued when he has a lame excuse for every excess or untouched order Chris brings up during their subsequent argument.
- Bratty Half-Pint: A.J. has plenty of attitude to throw Carmela's way.
- Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Chris and Paulie remain Vitriolic Best Buds as they try to recount the story of the Pine Barrens episode, but it leads to their Argument of Contradictions. Paulie next declares he's done with Chris. What follows is their cycle of pettiness over the Goomah dinners. In typical Sopranos fashion, it takes brutalizing an innocent waiter into Convulsive Seizures followed by a possible Mercy Kill to get them to patch things up. They go back to being Those Two Guys.
- Brutal Honesty: Dr. Kupferberg pulls no punches in spelling it out to Dr. Melfi that Tony is not somebody she should touch with a 10 foot pole, is Not Good with Rejection, and she may need to go to the cops about the situation.
- Butt-Monkey: Even Feech gets into making fat jokes at Bobby's expense.
- Call-Back: Carmela opens a hidden niche in the wall to reveal several guns, including an automatic, as well as a grenade. It calls back to the Pilot when she armed herself with one of the guns from that same niche.
- Coincidental Broadcast: Bobby and Tony watch a news story highlighting the release of the Class of '04, giving individual profiles for each of them.
- Contrived Coincidence: Several high-profile mobsters from both the Jersey and New York families happen to get paroled at the same time, and become collectively known as "The Class of '04". That they're all released together seems contrived enough. But their releases also happen right before Carmine Sr. passes away, placing each of them in a position to fan the flames and ramp up the drama for the inevitable Succession Crisis that follows.
- Convulsive Seizures: The Atlantic City waiter after he gets hit on the back of the head with a brick, courtesy of Chris. It obliges Paulie to provide what some may consider a Mercy Kill.
- Country Matters: Tony calls Dr. Melfi one when she rejects his advances.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Tony is still homicidally angry that Furio got involved with Carmela, even if just emotionally.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Still a Deconstructed Trope for Chris. He's a made man, but probably still one of the lowest in the pecking order among the other made men. That means he's gotta pay for the Goomah dinners, and it's pretty telling when he has to beg Adriana for a little help to see him through.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Even if the Atlantic City waiter was getting mouthy, hitting him in the back of the head with a brick was clearly going overboard.
- Dumb Muscle: Jason, even Lorraine flat out lampshades it.
- Earned Stripes: The Goomah dinners serve a similar function for The Mafia, even if there aren't any visible badges to show who outranks who among the made men. The junior made men have to pay for the dinners, until they become senior and high-ranking enough to not have to pay for them anymore. Tony invokes the tradition, citing how he himself had to pay for lots of expensive dinners as a junior, to oblige Chris to fall in line and pay for dinner till his time comes.
- Erotic Dream: Dr. Melfi has one about Tony.
- Establishing Character Moment: Feech's Munchausen story described below, both because it establishes that he loves Badass Boasts, but also because he can back them up.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Johnny Sack is still upset with Tony over backing out of the hit on Carmine Sr.
- Evil Gloating: Paulie can't help himself after the Atlantic City waiter brings out the tab to the tune of $1,184.00.
- Evil Is Petty:
- Chris and Paulie, following their Argument of Contradictions, lock themselves into a cycle of trying to one-up each other during the Goomah dinners. Paulie runs up the tab. Chris tries to pass off a bill he owes to Paulie, but Paulie demands repayment with interest for late payment. Paulie next time orders numerous and expensive courses he doesn't even touch just to run up Chris' bill out of spite.
- Chris hits the waiter on the back on the head with a brick, resulting in Convulsive Seizures and maybe a Mercy Kill.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Still subverted in the case of Janice. Bobby and Tony aren't exactly racing to the dinner table for her fare, and A.J. notes wryly that she's using canned clam chowder. It's practically become a Running Gag by now.
- Forceful Kiss: Tony pulls one on Dr. Melfi. She doesn't take it well.
- The Coincidental Broadcast announcing the release of the "Class of '04" suggests that a period of violent struggle may follow their releases. Talk about Understatement ...
- Tony doesn't mind letting Feech have a piece of the action, as long as he doesn't step on anyone else's toes. Feech immediately says he'll be on his best behavior. However ...
- Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Carmela suspects that Tony is being a cheapskate with her to encourage her to remain dependent on him and avert the pending divorce. Tony pretty much admits it.
- Gold Digger: Tony definitely still sees Carmela as one.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Carmine Sr. suffers a stroke instead of a heart attack, but the dramatic build up and subsequent collapse follows the formula of the trope to a T.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Janice certainly seems to think so of Tony Blundetto.
- Inappropriately Close Comrades: Besides the fact that Dr. Melfi has phased herself out of attraction for Bad Boys like Tony, she cites the additional reason that having been in a doctor-client relationship with Tony now heads off a romantic one, even after the therapeutic relationship has ended. Tony disagrees obviously ...
- Inelegant Blubbering: A.J. during his first encounter with the bear.
- Living Legend: Feech La Manna, and he lives up to it too, at least the parts about having a Hair-Trigger Temper.
- Mama Bear: Carmela actually succeeds in scaring the actual Bear away by clashing fry pans together.
- The Münchausen: Feech can't resist the opportunity to tell a story about how he jumped at the chance to give an unprovoked No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to a Black inmate, with the successful motivation of making himself The Dreaded during his stay in prison. As Feech is able to back up every word he says, proving he is not by any stretch of the imagination a Miles Gloriosus, it also doubles as his Establishing Character Moment.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: What Tony very much wants for Furio, for ever daring to get even emotionally involved with Carmela. So much so that he has his connections in Italy place a bounty on Furio.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Chris and Paulie patching things up is at least partially a product of their guilt over a civilian losing his life as a consequence of their pettiness towards each other.
- Nepotism: Paulie, more than once, accuses Chris of getting as far as he has only on account of being Tony's nephew.
- Not Good with Rejection: Tony really loses it when Dr. Melfi firmly turns down his advances. He opens with a Precision F-Strike, leaves with a Door Slam of Rage, and then refers to her in a Country Matters way.
- Open Secret: Apparently everybody in the Jersey mob knows about the bear at Tony's house.
- Papa Wolf: Tony still feels protective towards Carmela and A.J. after hearing about the bear, so he has Benny and Little Paulie watch guard over the house. He's even willing to take a turn himself.
- Precision F-Strike: Tony throws out one when Dr. Melfi makes herself crystal clear that she won't see him romantically.
- Price on Their Head: Tony has a bounty put out on Furio. Overlaps with a desire to see him dead as the Hypotenuse.
- Remember the New Guy?: Feech La Manna is the only member of the Class of '04 who has been mentioned several times in previous episodes. Now he makes his First Appearance in this episode.
- Replacement Goldfish: Tony has his sights set on Dr. Melfi, following his Temporary Divorce from Carmela.
- Rule of Symbolism:
- Meadow runs over the morning newspaper, which serves to lampshade that Tony is truly gone from the house.
- The bear itself is intentionally symbolic of Tony himself. Somebody who's hardly around and only shows up when he wants something ((e.g. food)). And although he never physically assaults them, the other family members live in fear that he is capable of doing so and just might in the right circumstances. The symbolism is reinforced at several moments, such as when Tony walks in just as Carmela has seen the bear and is calling the wildlife authorities.
- Carmela chasing the bear away by clashing her frying pans together also serves as a Call-Back to when she threw Tony out of the house.
- The bear itself comes for the duck feed in the bin, thereby also prompting a Call-Back to how the duck feed bin itself, along with Carmela's Stealing from the Till and the resultant mutual recriminations, contributed to the Temporary Divorce.
- The real reference to the Two Tonys was a famous hit carried out by Jimmy the weasel Fratianno on Tony Brancato and his criminal associate Tony Trombino, two young mobsters performing robberies in Los Angeles and Las Vegas without the sanction of the Los Angeles family. Jack Dragna told Jimmy Fratianno they needed to be "clipped", and asked Jimmy to set "something up". Within a few days, Fratianno set up the Two Tonys and killed them in their car. (August 6, 1951)
- Tony has Valentina change the channel back to The Prince of Tides. A scene between Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand is an anything but subtle allusion to Tony's own therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi. Given that Nolte's and Streisand's characters end up falling in love in the movie, it gives Tony the idea to romantically pursue Dr. Melfi.
- Spoiled Brat: Carmela feels A.J. is becoming one, and blames it on what she perceives as Hands-Off Parenting on Tony's part.
- Stalker with a Crush: Tony enters into this mode towards Dr. Melfi.
- Tempting Fate: Although it's easy to sympathize with the Atlantic City waiter wanting more of a tip, it wasn't a bright idea to antagonize a couple of guys he could reasonably conclude were mobsters, and despite multiple warnings to back off.
- Unbroken Vigil: Little Carmine gets on the next plane to New York after hearing about his father's stroke, and never leaves the side of the hospital bed.
- Uncertain Doom: It's never confirmed all the way to the end of the series whether Furio survives by going Off the Grid and putting himself on the bus or whether Tony's connections in Italy catch up to him. Though it seems unlikely Furio is in real danger. Given Furio's far greater ties and connections to the Italian Mafia than Tony has, it is unrealistic that they would permit him to be whacked over a non existent affair. If Tony is even telling the truth about the threat, and not just saying it out of vindictiveness to scare Carmela.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Carmela has a little bit of it going on with the Wildlife agent who gets sent out when she calls about the bear. Tony picks up on it.
- We Used to Be Friends: Paulie and Christophe's escalating enmity in this episode makes it clear their old camaraderie has decayed, and things get more heated between them than it ever did before. They do bury the hatchet once again, but worse is yet to come.