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Recap / The Sopranos S 6 E 1 Members Only

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Season 6, Episode 1

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"Cazzata Malanga!"
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Carmela has Hugh begin work on the new spec house for her. But things hit a snag when the new inspector issues a stop-work order, insisting that Hugh has to start over with the more stable Fir required by regulations, instead of the cheaper Pine that Hugh usually works with.

Eugene receives a $2 million inheritance from his Aunt. He wants to retire to Florida, under considerable pressure from his wife. He also has a son who's addicted to heroin. He pleads his case to Tony, who postpones the inevitable refusal. Eugene desperately tries to garner an acceptance by making a plea through Chris. Chris grabs the opportunity to extract a free and risk-free (for himself) hit job on Teddy, who's run out of time to make good his sports gambling debt to Chris. Eugene carries out the hit, but is shown to be extremely stressed and wanting to leave the mob life more than ever. Tony refuses the request afterwards, and has Silvio deliver the bad news to Eugene.

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Eugene also turns out to be another FBI informant, and he's become even more crucial following Curto's death. The FBI also shut the door on his desired move to Florida. His wife becomes increasingly angry at him for not being able to make the move to Florida, and they have numerous arguments with each other. His marriage is on its way to a breakdown. Eugene decides everything is too much for him, and hangs himself in his garage.

Mobsters loyal to New York capo, Gerry Torciano, brutally attack Hesh and his friend, Eli. Eli is hospitalized after getting struck by a car while desperately trying to flee the mobsters. Tony tries to arrange a sit down with Phil and Jerry, but Phil is not returning his calls. Tony in turn has to lean on Johnny Sack, through his brother in law, to get Phil to take it seriously. Tony and Phil work out a deal that sees compensation to Eli, and a split on the office park that favors New York.

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Tony is constantly wrangling with both of his sisters, Barbara and Janice, as well as Bobby, over making sure that a deteriorating Uncle Junior is looked after. Tony refuses to sent Junior to a retirement home, citing expenses and living conditions. But a therapy session with Dr. Melfi reveals that sending Junior to a retirement home would fuel Tony's own fears about spending his last days as an invalid dependent robbed of dignity.

Tony decides to look after Junior himself for a night after deciding he can't trust other family members to look after it. He's preparing a pasta meal for Junior. Junior emerges with a gun and shoots Tony in the gut, under the delsuion that Tony is his old nemesis, Pussy Malanga. Junior runs up the stairs and hides in his bedroom closet. Tony struggles through the pain of his wound, and manages to dial 911 before passing out.

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Eugene is shown to be one towards his son, stemming from the latter's substance abuse issues.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Uncle Junior, while under the delusion that Tony is his old nemesis, Pussy Malanga, gives Tony a gut shot.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Sure, Eugene was a killer and a gangster just like the rest of them. But it's still a little sad to watch him fall hard into his Despair Event Horizon after getting his Hope Spot crushed, and then hanging himself.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Silvio, on Tony's behalf, breaks it to Eugene that he won't be allowed to retire to Florida.
  • "Before" and "After" Pictures: Vito is shown participating in a weight loss commercial by holding out his older pants well beyond his former waistline.
  • Big Eater: Tony is always one. But he really takes to a particular Japanese restaurant in this episode, often consuming their sushi and other fare in immense quantities.
  • Bleak Abyss Retirement Home: How Tony now regards sending Uncle Junior to Green Grove.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Teddy, courtesy of Eugene.
  • Broke Episode: Between Johnny Sack being in prison, and the law enforcement pressure on his assets, Ginny and the rest of his family are really struggling financially. It ends up becoming the crucial factor in a decision he will soon make.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Tony rather lamely tries to deny that he did try to smother smother Livia with a Vorpal Pillow at the end of the first season.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Bobby develops a passion for toy train assemblies.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Pussy Malanga, the man Uncle Junior was convinced is after him and whom he eventually mistakes Tony for is the same mobster Uncle Junior wanted to kill in Artie Bucco's first restaurant in the pilot episode.
    • Dr. Melfi recalls that Tony grabbed a pillow in order to smother his mother in "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano", but Tony denies this, saying he only grabbed the pillow to occupy his hands.
    • Dr. Melfi calls the home that Tony put his mother in a "retirement community" and Tony corrects her and calls it a nursing home. Before this, whenever somebody called it a nursing home, Tony always corrected them and called it a retirement community.
    • The appearance of Adriana La Cerva's ghost to Carmela in the spec house recalls Adriana's statement to FBI Agent Robyn Sanseverino in "Watching Too Much Television": "Why don't you go haunt a house or something"?
  • Cool Car: A recurrent theme in the episode, and in a way a kind of Visual Title Drop of "Members Only".
    • It breaks Johnny Sack's heart to have to sell off his Maserati to ease things for Ginny.
    • Tony splashes out on a new Porsche for Carmela, to keep her Distracted by the Luxury.
    • Angie has herself bought a flashy new Corvette, signifying that she's truly become One of the Boys.
  • The Cynic: Tony freely admits to being one when A.J. attempts to call him on it. According to Tony, only family can be trusted, not "friends".
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!:
    • Another instance where the series deliberately deconstructs what it actually means to be in The Mafia. Eugene and his wife are hoping that their Unexpected Inheritance will lead to a life where Eugene isn't always constantly stressed and worried over the prospect of getting imprisoned or murdered.
    • Further punctuated when Eugene is constantly checking his rear view mirror in a stressed and worried way after carrying out the hit on Teddy. He's also clearing off blood spots off his face, which serve as a grisly reminder of his most recent crime.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Eugene inally gets some screentime where he looks like he might be the new mole threat to Tony. He kills himself about five minutes after we find this out.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Eugene hits it hard. Both Tony and the FBI won't let him retire with his Unexpected Inheritance to Florida. His son is on drugs. His wife is increasingly angry and resentful about not being able to move to Florida to the point that absolutely no alternative is enough to please her. That in turn promises the prospect of an Awful Wedded Life going forward. He ends up hanging himself.
  • The Determinator: Tony first struggles to make his way to the living room phone, but a pain spasm causes him to tear it out completely. He then manages to drag himself into the kitchen, and reach up and desperately dial 911 on a phone mounted to the wall at standing height. And he manages to pull it off while fighting through the unspeakable pain of his Agonizing Stomach Wound.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Leaving aside the Agonizing Stomach Wound Uncle Junior gives Tony, having both Curto and Eugene die without him even realizing they were working against him as The Moles is truly a lucky break for Tony. Assuming he survives and he does, his Karma Houdini Warranty hasn't expired, at least not yet ...
  • Distracted by the Luxury: Tony is initially annoyed by Carmela getting on him about the work-stop order on the spec house, so he splashes out on a flashy new Porsche for her.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?: Tony and Phil work out compensation for Eli, and a split on the office park, albeit one that favors Phil.
  • Double Entendre: Tony to Carmela: "And yet the bonefish are back in season".
  • Double-Meaning Title: Eugene Pontecorvo is shown wearing a "Members Only" jacket and is made fun of for it by Vito Spatafore. It could refer to the Mafia code of being a member only and never a retiree, just what Eugene Pontecorvo attempted to become
  • Dramatic Irony: Rusty Millio and Tony speak disparagingly of a New York capo who spent three years as The Mole. Rusty then praises a now lying dead in his coffin Raymond Curto as a "stand up guy". Little did either of them know that Curto was also a Mole.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eugene hangs himself after hitting his Despair Event Horizon, and seeing no way to get out of his problems.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Raymond Curto dies of a stroke while trying to give evidence to Agent Sanseverino. It's rather sudden, and he's barely remembered if at all afterwards.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Eugene's son is addicted to heroin, and hides the paraphernalia underneath his bed.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Tony doesn't like Chris' joke about Lou Gehrig dying of Lou Gehrig's disease.
  • Due to the Dead: Zigzagged. The mobsters fondly remember Curto at his funeral, but Tony also feels that their joking around amounts to Last Disrespects.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Tony sees Jimmy Petrille ratting on Johnny Sack as worse than the usual instance of a Mafiaso flipping. That Jimmy was a Father Figure to Johnny exacerbates Tony's outrage over the perceived betrayal.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Eugene very clearly loves his family, especially his little daughter. His desire to retire and move to Florida is motivated in large part by the desire to get a better life for them. Punctuated further by him going through his family album before hanging himself.
    • Johnny is on the verge of Manly Tears after seeing pictures of his daughter's bridal shower that he wasn't able to attend. There's also the possibility of not being able to attend her wedding either.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Eugene tries to gift Tony expensive (and likely stolen) gold watches, and later a "taste" (i.e. part of the inheritance as an upstairs kick), to try and sweeten the plea to let him retire. Doesn't work though.
  • Evil Is Petty: Phil won't return Tony's calls to try and extract any measure of spite or Revenge that he can, no matter how tiny or pointless. It's not until Tony reaches out to Johnny Sack through other channels that Phil is obliged to come to the table.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Eugene definitely wants his son to kick his heroin addiction, although his style is harsh.
  • Foreshadowing: The Jersey mob, Silvio in particular, note that some of Artie's fare has been questionable of late.
  • Formerly Fat: Vito, although still a bit on the heavier side, has definitely lost weight from the previous season. He even participates in a "Before" and "After" Pictures advertisement to lampshade the fact.
  • Friendly Enemy: Agent Harris resumes his courteous interactions with Tony after an anti-terrorist assignment in Pakistan, and even grabs the opportunity for a Veal Parmesan Hero sandwich at Satriale's.
  • Hate Sink: The episode goes to some lengths to establish that Phil is likely the most despised among the still living characters in the show.
    • Chris and Benny are visibly angry at the mere sight of him, owing to his actions during the season 5 finale.
    • Rusty Millio makes himself clear to Tony that he can't stand to be in the same room as Phil.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Eugene would likely have gotten out of the mob life completely had he been able to retire to Florida. Tony and the FBI both slam the door on him hard, leading to his Despair Event Horizon and his suicide.
  • Hope Spot: What the Unexpected Inheritance becomes for Eugene and his wife. Getting it crushed when Tony won't let him leave the Jersey mob leads to the Despair Event Horizon for Eugene.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Subverted. Raymond Curto dies of a stroke while trying to give Agent Sanseverino sound-recorded evidence of Tony admitting to past murder on tape. But he dies quite suddenly, and with nowhere near the drama or buildup that's usually associated with the trope.
  • I Am the Noun: Chris invokes his capo title to oblige Eugene to carry out the hit on Teddy.
  • In-Series Nickname: Gerry Torciano is known in-universe as "The Hairdo" owing to his wavy blonde hair.
  • Irony: Tony lets out with an angry outburst: "What the fuck is it? I can't catch a fucking break!?" No sooner do those words leave his mouth then we get a Gilligan Cut to Raymond Curto dying of a stroke while trying to give sound-recorded evidence to Agent Sanseverino. And the poor-quality tape is no good as evidence without Curto alive as a witness to corroborate it. And then the second Mole, Eugene, is Driven to Suicide.
  • Irony combined with Call-Back: Tony spared no effort or stop to try and get Livia to move into Green Grove, insisting that it was a "retirement community". And Livia's stubbornness was her perception that Green Grove was just a Bleak Abyss Retirement Home. Now Tony refuses to send Junior to Green Grove on exactly that justification.
  • Jerkass: Tony chews out Bobby and Janice for getting back late to take over care of Uncle Junior. And again when they cite conflicting schedules as an excuse to get out of it.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: Hesh makes his initial plea to Tony to help with obtaining compensation. Tony in turn reaches out to Johnny Sack through his brother-in-law. Sack, through the brother-in-law, obliges Phil to come to the table.
  • Kubrick Stare: Uncle Junior wears one while giving Tony the gut shot.
  • Manchild: Some but not all people might consider Bobby's new love of toy train assemblies to be something more for ten year old boys. But even if you cut him some slack, he still takes his new obsession to the point of neglecting adult responsibilities.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Chris takes a turn at being one. He knows that Tony is extremely unlikely to just let Eugene ride off into the sunset into easy retirement. But he plays on Eugene's Hope Spot to extract a free hit job out of him.
  • The Mole:
    • Raymond Curto is one, but he dies before he can provide anything useful.
    • And it turns out that Eugene is one as well. In fact, Curto's death makes the FBI that much more reliant on Eugene, so they also refuse to let him retire to Florida.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The mobsters who attack Hesh and Eli are initially foiled by the pair remaining in their locked car. One of the mobsters threatens to turn the car itself into a cocktail in its own right, by sticking a burning cloth through the gas cap in order to force the pair out of the car.
  • Montage combined with Suspiciously Apropos Music: The episode starts with a montage of various characters, and the new situations they find themselves in. Meanwhile, "Seven Souls" by Material is playing. And the lyrics happen to resonate with the situation of each individual character appearing in the montage.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Uncle Junior runs upstairs after giving Tony the gut shot. He then hides his gun under the bed, hides himself in the bedroom closet, and starts to cry. Even though he's definitely a full-blown Scatterbrained Senior by now, there's enough of him left to realize that he just did something horrible.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Eugene urinates immediately after he hangs himself in the basement.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Hugh recites the trope's name word for word when he gets into an argument with Carmela. He feels that she's being an Ungrateful Bitch. The words themselves become an instance of Foreshadowing...
    • Then Tony gets a life-threatening gutshot for looking after Uncle Junior.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Eli is getting one before he desperately tries to run away from the mobsters attacking him, only to get nailed by a car on the street.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Tony notices that a neighbor is staring at him with a Disapproving Look while he's digging up Uncle Junior's backyard. Tony tries to fob it off as trying to get rid of moles, but she looks less than convinced.
  • Parental Issues: Tony, even after concerted prodding by Dr. Melfi, still can't bring himself to accept that a lot of his issues stem from having a mother who was not only extremely abusive, but also conspired to have him murdered. He even takes it to the point of blaming himself for the plot between Livia and Uncle Junior.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Chris races to the assumption, on the basis that the assailants came out of a Lexus, that it was "chinks" who gave Eli the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Chris presses Tony on why he frequently caves to Phil. Tony explains that making concessions to Johnny Sack encourages Sack to keep Phil on a leash, which is important given the events of season 5. Also, New York can bring a good deal more firepower should there ever be a Mob War between New York and New Jersey. For Tony, there's value in Knowing When To Fold 'Em and avoiding Bullying a Dragon.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: The Maserati has become such for Johnny Sack, and it "breaks his heart" to have to sell it. That much more when it's Chris of all people who's the interested purchaser. But he ends up relenting as a matter of Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Professional Killer: Eugene shoots Teddy in the head at the behest of Chris.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Frank Vincent goes from guest starring in the closing credits to having his name in the opening credits.
  • Psychological Projection: Tony's hesitancy in sending Uncle Junior to Green Grove is in large part because it would fuel his own fears about becoming a dependent in a Bleak Abyss Retirement Home doomed to wait it out for an Undignified Death.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Tony refuses Eugene's request to retire, and has Silvio deliver the bad news.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Eugene picks up one of several decorative seashells from a coffee table before he hangs himself, as the seashell itself reminds him of his dashed hopes for Florida.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Tony promises Uncle Junior that he'll get J. Edgar Hoover on Pussy Malanga's tail.
  • Scatter Brained Senior: Uncle Junior hits it hard in this episode.
  • The Starscream: Vito starts to show shades of this when he drops the hint to Eugene that should he ever become The Don once Tony suffers some kind of unfortunate fate, he would be willing to grant Eugene's desire for retirement.
  • Stealing from the Till: Tony helps himself to some Cool Shades in the store of Johnny Sack's brother-in-law, and there's not a thing the brother-in-law can do about it. Considering that Tony was so open about it, it also has shades of Enemy Eats Your Lunch in a non-culinary context.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Johnny Sack, true to character, starts lashing out at his brother-in-law as every bit of news he hears confirms that things are only going From Bad to Worse for him.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Tony always feels this way, but moreso during this episode. He's particularly irate over the whole Uncle Junior situation.
  • Suspicious Missed Messages: Janice won't take Tony's call when he tries to tell her to look after Uncle Junior.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Eugene smashes a bowl of candies against the wall after his son walks out on him.
  • Temporary Divorce: Artie and Charmaine are getting back together.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Chris' and Benny's attitude towards Phil, owing to Phil's actions during the season 5 finale. Tony counsels Chris to let it go as a matter of Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Uncle Junior gives Tony a gut shot under the delusion that Tony actually is his old and long-dead nemesis, Pussy Malanga.
  • Title Drop: Vito, when he makes a comeback against Eugene making a joke about his new outfit.
  • Tranquil Fury: Neither Benny nor Chris can stand to be within the presence of Phil when he visits Satriale's.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Teddy, fatally so after defaulting for the last time on his debts to Chris' Illegal Gambling Den.
  • Undignified Death: How Tony regards aging to the point of spending one's last days in a Bleak Abyss Retirement Home having literally every last need, right down to the last minutiae, looked after by other people. It turns out to be an underlying motivation for not sending Uncle Junior to a retirement home.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Eugene learns that his Aunt Edie passed away and left him $2 million. Not being able to get away from the mob life and retire on the new inheritance is one of several factors that drives Eugene to suicide.
  • Weight Woe: Tony takes to weighing himself and not liking the weight readings he sees, especially in conjunction with his massive consumption of sushi.
  • Wham Episode: Junior's declining mental state culminates in him shooting Tony in the stomach. The episode ends on a Cliffhanger as Tony drifts out of consciousness right after dialing 911.
  • Wham Shot: Everybody, fans and in-universe characters alike, knew Uncle Junior was losing it. But it was still a real shock for first-time viewers to see Uncle Junior suddenly pop up with a Kubrick Stare to give Tony the gut shot.
  • Worthy Opponent: Tony and Phil will never like each other. But Tony develops a newfound respect for Phil's capabilities when he takes over the reigns as Acting Boss.
  • Villainous Friendship: Johnny Sack's and Phil's interactions with each other convey this dynamic, at least on the surface.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Agent Harris opens the passenger side door of the car and then unleashes on the pavement.

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