Episode 08 “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti”

Welcome to the dream world of Christopher Moltisanti. “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti” opens up with Christopher experiencing a nightmare regarding the first man that he whacked, known as Emil Kolar (or as Christopher calls him, “Email Kolar”). The unsanctioned hit took place in the first episode of The Sopranos, at Satriale’s. Satriale’s also appears to be the setting for Christopher’s nightmare. This nightmare sequence was done extremely well, considering it was shot back in 1998. I love the scenery and colors used when Emil Kolar first appears in Christopher’s dream.

This Could Be The Only Time We'll Ever See Carmela In Satriale's

The sequence in the nightmare that goes from showing Adriana le Cerva to Carmela Soprano eating a sausage, although a bit disturbing,  is also very interesting. Thought it’s a brief cut, I wonder if it’s implying that Christopher has a thing for his cousin Carmela? Or does Christopher see Carmela as a mother figure and that’s what he longs for in Adriana? Thoughts on this?

Emil Kolar Will Have His Revenge On Christopher Moltisanti?

Emil has come in to Christopher’s dreams to haunt him. Emil repeatedly speaks, “In the Czech Republic, too, we love pork, ever have our sausages?” Christopher is obviously feeling some guilt about killing this man, but he’s also worried about it. There are fresh meats all throughout the dream, from the pigs heads, the sausage to the meats that Christopher prepares at the counter for Emil. Does the fresh meat represent that it hasn’t been too long since Christopher killed Emil? Or that Christopher is wet behind the ears to this lifestyle? I love it when the hand under the counter finally turns on Christopher and starts to pull him in, it really felt like a nightmare to me at that point.

What Is The Meaning Behind The Number 34 In This Episode?

One other thing that stands out in the dream is the number 34 behind Christopher when he’s at the counter serving meat to Emil. I’ve read that Brendan Filone was supposedly 34 years old when he died. Any connection? In the deli scene later in this episode, Christopher receives the number 34 when waiting in line. Have you ever looked at the number 1134 on a calculator upside down? It spells ‘hell’.

Notice The ORANGE Lava Lamp In Christohper's Apartment

The main storyline (arc) of this episode revolves around Christopher Moltisanti. It ranges around his depression, nightmares, ambitions, fears, and his longing for a legacy (his arc). Christopher is longing for meaning in his life, he wants to be known. In two separate scenes Christopher questions his arc with Paulie and with Big Pussy. Pussy remarks, “You know who had an arc? Noah.”

The Always Lovely, Adriana La Cerva

Christopher is attempting to write a script, he wants to turn his life story into a movie. Adriana remarks, “My Tennessee William!”, as she’s never seen Christopher “apply himself like this”. Her quote is where the play on name’s comes in to the title of the episode, “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti”. “I love movies, you know dat. That smell in blockbuster, that candy and carpet smell, I get high off it!”, Christopher wants to make his mark with this movie script.

Before Tony Soprano There Was True Romance

While talking movies, Christopher makes a reference to Quentin Tarantino. Interesting to note is that the role that James Gandolfini played in Tarantino’s “True Romance” is possibly the part that landed him the job as Tony Soprano. He played a ruthless mobster who nearly beats a woman to death.

Brendan Filone's Last Sopranos Appearance, On Christopher's TV

A reoccurring theme in this episode for Christopher is that he has nothing to worry about when it comes to the federal indictments (although it seems like Christopher secretly wishes it were the other way around). Jimmy Altieri & Georgie the Bartender reaffirm the fact that Christopher isn’t a made man and he has nothing to worry about. Christopher even becomes jealous when it’s Brandon Filone who’s featured on the news, the guy who Chris first brought around and whom wasn’t even a made man. Christopher yells at Jeffrey Wernick on his TV, “Brendan Filone, associate? Soldier?? Fuck you!”, as he tosses his remote towards the television.

Georgie Gets Down Low To Sweep For Bugs In The Bada Bing Bathroom

At the Bada Bing, Tony demands that Christopher & Georgie sweep the bathroom for “bugs”. In the bathroom a discussion about federal indictments ensues. The hairs on the back of Georgie’s neck stood up when he heard Brendan Filone’s name mentioned on TV. This pisses of Christopher even more, “They made him look like John Fuckin’ Gotti!” Christopher tries to remind Georgie that he’s the one who first brought Brendan around and Georgie confesses that he had no idea.

Bullet To The Foot

The scene in Russo’s Bakery featuring Christopher (and “Vito’s” first appearance) is a classic. It’s not shown, but Christopher does receive the number 34 as he waits and waits to be served (he announces his number, 34, after “Vito” walks in and cuts in line). Once again Christopher is feeling like he’s not gangster enough. The kid in the bakery let’s “Vito” skip in front of Christopher in line. Christopher escorts Vito out of the bakery, turns around the ‘closed’ sign and pulls out a gun. He asks the kid in the bakery if he looks like a pussy (with gun in hand). “Next time you see my face, you show some respect,” Christopher demands, seconds before he puts a bullet in the kid’s foot.

Chrissy Digging Up Emil Kolar, While Georgie Runs Off To Puke

Christopher’s dreams push him to the point of dragging Georgie out to dig up Emil Kolar’s body (now with a beard and long woman like nails, courtesy of rotting in the earth). The sight of the body sends Georgie running off to puke his guts out. Christopher wants to move Emil (to the pine barrens) because he’s certain that the warnings in his dreams from Emil are because he made a mistake burying the body in this original location.

Tony Soprano's Punching Bag

This action, along with Christopher’s shooting at the bakery, send Tony Soprano off the wall. Tony screams at Christopher, he’s pissed because he believes that Christopher wants to get caught, and he’s right. Shooting a guy in the foot and digging up a body in broad daylight are not smart actions for this line of business, especially with the feds pushing an indictment.

Tony Motions Suicide

Tony eventually calms down as he starts to realize that Christopher is depressed, even though Christopher won’t admit to being a “mental midget”. They discuss medication and Tony ask if he’s considered suicide, but Christopher denies it. Watching this scene between Tony & Christopher not only makes me appreciate these two guys as actors, but their on screen presence together was always wonderful. These are the first glimpses of the bond that will grow between Tony Soprano and Christopher Moltisanti in the early years of the series.

Christopher Spots His Name In The Paper

By the end of the episode Christopher snaps out of his funk thanks to a phone call by his mother, who mentions that she saw his name featured in a newspaper. This sends Christopher out of his depressed bed, to a newspaper vending machine, where upon finding his name in print, he decides to take every issue in the unit for the price of one. Christopher Moltisanti’s Soprano’s arc is set into full motion in this episode.

Moving away from the Christopher storyline, there are quite a few first appearances in this episode, and let me tell you, some of them are really weird in The Sopranos universe. They are weird because several of them are characters who we see for the first time and are later introduced as other characters, or they will never show up again (getting replaced by other actors / actresses).

An Uncredited Appearance For Jimmy Petrille?

The first is Jimmy Petrille played by Vinny Vella. I recognized him right away at Larry Boy Barese’s daughter’s wedding. However Vinny isn’t credited as Jimmy Petrille yet, in fact he receives no credit in this episode. He would later resurface in season 5, as Johnny Sack’s consigliere. I guess it could make sense for him to be at this wedding, but I don’t see any other NY made men there.

Vito Would Eventually Have A Higher Ranking Than Christohper In The Mob

Next up we get the first sighting of Vito Spatafore (although he’s NOT Vito, in this episode) played by Joseph Gannascoli. However this character is simply a civilian and obviously has no ties to the mob. Joey Gannascoli receives credit simply as ‘Bakery Customer’. No Vito in the Soprano’s universe, yet.

Leave It To Livia Soprano To Piss Off The Father Of The Bride

The first Sopranos wedding reception scene plays out perfectly. It’s Larry Boy Barese’s daughter’s wedding. Larry welcome’s Tony, Carmela & Livia Soprano. Right off the bat Livia pisses off the host, “Are you still seeing your other women Lorenzo?” Larry breaks the news to Paulie that there are possibly some federal indictments coming down. This sets the whole crew into panic / lament mode. In a quick meeting with Junior, the crew asks for advice, quickly followed up by a second advice request from Tony, which pisses off Junior. Tony suggests everyone do some spring cleaning and Junior agrees, “That was my next comment!”

That's Not Angie Bonpensiero!

Soon after the news of the federal indictments spreads, we see the made men fleeing the wedding reception with their families. We’re quickly introduced to Silvio & Big Pussy’s better halves – however both actresses in this episode are uncredited and are rarely seen throughout season one. Eventually  Maureen Van Zandt (Gabriella Dante) & Toni Kalem (Angie Bonpensiero) would be the actresses playing their wives. From the name, you can tell that Steven Van Zandt’s real life wife would play his on screen wife in The Sopranos. As of this episode, it seems they had some last minute casting decisions to make.

"Whadda Ya Think I Am?"

Tony & Carmela return home to move their money, guns, jewelry and any items that they can’t produce receipts for to the feds. Carmela is extremely agitated at the whole situation. Tony asks Carmela for her jewelry and he notions at her engagement ring. Carmela snaps, “I’m not giving you my engagement ring, this isn’t stolen….IS IT???” After a moment of hesitation Tony replies, “NO! Whadda ya think I am???”

Meet The Melfi's

We’re introduced to Dr. Jennifer Melfi’s family in this episode; including her parents Joseph & Aida Melfi, her son Jason LaPenna and her ex-husband Richard LaPenna. As they are sitting around preparing and waiting for dinner, Jennifer’s son, Jason, mentions the slang term ‘ginzo gravy’. Jennifer doesn’t like that word and she remarks, “I have a patient, you wouldn’t want to say the word guinea in front of him!” ? A discussion about Italian Americans begins. Everyone starts to wonder out loud whether her patient is a mobster or not. Jennifer can’t discuss her patients with anyone. Mentions of The Godfather & Goodfellas ensue. The family defends their stance as part of the twenty million hard working Italian Americans who’ve been given a bad name by mobsters. Throughout the episode, Jennifer’s ex-husband Richard is trying to get her to drop patient X, but Jennifer won’t budge.

Tony Stashes Away His Dirty Little Secrets

In a genius move, Tony Soprano decides to move his stashed money and weapons to his mother’s apartment at Green Grove Retirement Community. Carmela manages to get Livia to leave for lunch while Tony stashes the goods in boxes that are in her closet. The music that played in the first episode while Tony was initially discussing his gangster life to Dr. Melfi returns for this scene. If anyone knows the name of it, please post it in the comments for me.

Preparing For A Vacation

Thanks to the federal indictments, Tony tells Dr. Melfi that he’s planning a vacation but he’s not sure when it will be. Melfi questions if his decision is based on what’s been coming up on the news, but Tony denies it and stands by his vacation claim.

Agent Harris' Arrival

Eventually the feds arrive at The Soprano’s home with search warrants. In this scene we’re introduced to Special Agent Dwight Harris played by Matt Servitto. Agent Harris is the only FBI character who is featured in (almost) every season of The Sopranos. The feds confiscate Meadow & AJ’s computers, however they don’t find any substantial evidence at the house. This leads to a Soprano family dinner, the family eats Chinese take-out while discussing their Italian Heritage. However, unlike the Melfi family, Tony isn’t talking about mobsters, he’s talking about famous Italian’s whom his children should be proud of. During this discussion Meadow questions Tony about who started the mafia and catches him off guard. Tony manages to dodge Meadow’s question.

Melfi's Payment

Tony returns to Melfi after missing a session (thanks to the fed’s visit). Melfi announces to Tony that he’ll be charged for the session he missed, and this sets Tony off. He questions whether Melfi would’ve charged him, if he’d been in a car accident. Tony gets enraged and starts throwing hundred dollar bills around in Melfi’s face. He tells her that he now sees her as a call girl, instead of someone who wants to help him. Tony leaves the session immediately afterwords.

"A psychiatrist?"

Returning to the first season’s arc, a small conversation between Livia & Junior, while at a comedy show at Green Grove Retirement Community, will have major implications on Tony Soprano’s life. During the (boring) show, Junior reveals to Livia that he believes they have a rat in the crew. Livia questions whether Tony knows about the rat and then reveals to Junior that Tony is seeing a shrink. Just as Livia did to AJ when hearing this news, Junior questions Livia about five or six times, “A psychiatrist?” Getting fed up with his questions, Livia remarks that Junior sounds like “a broken record.”

It Was Only A Dream

Let’s not forget the awesome song that carries out the ending of this episode which is Cake’s “Frank Sinatra”. As soon as I got done watching this episode, I played it on my iPod.

Overall there is a lot to take in throughout this episode, I had to watch it a few times as I wrote this post. The writers did an excellent job of covering Christopher’s storyline while balancing out the feds moving in on the DiMeo crime family and the several discussions of Italian Americans between the Melfi and Soprano families and keeping the plot moving forward. This is truly one of the best episodes in the first season of The Sopranos.

I leave you with a video clip from where the episode started, in Christopher Moltisanti’s dreams…