Episode 17 “Commendatori”

FBI Warning! I find a lot of symbolism in the opening scene, as Tony and the gang attempt to watch a bootlegged copy of The Godfather Part II on DVD and the disc is stuck on the FBI Warning title. The symbolism here is not for danger of making illegal copies of Hollywood movies, but for the lives that these made men lead. It could also reference Big Pussy’s current status, as he’s a rat who’s working with the feds.

Paulie Does His Godfather Impression For Once

The seriousness of the warning symbolism plays out great with all of the humor going on in the scene, including Paulie referencing his favorite moment from the movie, “It was you Fredo!” (notice that immediately after Paulie name’s Fredo, a man who betrayed Michael Corleone, the scene cuts to Big Pussy who’s questioning Tony Soprano to get as much information as he can).

The Real Angie Bonpensiero Shows Up In Season 2

Actress Toni Kalem makes her first appearance as Angie Bonpensiero. Toni will continue to reprise the role throughout the final season of The Sopranos. There was another actress who played her in the first season, but she was nowhere near as effective at the role as Toni is. This ‘new’ Angie makes mentions of divorce from Pussy, which doesn’t seem too common for the married couples living the mafia lifestyle. The mention of divorce seems to have an effect on Carmela Soprano.

Furio Makes His First Appearance

While in Italy, Tony, Paulie & Christopher are introduced to Furio Giunta (as are we, the viewers). When Tony first sees Furio in action he’s obviously impressed by his dedication to his work, a quality that’s lacking in both Christopher & Paulie to Tony on this trip. While on the subject of Furio, I think he’s one of the few soldiers under Tony Soprano whom Tony should have really taken under his wing. He doesn’t suffer from the downfalls that Christopher Moltisanti does and he’s a dedicated soldier. During this scene a bellhop in the hotel speaks, “Commendatori!”, a line that obviously bodes well with Paulie Walnuts as he uses it over and over while in Italy. This is where this episode’s title comes from.

Christopher Finds Heroin

We’ve seen minor use of Christopher Moltisanti’s drug use up to this point, but this episode marks Christopher’s first real drug binge of using heroin while in Italy. The storyline is setup quite easily as Chris notices the needle marks on Tanno’s arm when they meet in the hotel. We need no further explanation of what’s on Chris’s mind. Although Christopher’s absence adds to some of the humor in the episode when Tony’s losing his patience, it represents a far deeper issue that won’t rear it’s ugly face until season 4; Christopher’s addiction & drug abuse problems. Another great touch is that Christopher doesn’t purchase a present for Adriana until they arrive back in New Jersey at the airport. We the viewers can really see where his priorities are.

If You Ask Me, Gabriella Looks Older In Her First Scene Than In Any Other Scene She Appears In From Here On Out

Another mafia wife is briefly introduced to us and that is Gabriella Dante, wife of Silvio Dante. Gabriella Dante is played by Maureen Van Zandt, Steven Van Zandt’s real life wife.

Tim Van Patten Directing Edie Falco On The Set Of "Cold Stones" In March 2006

I’d like to make mention of the director of this episode, Tim Van Patten. Commendatori marks the second Sopranos episode that Tim directed. I think Tim’s directing skill and style were a wonderful match for this show. As the season’s progressed I’d be even more excited than usual when I saw Tim’s name mentioned as director in the opening credits. He’d really put a nice touch on each & every episode of The Sopranos that he directed. I should also note that Tim had a partial writing credit in season 3’s infamous episode Pine Barrens.

The Curse For Bosses Who Don't Get Pinched Or Clipped

Looking back on this episode, I like the added touch of the Italian boss Don Vittorio being senile, as it really foreshadowed the fate of Corrado “Junior” Soprano. It’s also interesting to note that his daughter, Annalisa Zucca, has taken over as acting boss. If that were the case for The Soprano family with Junior as the senile boss & if Tony Soprano were to get pinched, Carmela would be acting boss. As Tony tells Annalisa in this episode, that would “never happen in the states, never”. I should also note that Annalisa & Don Vittorio make their first and only appearance in this episode of The Sopranos.

Tony Soprano's Italian Fantasy

Tony Soprano’s dream sequence of having sex with Annalisa Zucca, according to the audio commentary by Tim Van Patten, was shot from just about every angle and for hours on end. Interesting as it only makes it into the episode for about 3 seconds. I’d love to see the outtakes on that one! Judging from this dream, I’m assuming that Tony is quite attracted to Annalisa, however he doesn’t make any moves on her outside of his dream. That brings me to my next thought on their relationship.

The Woman Can Eat Shrimp

During the lunch scene between Tony & Annalisa, a closeup is shown of Annalisa’s mouth as she’s eating. That moment reminded me of the scene from Isabella, when Isabella was eating with Tony Soprano. Although Isabella was a hallucination, Tony did have some sort of weird mother-son relationship going on with her, as he didn’t make any sexual advances on her. Although Tony tells Annalisa that he doesn’t “shit where he eats”, I believe he may have the same kind of relationship going on here with her. For once Tony is able to keep a platonic relationship with a woman and although he states that he doesn’t want to mix business with pleasure, I think there may be other reasons in Tony Soprano’s subconscious.

Paranoid Pussy

Jumping back to the Big Pussy storyline, we begin to realize how paranoid he is, after he runs into an old friend aka Jimmy Bones (an Elvis impersonator) while meeting in public with FBI Agent Skip Lipari. Pussy has nightmares screaming Jimmy’s name and decides that he’s gotta whack Jimmy to keep him from talking, although Pussy did a decent job of playing off Skip as “a friend of ours”, according to Skip. The scenes of Pussy work great in this episode as they ┬ájump between the events in Italy (mostly Tony & Annalisa’s discussions) and back to NJ.

Broken Eggs

This storyline introduced the first time where eggs are used on The Sopranos, much like oranges were used in The Godfather movies. Angie Bonpensiero returns home with her groceries and drops a crate of a dozen eggs on the ground, which break open and make a mess. The eggs foreshadow that death will soon take place.

Big Pussy Is Obviously Not A Fan Of Elvis Presley

A couple of scenes later, Pussy visits Jimmy Bones at his home and beats him to death with a hammer. Notice all of the Elvis paraphernalia around the house and the picture of Colonel Tom Parker (Elvis’ manager) that crashes to the ground as Jimmy meets his end. Also worth noting is that this is the first time we see Big Pussy whack someone.

Christopher Purchases Presents For Adriana After Arriving Back In New Jersey

After arriving back in New Jersey, Tony, Paulie & Christopher’s minds are all in different places.

Tony Contemplate's His Business Moves

Tony has remained focused on business, although he may regret having not slept with Annalisa Zucca at this point. He’s also quite annoyed with Paulie & Christopher. He might as well have gone on the trip alone.

Paulie Loves New Jersey

Paulie is still sticking up for Italy and the experience, but it’s obvious he’s happy to be back home in NJ.

Christopher Thinking About Where He Can Score Some "H" Back In The States

Christopher seems like he’s still in a daze after being high on heroin during the majority of the trip. Not only do these thoughts represent each character’s experience in this episode, but they also reveal each man’s strengths and weaknesses.

Paulie Isn't Impressed By Mr. Chase

One last note, the real Sopranos fans will have noticed that creator David Chase makes a cameo about 32 minutes in to this episode. Paulie Walnuts shares the scene with the uncredited Soprano’s creator. For those of you that missed it, here’s the video clip.