Episode 18 “Big Girls Don’t Cry”
Less than one episode after spending 95% of his time comatose on heroin in Itlay, Christopher Moltisanti barges into a brothel and declares that the owner is a ‘drug addict’. The writing on this show never lets me down. Christopher came to collect money due to Tony Soprano and he leaves with nothing. Maybe it’s the drugs that are making him too soft?
Seems that one of the themes of this episode has to do with the shortcomings of some of Tony Soprano’s main men, namely Christopher & Big Pussy. On the other end of that spectrum, Furio Giunta arrives on the scene in New Jersey and he’s one hell of a soldier. Later in the episode, Tony will have Furio do the same job that Christopher started (or tried to start).
Tony Soprano gives both Silvio & Paulie a bump up the ladder thanks to the arrival of Furio. This bump leaves Big Pussy behind and is further proof that Tony still doesn’t trust Pussy since his disappearance.
During the first restaurant scene we hear the song Big Girls Don’t Cry playing at Nuovo Vesuvio. The song partially plays into the episode title, but it’s Christopher & Jennifer Melfi who will also “reference” the title through their actions later on.
In an amusing scene, Tony finds Richie Aprile at his mother’s house where Janice Soprano is staying. Notice that Richie offers Tony eggs shortly after he arrives? The eggs could be foreshadowing the death of Richie Aprile that will take place in the same house later in the season. Tony isn’t one bit fond of Richie & Janice’s relationship. Richie is the first in a line of men who annoy the hell out of Tony Soprano that Janice will choose to date. I wonder if she does that on purpose?
Another amusing scene is during Furio’s welcome party at Tony & Carmela’s. Junior & Bobby arrive and Carmela Soprano slams the door in their face. Unlike Tony, Carmela puts most of the blame on the attempt on Tony’s life from season 1 on Junior Soprano. Suffice to say, he’s not welcome in The Soprano house anymore.
A great sub-plot that plays through this episode is Tony Soprano turning to Hesh Rabkin for advice on his recent outbursts. Tony has been out of therapy for so long that he’s starting to long to find someone to open up and talk to. Why not one of his father’s old advisors? However, unlike Jennifer Melfi, Hesh isn’t that great of a listener. There are a couple moments where Tony wants to vent and in return, Hesh starts telling a story. Tony doesn’t want to listen, he wants to talk and he cuts off Hesh. Listen closely and the two men talk over each other during both meetings in this episode. Tony really needs Dr. Melfi back, ‘Dr. Rabkin’ just ain’t cuttin’ it.
Interesting points to note from Tony’s meetings with Hesh: Hesh reveals to Tony that Johnny Boy Soprano, his father, also had panic attacks, known as ‘a condition’ back in the day. Also Hesh’s girlfriend Renata makes her first appearance. The only other episode where Renata is shown, besides this one, is in Episode 81: Chasing It.
Later, a few ducks make a cameo appearance, and Tony Soprano defends them from his comare Irina who tries to feed them cheese doodles. Seems that Tony & Irina fight quite often when they are trying to share some alone time. A Russian man in the boat next to them interrupts their argument and sets Tony off. This marks the 3rd time that Tony has lost his temper with someone this episode (first with Janice & later with Richie Aprile). The effects of Tony Soprano without therapy are getting to be quite dangerous.
Christopher’s acting class starts to show us that the guy has some actual talent and could possibly make it in the outside world from where he’s grown up. However, the tough guy persona is hard to shake for Chris. After bringing himself to tears in an acting scene in front of the whole class, Christopher runs out of the class. It seems that he’s ashamed and embarrassed of crying in public. Christopher doesn’t like being seen as a ‘pussy’ in front of anyone, let alone a bunch of strangers. Next time he returns to class he punches one of the other actors in the face, a sure sign that he’s no pussy, he’s a tough guy.
Johnny Sack makes a brief appearance in an awkward restaurant scene featuring Paulie, Furio & Big Pussy. Paulie asks Pussy to excuse himself from the table. Again we’re reminded how Pussy is no longer trusted by Tony Soprano’s inner circle, no matter how long he’s been around. The contempt towards Pussy begins to push him to lean more towards the feds as he complains about “this thing of ours” to Skip Lipari.
Driving back to the episode title theme, we find Dr. Jennifer Melfi worrying about her abandonment of Tony Soprano in a therapy session with Dr. Elliot Kupferberg. Her dream from Toodle-Fucking-Oo about Tony crashing because of her abandonment haunts her. Jennifer comes to tears and she admits to having feelings for Tony Soprano. Big girls do cry? Again, the scenes of Melfi going to a therapist work quite well to let us in on her psyche and to let us know how she really feels about Tony.
Soon thereafter, Tony Soprano has Furio carrying out a job that Christopher Moltisanti couldn’t finish. While watching this scene I can’t help but remember the previous episode when Furio jumped on Don Vittorio when firecrackers went off in the streets of Italy. It was at that moment that Tony recognized Furio’s dedication and his strengths. Tony is about to put Furio to the test.
While Furio is bringing down his…fury in the brothel, Tony waits in his car and at this moment Dr. Melfi calls him. She invites Tony back into therapy. It’s at this point that Jennifer’s guilt has finally gotten the best of her (or maybe it was that glass of wine?), no matter how many warnings Elliot Kupferberg gave her to not pick up therapy with her mobster, she didn’t listen to him. Melfi obviously has a soft side for Tony Soprano, no matter how strongly she disagrees with his morals and his way of life. Tony doesn’t give in while on the phone, but he does show up for the requested scheduled visit. Perhaps it was his conversations with Hesh that changed his mind, because in reality who else can Tony Soprano talk so openly to? At this point Tony knows that he needs the therapy.
The first Tony Soprano / Dr. Jennifer Melfi therapy session of Season 2 takes place. Tony’s main objectives are to stop passing out, to direct his anger towards the people in his life who deserve it & to be in total control. Tony is not by any means a patient man and he really didn’t see any difference in himself by the time that the therapy sessions ended in season 1. He thought he’d had all he could take and that nothing would change. Slowly over the course of the first few episodes of season 2, Tony began to realize that the therapy did make a difference. He realizes now that he’s got to set goals, although he still is not a patient man by any means.
Tony reveals to Melfi where he was when she called him the previous day. The therapy session ends with Tony revealing, “I wished it was me in there.” And Melfi replies, “Giving the beating or taking it?”
The episode ends as Christopher awakes in the middle of the night and throws away the movie scripts that he’s written. It seems he’s ready to move on & accept his fate as a mobster. I don’t think Christopher liked the feelings that acting brought up in him. I question whether Adriana was right or not about the emotions of Christopher losing his father at a young age that were bothering him when acting. Either way, he wasn’t ready to deal those emotions and maybe he never will be. Just as Christopher pushes his feelings away, Tony Soprano returns to therapy in hopes of getting control of his feelings. It’s still quite early in the game, but we can see how each man’s paths are heading in different directions.
I’d like to give a nod to Terence Winter who wrote this episode (this being the first episode of The Sopranos that he ever wrote). He came on as a producer for The Sopranos at the start of season 2 and would remain a producer & writer up until the end. Terence would also finally a direct an episode in the final season (one that he co-wrote with David Chase), Episode 82: Walk Like A Man. Coincidence: that episode and this one are both named after song titles by the Four Seasons. Both episodes also focus greatly on Christopher Moltisanti. I wonder if Terence named them both?