Episode 21 “Full Leather Jacket”
Full Leather Jacket opens up with a great tune, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. Suddenly we’re having dinner with The Soprano family. Usually the family dinner scenes take place anyplace in an episode besides the first scene, which feels a little bit out of place. Speaking out ‘out of place’, the leather jacket that Richie Aprile gives to Tony Soprano, looks so out of place on Tony, it’s not even funny. Okay, maybe it’s funny to us, but definitely not to Tony and Richie. The episode title references the jacket, Full Leather Jacket, which is a play on words from the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film, Full Metal Jacket.
Towards the end of the dinner scene, Tony Soprano instructs AJ to “crack the books”, as we transition to a stocking store where Chrstiopher Moltisanti, Sean Gismonte & Matt Bevilaqua are crackin’ a safe open. Thanks to the disturbing scene of Sean taking a dump (courtesy of an adrenaline rush), their conversation turns to recognition when Christopher mentions that Big Pussy used to do the same thing. Sean & Matt are surprised that Big Pussy started off chippin’ safes and Christopher reminds them that they’ll need to “step up when your time comes”. Christopher sets into motion Sean & Matt’s longing for some status with Tony Soprano and the crew, a theme that will guide these character’s decisions throughout the rest of the episode. Note that Big Pussy doesn’t make a single appearance in this episode.
Thanks to their own ignorance, as well as a brief conversation with Richie Aprile, by the end of the episode Sean & Matt will attempt to kill Christopher Moltisanti; ending up with Chris wounded in the hospital, Sean Gismonte shot dead in the head and Matt Bevilaqua on the run. Much like Brendan Filone’s attempts at gaining recognition in season one, Sean & Matt fall flat on their face. The latest generation of wiseguys just can’t catch a break with The Soprano crew.
Sandra Santiago becomes the first actress to play more than one charater on The Sopranos, as she reprises her role as Jean Cusamano and her new role as Jean’s sister, Joan O’Connell. For trivia sake, I’ll note that she’s not the only character in season two who will play two different characters; Dan Grimaldi played Phillip “Philly Spoons” Parisi in the season premiere and he returns as Patsy Parisi in the season finale, Funhouse.
I found the storyline of Carmela hiding Meadow’s college mail and pleading with Joan O’Connell for a letter of recommendation to Georgetown to be a bit lame, in an otherwise entertaining episode. However it was amusing to hear Joan mixup Meadow’s name as “Fielder” and watching Carmela tell Joan, “I want you to write that letter.” I enjoy the little moments when Carmela Soprano threatens people, we can see how her husband has rubbed off on her.
During a brief exchange in the hospital, Richie Aprile & Beansie Gaeta are reunited for the first time since Beansie’s accident back in episode 16, Toodle-Fucking-Oo. Constantly throughout the episode Paulie & Silvio are riding Richie to build a ramp for Beansie’s house so he has wheelchair access. This is another indirect action from Tony Soprano that pisses Richie off.
We’re briefly introduced to Adriana la Cerva’s mother, Liz la Cerva. Liz is played by Patty McCormack. The great irony of Liz is that she’s a total bitch, almost the complete opposite of her daughter, Adriana. Although Liz is a bit annoying, her warnings about Christopher will ring true by the time season five of The Sopranos rolls out. This is the only episode Liz will appear in during season two and she won’t appear in The Sopranos again until season four.
In perfect Christopher Moltisanti fashion, Christopher proposes to Adriana la Cerva with the words, “I wanna marry you. I mean it Adriana, I love you. I wanna marry you. Got you a ring and everything.” Much like Carmela Soprano, the ring puts a smile on Adriana’s face and she quickly forgets how she was treated like shit. Like a typical made man, Christopher proposes to his girlfriend, where only a few weeks prior he was having an affair with his own cousin’s fiancée. Not only are these people lying to each other, but they are constantly lying to themselves. Notice that Christopher doesn’t even place the ring on Adriana’s finger, he just hands her the box.
Perhaps the breaking point in their already fragile relationship, Tony Soprano gives away Rocco DiMeo’s leather jacket that Richie Aprile bestowed upon him. Richie catches a glimpse of Tony’s housekeeper’s husband wearing the jacket and nearly loses his cool in front of Carmela. This move by Tony sets off Richie unlike any other. The jacket itself really showcases Richie Aprile’s old school taste; he takes a lot of pride in the jacket as well. Tony Soprano shows no respect to Richie, nor the jacket. Much like Junior’s beef with Tony Soprano in season one, Tony overlooks a very minor thing that sets Richie over the edge.
One last note on the jacket, I love how Tony catches a wiff from it after he tries it on for Richie. By the look on his face, he seemed quite disgusted. That scene gives me a chuckle every time (you’ll find the video of this scene at the bottom of this blog post).
Vito Spatafore’s brother Byran Spatafore makes his first appearance in this episode, as the two of them attempt to build a ramp for Beansie. Bryan is another minor character in the show who will appear in and out of seasons. His biggest moment will arrive in the season three episode, Another Toothpick. There’s really not much to say about this guy; the writers kept his character to a minimum.
Donald Kafranza aka Donny K. makes his first appearance in this episode as well. Donny introduces Matt & Sean to Richie Aprile. During the introduction, Richie starts cracking jokes and talking trash on Christopher Moltisanti, leading Matt & Sean to believe that Richie doesn’t like him. This also leads into the attempt on Christopher by the two, who think they’ll gain some clout with Richie, but again they are sorely mistaken. Seems that the old school and the new school’s outlook are completely different.
Prior to becoming ‘dead & wanted’, it’s kind of funny to see Sean & Matt sweating Tony Soprano when he walks into the Bada Bing. For a moment they sound like they are in love with Tony, asking each other, “How do I look?” and using mouth spray before following him into the men’s room, just to say “hello”. Little do they know how much less Tony could give a shit about them.
Furio’s appearance in this episode is great. He shows up to collect Tony’s share of money from Matt & Sean and he ends up demanding an extra $1,000 – because he can. Again this adds to Matt & Sean feeling like the low men on the totem pole. Furio tell’s his friend in Italian, “These two suck each other’s cocks.” What would you think if you walked in after a minute of knocking on the door and two guys were both dressed in nothing but their underwear? A very amusing scene.
During Tony’s session with Dr. Melfi, Tony explicitly mentions that it’s “Tuesday at 3:00.” Immediately following the therapy scene, Christopher is seen leaving The New Skyway Diner and is shot by Sean Gismonte & Matt Bevilaqua. I know I already mentioned the shooting, but the 3:00 mention defines the time of the incident, which will also play a major role in the next episode. One last note on the shooting, it seems Matt forgot to put the car in park and it keeps edging forward as Sean sits dead in the front seat, strapped in by his seat belt. When someone gets whacked in a car on The Sopranos, always look for the car to keep on moving.
During the final brief hospital scene, Tony Soprano looks on at Christopher Moltisanti devastated. After you’ve seen the complete series and you come back to watch these early seasons, you’re reminded that there was a time that Tony truly cared for Christopher and was really molding him to be his successor. It won’t be until around season five where their relationship takes a couple of bad turns. The credits role at the end of the episode, sans music. We’re left with the sound of Christopher Moltisanti’s hospital room, waiting in suspense to know if he’ll survive the hit. One final note, this episode is the shortest running episode of The Sopranos. It clocks in at 42 minutes and 48 seconds.