Members Only (The Sopranos)

Members Only (The Sopranos)
"Members Only"
The Sopranos episode
Sopranos ep66.jpg
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 1
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Written by Terence Winter
Production code 601
Original air date March 12, 2006 (2006-03-12)
Guest stars

see below

Episode chronology
← Previous
"All Due Respect"
Next →
"Join the Club"
List of The Sopranos episodes

"Members Only" is the sixty-sixth episode of the HBO series The Sopranos, and the first of the show's sixth season. Written by Terence Winter and directed by Tim Van Patten, it aired originally on Sunday March 12, 2006.

Contents

Guest starring

Plot

The episode begins with two FBI agents in a moving car, the agent driving states (to the camera) "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public," a quotation of a line by H.L. Mencken. The other FBI agent, Dwight Harris, is immediately affected by a bout of severe nausea and vomiting, during which an accompaniment soundtrack starts. The music begins a two-minute opening narration; a shortened version of a spoken word essay by William S. Burroughs, ("The ancient Egyptians postulated seven souls...") reading from his novel The Western Lands. Nearly a year has passed since the end of the previous episode; the narration is accompanied by snapshots of The Sopranos characters' lives during the year.

Vito Spatafore has lost a great deal of weight and has become a spokesperson for Thin Club; A.J. is now attending college, but still the "class clown" type; Janice and Bobby Baccalieri have a child, Domenica; Bobby takes up model railroading as a hobby; and questions continue to be asked about the disappearance of Adriana La Cerva. Artie Bucco is also reuniting with his estranged wife, Charmaine. Carmela and Angie Bonpensiero patch up a long quarrel and both show off their new cars: Carmela, a Porsche Cayenne and Angie, a Chevrolet Corvette. Meanwhile, Carmela's construction of her spec house is suspended, due to a "stop order" issued by the building inspector for improper materials used. Carmela asks Tony to see if he can get the stop order lifted, but he puts it off.

Phil Leotardo is now acting Boss of the Lupertazzi crime family, running the day-to-day tasks for Johnny Sack while John is in jail. After dining at a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn, Hesh Rabkin and his son-in-law Eli are beaten up by Phil's men, and when Eli tries to escape, he is hit by a car. At the hospital, Hesh asks Tony for help to settle the feud. Phil and Tony also have a disagreement on their cut from their latest building project. Both incidents are resolved in a meeting between the two families behind the Bada Bing, during which Phil no longer expresses the direct hostility he'd shown previously for Tony and Christopher. In addition to Phil, Johnny also communicates to Tony through his optometrist brother-in-law, Anthony Infante.

Eugene Pontecorvo has inherited a little over two million dollars from his aunt, and he and his wife Deanne wish to use the money to move to Fort Myers, Florida. Gene goes to Tony with a gift and a request to retire to Florida. Tony tells Eugene he took an oath (as seen in the episode "Fortunate Son"), and that retiring is not an option, but he will consider it. After Eugene kills a Boston man named Teddy Spirodakis who was in debt to Christopher, Eugene is informed by Silvio Dante that Tony has denied his request. Unknown to the crime family, Eugene is a reluctant cooperator with the FBI. The Bureau have stepped up their pressure on Pontecorvo to produce information, having lost an asset when informant Raymond Curto died suddenly of a stroke while talking to Agent Robyn Sanseverino. Furthermore, Eugene's family life is further on the rocks when not only did Deanne refuse alternatives to moving to Florida (such as buying a vacation condo or even finding a better place to live in New Jersey), she also found their son's heroin fix kit (a spoon and a syringe in a plastic bag) under his bed. Depressed and feeling stuck in an untenable situation, Eugene hangs himself in the basement.

Agent Dwight Harris shows up at Satriale's Pork Store and tells Tony he has been in Pakistan because he was transferred to counter-terrorism. It was also how he contracted a parasite, which causes him to vomit at times, including en route to Satriale's (in the first scene of this episode).

Junior's mental state has deteriorated significantly. He attempts to find in his backyard money he thinks he buried many years ago. He is convinced "Little Pussy" Malanga (who died several years ago) is out to get him, and is afraid to answer his phone. One afternoon when Janice and Bobby are too busy with their new baby to take care of Junior, Tony pays his uncle a visit. Tony begins to prepare dinner for Junior, and sends his uncle upstairs to look for his misplaced false teeth. Junior finds a gun instead and returns downstairs. Under the delusion Tony is Malanga, Uncle Junior yells, "cazzaro Malanga!" (loosely translated, "fucking unreliable Malanga!"), and shoots Tony in the stomach. Uncle Junior then runs up the stairs and hides in a closet, as Tony struggles to call 9-1-1.

First appearances

The episode marks the first appearances of:

  • Anthony Infante: Ginny Sacramoni's brother, who owns an eyewear store.
  • Domenica Baccalieri: Janice and Bobby's 12-month-old daughter.
  • James "Murmur" Zancone: Christopher's associate and AA sponsor—first seen at Raymond's funeral.
  • Gerry Torciano: associate in the Lupertazzi crime family and Phil Leotardo's protégé after his brother's death; responsible for Phil Leotardo's business in Brooklyn following his promotion to acting boss.

Deceased

Title reference

  • Eugene Pontecorvo is shown wearing a "Members Only" jacket, which was popular in the early 1980s, and is even made fun of for wearing it by Vito Spatafore.
  • It may also refer to membership in the Mafia itself, and may be seen as a companion or sequel to the next episode, called "Join the Club".

Awards

  • Terence Winter, the episode's writer, won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Drama series at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

Production

  • The "traditional" season opening sequence involving Tony fetching a newspaper is not featured. Instead, a montage of the characters is featured showcasing what has happened in the past two years. In "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request", Carmela is seen picking up the paper which bears a picture of Uncle Junior on the front page.
  • Drea de Matteo (Adriana La Cerva) and Steve Buscemi (Tony Blundetto) are no longer billed in the opening credits, as their characters were killed off in the previous season. De Matteo has been credited in this episode in the closing credits, for a dream sequence involving Carmela's spec house.
  • Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo), Joseph Gannascoli (Vito Spatafore), Dan Grimaldi (Patsy Parisi) and Toni Kalem (Angie Bonpensiero) are now billed in the opening credits but only for the episodes in which they appear.
  • Jamie-Lynn Sigler is again billed by that name in the opening credits, following her separation from her agent and longtime boyfriend, A.J. DiScala, after Season 5 ended.
  • In the original broadcast of this episode (March 12, 2006) no previews for the next episode were shown in order to keep the aftermath of Tony's shooting a mystery.

References to prior episodes

  • 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 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.
  • 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"?

References to other media


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