Irregular Around the Margins

Irregular Around the Margins

Infobox Television episode | Title = Irregular Around the Margins
Series = The Sopranos
Season = 5
Episode = 57
Guests= "see below"
Airdate = April 4, 2004
Production = 505
Writer = Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess
Director = Allen Coulter
Episode list = Episode chronology

Tony and Carmela projecting family solidarity.

Prev = All Happy Families...
Next = Sentimental Education

"Irregular Around the Margins" is the fifty-seventh episode of the HBO original series "The Sopranos" and the fifth of the show's fifth season. It was written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, directed by Allen Coulter and originally aired on April 4 2004.

Guest starring roles

* Jerry Adler as Hesh Rabkin
* Max Casella as Benny Fazio
* Joseph R. Gannascoli as Vito Spatafore
* Robert Funaro as Eugene Pontecorvo
* Lola Glaudini as Agent Deborah Ciccerone-Waldrup
* Dan Grimaldi as Patsy Parisi
* Hill Harper as Stokley Davenport, M.D.
* Will Janowitz as Finn De Trolio
* Frank Pellegrino as Chief Frank Cubitoso
* Anthony Ribustello as Dante Greco
* Tony Siragusa as Frankie Cortese
* Duke Valenti as Corky DiGioia
* Frank Vincent as Phil Leotardo
* Karen Young as Agent Sanseverino

Episode recap

Tony is at the hospital having a suspected cancerous mole removed from his forehead. The removed mole is taken away for analysis, and it is later reported to be a benign squamous skin cancer. Later he lies to Carmela saying he bumped his head against a cabinet.

Adriana goes to the doctor with gastro-intestinal problems, possibly Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, which includes frequent diarrhea brought on by the stress of her working as an informant. When the doctor asks about the possible stresses in her life, she comes up with a cover story.

Tony has been spending more time at the Crazy Horse, and therefore, more time with Adriana. With Christopher out of town handling a cigarette smuggling job (and suffering from the pain of an impacted tooth which, due to his sobriety, he cannot relieve with painkillers, instead using an ineffectual herbal remedy), Tony and Adriana are alone together a few times in her club's office, where Tony also conducts "business." The two bond over recent medical and family problems -- Adriana's IBS and Tony's cancer scare -- as well as snort a few lines of cocaine together. During a game of darts, Adriana drops some of them and bends down to pick them up. When Tony helps her up, they have a sexually tense moment that is interrupted when Phil Leotardo and Joey Peeps arrive for a meeting.

Tony, back in therapy, discusses his feelings for Adriana with Dr. Melfi (Tony acknowledges that he is "on probation" with her) and tells her that Adriana is the kind of woman with whom he could start a whole new family. He is aware how much trouble would arise if he pursued a relationship with Adriana; not just between himself and Carmela, but with Christopher as well. Dr. Melfi commends Tony for this psychological "milestone." It represents growth, thinking about the consequences of his actions and for those he loves, rather than acting impulsively on his feelings.

Meanwhile, while being pressured by her FBI handler to find out and to tell them where Christopher went, Adriana discusses her feelings for Tony with Agent Sanseverino, including that, unlike Christopher, "He's nice,....he listens." Agent Sanseverino appears to be sympathetic and understanding as to why Adriana is attracted to him, including that he is "kind of attractive" and an "alpha male." She also mentions what would happen if Christopher was to find out. However, Agent Sanseverino mocks Adriana to her colleagues and friends at the FBI during lunch about Adriana's attraction to Tony. One night, Tony and Adriana decide to drive to Dover at 2 AM to get some cocaine from a drug dealer Adriana knows. Tony, behind the wheel, is distracted by small talk and the mutual unspoken sexual attraction. At Adriana's panic, he swerves to avoid a raccoon in the road and flips his SUV on its driver's side. Tony is later released from the hospital after getting a clean bill of health. Adriana, however, took the worst of the crash, bearing several bruises and a head injury. She is in a temporary neck brace and on an examination table, compared to the ambulatory Tony Soprano. Tony suggests that they come up with a cover story as to why they were alone together at 2AM near Dover.

After completing his lucrative smuggling job, Christopher learns of the accident from his crew. At first he is puzzled over why Tony and Adriana would be driving together at 2:00am. Then he apparently expects the worst. However, to save face in front of his crew, he makes up a story that Tony had a sick relative near where the accident occurred and hastily returns to New Jersey.

While driving Adriana home later, Christopher angrily interrogates her about being alone with Tony. Adriana tells him the cover story about getting something to eat; Christopher doesn't believe her. At the Bada Bing, Tony, whose string of physical misfortunes continues, cleans dog excrement of his shoe with a swizzle stick. While handing the swizzle stick to Christopher to dispose of, he tells Christopher the cover story about getting food and deflects the conversation with Christopher's supposed selfishness and wrongful suspicion, that she could have died in the accident. He tells him that he should feel lucky that a "knockout, a ten" like Adriana is with someone who is "average, at best." Tony swears on his children that nothing is going on.

Meanwhile Tony's entire crew, including Uncle Junior, play an unintentional game of "telephone" with the story of the accident. The details get more elaborate and lurid with each retelling. The FBI gets wind of the story and believes the distorted version of an affair. Christopher has become a . When Christopher goes to Satriale's, he sees Vito Spatafore and some others laughing over the story. Christopher, having only heard the laughter and wanting to know what the joke was about, becomes frustrated over the crew's subsequent evasiveness. Christopher bursts into a rage and throws food at Vito, who is now a capo and outranks him. Vito gets up to retaliate but is restrained by the others. Later Christopher shows up at home and angrily confronts Adriana (who is out of the neckbrace) and chokes her. He has heard the distorted story about Adriana performing fellatio on Tony, and believes it was the reason for the accident. When he assaults her and chokes her again, she admits that she and Tony were going to see her drug dealer, but insists that nothing happened between them. Christopher then beats her, backhanding her twice, inflicting blows to Adriana's already injured head. He then drags Adriana by the hair out of the apartment, saying that he never wants to see her again. Seconds later, he falls off the wagon by guzzling some liquor straight out of the bottle after rifling through Adriana's purse for drugs. Later, Tony Blundetto warns Tony that Christopher was drunk at the Belleville Tavern and was talking loudly about the situation. Tony says Christopher knows where to find him and tells Tony B. to tell Christopher that if he sees him.

When Tony brings A.J. over to the house with pizza, Carmela has heard the worst of the stories and confronts him in the foyer. She believes them given Tony's philandering history. She is resentful about how the story affects the family. She tells Tony she can't stand to look at him and drops the pizza box at his feet, turns her back and walks away. Tony, out of spite, leaves the house with the pizza still on the foyer floor. A moment later Tony reenters the house and picks up the pizza and leaves with it. Apparently taking up Tony's challenge, Christopher shows up drunk at the Bada Bing looking for Tony. He empties his pistol's clip into Tony's SUV in the parking lot and staggers into the full gentleman's club, yelling for Tony and pointing his empty pistol in Tony's general direction. Bouncers quickly subdue him with Christopher screaming that Tony was lucky that he "ran out of load." Tony and his crew take Christopher out to a deserted road where Tony kicks and slaps him a couple of times and prepares to execute him if he won't accept that nothing happened between himself and Adriana. Unwilling to believe him, saying he sent him to North Carolina so he could take his girlfriend, Tony denies that he even thought of it. Christopher waits for Tony to shoot. Tony B. intercedes with a plan to convince Christopher of the truth.

Christopher and the two Tonys see the doctor who treated both Tony and Adriana on the night of the accident. The Tonys want him to convince Christopher that Tony was telling the truth that no fellatio occurred. They subtly threaten violence against him if he didn't cooperate. With his "pre-board-certified massage therapist" knowledge of human anatomy, Blundetto is able to convince the doctor to affirm that Adriana must have been wearing her seatbelt during the accident and could not have been physically involved with Tony at the time of the crash. Tony tries to pay off the doctor for his help but he doesn't take it and leaves the car in disgust. Christopher has been placated, but he is still upset. Everyone else thinks that the false story is true but Tony asks him why he cares what people think, since he knows the truth. Christopher laments that he has to live in the world of what people think, looking like a fool. Christopher gets out of the car in frustration.

Tony relates the story in general outlines to Dr. Melfi during a session. He laments:

"You know what? I might as well have fucked her. Thanks."

With this being resolved, Tony manages to convince Carmela that nothing happened with Adriana, telling multiple lies including that he didn't do drugs when Carmela tells him that Meadow saw him at the Crazy Horse "coked out." Typically, Tony tries to shift the blame, saying that Carmela is no saint herself, a veiled reference to Carmela's unconsummated dalliance (possibly, in Tony's mind, consummated) with Furio Giunta, Tony's former enforcer. Carmela, disgusted, turns to walk away but Tony stops her roughly. He asks her if she believes that he would go after Adriana, a girl that will soon be a member of their family. Carmela's frustrated silence is his answer. He then asks her for help in putting "a good face on this thing for the sake of the kids and the family," only for Carmela to complain that she has to bail him out.

Agent Sanseverino is keeping up the pressure on Adriana and would like more information on Tony but is at first shocked at Adriana's battered face when she enters her car. She reassures that most of the bruising was the result of the accident and, on top of everything, she may have Ulcerative Colitis. Agent Sanseverino still believes the distorted stories of Adriana and Tony being intimate and she wants Adriana to use that relationship to get information. If not, they could get a court order to plant listening devices in the Crazy Horse. That is a non-starter for Adriana; she verbally explodes on Sansverino and moves to get out of the car. Agent Sanseverino, perhaps out of genuine concern, says it is a syndrome to protect her batterer. Adriana defends Christopher back-handedly by saying if it was Christopher that was alone in a car with a woman, she would want to kill him.

In a show of false solidarity, Tony, Carmela, Christopher, Adriana, Tony B., and Quintina Blundetto arrive at Vesuvio's, where Tony's crew is present. There is noticeable tension between Adriana and Christopher, though it appears to be resolving. Vito approaches them and shakes Christopher's hand, wishing him a pleasant evening. All fences have been mended, for the most part.

First appearances

* Frankie Cortese: an associate in the Soprano crew. He is one of the two bodyguards who subdue Christopher when he comes into the Bada Bing to confront Tony.

Title reference

* Tony tells Adriana that he's afraid a mole on his shoulder looks "irregular around the margins," a worry he's had ever since a cancerous mole was removed from his forehead.
* The title is also a reflection of the sexual temptation Tony has towards crossing the moral boundary with Adriana, which Tony considered to be a taboo.

Connections to future episodes

* The vehicle accident is brought back up in the sixth season, episode Stage 5.
* In one scene, Agent Sanseverino told Adriana that she did not have any children. However, in a later episode from this season, "Unidentified Black Males", the agent drives in her car with her daughter.


* The song that plays during the meeting in the Crazy Horse when Adriana comes in is "Beat Connection" from LCD Soundsystem.
* The song that plays during the final restaurant scene is the aria "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta?" from La Rondine, an opera by Giacomo Puccini sung by Luba Orgonasova.

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