Members Only (The Sopranos)
|The Sopranos episode|
|Directed by||Tim Van Patten|
|Written by||Terence Winter|
|Cinematography by||Phil Abraham|
|Original air date||March 12, 2006|
|Running time||52 minutes|
"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 March 12, 2006.
- James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
- Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi
- Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano
- Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti
- Dominic Chianese as Corrado Soprano, Jr.
- Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante
- Tony Sirico as Paulie Gualtieri
- Robert Iler as Anthony Soprano, Jr.
- Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano
- Aida Turturro as Janice Soprano Baccalieri
- Steven R. Schirripa as Bobby Baccalieri
- Vincent Curatola as Johnny Sack
- Frank Vincent as Phil Leotardo
- John Ventimiglia as Artie Bucco
- Dan Grimaldi as Patsy Parisi
- Joseph R. Gannascoli as Vito Spatafore
- Toni Kalem as Angie Bonpensiero
Also guest starring
- Drea De Matteo as Adriana La Cerva
- Frankie Valli as Rusty Millio
- Robert Funaro as Eugene Pontecorvo
- Tom Aldredge as Hugh De Angelis
- Sharon Angela as Rosalie Aprile
- John Bianco as Gerry Torciano
- Denise Borino as Ginny Sacrimoni
- Joe Caniano as Teddy Spirodakis
- Carl Capotorto as Little Paulie
- Max Casella as Benny Fazio
- Greg D'Agostino as Jimmy Lauria
- Suzanne Di Donna as Deanne Pontecervo
- Danielle Di Vecchio as Barbara Soprano Giglione
- Will Janowitz as Finn DeTrolio
- Michael Kelly as Agent Goddard
- George Loros as Raymond Curto
- Lou Martini, Jr. as Anthony Infante
- Arthur J. Nascarella as Carlo Gervasi
- Matt Pepper as Agent Gosling
- Anthony J. Ribustello as Dante Greco
- Thomas Russo as Robbie Pontecorvo
- Matt Servitto as Agent Dwight Harris
- Daniel Stewart Sherman as Ron Senkowski
- David Shumbris as Eli Kaplan
- Tracey Silver as Beth Kaplan
- Lenny Venito as James "Murmur" Zancone
- Karen Young as Agent Robyn Sanseverino
- Nick Annunziata as Eddie Pietro
- Ai Kiyono as Sushi Waitress
- Lisa Sue Miller as Bada Bing Waitress
- Brianna and Kimberly Laughlin as Domenica Baccalieri
- Grace Van Patten as Ally Pontecorvo
Nearly two years have passed since the end of the previous episode. Two FBI agents drive in a car, and the agent driving states: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public", paraphrasing 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, "Seven Souls" by Material, begins the opening narration, a shortened version of a spoken word essay ("The ancient Egyptians postulated seven souls...") by William S. Burroughs from his novel The Western Lands. The narration is accompanied by snapshots of some of the characters' current lives, and each ancient Egyptian soul is ascribed to a certain character: Vito Spatafore (Ren, the Secret Name) has lost a great deal of weight and has become a spokesperson for Thin Club; Janice Soprano is breast feeding her and Bobby Baccalieri's daughter Domenica Baccalieri; Eugene Pontecorvo and Bobby (Sekem: Energy, Power, Light) - Eugene and his wife become joyous after reading an inheritance letter, while Bobby has taken up model railroading as a hobby; Meadow (Khu, the Guardian Angel) is sexy dancing for her fiancé Finn DeTrolio; Ray Curto (Ba, the heart, often treacherous) is exercising on a treadmill; Anthony Junior (Ka, the Double) is now attending college and snaps a picture of himself resembling his aunt Janice's tattoo; Adriana La Cerva (Khaibit, the Shadow, Memory) is remembered by a worrying Carmela Soprano; and Uncle Junior (Sekhu, the Remains) is being helped by Tony to locate the large amount of money Junior thinks he buried in his backyard 30 years before.
Phil Leotardo is now the 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, who had been working as a shylock in the area for Hesh, are assaulted by some New York Family associates. They force them to leave their car, break Hesh's nose, and beat up Eli, who, while trying to escape, is hit by a car. At the hospital, Hesh asks Tony for help settling the conflict. Tony tries to reach out directly to Johnny Sack through John's optometrist brother-in-law, Anthony Infante, but Johnny is too concerned with his immediate family's financial troubles (IRS asset freezes). Tony, Christopher Moltisanti, who has now become a caporegime in the family, and Vito then meet Phil and Gerry "The Hairdo" Torciano behind the Bada Bing!. Tony and Phil also had a disagreement about their respective cuts from their latest building project, but both incidents are resolved. Turns out the New York men were protecting Gerry's area and did not know Eli was working for Hesh and the Soprano family; therefore, they agree to compensate Eli $50,000. After the meeting, Tony observes to Christopher that Phil has impressed him a lot, as Phil changed greatly when he became the acting boss - no longer expressing the direct hostility he'd shown previously for his brother's death and showing willingness to make compromises. Christopher, however, remains wary and hostile, remembering Phil once wanted him dead.
Vito is not shy telling select people that he would be a competent candidate for the crime family boss' position if anything were to happen to Tony, since he is the best earner.
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. Eugene goes to Tony with a gift of expensive watches and a request to retire to Florida. Tony tells Eugene he took an oath (as seen in the episode "Fortunate Son"), and retiring is not an option, but he will consider it. Eugene's wife is becoming restless, as they have found a desirable house for purchase in Florida, which could be soon bought by someone else. After Eugene kills a Boston man named Teddy Spirodakis, who was in debt to Christopher, and gives Tony his cut of the inheritance, Silvio Dante informs Eugene that Tony has denied his request. Unknown to the crime family, Eugene is a reluctant informant for the FBI, which has increased its 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. The FBI also denies Eugene's plans to move to Florida where he will be less useful to them. Eugene and Deanne argue about Florida; Deanne refuses alternatives to moving to Florida (such as buying a vacation condo or finding a better place to live in New Jersey) and even suggests that Eugene kill Tony. She also reveals that their son has been using heroin. Eugene looks over a family photo album, touches a few sea shells, then hangs himself in the basement of his house.
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, but he has missed the Italian foods offered by Satriale's.
Carmela's construction of her spec house is suspended, due to a "stop order" issued by the building inspector for the use of improper lumber. Her father, Hugh, protests and asks about an inspector he used to work with to have him waive the criteria, only to learn that his contact had retired. Carmela asks Tony to see if he can get the stop order lifted, but he puts it off.
Artie Bucco has reunited with his estranged wife, Charmaine. He tends to the table of Carmela and Angie Bonpensiero, who have patched up their quarrel. Both of them show off their new cars to each other: Carmela's, a Porsche Cayenne, which Tony had recently given her as a gift, and Angie's, a Chevrolet Corvette, which she bought from the money she made at the auto body shop she runs and her side jobs for Tony.
Junior's mental state has deteriorated significantly. He is convinced "Little Pussy" Malanga (who was killed six years ago) is out to get him, and Junior is afraid to answer his phone or go out. Tony talks to Dr. Melfi about him, and she suggests considering assisted living, which Tony rejects, saying it is the family's duty to look after Junior and not put him in a "nursing home". One afternoon, when Junior is particularly agitated, Tony's sister Barbara is unable to take care of her uncle due to a family emergency, whereas Janice and Bobby claim to be too busy applying to a pre-school for Nica, and so Tony ends up personally paying his uncle a visit. Tony begins to cook pasta for Junior and sends him upstairs to look for his misplaced dentures. Tony yells up to Junior dinner will be ready soon. Junior, confused who is in his house, asks "who's down there", with Tony responding "Artie Shaw." Junior finds a gun and returns downstairs with it yelling, "Cazzata Malanga!" ("Stupid move, Malanga!"), and shoots Tony in the abdomen. Junior then runs up the stairs, hides the gun under his bed, and hides in a closet. Tony drags himself across the floor and manages to dial 9-1-1 on the kitchen phone, just before losing consciousness.
The episode marks the first appearances of:
- Agent Ron Goddard: FBI Agent Harris' new partner working counter-terrorism.
- Anthony Infante: Ginny Sacrimoni's brother, who owns an eyewear store.
- Domenica "Nica" Baccalieri: Janice and Bobby's 12-month-old daughter.
- James "Murmur" Zancone: Christopher's associate and Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who Christopher says is also good at forging documents.
- Gerry "The Hairdo" Torciano: soldier and acting capo 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.
- Raymond Curto: stroke
- Teddy Spirodakis: shot by Eugene in a restaurant in Boston
- Eugene Pontecorvo: suicide by hanging
- Dick Barone: (offscreen) owner of Barone Sanitation; died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).
- Eugene Pontecorvo is shown wearing a "Members Only" jacket and is made fun of for it by Vito Spatafore.
- It could refer to the Mafia code of being a member only and never a retiree, just what Eugene Pontecorvo attempted to become.
- The "traditional" season premiere sequence involving The Star-Ledger newspaper is not featured. Instead, a montage of the characters is featured showcasing what has happened in the past two years. A new version of the scene with the delivered newspaper appears in the fifth episode of the season, "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request".
- Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo), Dan Grimaldi (Patsy Parisi), Joseph Gannascoli (Vito Spatafore), and Toni Kalem (Angie Bonpensiero) are promoted to starring cast and are now billed in the opening credits but only for the episodes in which they appear.
- Jamie-Lynn Sigler is again billed by her original last name in the opening credits, following her separation from her agent and husband, 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 first 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"?
Other cultural references
- Tony refers to his forgetful Uncle Junior as "Knucklehead Smiff".
- Vito asks Agent Harris if he had lost weight due to the Atkins diet.
- When Eugene proposes retiring, he cites the precedent set by "Joe Bananas" (Joseph Bonanno).
- The movie Junior watches is Paths of Glory, a 1957 war movie directed by Stanley Kubrick.
- When Junior says Pussy Malanga is prank calling his house Tony says they will get FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to investigate.
- The song featured in the opening scene and closing credits is "Seven Souls" by Material. It features William S. Burroughs reading from his novel The Western Lands. Creator David Chase describes the song as featuring a strong foreboding tone and themes touching the concepts of death and resurrection. Chase had originally tried to use this song for the pilot episode of The Sopranos . It finally ended up being used on the show in this episode, in the opening montage of the premiere of the final season, eight years later.
- The song featured in the scene where Tony and Carmela are dining at the sushi restaurant is "Ride a White Horse" by Goldfrapp.
- "Dreaming" by Blondie plays on the car radio when Eugene is returning home from his murder job.
- The song playing when Junior shoots Tony is "Comes Love" by Artie Shaw, sung by Helen Forrest.
- On August 27, 2006, Terence Winter, the episode's writer, won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards.