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"Isabella" is the 12th episode of Season 1 of the HBO original series The Sopranos. It is the 12th overall episode of the series. It was written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, directed by Allen Coulter and originally aired on March 28, 1999.

Episode cast[]

* = credit only

Guest starring[]

  • Maria Grazia Cucinotta as Isabella
  • Al Sapienza as Mikey Palmice
  • Paul Schulze as Father Phil
  • Matt Servitto as Agent Harris
  • Joe Badalucco, Jr. as Jimmy Altieri
  • John Eddins as William "Petite" Clayborn
  • Touche as Rasheen Ray
  • Kareen Germaine as Nurse
  • Johnathan Mondel as Boy
  • Jack O'Connell as Vendor
  • Katalin Pota as Lilliana
  • Denise Richardson as Newscaster
  • Sal Ruffino as Chucky Signore
  • Bittu Walia as Doctor
  • David Wike as Donnie Paduana

Episode recap[]

At Mariolina Capuano's funeral, Junior shows signs of nervousness about the hit he has ordered on Tony. Meanwhile, Tony, having taken lithium pills for his severe depression, sees a beautiful Italian woman named Isabella in the Cusamanos' garden next door. Isabella tells Tony that she is a foreign exchange student, and guesses correctly that Tony's family is from Avellino, Italy. Later, Tony takes her out to lunch and, while hearing her talk about Italy, has a daydream that she is breastfeeding a baby named Antonio.

Junior finalizes his plan to kill Tony, using two hired thugs — Rasheen Ray and William "Petite" Clayborn — contracted through Donnie Paduana. Ray and Clayborn plan to wait for Tony to appear at a Midland Avenue newsstand he is known to visit as part of his weekly routine, but Tony enters a donut shop next door. He leaves through the back and enters another building — his clandestine way of going to his appointments with Dr. Melfi. Christopher, who has also secretly followed Tony to the newsstand, unknowingly prevents the hit when he pulls his car next to the assassins and blocks their line of sight. After the failed hit, Donnie cracks a joke about Tony's own mother ordering the hit on him, which bothers Junior. At Junior's behest, Mikey kills Donnie on the spot.

The next day, Ray and Clayborn make their move against Tony at the newsstand, but Tony sees Clayborn's reflection in the window of his car, coming at him with his gun. Clayborn shoots but misses, hitting Tony's orange juice instead. In the ensuing struggle, Clayborn is accidentally killed by Ray and Ray is briefly dragged down the street as Tony drives away. This momentarily invigorates Tony, but he takes his eyes off the road and crashes into a parked car, injuring his leg. At the hospital, FBI Agent Harris tries to convince Tony and Carmela to testify against the DiMeo family and enter witness protection in exchange for immunity. Tony rejects it vehemently, insisting that the incident was merely a carjacking.

Chris, Silvio, and Paulie suspect Junior was involved in the attempted hit. Livia and Junior visit Tony, who is recovering with an injured leg and gunshot wound to the ear. Junior pledges to track down the culprits, while Livia acts confused, failing to recognize Meadow. Junior later confronts Livia about her sudden forgetfulness, accusing her of convenient timing for showing signs of dementia, considering the failed attempt on Tony's life.

Upon the Cusamanos' return home, Tony is surprised to learn that there was never a foreign exchange student, and nobody else ever saw Isabella in the neighborhood. Tony calls Melfi in alarm to report that he had hallucinated the whole thing. She identifies as a side effect of his lithium medication, which she orders him to stop taking. Melfi theorizes that Isabella was an idealized maternal figure that Tony's subconscious produced because of his anger over his mother's actions, and asks if Tony has anything else worrying him right now. Tony responds that he is fine — and that he'll be even better when he finds out who organized the hit.