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"Meadowlands" is the 4th episode of Season One of the HBO original series The Sopranos. It is the 4th overall episode of the series. It was written by Jason Cahill, directed by John Patterson and originally aired on January 31, 1999.

Episode cast[]

Guest Starring[]

Also Guest Starring[]

  • Michele DeCesare as Hunter Scangarelo
  • Guillermo Diaz as Salesperson
  • Daniel Hilt as Kid #3
  • Ray Michael Karl as Teacher
  • Theresa Lynn as Stripper
  • Shawn McLean as Yo Yo Mendez
  • Annika Pergament as News Anchor
  • Sal Petraccione as George Piocosta
  • James Spector as Kid #1
  • Corrine Stella as Woman
  • Anthony Tavaglione as Lance

Episode recap[]

Tony Soprano suffers increasing paranoia over his secret psychiatric sessions, especially after a near-encounter with Silvio Dante, who was visiting the dental office just opposite Dr. Melfi's suite. However, Tony is in no hurry to abandon therapy: he has also been developing feelings for the doctor, even to the point of having a detective in his employ, Vin Makazian, secretly follow and photograph her. Unfortunately, Makazian assumes Melfi is a mistress of Tony's, and oversteps the mark; when he sees Melfi with a date, he pulls the pair over on a false accusation of crossing the double yellow line, and after the date admits to having wine with dinner, proceeds to conduct a field sobriety test and then brutally beat the helpless man and take him into custody, stating to a confused Melfi, "You got prime rib at home, and you're going out for hamburger?" Tony's dangerous feelings even lead him to consider quitting therapy, but Carmela insists he continue, although she is still under the impression that Tony's psychiatrist is male. In fact, Carmela goes so far as to warn Tony that without continued therapy, their marriage will be at serious risk.

A.J. is left confused when a physically bigger classmate, Jeremy Piocosta, backs down from a fight with him and pays for a shirt he ripped in a previous scuffle. With some guidance from Meadow, A.J. comes to realize that Jeremy was intimidated by the reputation of his father. Tony had coincidentally met Jeremy's father the day before at a plant nursery as Tony was seeking pesticide for his garden corn. Tony's friendliness while holding an axe confused Jeremy's father, and probably provoked Jeremy to quit the fight. A.J. then learns from Meadow about what exactly their father does for a living.

Christopher, meanwhile, is running scared after his mock execution, which has left him in a neck brace, and is even more unnerved when he and Adriana discover Brendan Filone lying dead in his bathtub, shot clean through the eye. Convinced that Tony is exacting vengeance on him for giving drugs to Meadow, his fears are only allayed when he questions her and discovers that she has not revealed the transaction. However, finding that Junior is responsible, and has also assumed collection of protection money owed to Tony's crew, he is keen for vengeance. Upon bringing news of Brendan's demise, Christopher also implies that he will take out Mikey Palmice. Tony does not allow Chris to go forward with his plans because Mikey is a made man. Instead, Tony takes a ride to the luncheonette, beats Mikey and proceeds to staple into his chest through his suit with a staple gun. He then confronts Junior about his extreme actions against Brendan and Chris.

Although Tony chastises his uncle, the prospect of war with Junior also looms large for him, especially after the abrupt death of his friend and acting DiMeo Family boss, Jackie Aprile, Sr., creates uncertainty over who will be his successor. Although Tony has the backing of the other capos and is irate over the unauthorized and extreme punishments meted out to Christopher, he seeks a diplomatic resolution with his uncle. After some unwitting inspiration from Dr. Melfi about giving the elderly the "illusion of control", Tony concedes leadership of the family to Junior, with several advantages: he can avoid a war and obtain income-earning properties and contracts as payment from Junior in exchange for his recommendation. Junior, being the boss, would also bear the brunt of any investigation from the authorities. Content with his decision, Tony opts to remain in therapy.


Larry Barese- With a stapler? (laughing) Wow.

Jimmy Altieri- I heard Mikey had to give up that nice suit.

Tony Soprano- Yeah?

Jimmy Altieri- He got too attached to it. (laughter)

Raymond Curto- Michael Palmice's been a disease since he was five, he had it coming.

Larry Barese- It don't make things any easier.

Tony Soprano- My uncle's a stubborn man.

Jimmy Altieri- Stubborn enough to go to war?

Tony Soprano- What kind of word is that?

Larry Barese- There hasn't been a war since the Columbo thing. Everybody decided.

Raymond Curto- No one's going to the mattresses this day and age.

Jimmy Altieri- I got a top-of-the-line Posturepedic at my house. Fuck it. (laughter)

Tony Soprano- If Jackie hadn't gotten sick, none of this would have happened.

Jimmy Altieri- When you're right, you're right.

Tony Soprano- So one of us captains gotta step up. Lack of control at the top is fucking up this whole family.

Raymond Curto- That's true.

Larry Barese- You can say that again.

Tony Soprano- I know if the old man were here, instead of in that cell in Springfield, he'd say "Raymond, this is your moment."

Raymond Curto- Go easy with the grease gun, okay?

Tony Soprano- What?

Raymond Curto- Well, you're the Boy Wonder. Both him and Jackie both had you picked from day one.

Tony Soprano- You got the age, you got the seniority.

Raymond Curto- I also got an 18-year-old with MS, okay? I told Nucci I'd be doing less, not more.

Tony Soprano- All due respect to your crippled kid, you just don't a wire up your ass, you don't want the headache.

Raymond Curto- See, that's why you should be boss. You're so fucking smart. And it's "physically challenged".

Jimmy Altieri- Absolutely.

Larry Barese- Why don't we run this thing like a council?

Jimmy Altieri- Larry, the old guys set this up as a paramilitary organization. We need a supreme commander at the top, not the fucking Dave Clark Five.

Raymond Curto- Face it, T. you and Junior are gonna have to duke it out. You gotta be boss.

Tony Soprano- Number 1, I love the man. Number 2, he's got New York behind him.

Larry Barese- Not for anything, God bless your uncle, but he's living in the wrong century. And New York knows it.

Jimmy Altieri- You want it, T, you'll get their okay.

Raymond Curto- It's the right thing. It's inevitable.

Tony Soprano- I don't want no disturbance.


Tony Soprano- Uncle Junior. I need to talk to you. I came in heavy, like you said, but I don't want to use it. (sits down) Our friend Jackie has died.

Junior Soprano- I heard.

Tony Soprano- And we need a leader.

Junior Soprano- We do.

Tony Soprano- And I don't want any confusion, or misunderstanding.

Junior Soprano- Yes?

Tony Soprano- Sopranos have been waiting a long time to take the reins. That's why I want it to be you, Uncle Jun.

Junior Soprano- This is your decision?

Tony Soprano- It is.

Junior Soprano- You speak for the captains?

Tony Soprano- I can.

Junior Soprano- Come here. (hugs) You crazy cetriolo, fucking had me worried there.

Tony Soprano- What, you think I'm gonna mess with a guy like you? Huh? What, you been pumping iron? Look at you, strong as a bull! Hey call Parcells, give this guy a try-out! Come here. (hugs again)

Junior Soprano- Always the bullshitter.

Tony Soprano- Just one thing, one thing. You know I can't be perceived to lose face, right? So, Bloomfield. And the Paving Union. That's my asking price. (Junior nods and they hug again) Congratulations.


First appearances[]

The episode marks the first appearances of:


Title reference[]

The Meadowlands is a wetlands area in northern New Jersey. Christopher identifies it as the place where his mock execution took place.

Cultural references[]

  • At the beginning of the episode, A.J. is playing Mario Kart 64. When Tony comes home, he plays the game with him in multiplayer mode.
  • Jimmy Altieri tells the capos their crime family should be run as a paramilitary organization and not as The Dave Clark Five when Larry Boy suggests a ruling council.
  • Melfi’s date Randall mentions the song “People are Strange” by The Doors, specifically the lyric “Faces look ugly when you’re alone”.
  • When Tony congratulates Junior on becoming the boss, he commends his physique, telling the people at the café to call Parcells and "give this guy a tryout."


Retrospectively, Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club felt that although many elements of "Meadowlands" worked, the episode is "a bit of a step down from the previous three." She criticized the subplot involving AJ as "pretty pointless, playing out as a sort of miniature version of the Tony and Junior conflict and ending much the same way", but considered the overall episode to be "a pretty good summation of many of the things the show is going to be interested in going forward." Alan Sepinwall was highly positive, calling the resolution of the Tony and Junior conflict "an elegant solution, [...] and a great indicator of what a savvy tactician Tony is". Sepinwall also praised the final scene of "Meadowlands" as "a strong way to end an episode that's been all about the crumbling walls between Tony's work and home lives."


  • Jason Cahill won a "Writers Guild of America" award for his work on this episode.


  • The song played when Tony visits Uncle Junior at the restaurant and tries to head off a war, but Junior threatens to take Christopher's business away is "Prisoner of Love" by Perry Como.
  • The song played at the Bada Bing when Tony and the other captains eat lobsters and discuss the possibility of an impending war is "Ugly Stadium" by Tipsy.
  • The song played at the Bada Bing before the news announcement of Jackie Aprile's death is "Floor-Essence" by Man With No Name.
  • The song played over the end credits is "Look on Down From the Bridge" by Mazzy Star.