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"The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti" is the 8th episode of Season One of the HBO original series The Sopranos. It is the 8th overall episode of the series. It was written by Frank Renzulli and David Chase, directed by Tim Van Patten and originally aired on February 28, 1999.

Episode cast[]

Guest starring[]

Also guest starring[]

  • Al Sapienza as Mikey Palmice
  • Tony Darrow as Larry Boy Barese
  • George Loros as Raymond Curto
  • Joe Badalucco Jr. as Jimmy Altieri
  • Frank Santorelli as Georgie
  • Sam Coppola as Dr. Sam Reis
  • Brian Geraghty as Counter Boy
  • Will McCormack as Jason LaPenna
  • Ed Crasnick as Comedian
  • Joseph Gannascoli as Gino
  • Barbara Hass as Aida Melfi
  • Timothy Nolen as Jeffrey Wernick
  • Barbara Lavalle as Band Leader
  • Robert Anthony Lavalle as Band Leader #2
  • Frank Pando as Agent Grasso
  • Annika Pergament as News Anchor
  • Brooke Marie Procida as Bride
  • Matt Servitto as Agent Harris
  • Bruce Smolanoff as Emil Kolar

Episode recap[]

At his daughter's wedding, Larry informs members of the DiMeo crime family that, according to his source Leon, in the FBI, federal indictments will soon be handed down against the New Jersey mob. Junior and Tony tell the capos to undertake some "spring cleaning". During the wedding dinner, the capos gather their families and leave prematurely to get rid of incriminating evidence in their possession. The stunned bride is reduced to tears.

Upon arriving home, Tony and Carmela remove cash and guns from their house, which Tony later stashes in Livia's room at Green Grove. Carmela is upset when Tony asks for her jewelry, claiming he does not have receipts. When she expresses shock when he asks for her engagement ring, Tony allows her to keep it. Meadow and A.J. observe what is happening. Tony's crew undertakes similar precautions: Pussy and his wife burn all their papers in a barbecue grill, and Silvio enlists Christopher and Georgie to search for bugs in the Bada Bing's restroom.

At their therapy session, Tony tells Dr. Melfi he may not be at the next appointment, explaining that he may be going "on vacation". Melfi understands, having seen a news report about the impending indictments. Previously, Melfi and her family had discussed her "Italian" patient. While her ex-husband does not know the patient is Tony, he suspects the patient is connected to the mob. He is irate that approximately 5,000 mafiosi have given 20 million Italian-Americans a bad name, and suggests that she drop the patient.

Tony misses his next appointment with Melfi because he is detained by the FBI, led by Agent Dwight Harris. Tony allows the FBI to execute their search warrant. However, tensions arise when another agent, Frank Grasso, accidentally breaks a glass bowl and Tony, recognizing Grasso's ethnicity, curses him in Italian. When Carmela refuses to clean up the broken glass, Grasso is made to perform the task. While the family eats Chinese takeout, Tony complains that Italians are unfairly targeted by the police, and that Italians like Michelangelo and Antonio Meucci have contributed to society. A.J. points out that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but Tony credits Meucci as the real inventor of the device.

At their next appointment, Melfi charges Tony for the missed session, prompting him to throw cash at her and storm out of the office. Meanwhile, Chris suffers recurring nightmares about the first man he killed, Emil Kolar. Worried, Chris enlists Georgie to help dig up Emil's body and relocate it. Chris also struggles to write a compelling story arc in his Mafia screenplay, and expresses concern that his life lacks a significant event that will prompt him to start a successful arc in his life. While performing an errand for Tony at a bakery, Chris takes his frustration out on the clerk by shooting him in the foot for making him wait longer for service.

Junior visits Livia, who reveals that Tony is seeing a psychiatrist to his disbelief. Meanwhile, Tony confronts Chris about the shooting and asks if he is suicidal. Tony's tentative attempts to have Chris discuss his feelings, as Tony himself does in therapy, are met with bemusement and derision. The next day, Chris receives a call from his mother, who tells him that his name is featured in a newspaper article on the Mafia. While his mother is disapproving, this is the recognition Chris has longed for. Upon seeing his name in print, he grabs an entire stack of newspapers and throws them in his car before speeding off.


Paulie Gualtieri- Federal indictments?

Larry Barese- Yeah.

Paulie Gualtieri- Where the fuck did you get this?

Larry Barese- I got a guy who owes me, he's got a goomar that works at FBI headquarters as a word processor.

Paulie Gualtieri- When's it coming down?

Larry Barese- I don't know. When she knows, she'll tell me.

(cut to Larry talking to Big Pussy and Tony)

Tony Soprano- Indictments? What the fuck are you talking about?

Sal Bonpensiero- Are you sure about this?

Larry Barese- Woah, it ain't just my source in Jersey. Half of New York moved to Fort Lauderdale already.

(cut to Christopher and Jimmy talking)

Christopher Moltisanti- Fuck. They're gonna want my ass.

Jimmy Altieri- Why?

Christopher Moltisanti- What do you mean, why? I'm O.C.

Jimmy Altieri- When'd you get your fucking wings?

Christopher Moltisanti- I didn't. Not yet, anyway.

(cut to everyone talking together)

Tony Soprano- Uncle Junior, you got anything you want to say about this?

Junior Soprano- You guys see indictments under your bed at night. Right away, you're ready to lam it. As far as I'm concerned, it's just speculation.

Mikey Palmice- It's rumor.

Raymond Curto- Better to be safe then sorry, no? I say we duck for a while.

Junior Soprano- And what are we gonna do? Close shop? We can't do that.

Raymond Curto- Tony, what do you think?

Junior Soprano- What the fuck are you asking him for? I just- I just gave you the answer.

Tony Soprano- Junior's right, we go on the lam now, it's open season. The fucking Albanians will be living in our houses.

Sal Bonpensiero- Fuck. I just gave a G-note to Larry Boy's kid for the boost. If I knew I may have to lam in a hurry, I would have duped her another time.

Tony Soprano- I agree with my uncle. He calls the shots, we do it. Well maybe, you know, for today, for right now, you were thinking, Uncle June, that everybody should do a little spring cleaning?

Junior Soprano- That was my next comment.


First appearances[]

  • Agent Grasso- an agent investigating the DiMeo crime family.
  • Angie Bonpensiero- Pussy's wife of 24 years who is considered a "mob wife" and is good friends with Carmela Soprano, Gabriella Dante and Rosalie Aprile.
  • Gino- Gino is seen in the bakery when Christopher shoots the baker in the foot; he is played by Joseph R. Gannascoli, who will later take on the role of "Vito Spatafore" in season 2 of the series.

Title reference[]

The title is a play on Christopher Moltisanti's name and that of noted 20th-century American playwright and sufferer of depression Tennessee Williams. Adriana calls Christopher her "Tennessee William" [sic] when he struggles with his screenplay.


  • Joseph R. Gannascoli, who plays Gino the bakery customer in this episode, returns in season two as Vito Spatafore, a soldier in the Aprile crew. Gannascoli, Saundra Santiagoand Dan Grimaldi are the only actors to portray two roles in the series. Santiago portrays twins Jeannie Cusamano and Joan O'Connell. Grimaldi portrays twins Philly and Patsy Parisi.
  • This is the first episode directed by Tim Van Patten, who would become a regular director on the series.
  • This is the first episode to have Phil Abraham as cinematographer.

Other cultural references[]

  • When describing a character with a story arc to Paulie, Christopher mentions Richard Kimble (protagonist of The Fugitive) and Keanu Reeves' character in Devil's Advocate. Big Pussy later jokes Noah had an ark.
  • Richard Romanus plays Dr. Melfi's ex-husband, Richard LaPenna, and he talks to Dr. Melfi (played by Lorraine Bracco) that the American culture is giving Italian-Americans a bad name, and mentions The Godfather and Goodfellas to Melfi. Both Richard Romanus and Lorraine Bracco co-starred in a Martin Scorsese film, Romanus co-starred in Mean Streets and Bracco co-starred in Goodfellas.
  • Christopher's explanation of his sense of malaise to Paulie Gualtieri prompts Paulie to share: the writer "with the bullfights blew his head off". Paulie is referring to Ernest Hemingway, who committed suicide. Hemingway's bullfighting pieces include both non-fiction (e.g., the Toronto Star article "Pamplona in July; World's Series of Bull Fighting a Mad, Whirling Carnival", and the book Death in the Afternoon (1932)) and fiction (e.g., the short story "The Capital of the World", and the novel The Sun Also Rises (1926)).
  • Christopher's shooting the bakery employee in the foot mirrors an "innocent" Spider's getting shot in the foot in Goodfellas. Michael Imperioli plays both Spider and Christopher.
  • Anthony Jr. plays the Nintendo 64 video game Blast Corps right before Anthony's house being searched by the FBI agents.
  • When the Soprano family is eating dinner while discussing famous Italians and Italian-Americans, they mention sculptor, painter, architect and poet; Michelangelo, telephone inventor; Antonio Meucci, mafioso; Charles "Lucky" Luciano, explorer; John Cabot, founder of Bank of America; Amadeo Giannini, Saint; Mother Cabrini, Anarchists; Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, and singer; Frank Sinatra.


  • The song played when Christopher has a nightmare about Adriana and Carmela is "You" by The Aquatones.
  • The song played when Larry Boy tells Paulie about the possible indictments is "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Barbara Lavalle.
  • The song played when Jimmy tells Christopher about the possible indictments, and Tony, Junior and the other capos discuss the situation is "Turn the Beat Around" also by Barbara Lavalle.
  • The song played when the capos pull their families out of the wedding is "Summer Wind" by Robert Anthony Lavalle.
  • The song played when Tony hides his guns and cash in Livia's room is "Welcome (Back)" by Land of the Loops. It was previously played in the pilot episode, which was the first ever song to play on the show.
  • The song played when Paulie visits Christopher's apartment is "Summertime" by Booker T. & the MG's.
  • The song played when Christopher steals the newspapers and into the end credits is "Frank Sinatra" by Cake.


In a retrospective review, Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club was positive. While she opined that the story with Melfi's family "has a tendency to stop the show dead in its tracks" in that "no one watching really cares what Melfi's ex-husband thinks", VanDerWerff listed Christopher's conversations with Paulie and Tony among her favorite scenes from the entirety of The Sopranos and argued that "the series shows it has a certain affection for these characters, these scumbags." Alan Sepinwall also praised the scene between Christopher and Paulie as "remarkable [...] as it illustrates the folly of trying to model your life on your favorite movie and TV characters", but wrote that the dialogue in the scenes with Melfi's family about the popular image of Italian-Americans "grows a little didactic at times".