Tony is interviewed by the FBI who play him a recording from a wiretap in Livia's room at her elder care residence. It confirms that Junior was behind the hit. He plays it cool however, not only refusing to accept the offer of immunity from the Feds but not letting on to Uncle Junior what he knows. Junior does give him the okay to eliminate the rat who's been wearing a wire but Tony starts to get his revenge as well. Tony takes a major step when he decides to tell his crew about seeing a psychiatrist. At home, Carmella has it out with Father Phil, who is flirting with Rosalie Aprile much the same way he does with her. Livia meanwhile - who may or may not be suffering from Alzheimer's - tells Artie Bucco that it was Tony who burned down his restaurant.Written by
Despite its title (which is a pun on TV show I Dream of Jeannie, and also related to Tony's conversation with Dr. Melfi about his recurring erotic dreams), the finale of the first season has nothing of the poetic beauty of the previous episode. Instead, it is a superb exercise in suspense and shock, with a few vicious killings that reflect the main theme of the series: trust.
The path is laid out in the first few minutes, when Tony and Uncle Junior agree on whacking Jimmy Altieri, a decision based on facts identifying him as the rat they've been looking for (the other suspect, Pussy Bompensiero, has mysteriously disappeared). While Chris takes care of the job, Junior is arrested by the feds, who also try to make Tony cooperate by having him listen to a recording that implies the attempt on his life was organized by his uncle and his mother. Of course, with the former in jail and the latter in a hospital bed after an alleged stroke, there isn't much to do. Another problem comes in the form of Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia), who has been told by Livia it was Tony who arranged the arson of his restaurant at the beginning of the season and is now seeking revenge.
I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano ties up all the threads of the season in a satisfying way, leaving plenty of room for interesting material for upcoming episodes. The question that is asked (who is trustworthy?) foreshadows moments of real darkness, and it gives Gandolfini the opportunity to play the New Jersey boss at his most duplicitous, as he coldly authorizes the murder of a person who violated his trust and later, out of pure desperation, yells to Artie: "I didn't touch your place. I swear on my mother". The latter scene has an odd feel of black humor to it, as does the bit where Chris and Paulie eliminate another troublemaker: what could easily have been just the latest grisly murder becomes a disturbingly entertaining sequence when Paulie falls into a bush of poison ivy and complains about the itch while completing the execution.
And that goes without mentioning the ending: smart, unsettling and wonderfully realized, it makes Nancy Marchand's failure to win an Emmy (she lost out to The Practice's Holland Taylor) even more inexplicable.
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