The Sopranos (Pilot)
Season 1, Episode 1 #1
Pilot sopranos
Air date January 10, 1999
Written by David Chase
Directed by David Chase
Episode Guide
46 Long
"The Sopranos" (also known as the "Pilot") is the 1st episode of Season One of The Sopranos. It is the 1st overall episode (pilot) of the series. It was written and directed by David Chase. It originally aired on January 10, 1999.

Episode castEdit

Guest StarringEdit

Also guest starringEdit

Episode Recap Edit

New Jersey-based mobster Tony Soprano of the DiMeo crime family unexpectedly becomes short of breath and passes out while at a barbeque. After his doctor, Dr. Bruce Cusamano, is unable to find any physical problem with Tony, his collapse is diagnosed as a panic attack. He is referred to psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi. In their first meeting, the two discuss the events that led to his collapse.

Presenting himself as a "waste management consultant", Tony begins detailing the day of his attack to Dr. Melfi. Tony is initially uncooperative, expressing scorn for the practice of psychiatry. He tells Dr. Melfi about the stress of his business life—he has a feeling that he has come in at the end of something and describes a reverence for times past. Tony tells Dr. Melfi a story about a family of ducks landing in his pool and nesting there. He has a little stress in his home life with his daughter, Meadow , associating with a friend, Hunter Scangarelo, who his wife feels is a bad influence. Later he mentions that his wife and daughter are not getting along.

Tony also tells Dr. Melfi about the stress of training his nephew, Christopher Moltisanti, in the family business. His discussion of his nephew includes a flashback to a confrontation and beatdown of Alex Mahaffey, which Tony claims was "over coffee". Mahaffey is a compulsive gambler who is in debt to Tony After establishing the ground rules of what will fall under doctor-patient confidentiality, Tony opens up about his career, but keeps the violent details from the doctor.

Tony details the stress of caring for his aging mother, Livia, who is pessimistic and cynical, at once demanding and resentful of assistance. He also mentions his wife's relationship with her priest, Father Phil Intintola, as a minor irritation. By the end of their first session Dr. Melfi succeeds in making Tony admit he feels depressed, but he storms out when she presses him further about the ducks.

Livia's derisive outburst when the family visit Green Grove, a retirement community in which Tony is attempting to place his mother, prompts a second panic attack. This sends Tony back to Dr. Melfi. She prescribes Prozac for him. Tony does not attend their next appointment, but when he bumps into her at a restaurant, he tells her the "decorating tips" she gave him really work.

At their next session, Tony is still reluctant to face his own psychological weaknesses though he is quick to give credit to the medication for his improved mood, but Dr. Melfi tells him that cannot be so, as it takes several weeks to work. She gives credit to their therapy sessions. Tony describes a dream where a bird steals his penis. Dr. Melfi extrapolates from this to reveal that Tony projected his love for his family onto the family of ducks living in his back pool. This brings him to tears, to his consternation. She tells him that their flight from the pool sparked his panic attack through the overwhelming fear of somehow losing his own family.

When dining out with his mistress, Tony is greeted by the restaurant manager, who tells him it is good to see him and it has been ages since he has eaten there. He later gives the same speech when Tony arrives with his wife, Carmela, aiding Tony in covering up his infidelity. At this dinner, Tony confesses to Carmela that he is taking Prozac and seeing a psychiatrist. Carmela, who thinks Tony is about to confess to more adultery, is overjoyed and tells Tony she is proud of him. Tony stresses that he only told her because she is the only person he is absolutely honest with, causing Carmela to scoff at him.

Christopher devises his own means of settling a dispute with a Czech waste management company, Triboro Towers Garbage, that rivals the Soprano family's own front business, Barone Sanitation. Under the false premise of a cocaine deal, he lures out and kills the company's heir, Emil Kolar, in the back room of Satriale's Deli. Originally planning to dump the body in a Kolar family garbage dumpster as an example, Christopher instead takes the advice of longtime family soldier Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, who advises him to bury the body and avoid police investigation, while tacitly intimidating the Kolars. The Kolars drop their rival bid following Emil's disappearance. By beginning a new enterprise inspired by his MRI, Tony demonstrates his suitability as an innovative mob leader. Mahaffey is intimidated into making false claims to pay out to the organization in order to cover his debts. Hesh Rabkin, an old Jewish friend of Tony's father, advises Tony on this scheme and in regards to some problems with Tony's uncle, Junior Soprano, who feels jealous of Tony's (and Tony's father's) ascendancy in the organization.

Uncle Junior wants to kill turncoat "Little Pussy" Malanga in Artie Bucco's restaurant, Vesuvio. Tony, a friend of Artie's since childhood, fears that a mob hit in his friend's establishment could damage Artie's business. Junior refuses to move the assassination to another location, explaining Malanga will not meet with Junior unless it is a place he finds safe and familiar. In an attempt to have Artie close Vesuvio's for a time, thereby forcing Junior to kill Malanga somewhere else, Tony offers Artie two tickets for a weeklong cruise. However, Charmaine, Artie's wife, not wanting her husband to get mixed up with the Mafia, demands that he reject Tony's offer. Unable to sway Artie, Tony has his trusted right-hand man, Silvio Dante, detonate an explosion in Artie's restaurant, in the hopes that Artie can claim insurance money without becoming any the wiser of the gangland conflict. Tony instructs Silvio Dante about this plan at their daughters' volleyball game.

At his son's birthday party, Tony and his crew comfort Artie about the loss of his restaurant, and Tony tells Artie he will always help him. Christopher becomes angry and storms off; Tony presses him and discovers he is disappointed at not receiving more recognition for his work on the Triboro Towers garbage conflict. Though Tony is slightly annoyed with Christopher for killing Emil without his explicit orders, Tony agrees and apologizes to Christopher. However, when Christopher reveals that he has been thinking about turning his life story into a Hollywood script and possibly even playing himself, Tony grabs him in a fit of sudden rage and tells Christopher to not even think about it. While Christopher seems stunned, Tony regains his good mood just as quickly, embraces Christopher, and they both walk off.

While giving Livia a ride to the party, an embittered Uncle Junior floats the idea of eliminating Tony if he continues interfering in his business. Significantly, his sister-in-law's reaction is to silently look the other way.


  • Emil Kolar: Killed by Christopher at Satriale's with a gunshot to the head.

Connections to future episodesEdit

  • Christopher mentions his cousin Gregory's girlfriend who claims to be a development girl. Gregory and Amy Safir would both make an appearance in "D-Girl".
  • Pussy correcting the quote to Christopher that "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes" would ultimately foreshadow the former's fate. In the Season 2 finale "Funhouse", Pussy's dead body gets thrown in the ocean after Tony, Silvio and Paulie execute him for being an FBI informant — mirroring the quote.
  • The opening shot of the first scene in Dr. Melfi's waiting room shows Tony triangularly framed by the legs of a sculpture of a naked woman. In the Season 3 episode "Second Opinion", this exact framing is replicated, this time with Tony's wife, Carmela seen through the legs of the statue.
  • Tony talks to Dr. Melfi about Gary Cooper as "the strong, silent type" and how society has become a far cry from that ideal, with people constantly playing the victim and complaining about their problems instead of doing what they have to do as Cooper's characters did. In the episode "Christopher", Tony does exactly the same thing when Silvio's complaints about the Native American boycott of the Columbus Day Parade go too far in Tony's eyes.
  • In episodes, "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti" (with Georgie Santorelli's help) and "Cold Cuts" (with Tony Blundetto's help), Christopher disinters and moves Emil Kolar's remains.
  • In "Whoever Did This", Tony suspects Ralph Cifaretto of having Pie-O-My's stable torched. He asks if Ralph has heard from Corky Ianucci lately — an expert arsonist who was responsible for setting Artie Bucco's restaurant on fire in the pilot episode.
  • Carmela wants to take Meadow to the Plaza Hotel for tea, a longtime mother-daughter tradition, Meadow declines in this episode; it takes place in season four, episode "Eloise".
  • Carmela tells Tony that he will go to Hell when he dies. Tony reminds her of this in "Whitecaps". In "Join the Club", Carmela tearfully tells a comatose Tony that she regrets saying this.
  • When describing Uncle Junior, Tony tells Dr. Melfi that his uncle embarrassed him by telling all his girl cousins he didn't have the makings of a varsity athlete. Uncle Junior repeats that declaration to Tony on multiple occasions in the season five episode "Where's Johnny?".
  • Tony's ownership of John F. Kennedy's sailing hat, which he keeps on his boat The Stugots, is established in this episode. He later shows it off in the season five episode "In Camelot".
  • "Little Pussy" Malanga, the man Uncle Junior wants to kill in Artie's restaurant, is the same person for whom Junior mistakes Tony when he shoots him in the season six episode "Members Only".

References Edit

Season 1
"The Sopranos" "46 Long" "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" "Meadowlands" "College" "Pax Soprana" "Down Neck" "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti" "Boca" "A Hit Is a Hit" "Nobody Knows Anything" "Isabella" "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano"