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Another Toothpick

"Another Toothpick" is the thirty-first episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the fifth of the show's third season. It was written by Terence Winter, directed by Jack Bender and originally aired on Sunday March 25 2001.

Guest starring roles

Episode recap

Therapy session

As they have their first therapy session with Dr. Melfi together, Tony remains quiet throughout, while Carmela asks Melfi questions. Melfi then asks if Tony has been telling Carmela about any of the origins of his "root causes". Carmela tends to forget, which forces Tony to remind her of the capicola from Satriale's. Carmela asks Dr. Melfi why the therapy has not helped Tony much, since he is still passing out on a regular basis. Guilt, among other things, is brought up as a possible reason. Carmela then yells at Tony, "Maybe it's because you stick your dick into anything that has a pulse, can that be considered a root cause?" When Melfi says she notices tension, Tony sarcastically remarks, "You must have been at the top of your fucking class."

Tony and the cop

Afterwards, Tony drives a tearful Carmela home. Tony speeds in frustration and is pulled over by a police officer by the name of Leon Wilmore. After attempts at winning him over and casually offering a bribe backfire, Tony finally turns the engine off after Officer Wilmore radios in for backup threateningly. The dispatch is cancelled when Tony reluctantly gives in. As Wilmore walks back to his car, Tony makes a comment to Carmela saying, "I can't believe this fucking smoke is writing me up. Affirmative action cocksucker." Officer Wilmore writes Tony a ticket and sends him on his way.

Tony then gets in touch with his government contact, the corrupt Assemblyman Ronald Zellman, about the ticket. Zellman says he will look into the situation and take care of it. Days later, when Tony goes to purchase a few items at a garden/nursery store, he sees his Officer Wilmore selling pottery. Tony sarcastically antagonizes Wilmore, who then tells Tony that he was sacked from his street patrol and lost his overtime thanks to him. Tony denies having anything to do with his situation. Feeling guilty, Tony later calls Zellman, who informs Tony that Officer Wilmore was let go because he was a rabble rouser and disliked by a number of other cops, presumably because he performed his duty with integrity. This relieves Tony, but he asks if Wilmore can have his job back. Later, when meeting with Zellman, to maintain image, Tony tells Zellman to forget it since Wilmore got what he deserved.

In their phone discussion, Zellman relates that Wilmore was thought to be battling depression or another mental illness, and Tony seems to briefly give the issue some thought and seemingly has some sympathy for the officer. During his interactions with Tony, Wilmore firmly disregards Tony's charm and intimidation, twice refuses bribes/handouts, and refuses to "go off" when provoked by Tony's insults and condescension, leaving Tony victorious but feeling like the smaller man. Later, Meadow openly condemns Tony for being hypocritical in his attitude toward blacks, while Tony smirks about Meadow's bicycle being stolen by a black person.

At the garden store, Tony offers Wilmore a bribe to ensure that his expensive order arrives in one piece. Wilmore looks at him in disgust and walks away proudly, refusing to take the money.

Junior and Bobby Bacala, Sr.

Meanwhile, after attending a funeral for Carmela's uncle, Febby, Tony meets up with Bobby Baccalieri and his father, Bobby, Sr. Tony learns that Bobby, Sr. has lung cancer as a result of a lifelong tobacco habit. When Vito Spatafore's brother Bryan is sent to the hospital after being clubbed by a jealous Mustang Sally, Bobby Sr. agrees to do the hit since he is Sally's godfather and can make a safe approach. Bobby is afraid of this because his father's health (he is croupy and coughing up blood at the slightest exertion) and asks Junior to convince Tony to get someone else, even volunteering for the task himself. However, Bobby, Sr. is fatalistic about his cancer and wants to do the hit, which devastates his son.

Bobby, Sr. proceeds to visit the house in Staten Island where Mustang Sally —- fearing Tony's mortal retaliation -— has holed up with his friend Carlos. After disarming Sally's pent anxiety by assuring him "don't worry, I got you a pass", then sending him into to the kitchen for a glass of water, Bobby Sr. sneaks up from behind and shoots him in the ear, being distracted by Carlos. Though injured, Sally puts up an intense struggle and a blood-soaked gun-in-hand grapple ensues. Hardly able to breathe, Bobby Sr. exerts himself beyond his limits to again shoot Sally, this time fatally. He then shoots Carlos dead. He takes Sally's cigarettes and smokes them blissfully while leaving the scene in his car. In a coughing fit while driving, he fumbles for his blood-covered inhaler, seems to lose consciousness, loses control of the car, and crashes into a pole, killing him.

Bobby Bacala is extremely upset, which causes Junior to first ask how exactly he was killed, cancer or the car accident, prompting Bobby to reply, "With all due respect Junior, what do you care about the details?" Corrado then unleashes his fury by breaking a lamp and picture frames. Junior tells Tony at Dr. Schreck's office that he has cancer. He asks Tony not to tell anyone and is visibly scared. Tony, however, tells Janice and they both meet at Livia's for a drink and discuss Janice's newfound religion.

It is also revealed that Uncle Junior holds the superstitious belief that "these things come in threes," pertaining to two recent cancer-related deaths (Jackie Aprile and Febby). Supposedly, he believes that if Bobby Sr.'s death was from cancer, it would prevent him from becoming the third in line to die of the disease. This is why he becomes upset not knowing whether Bobby Sr. died from the car accident or his cancer.

FBI setback

During an argument in the Soprano household between Tony and Meadow about Tony's racial stigma, Meadow picks up the FBI-bugged lamp and takes it for her dorm at Columbia University, to do a biology lab that involves studying pathogens under a microscope. The light helps her see better in order for her to complete the lab assignment.

Ralph and Gigi

It begins to become apparent at a dinner, along with Johnny Sack, Paulie Gualtieri, and Tony that Ralphie has some major resentment towards Gigi's getting promoted to Capo of The Aprile Crew over him, seeing how Ralph was a top earner in the crew, and Gigi wasn't exactly thought of the to be Capo material. Due to Ralph's insubordination, Gigi received the promotion despite being technically less qualified. Ralph comments on Gigi's idea to send in Bobby, Sr. for retaliation towards Mustang Sally for brutally beating up Vito's brother Brian, saying "You're sendin' in an old man; what's he gonna do gum the guy to death?" He then comments that Tony should allow him to do it because "he'll take that guy apart at the joints...with him conscious." However, Ralph then sarcastically comments "My man jugootz he really knows what he's doing, huh?" as he smiles and looks at Gigi. Gigi responds angrily with, "Gee, I'm glad I have your fuckin' approval." Ralph responds again with, "Whatever you say, Cappy." It is clear that Ralph has no respect for Gigi's authority as Gigi looks back at him in disgust.

Artie and Adriana

Artie Bucco is upset when he learns that Adriana La Cerva is leaving her post as hostess at Nuovo Vesuvio, now that Christopher Moltisanti is a made man and earning more money. After hours in the restaurant, a drunken Artie insults Christopher in front of Tony which almost leads to violence before it's broken up by Tony. After Chris leaves, Artie tells Tony that he is in love with Adriana, but Tony tells him to sober up and to never utter those words again. The next day, Tony suggests that he and Artie go into business together, selling Italian food products. Charmaine nixes the idea, being against doing business with a mobster, believing Tony only wants another business to use as a front. During an argument in the restaurant, Charmaine threatens Artie, and Artie scoffs, calling her bluff by asking her if she's going to divorce him. Angered by the exchange, Charmaine tells him the marriage is over, and that he should not to expect custody of the children. Artie, sporting an earring, later has an awkward dinner with Adriana. Even though she attends the dinner without telling Christopher —- ostensibly because it was a "going away" dinner -— she soon realizes that Artie is romantically interested after he repeatedly attempts to hold her hand and suggests that she is not ready for marriage.

Deceased

  • Febby Viola: died of cancer; Carmela's uncle
  • Mustang Sally: shot on orders by Tony Soprano and Gigi Cestone
  • Carlos: Mustang Sally's friend; shot for being a witness to his murder
  • Bobby Baccalieri, Sr.: Cause unclear; crashed his car while suffering a coughing fit brought on by his lung cancer

Title reference

  • Janice claims that Livia often described a person who was dying of cancer as "another toothpick" because of the emaciated appearance that comes with metastatic illness.

Production

  • Blooper: During Junior's tirade, when he smashes the picture frame, he can briefly be seen without his glasses, then a second later they are back on.

Music

  • The song played over the end credits is "Shuck Dub" by R. L. Burnside.
  • Meadow Soprano sings along to The Corrs' "Breathless", while listening to headphones.
  • The song played while Bobby Baccalieri Sr. is in his car driving away from the murder scene is "Sister Golden Hair" by America.

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