In The Sopranos, Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero has a great run as a double-agent as he feeds the FBI crumbs of information and also tries to be a useful member of Tony’s inner circle. Eventually, Sal’s story ends the same way it ends for all mob traitors: he gets discovered and faces a mini firing squad comprised of Tony, Silvio, and Paulie.
When he’s not meeting his FBI handler or killing people, Sal prefers to chat. As a result, he manages to come up with rather intriguing remarks during his time on the show. Whether he’s frantically looking for a way to explain himself when something doesn’t add up or simply throwing shade at someone, Sal’s words always impress.
Sal on provoking Furio
“How You Doing, Foodio?”
Furio starts working part-time at the Vesuvio when Tony brings him to America from Italy. As he is being introduced to Sal and Paulie, the former refers to him as “foodio” instead of “Furio.”
It’s a shady burn, meant to imply that Furio is busy making meals for customers while serious gangsters are out there committing crimes for money. Sal isn’t so fond of Furio because the enforcer has been granted the same rank as him despite being a new member of the DiMeo crime family. Unfortunately for Sal, his efforts to anger Furio prove pointless since as ruthless as the enforcer is, he doesn’t have a temper.
Sal on giving excuses to Tony
“Well, Remind Me, Tony, Never To Get Sick Again, Huh?”
Paulie’s impromptu wire searches spook Sal, who decides to go into hiding for a while. When he comes back, he lies to Tony that he was seeing an acupuncturist in Puerto Rico for his back problem. Tony doesn’t buy that story at first but Paulie maintains that whatever he is saying is the truth.
Acting all innocent when he is in fact guilty of being a turncoat is the reason Sal is one of the best FBI informants in The Sopranos. Tony has every right not to believe him because there have been too many rumors going around about his secret activities. The street soldier gets a pass on this occasion, but Tony still demonstrates caution by investigating further and eventually uncovering the truth.
Sal On Facing His Impending Death
“Not In The Face, Okay?”
When Tony finally confirms that Sal is indeed an FBI informant, he, Paulie, and Silvio take him on a boat trip where they inform him that they know about his secret life. Knowing what’s coming, Sal asks to not be shot in the face so that his family members can at least view his body during his funeral.
The punishment for betrayal in the Cosa Nostra is always death. There’s never a way around it and that’s why Sal doesn’t try to beg for his life. And since ceremonies like weddings and funerals mean a lot in the mob, Sal wants to be accorded a decent send-off even though he doesn’t deserve one. Ultimately, his face request didn’t matter because his body got thrown in the ocean right after being pumped with bullets.
Sal On His Lack Of Godfather Knowledge
“Luca Brasi. Luca…”
Christopher becomes the first person to kill on the show when he whacks Emil. After disposing of the body, he pulls one of Clemenza’s best quotes from The Godfather: “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.” However, Sal doesn’t seem to get it so he repeats it slowly.
In the movie, Clemenza says the words to mean that Luca Brasi has not only been killed but his body has been disposed of in the sea, hence the “sleeping with fishes” part. Sal finally gets the pop culture reference after digesting it for a while and he sure is impressed. Regrettably, Christopher doesn’t keep on dishing out such great references for the remainder of the show.
Sal On Disrespecting Johnny Sack
“I Wasn’t Gonna.”
Johnny Sack — the underboss of the Lupertazzi crime family — tells Sal not to stand in order to greet him when he finds him having dinner with Paulie at the Vesuvio. Sal cheekily retorts by claiming he wasn’t gonna stand anyway.
Standing before treating a high-ranking member is considered a sign of respect in organized crime. It’s for this reason that Sack assumes Sal was going to stand. New York and New Jersey mobsters haven’t always been on good terms, so respect often doesn’t cut across the two cities. Even though Pussy’s remark paints him as a man who isn’t intimidated by anyone, it’s a little unnecessary since Sack has always been the most reasonable Lupertazzi member and one of Tony Sopranos’s closest friends.
Sal On Torturing Matt Bevilaqua
“You Want A Fanta? Somethin’ Like That?”
Up and coming gangster Matt Bevilaqua is tortured after attempting to kill Christopher in order to appease Richie Aprile. Sal and Tony then show up to kill Matt, but he claims he’s thirsty.
Matt’s decision to ask for a drink before his death is something both Sal and Tony find hilarious. He wants a strong alcoholic drink so that he can be able to tolerate the pain better but Sal suggests a soda as a way of mocking him. It’s also quite bold and foolish of Matt to demand something to drink, given the seriousness of his offense.
Sal On Being An FBI Informant
“Searchlight Diner. 5:15 AM. Subject Has Still Not Left Location. Sun Comin’ Up.”
Sal gets carried away when Skip Lari, one of the best law enforcement officers in The Sopranos, tasks him with monitoring Christopher. Sal starts communicating in the same manner that FBI agents do, much to the amusement of Skip.
The best thing about Sal’s dialogue while chasing after Christopher is that he isn’t joking. He seriously believes that he is part of the FBI, yet he is just an informant. It’s definitely one of the funniest moments of the show and it gets even better when Sal almost injures himself. It’s but one of the mobster’s many delusional moments in the last days before his secret gets revealed.
Sal On The Godfather (Again)
“Moe Greene Special.”
Doing things without authorization from above is always a mistake in the mob. As a warning to others, Brendan Filone gets whacked in a bathtub by getting shot in the head for hijacking a truck without getting approval first. Christopher tells Sal about it and the experienced mobster goes on to refer to the murder as a “Moe Greene special.”
It’s yet another brilliant reference taken out of The Godfather. The words point to how Las Vegas businessman and Murder Inc. executioner, Moe Green, was murdered in the movie by getting shot in the head. One thing fans always appreciate about the HBO series is how characters constantly reference fictional movies as if they themselves are real.
Sal On Trying To Impress Tony
“We Have Ways Of Dealing With You, Mr. Soprano!”
In one of their heists, Paulie, Sal, and Silvio get their hands on a cache of weapons from World War II. They are all very excited, with Sal reminding Tony that they always know how to please him.
Sal often tries hard to win Tony’s approval in order to conceal his secret life as an informant. On this occasion, Sal tries to make the mob boss see that he is very useful. Advanced guns are guaranteed to impress any don since wars usually emerge at any moment, but Tony has never rated Sal highly and that’s the reason he never promotes him to capo.
Sal On The Ethics Of Cloning
“I Got A List Of People As Long As My Arm I Wouldn’t Want Cloned.”
Sal and Tony once find themselves discussing cloning, with Tony claiming that only God has the right to create. Sal is against the idea too, but his reasons are different.
It’s difficult to point out most of the people in Sal’s long list of the “unclonables” since he doesn’t have a lot of enemies on the show, but it’s a safe bet that Furio is on top of th list. The other would be Skip Lari since the FBI agent keeps pressing him for information, making him miserable in the process.