In The Sopranos, the multiple story arcs are deep and complex, with the narrative being driven by the dialogue. The mobsters, their associates and their family members all come off as smart talkers. Most of the time, the main characters’ remarks highlight their personalities, but on other occasions, their words don’t reflect who they really are.
A number of factors push the New Jersey and New York natives to sometimes choose words they normally wouldn’t. They may find themselves in high-pressure situations, and sometimes they even try to be nice for a change. But even when the remarks are positive, they feel odd or false. and perhaps, better suited for another character.
“Qu’est-ce que c’est? Answering machine broken?”
Artie becomes furious when Jean-Philippe, the brother of one of the Vesuvio hostesses, stops taking his calls after borrowing $50,000. Tony advises Artie to go to the Frenchman’s house to collect, and he does so while trying to act tough. Unfortunately for him, he hilariously gets assaulted and kicked out.
Artie tries to be funny by including a little French while talking to Jean-Phillipe, which is unlike him. He’s never had a sense of humor like Paulie and Ralph. He’s never known to be tough either, so barking at Jean-Philipe and forcing him to explain why he didn’t respond to his answering machine messages feels odd. It doesn’t take long to realize that the collection mission was a mistake. Tony later sends Furio to do the job right.
“A lot of things didn’t happen that seem like they happened.”
Tony’s men go to collect a load of smuggled Vespa scooters but find them missing. The New Jersey gangsters suspects that the Lupertazzi Crime Family is behind it all, but Johnny Sack denies it. The underboss insists there were no scooters, reminding Tony how he also insisted that his cousin Tony Blundetto didn’t shoot Joey Peeps (which he did).
It’s unusual for Sack to act this rudely since he has always been one of Tony Soprano’s closest friends. He is the only New York mobster that warms up to the New Jersey faction, so it’s peculiar for him to suddenly work against Tony. Sack’s change in attitude at this time foreshadows the war between New York and New Jersey. As soon as Sack goes to prison, Phil Leotardo goes on the offensive.
“I got to be loyal. Without that, we crumble.”
Eager to become the wife of a Don, Janice plants the idea of overthrowing Tony into Richie’s head after a lovemaking session. Surprisingly, Richie doesn’t jump on it.
From the moment he gets paroled, Richie starts feuding with Tony. The two never agree on a single thing because Richie thinks of Tony as too young to respect. Since he doesn’t like Tony, it would make sense for Janice’s idea to appeal to him. After all, plenty of mob bosses have been toppled before.
“He should break the dean’s legs, ’cause you’re too lazy to read a book.”
After learning that Jackie Aprile Jr. is getting poor grades in school, Ralph appears very concerned. He jokes that Tony should harm the Dean so that Jackie can be given better grades.
This particular quote would sound better coming from Tony since he is the one who is mostly concerned with Jackie’s grades. Richie, on the other hand, is mentoring Jackie to be a mafioso, a line of work where good grades aren’t a necessity. Meanwhile, Tony promised Jackie’s father that he would never let Jackie join the mafia.
“Life’s too short. You can’t waste it fighting with your friends.”
Paulie and Christopher clash again when the latter recounts their chaotic adventures in Pine Barrens. After throwing words at each other, Paulie calls a truce.
One of the things Paulie enjoys the most is antagonizing others. Consequently, he has been part of some of the biggest feuds in The Sopranos. He has locked horns with Tony, Ralph and Christopher. The latter is the person he has always targeted the most, so it’s unlike him to suddenly think of the young mobster as a friend who ought to be respected.
“Make peace or make him disappear.”
Despite being the highest earner in the DiMeo Crime Family, Ralph becomes so reckless that his actions concern Tony. He asks Silvio whether they should kill him, and the consigliere gives two options.
Normally, Silvio tends to have one solution regarding anyone who appears to be a risk to the family’s stability, and that’s whacking them. Ralph proves to be a loose cannon again and again, but Silvio never outrightly suggests terminating him as he does with so many other people. He isn’t close to Ralph either, which makes his hesitation more puzzling.
After being manipulated by Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, one of the best low-key villains in The Sopranos, Dr. Melfi decides to stop counseling Tony. The mob boss tries to reason with her, but she remains firm.
Throughout the show, Dr. Melfi enjoys her sessions with Tony as much as he enjoys stepping into her office. The fact that he’s in the Cosa Nostra thrills her, so she does her best to make him a better person. Never at any given time is it hinted that their doctor-patient relationship might come to an end.
“I got to agree with Phil, Tone.”
Lupertazzi boss Phil Leotardo sees it as a sign of weakness when Johnny Sack cries while being taken away by authorities at his daughter’s wedding. Tony doesn’t agree, stating the daughters create a soft spot in men. Christopher interrupts, claiming he agrees with Phil.
Throughout the show, Christopher is shown to have much respect for Tony and rarely goes against anything Tony says, so it’s unlike him to agree with a man who counts as one of Tony’s biggest enemies in The Sopranos. He is aware that Tony won’t be happy about him agreeing with Phil, but he does so anyway.
“Everything comes to an end.”
While trying to make Tony put his signature on a trust, Carmela makes it clear that she is doing so because she knows he might die or get jailed any day. It’s a mean move from Carmela, and Tony gets hurt by it, but she remains firm.
Ordinarily, Carmela is one of Tony’s biggest supporters. She wishes nothing but the best for him in his criminal career since she’s aware that she benefits greatly from it too. In this instance, she appears to be branching out on her own.
“I was wrong.”
When A.J. gets expelled from school, Tony yells at him and slaps him. The mob boss later goes to his son’s room with pizza and soda to apologize for his earlier behavior. With a straight face, he tells A.J. he is everything he ever wished for in a son.
One thing Tony never does is apologize, so it’s confusing to hear him do so here, especially since the object of his apology is Anthony Jr. Tony makes it clear many times on the show that he doesn’t like his son because he is an underachiever. In fact, he never tolerates anyone who is incompetent. After getting expelled from school, A.J. doesn’t deserve any kind of treatment and the normal Tony wouldn’t dare to apologize.