The series premiere of The Sopranos aired on HBO on January 10, 1999. Interestingly, the pilot was shot a year before the rest of the episodes in the first season. Creator David Chase revealed that it took some time for the series to actually get pick up by a network, and it spent some time in development hell.
Luckily, the pilot got picked and the network commissioned a full series. Apart from getting good reviews, the premiere also received three Emmy nominations and kicked off what would be an award-winning streak for the series. Given how many years have passed since the episode aired, viewers might have forgotten the following things that happened in it.
Tony Collapses At The Barbecue
Audiences were not introduced to New Jersey-based mobster Tony Soprano with a scene of him killing someone and confessing how he always wanted to be a gangster “as far as he could remember.” No, such scenes are best handled by Scorsese. Here, audiences were introduced to a mobster that appeared to have health problems.
In a scene mirroring that of Don Corleone, the DiMeo crime family capo became short of breath while roasting meat and passed out. His physician Dr. Bruce Cusamano was unable to find anything wrong with him. He concluded that the problem was stress-related and referred him to a psychiatrist. This marked the beginning of Tony’s numerous sessions with Dr. Jennifer Melfi.
The Restaurant Manager Aids Tony In Covering Up His Infidelity
It was clear that Tony was never going to be a role model. In the episode, his first of many comares (mistresses) was shown. The mobster took her for dinner at a restaurant. Shortly after he arrived, he was greeted by the manager who said it was nice to see him since it had been a while since he ate there.
When Tony later showed up at the same restaurant with his wife Carmela, the manager still told him that it was nice to see him since it had been a while since he ate there. This way, he helped Tony cover up his infidelity. The manager’s remarks suggested that he always told the same thing to Tony whenever he showed up with another woman.
Christopher ‘Takes Care’ Of Tony’s Rivals
A Czech waste management company, Triboro Towers Garbage was interfering with Tony’s own cover business, so Cristopher decided to ‘take care of them’ so that he could win favor with his boss. He lured out the company’s heir to a meat storage facility by lying that he wanted to talk about a cocaine deal. When he showed up, Christopher made him the first murder victim in the series.
The young mobster wanted to dump the body in a garbage dumpster in order to send a message but Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero told him it was an amateur move because the police would ask questions. He then advised Christopher to bury the body, which he did. After the incident, the rival company exited the area.
Carmela Grabs An Assault Rifle And Storms Out Of The House With Father Phil In Tow
Father Phil was in love with Carmela but he managed to restrain his urges. Perhaps he knew the kind of street justice that would be meted on him if he did anything inappropriate. In the pilot episode, he came to visit Carmela at night and began inquiring about food, a habit he would keep in future episodes
Moments later, Carmela heard sounds outside and thought it was an intruder. She grabbed an assault rifle that she had hidden in the living room and rushed outside. It turned out that it was her daughter Meadow. She was sneaking out to go see her boyfriend.
Tony Orders The Bombing Of His Friend’s Restaurant
Uncle Junior revealed his plan to kill “Little Pussy” Malanga inside the popular Vesuvio restaurant because the target was familiar with the location, hence he would be in a relaxed state. The problem? The restaurant was owned by Tony’s friend Artie. Tony knew that a mob hit at the restaurant would scare any potential future customers.
Tony tried to persuade Junior to move the hit to another location, but he refused. Tony then tried to taking Artie on a vacation so that he’d close his restaurant for a while but Artie’s wife didn’t want him to get mixed up with mobsters. As a last resort, Tony sent Sylvio Dante to bomb the restaurant so that Artie would claim insurance money. Genius!.
The Ducks And The Dreams
The ducks were quite significant in the first episode. It is after watching ducks that were living by his poolside fly away for good that Tony collapsed. He also had a dream where birds stole his genitals.
During a session with Dr. Melfi, he told her all about it. She figured that he feared losing his family after watching the ducks leave. She concluded that is the departure of the ducks that triggered his panic attack and collapse. The revelation drove Tony to tears, implying that Melfi was right
Christopher Reveals His Plans To Venture Into Hollywood
After whacking the garbage company owner, Christopher was upset that Tony hadn’t commended him for it. When he stormed off during a conversation, Tony followed him. He was angry that Christopher had pulled off an unsanctioned hit but still congratulated him for it.
Christopher then told him that he was thinking of turning the story about his life in crime into a Hollywood film. He even wanted to write the script and play himself. This angered Tony who warned him not to do it because it would expose the secret activities of his organization to the world and attract unnecessary heat.
The “Decorating Tips”
Since Livia was having a hard time getting along with her caregivers, Tony found a nice retirement home called the Green Grove and began making plans to move her there. However, Livia was having none of it.
She resisted, stating that Tony was imprisoning her and trying to get rid of her. Her defensive outburst upset Tony to the point where had a second panic attack. He returned to Dr. Melfi who prescribed Prozac for him. When Tony later bumps into Melfi at a restaurant, he informs her that the “decorating tips” she gave him worked. This was a cover phrase for the Prozac she gave him.
Alex Mahaffey Gets Threatened With Ice Cream
Mahaffey was a gambling addict who had been unintelligent enough to borrow money from Tony Soprano. As expected, he was unable to pay. Tony and Christopher spotted him and tried to talk to him but he decided to run. Tony pursued him using Christopher’s car and managed to corner him at a campus where he gave him a beatdown in front of everyone.
Since Mahaffey worked for a medical insurance company, Tony found a way to use him. He later sent Salvatore Bonpensiero and Hesh Rabkin to twist Mahaffey’s arm and force him into funding fake medical claims. Mahaffey was being hesitant so Bonpensiero and Hesh took him to a bridge above waterfalls and dropped an ice cream cone into the water. This was an assurance that he’d suffer the same fate as the cone if he didn’t comply. The threat was enough to make him get to work.
Uncle Junior Considers Killing Tony
It takes a lot of balls to tell a mother than you would like to kill her son. That’s precisely what Junior did in the final moments of the episode. The elderly mobster was not pleased with how Tony was constantly interfering with his plans.
While driving Livia to a party, he floated the idea of whacking Tony if he continued to annoy him. “Something may have to be done about Tony,” he said. Surprisingly, Livia didn’t object. She simply stared outside the window as the car continued to move. This scene proved how little she cared about her son.