Directed by: John Patterson
Written by: David Chase and Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess
“All due respect, you got no fucking idea what it’s like to be number one. Every decision you make affects ever facet of every other fucking thing. It’s too much to deal with almost. And in the end you’re completely alone with it.”
Johnny Sack is accompanying Phil Leotardo as he retrieves his brother’s body from the morgue. Phil promised his mother that he’d look at Billy before the undertaker “puts on all that pancake and shit.” But when the attendant unzips the black bag, it’s more than the hardened capo can bear. He turns to Johnny. “How long I gotta wait?” he pleads, “Tony Soprano left to his own device is never gonna give up that fuckin’ animal Blundetto.”
Tony’s unilateral decision to protect his cousin has not been a popular one. While the guys await Tony’s arrival at a birthday dinner for Ray Curto (who continues to pass information to the FBI) they grouse openly about the current state of affairs. Christopher has been forced into hiding because Phil will kill him if he can’t have Blundetto. Another concern is the financial difficulty an unappeased Johnny Sack could create for all of them. Cutting to the heart of the matter, Vito Spatafore sums up the prevailing opinion: “I’m willing to die for a good cause. This is bullshit.”
But when Tony shows up he makes his position clear. Because Phil intends not just to execute Tony B, but to torture him, Tony S. will not hand him over. “I’m offering him the same protection I would offer to any of you under similar circumstances,” he says. “We’re a family,” Tony reminds them, which means protecting your own. Silvio, however, sees things differently and when he and Tony are alone, he speaks his mind. “It’s about you don’t want to eat shit from Johnny,” he says, adding, “There’s seven deadly sins and yours is pride.”
The consequences are soon apparent. Accosting Benny Fazio in the parking lot of Crazy Horse one night, Phil demands to know where Blundetto is. When Benny claims ignorance, Phil beats him with his cane, fracturing his skull. After visiting the unconscious Benny at the hospital, Tony’s resolve begins to waver. He asks Junior’s advice, but his increasingly confused uncle is preoccupied with his own situation; his attorney suffered a stroke, causing a postponement of his retrial. But later, in a contentious session with Dr. Melfi, Tony is reminded of something pertinent, that all his feelings for Tony B. stem from guilt.
Meanwhile, Tony B. is still at Uncle Pat’s farmhouse, awaiting a message from Tony S. Soon it comes: as he steps onto the porch carrying groceries, Tony S. emerges from around a corner and fires a single twelve-gauge shotgun cartridge into his cousin’s forehead. Afterward Tony goes to Christopher’s motel room. “You need to go up to the farm and pick up your cousin,” Tony tells him softly. “He should be buried. It should be you that does it.”
Then Tony goes home, where Carmela is devastated over news that Adriana and Christopher have broken up and A.J. has embarked on a new business venture. He and a friend threw a party, charging admission and clearing a profit of six hundred dollars. Carmela tells Tony that A.J. once expressed interest in studying to be an event planner. Although he’s uncertain what that is, Tony is glad to see his son excited about something.
The next morning, Tony goes to Johnny Sack’s house to finally settle their differences. As they stand in his snow-covered backyard, Johnny informs Tony that Phil remains angry, but Tony has had enough. “Whatever his legitimate sorrow, he’s got a price,” Tony tells Johnny, “…meet his price and that’s it.” Johnny closes his eyes and exhales, then agrees. The two bosses embrace, restoring peace between the families – just in time for FBI agents to arrive. Johnny is chased down and arrested, but Tony escapes through the woods. A safe distance away, he phones his lawyer, Neil Mink, who tells him not to worry, it was a Brooklyn sting operation and Tony wasn’t named on the warrant. “Be of good cheer,” Neil advises. Then Tony hangs up and continues his long walk home.