Employee of the Month Episode 30

Directed by: John Patterson
Written by: Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess

“My mother’s dead and I haven’t had a panic attack since then.”

That’s Tony’s report to Dr. Melfi. But while Tony may think he’s in the express lane to recovery, Melfi knows better. “Are you happy?” she asks. When there’s no answer forthcoming, Melfi suggests it’s time to bring Carmela into Tony’s sessions to provide her perspective on his progress.

Later, Melfi meets with Dr. Kupferberg, and faces her own unhappiness – about her relationship with Tony. Still conflicted over whether she should continue to treat him Melfi confides, “I’ve let myself be charmed by a sociopath.” She also slips up and reveals Tony’s identity. Dr. Kupferberg’s rejoinder is blunt: it’s time for her to cut Tony loose and Melfi doesn’t have to look too deep inside herself to see he’s probably right.

On the other side of town, Janice is doing some in-depth searching of her own. Still convinced that Livia left behind a mother lode somewhere in her house, Janice has taken to scouring the place with a metal detector. Tony stops by one day just long enough to tell her she’d better quit looking for buried treasure and give Svetlana her leg back. Don’t mess with the Russians, Janice,” he tells her, “that’s all I’m gonna say.”

But Tony can’t waste time on his big sister’s latest delusion-of-the-week. New busines demands his attention. Tony’s gratified to learn that a local waterfront real estate project in which he’s involved – that includes a new Museum of Science and Trucking – is going to receive twenty-five million in state and federal funding. But he’s less sanguine about another New Jersey development: Johnny Sack has moved into the Garden State. Johnny assures Tony that he’s only relocating so his wife can be closer to her sisters, Tony can’t help but wonder whether the New York Boss wants to be closer to the twenty-five million.

And speaking of developments, Ralph Cifaretto is turning into a first-class headache. He’s being unnecessarily violent and has started letting Jackie Junior accompany him on collections – against Tony’s express orders. As a result, Tony installs Gigi Ceston capo of the Aprile crew instead of Ralph. When Ralph protests, reminding Tony, “I ate at your house,” Tony reminds him back that that was pleasure and “this is business.”

Meanwhile, Janice finds out that Tony’s warning about the Russians was disconcertingly apt. Two large émigrés from the land of Lenin break into Livia’s house and demand Svetlana’s leg. Janice is defiant at first, but three broken ribs later, she retrieves the leg from a bowling alley locker and hands it over. When Tony picks her up later in a hospital emergency room, Janice experiences an epiphany: by committing grand theft prosthetic, she’s sunk to an all-time low. There’s only one way out of the depths, she tells Tony: from now on she’s going to devote her life to God.

Janice isn’t the only woman in Tony’s life to suffer violence this week. One evening, while getting into her car, Dr. Melfi is jumped by a solitary young man. He drags her into a stairwell and rapes her. Although Melfi can positively identify the perpetrator, because of a technicality, the police let him go. Later she tells Dr. Kupferberg that she fantasizes about siccing Tony on her attacker, admitting, “there’s a certain satisfaction knowing I could have that asshole squashed like a bug if I wanted.”

In her next session with Tony, Melfi has her chance. Tony can tell that something is troubling her, and when he offers to start seeing a behaviorist, Melfi breaks down weeping. Tony attempts to console her, asking, “Is there something you want to say?” and despite what she confessed to Kupferberg, despite knowing that Tony could mete out the punishment the legal system couldn’t, Melfi answers in one clear syllable:


Posted in Season 3, Sopranos.

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