In Camelot Episode 59

Directed by: Steve Buscemi
Written by: Terence Winter

“There’s no chemical solution to a spiritual problem.”

Junior is quietly basking in the sun when Tony interrupts his reverie. “Long as we’re here,” Tony says, “I was gonna visit my father if you wanna join me.” The two of them – along with the rest of the extended family – are at the cemetery for Tony’s Aunt Concetta’s funeral. But Junior, on furlough from house arrest, begs off. “Five hours they let me out for these funerals,” he says, “I’m gonna spend it bein’ maudlin?” Tony is taken aback by his uncle’s attitude until Bobby explains, “It’s those uptake inhibitors…his mood really improved.” (But it’s not just the medication that’s made Junior jollier; it’s being out of the house. He soon has his attorney petitioning for his release for nearly every Italian funeral within driving distance.)

When Tony gets to his parents’ gravesite, he finds an attractive, late-sixtyish woman paying her respects. She’s Fran Felstein, Johnny Soprano’s longtime goomara. At the post-funeral gathering, Tony tells Junior about the encounter. His uncle says that he had once been in love with Fran himself and even planned to propose marriage. But according to Junior, he “hesitated” and his brother stole her away. “She never knew my feelings,” Junior tells Tony, “For years I suffered in silence.” (A couple weeks later, at the funeral for Concetta’s husband, Junior suffers more audibly, sobbing uncontrollably. When his doctor suggests adjusting his medication, a disconsolate Junior asks, “I’m trapped, what’s the goddamn point?”)

Intrigued by Fran, Tony starts spending time with her, and she tells him a lot: his boyhood dog, Tippy, that his mother forced his father to give away, didn’t retire to a farm as Tony had always believed; he became a gift for Fran and her son. As for Junior, he was “practically a stalker” who sent Fran “cheesy cards” and “bottles of that Shalimar crap.” She reveals that she once had a “little thing” with JFK, who despite a bad back “was quite a cocksman.” She also tells Tony that Hesh cheated her out of her “inheritance” from Johnny, a share of a midget auto racetrack that belonged to Johnny, Hesh and Phil Leotardo.

Tony goes to see Hesh, who is about to close on the sale of the racetrack. Hesh reluctantly agrees to give Johnny’s twenty-five percent to Fran, but insists part of the money has to come from Leotardo’s share. At a sitdown with Hesh, Phil and Johnny Sack, Tony agrees to take $150,000 for Fran, with a quarter of that coming from Phil, who makes the mistake of dismissively calling Tony “kid.” In retaliation, Tony gives him five days to pay up. When Phil is late with the payment and tries to lose Tony in a car chase, Tony causes Phil to drive into a parked delivery truck.

Christopher also does some debt collecting. J.T. Dolan, a television writer and friend from rehab, has just moved to New Jersey. Christopher, being friendly, takes J.T. to the Executive Game, where he amasses a $57,000 debt. J.T. persuades Christopher to front him the money, but when he’s unable to make his first payment, he’s treated like any other holdout: he gets a savage beating from Christopher and Little Paulie. But Christopher really does care about his friend; when J.T. goes on a heroin bender, Christopher sees to it he goes back into rehab – right after he takes J.T.’s car and informs him he can make the rest of his payments when he gets out. “You can do this, man,” Christopher tells him, “I have faith in you.”

Meanwhile, Tony is finding Fran less captivating. She’s flirtatious in a way that gets on his nerves and it irks him that she smoked around his emphysema-stricken father. Then, in a session with Dr. Melfi, Tony reveals that when he was a teenager he once lied to his mother – who was hospitalized following a miscarriage – to cover for his father. Instead of being at his wife’s bedside, Johnny had been with a girlfriend, whom Tony now realizes was Fran. When Dr. Melfi suggests that perhaps now Tony could have some sympathy for Livia, Tony sits for a long time in silence. “You know what?” he finally says, “Fuck her. She made my father give away my dog.”

Posted in Season 5, Sopranos.

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