By Thomas Hauser
The whole world is waiting for season number five of The Sopranos on HBO. And yours truly has a copy of the finished tapes. Plot summaries for each of the thirteen episodes follow.
Still reeling from the break-up of his marriage, Tony grows increasingly depressed. In quick succession, he has one-night stands with a receptionist from Sotheby's, two dancers from the Bada-Bing Club, and a mud-wrestler from the Bronx. Then Christopher Moltisano tells him about a fighter named Joey Delafemaratta who shared a room with him in drug rehab. Joey is a heavyweight, white, and he can punch. Tony decides to manage the fighter.
With great fanfare, Tony holds a press conference at Artie Bucco's restaurant to announce the signing of Joey Dee to a longterm contract. Major journalists are absent, but it costs a fortune to feed all the freeloading dot.com writers who show up. Meanwhile, Tony's depression over the loss of Carmela continues and he calls Dr. Melfi, telling her, "I'd like to see you. Not in your office. For lunch. Now that I'm not your patient anymore, you can see me outside the office; right?"
Dr. Melfi responds, "Anthony, I know where your mind is going with this, and it's entirely inappropriate. You're a former patient and you're a married man."
"I'm a separated married man. Carmela left me. And besides; I didn't hear in your objection that you're a married woman, which tells me something."
Dr. Melfi is firm in her refusal, so Tony makes an appointment to see her at her office. "I need help," he admits. "I'm asking for help."
Tony shows up for his session with Dr. Melfi and talks mostly about missing Carmela. He also gets a trainer for Joey Dee and puts Christopher in camp as an assistant trainer to keep an eye on things. Knockout victories over Vinnie Maddelone and Richie Melito follow. Meanwhile, Uncle Junior's retrial on racketeering charges begins.
Tony meets with representatives of several world sanctioning organizations in an effort to get Joey Dee ranked. To his astonishment, he learns that this will cost big bucks. "I have to pay to get my fighter ranked," he complains to Paulie Walnuts. "This boxing business is more corrupt than waste management."
Twenty thousand dollars in cash comes out of the duck feeder. One week later, Joey Dee is the tenth-ranked heavyweight in the world. Meanwhile, Carmela retains Jimmy Binns as a divorce lawyer, and Tony goes one up on her by hiring Judd Burstein.
Joey Dee is now ready for a big fight. Tony's first two choices for an opponent are John Ruiz and Chris Byrd. He considers them beatable, and each holds a world title. But when Tony sits down to negotiate the bout with Don King, he finds that DK wants six options on Joey's services and other consideration. It's frustrating, but then a golden opportunity arises. Joey Dee signs to fight Mike Tyson. While the Tyson-Dee negotiations are going on, Carmela plans a trip to Italy with Meadow.
Tony is still depressed, so Dr. Melfi puts him on Zoloft. Thereafter, his mood brightens but there's a new problem. Because of the Zoloft, Tony can no longer get an erection. A press conference is held to announce Mike Tyson versus Joey Dee. The bout will take place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, the site of Tyson's greatest glory. At the press conference, Tony and Mike confide in one another regarding the effect that Zoloft has had on them. "They call me Iron Mike," Tyson says ruefully. "But it's not like iron anymore."
Later that day, Carmela and Meadow depart for Italy.
Paulie Walnuts starts hanging around the Tyson camp, trying to ingratiate himself with Crocodile and Panama Lewis. "You're my kind of guys," he tells them.
Meanwhile, Carmela and Meadow arrive in Italy. In Rome, Carmela stands at the edge of the Trevi Fountain and fantasizes about Furio. In Florence, Carmela gazes at Michelangelo's statue of David and fantasizes about Furio. In Venice, Carmela rides in a gondola on the Grand Canal and fantasizes about Furio. In Naples, Carmela is sitting with Meadow in a small cafe when she sees Furio at a table across the room. Their eyes meet. Furio rises from his chair and they rush to embrace one another. Meadow return to the hotel alone, and Carmela accompanies Furio to his apartment. They disrobe. They look lovingly at one another. And Furio is impotent.
Carmela returns to her hotel and Meadow inquires, "How was it?"
"Not the way I thought it would be," Carmela answers. "At least your father could get it up."
Christopher's girlfriend, Adriana, visits him at Joey Dee's training camp as Joey Dee continues to train for the big fight. Adriana and Cristopher are kissing on Christopher's bed, and he tells her that they can't have sex.
"It a team sort of thing," Christopher answers, his face radiating deceit. "Fighters aren't supposed to have sex when they're training for a fight. And we don't want Joey to feel deprived, so the rest of us are also abstaining."
Then Adriana sees a used condom on the floor by Christopher's bed, storms out in a huff, and goes home to compile a list of things to tell the FBI. That same day, Carmela returns home from Italy.
Tony is concerned about the referee and judges for the Tyson-Dee fight. And in truth, he'd like an edge, so he asks Assemblyman Ron Zellman to set up a meeting with Larry Hazzard (chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Board of Control). "All I want is a fair shake and to protect my fighter," Tony tells Hazzard. "You know; maybe disqualify Tyson if he looks like he might do something wrong. How about that referee who worked Tyson's fight against Lennox Lewis in Memphis?"
Meanwhile, Uncle Junior is worried about his trial, but Tony tells him that there's no cause for concern. Bobby Baccilieri has had a talk with a juror. Another hung jury is planned. That leads Uncle Junior to complain, "Goddamn it! Each trial, the goddamn lawyers are costing me a fortune."
Ginny Sack asks Shelly Finkel if she and some of her friends can have lunch with Mike Tyson. Shelly laughs and tells her, "That wouldn't be possible." That leads Johnny Sack to believe that Shelly has insulted his wife, and he wants to whack him.
"Leave Finkel alone," Tony orders. "If you want to whack someone, whack Max Kellerman. The little shit went on national television last Friday night and called Joey Dee a bad joke."
At the close of the episode, Carmela, Tony, and their respective lawyers meet to discuss a financial settlement, and Uncle Junior dies of a heart attack.
It's fight week Atlantic City. At the final pre-fight press conference, Michael Katz calls Tony "mob scum." Tony's sister, Janice, makes eyes at Donald Trump, and Trump orders one of his bodyguards to "get that pig away from me." Janice is upset and asks Tony to defend her honor, but all he says is "Jesus, Janice; give me a break." So Janice goes to Bobby Baccilieri for help.
"When Karen died, I helped you through your crisis. Now it's your turn to help me."
"I don't know," Bobby answers. "I mean, Trump's got guys around him all the time. It's not like you just go up to Donald Trump and punch him out."
"I want him whacked," responds Janice. "Dead. You'd have done it for Karen."
Janice gets whacked. Bobby Baccilieri tells Sylvio, "I had to do it. She was driving me crazy. I couldn't stand it anymore."
Bobby and Silvio dismember Janice's body and put it in several Hefty bags. They're carrying the bags through the lobby of the Taj Mahal when they come face-to-face with Tony.
"What's in the bag?" Tony inquires. Not waiting for an answer, he takes one of the bags from Silvio. "Jesus! That's as heavy as Janice."
Silvio and Bobby exchange worried looks and a knowing smile crosses Tony's face.
"Let me help you carry those things," Tony says.
At the weigh-in, Tony sees Michael Buffer and rushes over to him with his son.
"Do me a favor, Mr. Buffer. This is my son, AJ. He loves you. Could you say 'let's get ready to rumble' for him."
"For five thousand dollars," Buffer answers.
It's fight night in Atlantic City. Meanwhile, Furio calls Carmela. He's in New York with a pocketful of Viagra and pleads to see her. They meet at the Rainbow Room for a romantic dinner. Then Furio brings Carmela to his hotel room and is impotent again.
On the fistic front, Tyson KOs Joey Dee in sixteen seconds. After the fight, Tony returns to his suite at the Taj Mahal, alone and forlorn. There's a knock on the door. Tony is so depressed that he doesn't even think in terms of danger. Life doesn't matter to him anymore. He simply opens the door. Carmela is standing there.
"Hello, Anthony. Do you have plans for the night?"
Tears well up in Tony's eyes. He and Carmela embrace. Then Tony remembers that he's still on Zoloft. "There might be a problem in bed," he tells her.
Award winning author Thomas Hauser can be reached at thauserthauserrcn.com