Live Free or Die (The Sopranos)

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"Live Free or Die"
The Sopranos episode
Live Free or Die Sopranos.jpg
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 6
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Written by David Chase
Terence Winter
Robin Green
Mitchell Burgess
Cinematography by Alik Sakharov
Production code 606
Original air date April 17, 2006
Running time 55 minutes
Guest actors

see below

Episode chronology
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Episode chronology

"Live Free or Die" is the seventy-first episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the sixth of the show's sixth season. It was written by David Chase, Terence Winter, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, was directed by Tim Van Patten and originally aired on April 16, 2006.

Starring[edit]

* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

Tony Soprano pays Perry Annunziata some money as a compensation for giving him a beating and his bodyguard apologizes for raising a hand against his boss as they make peace.

The New York wiseguys who spotted a leather fetish-clad Vito Spatafore dancing in a gay bar have spread the news. An associate, who said Sal Iaccuzzo from Yonkers, New York saw Vito at the gay bar, tells the story to Christopher Moltisanti and his friend "Murmur" outside an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, they then repeat it to Tony and his crew at the Bada Bing!. Paulie Gualtieri describes the news as slander, and Tony insists more proof is needed before they condemn him.

Benny Fazio, Dante Greco and Terry Doria visit Vito and his mistress at a beach house on the Jersey Shore, where he's been lying low. They try to escort him to see Tony but Vito speeds away. Vito returns to his home later that night, looks in on his sleeping children, grabs clothes, a couple of family pictures and a stash of money, and drives off into a stormy night, throwing his cell phone out on the way. After his car hits a downed tree branch, Vito proceeds on foot and finds himself stranded in a small town in New Hampshire. Exhausted, he checks into an inn.

Vito's hasty disappearance suggests to Christopher and others he has something to hide. Further testimony is gained from Silvio, who remembers Vito phoned him at night after he was spotted at the gay club. Also, Silvio, after speaking to the mobster's wife, Marie Spatafore, declares, "In my business, I'm around a lot of women, and that one ain't getting laid." All the while, Tony continues calling Vito, but to no avail. A road crew worker finds Vito's phone as it rings; after being offended and puzzled by Tony's questions, the worker throws the phone into the path of a steamroller, crushing it into the freshly laid asphalt.

The gossip soon spreads further, as Meadow reveals to Carmela and Rosalie that Finn witnessed Vito performing oral sex on a security guard of the construction site where Vito and Finn worked (in the season 5 episode "Unidentified Black Males"). Tony takes Finn to the back room of Satriale's and asks him to repeat the story for the assembled wiseguys. The mobsters are shocked and the fact that Vito was "catching" instead of "pitching" the favor seems even worse to the group, especially to Paulie. The reactions range from laughter from some members to immediate calls for Vito's execution by more conservative ones. Finn is terrified after the interrogation.

Meadow has her values and relationships questioned when she sympathizes at the South Bronx law center with an Afghan Muslim family whose son was detained by police on suspicion of terrorist activity, but can find no support at home: when she says George W. Bush's policies are eroding the society's "constitutional protections," Tony teases her while Carmela says she voted for him in the presidential election. Meadow starts a new internship at a law firm which handles white-collar crimes. She later discusses a case from her new job smoking marijuana with Finn, but they get into a bitter argument over John Sacrimoni's recent treatment by the government at his daughter's wedding with Meadow being enraged by what she considers to be harassment and Finn supporting the tough measures. Finn also challenges Meadow's rationalization of her father's business as Italian tradition. He tells her that her defense of what is going to happen to Vito is hypocritical, as she doesn't see any problem with how the mobsters are going to "mete out their own justice" on Vito over his sexual orientation. Meadow storms out.

Meadow's mention of terrorists prompts Tony to ask Christopher if his Arabic friends, Ahmed and Muhammad, are possibly "al-Qaedas". Christopher tells Tony the pair seem too tolerant and Americanized to be terrorists, but is somewhat concerned by the suggestion.

Paulie, feeling personally betrayed, leads the cries for Vito's head. After Tony gives Vito's construction business to Carlo Gervasi, the captain reveals rumors growing about how the fugitive Capo's crew won't follow his orders and some state their desire to kill Vito themselves. Tony, who expresses to Dr. Melfi his ambivalence over whether Vito's sexual orientation truly matters, manages to quell immediate calls for bloodshed while he considers the impact of Vito's death on Vito's wife and children and on his own income. After Tony suggests to Silvio he will not go after Vito, Silvio notes Tony's men will use clemency as an excuse to kick up even less money.

Phil Leotardo arrives to comfort his distraught cousin Marie, both of them now informed of the accusations against her husband Vito. Phil asks if Marie can help him locate Vito, ostensibly to get Vito "therapy."

Meanwhile, Carmela discovers that Angie Bonpensiero has secretly branched out into business with some members of Christopher's crew, putting money up for street loans and buying stolen car parts. Angie seems to be too preoccupied with her work to have dinner with the mobwives and donates a much-larger-than-anticipated sum of money for Carmela's charity auction. Rosalie Aprile concludes to Carmela Angie used to be one of the members of their circle but is now "one of them" (mobsters).

Carmela tries to pressure Tony into having the local building inspector allow her to move forward with work on her spec house, but to no avail; Tony seems to forget her request, and Carmela is appalled to find that her father Hugh De Angelis has set about selling materials salvaged from the construction site.

Tony informs Christopher two Italian hitmen will be sent over to the US from Europe to murder Rusty Millio as per his request and tells Christopher he must hire a "third party" to equip them with weapons and to act as an intermediary between the assassins and the DiMeo/Soprano crime family. This time, the capo says he now agrees with Tony's decision to distance themselves from the hit as much as possible. Christopher later meets Corky Caporale, a crime family associate who can speak Italian, and passes him the task, giving him heroin as an advance partial payment.

In his New Hampshire hideaway, Vito tries unsuccessfully to locate a cousin, and posing as a man from Scottsdale, Arizona socializes with the townsfolk and tourists, and notices a gay couple being welcomed warmly at a local diner. Among the peace and quiet, Vito stops by a picturesque whitewater river, then visits an antique shop. Vito notices the New Hampshire motto written on a car's license plates: "Live Free or Die." He picks up and admires a pot at the store. Its proprietor tells him he has "a good eye" and is "a natural," as it happens to be the most expensive piece in the shop.

First appearances[edit]

  • Corky Caporale: A DiMeo crime family associate and heroin addict who is tasked with serving as the "third party" intermediary between Christopher Moltisanti and the Italian hitmen coming to murder Rusty Millio.
  • Jim Witowski: Owner of a local diner at Dartford, New Hampshire, the town where Vito has taken refuge.

Title reference[edit]

  • The episode's title, "Live Free or Die", refers to the New Hampshire state motto, which Vito notices on a license plate while he is browsing an arts and crafts shop.
  • It also possibly refers to Vito's options: Live free (stay in New Hampshire) or die (return to New Jersey).

Production[edit]

  • Sharon Angela (Rosalie Aprile) is promoted to the main cast and now billed in the opening credits for the episodes in which she appears, with some exceptions.
  • "Live Free or Die" is the final episode written by the married writing team of Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess. They left the series, which they had been with since the first season, to produce a new project for HBO, which never took shape. This is also one of only three episodes in the entire series where four writers share credit for the script, the other being "Calling All Cars" of Season 4 and the Season 6 Part II premiere "Soprano Home Movies."
  • The scenes filmed for the fictional town of Dartford, New Hampshire were actually filmed in Boonton, New Jersey.[1]
  • The highway Vito was traveling on when his car broke down, New Hampshire Route 228, is also fictitious.

Other cultural references[edit]

  • In the opening scene, Tony is sitting by his pool reading Yachting.
  • When Christopher's friend "Murmur," standing outside the AA meeting, asks the guy from Yonkers if he's "lost," it recalls the title of the play and movie Lost in Yonkers.
  • Tony angrily calls Carlo, who talks about killing Vito, Judge Roy Bean.
  • When the highway department worker finds Vito's phone on the side of the road and is antagonized by Tony, Tony says "Oh, yeah? Telephone tough guy, eh?". Famous actor Joe Pesci, known for his mobster roles, says this exact line arguing with Mel Gibson's character in a scene from the film Lethal Weapon 4.
  • After Finn confirms to the Soprano crew that he caught Vito performing a sex act on a security guard ("Unidentified Black Males"), Christopher suggests that he should cut off his penis and "feed it to him." This same fate befell actor Michael Imperioli's character at the hands of the Viet Cong in the film Dead Presidents.
  • Also, in the scene where Finn confirms Vito's sexual preference, the table and the seating of the crew around the table suggests The Last Supper in placement, as well as mood, as "betrayal" is an oft-repeated suggestion by Christopher, Paulie among others.
  • In the scene with Dr. Melfi, Tony referenced the controversial comments made by Senator Rick Santorum (pronouncing his last name as "Sanatorium") who once claimed the government's allowance of gay marriage would be the first step in a slippery slope leading to tolerance of more taboo practices, including bestiality.
  • Also in the scene with Dr. Melfi, Tony referenced a Showtime series (The L Word) when talking about "that lesbian show with Jennifer Beals."
  • When discussing Ahmed and Mohammad with Tony, Christopher mentions their reaction to the "Danish cartoons" incident - the 2005 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.
  • After speaking with Carlo at the backroom of the Bada Bing, Tony starts reading the Robb Report magazine.
  • At a diner in Dartford, Vito is introduced to jonnycakes, pancakes made with white corn meal. "Johnny Cakes" is also the title of the eighth episode of the season.
  • Vito also tries to order some Jimmy Dean sausages.

Music[edit]

  • After Meadow tells Carmela and Rosalie Aprile about Vito and the security guard, Tony comes down the stairs singing the opening line of "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull.
  • The song playing in the background of the scene at the Bada Bing! when Tony promotes Carlo is "After" by Wide Open Cage.
  • The song played during the end credits is "4th of July" by X.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin, Brett (2007-10-30). "Welcome to New Jersey: A Sense of Place". The Sopranos: The Complete Book. New York: Time. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-933821-18-4. 

External links[edit]