The Fleshy Part of the Thigh

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"The Fleshy Part of the Thigh"
The Sopranos episode
Ep69.jpg
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 4
Directed by Alan Taylor
Written by Diane Frolov
Andrew Schneider
Cinematography by Alik Sakharov
Production code 604
Original air date April 2, 2006
Running time 57 minutes
Guest actors

see below

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Mayham"
Next →
"Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request..."
Episode chronology

"The Fleshy Part of the Thigh" is the sixty-ninth episode of the HBO original series, The Sopranos and the fourth of the show's sixth season. The episode was written by Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, directed by Alan Taylor and originally aired on April 2, 2006.

Starring[edit]

* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

Tony Soprano's condition is improving and he is awaiting surgery to close the opening in his abdomen while he numbs the pain with morphine. He tells a nurse he now sees life in a different way. An Evangelical Christian minister, Pastor Bob Brewster, and Aaron Arkaway later visit Tony and Carmela for a chat and the pastor invites them to pray for a good outcome of his operation.

After the surgery, with his condition now sufficiently stable, Tony is disgusted when he learns the insurance company representative wants to send Tony home as soon as possible. She tells him to be happy since if he had had no insurance card on him on the night he was shot, he would have been placed in an inferior health care facility. Tony spends the last remaining days at the hospital interacting with two patients on his floor, John Schwinn, a former Bell Labs scientist undergoing tests to investigate his enlarged sinuses, and Da Lux, a rapper who was shot while leaving a club. Da Lux expresses admiration for Tony, referring to him as an "Original G" (meaning "gangster"), though Tony is dismissive of it. Da Lux invites him to watch a boxing fight at his hospital room on satellite TV. While watching the prize fight, Paulie moans about how alone everyone is, Schwinn discusses the interconnectivity of all life, telling them how no event or entity can be understood independent from the rest of the world (referencing the work of Erwin Schrödinger, Quantum mysticism), and Da Lux agrees with Schwinn: "everything is everything, I'm down with that." Schwinn has ideas that are at odds with the beliefs of Pastor Bob, who again visits Tony later and tries to encourage him to find his spirituality. The next time, Tony confides to Schwinn he is starting to believe they are all part of something bigger, but Schwinn tells him the doctors found out that he has laryngeal cancer and Tony offers his condolences.

Tony learns Carmela and A.J. have reconciled and that his son got a job at Blockbuster.

Tony meets the paramedic that checked his wallet for his insurance card and accuses him of stealing $2,000 from it. The man denies taking any money for himself, but Christopher and others intimidate him to pay the money back if he does not want to get hurt.

Paulie Gualtieri visits his dying Aunt Dottie, a nun, in a convent, who informs him that she is actually his mother. Apparently, she was helping the USO during "the war" and had sex with a soldier named Russ. Because she was a nun and did not want to shame her family, she had her sister raise Paulie as if he were her son. He confronts Nucci, the woman who raised him, and his worst fears are confirmed. Devastated by the news and questioning his own identity, Paulie struggles to remain focused at work, to the anger of Tony. After Dottie's funeral, Paulie pays Nucci a visit at her retirement community room and tells her he will no longer support her financially, and, in a fit of rage, throws out her flat-screen TV out of a window, informing her he does not want to have anything to do with her anymore, leaving her crying. When Paulie confesses the news about his true mother to Tony, he urges him to reconcile with Nucci, saying his foster mother brought him up and helped him numerous times in his childhood.

Tony criticizes Bobby "Baccala" for his model train hobby. When Bobby says he is sorry for Tony getting shot by Junior, Tony gets enraged and tells him he does not want to hear his uncle being mentioned ever again and that Bobby should not expect any special treatment from Tony for being his brother-in-law, but that every person "is judged on his own merit." In the hospital, Bobby later meets rapper Marvin, a member of Da Lux's entourage, writing a song. Da Lux's injuries, many of his followers and colleagues believe, will help his career by providing him a huge boost in "street cred," while Marvin is struggling to attain fame. Bobby then proposes an idea to Marvin the next time he meets him: for $8,000, Bobby, who claims to be a "marksman," will help jump-start Marvin's career by shooting him in the "fleshy part" of the thigh. Marvin agrees but can only pay $7,000, which Bobby reluctantly accepts. Marvin also requests that he not be informed when the hit is about to take place. A few nights later, after leaving a fast food restaurant carrying bags with his girlfriend, Marvin gets instead shot in his buttocks. As the rapper cries in pain, Bobby flees the scene. Bobby later brings a hefty envelope of cash to Tony, saying he had "a good week."

Following Dick Barone's death, his son Jason takes over ownership of Barone Sanitation (for which Tony is a paid consultant), and tries to sell the company without first getting approval from Tony. After Tony, Paulie and Patsy Parisi make it clear that it will not be in his best interests to proceed with the sale, Jason discovers he is too far along in the process to back out. The company trying to buy Barone's routes, Cinelli Sanitation, is associated with Johnny Sack. After a violent encounter between two garbage crews trying to work the same route in which a man was brutally beaten in front of his underaged son, and after some back-and-forth negotiation between Tony and Sack (with Phil Leotardo working as the intermediary), Tony agrees with the more favorable offer from Sack and allows the sale to go through. "Truth be told, there's enough garbage for everybody," Tony tells Phil. Tony also acquiesces to Jason's mother, who begs Tony to make sure no harm comes to her son, saying Jason was ignorant of how the mob business works because she and his father had shielded him from it when he was growing up. The pleading of a mother for her son drives Paulie to leave the hospital room in tears.

On the day Tony is leaving the hospital, he passes Schwinn's, who now had his larynx removed, hospital room but does not stop to say goodbye to him. The EMT worker accused of stealing from Tony approaches him with an envelope of cash, but Tony does not take it. As he is wheeled outside, Tony takes a few moments to observe the bustle of life outside. He grabs Janice's hand and comments that "every day is a gift" to him now.

Back at home, Tony lounges at the patio, seemingly enjoying the elements of nature, listening to the wind rustle the tree leaves. At the bank of a river, Paulie finds Jason Barone getting ready to row in his boat and viciously beats him with a metal pole, calling him "a mama's boy." Paulie demands from Jason a monthly cut equal to the cost of Nucci's retirement home expenses warning him not to say a word to Tony as he brandishes his gun. Paulie walks away from the pier as the wind stirs the tree leaves around him.

First appearances[edit]

  • Albie Cianflone: Phil Leotardo's consigliere who, together with Phil, attends a meeting regarding Barone Sanitation with Tony and Paulie outside the hospital.

Deceased[edit]

  • Aunt Dottie: Paulie's biological mother, who dies of natural causes.

Title reference[edit]

  • When discussing ways to increase Marvin the rapper's popularity, Bobby proposes delivering to him a relatively benign gunshot wound to "the fleshy part of the thigh". This would be done to increase his reputation, popularity, and his appearance as a gangster to his fans.
  • The title could also obliquely reference a Native American story featuring Manabozho, an Ojibwe trickster figure. Common to various tellings of the story are Manabozho's initial encounter with a group of waterfowl and his use of song to convince them to dance with their eyes shut for an extended period of time during which he kills many of them. Before Manabozho lies down to rest after the remaining birds have escaped, he tells a part of his lower body, typically his thigh, to wake him if anyone comes to steal the bodies.[1][2][3]

Production[edit]

This is the first episode written by Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider who joined the series' writing staff for the final sixth season and also acted as supervising producers on it. They would write three more episodes. Frolov and Schneider previously collaborated with David Chase on Northern Exposure.

Other cultural references[edit]

  • When Aaron pays a visit to Tony in his ICU room, accompanied by Pastor Bob, he is wearing a shirt bearing the name of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who, being in a persistent vegetative state, was a center of controversy in the late-1990s and early-2000s (decade), in regards to sustaining her life through artificial means.
  • While having his wound dressed the day before surgery, Tony speculates that Janice is responsible for taping the Ojibwe saying introduced in "Mayham," "Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky," to his wall.
  • After learning that Pastor Bob and his followers oppose female contraception, Tony asks them if their God disapproves of Viagra too.
  • Tony's surgeon jokes to the surgical team that he found Jimmy Hoffa in Tony's abdomen.
  • Tony tells the insurance agent his doctors look like the United Colors of Benetton.
  • After moving to a regular hospital room after his surgery, Tony is watching the 1970s television series Kung Fu; Tony comments to Paulie that he used to watch that show "all the time" when he was a kid.
  • In Da Lux's hospital room, members of his crew tell Da Lux that he "only got two less shots than Fifty", a reference to rapper 50 Cent, who survived 9 gunshot wounds in 2000.
  • Pastor Bob presents Tony with a copy of the book Born Again by Charles Colson, a key figure in the Watergate scandal who would later become a born again Christian while in prison.
  • In addition, when Pastor Bob sees that Tony was reading a book on dinosaurs, he mentions that the Earth was created by God 6000 years ago, and not by evolution over billions of years—this is a reference to the belief in Young Earth creationism. Tony compares this to The Flintstones while Christopher does not believe Adam and Eve's paradise could have included T-Rexes.
  • Beth Kaplan says she has nothing against evangelical Christians as they revere Israel as the Holy Land.
  • Tony reminds Jason Barone that Tony, Jason's father, and Paulie had taken Jason to watch the New York Mets, Mookie Wilson and Dave Kingman, play at the Shea Stadium.
  • The character John Schwinn was a scientist for Bell Labs, which built the first active telecommunications satellite, Telstar. While watching the fight on a satellite television system, the signal breaks up and, at one time, Paulie asks him to fix the reception.
  • During the scene in the hospital as Tony and Paulie watch the fight, Schwinn makes a comment of everything being related to which Da Lux responds "Everything is everything, I can dig that." The actor playing Da Lux is Lord Jamar from the rap outfit Brand Nubian. Brand Nubian's third album is titled Everything Is Everything.
  • Bobby mentions a "Dr. Droop" to Marvin, a malapropism of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Music[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thompson, Stith. "Tales of the North American Indians". Courier Dover Publications, 2000, p. 53.
  2. ^ "Manabush and the Birds". Indian Country Wisconsin. Milwuakee Public Museum. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Dieterle, Richard J. "Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks (§6 of the Trickster Cycle)". The Encyclopedia of Hočąk (Winnebago) Mythology. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 

External links[edit]