Denial, Anger, Acceptance

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"Denial, Anger, Acceptance"
The Sopranos episode
Denial Anger Acceptance Sopranos.jpg
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 3
Directed by Nick Gomez
Written by Mark Saraceni
Cinematography by Alik Sakharov
Production code 103
Original air date January 24, 1999
Running time 45 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
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Episode chronology

"Denial, Anger, Acceptance" is the third episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos. It was written by Mark Saraceni, directed by Nick Gomez and originally aired on January 24, 1999.


* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

Christopher and Brendan Filone return the stolen truck to Comley Trucking, but Junior Soprano is not satisfied. Junior and Mikey Palmice discuss their options for dealing with the two and Tony, and Junior begins to agree with Mikey.

Silvio Dante approaches Tony on behalf of hotel owner Shlomo Teittleman, a Hasidic Jew, and a friend of Silvio Dante's. The man agrees to turn over 25% of his business to Tony if he is able to force the man's son-in-law into agreeing to a divorce with no compensation. This is because the son-in-law wants 50% and the government has put an end to the "self-policing" Hasidics previously available to the hotel owner. However, Tony's Jewish friend, Hesh Rabkin, warns Tony not to get involved with the Hasids. Paulie Gualtieri and Silvio accost Ariel, the son-in-law, but are unable to convince him to walk away from the marriage and the hotel with nothing. During a second encounter, where they kidnap him and fail to break him after a long fight in which Ariel proves adept at defending himself and not submitting to their demands, they seek help from Tony. Ariel challenges the men to kill him, believing his murder will bring spiritual harm to the Teittleman family, as well as to Paulie and Silvio. He references Masada, site of a long siege between a small number of Jews and legions of Roman soldiers that ended in the mass suicide of the Jews who chose death over enslavement. Paulie and Silvio can't crack him so they call Tony away from time with his mistress Irina to help them. Tony, angered by having to be dragged away from his fling, asks Ariel why in the world he is being so stubborn about this, especially since most men would be glad to be rid of a nagging wife. Ariel states that he has put up with his father-in-law for years, as well as providing for his wife by paying medical bills and vacations to Israel, and that he cannot accept a penniless divorce. Tony cannot intimidate Ariel either, so he is forced to swallow his pride and call Hesh in the late night hours, admitting he refused Hesh's advice not to get involved. After taking Hesh's suggestion that the threat of castration is worse than death, Tony is able to get Ariel to agree to the divorce on their terms. The next day, Shlomo refuses to give Tony his share, instead offering cash, because he believes he negotiated the solution through violence and threats, and he would instead offer Ariel 15% ownership of the motel. When Tony insists on the original 25% arrangement Shlomo says he has created a golem; when Tony asks what that means, he calls him a Frankenstein.

In therapy, Tony discusses the cancer diagnosis of acting boss, Jackie Aprile, Sr. Dr. Melfi tries to use it as an example to show Tony he is trapped in negative thinking. Tony becomes angry and storms out because he thinks psychiatrists try to manipulate people into feeling certain things. The crew visit Jackie in hospital where he is being cared for by his wife, Rosalie. Tony later returns with a dancer, dressed like a nurse, from the Bada Bing to give Jackie a "private party". On a third visit, Jackie's condition seems to have worsened and he is too preoccupied with his illness to talk business. Tony discusses Jackie's downturn and the insult from Shlomo with Dr. Melfi. She asks him if he feels like a monster, i.e., lacking in feelings.

Carmela organizes a silent auction at the Soprano home to raise money for a pediatric hospital. She recruits Charmaine and Artie Bucco to cater the event while visiting their new home. Tony and Artie have a brotherly food fight after Tony tells Artie to stop whining about the fire in his restaurant and start looking towards the future. Carmela offends Charmaine by treating her like a servant by using the same hand gesture she uses when calling her maid. Later, to avenge the insult and to respond to Carmela's constant reassurance that Artie and she will be back on their feet, Charmaine reveals that she and Tony once slept together before Carmela and Tony were married, and that she is happy with the choice she made by marrying Artie.

Meadow and Hunter are exhausted. The SATs and their choir recital fall on the same day, and they don't have enough time to both practice and study. They decide the best solution is to get some speed from Christopher and Brendan. Christopher initially refuses, fearing Tony's wrath; however, Adriana convinces him that it's better they get it from him than from street dealers. Christopher agrees to give the drugs to Meadow "just this once" as long as she never tells anyone about it, especially her father.

Junior visits Livia at Green Grove and discusses the Christopher and Brendan situation. Livia points out that both she and Tony love Christopher like a son. She suggests that Junior only give Tony's hot-tempered nephew a stern "talking to", but says that she "doesn't know" about Brendan. Junior compliments Livia on her wise decision-making. She scoffs, replying that she must be "a babbling idiot" for Tony to put her in a nursing home.

The "talking to" given to Christopher manifests as a mock execution at the hands of Russian goons. Brendan's punishment is a bullet through the eye via Junior's trigger man, Mikey Palmice, while he relaxes in his bathtub. Both scenes are inter-cut with Meadow's recital.

First appearances[edit]


  • Brendan Filone: shot through the eye by Mikey Palmice on orders of Uncle Junior.

Title reference[edit]

  • Denial, anger, and acceptance are the first, second, and fifth stages, respectively, described in the Kübler-Ross model. These stages pertain to people suffering from terminal illness (such as Jackie Aprile); they also apply to any form of catastrophic personal loss, which many other characters face in this and other episodes.


  • This is the first episode where Irina is played by Oksana Lada. She was originally portrayed by Siberia Federico in the pilot.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Tony thinks that the painting in Melfi's waiting room is a Horshack test, confusing the Rorschach inkblot test with Arnold Horshack, a character from the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter.
  • When Tony is in his Russian mistress' bedroom he notices a painting on her wall and asks what she sees in it. The painting, depicting a splash in a pool, is an imitation David Hockney. She says that it reminds her of "David Hockey."
  • Ariel the Hassidic Jew who resists Silvio and Tony's intimidation and torture mentions the religious figure Shlomo and the historic Siege of Masada where Jews chose suicide instead of defeat against the Romans.


  • The song played on Christopher's car radio after him and Brendan return the stolen truck is "Gawk" by Ethyline.
  • The song played when Junior and Mikey eat dinner and discuss the situation regarding Christopher and Brendan is "Melodia del Rio" by Rubén González.
  • The song played when Christopher delivers the crystal meth to Meadow in her room "Turn of the Century" by Damon and Naomi.
  • The song played when Carmela has her fundraising dinner for a pediatric hospital is "Happy Feet" by Paolo Conte.
  • The song played when Tony meets Irina for an illicit rendezvous but is interrupted by Silvio is "Tenderly" by Chet Baker.
  • The song played over the end credits is "Complicated Shadows" by Elvis Costello.

External links[edit]