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 byNick Gomez
Written byMark Saraceni
Cinematography byAlik Sakharov
Production code103
Original air dateJanuary 24, 1999
Running time45 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
← Previous
"46 Long"
Next →
The Sopranos (season 1)
List of The Sopranos episodes

"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 return the stolen truck, but Junior is not satisfied. Junior and Mikey Palmice begin discussing their options for dealing with Chris, Brendan, and Tony. Meanwhile, Silvio approaches Tony on behalf of his friend, Hasidic motel owner Shlomo Teittleman, who offers to turn over 25% of his business if Tony forces Shlomo's son-in-law, Ariel, into agreeing to a divorce with no compensation. However, Tony's Jewish friend, Hesh Rabkin, warns Tony not to get involved with the Hasids. Paulie and Silvio accost Ariel, but are unable to convince him to walk away from the marriage and the business. The two resort to kidnapping Ariel, but are unable to coerce him into accepting their demands.

Tony, angered by having to be dragged away from his mistress, is called in to interrogate Ariel himself. When he asks why Ariel is being stubborn, he states that he has put up with his father-in-law for years, and cannot accept a penniless divorce after financially providing for his wife. Tony is forced to call Hesh and takes his suggestion to threaten Ariel with castration, finally compelling him to divorce his wife on their terms. The next day, Shlomo refuses to give Tony his share because he used violence and threats, and instead offers 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. When Dr. Melfi tries to use it as an example to show Tony he is trapped in negative thinking, he becomes angry and storms out because of what he thinks is Melfi's attempt to manipulate him. The crew visits Jackie in the hospital, where he is being cared for by his wife Rosalie. Tony later returns with a Bada Bing dancer dressed like a nurse, 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 Shlomo's insult with 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 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 using the same hand gesture she uses when calling her maid, essentially treating her like a servant. Later, to avenge the insult and to respond to Carmela's constant reassurance that the Buccos be back on their feet, Charmaine reveals that she and Tony once slept together before he married Carmela and that she is happy with the choice she made by marrying Artie.

Meadow and Hunter, exhausted from choir practice and studying for the SATs, decide to buy speed from Chris and Brendan. Chris initially refuses, fearing Tony's wrath; however, his girlfriend Adriana La Cerva convinces him that it's better they get it from him than from street dealers. Chris agrees to give the drugs to Meadow "just this once" as long as she never tells anyone about it. Meanwhile, Junior visits Livia at Green Grove to discuss his situation with Chris and Brendan. Livia suggests that Junior only give Chris a stern "talking to", but professes to be unsure about Brendan. The "talking to" given to Chris manifests as a mock execution at the hands of Russian mobsters. Mikey shoots Brendan through the eye while he relaxes in his bathtub. Both scenes are inter-cut with Meadow's choir recital.

First appearances[edit]

Connections to future episodes[edit]

While in the Hospital Jackie Aprile, Sr. calls Mikey Palmice the Grim Reaper which come to a head in the episode "From Where to Eternity" when Christopher is pronounced clinically dead he sees Mikey in what he believes to be hell, also Paulie visits a psychic who claims he can "communicate" with dead people, including Paulie's victims. Palmice was apparently the leader of the dead souls following Paulie.


  • 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.


In a retrospective review, Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club wrote that the "[ending] montage - intercut with Tony watching Meadow sing - is one of the first moments when The Sopranos takes music and rises above its prosaic, muddy universe to become something like sublime"; VanDerWerff commented that although the episode "is a 'Let's get the plot wheels turning!' kind of episode, and those sorts of episodes can be a little trying from time to time", there is nonetheless "lots of it that is just expertly executed".[1] Alan Sepinwall praised Gandolfini's performance as well as the story involving Carmela and Charmaine, writing that the show "has a really great eye and ear for insults – particularly ones not necessarily intended as such".[2]

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 Shlomo the king and the historic Siege of Masada where Jews chose suicide instead of defeat against the Romans.
  • When Tony and Christopher meet with Schlomo, Tony refers to him as "ZZ Top", referring to the rock band known for their long beards.


  • 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.


  1. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (June 9, 2010). "The Sopranos: "46 Long"/"Denial, Anger, Acceptance"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (June 17, 2015). "'The Sopranos' Rewind: Season 1, Episode 3: 'Denial, Anger, Acceptance'". Retrieved April 16, 2017.

External links[edit]