Meadowlands (The Sopranos)

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The Sopranos episode
Meadowlands Sopranos.jpg
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 4
Directed by John Patterson
Written by Jason Cahill
Cinematography by Alik Sakharov
Production code 104
Original air date January 31, 1999
Running time 53 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
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Episode chronology

"Meadowlands" is the fourth episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos. It was written by Jason Cahill, directed by John Patterson and originally aired on January 31, 1999.


Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

Tony Soprano begins to suffer increasing paranoia over his secret psychiatric sessions, especially after a near-encounter with Silvio Dante, who was visiting the dental office just opposite Dr. Melfi's suite. However, Tony is in no hurry to abandon therapy: he has also been developing feelings for the doctor, even to the point of having a detective in his employ, Vin Makazian, secretly follow and photograph her. Unfortunately, Makazian assumes Melfi is a mistress of Tony's, and oversteps the mark; when he sees Melfi with a date, he pulls the pair over on a false accusation of crossing the double yellow line. After the date admits to having wine with dinner, Makazian proceeds to conduct a field sobriety test and then brutally beat the helpless man and take him into custody, stating to a confused Melfi, "You got prime rib at home, why you going out for hamburgers?" Tony's dangerous feelings even lead him to consider quitting therapy, but Carmela insists he continue, although she is still under the impression that Tony's psychiatrist is male. In fact, Carmela goes so far as to warn Tony that without continued therapy, their marriage will be at serious risk.

A.J. is left confused when a physically bigger classmate, Jeremy Piocosta, backs down from a fight with him and pays for a shirt he ripped in a previous scuffle. With some guidance from Meadow, A.J. comes to realize that Jeremy was intimidated by Tony's reputation as a gangster. Tony had coincidentally met Jeremy's father the day before at a plant nursery as Tony was seeking pesticide for his garden corn. Tony's friendliness while holding an axe confused Jeremy's father, and probably provoked Jeremy to quit the fight. Meadow educates A.J. on what exactly their father does for a living by showing him several Mafia-themed websites and asking him how many garbage men live the lifestyle they do.

Christopher, meanwhile, is running scared after his mock execution, which has left him in a neck brace. He is even more unnerved when he and Adriana discover Brendan Filone lying dead in his bathtub, shot through the eye. His initial fears that Tony is exacting vengeance on him for giving drugs to Meadow are only allayed when he angrily questions her and discovers that she has not revealed the transaction. However, after finding that Junior is responsible, and has also assumed collection of protection money owed to Tony's crew, he is keen for vengeance. Christopher also implies that he will take out Mikey Palmice. Tony does not allow Christopher to go forward with his plans because Mikey is a made man and Christopher is not. Tony instead takes a ride to the luncheonette, beats Mikey, and proceeds to staple his suit with a stolen staple gun. He then confronts Junior about his extreme actions against Brendan and Christopher. Junior coldly refutes Tony's offers of compromise and tells Tony the next time he comes to see him, he better "come heavy" (i.e. with a gun) or not at all.

Although Tony chastises his uncle, the prospect of war with Junior also looms large for him, especially after the abrupt death of his friend and acting DiMeo Family boss, Jackie Aprile, Sr., creates uncertainty over who will succeed him. Tony has the backing of the other family capos and is irate over the unauthorized and extreme punishments meted out to Christopher and Brendan, however he seeks a diplomatic resolution with his uncle. After some unwitting inspiration from Dr. Melfi about giving the elderly the "illusion of control", Tony concedes leadership of the family to Junior, which gives Tony several strategic advantages. Tony can avoid a violent war and obtain income-earning properties and contracts as payment from Junior in exchange for his recommendation. With Junior as boss, Junior now becomes the primary target for federal investigations against the family instead of Tony. Content with his decision, Tony opts to remain in therapy.

At Jackie's funeral, Silvio and the capos worry about Tony's decision to make Junior boss. Tony reminds them that he has only made Junior content and that every major decision will still be made by him. Christopher tells Tony about the FBI presence at the funeral, to which Tony jokingly says that they got Junior's good side. Meadow gives A.J. a knowing look and nods in the direction of the federal agents taking pictures. A.J. then looks at his father who gives him a smile and wink, thus confirming A.J.'s suspicions about his father's profession.

First appearances[edit]


Title reference[edit]

The Meadowlands is a wetlands area in northern New Jersey. Christopher identifies it as the place where his mock execution took place.

Cultural references[edit]

  • At the beginning of the episode, A.J. is playing Mario Kart 64. When Tony comes home, he plays the game with him in multiplayer mode.
  • Jimmy Altieri tells the capos their crime family should be run as a paramilitary organization and not as The Dave Clark Five when Larry Boy suggests a ruling council.
  • When Tony congratulates Junior on becoming the boss, he commends his physique, telling the people at the café to call Parcells and "give this guy a tryout."


Retrospectively, Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club felt that although many elements of "Meadowlands" worked, the episode is "a bit of a step down from the previous three." He criticized the subplot involving AJ as "pretty pointless, playing out as a sort of miniature version of the Tony and Junior conflict and ending much the same way", but considered the overall episode to be "a pretty good summation of many of the things the show is going to be interested in going forward."[1] Alan Sepinwall was highly positive, calling the resolution of the Tony and Junior conflict "an elegant solution, [...] and a great indicator of what a savvy tactician Tony is". Sepinwall also praised the final scene of "Meadowlands" as "a strong way to end an episode that's been all about the crumbling walls between Tony's work and home lives."[2]


  • The song played when Tony visits Uncle Junior at the restaurant and tries to head off a war, but Junior threatens to take Christopher's business away is "Prisoner of Love" by Perry Como.
  • The song played at the Bada Bing when Tony and the other captains eat lobsters and discuss the possibility of an impending war is "Ugly Stadium" by Tipsy.
  • The song played at the Bada Bing before the news announcement of Jackie Aprile's death is "Floor-Essence" by Man With No Name.
  • The song played when A.J. watches Tony at Jackie's funeral and into the end credits is "Look on Down From the Bridge" by Mazzy Star.


Jason Cahill won a Writers Guild of America award for his work on this episode.


  1. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (June 16, 2010). "The Sopranos: "Meadowlands"/"College"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 16, 2017. 
  2. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (June 24, 2015). "‘The Sopranos’ Rewind: Season 1, Episode 4: ‘Meadowlands’". Uproxx. Retrieved April 16, 2017. 

External links[edit]