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 becomes increasingly paranoid over his secret sessions with Dr. Melfi, especially after a near-encounter with Silvio, whose dentist is located just opposite Melfi's suite. However, Tony has also begun developing feelings for Melfi, even to the point of having a detective in his employ, Vin Makazian, secretly follow her. Unfortunately, Makazian assumes Melfi is Tony's mistress and, when he sees her with a date, he pulls the pair over before beating and arresting her boyfriend. Tony's dangerous feelings lead him to consider quitting therapy, but Carmela – still under the impression that Melfi is male – insists he continue therapy or else their marriage will be at risk.

A.J. is left confused when a physically bigger classmate, Jeremy Piocosta, backs down from a fight 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 mobster. Tony had coincidentally met Jeremy's father the day before at a plant nursery as Tony was shopping for pesticide. 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.

Meanwhile, Christopher is scared after his mock execution, which has left him in a neck brace. He becomes even more unnerved when he and Adriana discover Brendan's body. Assuming that Tony is exacting vengeance on him for giving speed to Meadow, he angrily confronts her only to learn she told no one about their deal. However, after finding that Junior and Mikey are responsible, he is keen on vengeance. However, Tony orders Chris to stand down because Mikey is a made man. Instead, Tony assaults Mikey and confronts Junior, who coldly refutes Tony's offers of compromise and tells him he should "come heavy" (i.e. with a gun) for his next visit or not at all.

The prospect of war with Junior looms large for Tony, especially after the death of acting boss Jackie Aprile, Sr. without a clear successor. Tony has the backing of other DiMeo family caporegimes, but seeks a diplomatic resolution with his uncle. After some unwitting inspiration from Melfi about giving the elderly the "illusion of control", Tony cedes leadership of the family to Junior in exchange for his uncle's income-earning properties and contracts. Thanks to this agreement, war within the family is avoided while Junior becomes the primary target for federal investigations into 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. Tony reminds them that he has only made Junior content and that every major decision will still be made by him. Chris tells Tony about the FBI presence at the funeral. 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.
  • Melfi’s date Randall mentions the song “People are Strange” by The Doors, specifically the lyric “Faces look ugly when you’re alone”.
  • 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]