Stage 5 (The Sopranos)

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"Stage 5"
The Sopranos episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 14
Directed by Alan Taylor
Written by Terence Winter
Cinematography by Alik Sakharov
Production code 614
Original air date April 15, 2007
Running time 56 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Soprano Home Movies"
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"Remember When"
List of The Sopranos episodes

"Stage 5" is the 79th episode of the HBO television series The Sopranos. It is the second episode of the second half of the show's sixth season, and the 14 episode of the season overall. It was written by Terence Winter, directed by Alan Taylor, and originally aired on April 15, 2007.


* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

Christopher Moltisanti has completed Little Carmine's Mafia-oriented slasher film Cleaver starring Daniel Baldwin as the mob boss antagonist. They present the final cut of the movie to the investors, who seem pleased with it. At the Sopranos' dinner table, Carmela states that the film's premiere and subsequent after-party will take place in the fashionable Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Meadow mentions her breakup with her fiancé Finn but is unwilling to divulge any details. Carmela then mentions Christopher and Kelli are getting ready to baptize their infant daughter Caitlin. Meanwhile, there appears to be tension between A.J. and his girlfriend Blanca.

Tony is alarmed when FBI Agents Harris and Goddard surprise him while he is retrieving the morning paper from his driveway, but they simply indicate that Tony's work may expose him to information relating to terrorists and ask that he relay this information to them, as they now work on the Terrorism Task Force. Tony retreats back indoors and furiously insists to Carmela that the maid get the newspaper from now on.

Christopher and Little Carmine proudly present their film Cleaver to the audience at the premiere screening. In the movie, the mob boss, Sally Boy, is portrayed meeting his crew in his basement wearing a white robe and often displaying a vulgar attitude. He also has sex with the main protagonist's fiancée and other women. The film ends with the anti-hero, Michael the Cleaver, killing Sally by cutting his head open with his cleaver, thereby getting his final revenge.

At the after party, Tony congratulates Christopher on his film and mingles with the film's stars and Lupertazzi crime family party guests. Larry Boy Barese is arrested at the party, by federal marshals, for violating his house arrest.

Carmela approaches Tony to discuss Cleaver with him. She tells him she sees many similarities between Baldwin's character and Tony. Carmela is upset because the mob boss makes romantic advances on his subordinate's fiancée, whom Carmela equates to Adriana La Cerva. She also warns Tony she sees the violent murder of Sally Boy as Christopher's "revenge fantasy" against Tony.

Christopher speaks to his latest Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, Eddie Dunne, who congratulates Christopher for his diligent recovery from his latest drug relapse. Christopher reveals he no longer visits the Bada Bing! or other usual mob hangouts to avoid the temptations of alcohol and other "old habits", but says Tony and others do not understand his reason for doing this and believe he is purposely avoiding them.

Carmela confronts Christopher about Cleaver and what she perceives to be its characterization of Tony, and states her disappointment in her cousin. Christopher denies any similarities between Tony and Sally Boy to her but remains worried about what his boss's conclusions about the character's fictional origin could be. He then, therefore, asks the film's screenwriter J.T. Dolan to claim to Tony that the character of Sally Boy was his idea. When J.T. refuses, Christopher hits him over the head with an Humanitas Prize trophy. J.T. then visits the Bada Bing! and explains to Tony that he stole the boss character's story, and the love triangle, from the film Born Yesterday with Broderick Crawford. Tony notices the bruise on J.T.'s head, but J.T. claims it resulted from a bump into a cabinet. Tony then watches the film on his TV at home. Tony painfully confesses to Dr. Melfi that he believes Christopher despises him, and that Cleaver illustrates his hatred. He recalls being a father figure to Christopher just as Christopher's late father, "Dickie", was to Tony. Tony emotionally admits that he loved Christopher as if he were his own son. Melfi tries to ask Tony to cautiously evaluate if he is not "seeing into things", but her patient says his years of psychotherapy sessions with her have taught him enough about the human subconscious to know what the real truth is.

Johnny "Sack", the de jure boss of the Lupertazzi crime family, is revealed to be afflicted by an advanced form of stage IV small-cell lung cancer, and his oncologist gives him only three months to live. Johnny has been transferred to the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where he is often visited by his family and where he befriends a former oncologist inmate Warren Feldman, who is a convicted murderer serving as a prison orderly. Warren tells Johnny he might live for "years" after the chemotherapy he received, which seems to lift Johnny's spirits. Johnny upsets his family by continuing to smoke, and regales Warren and other prisoners with real-life crime stories from the mob world. However, his health declines steadily, and even Warren has to admit Johnny is dying. Johnny spends his last days wondering what reputation "on the street" he will be remembered by, and Anthony Infante tells him that, despite his allocution in court, he is still "well respected", even if at times known to have been hot-headed. Johnny finally dies surrounded by his wife and two daughters at his bedside.

Phil Leotardo seems to be unwilling to take the reins of official boss of the Lupertazzi crime family, after reevaluating his stressful life following his heart attack, and is stepping back to let his protégé Gerry Torciano take over. However, Gerry is soon audaciously murdered by a hitman while having dinner with Silvio Dante and some women in an Italian restaurant. Gerry is riddled with bullets, and Silvio is splashed with his blood, but left unhurt. The killing is believed to have been ordered by Faustino "Doc" Santoro, an aspiring New York made man, this way making an aggressive move to take the boss' title. Tony is furious Silvio was put in such danger during the assassination and used as a "decoy" without his knowledge or consent. Tony arranges a meeting with Little Carmine to urge him to vie for the Lupertazzi boss' position again, as he did in the past, saying he would much prefer Carmine as the boss than "Doc". Little Carmine refuses, though, saying his wife had convinced him the riches are not worth living their lives with the constant threat of danger to his life, all of which would come with the title. Tony seems to study his words thoughtfully.

On the day that would have been his late brother Billy's 47th birthday, Phil invites family and close friends to a New York bar hangout to honor his memory. Phil serves a birthday cake for the gathered children but seems disappointed when they seem to not know the answers to some Italian heritage questions he asks them. Phil talks to Butch DeConcini and expresses his fuming bitterness over having never taken vengeance for past injuries, including never avenging his brother's death at the hands of "that animal" Tony Blundetto. Phil wonders if his family is doomed to fail, revealing that his grandparents' surname was Leonardo but was changed to Leotardo by US immigration officials, which Phil believes was a deliberate attempt to undermine their Italian lineage. Phil says he compromised far too much in his life, and says the 20 years he served in prison without giving any incriminating information about the members of his crime family, such as Rusty Millio and the new Boss Doc Santoro, seem to have been for nothing. As "Evidently Chickentown" by John Cooper Clarke starts playing, Butch encourages Phil by saying he is "a man", and these days that is highly significant in the organization. Phil tells him he will no longer compromise in his life. Hanging over his head, in the bar, are shown framed pictures of the deceased Billy, Johnny "Sack", and Carmine Lupertazzi.

At a church, Tony becomes the godfather to Christopher's daughter, Caitlin, at her baptism. The tension between Tony and Christopher remains unspoken as they embrace firmly.


Final appearance[edit]

  • "Stage 5" marks the final appearance of the character Lorenzo "Larry Boy" Barese, a DiMeo/Soprano family capo. Larry is only mentioned in future episodes.

Title reference[edit]

  • After being told that his cancer has advanced to stage IV, Johnny "Sack" correctly guesses there is no stage V.
  • The title could also refer to the fifth stage of grief (acceptance), as Johnny "Sack" accepts his fate after the doctor gives him his diagnosis and prognosis.
  • The title could also refer to the stages used in studio productions, like the one Christopher Moltisanti has just completed.


  • Series writer Matthew Weiner appears for the second time in the series as Mafia expert/author Manny Safier, this time on Geraldo Rivera's show.
  • HBO released a mockumentary "Behind the Scenes" look at Cleaver titled Making Cleaver the week before the episode was released. It featured in-character interviews with Christopher, Little Carmine, director Morgan Yam, and actors Daniel Baldwin and Jonathan La Paglia, and the head make-up specialist. The mockumentary is included in The Sopranos Season 6 Part 2 DVD set and the Complete Series DVD collection.

References to prior episodes[edit]

  • In what seems to be an Easter egg, in the climactic scene in Cleaver, just before Sally Boy is killed by Michael, there is a detailed camera shot of a car's rear-view mirror under which, along with the crucifix necklace, hangs the same key chain that Furio Giunta brought back from Italy for A.J. as a souvenir in the season 4 episode, "The Strong, Silent Type". Little Carmine explains to his daughter Alexandra that it represents "the sacred and the propane" (mistaking the common phrase "the sacred and the profane").
  • Christopher's new NA sponsor reminds Christopher in what a poor condition of drug use relapse he was that time when he came into an NA meeting "with a woman," referring to Christopher and Julianna Skiff's affair in "Kaisha," which ended when they broke up and decided to attend an NA meeting.
  • Carmela believes the character of Sally Boy had sex with the protagonist's fiancée in Cleaver because of Christopher's belief Tony had intercourse with Adriana La Cerva behind his back, which refers to the season 5 episode "Irregular Around the Margins."

Other cultural references[edit]

  • Blanca angrily asks A.J. if he wants to "sleep with Paris Hilton" when he says he would like to hang out with celebrities at the Cleaver premiere.
  • Observing guys being photographed after the showing of Cleaver, Tony makes a wisecrack about "the family of early man", a reference to the book, The Family of Man, and an eponymous 1955 exhibit of photographs at The Museum of Modern Art.
  • Christopher tells his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor he based his revenge-seeking character on Edward Scissorhands-- with a cleaver replacing the scissors (although he had at one point considered a ball-peen hammer).
  • When toasting the memory of Johnny "Sack", Paulie says, "Ride the painted pony, let the spinning wheel glide", which is a misquote of a line from the Blood, Sweat & Tears song "Spinning Wheel".
  • At the country club, Little Carmine changes his drink order from iced tea to an "Arnold Palmer", a beverage made with half iced tea, half lemonade, named after golfer Arnold Palmer.
  • Phil Leotardo asks children at his late brother's birthday commemoration about Leonardo da Vinci. One of the kids incorrectly guesses he was the author of The Da Vinci Code.


  • An instrumental version of the song "Thank You" by Dido can be heard in the diner when Chris is talking to Eddie Dunne.
  • Paulie's ringtone, heard during the showing of Christopher's film, is the Paul Simon song "Cecilia".
  • The song-poem played at the end of the episode and over the credits is "Evidently Chickentown" by John Cooper Clarke, from the album Snap, Crackle & Bop. The song is based on Hamish Blair's poem, Bloody Orkney (1940).


External links[edit]