The Test Dream

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"The Test Dream"
The Sopranos episode
The Test Dream Sopranos.jpg
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 11
Directed by Allen Coulter
Written by David Chase
Matthew Weiner
Cinematography by Phil Abraham
Production code 511
Original air date May 16, 2004 (2004-05-16)
Running time 50 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Episode chronology

"The Test Dream" is the sixty-third episode of the HBO television series The Sopranos. It is the eleventh episode of the show's fifth season. It was written by series creator/executive producer David Chase, and supervising producer Matthew Weiner, and was directed by longtime series director Allen Coulter. It originally aired in the United States on May 16, 2004. This episode is unique in that it features an elaborate twenty-minute dream sequence, alluded to in the title, featuring many actors from past seasons reprising their roles briefly.


* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

After just having sex, Tony Soprano's girlfriend Valentina La Paz catches the sleeve of her kimono on fire while making Egg Beaters for Tony in her apartment and is badly burned even though Tony quickly puts out the fire. After Tony visits her in a hospital burn unit (with a disoriented Valentina thinking he is a surgeon), he drops in on Tony B, at his mother's house. Although Tony notices something is wrong with his cousin, who is acting erratically, he does not know that Tony B had just learned about the murder of his old prison friend and cell mate, Angelo Garepe, which had taken place the previous night. Tony B tells his cousin he has to take his twin sons to their mother early, and Tony leaves.

Angelo had picked up a stroller, a high-end Peg Perego brand, at Costco for his grandson and had been returning home with it when Phil and Billy Leotardo flagged him down. They had lied to him, saying that Johnny Sack wanted to see him immediately and, when he had turned around and walked back to his car, they had strangled and beaten him and thrown him into the trunk of Phil's car, where Phil had covered him with a plastic sheet and shot him in the head, despite Angelo's pleas to spare him.

Wanting to "get a good night's sleep" and irritated by his housekeeper, Tony checks himself into a luxury suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City under his credit card pseudonym Mr. Petraglia and nearly runs into his therapist Dr. Melfi. When evening comes, a bored Tony starts drinking and calls Charmaine Bucco, earlier admitting to Tony B his attraction to her. When she answers, he does not speak, and she hangs up after asking the anonymous caller to stop calling, suggesting that Tony has called her more than once. Running through the TV channels, Tony sees an advert for an escort agency on television and he calls for an Asian girl. After he steals a newspaper placed at the door of the neighboring suite, he gets a voice mail message from Silvio informing him about the Garepe murder. Tony immediately tries to call Tony B, but his cousin, already on the move, does not answer his cellphone and Tony is worried about how he might handle the news of Angelo's death. Tony then frantically calls his cousin's casino, Aunt Quintina, and the Bada Bing!, searching for him and telling everyone to let Tony B know he is looking for him. The prostitute then arrives and, at some point, Tony falls asleep and has a long, vivid dream.

In the beginning of the dream, he awakens next to the deceased Carmine Lupertazzi who tells Tony how lonely he is on "the other side" and how he misses his wife. Tony then receives a phone call and is told by a voice that he needs to kill somebody. Next, Tony is sitting in Dr. Melfi's office, but instead of Dr. Melfi, he is counseled by his deceased "ex-goomah" Gloria Trillo who talks about their toxic relationship and how she died too young to have children of her own. She then points to a television set in the corner and says, "Are you ready for what you have to do?" Tony then finds himself riding in the backseat of his father's 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, being driven by his long-deceased father Johnny Boy Soprano; also in the car are several other deceased men who had either died by his hand or on his orders, including Big Pussy Bonpensiero and Mikey Palmice. When Tony looks at Mikey and tells him he knows he's dreaming, Mikey replies simply, "I got no opinion. One way or the other." Mikey briefly turns into Artie Bucco who simply looks at Tony and asks, "What?" When Tony asks where they are going, Pussy—who has now turned into Ralph Cifaretto—turns around and says, "We're driving you to the job." as they pull up to Tony and Carmela's house.

The next segment of his dream involves Tony waking up at home and getting ready to go to dinner with Carmela to meet Finn DeTrolio's parents at Nuovo Vesuvio, and Tony distractedly watching clips from several films on the kitchen television, including Chinatown and Scrooge. When they finally arrive at the restaurant, Finn's father is actually the deceased Detective Vin Makazian. Actress Annette Bening has taken the role of Finn's mother in the dream. Finn occasionally turns into A.J. during the course of the dinner, whenever they discuss their disappointment with Finn. Next, Tony's teeth start to fall out spontaneously and he cannot stop this from happening. Vin Makazian/Mr. DeTrolio then starts singing "Three Times a Lady" and everyone at the table is enamored by his singing, except Tony, who tries to get Annette Bening's attention until she gets angry with him. Tony and Finn's father then go to the restroom. When Tony enters the bathroom stall, he reaches behind the vintage style toilet tank looking for a gun which is not there, an allusion to the The Godfather. Vin then asks Tony, "Are you gonna be able to come through on the thing?" Tony replies, "I did my homework," reaches into his pocket, and takes out a paperback copy of The Valachi Papers. Then, Tony hears shots firing outside and when he gets past a huge crowd, he sees Tony B shooting Phil Leotardo in his car. Gloria Trillo, now apparently a reporter, takes an interview from the dying Phil who comments that he has children and grandchildren before Tony B mimes shooting him dead with his fingers shaped as a gun. A bystander shouts, "Why didn't you stop him?" to which Tony says he doesn't have a weapon, but the crowd bears down on Tony. Suddenly, day turns into night and he starts running from an angry mob, which includes Annette Bening, Carmela, Paulie Walnuts, Harold Melvoin and many other familiar faces of people who are alive; some of the mob are wearing period German clothing and carrying torches and pitchforks, a la Frankenstein. Tony runs down a long, dark alleyway, and Lee Harvey Oswald shoots at him with a high-powered rifle from a third floor window. At the end of the alley an ominous black SUV is idling, playing rap music. Suddenly Artie Bucco pops out of a nearby door, and he and Tony escape together, again in his father's old car, this time with Artie driving. Tony looks in the backseat and sees the deceased Richie Aprile and Gigi Cestone, two former Aprile Crew capos who had met their demise shortly after taking control of the "cursed" crew. Tony is then suddenly having wild sex with Artie's wife Charmaine Bucco, who is sucking Tony's thumb while Artie coaches him along. The dream jumps suddenly to Tony then appearing in his living room mounted on top of his racehorse Pie-O-My and Tony is affectionately rubbing the horse's neck. He tells Carmela he wants to move back in. Carmela replies by repeating her response when A.J. asked to move back home: "There are some non-negotiable conditions." In this case, the condition is that the horse can no longer stay in the house since Tony never cleans up after it. (Although Carmela's comment, "You can't have your horse in here," sounds like it is spoken as "whores," an apparent reference to Tony's history of infidelity, which led to their separation at the end of Season Four.)

Tony's last encounter in his dream is at his high school where Tony is carrying a loaded and silenced pistol, seemingly ready to assassinate his former football coach, Coach Molinaro. The coach immediately notices Tony sneaking up on him, and begins to criticize Tony's life, pointing out how Tony had "all the prerequisites to lead young men on to the field of sport" and how he didn't have to be a criminal and live with all the stress and guilt that comes from a life of crime. When Tony has had enough and tries to shoot Molinaro, his gun malfunctions and the bullets seemingly melt in his hands; the coach continues to taunt him about not being prepared until Tony awakens with a start.

Shortly afterward, Tony receives a visit from Christopher, who informs him that Tony B indeed went after the Leotardo brothers. He killed Billy and wounded Phil.

As it is not dawn yet, Tony goes back to bed and calls Carmela. Tony cancels a fishing trip with A.J. and tells her he had "one of [my] Coach Molinaro dreams." They joke with each other and Tony seems glad to learn she ate at Nuovo Vesuvio with only her girlfriends, before asking her if the sun has come up where she is.


  • Angelo Garepe: murdered by Phil and Billy Leotardo.
  • Billy Leotardo: murdered offscreen by Tony Blundetto to avenge the death of Angelo Garepe.

Title reference[edit]

  • David Chase explained that the title refers to the dreams where an individual turns up late for a test in school and is wearing no clothing, meaning that the person is unprepared for a test or another task they have to face. Tony is unprepared to murder his coach in his dream. The dream could also symbolize Tony's thoughts that he is unprepared to forfeit protecting his cousin Tony Blundetto from Phil Leotardo even though that could lead to potentially disastrous consequences in the crime families' relationship.[1][2]


  • The voice on the other end of the phone in the dream sequence is that of David Chase.[1]
  • A photo of a deleted scene of the episode on the official series website shows that there was an idea to have Meadow be temporarily replaced by Tracee the murdered Bada Bing stripper in Tony's dream in the scene at Nuovo Vesuvio, similarly to how Finn DeTrolio alternated between himself and A.J.

References to past episodes[edit]

  • Tony previously dreamed about being in his father's Cadillac (including the blurry background) in the Season 4 episode, "Calling All Cars."
  • When Tony wakes up in bed next to Carmine and the phone rings, he says to Tony, "answer the fucking thing," which is what Carmine said to Johnny Sack in the episode "Fortunate Son", when Johnny's cell phone was ringing.
  • The dream-sequence conversation between Tony and Gloria Trillo (who appeared in "He Is Risen", "The Telltale Moozadell", "Pine Barrens", "Amour Fou", "Everybody Hurts", and "Calling All Cars") referred to events that were revealed in earlier episodes: Tony once hit and choked Gloria, Gloria died too young to have children, and Tony's mother once threatened to poke out her son's eye with a fork.
  • The chase scene evokes the angry mob scene in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and recalls The Sopranos episode "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" in which Shlomo Teittleman likened Tony to a golem or a Frankenstein; in that same episode Tony tells Dr. Melfi that the analogy bothered him. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was also directly referred to in the episode "For All Debts Public and Private", in which Bobby Baccalieri confused the hunchback Quasimodo with Nostradamus.

Other cultural references[edit]

  • The episode makes multiple references to the film The Godfather. Annette Bening speaks the line, "I don't want my husband coming out of there with just his cock in his hand", referring to an almost-identical line spoken by Sonny Corleone. Afterwards, Tony's reaching behind the toilet tank for the non-existent gun is a reference to a similar scene with Michael Corleone. When Tony Blundetto shoots Phil Leotardo in Tony Soprano's dream, he exits the same make and brand car (Lincoln Continental) in a similar fashion to Sonny Corleone, during the famous toll-booth shooting scene.
  • The book that Tony finds in the men's bathroom during his dream is The Valachi Papers, written by Peter Maas; it is the famous book based on the testimony of Joe Valachi, the first member of the Mafia to turn state's evidence and who confirmed the existence of the American Mafia. It is seen again when Tony states he's done his homework.
  • When Tony calls Aunt Quinn from his hotel room, an advertisement for Anne Murray is on the TV.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald shoots at Tony from an apartment building window, when Tony is running from the angry mob. This is in keeping with his Kennedy interest.
  • Annette Bening also says about Tony, "There's something Bugsy about him". This is a reference to Bugsy Siegel, who was portrayed by Bening's husband Warren Beatty in the film Bugsy; she co-starred in the film as Bugsy's lover.
  • Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) shoots Angelo Garepe in the trunk of his car, which is a bit of an in-joke to his own demise as Billy Batts in Goodfellas.
  • A scene from the movie Chinatown is showing on the television in the kitchen when Carmela tells Tony they are late to meet Finn's parents. It is then replaced with the ending of the film Scrooge.
  • As Tony and Carmela enter Nuovo Vesuvio to meet "Finn's parents" in Tony's dream, the climactic scene of High Noon is playing on television above the bar. The film stars Gary Cooper, an actor whom Tony repeatedly references throughout the series (notably in the episodes "Pilot", "Christopher", and "The Strong, Silent Type") because Tony believes Cooper's strong, silent type demeanor is a trait lacking in today's psychotherapy-driven society.
  • The episode also makes a series of references to Jackie Gleason, both as a musician and as Ralph Kramden in the 1950s sitcom, The Honeymooners. When Tony and Gloria are talking in Dr Melfi's office, they jokingly repeat Gleason's catchphrase from the show: 'One of these days, Alice! Pow! Right in the kisser.' The line adroitly references Tony's own physical violence towards Trillo and perhaps suggestively indicates Trillo's own ambivalent attitude towards it, as she too repeats Gleason's phrase. This could also be a glimpse into the meaning of the dream (coming to terms with his cousin's actions) as Tony B frequently quotes Gleason.


  • The song played over the end credits is "Three Times a Lady" by the Commodores. The same song was sung earlier, a cappella, by Vin, during the dinner portion of Tony's dream.
  • The song that Angelo is listening to on his car radio before he is murdered is "Peanuts" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Ironically, Frankie Valli's character Rusty Millio is the one that got Angelo involved in the feud with Johnny Sack that led him to be killed.
  • The piece heard when Tony first walks into the hotel is "Clair De Lune" (which means "moonlight" in French) by French composer Claude Debussy.
  • The music playing when Tony is in Artie's car is "Kulun Mankwalesh" by Mahmoud Ahmed.


  1. ^ a b The stuff that Tony's dreams are made of
  2. ^ Martin, Brett (2007-10-30). ""Whatever Happened to the Strong, Silent Type?": plumbing The Sopranos subconscious". The Sopranos: The Complete Book. New York: Time. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-933821-18-4. 

External links[edit]