How would you grade this episode on a 1-10 scale (10 being the best possible quality)

Total votes: 0

Re: Episode 2.11: House Arrest - Grades & General Review

#2
This is an above average, solid episode. I voted it a 9, and while I can certainly see people arguing with such a high score, I really think it deserves it. It was a stand-alone episode of the series, without being a "stand-alone episode". By that, I mean it wasn't an obvious self-contained episode where Tony takes a trip somewhere. It was more of a day-in-the-life of Sopranos episode, which I loved.

This episode also melds and blurs the line between feeling sorry for Tony and also despising him for what he has done to others lives. I think this is primarily apparent when we see Tony's outburst at the Sanitation get-together, which leads into a panic attack. We feel concerned for him--which is juxtaposed earlier in the episode when we see the effects of Tony's therapy on Melfi's drinking before sessions. The viewer enjoys Tony, but it is hard not to despise and be repulsed, yet excited by him. This is essentially what Melfi mentions in her own therapy. Seeing Tony's toxic-life permeating into Melfi's life is hard to forgive, yet we all knew it would happen.

I also love watching Melfi's loose boundaries in the first therapy session with Tony (after she takes her drink). Bracco just days an amazing, subtle performance of a buzzed Melfi who is now more relaxed in her session with Tony. It became quite obvious that the session was to showcase how the therapy might be more for Melfi then Tony.

Also, watching Tony's reaction to the born again christian/secretary...it is a stab at humor for the writers. But in typical Sopranos fashion, it is a very dark, double-entendre humor. It is funny that Tony manages to deflower this secretary, yet it is also extremely despicable. How we manage to like this character as much as we do, I will never quite understand.

I think the tone of boredom is conveyed perfectly. And in a way it is good bookend for the later episodes "The Ride", and "Chasing It", as they all deal with Tony's reaction to boredom, and his constant search for excitement in a life of luxury. The end of the episode is just great. I can't say enough about it. Tony's return to the Satriale's is handled with such restraint. Even though Tony has been absent, Chase and co. don't go overboard with his return. Instead, they show how boring it is inside the pork store. SO entertaining to get a few minutes of seeing what these guys do with their spare time. Then, finally with the car accident outside. This was just an amazingly "normal", Sopranos episode.

Re: Episode 2.11: House Arrest - Grades & General Review

#3
Definitely one of the more "boring" episodes, but clearly intentionally so, and nonetheless full of excellent storytelling. It's interesting that they put this uneventful chapter so close to the end of the season. The calm before the storm, I suppose. And I also guess this episode was quite thematically important, in showing us a "fish out of water" story with Tony trying to fit in with civilians. He's just not suited to it.

Actually, you could say this was a culmination of a long-running theme of the season, the connection between the DiMeo crime family and white collar citizens (i.e., most of the show's viewer base). This started in the very first scene of "Guy Walks into a Psychiatrist's Office", with the Asian guy taking Chris's test for a business license. Then you had the amusing clash between mafia thugs and mundane office workers, causing violence to spill into that world. Later we see how Tony and his people destroyed David Scatino and his sports store. Now we see the opposite - white collar business takes its minor revenge on Tony Soprano by boring him, and also making him look weak in front of Richie Aprile.

Junior also ends up looking weak in front of Richie when he gets his hand stuck in the garbage disposal, and Richie helps him remove it - the little "you're flexing" line had some clear subtext for Junior. The thematic parallels between Junior and Tony are also clear - while for Tony the boredom is temporary, Junior will have to get used to it. He's under house arrest for the near future, and as we'll see, his trial will eventually bleed into his senility, and eventually he will become a docile old man with Alzheimer's, content to sit completely alone in ennui.

Closing thoughts - I liked the chained up dog as a metaphor, and the use of music this episode was fantastic. One thing that didn't work so well was the garbage pile in the beginning - in certain shots it's clear they just pasted a photo of garbage in front of the guy.
Taps, lights out, 2200 hours. What's missing? Give up? Television.

Re: Episode 2.11: House Arrest - Grades & General Review

#4
My first thoughts on this episode were that it is a prelude for the rest of Junior's life (since this point and into) the remainder of the series.


But I think there is something more like the previous comment state - thanks for bringing this discussion to the forefront -> this episode is also a subtext-key to understand how Tony's brain works. Bringing out the theme of "I can't get no satisfaction from my work" from The Pilot and expanding on it, also.

1. In understanding what makes Tony bored, we get a clue as to what keeps him entertained and satisfied, which is hard to come by since he is prone to depression pitfalls. So I am going to make a quick list of moments when Tony was in really good spirits:
- In the last episode, Season 1, Tony woke up in a great mood because the Palmice hit was about to be carried out.
- When Furio gets his first opportunity to get some work done at the 'massage parlor', Tony seems to be getting a lot of enjoyment from it.
- When Tony is shaking down one of his underlings he seems to take extreme pleasure from it (example, when Angie Bompensiero is dealing with fixing Phil's car in Season 5, Tony takes a lot of pleasure from telling her to get it sorted at her end)

2. Tony's values are 180 degrees from the regular citizens he is being juxtaposed with (stemming from his parental guidance and values as we know). I think this is the meaning of the rash. A normal person would have a bad rash like that because they are under a lot of stress. Tony's solution didn't seem to work that much, because the origins of his problems are also 180 degrees from what we would expect from a regular citizen. i.e. the rash was the result of boredom, not stress.

Re: Episode 2.11: House Arrest - Grades & General Review

#5
I'm surprised that no one seemed to get what the episode was about.

There is the obvious theme of boredom yes but the whole point of the episode (and a larger theme of the show in general) was when Dr. Melfi talked about Alexithymia.

She tells Tony, "The individual craves almost ceaseless action, which enables them to avoid acknowledging the abhorrent things they do."

When Tony asks what happens when they stop moving, she answers that they crash.

His panic attack and near panic attack were him crashing when he had time away from his life of crime, a life that normalizes his behavior, rewards it and enables him to pursue and obtain ceaseless action.

The rash manifested as a visible reaction to the stress of having time to deal with his thoughts. When he's in his session with Melfi, he asks her what happens when the person stops but it's unclear to the viewer by his demeanor whether he's asking for himself, but we know he is.

I like the scene of him having sex with the office girl, doggy style with the dogs barking outside. IIRC, he's in a different office when he's doing that. There is a large B with a crown behind him, he's not in the spare office we see him in other times.

Something else about that scene is the lighting, the whole episode is overcast. It's meant to visually resemble the prisons we're all in (house arrest). When he's having sex with the girl, I remember the office being well-lit compared to the spare office he usually sat in.

The ending is great. There's a satisfaction for the characters and the viewers when Tony returns to Satrale's. It's like we're all re-entering a comfort zone. The shoe buffer he uses on his shoes and then rash is the only relief we see him get for his arm. There's a sense of warmth and normalcy in the back of Satrale's. He's still trapped by it's by the life he prefers to be trapped by, one where he can exist and seek the action he craves. Harris dropping by is met with pleasantries and small talk as if they are friends. Again, compared to having to deal with himself, he prefers the prison of his criminal life.

Pussy walking back into the store is obvious foreshadowing of his imminent demise but I can't figure out what, if anything, Paulie's disinterest with everything else around him means. We know that he's known to try and tan often but the overcast weather in the show is part of the theme and while everyone chit chats outside, he immediately puts on his sunglasses and reflector and tries to catch sun that frankly isn't there.

Everyone in the episode is trapped or under arrest. Tony as we discussed. Janice is flirting with the house arrest of a large mortgage and commitment to Richie. You'll notice she dresses "normal" in this episode so as to transition into the life of a suburban housewife (she mentions how good the school district is in the house they are looking at). Uncle Junior is literally under house arrest. Even the "civilians" at the golf outing are trapped, trapped in their jobs (the discussions of the garbage business right before Tony falls over is meant to strike a chord with the civilian audience). You can imagine they are all homeowners and like all of us, trapped under a mortgage in which most of us envelop ourselves into monotonous careers.

Dr. Melfi is trapped by her professional obligation to care for Tony.

That's all I can think of for now.
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