Season One, Episode Eleven — “Nobody Knows Anything”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. “Nobody Knows Anything” marks an ominous turning point for The Sopranos. Up until now, we’ve spent a lot of time really getting to know the characters. There’s been some excitement, there’s been some amusement, but all in all the action has served to construct an intimate Who’s Who of the entire cast, making sure to really pull us in. And hey, if you’re still watching after the last two fairly weak episodes, it must have worked. But what with the Feds breathing down everyone’s necks, Liv stirring the family pot with that ludicrous cross she pretends to shoulder and a healthy dose of wire-sniffing paranoia, no one is in a position to turn around or back out now.
This episode shakes things up and sends several snowballs barreling into the unknown. Tony has been put in the terrible position of deciding whether or not to put a hit out on one of his best friends. Livia has laid bare Tony’s “conspiracy” against Uncle Junior, prompting the boss to decide to take Tony out once and for all (say what you will about Tony’s character, but he agonized and deliberated far longer over what to do about Big Pussy than Junior or his own mother did over his fate). And others were never afforded the chance to scrape together a solution out of their own chaotic momentum – it was ass-over-tits into the river for them from the very beginning.
WHAT WORKED: The scene between Paulie and Pussy and the bathhouse was touching in a way. You could feel Paulie straining and struggling with what he had to do, and it came out beautifully in his signature short-tempered bursts of machismo. The man really only knows one emotion – anger – and each time Pussy prevents him from confirming there are no wires to worry about, Paulie escalates further and further into pushy abuse. When Pussy finally tells him to go fuck himself, we honestly get the impression he’s truly just sick of his shit and wants to go home, not that he has something to hide.
WHAT DIDN’T: I would like to think it’s a little far-fetched for Livia to so readily send her own son to the guillotine, but I suppose it really isn’t.
Gives him the works; CAT scans, dog scans, you name it.” – Paulie, recounting someone’s doctor’s visit.
“I wouldn’t fuck one of those broads with your dick.” – Vin, to Tony.
“You answer me like I’m Jesus Fucking Christ himself. And if you lie, may your mother die of cancer of the fucking eyes!” – Tony, to Paulie… tensions are running a little high.
BEST MOMENT: Vin Markazian’s impatient rush to die was the great curtain break between The Sopranos as we’ve known it, and The Sopranos yet to come. We’ve been in the midst of a mob-inflected drama, but “Nobody Knows Anything” took a sharp turn into crime thriller territory, from a busted up poker match to figuring out who’s wearing the wire. Vin anxiously inches through the traffic jam, laying on the horn and flashing his badge/influence to get to the other side of the roadblock. And what does he do? He pedal-to-the-metals it for about 100 yards before pulling over and unceremoniously stepping over the edge. This is it, guys, David Chase wants us to know. We’re done with the old system. Get ready for shit to start hitting the fan.
EPISODE’S MVP: I kinda want to throw John Heard a bone here, for showing us the unraveling sadness of Vin Makazian, Bordello Junky. But I’m not going to, because Vincent Pastore was just too good. Pussy, wired or not for all we know, is somewhere near the end of his rope in this episode as well. From the beginning, his character has been presented as the most level-headed and logical out of Tony’s three stooges, but he got to bust out his acting chops a bit here. A family man, maybe a little too concerned with his back and his high blood pressure, he just wants to go home and rest and worry about his son’s education, not deal with Paulie’s escalating ire and ego, or Tony’s cryptic cannoli.
– This week’s 90s shout-out comes in the form of Anthony Jr.’s Marilyn Manson t-shirt and the tie-dyed butterfly clips adorning Meadow’s hair.
– It’s a little surprising that, seeing how many times Carmela has told Liv to cut the crap, Liv never lashes out at her directly. That’s not to say that setting up Carmela’s husband to be whacked isn’t pretty freaking icy, but Carm doesn’t seem to encounter much wrath directly.
– John Heard has always struck me as an odd choice for a character named Vin Markazian. He plays the part quite well, but he looks about as Armenian as Thor.
– I had to consult Wikipedia for this episode’s music, as I was not familiar with any of it (for shame!). Highlights include: Johnny Adams “Walking on a Tightrope,” as Pussy’s back goes out at the brothel; KISS’s “Lick it Up” at the Bing, when Tony finds out about Markazian; and the Latin Playboys’ “Manifold de Amour” as the end credits scrolled past.
– Showing Mikey at home being an unrepentant ass to his wife and arrogantly thinking he’s about to move up a few notches really makes you hope he gets what he actually deserves. And soon.
9 out of 10
Next: “Isabella”, soon.
Before: “A Hit is a Hit”, here.