The SopranosThe Sopranos

The Knight in White Satin Armor

Directed by: Allen Coulter
Written by: Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess

What's to be done about Richie Aprile?

It's not a rhetorical question. And it's going to have to be answered soon because he's rapidly running out his string with Tony. He's still selling drugs on his garbage routes and started trying to horn in on other capos' hauling contracts. And while Richie continues to contend that his future brother-in-law is not giving him due respect, Tony's rejoinder is direct: "Those who want respect give respect." And openly disobeying the direct orders of the capo di tutti capi is about as disrespectful as it gets. Is it any wonder Tony doesn't want A.J. and Meadow anywhere near the guy?

But Richie's not the only one with whom Tony would like to sever ties. He's been trying to break up with Irina, his Russian goomah, but she's not the kind of girl you can just shove a pie at, Junior-style. Whenever he broaches the subject of breaking up, Irina threatens to kill herself -- she even attempts it one night by washing down twenty sleeping pills with a quart of vodka. Tony wants Irina out of his life, but he's genuinely concerned for her and even asks Dr. Melfi to recommend a therapist for her. But in Irina's experience, psychiatrist equals gulag and she wants no part of it. So Tony sends her the next best thing: Silvio. As gently as he can, Silvio gives Irina the benefit of the wisdom he's gleaned from years of managing the Bada Bing: "You got a short window. It's not good to get too hung up on any one thing." As it turns out, that advice -- and an envelope with seventy-five thousand dollars -- helps Irina see the light.

Meanwhile Richie has decided to take action. He tells Junior the time has come to make a move against Tony. Unfortunately for Richie, none of the captains is willing to side with him. And as Junior's already made one failed attempt to knock off his nephew, he's not about to embark on another one. Deciding he's better off backing Tony, Junior warns him of Richie's intentions. Tony immediately contacts Silvio, whose take on the Richie situation is as succinct as it is deadly: "I genuinely don't think there's anything to gain by keeping him around." Tony concurs, telling Silvio, "Get it done."

Is this the end of itchy Richie? Well, yes. But not the way you think. That night, Richie makes the fatal mistake of ending an argument with Janice by punching her in the mouth. Janice responds by taking a gun from a cupboard and shooting Richie like a downward facing dog. Now Richie's lying dead on Livia's kitchen floor and as she's done in the past, Janice turns to her baby brother for help. Tony brings in Christopher and Furio to minimize the problem -- literally. They take Richie's body to Satriale's, where they cut it into more easily disposed-of portions. That taken care of, Tony puts Janice on a bus back to Seattle, telling her, "all in all...I'd say it was a good visit."

So Tony got lucky. Both Richie and Janice are out of his hair and he barely had to lift a finger to accomplish it. He still has one big enemy, though: Big Pussy. Until now, Pussy has been avoiding giving Agent Lipari anything probative on Tony. But he's grown increasingly resentful of the Boss' treatment of him since his return. Is Pussy's resentment strong enough that he'll finally give Tony up to the Feds?

There's one more chance this season to find out.

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