Sopranos Blueprint

The Telltale Moozadell: Chances, Lies, & The Little Blue Pill

Carmela opening up the sapphire ring Tony Soprano bought her for her birthday.
Season 3, Episode 9, "The Telltale Moozadell"

Season 3, episode 9 of The Sopranos—”The Telltale Moozadell“—begins with Tony giving Carmela a beautiful sapphire diamond for her birthday. In terms of gift giving, that’s a hard act to follow, but A.J. does it in classic A.J. fashion with (drum roll, please) The Matrix on DVD! As Tony notes, that one’s right up Carmela’s alley, huh?

Carmela is opening A.J.s birthday gift for her, which is The Matrix DVD.
Season 3, Episode 9, The Telltale Moozadell

The Matrix, Philosophy, & The Sopranos

Nonetheless, A.J.’s birthday gift to Carmela is pretty significant. “The Matrix” takes place in a dystopian future where humans exist in a simulated reality. It’s this simulated reality that keeps us blind to the world as it actually exists.

Simply put, humans have two choices: Take the blue pill and remain in a state of blissful ignorance, or take the red pill and learn the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In many ways, I see The Sopranos as a quintessential red vs. blue pill example. In most cases on The Sopranos, the blue pill calls the shots. (Just don’t tell Tony, because he was under the impression that he’s the “mother-f**kin-f**kin-one that calls the shots.“)

Ducks, and Horses, and Bears, Oh My! (Gorillas, too.)

Tony Soprano and Gloria Trillo are hanging out at the zoo watching the gorillas.
"Usually they just engage in what's called threat behavior." -Gloria Trillo

Another example of the blue pill at work is Tony and Gloria on their trip to the zoo. It’s here that Tony actually tells Gloria “I never met anybody like you.” Ahh, but he spoke too soon. It was only a few minutes later that Tony remembered he had, indeed, met someone like Gloria. All it took was a fresh “Poor you” to jog his memory.

In addition to the literal physical scenery change, in some ways, the zoo is the ultimate escape for Tony. For most of us, it’s just “stopping to smell the gorilla sh*t,” but keep in mind Tony’s unique compassion for animals. Whereas in the “real world,” Tony Soprano must always watch his back for the next person to betray him, he could actually let his guard down here for a few moments. 

Crazy Horse Got a Blue Pill

The band Miami Relatives on opening night of The Crazy Horse
Opening night at Crazy Horse in "The Telltale Moozadell"

While Carmela tiptoed toward the red pill earlier in season 3 when she saw the therapists, she ultimately decides to stay with the blue pill. On the other hand, Adriana was still in deep blue territory when Christopher “gifted” her the club that she renamed Crazy Horse (Yes, there’s that whole horse thing again). 

Christopher walking into Crazy Horse with Adriana blindfolded to give her the surprise gift of the club.
Christopher surprising Ade with the "gift" of The Lollipop Club, which she renamed Crazy Horse (S.03, E.09)

Eventually, Adriana realizes that the club was less a gift and more a new meeting spot for the guys. Of course, it was never about Ade, as Christopher got his hands on The Lollipop Club as a debt payment from a football bet gone sour. But look how easy it was at first to live in blissful ignorance. As a side note, I love that the band Scout played “State of Main” on opening night at Crazy Horse (though the band is called Miami Relatives on the show).

Jackie Aprile, Jr. - Lies, Lies, & More Lies

Jackie Jr. and Meadow are singing happy birthday to Carmela at the Soprano home.
Singing happy birthday to Carmela in The Telltale Moozadell

Speaking of Crazy Horse, let me turn next to Jackie Aprile, Jr. Jackie Aprile Jr. wasn’t a frequent guest there, but a guy named Matush sure was. Jackie assured Matush he could continue to sell there because he was Christopher’s “associate,” but we all know how that turned out. Though Ro was thrilled about the “friendship between our two children,” Carmela’s instincts turned out to be correct. Nevertheless, Jackie knew how to be a charmer, and it wasn’t long before Meadow was writing his Literature of Obsession papers for him.

Ralph Cifaretto and Jackie Aprile, Jr. cooking pasta in the kitchen.
Season 3, Episode 9, "The Telltale Moozadell"

Stepping back from the romance angle, when Ralph’s in the kitchen with Jackie while making dinner, he almost seems fatherly. Of course, this doesn’t last too long, and Ralph really solidifies Jackie Jr’s fate over the course of the rest of season three. Overall, I feel like Jackie’s blue pill his blindersmay have begun to come off just a bit when he arrived at the Boonton projects. By then, as we know, it was already too late. 

A.J. Soprano - How many chances?

Season 3, Episode 9, "The Telltale Moozadell"

In addition to Jackie Jr., The Telltale Moozadell demonstrates just how insulated A.J. was from the real world or any of its consequences. When he and his pals decided to break into their school at night to take a swim, they figured “Why not just break into the teacher’s offices & throw some supplies into the pool, too!”

Jackie Jr. is talking to A.J. about football at the Soprano residence.
Jackie Jr. giving A.J. football tips (S.3, E.9)

In an entirely expected ending, it turns out that A.J. doesn’t get suspended, expelled, or really punished with anything. Why? Because the school principals were scared of getting on Tony Soprano’s bad side. A.J. gets out of trouble simply due to being a Soprano family member. Ironically, neither Tony nor Carmela had tried to persuade the principal to be lenient. Perhaps that’s the point—just being who they were was enough persuasion by itself. It shouldn’t come as a shock that A.J assumed those (lack of) rules applied indefinitely.

The Telltale Moozadell - Additional Notes

The police questioning the pizza parlor workers
"My pizza never hurt nobody!"
  • “Amazing thing about snakes is they reproduce spontaneously.” -Paulie 
  • “Stop and smell the gorilla shit.” -T
  • “The eyes are innocent. Like a baby’s.” -Gloria 

(There’s that “baby” comment again, just like Livia said back in season two, “Babies are like animals.”)

What's next?

Christopher walking into Crazy Horse with Adriana blindfolded to give her the surprise gift of the club.

Wrapping up, The Telltale Moozadell packs a bunch of recurring Sopranos themes seamlessly together in one episode. As a matter of fact, the rest of season three from here on out is pretty great television. Check out what I have to say about To Save Us All From Satan’s Power, or look through the blog archive for episode posts. If you’re in a trivia kind of mood, check out one of my Sopranos season 3 quizzes (below).

Take a Sopranos Season 3 Quiz

What's Your Sopranos Season 3 IQ?
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