Season 5 Episode 11: “The Test Dream” When Phil and Billy Leotardo kill Angelo Garepe, the problems between Tony and his cousin Tony B. (brilliantly portrayed by Steve Buscemi—who also directed “Pine Barrens”) come full circle. Every bit of discomfort Tony B. has brought to the family becomes a call for full scale chaos when the news of the former consigliere’s murder is also met with the fact that Tony B. (Angelo’s former cellmate) is nowhere to be found.
After Tony makes every effort to contact his cousin, he drifts off to sleep where viewers are treated to a dream sequence which lasts nearly half the episode. (In the dream) Tony wakes up in bed with the recently departed Carmine Lupertazzi. Receives counsel in Dr. Melfi’s office from former gomare Gloria (who had killed herself after a fight with Tony). Rides in the backseat of his father Johnny Boy’s Cadillac with Ralph Cifaretto, Mikey Palmice, and Big Pussy. Meets Finn’s parents at Vesuvio (Finn’s mother is Annette Bening, who says of Tony B. “there’s something Bugsy about him” HA!). There is an homage to Michael Corleone where Tony goes into the bathroom looking for a gun, which he, as it were, is supposed to use on Tony B. before he kills Phil Leotardo. He is too late. And we find the dream ending in the office of Tony’s high school football coach, where he is berated for taking the easy way out and never being prepared.
The title of the episode refers to the common dream where a person shows up to a test unprepared—oftentimes naked. (For me it’s always my Physics final. Senior year of high school. Mrs. Sense. I have no idea why, there are few classes that I ever cared about less.) For Tony, he was unprepared in dealing with the situation surrounding his cousin.
This is the most visually stunning episode the show has ever produced. The scenes in Johnny Boy’s old Cadillac are eerie. The faces surrounding him sullen, covered with the heavy powder foundation one would wear at his or her own wake. In Vesuvio, the colors stand out beautifully (which is funny given the referencing to Michael Corleone and The Godfather, a film noted for its bold colorings). These bold colors remain through the episode, standing out to note the heightened sense of unease with which we watch the sequence.
The message of the dream is obvious. That Tony has allowed things to go too far with his cousin and he must act now or else it’s going to be war. That much is easy to comprehend, but there are some very interesting pieces to the dream which have been left for interpretation. Why is it that those guiding Tony through the dream are people that have died at his hand? Gloria in the office. Ralph, Mikey, and Puss in the car. They lead him through this dream, they bring him to Tony B. (with help from Artie Bucco, which is also curious. Why Artie? He’s as far removed from this situation as anyone, why would Artie know what to do?) Why are these the people that are helping him?
Even Pie O My appears in the dream to offer guidance. Sitting atop the horse in his living room, Carmella (who is separated from Tony at this point) tells him he can not keep her. And despite Tony’s love of the horse, he obliges, backing her out of the room just he must back down to his wife and acknowledging that in order to get Carm back, he has to make sacrifices.
When Tony wakes up, his visions turn out to be true. Christopher comes to tell Tony that Tony B. has killed Billy Leotardo and put Phil in the hospital. Tony’s inaction has led to a conflict that will continue until the end of the series.
But while the dream’s message about Tony B. was too little too late, Tony obviously saw the significance of Pie O My, and calls Carmella. They talk a bit about the dream. The kids. The sun rises with the hope that the two will be back together.