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"Stage 5" is the 79th episode of the HBO television series The Sopranos, the second episode of the second half of the show's sixth season, and the 14th episode of the season overall. It was written by Terence Winter and directed by Alan Taylor, and originally aired on April 15, 2007.

"Stage 5"
The Sopranos episode
Episode no.Season 6
Episode 14
Directed byAlan Taylor
Written byTerence Winter
Cinematography byAlik Sakharov
Production code614
Original air dateApril 15, 2007
Running time56 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Soprano Home Movies"
Next →
"Remember When"
The Sopranos (season 6)
List of The Sopranos episodes



* = credit only

Guest starringEdit

Also guest starringEdit


Johnny is transferred to a prison hospital in Missouri after being diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer. He dies with his wife and two daughters at his bedside. In New York, Phil forgoes leadership of the Lupertazzis in favor of his protégé, Gerry Torciano. However, Gerry is killed by a hitman while having dinner in a restaurant with Silvio. Tony, furious that Silvio was put in danger, arranges a meeting to urge Little Carmine to vie again for control of the Lupertazzis. Little Carmine declines; his wife has said, "I don't want to be the wealthiest widow on Long Island."

Meadow has broken up with Finn. Blanca is getting fed up with A.J.. Tony is approached by FBI Agents Harris and Goddard, who ask him to pass on anything he notices in Newark docks that might concern terrorism. Tony turns his back on them.

Christopher finishes Little Carmine's Mafia-themed slasher film Cleaver. Following the film's premiere in New York City, Tony congratulates Chris and mingles with the Lupertazzis and the cast at the after-party. Tony does not see it at first, but Carmela notes a similarity between the film's love triangle and Chris, Tony and Adriana La Cerva, seeing the violent murder of the antagonist as Chris's "revenge fantasy" against Tony. Carmela confronts Chris; he denies any similarities but is worried about what Tony might think.

Chris asks his screenwriter, J.T. Dolan, to tell Tony that the character was his idea. When J.T. refuses, Chris hits him over the head with a Humanitas Prize trophy. J.T. then visits the Bada Bing and explains to Tony that he stole the characters and plot from the film Born Yesterday. Tony seems to doubt J.T.'s account, but watches the film at home. Later, he painfully confesses to Dr. Melfi that he believes Chris despises him, and that Cleaver illustrates his hatred. He recalls being a father figure to Chris and emotionally admits that he loved him as if he were his own son. Melfi tries to ask Tony to cautiously evaluate if he is not "reading into things", but he replies that his sessions with her have taught him enough about the human subconscious.

At the baptism of Chris's daughter, godfather and father, Tony and Chris, embrace closely, but their eyes belie the closeness.


Final appearanceEdit

  • "Stage 5" marks the final appearance of the character Lorenzo "Larry Boy" Barese, a DiMeo/Soprano family capo. Larry is only mentioned in future episodes.

Title referenceEdit

  • After being told that his cancer has advanced to stage IV, Johnny "Sack" correctly guesses there is no stage V.
  • The title could also refer to the fifth stage of grief (acceptance), as Johnny "Sack" accepts his fate after the doctor gives him his diagnosis and prognosis.


  • Series writer Matthew Weiner appears for the second time in the series as Mafia expert/author Manny Safier, this time on Geraldo Rivera's show.
  • HBO released a mockumentary "Behind the Scenes" look at Cleaver titled Making Cleaver the week before the episode was released. It featured in-character interviews with Christopher, Little Carmine, director Morgan Yam, and actors Daniel Baldwin and Jonathan La Paglia, and the head make-up specialist. The mockumentary is included in The Sopranos Season 6 Part 2 DVD set and the Complete Series DVD collection.

References to prior episodesEdit

  • In what seems to be an Easter egg, in the climactic scene in Cleaver, just before Sally Boy is killed by Michael, there is a detailed camera shot of a car's rear-view mirror under which, along with the crucifix necklace, hangs the same key chain that Furio Giunta brought back from Italy for A.J. as a souvenir in the season 4 episode, "The Strong, Silent Type". Little Carmine explains to his daughter Alexandra that it represents "the sacred and the propane" (mistaking the common phrase "the sacred and the profane").
  • Christopher's new NA sponsor reminds Christopher in what a poor condition of drug use relapse he was that time when he came into an NA meeting "with a woman," referring to Christopher and Julianna Skiff's affair in "Kaisha," which ended when they broke up and decided to attend an NA meeting.
  • Carmela believes the character of Sally Boy had sex with the protagonist's fiancée in Cleaver because of Christopher's belief Tony had intercourse with Adriana La Cerva behind his back, which refers to the season 5 episode "Irregular Around the Margins."

Other cultural referencesEdit

  • Blanca angrily asks A.J. if he wants to "sleep with Paris Hilton" when he says he would like to hang out with celebrities at the Cleaver premiere.
  • Observing guys being photographed after the showing of Cleaver, Tony makes a wisecrack about "the family of early man", a reference to the book, The Family of Man, and an eponymous 1955 exhibit of photographs at The Museum of Modern Art.
  • When Silvio is dining with Gerardo "Gerry" Torciano at a restaurant, a high-pitched sound is heard just as Gerry is shot, referencing The Godfather when the loud sound is heard just before Michael shoots Sollozzo and McClusky.
  • Christopher tells his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor he based his revenge-seeking character on Edward Scissorhands—with a cleaver replacing the scissors (although he had at one point considered a ball-peen hammer).
  • When toasting the memory of Johnny "Sack", Paulie says, "Ride the painted pony, let the spinning wheel glide", which is a misquote of a line from the Blood, Sweat & Tears song "Spinning Wheel".
  • At the country club, Little Carmine changes his drink order from iced tea to an "Arnold Palmer", a beverage made with half iced tea, half lemonade, named after golfer Arnold Palmer.
  • Phil Leotardo asks children at his late brother's birthday commemoration about Leonardo da Vinci. One of the kids incorrectly guesses he was the author of The Da Vinci Code.



External linksEdit