Woke up this morning and felt like restarting “The Sopranos” all the way from Episode 1?
That’s because the new film, which shows what life was like for the DiMeo crime family in the 1960s and 1970s, requires a little bit of background knowledge about the major players, including infamously complex eventual mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini).
But we’ve got you covered. Below, 10 crucial — and relevant — details from all six seasons of “The Sopranos,” so that you’re ready to get the most out of the movie.
Moltisanti translates to “many saints”
Talk about a direct hint out of the gate! In this world of the fictional New Jersey mafia, there is no bloodline more revered than that of the Moltisantis — although until now, only Christopher Moltisanti has appeared as a major on-screen character.
Throughout the show, Christopher (Michael Imperioli) is treated to wild stories about his father, Dickie Moltisanti, who led Tony’s crew before he was murdered, when Christopher was a baby.
In fact, Christopher holds his dad in such high regard that in Season 2’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” the aspiring actor pictures dearly departed Dickie just to get some tears going in an acting class.
In “The Many Saints of Newark,” we finally meet the legend.
Abuse is rampant in the Moltisanti clan
In “The Sopranos,” Christopher struggles with drug addiction, and physically and verbally lashes out at his fianceé Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo). Eventually, the beatings get so bad that Adriana’s uncle, Richie Aprile (David Proval) intervenes and threatens Christopher’s life if he continues to to strike her.
Christopher is also verbally abusive to his mother, calling her “a f – – king whore” during his drug intervention in Season 4’s “The Strong Silent Type.”
“The Many Saints of Newark” helps us understand how Christopher developed this appetite for violence.
Therapy is taboo within the mob
In the mob world, blowing off steam too often involves firing a few rounds into the back of someone’s skull.
Tony, however, is unique — at the start of the series, he seeks treatment for his mental health issues because he suffers from debilitating panic attacks.
When his mother Livia (Nancy Marchand) finds out he’s seeing a shrink (Lorraine Bracco), she conspires with her brother-in-law Junior Soprano (Dominic Chianese) to have Tony taken out.
As viewers will see in the prequel, secrets about mental health within the mob were even more tightly guarded back in the day.
Tony could never make his mom happy
The only thing more difficult than running a crime family is winning over a bitter mother, as “The Sopranos” so clearly demonstrated.
Tony battles with mom Livia over everything, but especially her living situation. After it becomes apparent that the aging Livia can no longer care for herself, Tony moves to find her an apartment in a pricey retirement community. Livia, however, dismisses it as a shabby nursing home where she will be abandoned to die.
Even after Tony learns his mother conspired to have him killed, he still yearns for her approval.
But at least in adulthood, Tony found ways to keep his distance from his wackadoo mother — as a kid he wasn’t so lucky. After a lifetime of Livia, it’s no wonder Tony landed on a therapist’s couch.
Tony’s not the only one who can’t stand Livia
Based on creator David Chase’s own mother, Livia managed to successfully antagonize every person she came into contact with on “The Sopranos.”
Whether it’s her son, a nurse, a friend of Tony’s or her own daughter-in-law Carmella (Edie Falco), Livia finds a way to ruin their day with her bad attitude and sharp tongue.
We learn in “Many Saints” that this was true in her younger days, too, back when she was still married to Tony’s father “Johnny Boy” Soprano (Joseph Siravo).
As fans of the series already know, Livia was so universally loathed that no one has anything nice to say about her at her funeral, which takes place in Season 3.
“We suffered for years under the yoke of that woman!” Carmela’s mild mannered father, Hugh DeAngelis (Tom Aldredge) exclaims among the mourners.
Johnny Boy goes to jail when Tony’s a teenager
During a therapy session in Season 1’s “Down Neck,” Tony recalls the arrest of his father, Johnny Boy, in 1967, which kept him away from both his nuclear and crime families for four crucial years.
That period was a coming of age time for the young and impressionable Tony, whose only household role model was the chemically unbalanced Livia. She provided little comfort for him during the 1967 Newark riots and beyond.
Knowing that Johnny Boy was a longtime guest of the government, this prompts the film’s premise: who really brought Tony Soprano to the mob?
The family abandons Newark
The once-proud home of Tony and Christopher’s parents is shown to be a shell of its former self riddled with drugs, petty crime and poverty throughout “The Sopranos.”
In “Many Saints,” we see the DiMeo family and its associates abandon the city in the aftermath of the riots, moving one-by-one to the cushy suburbs of northern New Jersey.
Although the Soprano family still does lots of business in Newark, it is no longer a home to the Italian community by the time Tony takes over as boss in the late 1990s. Tony still invests in Newark real estate though — and sells his assets to Jamba Juice in Season 6’s “Johnny Cakes.”
The mob guys don’t see themselves as evil
After Christopher gets nearly shot to death, Tony tells his therapist Dr. Jennifer Melfi that what he and his associates do is actually righteous in Season 2’s “From Where to Eternity.”
“Soldiers don’t go to hell, everybody involved knows the stakes and you gotta do certain things,” he says. “It’s business. We’re soldiers. we follow codes, orders.”
Soprano and crew use this logic to justify their many evil deeds, distinguishing their lives of murder, extortion, adultery and violence from those who they deem “twisted and demented psychos,” including cannibals, child molesters and dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot.
“Those are the evil f – – ks that deserve to die,” Soprano tells Dr. Melfi.
After seeing the film, you can draw your own conclusions.
Junior Soprano is totally insecure
Corrado “Junior” Soprano never gets the respect he feels is deserved in “The Sopranos.”
Even when he’s made boss in Season 1, it’s revealed that he’s a figurehead, promoted only so that he’ll take the fall if the family’s legal woes get more serious.
Throughout the series, he feels threatened by his nephew Tony, the boy he helped raise in the streets of Newark. Tensions come to a head when Tony learns of Junior’s predilection for a certain “unmanly” sex act in Season 1’s “Boca.”
The movie exposes Junior’s awkwardness as a younger man, and the effect it has on his legacy.
Tony never had the makings of a varsity athlete
Just as Tony picks on Junior, Corrado knows how to push the younger Soprano’s buttons as well.
Even in the pilot episode, it comes up that Junior never thought Tony had the talent to make it on the football or baseball fields.
In Season 5’s “Where’s Johnny,” Junior once again brings this up at a family dinner with Tony, causing the outraged Soprano to storm away from the table. Later in the same season, in “The Test Dream,” Tony sees his former football coach in a dream, causing him to question his life’s choices.
So, what is it that kept Tony from earning his letter? More importantly, how did a kid from Jersey become a mafia don in therapy?
See for yourself — we’re done snitching for now.