"Employee of the Month" is the thirtieth episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the fourth episode of the show's third season. It was written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, directed by John Patterson and originally aired on March 18, 2001.
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi
Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti
Dominic Chianese as Corrado Soprano, Jr. *
Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante
Tony Sirico as Paulie Gualtieri
Robert Iler as Anthony Soprano, Jr. *
Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano
Drea de Matteo as Adriana La Cerva
Aida Turturro as Janice Soprano
Federico Castelluccio as Furio Giunta
and Joe Pantoliano as Ralph Cifaretto
* = credit only
Dr. Melfi decides that, since Tony has had a breakthrough in his prior therapy session, he is ready to be referred to a behavioral therapist. Tony takes offense, convinced that Melfi is trying to hand him off to someone else. She quickly changes the subject by asking Tony what is new with his life. Tony proceeds to tell her about some problems with his children. Dr. Melfi suggests that he bring Carmela into the therapy sessions. Tony feels uncomfortable about the idea.
John "Johnny Sack" Sacrimoni, the underboss of the Lupertazzi crime family, quietly moves to New Jersey with his wife, Ginny. They are surprised to receive a visit from Tony Soprano, who is upset because Johnny had not previously mentioned anything about the move, and Tony fears increased interference from Johnny and his associates. Johnny explains that Ginny wants to be closer to her sisters, and that they already had a condo in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Furthermore, he assures Tony that he will not "stick his beak" into the New Jersey family business. He then invites Tony to a housewarming party, along with some of his family's mobsters.
Meanwhile, as Melfi leaves her office late in the evening, she is attacked in the parking garage by a man who grabs her from behind and drags her into the stairwell, where he brutally rapes her. At the hospital, she learns her leg is badly injured. She also has bruises on her face. The detective present tells her the rapist is named Jesus Rossi and that he has been apprehended. Her son, Jason, wants revenge on the rapist, but Richard LaPenna (Melfi's ex-husband, whom she has begun dating again) tells Jason to let the police handle it. The following day, Richard phones the detectives, who inform him that Rossi was released on a technicality, due to a breakdown in the chain of custody. Upon learning of Rossi's release, Melfi becomes very upset and afraid. Later, while buying a sandwich at a sub shop, she notices a plaque indicating that Rossi is the establishment's "Employee of the Month"; she drops her soda and runs out of the building.
Melfi later dreams about buying a soda at a vending machine, which was placed in the middle of her office, and takes macaroni for currency. After depositing the macaroni into the coin slot, she reaches her hand into the machine to get her soda, only for her hand to get trapped inside. While trapped, she dreams of a large Rottweiler that scares her, but then she sees her rapist coming to assault her again. While he slowly moves his hand across her leg and up her skirt, the dog viciously attacks Rossi, mauling him as he begs for his life. When Melfi awakens, she feels a sense of relief. Later, she describes the dream to her therapist, Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, and realizes its meaning: the large dog protecting her was actually Tony Soprano — someone who could take revenge on her behalf. However, Melfi assures Kupferberg that even though the justice system has failed her, she will not turn to Tony for help, although she mentions that the idea that she could easily have Rossi killed by telling Tony she was raped brought her great pleasure.
Ralph Cifaretto begins to show a fatherly interest in Jackie Aprile, Jr., the son of his girlfriend, Rosalie Aprile. During dinner at Nuovo Vesuvio, Ralph asks Jackie if he has any current love interests; he then recommends Meadow Soprano to him. Shortly thereafter, Ralph takes him to help collect money from a client who refuses to make his payments, goading the man into a fight. The client swings a bat at Jackie and a struggle ensues. Jackie and Ralph manage to knock the man down and take the money from his wallet, with Ralph giving Jackie a large "cut." Hearing of this, Tony warns Ralph to keep Jackie away from the family, as Tony had promised Jackie's father that his son would not be a part of the Mafia life. Due to Ralph's taking Jackie along on his criminal ventures, Tony ultimately decides against promoting Ralphie to capo of the Aprile Crew, picking Gigi Cestone for the job instead. Ralph is disappointed.
After refusing to give up Svetlana Kirilenko's prosthetic leg, Janice receives a visit from two Russian thugs. At first, they ask for the leg, but soon the encounter becomes violent. The Russians attack Janice and force her to retrieve the leg, which is in a bowling alley locker. Tony visits Janice at the hospital and angrily explains that because the Russians have physically assaulted his sister, he is now going to be required to make a family-respect-and-name-protecting retaliatory move against them, which will cost Tony time and money. Janice then tells him that she has hit rock bottom and "found God" that will lead to her recovery and informs a nonplussed Tony that she "forgives" Svetlana for what happened.
During their next session, Melfi begins to weep when Tony agrees to see the behaviorist, and he tries to comfort her. Tony asks her what is wrong, but she persuades him to sit back down and continue the session. Tony asks Melfi if she wants to tell him something. After a tense pause, Melfi says, "No."Ginny Sacrimoni: The wife of Johnny Sack.
The episode's writers, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, won an Emmy Award in 2001 for Best Writing in a Drama Series.
Lorraine Bracco was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for season three, and she submitted this episode. Despite being a favorite by critics to win the award, she lost the award to co-star Edie Falco, who submitted the episode "Second Opinion".
Series creator, David Chase, says of the rape subplot and those expecting revenge from Tony: "If you're raised on a steady diet of Hollywood movies and network television, you start to think, 'Obviously there's going to be some moral accounting here'. That's not the way the world works. It all comes down to why you're watching. If all you want is to see big Tony Soprano take that guy's head and bang it against the wall like a cantaloupe… The point is—Melfi, despite pain and suffering, made her moral, ethical choice and we should applaud her for it. That's the story."
Denise Borino (Ginny Sacrimoni) won her part by attending an open-casting session; she had not acted professionally before.
The song played over the end credits is "Fisherman's Daughter" by Daniel Lanois.
The song that plays while Ralphie and Jackie Aprile, Jr are eating at Vesuvio's is "Speedo" by The Cadillacs.
In the scene where Janice Soprano is practicing guitar, she is attempting (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones
In the scene where Dr. Melfi was at the subshop (before fleeing), Britney Spears' song "Oops!... I Did It Again" is heard.
The song played in The Bada Bing Club is "Love Rollercoaster" by The Ohio Players.
The song played during the Sacrimoni's house warming party is "Americano" by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.