The Sopranos

The Sopranos: Was Jimmy Altieri Really A Rat?

Jimmy Altieri was a season 1 Sopranos character who was whacked for being an FBI informant, which becomes a reflection of Tony's character.

Whether or not The Sopranos‘ Jimmy Altieri (Joe Badalucco) was a rat is something that continues to be a topic of debate, despite the show’s own evidence. Jimmy was a season 1 character who served as one of the captains in the Altieri crew and is partly the reason why the eventual hit on Pussy Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore) was delayed. Word of either Pussy or Jimmy being a rat ran through Tony’s (James Gandolfini) mind until a basement meeting between him and Jimmy in season 1, episode 11 “Nobody Knows Anything” convinced Tony of Jimmy’s guilt

Offsetting Tony’s suspicions is the swiftness in which Jimmy went out on bail for his offense – only four hours after arrest. Plus, the fact that Jimmy also knew about a new forensic technique that lifts fingerprints from money and has generally suspicious body language substantiates Tony’s accusations against him. Unlike other, more secret FBI informants in The Sopranos, Jimmy exposes himself further as a rat by insisting on the details of past crimes to be relayed in meetings, despite him having received such information prior. Eventually, a hit is made on Jimmy, and a rat is shoved in his corpse’s mouth to signify that he was an FBI informant.

RELATED: The Sopranos: Adriana’s Death Almost Played Out Very Differently

Was Jimmy Altieri Really A Rat In The Sopranos?

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There are no clear recorded instances in The Sopranos of Jimmy relaying any secret information to FBI agents. The main clues suggesting that he’s a rat are Tony’s suspicions, which are most likely accurate. As clear as these signs may seem, however, the surrounding circumstances around the time regarding Pussy complicate matters. Not only did Tony need to find the rat, but he wanted to believe that his friend Pussy wasn’t the informant. In the end, Jimmy “ate the pill” for Pussy in season 1, suggesting that Jimmy’s guilt may have been a way for Tony to ignore the truth about his friend.

What Jimmy Being A Possible Rat Really Meant In The Sopranos

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Tony faces two forms of delusion throughout the show. Firstly, he will delude others to exert power. For example, regarding Furio’s sudden absence in The Sopranos, Tony threatens his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) by saying that he has guys who would cap Furio (Federico Castelluccio) on his command at a moment’s notice, despite this being untrue. Secondly, Tony will delude himself by using already-formed beliefs, suspicions, and desired realities. This phenomenon, known as “confirmation bias,” is particularly present in Jimmy’s case. Tony has ample reason to believe that Jimmy is a rat, but he then uses this as evidence to himself that Pussy isn’t a rat – until stronger evidence proving otherwise surfaces.

Eventually, Tony’s paranoia and keen observations prove to him that Pussy is an FBI informant. The loyalty he holds for Pussy quells Tony’s suspicions for a short time, which marks a starting point for how his paranoia and aggressive nature will grow in The Sopranos. It provides a foundation for Tony to eventually become the kind of character who callously kills Christopher (Michael Imperioli) in The Sopranos season 6, despite the close bond he has with him. Based on the evidence provided, Jimmy Altieri was most likely a rat. However, being that Tony insisted on the fact and left the Pussy accusations alone before killing him in season 2 is telling of Tony’s character.

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