Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #5: College

US Transmission Date: 7 February 1999
UK Transmission Date: 12 August 1999

Writer: James Manos, Jr and David Chase • Director: Allen Coulter
Cast: Tony Ray Rossi (Fred Peters), Lisa Arning (Peters’ Wife), Ross Gibby (Bartender), Mark Kamine (Admissions Dean), Michael Manetta (Gas Station Attendant), Keith Nobbs (Bowdoin Student), Luke Reilly (Lon Le Doyenne), Sarah Thompson (Lucinda), Olivia Brynn Zaro (Peters’ Daughter)

Storyline: Tony is driving Meadow around Maine so she can visit prospective colleges. Carmela is home sick, recovering from the flu. Meadow asks her father if he is in the Mafia. He initially denies it, but eventually admits that some of his money comes from illegal activities. While they are stopped at a gas station, Tony thinks he sees a former mobster turned informant, Fabian Petrulio. He notes down the man’s licence plate number and calls Christopher to get it traced. Carmela’s fever breaks and she starts to feel a little better. She sends Anthony Jr. to a friend’s house to play videogames. Carmela’s parish priest, Father Phil Intintola, turns up unexpectedly during a rainstorm. He confesses to a craving for her pasta.

Over dinner Meadow and Tony discuss his Mafia membership. Meadow says she thinks AJ also knows. Tony admits he only just scraped into college. He wonders if he joined the mob because his father and uncle were already members and he was too lazy to think for himself. Meadows confesses to taking amphetamine in the past, but will not reveal her supplier. Father and daughter agree it’s good they can tell each other such difficult truths. Meadow meets girls from one of the colleges she could be attending. Tony suggests she spend time with them. Meanwhile he calls Christopher who says the licence plate belongs to Frederic Peters, a Maine resident. Tony thinks that Peters is Petrulio, but wants a positive identification. Carmela discovers Tony’s therapist is a woman when Dr Melfi phones to reschedule an appointment.

Tony goes to Peters’ house and gets a better look at his quarry. But Peters realises he is being observed. Peters contacts a few friends to find out if anyone has been asking about him lately. Tony locates Peters’ workplace, a travel business run out of a portacabin in a secluded piece of countryside. Carmela and Father Phil share a meal, with the priest doing most of the eating. They start watching a film but Carmela becomes upset. Father Phil hears her confession. Carmela says she hasn’t truly confessed in 20 years. She has forsaken what is right for what is easy, allowing evil into her house. She thinks Tony has committed terrible action. Carmela feels that it’s only a matter of time before God compensates with outrage for her sins. Father Phil gives Carmela holy communion after her confession.

Tony takes a drunken Meadow back to their motel. Peters has tracked them and nearly shots Tony, but is interrupted by other motel guests. Tony tells Christopher not to come to Maine – Tony will deal with Peters himself. AJ phones Carmela to say he wants to sleep over at his friend’s house, and she agrees. Carmela and Father Phil almost kiss but he has to bolt for the toilet, where he throws up copiously. Next morning he frets about sleeping over on a sofa but Carmela says they have done nothing wrong.
Peters tried to blackmail two drug addicts into killing Tony but they refuse.

Tony drops Meadow off at Bowdoin College for her interview. He drives to Peters’ office and strangles the informer, cutting his hand. When Tony returns to pick up Meadow, she notices mud on his shoes and the cut. He lies about what caused them.
Tony and Meadow finally get home. Carmela tells her husband about Father Phil staying the night. Tony isn’t impressed, but looks sheepish himself when Carmela asks why he lied about having a female therapist.

Mobspeak: Tony says Peters flipped (changed allegiance from the mob to federal law enforcers) about ten years ago. Christopher worries that Peters could lam (go into hiding) at any time. Carmela talks about fanook (homosexual) priests.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: There’s a lot of food in this episode but most of it ends up being ignored or regurgitated. AJ brings Carmela a poached egg and orange juice but she can’t face eating it. In Maine Tony takes Meadow to dinner but they leave plenty of food behind on their plates. Father Phil visits Carmela and says he has a craving for her baked ziti. She reheats a trayful of it from the freezer. The priest says it’s so much better that way because the mozzarella cheese gets nice and chewy. He also asks for some wine, if it’s open. They drink Chianti while the pasta is reheating. Father Phil asks Carmela if she thinks he is a schnorrer – a Yiddish word for somebody who always shows up in time for free food. He tosses a salad and finds a jar of Cajun stuffed olives in the fridge. The priest gorges himself on the baked ziti, adding extra cheese. He says the red pepper flakes make all the difference. Fred Peters asks a gas station attendant called Tanky if anyone has been looking for him. Tanky wants to know if Peters will be giving away any homemade cheese this year. Father Phil and Carmela share holy communion, drinking wine and eating a wafer which represent the blood and body of Jesus Christ. The priest and Carmela are about to kiss when Father Phil runs to the toilet to vomit. Next morning Carmela says they have done nothing wrong. ‘Is there a commandment against eating ziti?’ When Tony gets home he wants some cold pasta. He’s amazed that a whole tray of ziti from the previous Sunday has been eaten. Tony says Monsignor Jughead must have been visiting again.

Mobbed Up: Tony assumes Meadows and her friends got their ideas about the Mafia from watching ‘The Godfather’. She says they prefer Martin Scorcese’s ‘Casino’, because of Sharon Stone, the 70’s clothes and the pills. Carmela and Father Phil discuss another Scorcese film, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’. Carmela cannot picture that Jesus looked like Willem Defoe, even though she rates his performance in the film. She also finds the ending confusing and is unsure whether Jesus really gets down off the cross. Father Phil says Robert De Niro was supposed to play Jesus. Carmela speculates that this would have made it into a different picture. Father Phil attempts a De Niro accent, blending the actor’s famous dialogue from ‘Taxi Driver’ into a Biblical setting. ‘You talking to me, Pilate? Well you must be talking to me ‘cause I don’t see nobody else here. Except Barrabas here.’ The priest is going to leave but Carmela tempts him to stay with ‘Remains of the Day’ on DVD. Father Phil professes a weakness for anything featuring British actress Emma Thompson. The next morning, Carmela refers to them having watched ‘Casablanca’ recently. Father Phil says the new print is great. Carmela likens her situation to that of Humphrey Bogart’s character. She asks of all the priests in the world, why did she have to get the one who’s straight?

How Do You Feel?: Tony does not have a session this episode because he is in Maine with Meadow, but Dr Melfi does phone his house to reschedule an appointment – she is stricken with flu. Carmela becomes convinced Tony is sleeping with Dr Melfi, because he lied about his therapist being a woman. Carmela is distraught. She thought therapy would help clear up the freak show in Tony’s head.

Sleeping With The Fishes:
Fred Peters, also known as Fabian Petrulio. Tony strangles him with a length of plastic cord because Peters broke the oath of silence and ratted on members of the Family.

Quote/Unquote: Meadow provides proof for suspecting that her father is a member of the Mafia: ‘Did the Cusamano kids ever find $50,000 in krugerrands and a .45 automatic while they were hunting for Easter eggs?’ Christopher charmingly describes why he should fly to Maine and execute Peters, instead of Tony doing the job: ‘Clipping a famous rat would put me a cunt hair away from being made.’ Carmela tells Tony that Father Phil stayed the night but says nothing happened between them - Tony is unconvinced: ‘What’d you guys do for twelve hours? Play name that pope?’ Carmela again states that nothing happened, referring to a top-rating TV mini-series and best-selling novel about a woman’s affair with her priest: ‘Do I look like the friggin’ Thorn Bird over here?’

‘Gold Leaves for G. K. Chesterton’ by Michael Hoppe.

Surveillance Report: Only a handful of the regulars appear in this episode. Tony’s mistress Irina tells him a story about a friend of her with a prosthetic leg. She will repeat the same story in Season Two during episode #25, The Knight in White Satin Armor. There’s a visual reference back to the ducks in the pilot. After Tony kills Peters, a flock of geese fly overhead. He stands and stares up at them.

The Verdict: ‘Jimmy says hello from hell, you fuck.’ Tony reveals his dark side through murder while getting closer to Meadow by being more honest. Carmela has a spiritual crisis, confessing her sins and then almost kissing a priest. The character of Carmela gets some real development as she confronts her own complicity in her husband’s crimes. She also faces her first test of fidelity and only passes by virtue of Father Phil’s fondness for food. The two sides of Tony are revealed in sharp contrast – the loving father bonding with his teenage daughter, and the ruthless mobster who will murder to enforce the Mafia’s code of silence. ‘College’ is one of the strongest episodes from Season One and stands alone as a compelling hour of television. It won the 1999 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. Three other episodes of The Sopranos (Pilot – The Sopranos, Nobody Knows Anything and Isabella) were among the five nominees.

1 comment:

Kush said...

Excellent summary. The only thing missing is the father Phil quote "This Chianti is beyond reproach Word Up"