Boca (1.09)

Corrado has a very special talent, but he must keep it secret. Meadow’s soccer coach has a secret of his own.

Episode 9 – Originally aired March 7, 1999
Written by Jason Cahill, Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess
Directed by Andy Wolk


The one-word title “Boca” is my favorite episode title of Season One.  It obviously refers to Boca Raton, the place where Corrado takes his lady-friend for some rest and relaxation.  But boca is also the Spanish word for “mouth,” and this is where the pun gets fun.  The things that Corrado and Tony do with their mouths are potentially very risky—it may even cost them their lives.

If it gets out that Corrado is skilled at pleasing women with his mouth, his position as Boss—and perhaps his life—could be in jeopardy.  To be so orally talented is a professional liability in the hyper-macho world of the Mafia.  Likewise, the thing that Tony does with his mouth—speak to a therapist—could lead to his ruination or death.  In the profoundly unenlightened culture of the Mob, these oral acts potentially mark the men as weak and effeminate, possibly even homosexual.

The other thing that people do with their mouths is tell secrets.  This episode is crisscrossed with secrets (and their revealing).  Bobbi tells her stylist about Corrado’s oral ability.  This juicy morsel makes its way to Carmela, who can’t help but share it with Tony, who in turn uses it to assert power over his uncle.  Corrado reveals that Tony is receiving psychotherapy to Mikey Palmice.  Tensions over these revealed secrets set up the major confrontation of the season: the attempt on Tony’s life by Corrado in “Isabella” (1.12).

Another major secret that gets spilled, by Meadow, is Coach Hauser’s relationship with Ally.  Hauser’s predilection for adolescent girls is hinted at early, with an edit.  Chase cuts from soccer-dad Tony cheering “Good job, girls!” at Meadow’s game to a Bada Bing dancer:

Brandi the stripper

The juxtaposition plants the idea of the sexualization of teenage girls.  Bing-manager Silvio “offers” the dancer, Brandy, to Hauser but the coach declines.  Hauser may have declined Brandy because his taste in girls runs younger, but we cannot know this so early in the episode.  We assume he declines because he is an upright family man.  Much like Artie Bucco is.  Artie rushes away from the pleasure-palace Bada Bing as soon as wife Charmaine phones and beckons him to come help her paint the house.  (Watching the scene now, it seems strange that she would call a strip joint to talk to her husband, but I guess these were the days before everyone had a cellphone so it kinda makes sense.)  I’m sure Chase included this phone call between Artie and Charmaine to emphasize how upright Artie is, how different he can be from guys like Tony Soprano.  At this point in the hour, we believe that Coach Hauser is one of the good guys like Artie.  Note how they wear pastel colors in comparison to the darker duds of the mobsters.  Artie and Hauser live according to a higher standard.  They’ve set a higher bar for themselves.  As the two good men take leave back to their homes and wives, unsullied by the Bing’s temptations, we see that a “bar” literally and metaphorically separates them from Tony and Silvio:

separated by bar

Artie is the fulcrum of this episode, the man who courageously places himself between the Mob and Don Hauser after the coach’s misdeeds come to light.  Artie is straight and upstanding, refusing even to “put money on the street” as Tony advises him to do—something even little old ladies like aunts Quintana and Jemma do.  He is a far piece from Tony Soprano.

Tony lives beyond the law, and pictures himself as a kind of vigilante.  He rights the wrongs that others cannot address.  At an upscale restaurant, it is Tony who takes it upon himself to coax a cheeky young man to take off his baseball cap.  In this scene, the camera expresses Tony’s strength and power by shooting him from a low angle, magnifying his menace.  The reverse shot of the young man is from a high angle, diminishing him.

tony @ restaurant

The young man is intimidated into removing his hat.  When the maitre d’ thanks Tony for stepping in, it only reinforces Tony’s belief that he has an acceptable role in society as the vigilante. 

Hauser’s crime is so great that a part of me wants Tony to mete out vigilante justice.  But a part of me recognizes that this would not be morally justifiable.  Dr. Melfi asks Tony, “I’m interested in knowing why you feel punishing this man falls upon you…Why do you think you, Anthony Soprano, always has to set things right?”

Artie answers this question in the very next scene: he essentially tells Tony that his need to “set things right” is not actually right, it is simply a selfish desire for vengeance that we all share (but he actually has the capability to act upon).

When Tony ponders whether or not to let Hauser live, A3’s “Woke Up This Morning (Urban Takeover Mix)” plays.  Hmmm, it’s an interesting musical choice.  The original version of the song is used over the opening credits, a sequence which manages to portray Tony as a man who seems sure of himself, tough, shrewd, and in control.  The “remixed” version now plays as Tony’s conception of the world—and his role in the world as a vigilante—gets all mixed up:

(I love how the sound of the shattering cup is timed to perfectly coincide with an echoing element in the song.  And how the uneaten sandwich on the table manages to emphasize how lost Tony feels—he’s too confused to eat!) 

“Boca” follows on the heels of “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti” and continues that episode’s criticism of absolutist notions of identity and morality.  In “Tennessee,” we saw Chase effectively demonstrate that Tony is not evil, at least not in the simplistic, black-and-white way that Richard LaPenna (and the show’s detractors) would claim.  Here, it is Tony’s black-and-white conception of the coach that is challenged.  Although everyone, including the viewer, is revolted by Hauser’s grotesque and illegal actions, the coach is not necessarily evil.  Chase throws in a wrinkle to make it harder for us to see him as evil: he and Ally were in a consensual relationship, and she even believes herself to be in love with the man.  When she engages in “small cuttings,” it is not a suicide attempt, but a manifestation of grief—and a behavior that adolescent girls display all too often in the face of heartache.

Tony finally reaches a more relativist position about the coach, but it is a difficult epiphany for him.  After calling off the killing, he stumbles into his house piss-drunk.  He has accepted, at least temporarily, that there are notions—Truth, Justice, the Social Contract—higher and more important than his own selfish need for satisfaction and vengeance.  The high camera angle, in direct contrast to the low camera angle used earlier at the restaurant, reflects his submission to these higher notions:

tony - from overhead

Throughout the early part of the episode, Tony feels stable and secure in his black-and-white view of the world.  He is King of his world.  But now he’s become drunkasaurus Rex.  Tony’s absolutist worldview has been challenged, and he drunkenly teeters in the unstable and difficult realm of relativism.


The prior episode made an outright visual reference to GoodFellas when Chris Moltisanti/Michael Imperiori shot a man in the foot.  The current episode makes another overt visual reference to another gangster film: Wellman’s 1931 classic The Public Enemy.  In the film, Tom Powers (James Cagney) squashes a tart grapefruit into his girlfriend’s face in a moment of anger.  Here, Corrado smashes a lemon meringue pie (also a tart, citrusy food) into his girlfriend’s face.

public enemy grapefruit

pie in bobbi's face

Chase’s handheld camera moves in close to capture the intensity and brutality of the moment.  Corrado spits ugly words at her: “You stupid fuckin’ blabbermouth cunt!”  Corrado is not naturally a cruel or harsh man; his anger here comes out of the profound emasculation he feels after his secret was revealed, as well as his having to consequently end his 14-year relationship with Bobbi.  When he steps out of the office, the Spanish song “Frente a Frente,” which was heard while he and Bobby were in Boca Raton, begins to play again.  He stands still for a moment, torn over what he has just done, but according to the rules of the world he lives in, he had no other choice.  The overhead camera catches a sad and lonely man who will no longer be able to enjoy the annual trips to Florida with a woman he genuinely cared for.  This overhead shot reminded me a lot of Edward Hopper’s etching Night Shadows:

2 overheads

It is possible that Edward Hopper’s work may have been a stylistic influence on David ChaseHopper’s solitary figures and desolate cityscapes comment upon the crisis of modern man, and Chase’s series makes a similar existential commentary.  There are other visual mirrorings of Hopper’s work in The Sopranos, and I will try to point out the more notable examples as they appear.

Corrado and Tony are conspicuously connected by the use of a high camera angle.  Both men are shot from an overhead angle after making very difficult decisions: Tony allows Coach Hauser to live, and Corrado breaks up with Bobbi Sanfilippo.

2 overheads - T and Ju

While the extreme camera angles are dynamic and interesting, it’s not what we’re used to on this series—and it all feels a bit heavyhanded.  Even more obtrusive are the editing flourishes in the Boca Raton scene where Corrado and Bobbi dance together.  The scene ends with a freeze-frame and slow dissolve, but more surprisingly, opens with an actual iris transition.  (I believe it’s the only time this type of transition occurs in the entire series.)  I suppose these editing gimmicks are meant to lend an air of fantasy to the scene, giving Boca Raton a sort of fairytale quality—which makes Corrado’s slamming a lemon meringue in Bobbi’s face later even more dramatic and brutal.  But the iris transition irks me, it is so incongruous to the series.  I don’t know if it was the handiwork of the editor or David Chase or director Andy Wolk.  Perhaps one of them simply liked the roundness of this type of edit:

Iris edit

This may be the simple explanation, especially when we consider the match-cut that appears later in the episode: Chase cuts from a round golf ball getting thwacked to a round tomato in the matching part of the next frame:

match cut - round

I know that no one but the most devoted film wonk would question the presence of an iris transition so much.  I raise the issue mainly because the cuts from one scene to the next in The Sopranos are rarely gimmicky, despite being loaded oftentimes with humor or innuendo or a sight-gag.  Inscrutable cuts such as this iris transition are such an anomaly on this series.

Andy Wolk did not direct any other episodes of The Sopranos.  (This is not a criticism of his work here—in fact, I think this is an excellent episode.)  He is one among several directors to have made a one-time-only contribution to the series.  As the seasons progressed, David Chase relied on a smaller and smaller cadre of talented, kindred directors.  They primarily included Allen Coulter, John Patterson, Alan Taylor and Tim Van Patten.  The second tier, in terms of utilization by Chase, included Henry Bronchtein, Dan Attias and Steve Buscemi and a few others.  By limiting the number of directors, Chase was better able to give a uniformity of style to The Sopranos episodes.

Looking back on the entire run of The Sopranos, we can see that David Chase loved to tinker with commonly held notions of what a season’s arc should look like.  With “Boca,” it seems that Season 1 is going to conform to the traditional notion: this hour strongly amplifies the tension between Tony and Corrado as we enter into the final third—the endgame—of Season 1.  Corrado’s distrust of his nephew is being fed by both his sister-in-law Livia and his henchman Mikey Palmice.  A mirror shot underscores just how “doubled” Mikey really is: he plays golf with Tony like everything is fine and dandy but Mikey actually harbors a murderous suspicion of him.

mikey and corrado in the mirror

But Chase plays with the swelling tension of this storyline, completely loping away from it in the next episode, and then bringing it to a climactic head—surprisingly—in the penultimate, rather than ultimate, hour of the season.  (Interestingly, the current tension between Corrado and Tony is specifically precipitated by Corrado’s criticism of Tony’s athletic blunders as a young man, a criticism we first saw him make in the Pilot episode.)  With typical unconventionality, Chase strongly sets up the primary tension of the Season  1 endgame now, but then spends the next two episodes exploring, respectively, the unrelated stories of  Adriana’s foray into the music business and Big Pussy’s aching back.



  • “Aarthuuw!”  Charmaine is pretty much the only person in SopranoWorld who calls Artie by his given name.  She is the one who gets Artie to see that any act of vengeance against the coach would be more an act of selfishness than of justice—and Artie in turn gets Tony to see it.  In a real sense, Coach Hauser owes his life to Charmaine Bucco.
  • The “Escovedo brothers or whoever” that Corrado refers to must be the Menendez brothers, who were famously turned in by their psychiatrist.  It’s a nice touch of verisimilitude, the way that characters get their cultural references wrong or mixed up.
  • Satin Dolls, the actual strip club that doubles as the Bada Bing for the series, is a tiny, one-story place.  In my screengrab of Brandy above, one can see how the club’s mirrors are utilized to effectively enlargen its space.  For scenes that ostensibly take place on its second floor, rigging or a studio set is used.  All of the “backroom” scenes are shot in studio.
  • Corrado is worried that if word of his skills going down gets out, he’ll be labeled a finook, and this is why he overreacts so cruelly towards Bobbi.  “Gay panic” within the mob becomes a larger theme in Season 6 when Vito Spatafore is outed.
  • “Can’t You Feel the Fire” by Little Stevie (aka Steven Van Zandt aka Silvio Dante) plays during a scene at the Bing.  HBO’s episode-synopsis pages list the music that appears in each hour, but the lists are not very comprehensive.  A better resource is found here.
  • The name of the Spanish-language song “Frente a Frente” can be translated as “face-to-face.”  Fittingly, the song first plays when Corrado and Bobbi dance face-to-face in Boca Raton, and then again just after Corrado has a vicious face-to-face confrontation with her (pushing the pie into her face).  This Spanish song adds more Latin flavor to this episode with the Spanish title “Boca.”
  • More musical Latin flavor: Meadow and Ally watch Morphine’s video for “Buena” (Spanish for “Good”) and this song plays again over the end credits.  It has lyrics about a devil, interestingly, named Buena.  Perhaps Chase uses it for this reason—the song might be seen as a challenge to simplistic notions about good and evil.
  • I don’t think the series ever makes it clear exactly why Tony and some of the other guys despise Mikey Palmice so much.  Sure, he is Corrado’s servile yes-man and he can be obnoxious (which are both symptoms of fuckface-itis).  But I can also picture Chase coming up with some specific backstory—maybe the tension between Mikey and Tony began as they pursued the same girl in high school or something—only to decide not to supply the backstory to viewers.
  • At first, I was a little surprised to hear the subtle musical scoring over that scene where drunk Tony bounces around his living room, because such scoring is very rare in this series (other than over the opening credits and end credits).  A general principle of The Sopranos is to allow the song chosen for the end credits to begin to play a bit before the credits actually begin to roll.  This principle is not exactly violated here as I had first thought it was: the subtle music is actually the short instrumental, “Dawna,” the first track on Morphine’s album Cure for Pain, which segues into the next track on the album, “Buena,” just as the credits begin.
  • All this close analysis of iris transitions and musical scoring probably makes some readers think that I should be on OCD meds.  Maybe so, but I’m just trying to get this thing right.

If you’d like to help support my trip to Boca, please visit my Venmo or PayPal
© 2021 Ron Bernard

52 responses to “Boca (1.09)

  1. Mitchell Chialtas

    Out of all the autopsies and examinations on this site, this was by far one of the best ones yet. I knew “Boca” was one of the deeper and more complicated episodes, but I didn’t know it was this complex. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ron, I love your autopsy. I learn a lot from your analysis. I would like to finish all chapters. I know it is hard work but (I’ll be selfish) really enjoy your writings and open the mind not only with The Sopranos, but also with other works. Congrats!


  3. I have thought for sometime that the freeze frame on Corrado and Bobbi dancing was to highlight that this is the last time we will see Corrado truly happy, indeed that it represents the pinnacle of both his personal/professional life & from this point on it is all downhill for the poor old mafioso. A good trivia question might be how many times we see Corrado simply smile after ‘Boca’? Not even Bobby’s ‘Pine Barren’ apparel cracked him for a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A few random things. | I Soprano:A Sopranos blog

  5. Besides Bobbi it seems Corrado has a taste for Hot/Red Peppers. A food that is believed to boost sex drive and performance by increasing blood flow and releasing endorphins. In the scene at the law office when the sandwiches arrive someone asks ” Who had the peppers and eggs?” Jr remarks “Peppers and eggs? That’s what I should’ve had” Later we see Jr in bed with Bobbi in the afterglow I might add, feeding Jr red peppers. Also at the Sopranos dinner where Carmella gets the giggles the last shot of Jr shows a red pepper dangling from his fork right before he eats it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What is the actress who played Brandy’s real name?


  7. All these musings about music and camera angles, and the one thing I was most interested to read your reaction to/ analysis of in this episode isn’t addressed at all ; the whole dynamic of how these fathers treat women, such as the strippers, in relation to how they treat their daughters and react to the sexual victimization of them. Particularly distressing is the scene in which Meadow tells Tony & Carmella about her friend and the coach’s sexual relations and Tony’s initial reaction to this. There are so many themes to explore here that you never so much as touched upon. Is this because you are a man, do you think? Just curious what your take might be. That is, if you are still available , sixteen years later?

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is already a lot of great analysis out there of some of The Sopranos’ deeper themes which is why I’ve been able to focus more on musing about the filmic/musical elements of the show. You may be interested in Susann Cokal’s “Narrative Ergonomics and the Functions of Feminine Space in The Sopranos” which can be found in Considering David Chase. Also Kim Akass and Janet McCabe’s essays in This Thing of Ours and Reading the Sopranos.

      But yes, being a man probably does blind me more than I would like to admit to that whole aspect of the story…


    • Clearly the show is making a point about how the men in the show apply different standards in how they view the various females in their lives. Further, they are once again using these characters to show us how men treat, or more accurately view (an important distinction), various females in the real world. This particular case has the added element of consent, the underage daughters cannot give it while the of-age strippers can and do, but that does not change the overriding point.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There is so much irony in how they view their daughters versus other women. Then on top of that they have women dancing for them while they plan on killing a man for taking advantage of a young girl. As Carmine said so much of their reaction is about them and not the girls. If they had asked what they children needed maybe that vulnerable child would not have been assaulted by her teacher.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed your write up and this episode very much. This may be my favorite Season 1 episode (or Isabella or Nobody Knows Anything). The use of music is spectacular here, especially the Boca & breakup scene. Its very true that (1) Corrado felt he had no other choice and (2) we see a definite change in this character after this episode; we never really see him truly happy again (Dave’s comment above). The use of the music when Tony decides what to do about he coach really adds to the suspense. Its also music you wouldn’t typically hear in a mob show. He knew Melfi (and Artie) made excellent points about him not always having to set things right. In general I thought the entire episode plot and story line was above average up to this point. This being the first season, the bar was set very high from the start. This “contemporary mob story” touches on some pretty serious topics, and how does Chase leave us at the end of the hour? The big hit we were all most likely hoping for and expecting never comes. Sil’s reaction to the telephone call from Tony is fucking priceless. He really wanted to murder the coach. If I were to introduce and persuade anyone to this show as a first time viewer I think Id pick this one or “college.” The way its written, the main issues are almost all self contained besides Tony and Juniors issues, which never are really rectified (or possibly at the end of the series). We never again hear of Meadows friend, or the coach, or Bobbi except in conversation with that “fat fuck” Baccala. I was (and still am) impressed by Gandolfini’s flick of the switch acting which can be seen in his conversation with Artie at the Bing. He was one hell of an actor…Uncle Junior’s best scene and line in the entire series are in this episode. We all know what scene that is.

    Good work Ron!


    • You and Dave make a good point about Corrado. It’s kind of sad and maybe surprising to some people to think that Corrado can suffer romantic heartache at his advanced age, but The Sopranos got a lot of these details about older people (and aging in general) right.


      • Ron – According to AARP (June 2017), “When it comes to [baby] boomers and the silent generation [people born between 1928 and 1945], both agree that you’re not really old until you hit age 73”. I dunno about that. I’ve known people in their 50s who were mentally and physically ‘old’, and those in their 80s who were still mentally and physically active. I believe that the word ‘old’ should be used to describe (fine) whiskey and aged cheese, not people! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I have to agree with the comment about junior and red peppers. They also tend to dangle from his fork or his mouth in a suggestive way…you can fill in the blanks here. Proof that peppers represent his virility is when he’s being put under at the hospital, his memory voice says, “peppers and eggs?” Just as they show a shot of a newspaper saying he is to wed Angie Dickenson. Haha. He should’ve had the peppers to make him virile enough to please Angie.


    • It’s definitely suggestive, he even makes these slurping sounds when Bobbi feeds him the peppers… I didn’t make the connection between peppers and Angie Dickenson though hahaha…


  10. I thought the high camera angle was because we were watching Tony as Meadow saw him. Also, it always struck me as unrealistic that Carmela would make jokes about Junior’s oral prowess at the dinner table. She must have known this was a taboo subject, because she didn’t even want to tell Tony about it in private. I liked this episode because it is the last time we see Junior really happy. Also, in the case of the coach, I think they should have killed him. If they can’t use that influence in this instance then when? Remember, Artie mentions that the coach said Artie’s daughter was going to be the next “Star”. And if we watch it again, you can see that he has a special relationship with Allie in the way he encourages her to try harder on the field. Ugh, what a disgusting guy. Daring to be insulted when they try to bribe him with a big TV, and in fact he’s taking advantage of young girls. Who knows how many girls he took advantage of using his power as coach. Charmaine was wrong in this instance. Tony should have used his criminality for good in this case. They should have taken him where George Washington they did with Matthew Bevilaqua.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh man, I love your analyses, but I can’t let this go unremarked upon:

    “Chase throws in a wrinkle to make it harder for us to see him as evil: he and Ally were in a consensual relationship, and she even believes herself to be in love with the man.”

    This does not diminish the man’s actions/motivations in the slightest. In fact, forming a romantic “relationship” is a textbook example of how pedophiles groom underage children for sex. It is impossible for a child to be in a consensual relationship with a grown adult. Every single time, these relationships are predatory. Grown men do not accidentally fall for underage high school girls; they pursue them deliberately to exploit their lack of life experience + knowledge of what a healthy relationship looks like. This plus the massive power imbalance makes children in these kind of “relationships” extremely vulnerable to emotional and sexual abuse. Hauser did both to Ally.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed, 100 percent. I may have gotten too caught up in trying to document Chase’s methods of telling a story and developing characters and (what I believe to be) his relativism, I didn’t make the obvious point strongly enough: Hauser’s behavior is completely predatory and despicable.


      • Of course, you do a great job illustrating how moral relativism is one of the major themes of the series, and this subplot in particular. I saw Ally’s self-harm as underscoring that no matter how vile Hauser may be, his violent death would do nothing to ease the suffering of the people involved (Ally, his wife, and his daughter), and instead magnify it drastically. We, the audience of a mob drama, might get a voyeuristic thrill out of seeing a child molester get annihilated, but that’s just not the kind of show The Sopranos is. Here, every killing has a price. At the same time, the writing isn’t smug and holier-than-thou towards those watching who may have been rooting for another outcome, as shown by the very funny scene of Sil cursing loudly away from the phone before coolly driving away when Tony calls off the hit. Melfi’s dilemma in Employee Of The Month, though different in a lot of ways, has a base similarity: the moral costs to oneself and others of invoking such violence, even on a “deserving” victim, are far too great. Tony makes the right decision in Boca, but one thing I love about the show is how the burden of making so many more wrong/easy ones takes a gradual toll on him over time. A lot of “successor shows” are often explicit in depicting immoral choice A leading to character degeneration B. With Tony (+ other principals like Carmela), it’s more of a psychic weight in the background that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree with this in theory. But if I apply it to my own way if thinking…I can’t see the situation getting worse for Ally if the coach was killed . He deserves to die for that. And while I admire Melfi’s moral high ground I think if it was me that had gotten raped and he got away with it, I would find a way to let Tony know. Both of those men are not worthy of life.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It would be worse for Ally because she truly thinks she is in love with him, and if he died because of this, she’d probably feel guilty/ think it was her fault and carry this away with her. So paradoxically, it’s worse if he gets killed

            Liked by 1 person

            • Nobody would find his body.

              Liked by 2 people

            • If he goes to jail because of her she will Feel worse and responsible because she told. But if he just disappears, she would eventually get over him. She”ll never get over the way he took advantage, but that’s a different issue. He deserves to die, who knows how many ohter girls he took advantage of, and also remember Artie said that he told him that “Next year Chiara will be his star.” Yuck.

              Liked by 1 person

          • What men are not worthy of life? The coach and Tony? I’m not sure how to interpret your comment. Statutory rape is a terrible crime; serial murder is worse.


  12. Another excellent write-up, thank you! I am interested to get to how you view Tony’s moral choice as compared to Melfi’s, but since I am moving through these in order as I watch the show for the second time, I will wait until I get there.

    One shot that I found well done was the point in the soccer game when the coach makes eye contact with a sluggish Ally and encourages her just before she scores the game winning goal. Even in my first viewing this seemingly innocent exchange gave me the willies and I feared what else was going on behind it. It was only on the next viewing that Artie’s comment about the coach saying his daughter would be a star next year really made my skin crawl.

    Regarding the Mikey/Tony conflict and lack of a presented backstory, as I watched this unfold I was reminded of the movie Rocky. Before getting his title shot, Rocky was working as an enforcer for a loan shark named Tony Gazzo. Gazzo’s bodyguard and driver was named Buddy, and he and Rocky had a similarly adversarial relationship with no reason given. Maybe it’s a reach to call this another homage, but Rocky is definitely a movie with strong Italian culture and this part of the story dealt a bit with wiseguy culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love how Chase NEVER reveals why Tony and Mikey don’t get along. (But it might be interesting if it was touched upon in the upcoming prequel film.) I guess wiseguy culture is full of a kind of machismo and intimidation so it is quite normal that this type of tension should exist between the two men…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Per HistoricaWiki, Tony hated Mikey for 2 reasons:
        1. Mikey whacked Brendan. Yes, Tony really disliked Brendan, but the guy did work with/for Christopher.
        2. Mikey contracted out the mock execution of Christopher.


  13. Hi, thanks for writing these articles and helping to civilise a Neanderthal philistine like me!
    Never having seen “The Public Enemy”, my first thought wrt UJ’s attack on Bobbi was to “Busy Malone”, a film from the ’70s that I don’t know if it ever got famous in America? But here in the UK it’s something of a staple of daytime TV schedules. Basically, the idea is it’s a gangster film, but all of the characters are played by children, and instead of shooting each other, they chuck custard pies into people’s faces. They sing songs. It’s cute. It also starred Jodie Foster in the same year that “Taxi Driver” came out, so I suppose that continues this episode’s theme of grown men’s obsession with adolescent girls. Perhaps it could also signify a kind of puerility of attitude to relationships in the mobster characters? It might also foreshadow the lack of death of the protagonists in the Junior/Tony war (in the film, all of the “dead” characters come back to life and sing a song about friendship, which imo is an ending that would improve every single other mob film, and most non-mob films as well).
    Probably nothing just thought I’d mention it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve heard of “Bugsy Malone” but I had no idea that’s what its schtick was. I love the possibility that all these film professors and bloggers like myself are saying the scene is a reference to one of the great classics of cinema “The Public Enemy” and meanwhile Chase is sitting at home, laughing at us because he knows he was actually referencing a little-known 70s musical starring Scott Baio. (Apparently it was a British production and maybe that’s why it’s not so well known over here. See what you learn when you cross cultures and shit?) Thanks Sophie!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Whenever I watch this I think that when Jun told Bobbi “don’t talk about x”, she should have just said “oh my, I already told somebody”. Jun would have felt less betrayed and the severity or the outcome could have been lessened. The issue would have become their joint problem and they could have cooperated in tracking down those who knew and convincing them to keep the secret secret.

    Although it’s sad that this was the last time Jun is happy, I can’t help blaming Jun for his own misery. As I am a guy, I can safely say that if I had been Jun, and a colleague mocked me for pleasuring woman, I would have shrugged it off and said “Yes I do. And…? I happen be a guy. I happen to love women? Don’t you?”.

    Junior is a weak narcissist whose self esteem is dependent on how he thinks others perceive him. He doesn’t have the integrity to question the status quo and stand up for what he likes. He instead helps perpetuate a harmful, pointless, outdated status quo.

    So at the risk of sounding cold, if this is the last time he was happy, that’s fine with me. I had little respect for him to start with, my opinion of him rose when I learned his “secret”, and it all went down the drain with the pie.

    Regarding Mikey and Tony’s antagonism, I came to a simple conclusion early on. Tony is obviously intelligent. Mike is obviously not. As an unintelligent person he should talk less, listen more, and try to learn from what the intelligent people have to say. But he does not. He holds his stupid opinions in high regard and voices then continuously. That is infuriating to an intelligent person. After months or years of working in the same organization, anything else than antagonism between them would be a miracle.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Tony’s reaction when he is told that the coach is having sex with one of the girls is worth watching. At first, he tries to find an excuse, an explanation, to persuade himself and Meadow that it didn’t happen. When that fails, he says, “I’m losing my fucking mind here.” This man – this thug – has killed or assaulted many people, but he can hardly conceive of the sex crime that the coach has committted.
    I have read that sex criminals in prison are despised, and worse, by other prisoners who have committed crimes that are, objectively, as bad or worse. That is the peculiar morality of criminals.
    – – – –
    Tony says he is going to ensure that the man never does it again. How? I For a time the episode is playing with the idea that he is not going to kill him, but castrate him. That is objectively a lesser punishment, but emotionally even more frightful.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. He feels that he should fix it because his daughter is with the coach as well as her friends, and as a parent you are worried every day that a teacher or a coach will take advantage. He wants to do it because HE CAN. He can in this case be justified in killing someone who is a predator. Even Melfi’s ex husband says he would kill her rapist with his 2 bare hands, but he will end up going to jail. (That’s debatable in my opinion). Her rapist works at a local restaurant, the husband could beat him up at the very least. In these cases I say you don’t follow the law if you can get the justice yourself. No jury would put you in jail for long. It would be worth it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s not how a fair justice system works. No single person gets to be judge, jury, and executioner. And yes, the killer would (and should) be arrested and tried.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: WAP Is A State of Mind – A Lengthy Interlude (Boca 1.09)

  18. Hi Ron,
    About this episode, i’ve noticed some likeness, in the relation beetwen Corrado and Tony, with 6×15 relation beetween Corrado and Carter Chong. In that episode Corrado make a bond with a young man in asylum, obvious the “game” is to put Corrado in a situation that recall Tony/Junior bond.
    About Boca, Is truly important the fact that Corrado knows about Tony’s therapy and don’t shout a word in public and with him, Tony at the first time that he could embarass his uncle, he does. But more important, and to link with 6×15, Tony mock Junior when he was compliment to Mikey for a good shoot (Like Carter rage against Corrado in 6×15 starts when Carter sees Corrado “betray” is trust and prefer other things than spend more time with Carter, jealousy moves him; more important the fact that the compliment is about sport, and we remember that one corrado’s denigration about Tony’s sports skils is an open wound for T.). I think that is fundamental for understand Tony/Mikey feud based almost on jealousy and chase Corrado’s respect and affection

    Liked by 1 person

  19. the age of consent in new jersey is 16 years so this was a little confusing for me


    • A high school student can not legally consent to sex with a teacher or coach (or boss or any adult authority figure). In those cases the age of consent is statutorily 18, though even when a student is 18, if the other party is an adult authority figure, charges of some sort are extremely likely (though it may not be rape). This situation was absolutely rape – not in doubt.

      However, contrary to some earlier comments, this situation is NOT pedophilia. Pedophilia is exclusively sexual interest in pre-pubescent children. Sexual interest in post-pubescent teenagers may be icky, exploitive, and in this case illegal, but it is not pedophilia. And for better or worse, this type of situation would be likely to lead to a relatively short sentence – several years at most, followed by lifetime sexual predator status.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Amazing analysis. I will refer to this both when aiming to write analysis of my own, and to write for television.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I believe that people hated Mikey Palmice because he killed Rusty (a big money-earner due to drug-dealing) and because he tried to kill Christopher.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I found an article this morning (Eric Schaal, 2020) in the NY Post. The headline was:
    “Raunchy ‘Sopranos’ scene got cast booted from ‘conservative Italian funeral home”!
    Apparently, when Corrado said “She [dead woman] gave me my first blow job”, the cast was told to go. I guess conservative Italians don’t have a sense of humor (just kidding)! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’ll never eat red peppers again.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. So, I am watching for the first time through, and this episode was the first time I’ve felt super uncomfortable in an episode. Everything has a grating quality to it, which I think really begins at the start of the episode with the horrible nagging of Livia in the graveyard and the shit joke. Nobody wanted to be in this episode, and I didn’t either. Super awesome.
    Anyways, something I was thinking about was the scene in the garden with the statue of what I’m assuming is a Roman goddess (maybe Ceres?) overlooking the toiling Artie. The presence of women in this episode is much like the statue. Women are largely in the fringe of shots (even out of focus like the couple in the restaurant), coming alive briefly as the men bumble along, making missteps, misreadings, and misgivings. Still, despite this, they guide the episode’s conflict and resolutions forward. Women watch and speak from above, like godsent messaging, seen again in the garden with Charmaine and in the final scene where Meadow gazes down upon her drunken father.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Please "Bear" With Us

    Hi Ron,
    It’s been a while since I’ve posted, thought I would try to keep going with my little appendices…
    1. AJ plays with the dogs in the cemetery where his grandfather lies. Livia warns him that they’re wild cemetery dogs. Later Chris takes Coach Hauser’s dog hostage briefly. There must be something there. I’m coming up short. Ron, please help me… please…
    2. There’s a motif of flowers and nature. A lot of nature in this episode, and series, may represent the wide-open, natural world that Tony and others can’t control (and representations of femininity as well). Lots of flowery wallpapers, pillows, blouses (Melfi and Bobbie), and gardens.
    3. Melfi wears a flowery, old lady-ish blouse but with a short, tight dress. Is she trying to be authoritative/motherly and sexy at the same time, keeping Tony at a distance and pulling him in simultaneously? In this scene, Tony talks about helping to make Meadow a good girl who stays off drugs (and essentially, I would add, steers clear of a future, say, at a strip club—the editing draws attention to the fact that Tony is instrumental in making Meadow successful and in perpetuating other things with his own strip club). Then he mentions he called Melfi a whore, which he admits was “overstatin’ the case a little bit.” (Kudos to In at the End podcast for mentioning Melfi’s dressing habits relative to an earlier episode.)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: The Soprano Onceover: #10. “Boca” (S1E9) | janiojala

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