College (1.05)

Tony meets an old acquaintance while visiting colleges in Maine with Meadow.
Carmela and Father Phil grow closer back at home.

Episode 5 – Originally aired Feb 7, 1999
Written by James Manos, Jr. and David Chase
Directed by Allen “Hollywoodland” Coulter


“College” is the first truly memorable hour of the series.  Time magazine considered it to be the best Sopranos episode ever.  TV Guide ranked it #2 on its list of greatest television episodes of all time.  (Seinfeld’s “The Contest” is master of this domain, coming in at #1.)  David Chase has called it one of his favorite episodes on multiple occasions.  In an interview with Martha Nochimson (Dying to Belong), Chase says that he had always wanted to be a filmmaker—not a television producer—and “College” evinces many of the characteristics of a short, self-contained film.

The first season of The Sopranos seemed to be breaking new ground when it first aired in 1999, and “College” was the surest proof of this.  Unfortunately, only a relatively small number of programs have followed the trail that David Chase blazed.  For every “quality” series like The Wire or Mad Men, there are a hundred uninspired, run-of-the-mill TV shows out there.  Perhaps the importance of “College” is best measured not by the impact it had on television in general, but by the impact it had on The Sopranos itself.  After the success of “College,” Chase had the freedom and confidence to take Tony, Carmela and his entire series in whatever direction he wanted.  Tony’s savagery and Carmela’s moral hypocrisy in upcoming seasons are difficult to imagine if we didn’t first catch glimpses of it here.  The Sopranos’ extended dream sequences and that wacky trip (or whatever it was) to Costa Mesa (or wherever it was) in Season 6 may never have happened if “College” hadn’t helped establish the series’ willingness to eschew traditional viewer expectations.  But enough of all that—let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the hour itself.

“College” has a very clever opening shot: Tony becomes clearer and clearer to us as the image slowly fades in.  We get an almost complete 360-degree look at him as the camera circles around him—first we see one side of him, and then the other side.  The fade-in and circling camera motion are genius touches because they activate the idea that this episode will provide a clearer picture of Tony Soprano when it exposes another, more violent, side of his personality.

opening sequence

Tony and Meadow are making a tour of potential New England colleges.  But this trip has a little bit more drama than the typical college tour—Tony and Mead are lucky to make it back home alive.  As intense as the plot gets in New England, what goes on in New Jersey is arguably just as compelling and interesting.  I hesitate to call one the “A” storyline and the other the “B” storyline when both are equally gripping and important.  I think Chase signals the equality between the New England and New Jersey scenarios by introducing Carmela’s storyline with camerawork that is as clever as the shot that opened the hour.  The camera circles at the Soprano home (but in the opposite direction as it circled in the episode’s opening shot), and it continues to spin for some time, creating a mood of giddy excitement as Phil and Carmela greet each other:

parallel sequence

The camera comes to a stop just as Father Phil delivers his punchline: “I also have a confession to make, Carm.  I have a jones for your baked ziti.”  There is clearly a mutual attraction between the housewife and the priest.  The sexual tension between them is palpable.  Carmela’s emotions climb even higher after she receives a call from Tony’s therapist and learns that Dr. Melfi is female.  She then convinces herself that Tony is having an affair with the woman.  (It was in the Pilot that she first assumed that Dr. Melfi was a man and Tony decided not to correct her mistake.)  AJ is spending the night at his friend’s, leaving Phil and Carm all alone with food and wine and that film about unconsummated passion, The Remains of the Day.

Both the New England and New Jersey storylines heat up quickly, but not necessarily in ways we would have expected.  In Maine, Tony is surprisingly open to his daughter’s inquiries about the Mafia.  But this storyline quickly becomes about more than just the relationship between a Mafioso father and his intelligent daughter—it also becomes about Tony’s attempt to hunt down Mafia rat Fabian Petrulio.  This is clearly the more “masculine” plotline, something that would appeal more to those viewers who tune in to The Sopranos for “hits-and-tits.”  The storyline of what’s going on back in New Jersey, on the other hand, is one that arguably has a more “feminine” appeal.  As this plot thickens, it becomes not just about Carmela’s Thorn Birds-type attraction to Father Phil, but also about her deeper existential crisis; she has, in her words, “forsaken what is right for what is easy.” 

I’ve been arguing all season that The Sopranos is a new type of gangster drama, in large part because it focuses on the domestic/feminine dimension of life far more than previous works in the genre have.  Nowhere in Season 1 is this more clear than in this hour.  The New England storyline drives the episode forward with typical brute horsepower, as Tony tracks down Febby Petrulio.  But the scenes back at Casa Soprano have a more delicate torque, one not often found in the gangster genre.  In their essay, “‘I Dread You’: Married to the Mob in The Godfather, GoodFellas, and The Sopranos,” Cindy Donatelli and Sharon Alward make some interesting observations about movies in the gangster genre:

In the Godfather movies, there are stretches almost as long as forty minutes when the screen is completely controlled by men…At the beginning of GoodFellas, it takes thirty-one minutes before the first woman even shows up in the opening bar scene.

I’ve always found it very telling that most of us don’t know the name of Vito Corleone’s wife, even after multiple viewings of The Godfather Part I and Part II.  We just generically think of her as “Mama Corleone.”  The stories and lives of mothers and wives simply don’t carry the same weight as the stories and lives of the men in Coppola’s revered films.  (Her name was “Carmela,” by the way.)  Of course, part of the reason why Chase can give such emphasis to Carmela Soprano’s narrative is because he had the phenomenal talents of Edie Falco at his disposal.  Falco won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress for her work in “College,” the first of three she would win for The Sopranos.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler also deserves much credit for her work here.  In “The Sopranos: The Vanity Fair Oral History,” Sigler recounts that before shooting for this episode began…

…I walked into the room where we would have our read-throughs, and Jim [Gandolfini] always sat at the head of the table in a big chair, and when I walked in to sit in my normal chair, he called me over and he said, “No, you sit in this one—this is your episode.”  And so I sat in his chair.

Meadow is able to hold her own with her mobster dad only because Jamie-Lynn Sigler is able to hold her own with James Gandolfini.  The scenes between father and daughter in this episode are some of the most powerful, moving scenes between Tony and Mead in the entire series.

The series makes links between consumption, religion and violence (Food, Faith and Firearms) in several episodes, including “College.”  The connections between Food & Faith are relatively easy to see in this hour, as Father Phil comes over for some of Carm’s baked ziti, and they enjoy food and wine together.  Phil even feeds Carmela, in a way, when he slips her the communion wafer and sacramental wine.  (The camera cuts in close as Carmela consumes the bread and wine.)

A connection between Faith & Firearms is made through a fairly obvious edit: Carmela expresses her fear of God’s wrath—“I got a bad feeling.  It’s just a matter of time before God compensates me with outrage for my sins”—and Chase cuts to Febby Petrulio loading his gun in the parking lot of Tony and Meadow’s motel.

Sins for my outrage - Sopranos

Less noticeable is a connection that is made between Food & Firearms.  Tony hands Meadow off to some students at the restaurant where they were having dinner so that he can go out and pursue Petrulio.  In a quick shot, we see that a hanging rifle is part of the décor of the eatery:

gun at restaurant

The threat of violence is ever-present, it hangs above everyone’s heads even in New England, so far away from SopranoLand.  With Meadow occupied, Tony can go take care of business.  At first, Tony isn’t even sure if “Fred Peters” is in fact Fabian Petrulio.  A wooden bust of Ronald Reagan with oversize lips at Fred Peters Travel Agency confirms that Tony has got the right man.  (It’s metaphorically fitting that Petrulio—a rat who talked to the Feds—would obsessively sculpt busts with big lips.)  A perilous cat-and-mouse game between the two men leads inexorably to a violent confrontation.

It was very important to David Chase that viewers see Tony Soprano commit a murder early in the series.  HBO was nervous about having the protagonist of their new series commit any heinous acts before the show had even built a loyal following.  Alan Sepinwall, in The Revolution was Televised, documents the struggle behind the scenes.  Chris Albrecht was one of the HBO executives who believed audiences would not be willing to watch a TV show in which the hero was a cold-blooded murderer.  But Albrecht had a lot of faith in the talent and judgment of David Chase.  Albrecht recounts:

I said, “David, you can’t do this.  He can’t kill this guy.  You haven’t earned it yet.  The audience is going to hate him.  It’s the fifth episode.  Wait until the end of the season.”  And David said to me, “If Tony Soprano were to find this guy and doesn’t kill him, he is full of shit, and therefore the show is full of shit.”  And I said, “Okay, that’s a good point.”

And so, for the first time, we see Tony break the Sixth Commandment.  For Chase, it wouldn’t have been enough to have Tony kill Petrulio with a gun from a distance.  For the murder scene to be true to his vision, Tony would have to commit murder up close, with his own bare hands.

James Manos, Jr., who co-wrote this episode with David Chase, won an Emmy for his efforts here.  Manos would go on to develop, produce, and write Showtime’s Dexter, a show that featured a killer as its central character.  While Dexter isn’t quite a premium series (and its main character isn’t rendered as intricately as Tony Soprano is), Manos is clearly talented at developing this type of complicated character: the killer-as-protaganist.  I think the reason why “College” is such a stand-out episode is because it shows us how barbarous Tony Soprano can be, but it also keeps his vulnerabilities in view.  In the killing scene, we see both Tony’s strength and his fragility.  I’ve annotated the video clip below to explain what I mean by this:

As I mention in the annotations, shifting camera angles are used first to enlarge Tony and then to diminish him.  He is a powerful, cold-blooded killer, yes, but he is also a loving father whose first-born will soon be leaving the nest.  We’ve known since the Pilot episode that Tony worries about losing his family, and now this tour of New England colleges suddenly makes the imminent departure of his daughter very real.

Much has been written about the Nathaniel Hawthorne quote that is on display at Bowdoin College: “No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one may be true.”  In its most obvious reading, the quote points to the Two Faces of Tony Soprano: his good and evil sides.  The quote also reminds us how neatly the opening shot of the hour incarnated the idea of Tony’s “two faces”—the opening image was of the right side of Tony’s face, and then the camera swung around to capture the left side:

Nathaniel Hawthorne quote - Sopranos Autopsy

But I don’t think we should put too much stock in the Hawthorne quote as a summary of Tony Soprano.  There have been characters in film and literature that have indeed worn “one face to himself and another to the multitude” (perhaps Shakespeare’s Iago is the prime example), but I don’t think this quite describes Tony.  He is more intricate and elaborate a character than the Hawthorne line suggests.  Tony Soprano is not merely “two-faced,” he is arguably the most multi-faceted character that has ever been presented on American television.

I think it’s kind of simplistic to say that “College” splits Tony along a Good vs. Evil fault-line.  It may be more accurate to say that the episode—as I noted earlier—makes a comparison of Tony’s brutality vs. his vulnerability.  Tony Soprano is a man who can kill a large, dangerous adversary with his bare hands, but he is also a guy who gets unnerved by a teenage girl’s probing questions.  As Tony and Meadow finish up their trip to New England, he struggles to deflect her inquiries about his wounded hand:

Mead: Dad, you’re being honest with me, right?
Tony: Pretty soon you’re gonna start hurting my feelings.
Mead: ‘We have that kind of relationship,’ you said.
Tony: That’s right.  We do or we don’t.  It takes two to tango.
Mead: Dad…
Tony: What?
Mead: (Pause.)  Nothing.  (Longer pause.)  I love you.
Tony: I love you too.

Whip-smart Meadow recognizes that her father is throwing up smoke and mirrors, he is refusing to be truthful about his bleeding hand.  But she understands that beneath all the lies and deception is a man who loves her and wants to protect her.  Tony is capable of murder but he is not a ruthless, icy sociopath.  He is made vulnerable by his genuine love for his family.

The final moments of the hour highlight Tony’s vulnerability.  He takes the upper hand over Carmela upon finding out that she had a sleepover with Father Phil, and he condescendingly refers to the priest as “Monsignor Jughead” (a hilarious reference to the food-obsessed Archie Comics character).  But his air of superiority quickly crumbles when Carmela tells him that Dr. Melfi—Jennifer Melfi—called.  Tough-guy Tony is left scrambling to explain why he didn’t reveal his doctor’s gender earlier.  Tony Soprano may be vicious and strong enough to defeat a former mob associate, but he has no chance against his suspicious wife.


“College” is widely regarded as one of the definitive “stand-alone” episodes of TV history.  And this is understandable, considering how self-contained its drama and action seem—someone who’s never seen another episode of The Sopranos could certainly become engrossed in this cinematic hour.  At the same time, however, it is also true that the episode doesn’t really stand alone.  In the essay, “The new serial television narrative: The Sopranos and Relay Race Structure,” Ilaria Bisteghi focuses on three sequential episodes—“Meadowlands,” “College” and “Pax Soprana”—to “explain how the ‘relay race structure’ functions continuously swinging between continuity and rupture, thus opening interstices through which new elements can filter in and widen the plot.”  Bisteghi notes that in “Meadowlands,” Carmela threatened to leave Tony if he quit therapy.  But she becomes suspicious of Tony and Melfi’s relationship in “College,” and therefore talks to her priest in “Pax Soprana” of getting a divorce because of the therapy.  Bisteghi’s essay is a bit more technical and media-studies jargony than my poor brain can handle (but interested readers can find the paper at Prof. David Lavery’s website); I only refer to it to make my larger point: connectivity is far too important in The Sopranos for David Chase to ever create a truly stand-alone episode within the series.  Although Chase has himself cited the episode’s stand-alone nature as a reason why it ranks as one of his favorite hours, his deep commitment to connecting themes and storylines and other bits and pieces across the episodes and across the seasons prevents “College” from being an unequivocally independent hour.

Here are just some of the things that appear in this hour that are also found or elaborated upon elsewhere in the series: Irina’s emotional insecurity (and her jealousy over cousin Svetlana’s happiness); the phrase “knight in white satin armor”; Tony’s bewilderment over just how much AJ knows about his line of work; Meadow’s critical awareness of herself as a mob daughter; a reference to Kruggerands; Carmela and Father Phil’s mutual crush; Carmela’s anguish; Father Phil’s food-based modus operandi; Tony’s monstrosity; Tony’s vulnerability; Tony’s mention of becoming a patio furniture salesman; Tony’s interest in world history; Buddhism and, in Father Phil’s words, “zany Zennies.”  I had better also include the extreme close-up of Carmela taking the communion wafer (which seems to get echoed by three extreme close-up shots of onion rings in the Series Finale).  I believe that such connectivity is crucially important to the series as a whole, and I’ll go more into why in later write-ups.



  • Chase cleverly parallels Tony & drunk Meadow here with Carmela & drunk Father Phil.  Tony just barely avoids being killed by Febby Petrulio as he escorts his drunken daughter back to her room, and Carmela also dodges a bullet, so to speak, when Phil gets nauseous from the wine just as they’re about to kiss.
  • When Meadow talks dismissively about Hunter Scangarelo’s father as an advertising executive for Big Tobacco, I can’t help but wonder if David Chase is making a meta-reference to himself.  He is, after all, Michele de Cesare’s father in real-life, and has often been critical of the commercial nature of the television industry and of his own role in this commercialization.
  • “College” has withstood the passing of time better than some of the other episodes in Season 1, but—ironically—the part of the episode that feels the most outdated is the part that was originally the most ground-breaking: Tony’s garroting of Febby Petrulio.  Watching it now, it seems short on “punch.”  The scene doesn’t have quite the savagery of the garrotings of Luca Brasi and Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather.  (It feels absurd that Febby would be able to carry on a conversation with his killer while he had a wire wrapped around his throat.)  Violence on The Sopranos does become more realistic—and vicious—as the series progresses.  (See the garroting of Burt Gervasi in Season 6 for a comparison.)  Looking back on it, the murder scene in “College” seems almost goofy when held against the high standard for realism that is currently on television—a standard that The Sopranos itself played a large role in establishing.
  • EDIT: I’ve deactivated the link to Bisteghi’s essay because Dr. Lavery’s website is no longer up.  David Lavery passed away in 2016.  In addition to being a giant among Sopranos scholars, the professor was an expert on Buffy, Lost and other works of pop culture. 

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71 responses to “College (1.05)

  1. There’s this one shot of Tony ”walking into the dark” ( His face becoming darker as he walks towards the guy’s house at night) when he walks towards the rat’s house. I love that shot, it symbolizes Tony’s descent into darkness and evil. Correct me if I’m wrong, but at the same time the rat’s little girl called him. Interesting stuff. IDK if it was a coincidence or intended.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also like this shot. I think Tony’s trying to ID him and not kill him. Though, if he was alone, it might be different. It mirrors when Febby sees Tony and Mead at the motel and decides not to shoot Tony in front of her. I’d say Tony got lucky. But then there’s a sort of karmic/tit-for-tat connection between Tony and Febby. Only a matter of time though. You could say the dark shot is Tony’s descent, especially regarding the daughter and her having to look up to someone like Tony. But the descent is also made apparent when we see Febby and his wife stepping out of the hot-tub naked. Tony, Febby, and the mob aren’t the only sinners: Father Phil and Carm, Febby’s family (formed via treachery), and, for that matter, the rest of humanity.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We have the introduction (I think) of two tropes in this episode- the ‘Meadow as Guardian Angel’ concept and of Tony being judged with a shot featuring trees (right after he kills Petrulio). Once you pick up the latter, it’s impossible to ignore.

    Great blog- thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for mentioning this…four years ago – ha. I am re-re-re-re (ad infinitum) watching the series. Petrulio eschewing shooting Tony because Meadow is right there with him – it (obviously?) reminded me of the final scene of the finale, and how Meadow, it could be interpreted, was not there to save Tony from a bullet.
      And yes, not only am I re-watching again, but re-reading as I go.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Stephen Moffatt

    There is a lot of symbolism with the ducks. 2 wooden ducks are at the travel office and ducks fly overhead after Tony kills FP. Tony’s sense of loss when the ducks fly away from his pool , never to return resonates throughout the series.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve had an observation for a long time. In episode 1 – 5, Sheila Jaffe has a C.S.A after her name (Casting By…) and by the 6th episode (Pax Soprana) she is listed as just Sheila Jaffe. Did she get caught by using the CSA after her name, because she finally shows up as a legit CSA in Season 6-part II. Just wonder if she fudged her credentials in the beginning – and most people don’t know this, but Georgianne Walken is Christopher Walken’s wife!!


    • Hmm interesting… I seem to remember watching a behind-the-scenes extra (or maybe it was an clip) on the duo, and I think that’s where I learned that Georgianne was married to More Cowbell. Anyway, they did an incredible job of casting this series…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We go from a “not much happened” episode to this…

    Knowing nothing of camera work I find your observations very interesting. The opening shot of Tony is awesome, yes, however I never really knew why. Good point on the contrasting camera angles on Tony and then Carmela and Father Phil. I re-watched this episode last night after reading this autopsy. It seems we are definitely going to see two sides of Tony before this intense hour is over. This was an episode where the viewer is on the edge of the seat so to speak, or at least I was. The Tony strangling Febby scene is a major highlight of the entire season. I don’t understand your reaction about it feeling dated. If Tony had a “piece” its probable he would have used it, but apparently he was willing to use his bare hands (and a wire) to kill this rat prick. Then to top it off, the ducks fly overhead. Pretty symbolic after all we have learned of Tony in the last 4 episodes. The interactions between Tony and Meadow are also noteworthy. They seem to have made some ground and gained mutual respect, but there is a lot more to be said. It is almost a sad scene in the car after the killing, an air of uncomfortable silence. A reoccurring theme in this series. Uncertainty.

    Once again, the viewer is not fooled or misled about the kind of man Tony Soprano can be; but now we get to see what this man is capable of. You summed it up when you stated Tony can handle a person like Febby but has not chance against his wife. I don’t rank episodes, but I must say this has to be in my top 10 without a doubt. The chase between Tony and Febby drew me in. It gives further insight to how calculating Tony can be, being absolutely “sure” this is his guy. The episode is also very low key, meaning there are only a few characters with screen time this hour. We don’t know what else is going on in SopranoLand at this point in time.

    I absolutely love in “nobody knows anything” when father Phil comes over after Tony was attacked and Tony’s response is, “you’re staying the night, right?” HAHA!

    The connectivity you go into detail about was great. Good write up, Ron!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David. Reading your comment, I am realizing again just how groundbreaking Season 1 must have seemed in 1999, and how unconventional it must have been to put a “nothing happens” episode back-to-back with a very tense stand-alone episode. (I didn’t watch Season 1 when it originally aired – I was just too much of a film snob to believe that a TV show could be as good as everyone was saying. Of course, by the time I caught up in Season 2, I felt the show was even BETTER than people were saying.)


  6. Found this page through a link on the Bates college Wikipedia page – my daughter is thinking of attending the school just as Meadow was. I am so excited to have found it. Maybe with my daughter away (boo hoo) I will finally have time for a sopranos rewatch (yay!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just a small note: when Fr Phil and Carm are flirting, they are framed by the fire burning in the background aka, “Good incentive to stay out of hell.” But they would surely be damned if they had acted on their urges.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. First of all, thanks for your hard work, putting all these posts together. I’m thoroughly enjoying them.

    College is my favorite episode. I’ve always seen a compare/contrast between Tony and Father Phil. It’s nice to see someone else mention it. I think that Tony is cast as a good father in this episode. Ignoring the fact that he took a timeout to kill a rat, Tony was doing what a good father should do. He was protecting Meadow, preparing for her future, and providing for her. He partially shielded her from the ugly truth about his mob connections, but at least was honest enough for her to get the picture, while leaving enough wiggle room for her to remain in denial as much as her comfort zone allowed. He reacted to her confession about drugs pretty much like you’d expect a dad to react.

    Father Phil, on the other hand, was a terrible father. He manipulated Carmela for his own perverse pleasure. He didn’t protect or shield her. He willingly led her to the edge of danger, but ended up not following through on his passion. Was he genuinely overcome by the wine or did he panic and chicken out? I think a case could be made for either. Regardless, his actions didn’t help Carmela in any way. The scene where Tony was tucking Meadow into bed was interspersed with the communion scene between Carmela and Father Phil. What a contrast of a loving, protective father and a manipulative horn dog driven by his passion and willing to violate the sacred trust placed in him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Chase uses a parallel-structure in this hour to really compare/contrast the storylines and the characters. He’ll use the structure again and again in later episodes, perhaps most notably in “University” and “Remember When”…


      • When I’m suggesting to someone who’s just starting to watch The Sopranos on how to approach the show, I tell them the simplest analysis is to do compare/contrasts. Almost endless examples.


    • Wind – I agree with your assessment of Father Phil. He is indeed an amoral so-called ‘representative’ of the Catholic church (whose own immoral acts are well-documented). Perhaps his vomiting incident was guilt – his way of purging/undoing an act for which he would be excoriated by his congregation and his church.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Something I noticed that has bewildered me… All through the episode they’re driving a grey town car… but when they pull up to the house at the end they’re in Tony’s maroon SUV…


    • Yeah I guess it must be a rental altho it’s never explained why…


    • They fly into Maine and get a rental for their stay – it’s not an error.
      What stumps me is Tony uses their real names at the motel. Tony is trusting they won’t have any reason to hide their identity. I guess it sets the stage for the subsequent seasons – Tony grows a lot, and not in a “good” way, but in a defensive, social-Darwinistic way – he uses phony names when staying at hotels in later seasons. Maybe as a feature of Season 1 this is a wake up call, because it doesn’t seem like Tony intended to make the hit while taking Meadow on college visits. Then again, you have to wonder if he wasn’t planning on “killing two birds with one stone.”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The rifle hanging in over the bar doesn’t just foreshadow the murder, it is literally a Chekov’s Gun.
    This might be a kind of in-joke for those who have taken creative writing classes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha that’s possible


    • Fascinating possibility. The in-joke would be that Chekhov’s rules are irrelevant… The tweakers Febby tries to hire to kill Tony with a shotgun end up calling it off. Febby also refrains from shooting Tony. And, Tony has no gun, and instead, chooses to kill with electrical wire. With Carm and Phil holding off, it’s a blue-balls theme.
      Possibly it’s a meta-commentary on “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and violent crime in America. Interesting because there’s plenty of merely “suggestive” details in the series. At the same time, are any of these details only “suggestive?” I’d argue the show was attempting to encapsulate reality as it happened. Ex: there’s a package of Fig Newtons in Feb’s car when he’s on self-appointed lookout duty overnight at the motel where Tony and Mead are staying. I found this detail hilarious and somehow totally necessary. What else are you going to snack on when you have to sit in your car for hours at a time?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I thought it was kind of cool after Tony kills the snitch, he sees the ducks flying away. If you notice, the ducks are in a V type formation. Watch the camera pulling back from Tony standing and watching them. The tree beside the trailer kind of has a path worn into the ground around it forming a V shape. If the ducks symbolize Tony’s family and he feels helpless as he can’t control them, he might feel like the duck at the end of the line, not controlling the direction the flock is traveling. Notice where he’s standing in that V shape…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. “It takes two to tango”. I’m not sure it it was intended this way, but I like to read that line as Tony saying, at least in part, “I don’t want to tell you more than you want to hear, but this only works if you don’t keep asking questions”. In other words, they both have to want to do this dance around the full truth for it to work.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Possibly the greatest episode of the series, and no love for the director Allen Coulter!?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Just finished the series about a month ago, and I’m currently on my 2nd full re-watch. I know I’m probably reaching hella far here, but when Febby mentions being a volunteer fireman, my mind immediately went to Vito and his 6th season storyline. Whether intentional or not, I think it’s really interesting that both Febby and Vito were both excommunicated gangsters (though for different reasons) and forced to choose between starting a new, vanilla life elsewhere or certain death in Jersey, and they both participated in voluntary firefighting. It’s like this is the most socially accepted outlet, in their eyes, to bringing some sort of the dangerous excitement to their lives that they are cut off from. To me, it shows that the same self-destructive desire is a part of them through and through, but maybe if the circumstances in their lives were different, they could’ve used it constructively, for the well-being of the society around them, instead. It’s crazy to see this in 2 small moments of a TV show, spread so far away from each other, because it’s something that I’ve seen in people around me time and time again. Even if I am reaching, the idea really hits home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great points. You’re right, it would be a big reach to say that Febby and Vito were purposefully connected that way but there is nevertheless a strong ‘self-destruction/excitement’ aspect to both their storylines. I was re-watching “Annihilation” the other day and that film really explores the connection between “constructive” growth and “destructive” growth, between procreation and self-destruction. The film suggests the only difference between those things might your point of view…


    • Joining the vollies is a good way to become part of the social fabric of a small town when you’re a newcomer. I would imagine that for men like Febby and Vito, it might be a particularly good way because of the danger and adrenaline, and that’s a good point I hadn’t thought about until your comment, 2011K. But there usually aren’t that many fires or other dangerous emergencies in a small town over the course of a year, so the most useful aspect is becoming accepted by the townspeople, which was particularly important for Febby, who was trying to blend in as a local. Febby might not have been the most upstanding citizen of rural Maine (dealing heroin out of his travel business), but he managed to make himself into a guy with a regular life, something Vito couldn’t hack, in the end. If it hadn’t been for that chance sighting at the gas station, he might have lived out his whole life there.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great analysis here as usual. I have some additional thoughts and observations to add:

    1. In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich, Chase hints that “College” contained enough material for a feature film; Tony and Meadow’s dinner is highly cinematic: the tone is romantic, even though it’s father-and-daughter. Also the lighting and music is far more refined in contrast to the previous cut-scene of Carm and Mons. Jughead.

    2. Weather
    a.) Chris is stationed by the pay-phone in the rain all night. Tony has him wait, and tells him he’ll take care of Febby. The storm signals resignation.
    b.) Fr. Phil sleeps over at Carm’s house – nausea (or the storm) prevents any further development.
    c.) Tony kills Febby on a sunny afternoon. I.e., the weather symbolizes a reversal of expectations. It also symbolizes a rite of passage, at least, for Chris, who doesn’t want to take the call in the rain but is ready to do the hit on Febby.

    3. For some reason, I kept thinking “all roads lead to Rome” re-watching this episode.
    – Tony trails Febby instead of taking a turn for Colby College; however, another sign for Colby appears, reassuring Meadow. The point is made that both roads lead to the same place. Also a possible meta-commentary on Meadow:
    a.) she says, mockingly, “Italian, Italian, Italian” when Tony says “Italian Vogue,” as if she wants to distance herself from her roots.
    b.) going to a “good” college, she’ll probably stick out a little bit in contrast to the majority Ivy/WASP types.

    – the connection between “Roman” and Italian-American as noted elsewhere on the series shows up: even in rural Maine, there are connected guys/enemies lurking
    – inside Febby’s travel agency there is an advertisement for Castle Sirmione at Lake Garda in Lombardy, Italy. This is in Northern Italy; the Sopranos are from Naples in Southern Italy. This reinforces how Febby is a traitor, and also signifies discord and resentment. Also, in the agency’s yard area, there is a small replica statue of David patio table. (It may be a stretch, but, the replica could also symbolize treachery: the Renaissance took place mostly in Florence, in Northern Italy. Made guys/connected guys came from Southern Italy and Sicily).
    – the above, weirdly enough, goes back to Tony’s story at dinner with Mead about how he could have sold patio furniture, and how Tony thinks that course would have been “rebellious” in comparison to the mob life. Also, the connection between art, architecture, and landscaping: (the made guys at the construction site in S5, Vitro and La Manna landscaping feud in S5, and Tony’s speech to AJ at a church in Newark his grandfather helped build in S4, etc.)

    Cleanfusion’s comment about the “V-shape” I think is a loaded image: the duck formation, the forking path, and then, as I wrote above, the road that splits when Tony is supposed to be taking Meadow to Colby, and also possibly an obvious sexual/Freudian suggestion. Which, not to sound creepy, but the “takes two to tango” comment seems either ironic or just inappropriate after Tony compares Meadow to a fashion model. Could just be Tony’s ignorance, even though “dance around the truth” (aka “beat around the bush”) makes sense.

    Also, Tony taking care of hungover Meadow seems less Father-daughter and more man-woman. Tony should be disappointed, but instead, he’s “understanding.” Possibly he doesn’t care much, in general. Meadow also uses the word “relationship” to describe her …relation to Tony. This could be nonsense, but I’ve been called out before for using “relationship” instead of “friendship” when someone else thought “relationship” only meant that of a romantic/sexual type. Could just be Chase being a provocateur.

    Still, I think Chase was tugging around viewers with Meadow and Tony’s “relationship” on this episode and others – probably a lot of single men see themselves in Tony, while also seeing Meadow’s desirable beauty and intelligence, even if she’s spoiled, manipulative, and kind of superficial. It made/makes a solid chunk of viewers feel subconsciously conflicted about what they hope for in the show. Very entertaining episode though.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I think there’s a small anomaly in this episode, which perhaps a few people are bothered by. Tony tells Chris that Petrulio has been kicked out of the Witness Protection program and gives talks in universities about being a mafioso. This isn’t necessary to the story. And although he has a new name, he’s no longer living under cover. So the mob could have found him before, if they really wanted to.
    – – – –
    Carmela’s confession to Father Phil is very impressive, not only for what it tells us about the character, but as a piece of writing. It could almost be written as free verse:
    I have forsaken what is right for what is easy
    Allowing what I know is evil in my house,
    Allowing my children – my sweet children –
    To be a part of it;
    Because I wanted things for them,
    I wanted a better life, good schools,
    I wanted this house,
    I wanted money in my hands,
    Money to buy anything I ever wanted.
    I’m so ashamed.
    My husband, I think he has committed
    Horrible acts.
    I said nothing,
    I’ve done nothing about it.
    It’s just a matter of time before God
    Compensates me with outrage
    For my sins.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. twice during the show, Chase has Tony doing something completely unrealistic. In this episode, Tony is out of town, in a hotel, following a guy who he thinks and then knows is a snitch. The phone rings in the motel room, Tony answers, there’s no answer on the other end, and Tony says nothing and does nothing. That random phone call would make anyone suspicious, especially a mafioso, out of town, chasing down someone who might kill him. Same for season 2, episode Knights in White Satin Armor. Tony was summoned to Janice’s house, finds Richie dead on the kitchen floor, and is in the middle of cleaning up. Carmella calls, I guess to check up on him, and says nothing. Tony’s got a dead guy on the floor, he gets a mysterious phone call and isn’t alarmed, or at least suspicious? He could have at least star-69’d – if that still exists. Just didn’t seem true to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Post Script:
    I think the reason FrPhil throws up the sacramental wine is because his thoughts about Carmela are impure, and the blood of Christ is therefore expelled from him, in a kind of reverse exorcism.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. -Revisiting this one today, I think I finally get why it was so important in the early evaluation of the show. I’ve never disliked the episode, but it’s never been in my top five like, say, other predictable favorites like “Pine Barrens” or “Irregular Around the Margins.” But it’s still some bold tv.
    -The thing that makes “College” so distinct is how it is both broad and narrow. First episode to take place (in part) a significant distance from the main action w/ some Maine action. Is everything in the Pine Tree state made with that sheet metal siding? There’s No Livia, Junior, the Crew, or any of the captains we just met last episode (I am always surprised by how slowly the first season world unfurls). We don’t even really know Tony’s crew yet, but we know they’re in Tony’s inner circle. The reduced story plays out tight and tense for all its patience. Tense little worlds.
    -Febby looks like Ciarnán Hinds wearing the flesh of Harold Ramis, with Eugene Levy’s eyebrows.
    -It’s funny Ron you mention the lack of realism and punch in the garroting, but
    -I think a weakness of Dexter is the constant narration; it’s integral to the books but the dark passenger concept never lands on screen. We always know what he is thinking because he tells us. Bill Hader’s show Barry, by contrast, moves more like the Sopranos, with a lot of internal conflict generated by the double life. Imagine Dexter Morgan getting up from garroting Febby and seeing the ducks overhead. He’d ruin the scene with some pseudo-profound lines straight out of Von Trier’s the House That Jack Built. Pass. Imagine, instead, if Manos had experimented with a Dexter that felt more like “College.”
    -“Wet shoes” is so funny. Poor Chris goes out to a phone in the rain three damn times that day.
    -I think Sue might be onto something up there with Father Phil’s queasy tummy. Chase’s moral universe is pretty b&w, and one in which the supernatural exists. Maybe. Paulie def experiences it, and for all his mafioso myopia, he’s SOME kind of practicing Catholic. Carmela’s doomy, surprisingly Liviaesque language haunts us right up the show’s end (“Who is out there? What is it?”) And Father Phil definitely believes in divine retribution. I say this because I think, in the end, the metaphysical implications of this world are, again, indicative of how close viewers are dropped into certain characters’ POVs at certain times. I once asked a Chassidic friend of mine about the concepts of Satan and demons in specifically Judaism, where they factor significantly less in iconography and symbolism. Regarding whether they are literal beings or merely personifications of the evil inclination, he left me with this: “These things are real if you believe they are real.” It may not matter if God or the wine or the boner turned Intintola’s stomach, what does that schnorrer think himself? That night was a “test” from God. In short, “Chassidim, so I DO believe ’em. ” I should ask my friend about the golem.
    -“Isabella” is still a better hour of television, though. That’s a mattress I’m willing to go to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • forgot to finish this one:
      -It’s funny Ron you mention the lack of realism and punch in the garroting, but when I watched this with newbies, they both commented appreciatively on how slow the murder was. Febby doesn’t do the best acting as he dies, but I like that it isn’t some quick thing as it’s often thrown around as in PG-13 fare (bloodless, consequenceless violence and all), it’s a long scene.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, a lot of what’s lacking has to do with the acting (and probably the directing and staging too). I didn’t have an issue with the scene the first time I saw it—I guess I was too caught up in the moment, the fact that our lead character is killing someone. But watching it now, Febby just doesn’t display enough of the terror and mad desperation that we would expect from a person with a cord tightening around his throat..

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Interweb historian

    Mind-blowing analysis, great website overall. I love the show and your analyses have helped me to enjoy it even more. Great job.

    I do want to point out that Dr. Lavery’s site and his essays (including the pdfs) are still available on the archived versions of his site on the Internet Archive (

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Here’s why I think Father Phil vomited. First he said he was stuffed from all the ziti. I believe he almost belched. Then he drank wine on top of that. Those would make a person semi-nauseous. But when he almost kissed Carmela, he was filled with fear and guilt about breaking his celibacy vow and of committing adultery, and fear can make someone vomit, so that pushed his body over the edge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. He puked For all those reasons. Yes. But I like to think his impure thoughts about Emma Thompson, Douglas Firs and Carmela made Jesus ‘jump ship.’ No blasphemy intended.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi Ron, here is the first that i don’t agree at 100%:
    The meaning of the ducks and the ducks dream i don’t think is the one that Tony and Melfi mutual gave in the first episode, i don’t think is totally Tony’s fear of loosing family. When he explains the dream to Melfi said something like “that wild animals in my pool, is beatiful”. The word WILD for me is really important, maybe he referes to the wild family (Corrado and Livia) and the fear of loosing control e power in his wild family (mafia). David Chase is too intelligent to put a literrally meaning, that Tony and Melfi gave to the duck and the dream with duck.
    Of course in this hour (‘college’) we see the two-side personality of Tony, and of course there very sweet scene between father and daughter pointing out the love of Tony for Mead. By on the other side the scene when he “dumped” Meadow at Colby for kill Fabian Petrulio, is really thought and underlines the fact that for Tony the normal family is not more important than mafia family

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’ve just found your website and very happy to use it as an accompaniment for what is probably at least, my 20+th plus viewing of this series. I think your analyses are thoughtful and brings up interesting points. One thought on your belief that this episode (or any episode) isn’t a stand alone. I see the point you’re making as there are connections to future episodes which are rooted to this series, so I agree it’s not standalone. But I do think what this, and many episodes are fully contained stories, in that you can watch an episode as a standalone, or as part of a larger overall arc — and either way is satisfying. That’s the beauty of Chase’s storytelling. Matthew Weiner learned this well while he worked on The Sopranos and Mad Men has a similar feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ron, did you watch The Shield? I think it has the most shocking Pilot episode. We see in that episode that Vic Mackey and his elite team are somewhat corrupt and brutal cops, who tax the drug dealers, taunt his Mexican captain( he is clearly despised by Vic not because he’s not white, but because he sees him as someone who got an important duty because of his ethnicity and in his eyes he’s not the real police, just bureacrat who uses police as it will help him in his attempt to become the major of Los Angeles. Vic Mackey beats suspects too, but we don’t consider it unacceptable because his actions saved girls life from pedophile. And then we see how they get new member of their team and we think Vic doesn’t know Terry is there to bring him down, so Aceveda can be the hero who revealed corruption in police. But at the end of the episode, when they raid the house of drug dealer in all that havoc, Vic Mackey with Shane Vendrell as his witness kill Terry with one shot in his head. It was I think the boldest moment in the history of television, much more than Tony killing one mafia rat. But without Tony Soprano we would never have Vic Mackey, Don Draper, Walter White, Dexter, Jax Teller, Boyd Crowder. And first tv-show , even before The Sopranos, with Eddie Falco as a female guard we had OZ( 1997-2003) , prison tv-drama with antiheroes and really sick and twisted people as our heroes, The Shield was during the ran of The Sopranos( 2002-2008). I couldn’t decide is better The Sopranos or The Shield, The Shield is unfortunately often overlooked, but i think it’s with The Sopranos the most revolutionary tv-show. And finales of The Shield, episode Family Meeting is I think even better than Made In America.
    Funny now, when we watch now first season of The Sopranos is seems almost like mafia sit-com compared to darkness and nihilism of later seasons, especially last two. We could see , banal example, on Tony’s beating of poor Georgie. When he first time hit him with phone, it was more annoyance than rage and he hit him just twice, but these attacks became with every time more brutal, the beating he gave him in Cold Cuts was really brutal, I have a feeling he would kill Georgie if others didn’t restrain Tony.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. During “the talk” between Tony and Meadow this episode they use almost the exact same cultural reference to underscore the change in American culture as Mark Fisher does in Capitalist Realism. The part of the conversation that goes

    Tony: How does that make you feel?

    Meadow: At least you don’t keep denying it like Mom. Kids in school actually think it’s kinda neat.

    T: They’ve seen The Godfather, right?

    M: Not really. Casino they like, Sharon Stone, 70s clothes, pills…

    T: I’m not asking about them, I’m asking about you

    illuminates the same theme Fisher does, Fisher using Heat instead of Casino. Re: Heat, Fisher says “The ghosts of Old Europe that stalked Coppola’s streets have been buried somewhere beneath the multinational coffee shops” and “In Heat, the scores are undertaken not by Families with links to the Old Country, but by rootless crews, in an LA of polished chrome and interchangeable designer kitchens, of featureless freeways and late-night diners.” CR has been a very influential book on me in terms of how I consume culture, so it’s crazy to see The Sopranos beat it to the punch by a decade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read the book but I’ve heard the irrepressible Zizek refer to it. You’ve piqued my interest.

      Interestingly, in Heat, Pacino’s character himself criticizes LA’s polished, style-over-substance aesthetic when he goes on a rant against the “dead-tech post-modernistic bullshit house” that he finds himself in. (I remember this only because I read an article about the house, once owned by LA architect Thom Mayne, just a few weeks ago…)


    • You mentioned an important fact:
      Tony’s statement “I’m not asking about them, I’m asking about you” is what Dr. Melfi should have been saying to Tony since day one! Instead, she allowed Tony to rant and rage and wax nostalgic about his friends and family, rather than forcing him to accept responsibility for his own behaviors and acknowledge his feelings of helplessness.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Incredible write up Ron.
    Something I just noticed upon my fifth rewatch of this episode. In every scene with Tony leading up to the climax between he and Febby, Tony is surrounded by nature. In his car scenes with Meadow, the backdrop of forest is constantly present. When he’s on the phone with Christopher, it’s a pay phone outside. Even during his brief scene in the motel room, cricket chirps are constant throughout. These chirps, or “sounds of nature”, are most highlighted both times Tony stalks Febby’s business, which was also hidden away in the woods, where he ultimately commits his most brutal act Chase has shown us yet (the chirping is also eerily similar to that in Tony’s Calling All Cars dream which may have some deep connection here). We finally see Tony away from nature when he’s waiting outside Meadow’s college admissions office, reading the infamous Hawthorne quote.
    I believe Chase was trying to drive home Tony’s animalistic nature, important at the time as he was still establishing Tony’s murderous persona and impulses. The quote also invoked reflection in Tony that mirrored his constant, impossible struggle to balance his mob and family life, one of the root causes of his depression. It also drove home an incredible contrast between he and Father Phil. The 2 seem like the complete antithesis of each other on rewatch.
    FWIW, College is in my top 5 Sopranos episodes ever and has a case for the top spot. This hour felt like a short movie more than a television episode. Great job making it all make sense!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. This is the only time that I really felt any sympathy for Chris. Standing outside in the pouring rain in order to take phone calls from Tony must have been demoralizing. One post did an excellent job in summing up Chris’ plight: “[T]his is the first installment of the series that fully establishes – symbolically speaking – his ambivalence toward his chosen way of life. He’ll forever have a dark cloud over him until the end of the series” (

    Liked by 1 person

  28. “The sexual tension between them is palpable.” Was this line a nice nod to Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story?

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Susan Bordo, in her (2021) overview of this episode for, noted that after ‘praising’ her dad for being honest with her during their conversation about the Mafia, the shooting script called for Meadow to say “‘And anyway, you’re my sexy dad’ – a line eliminated in the actual filming, no doubt, given all the intimacy between them, it was too suggestive”. Ahem. Awkward dialogue. I’m grateful that it didn’t ‘make the cut’, so to speak! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Please "Bear" With Us

    Ron, I think you’re actually somewhat off track here. My own interpretation of the episode is as follows, and if it shocks you, so be it:
    1. No one realizes this, but MEADOW planned the entire college trip to ensure that Petrulio would be killed. Hear me out. Meadow had planned the murder all along. This will make sense when you consider my second point:
    2. Hunter Scangarelo and Livia are CONSIGLIERES to the real boss of the family–Meadow. I can see you are shocked and delighted to be enlightened at my words. Don’t believe it? Consider point #3:
    3. Dr. Melfi is “sick” in this episode–as she was INSTRUCTED to be, by Meadow. What people fail to notice is that Melfi only takes time off from her real job as a psychiatrist hired by the FBI to track Tony, in order to disguise herself as–you guessed it–Fabian Petrulio. You NEVER SEE Fabian and Melfi in the same place.
    4. Father Phil is most likely a werewolf and therefore does not want to make love to Carmela for fear of turning into a wolf and eating her. This sounds outlandish until you consider the facts. In the previous episode, the TV had talk of silver bullets (on the Love Boat, which is a boat like Noah’s Ark, which is Biblical like Father Phil). Does this hit too close to home for most viewers? You bet it does. And that’s why people won’t accept that interpretation.
    5. The above is the ONLY valid interpretation of things and anyone who doesn’t see the truth is a coward or a moron or both and doesn’t love their country.
    Source: QAnon.
    Anyway I got tired of writing serious summaries and have now given in to extreme dumb silliness sans meaningful punchlines, which I enjoy at least as much. I realize the QAnon version would be far more out there, but there are limits to my imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha

      “The above is the ONLY valid interpretation of things and anyone who doesn’t see the truth is a coward or a moron or both and doesn’t love their country.” You know who loved their country? Ronald Reagan…whose bust we happened to see in Febby’s office….


  31. Most people consider this episode to be one of the best in this series. I am horribly disappointed with it. Please let me start with the negatives:
    1. Why would Tony – instead of Carmela – take Meadow to tour colleges? The mob boss takes precious time off from his job as … mob boss? Ridiculous!
    2. His reckless driving/speeding could have gotten them both killed.
    3. His sloppiness when scoping out Feeby’s house could have gotten him (Tony) killed. And raised suspicions in Feeby.
    4. What sickened me more than anything else was Carmela’s attempt to seduce Fr. Phil. Also, as a supposedly devout Catholic, she hasn’t ‘confessed’ for several decades?
    The only thing that I found truly exciting was Tony killing Feeby. I read that HBO didn’t want this murder to happen, but it was absolutely essential that we see Tony doing what he’s probably done since his early 20s. I rather like the fact that he finally became the anti-hero that we all came to love … and hate!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Hi Ron,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying reading your essays!
    I think, unless I’m missing something, that you neglected to mention the song that plays over the end credits and is also used during the scene when Tony and Meadow are dining: “Golden Leaves for G.K. Chesterton” by Michael Hoppe.
    I believe the song, amongst other things, adds the desired complexity (that is, the complexity you found to be somewhat missing in the facile “two-faced” interpretation of Tony) to the Hawthorne quote’s relation to Tony. For starters, G.K. Chesterton was dubbed the “Prince of paradox”, which could also be said to be true of Tony (another title for the “Prince of tide”!) and, when taken in conjunction with Hawthorne’s quote, gives us a picture of a man who is nested with contradictions—contradictions that cannot be resolved in any straightforward manner.
    Less glaring, however, is the allusion to Chesterton’s poem—“Golden Leaves”—which as I dimly recall (and shall now proceed to gloss over) covered issues such as: growing older and learning to appreciate the subtle beauties that come with that inescapable transformation, which in-turn are accompanied by the equally ineluctable signs of bodily decay; also of note, is the symbolism of autumn in contrast to spring and summer (obviously, the latter two seasons more apt metaphors for youth).
    “Now I am come to Autumn and all the leaves are gold.”

    Liked by 1 person

  33. My pleasure.
    Another point I might add—I recently came across this quote from the essayist William Hazlitt:
    “The only vice which cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.” (see Hazlitt, W., 1837. “Characteristics: In the manner of Rochefoucault’s maxims.” J. Templeman.)
    , this quote seems to capture the viciously-circular brand of hypocrisy that Carmela finds herself entwined-by in “College”. I’m not sure whether there is any evidence to support the notion that Chase was aware of this quote, but I do think that it might be of some tangential relevance, helping to illuminate certain aspects of Carmela’s and Father Intintola’s characters, respectively.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Pingback: The Soprano Onceover: #19. “College” (S1E5) | janiojala

  35. Was re-watching the other night and something occurred to me that I haven’t seen mentioned here or elsewhere: between Febby not killing Tony and drunk Meadow outside the motel and Febby then observing Tony and Meadow leaving the next morning (to his relief), Tony leaves his room in order to use the payphone to call Christopher. This would’ve been another (easy) opportunity for Febby to kill Tony, so are we to assume that Febby wasn’t staking out the motel all night?

    Thanks everyone and special thanks to Ron for this fabulous website.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Also, thanks for pointing out the amazingly subtle moment where Meadow realizes what her father means is that to REALLY be part of a family like theirs, she has to know what she knows but deny it at all costs. It brings to mind a key aspect of the Italian-American mafia: PROTECTING YOUR OWN FAMILY FROM OUTSIDERS AT ALL COSTS. Selfish and insular to the outside world, but with a core tenet of putting the family above the self- these are dynamics the show continually explores in our anti-hero. Is it right to kill others to feed your own? How much of their work is for the family, and how much is due to their own selfish appetites and sociopathic tendencies? Is this insular notion of family toxic or loyal? Meadow herself does the same deflecting thing at Jackie’s funeral to other family members, as you point out in another analysis. I caught it in my current rewatching, what a crucial scene!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Hey Ron,

    Loved this episode. Someone else may have already pointed this out, but if there are annotations in the attached YouTube video, they don’t play. All we see is the scene itself. I would’ve loved to have heard your thoughts as the video played! I would’ve noted this on the video itself on YT, but comments were turned off.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for bringing it to my attention Grant. I had used the Youtube text editor to superimpose notations on to the video, but I guess YT no longer supports those graphics..


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