Episode 05 “College”
The majority of episode 5 revolves around two storylines. The first being Tony & Meadow Soprano’s trip to Maine (that were actually shot in New Jersey) in search of a suitable college for Meadow. Out of this storyline develops the subplot of Tony recognizing a rat aka Fabian Petrulio who was a former member of the DiMeo crime family. So while they are making stops along the way, Tony becomes obsessed with tracking down Fabian.
The second major storyline is between Carmela & her priest, Father Phil. This leads to so much awkwardness. The scenes between Carmela & Father Phil aren’t my favorite, but I’ll do my best to talk about what comes of them.
First, back to Tony & Meadow. Right off the bat, Meadow asks Tony the BIG question and she even mentions the M word! Mafia. Immediately Tony denies it. I would say that about 80% of Tony’s conversation with Meadow this episode involves Tony lying. For the other 20%, Tony does come clean, admitting that some of his income comes from illegal gambling. It seems that their conversation & the trip does bring Tony & Meadow closer. Meadow even ends up revealing to her father that she had done speed a few weeks prior. Of course, Tony freaks out and thanks to that, Meadow does not reveal where she got the drugs from.
While discussing college and schooling, Tony admits he’s a fan of history including Napolean and the Roman Empire. This is a theme that would become more apparent in latter episodes with Tony’s constant watching of the History Channel in his free time at home.
While making a pit stop, Tony spots the rat known as Fabian Petrulio at a gas station. Unfortunately, Fabian recognizes Tony Soprano as well and is quick to speed off. Through conversations on pay phones with Christopher Moltisanti, we come to find that Fabian was a former member of the DiMeo Crime Family who was busted for peddling heroin ten years prior. He soon after flipped and brought down a lot of members in the crew. Tony reveals that his father was on his deathbed at the time and never fully recovered from the news of Fabian flipping. Christopher insists on being the one to whack Fabian, but Tony denies him the privilege. Tony wants to be the one to take out Fabian.
Christopher pleads to Tony to let him fly up to Maine to whack Fabian Petrulio, “Clipping a famous rat would put me a cunt hair away from being made!”
You need to realize that up until this episode, nobody had yet really seen the dark side of Tony Soprano. Sure we knew the possibilities, but did we know what he was really capable of? In an interview, Soprano’s Creator David Chase had mentioned that HBO was skeptical about having Tony Soprano murder Fabian. They were afraid that a lead character had never been seen as a murderer. Chase insisted that Tony go all the way. A fine decision on his part.
So as it would turn out, Carmela was sick this episode and couldn’t go along for the trip to Maine with Tony & Meadow. A.J. ends up staying over a friends house and out of nowhere, Father Phil comes to visit. It seems this is one priest who never get’s sick of eating. Carmela receives a phone call and it is revealed to her that Tony’s psychiatrist is a woman. Carmela starts to express some doubts about Tony to Father Phil.
Throughout the episode you really get this awkward feeling that Carmela and the priest might actually hook up. After several bottles of wine, a few plates of ziti, and a DVD, Father Phil ends up giving Carmela the sacrament of confession in her own home.
Through all of the awkward scenes between Carmela & Father Phil, it’s all leading to a confession from Carmela. She admits that she loves the lifestyle that Tony has brought her and their children but she has doubts about him. She believes that Tony still loves her, but the fact that he lied about his psychiatrist being a woman is really bothering her. She feels like Tony doesn’t want to devote any time to her.
What looks to be one of the most awkwardest hooks up in the history of television is soon avoided by the fact that Father Phil had a little too much wine to drink. He quickly up and runs to the bathroom to puke his guts out. He ends up spending the night at the Soprano’s house, probably on the couch. His car is in plain view in their driveway all night.
Tony Soprano & Fabian Petrulio begin a game of cat & mouse. Tony tracks down Fabian and Fabian tracks down Tony. In what was a very close call, while helping a drunken Meadow to their hotel room, Fabian spots Tony and is about to kill him with a silenced gun. Fabian spots Tony’s daughter and decides not to do it. He figures that it’s just a coincidence that Tony Soprano is in town…he’s probably just there taking his daughter to college (which is just about 100% true).
The next day, Tony becomes the cat and tracks down Fabian’s Travel business. Tony drops off Meadow to look at a college and then goes on the hunt. In between all of the hunting down Fabian, Tony is constantly lying to Meadow about what he’s up to. It’s just the way he lives.
Tony is able to sneak up on Fabian and starts to strangle him, while calling him a rat. Fabian reveals to Tony that he had the chance to kill him, but didn’t because he saw Meadow.
In this moment we see the true monster that is Tony Soprano. After only five episodes, we finally see Tony Soprano whack someone for the first time. Tony strangles the life out of Fabian Petrulio with no remorse. Tony’s hand begins to bleed from the wire he has wrapped around Fabian’s neck.
Shortly after killing Fabian, Tony hears a flock of ducks flying overhead. Perhaps this symbolizes for us, the viewer, Tony Soprano’s innocence has just “flown away”? Tony looks to the sky to watch the ducks fly by.
Tony returns to pick up Meadow from her college visit. Meadow immediately notices Tony’s dirty shoes and the cut on his hand. She questions Tony again and he tells her he was at a restaurant looking for his watch and that he had to walk around to the back door and was walking in dirt. At the beginning of this episode Tony was able to partially come clean to Meadow, but eventually he’s back on the same path of lying to her.
This episode marks the first time that Tony doesn’t visit Dr. Jennifer Melfi for a psychiatric session. Although she was briefly in the episode when she called and introduced herself to Carmela.
Tony & Meadow return to their home in New Jersey. Carmela reveals to Tony that Father Phil spent the night. This introduced a terrific exchange between Tony & Carmela – we get a glimpse into one of the fight’s that these characters would endure with each other. Tony quickly laughs at the fact the the priest spent the night, questions Carmela and then calls Father Phil a fag. Carmela immediately tells Tony that she has nothing to hide and she wanted to come clean since the priest’s car was in the driveway all night.
In terrific Carmela Soprano fashion, she quickly turns the blame back on Tony, revealing that Dr. Jennifer Melfi called. Tony realizes that Carmela now knows that his psychiatrist is a woman. Carmela walks upstairs. Tony is now asking her for forgiveness. He pleads for her, but she doesn’t reply. Just a taste of what’s to come, between Tony & Carmela.
Who get’s whacked: Fabian Petrulio, by Tony Soprano himself.