Episode 09 “Boca”
“Boca” opens up with a scene in a cemetery. AJ Soprano is running around with wild dogs as Livia & Junior Soprano visit Johnny Boy’s grave. The tombstone reads “John Francis Soprano : In memory of a loving husband and father”. I’m surprised Livia didn’t embed the words “he was an angel” somewhere on Johnny Boy’s tombstone.
Junior & Livia briefly discuss their disliking of Tony seeing a psychiatrist which will set the tone for Junior’s scenes with Tony in this episode. AJ asks Livia, “Why don’t you breathe in a cemetery? So you don’t make the dead people jealous.”
Thankfully this is the only Sopranos episode featuring a storyline revolving around soccer. Tony Soprano, Silvio Dante & Artie Bucco all gather around to wath their daughters play soccer on Verbum Die, a girl’s soccer team headed up by Coach Don Hauser. In this episode the coach will go from being beloved (after the team wins the game, Tony & Sil invite him to the Bada Bing for free drinks and lap dances), to getting another coaching job offer (but Tony & Sil don’t want him to go so they buy him a HD TV and eventually Christopher kidnaps and returns Don’s dog, but he’s not easily persuaded), to being on the verge of getting whacked (Meadow reveals to Tony & Carmela that the coach slept with her soccer teammate Ally Vandermeed, the same girl who attempted suicide in this episode).
Silvio & Artie confront coach Hauser about the news that he’s got an offer from another team and a Godfather reference emerges from Don Hauser, “They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
Vin Makazian visits Tony at the Bada Bing to let him know that Mikey Palmice has hired a private eye to tail Tony. In order to cover his ass while visiting the Bing, Vin requests to see the liquor license from Silvio. Although helpful, Tony Soprano continues to treat Vin like shit and constantly ridicules him whenever he comes around.
Working out of his lawyer’s office, Junior discusses the indictments with Mikey Palmice & his lawyer, who we meet for the first time, Harold Melvoin. Junior decides to lay low and head down to Boca with his off and on girlfriend of 16 years, Bobbi Sanfillipo, whom we are also introduced to for the first time in this episode. Before heading to Boca, Mikey warns Junior that he feels there’s a rat in Tony Soprano’s crew.
While in Boca, Junior enjoys his time with Bobbi, oblivious to the fact that the feds are following him there and perfectly well know where he’s at. Bobbi reveals to Junior that he’s like a great artist when it comes to oral sex – Junior tells her to keep her mouth shut about it, it’s a sign of weakness and a sign that a man is possibly a “fanuc”. One of the best lines of the episode is spoken by Bobbi while her and Junior are in bed, “How’s Jr, Junior?”
Bobbi heeds Juniors advice to keep her mouth shut about his “trips down south”, but it’s too late. Women in Bobbi’s salon gossip and word has reached Carmela Soprano. While at The Sopranos for dinner, Junior notices that Carmela has the giggles. Later that night Carmela reveals to Tony that “Uncle Joon gives head”. Tony can’t contain his laughter and starts cracking on his uncle…”The old man’s whistlin’ to the wheat field?” “He’s a bushman of the Calahari?”
It’s sometimes a relief to see a scene like this between Tony & Carmela – when they are actually happy. I would say that about 10% of their on screen time was spent being happy together. The rest of the time it’s just stressful and angry, but at least it makes for great TV drama!
At the same dinner, Tony ended up pissing off Livia and she affirms that she will no longer eat dinner at the Sopranos’ house. In the same scene, Tony Soprano makes mention to Kurt Cobain when talking to Meadow of her friend Ally’s suicide attempt, “Well it wasn’t like friggen’ Cobain, it was just a little suicidal gesture that’s all.”
In his latest session with Dr. Melfi, Tony apologizes for calling her a whore. When questioned by Melfi regarding how everything is going, Tony replies, “Life is puttin’ the prozac to the test.”
Livia spots Larry Barese at Green Grove and he tells Livia that his mother is also moving in. Moments later Tony shows up to meet with Larry Barese & Jimmy Altieri and it’s revealed that Jimmy is moving his mother in as well. The capos are using Green Grove as a cover up to do business (sort of the opposite of how Johnny Boy did it – instead of using their children as cover up, it’s their mothers).
One of my favorite scenes in this episode features Tony & Artie at a restaurant where they spot a man wearing a hat. They both find it despicable. Tony stands up and walks over to the man’s table, demanding that he remove his hat.
After an awkward moment (and a Tony Soprano stare down) the man gives in and removes his hat. Tony sends the man (and the woman at his table) a bottle of wine. In this same scene, Tony asks his waiter to get the license plates of two men sitting behind Artie – these men are possibly the ones that Mikey Palmice has following Tony around town.
Another memorable quote in this episode comes from a brief appearance of Christopher when he returns Coach Don Hauser’s dog. Christopher says, “What, no reward? Don’t worry about it, I’m an animal lover.” I find that quote very ironic considering Christopher’s future date with the death of Adriana’s dog (in season four).
The true fuel that would set this episode off is the exchange between Tony & Uncle Junior while playing golf. It starts off with Tony pissing off Mikey Palmice while teeing off, in turn that sets off Junior to make a comment about Tony losing a baseball game in his younger years, a remark that clearly resonates within Tony as he stands there for a few seconds absorbing what his uncle said. Tony rallies back and busts Junior’s balls in front of Silvio & Mikey, “Uncle Joon’s in the muff…What’s that smell did you guys go to a sushi bar?…I thought you were a baccala man, Uncle Joon? What are you doing eatin’ sushi?…South of the border where the tuna fish play.” Uncle Junior plays dumb with Tony’s remarks at first, but eventually he’s losing his temper and he tells Tony, “Hey listen my friend, at least I can deal with my own problems, unlike some I know.”
Later in the locker rooms, Junior reveals to Mikey that Tony is seeing a psychiatrist. Mikey claims to have known it (but he didn’t, he originally thought Tony was talking to the feds). Junior is worried with the indictments that Tony is airing the family business to his psychiatrist. Junior references the “Escobedo Brothers” who’s psychiatrist was on the witness stand against them in their murder trial (he meant to say the Menendez Brothers). Junior mentions that he taught Tony how to play baseball and Mikey asks, “Are you talking about clipping him?” Without hesitation Junior replies, “Nobody would slap my wrist if I did.”
This is quite possibly the first time we hear Junior Soprano seriously considering having his nephew whacked. It’s funny if you think about it though, no matter how much Junior pisses off Tony, I don’t think Tony Soprano ever once considered harming his uncle. Tony show’s more dedication to the old man than Junior shows back to Tony, perhaps revealing that Junior Soprano is the more hard headed of the two.
Following the locker room scene, Tony is in a session with Melfi talking about how pissed he is at Meadow’s soccer coach and in an almost direct reference to Junior’s fears of Tony talking to a shrink in the previous scene, Melfi replies, “If you’re telling me of intent to harm this person, I must warn you of my duty to alert law enforcement.”
A distraught Junior shows up at the office where Bobbi Sanfillipo works for him. Junior, beyond pissed, grabs a lemon meringue pie that Bobbi bought for them, and instead of hitting her, he shoves the pie in her face. This is the only woman we’ve ever seen Corrado involved with in all six seasons of The Sopranos. In this scene, he abruptly breaks up with and fires her, thanks to her blabber mouth and the remarks that Tony made while they were playing golf. Junior Soprano’s ego definitely took a big hit this episode and the repercussions for him & Tony will be huge.
Artie Bucco is aware of Tony’s appetite for revenge on coach Hauser for having sex with one of his players. Artie confronts Tony and begs him to just let the man go. During the sequence where Tony is trying to decide whether or not to give Silvio the call to whack the coach, a remix of The Soprano’s theme song plays. This marks the only time where the theme song (or a version thereof) is played somewhere else in the show, besides the introduction.
Thanks to discussions & pleading by Artie Bucco & Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony Soprano decides to spare Coach Don Hauser his life. Silvio is obviously pissed that Tony called off the hit, since his daughter played on the soccer team too. The coach is arrested by police as Tony Soprano drinks & watches it on television at the Bada Bing. Once again we see the pull that Artie Bucco has on Tony Soprano. Unlike his fellow mobsters, Tony can see the heart in Artie and no matter how bad his words might’ve pissed off Tony in the heat of the moment, they made it through to him and effected his final choice.
A drunken Tony Soprano returns home, falling over as Meadow Soprano watches from the upstairs of their house. Carmela greets Tony as he sings and stumbles around. Finally, he falls down on their couch and then slumps to the floor. Carmela spots Tony’s prozac that he’s mixed with alcohol.
It feels as if Tony Soprano is celebrating his decision at this point. Either that or he’s too pissed at himself to admit it right now. Perhaps he feels like he’s passed some sort of test for sparing the coach his life and letting the law do it’s job. Either way he’s high on booze and Prozac, so he’s probably in a good mood. Before passing out, Tony tells Carmela, “I didn’t hurt nobody.”