Monday, August 30, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E9 "Boca"

Family Events: Livia again brings up Tony's seeing a psychiatrist with Junior, referring to Tony as, "my son, the mental patient." Tony and Carmela attend Meadow's soccer game and are inspired by the team's coach, Don Hauser. After the girls get together in the park, Meadow finds her friend Ally just after she's cut her own wrist. Tony soon finds out the coach has taken a position in New England; Silvio and Artie pay Hauser a visit to implore him to stay. Meadow becomes increasingly hostile toward Hauser and soccer in general; she admits Ally has been having an affair with the coach. 

Mafia Events: Junior hides out from any possible indictments in his lawyer's office but decides to vacation to Boca Raton with his girlfriend, Roberta San Fillipo. In Boca, Bobbi speaks candidly with Junior about his oral abilities but Junior doesn't want anyone to know he does it out of fear of appearing weak. Tony's crew delivers a big screen to the coach and he becomes hostile, stating he refuses to be threatened or bribed. Later one of Carmela's friends hears Bobbi's manicurist speaking with her about the topic Junior wanted to avoid and soon everyone knows. 

Mikey, acting on suspicions that Tony is informing the feds, has Tony followed. During a golf game with Junior, Tony is angered by a comment from Junior and begins ridiculing him armed with the new information about Bobbi; Junior retorts with a comment about psychiatry. In the locker room after the golf game, Junior floats the idea of having Tony "clipped" to Mikey. Artie begs Tony not to harm Hauser; Tony explodes at Artie for his audacity but decides not to act in the end.

Junior angrily confronts Bobbi about her inability to keep his secret, smashes a pie into her face (a nod to Cagney and the grapefruit), and fires her from the job he gave her.

Mental Health Events: Tony discusses Ali's suicide attempt with Melfi and apologizes for his outburst the week before. When Tony shares his frustrations over the situation with Ally and the coach, Melfi demands to know why Tony thinks he needs to deal with it, himself. 

Significant Ideology: The actions of Coach Hauser are serious and require serious attention, both in the fictional world for the characters as they navigate such disturbing abuse and for the viewers, who are equally shocked and upset by these events. The writing of this episode seems to rely on this shock value to take focus off some of the more confusing points ---the coach randomly takes a job in New England and is leaving an entire year in advance, before the season ends? He loves Ally but won't leave his wife? Meadow plays soccer now, not volleyball and hangs out with Heather Dante, Ally, and Deena, the coach's daughter but not Hunter? Melfi kind of blowing Tony's legitimate second-hand trauma over Ally's suicide attempt (which she'd before done in the past, not connected with the Coach affair)? For a serious topic such as suicide, it all seemed kind of thrown together. 

The problem with Junior has more depth. Carmela's light (ambiguous) teasing of Junior arouses only Tony's suspicion and in the end is harmless until she tells Tony what she knows. Tony may have kept his own teasing under the radar on the golf course but because Junior insulted him first, for making too much noise when Mikey was teeing off (and then suggesting Tony failed to make a play as a high school athlete because he was talking then, too), Tony, who becomes angry and can't keep himself from retaliating, goes full throttle into  cunnilingus-inspired mockery of Junior. Tony responds to being hurt by Junior by humiliating Junior in return; Junior responds to the humiliation by escalating what was until then knowledge he was willing to live with (Tony seeing a psychiatrist) to the suggestion of full on war. Junior brings Mikey up to speed in the locker room, knowing that Mikey has no choice but to support him:

Mikey: "Are you thinking of having him clipped?" 

Junior: "No one would slap my wrist if I did . . . " 

Things are about to get violent, all because these men cannot be seen to lose macho in the eyes of their peers (I give my lady oral) OR to be honest about their true feelings (what you just said was really hurtful). 

Italian Language: 

lecca fica = what Junior doesn't want to admit he does for Bobbi

Tony and Junior: the fighting words begin