Boca (Season 1, Episode 9, The Sopranos)

2 BocaDirected by Andy Wolk

Written by Jason Cahill, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess

“Who’s worse?” Artie asks Charmaine, “Tony Soprano or that child molesting f…?”

Boca goes back and forth between a story centered on Junior and the intimate details of his relationship with Roberta “Bobbi” Sanfillipo and the discovery that Meadow’s soccer coach is having a sexual relationship with Meadow’s friend Ally Vandermeed.  I’m not going to spend much time on the Coach Hauser/Ally story because there is such a great write up on this over at AV Club (link below).

1 Boca“You discuss this with anyone, we’re going to go ten rounds.”

There have been three episodes across which the secret of Tony seeing a psychiatrist has been unfolded.  This patience with plot is one of the things that make  watching The Sopranos so rewarding.  Most shows would have the secret exposed and the subsequent fallout all take place within an hour.

In Down Neck we see Livia’s reaction with A.J.   She’s horrified that Tony is likely talking about her when he sees his psychiatrist – which is interesting, for all the “I gave my life to my children on a silver platter” she knows she’s been a bad mother.

In The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti, Livia shares her discovery with Junior, who is stunned by the news.  Junior’s reaction is that of a mobster who knows the rules, and even admitting anxiety or depression (as we see when Christopher and Tony are talking in the car) let alone engaging in therapy is against the rules.

We are given more background on these characters in Boca.  As a careful watcher, it’s more fascinating to discover that Junior’s relationship with Roberta has been going on for 16 years than what is involved in their sex life.  Junior is made more likeable as he defends Roberta during family dinner at the Sopranos, “Livia, I warned you – stata zit [shut up]!  Bobbi is a sweet, sweet girl.”  And while this evokes giggles from Carmela, we see how fond Junior is of Roberta.

Later that night in bed, Tony asks Carmela what was going on between her and Junior.  We get a glimpse of what their marriage was probably like in better days, when they laugh and Tony continues to tickle her until she spills the beans.  But, as so often happens in The Sopranos, the good feelings turn to sniping and once again there is only antagonism between loved ones.

Echoes

Speaking of sniping, first Junior endures Carmela’s comments at the dinner table and then gets more of the same, albeit a lot meaner and more vulgar, from Tony on the golf course.  First it begins with Tony asking Junior about Boca and Mikey Palmice asking for quiet while he tees off.  Tony keeps talking and Junior comes back with, “Will you let the man tee off, you yap worse than six barbers.  If you’d have shut up during that game against Mountain Lakes you wouldn’t have missed that fucking fly ball.  I was embarrassed to face my friends.”

There’s humor in the fact that what gets under Tony’s skin is a reference to his high school playing days (he does mention to Dr. Melfi in the pilot how Junior’s criticism was once shared in front of his girl cousins and damaged his self esteem).  He launches in to a series of thinly veiled taunts referencing muff, sushi, and tuna.

This makes Junior so furious that later in the club locker room he tells Mikey that something has to be done.  Mikey incredulously asks if he’s talking about clipping Tony.  Junior responds that no one would slap his wrist if he did.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Even if Don Hauser hadn’t taken advantage of Ally, he’d still be a loathsome human being, so I particularly enjoyed his encounter with Paulie.  Paulie shows up in a brown jogging suit and white shoes (I think he wears those white shoes in every season, not all the time, but most of the time) and is completely in the stone cold gangster mode.

To his left, two poor flunkies hold the large screen TV ‘friends from the Bada Bing’ have sent over in an effort to persuade Coach Hauser to stay at Verbum Dei.

He tries to reason with Paulie explaining that he’s already signed with the University of Rhode Island and nothing can be done at this point.  When Paulie refuses to do anything but leave the TV, and increasingly agitated Hauser says, “Tell your friends I know all about them.”  Paulie, confident of every word, eyes dead, says very calmy, “If you did, you’d do what they want.”  Hauser surprisingly feels safe enough to say, “Let me tell you something Guido –“ And, Paulie comes back with a deadpan, “My name is Clarence” (which I found incredibly funny).  Paulie and flunkies leave the TV in Hauser’s drive, and leave to shrieks of “Don Hauser will not be intimidated!”

3 BocaPoor You

In Boca, Silvio Dante is given some great costumes (wife beater t-shirt at the soccer game, snazzy golf hat) and some great lines.

He’s the nightmare sports parent at the soccer game, screaming at the referee and yelling to his daughter on the field that he’ll give her $100 for a goal, he’s the veiled threat who accompanies Artie to encourage Coach Hauser to forget about the University of Rhode Island and stay at Verbum Dei only to become, a few days later, the outraged hit man itching to give Coach Hauser an after school special,

I have always felt that the character of Silvio Dante is not as complete or developed as the other members of the Soprano crew.  We’re given a lot of little details about Silvio and he figures largely in the action of plot lines – especially in the fifth season’s Long Term Parking, but he’s never really given a story in the way Christopher, Paulie, and others are.

Quotes

“Heather Dante!  One hundred bucks for a goal!”  Silvio Dante

“It’s quite the lifestyle you have here.”  Coach Hauser

“Life is putting Prozac to the test.”  Tony Soprano

“Well she better not throw any artichokes at me!”  Livia Soprano

“That’s why I’ve got six truck loads of bootleg Polident coming in.”  Tony Soprano

“It wasn’t like friggin’ Cobain – it was just a little suicidal gesture!”  Tony Soprano

“I’ll give him a real after school special.”  Silvio Dante

“You’re five fucking time zones behind your own ass!”  Silvio Dante

“What am I, a swami?” Junior Soprano

“Will you let the man tee off?  You yap worse than six barbers!”  Junior Soprano

Further reading:

AV Club http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-legend-of-tennessee-moltisantiboca,42532/

Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boca_(The_Sopranos_episode)

Watch along with me (affiliate link):

The Sopranos: The Complete First Season

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