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Some suburban households have two cars. Some have two houses. But Tony Soprano has two families. This could be why the FBI is going to such lengths to wiretap his home. Why the son of his dear late friend Jackie Aprile is causing him such agita.
Why a Russian housekeeper is searching for her missing leg. Why his son is vandalizing school property and his daughter is getting her heart broken. Why his wife Carmela is both consulting a psychiatrist and confessing to a priest. And it's also why Tony Soprano is still seeing Dr. Melfi for his anxiety attacks. It isn't easy heading-up the mob in New Jersey. But that's what puts dinner on the table for the two families of Tony Soprano.
01 - Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood
Season Three opens with the Sopranos going about the daily activities of a typical upwardly mobile American family: Anthony, Jr. is skateboarding, smoking cigarettes and denigrating school authority. Carmela is taking tennis lessons. Meadow is adjusting to her first semester at Columbia and Tony is winning the bread that makes it all possible. They're a typical family, but with one major difference: their every move is being watched by the FBI.
The Feds have stepped up their efforts to build a RICO case against Tony, even though they no longer have the services of Cooperating Witness 16, AKA Pussy Bonpensiero. Pussy is, as Agent Lipari delicately puts it, "probably compost," the Bureau is going to have to find some other way to get close to Tony. So they get a special warrant to bug the Sopranos' basement, hoping to listen in on any business Tony might conduct there.
While the FBI is figuring out how to install a covert listening device in Tony's basement, Tony is trying to sort out a sticky situation of his own. Patsy Parisi, twin brother of the deceased Philly Parisi, may have figured out that his brother became deceased on Tony's order. Patsy's been behaving erratically, drinking a lot and telling people that he knows who killed Philly. He even showed up one afternoon drunk - in Tony's backyard. Unseen by Tony, Patsy pointed a gun at him, urinated in the swimming pool and then left. While Tony would prefer not to have to give Patsy the same treatment he gave his brother, Paulie advises him, "we always have the option."
Meanwhile, after a few setbacks, the FBI finally manages to get a bugged lamp installed in Tony's basement. So, now that they can eavesdrop on his inner sanctum, here's what the Feds have learned about New Jersey's most notorious crime boss: he needs to steady his dental hygiene and get more roughage in his diet.
Not a lot of information, but from little acorns...
02 - Proshai, Livushka
Tony's concerns that his mother will rat him out to the feds expire when she, literally, does. Ignoring Livia's wish not to have a funeral, Janice arrives from Seattle to arrange for one with all the trimmings. Meanwhile, Meadow's college boyfriend Noah - a film buff of Jewish/African-American heritage - learns that James Cagney in The Public Enemy has got nothing on Tony Soprano.
03 - Fortunate Son
Christopher finds that being a "made" man isn't all it's cracked up to be, as he's forced to take part in a small-time college heist with Jackie Aprile, Jr. to cover his debts to Paulie. Janice moves into her mother's house, where she soon gets a leg up on Livia's former housekeeper, Svetlana, to whom Livia has bequeathed a valuable record collection. Tony and Dr. Melfi probe into the meat of his anxiety attacks, Meadow continues to be peeved over her father's "talk" with Noah, and Anthony Jr. uncovers his hidden leadership qualities on the gridiron.
04 - Employee of the Month
"My mother's dead and I haven't had a panic attack since then."
That's Tony's report to Dr. Melfi. But while Tony may think he's in the express lane to recovery, Melfi knows better. "Are you happy?" she asks. When there's no answer forthcoming, Melfi suggests it's time to bring Carmela into Tony's sessions to provide her perspective on his progress.
Later, Melfi meets with Dr. Kupferberg, and faces her own unhappiness - about her relationship with Tony. Still conflicted over whether she should continue to treat him Melfi confides, "I've let myself be charmed by a sociopath." She also slips up and reveals Tony's identity. Dr. Kupferberg's rejoinder is blunt: it's time for her to cut Tony loose and Melfi doesn't have to look too deep inside herself to see he's probably right.
On the other side of town, Janice is doing some in-depth searching of her own. Still convinced that Livia left behind a mother lode somewhere in her house, Janice has taken to scouring the place with a metal detector. Tony stops by one day just long enough to tell her she'd better quit looking for buried treasure and give Svetlana her leg back. Don't mess with the Russians, Janice," he tells her, "that's all I'm gonna say."
But Tony can't waste time on his big sister's latest delusion-of-the-week. New busines demands his attention. Tony's gratified to learn that a local waterfront real estate project in which he's involved - that includes a new Museum of Science and Trucking - is going to receive twenty-five million in state and federal funding. But he's less sanguine about another New Jersey development: Johnny Sack has moved into the Garden State. Johnny assures Tony that he's only relocating so his wife can be closer to her sisters, Tony can't help but wonder whether the New York Boss wants to be closer to the twenty-five million.
And speaking of developments, Ralph Cifaretto is turning into a first-class headache. He's being unnecessarily violent and has started letting Jackie Junior accompany him on collections - against Tony's express orders. As a result, Tony installs Gigi Ceston capo of the Aprile crew instead of Ralph. When Ralph protests, reminding Tony, "I ate at your house," Tony reminds him back that that was pleasure and "this is business."
Meanwhile, Janice finds out that Tony's warning about the Russians was disconcertingly apt. Two large émigrés from the land of Lenin break into Livia's house and demand Svetlana's leg. Janice is defiant at first, but three broken ribs later, she retrieves the leg from a bowling alley locker and hands it over. When Tony picks her up later in a hospital emergency room, Janice experiences an epiphany: by committing grand theft prosthetic, she's sunk to an all-time low. There's only one way out of the depths, she tells Tony: from now on she's going to devote her life to God.
Janice isn't the only woman in Tony's life to suffer violence this week. One evening, while getting into her car, Dr. Melfi is jumped by a solitary young man. He drags her into a stairwell and rapes her. Although Melfi can positively identify the perpetrator, because of a technicality, the police let him go. Later she tells Dr. Kupferberg that she fantasizes about siccing Tony on her attacker, admitting, "there's a certain satisfaction knowing I could have that asshole squashed like a bug if I wanted."
In her next session with Tony, Melfi has her chance. Tony can tell that something is troubling her, and when he offers to start seeing a behaviorist, Melfi breaks down weeping. Tony attempts to console her, asking, "Is there something you want to say?" and despite what she confessed to Kupferberg, despite knowing that Tony could mete out the punishment the legal system couldn't, Melfi answers in one clear syllable:
05 - Another Toothpick
Bobby "Bacala" Baccilieri, Sr. comes out of retirement to deal with a young hothead named Mustang Sally - much to the chagrin of his son and Uncle Junior. At Christopher's insistance, Adriana leaves her job at Nuovo Vesuvio, leaving Artie Bucco to face up to his true feelings about her and wife Charmaine Bucco. Carmela takes a more active role in Tony's therapy. Tony turns to Newark Assemblyman Zellman to "fix" a speeding ticket he got from a cop who wouldn't be bought. And Meadow inadvertently "neutralizes" the FBI's Soprano wiretap.
06 - University
One day Tony's sitting in the Bada Bing when one of the dancers approaches him. Her name's Tracee and she's baked him a loaf of date bread, a thank you for some advice he gave her about her son. Taken aback, Tony explains - gently but firmly - that her gift is inappropriate. "What we have is an employer/employee relationship," he tells her Silvio, intervening, is more direct. "Let's go, Betty Crocker," he says as he shoos Tracee away from the Boss.
What's with this girl? She's a twenty-year-old mother who dances naked for a living, but she acts like some kind of Brady Bunch wannabe. Case in point, Tracee borrows three G's from Silvio - for braces, of all things. "Usually it's fake tits they want," Silvio shrugs. And despite Tony's clarification of their relationship, Tracee still follows him around, asking "to be friends." But Tony has enough trouble figuring out how to be a father to his own flesh and blood daughter; he can't play papa for an emotionally needy pole dancer, too.
Currently, however, the flesh and blood daughter won't give Tony the time of day. Meadow is still seeing Noah; in fact, their relationship has escalated to a level required to use condoms. Fortunately, Tony is unaware of this new development. But when Carmela asks Meadow whether she's in love with Noah, she cryptically replies, "At this point, I'd better be"
It might be better if she weren't. Because not long after that, while Meadow and Noah are studying in the library, he casually breaks up with her. "You're too negative," he informs her, and goes back to his book. Meadow takes the news calmly, but then shows up at home, slamming doors and spewing invective at everyone who crosses her path.
Meanwhile, Tracee is MIA from the Bada Bing. It turns out that she's pregnant and the father is none other than Ralph Cifaretto. For three days she's been holed up in Ralph's apartment, playing him with Fresca, cocaine and Pop Tarts in an attempt to demonstrate her homemaking skills. But when Silvio shows up to drag her - by her hair - back to the Bada Bing, Ralph only stands by and laughs.
Later, at a party at the Bing, Tracee retaliates by insulting Ralph in front of a roomful of made guys - including his immediate superior, Gigi. Then she goes outside for a cigarette, Ralph right behind her. Seemingly contrite, Ralph assures Tracee that he wants to raise their child. But then he drops the act and tells her that if the baby's a girl, "she can grow up to be a cock-sucking slob like her mother." Hurt and furious, Tracee makes a few swipes at Ralph, who takes it in stride - until she draws blood. In a brutally thorough beating, Ralph hammers Tracee with his fists and then rejoins the party, leaving her lifeless body in the parking lot.
Inside, Ralph tells everyone that Tracee "slipped." But when Tony sees her, his order to Paulie is simple: "Go get him." When Ralph emerges, Tony backs him against a fence and puts it on the line, "You disrespect this place...you don't think...that's the reason you were passed over."
At this point, Ralph's smartest move would have been to keep his mouth shut. But Ralph Cifaretto, ever the wise ass, looks Tony directly in the eye and says: "Is it my fault she such a clutz?"
And that's when Tony does something no made guy is ever supposed to do to another made guy and hits him. And hits him. And hits him - launching Ralph into the chain link and leaving him spitting blood. Should Tony have restrained himself? With characteristic understatement Paulie assures his Boss:
"He was way out of line."
07 - Second Opinion
"SOPRANO WINS FREEDOM, INDICTS NEPHEW - STAR WITNESS WEDS ANGIE DICKINSON"
Is that headline for real?
Did Junior actually rat Tony out and hook up with Police Woman?
No, no and not in this universe.
But while undergoing surgery for his stomach cancer, Junior did have some very interesting dreams. In addition to the nuptials, the FBI offered him a complete cure for his cancer - if he'd testify against Tony. And where was Tony while Junior's subconscious was ratting him out? He was dutifully sitting in the waiting room - with Bobby Bacala and three of Junior's cardigan-wearing cronies - worried sick.
Thankfully, Junior comes through the operation with flying colors. According to his surgeon, Dr. John Kennedy, "The news is all good." Tony is grateful, but when he tries to express that gratitude to the good doctor, he's administered a big dose of atttitude: Kennedy barely listens to him and walks away.
But who's got time to worry about some snotty surgeon? Tony's got human resource issues demanding his attention. Paulie's breaking the world's record for breaking Christopher's balls: he loses money to Christopher playing pool, then refuses to pay up. Then he made Christopher strip naked to prove he's not wearing a wire. And to top it off, he showed up at Christopher and Adriana's apartment at two A.M. to search for money he thinks Christopher is holding out on him.
In addition to the inter-staff squabbles, Tony also has to deal with Angie Bonpensiero. Since Pussy's disappearance, Angie has been receiving a stipend from Tony; lately she's been hinting she needs more. She claims Cocoa, her osteoporotic French poodle, needs an operation, to the tune of $1,200. But when Tony goes to see Angie he finds her with a healthy-looking Cocoa and a brand new Cadillac. After taking a baseball bat to the Cadillac's windshield, Tony warns Angie against any further shakedown attempts: "Think of that fat fuck husband of yours and what he did to you. Not me, him."
It sounds like Tony still has some Pussy issues to work out. Unfortunately, he's been skipping therapy. When Carmela goes to the session alone, Dr. Melfi can't help but notice that Carmela is seriously depressed. Melfi would like to help Carmela, but tells her, "... your husband is my patient." So she refers Carmela to a colleague, Dr. Sig Krakower. Carmela sees Dr. Krakower, expecting him to advise her on how to cope with Tony. But Krakower's advice regarding Tony is as unexpected as it is blunt: leave him. "You'll never be able to feel good about yourself," Krakower tells her, "never be able to quell the feelings of guilt and shame....as you're his accomplice." While Carmela sits in stunned silence, Krakower adds for good measure, "One thing you can never say ...that you haven't been told."
And now Junior's not feeling so great either. It turns out that Dr. Kennedy may not have gotten all of the tumor. But before his uncle submits to the knife again, Tony insists he get a second opinion. Immediately suspicious of his nephew's motives, Junior wonders whether Tony just wants him to have whatever treatment will get him out of the way sooner. But he reluctantly agrees and ends up having chemotherapy. Despite this, Junior still worships Dr. Kennedy, telling Tony, "He has the hands of an angel. And don't forget his name." Tony takes a more jaundiced view of Junior's hero: "All the Micks named their kids that after he was killed." Nonetheless, Junior keeps trying to contact Kennedy, even though the heavenly-handed doctor won't return his - or Tony's - calls. Annoyed, Tony has Furio assist him in persuading the doctor to be more attentive. To Junior's delight, Dr. Kennedy soon pays him a personal visit and even gives him his home phone number.
So now that he's been assured he's getting the right treatment, Junior ought to be able to sleep at night. The question is, when he does, will he have the dream about Angie Dickinson...
...or the one where he hands Tony to the Feds?
08 - He Is Risen
It's Thanksgiving week and the only thing frostier than Tony's frozen turkey is his relationship with Ralph Cifaretto.
Ralph can't get over the fact that Tony hit him. By so doing, Tony violated one of the biggest taboos of this thing of ours: a made man never hits another made man. "Rules are rules," says Ralphie, and besides, he reasons, "all this over some dead whore?" As Ralph sees it, Tony owes him an apology, at the very least. "The money I put in his pocket...he should hit his knees."
But if Tony's going to hit anything, it's not going to be his knees. "He's lucky I didn't put one in his fuckin' head," he tells Silvio, "He disrespected the Bing." "So he's barred from the place," Silvio shrugs. But then Tony leans in and reveals the real source of his lingering animosity: "He bashed that poor kid's brains in." Tony can't forget Tracee - the "poor kid" who reminds him more than a little bit of his own daughter. Whatever his reasons for hitting Ralph, Silvio sternly advises Tony that he has two choices: "Make him disappear or make nice."
And speaking of making nice, Meadow's been doing just that with none other than Jackie Aprile, Junior. Meadow and Jackie, Jr. ran into each other at a frat party and since then have been sharing saliva and hits of Ecstasy. It's not lost on Rosalie Aprile that her son is wooing Carmela and Tony's daughter - in fact, she's thrilled. "Can you imagine the beautiful children those two would make?" she asks Carmela. But when Carmela tries to talk to Tony about the budding romance, he only stares at a TV commercial for Mercedes Benz. "I'm thinkin' of getting one of those," he tells Carmela.
Why the sudden urge to go car shopping? It turns out that what Tony's jonesing for isn't fine German engineering; it's a fine Mercedes sales rep named Gloria Trillo. Tony ran into her in Dr. Melfi's waiting room and couldn't help but notice her sales binder - and her legs. Gloria's beautiful and flirtatious, and Tony decides to find her, eventually showing up at her dealership. "Mind if I take it for a test drive?" he asks her. "You have to be accompanied by a sales rep," she replies. And so they take a spin that ends up between the sheets on the Stugots.
But what about Ralphie?
As it turns out, the universe solves that problem for Tony - unfortunately at Gigi Gestone's expense. When Gigi dies suddenly from a heart attack while on the toilet, his demise paves the way for a resolution. Tony awards the captaincy of Gigi's crew to Ralphie, thereby restoring peace to the Family.
For the time being, anyway.
09 - The Telltale Moozadell
Romance is in the air in New Jersey.
Meadow and Jackie Junior are now dating openly, and while Rosalie Aprile and Tony are delighted, Carmela can't help having reservations. Even though Jackie is every parent's dream suitor - he's polite, he gives A.J. football tips, he cleans their garage - Carmela is concerned that in coming home so often, Meadow's missing out on the college experience. "She should be spending her spare time going to the Museum of Modern Art, not watching T.V. at Rosalie Aprile's," Carmela tells Tony. But Tony's just relieved that Meadow's no longer with Noah. At least, Tony says, referring to Jackie, "He's one of us."
But if Meadow's love life gives Carmela agita, it's probably a good thing she doesn't know about Tony's. His affair with Gloria Trillo is revving up faster than the cars she peddles. To say Gloria's not like any other of Tony's goomahs is an understatement: she's smart and independent, and her idea of a fun date is having sex in the snake house at the Bronx Zoo. Tony's so besotted with Gloria that he's even willing to overlook the fact that she wears a Tibetan talisman and meditates. The question is, would he be so infatuated if he knew that the reason Gloria sees Dr. Melfi is she attempted suicide after the breakup of her last relationship?
But Tony and Carmela have a more immediate concern than Gloria's romantic traumas, namely, their son. A.J. and some friends broke into their school. They started out just swimming and eating pizza, but ended up trashing the trophy case and throwing furniture into the pool. Police were able to locate the perps through trace evidence - their pizza was a custom job, with extra mozzarella - and Tony and Carmela are called to the Verbum Dei principal's office. To their surprise they're told that A.J. will be allowed to stay in school and on the football team, and that Tony and Carmela should punish him as they see fit. When they face an unrepentant A.J., both Tony and Carmela can't help wondering why their son isn't more like Jackie Junior.
But Jackie may not be so wonderful after all. What Tony and Carmela don't know is that instead of going to classes, Jackie's setting up his own crew. He offers protection to Matush, a dealer who wants to sell Ecstasy at a new club called Crazy Horse. But Crazy Horse is managed by Adriana and owned by Christopher and Furio. "Ecstasy is federal turf," Christopher tells Jackie, "I don't want it in my club." Despite Christopher's warning, Jackie gives Matush the go-ahead to do business in the club's parking lot. When Furio catches him, Matush ends up in the hospital - in traction and with his jaw wired shut. After seeing Furio's handiwork up close, Jackie realizes he needs to get serious about his chosen profession. So he goes to Ralph, telling him, "I need a piece." Ralph, in a generous mood, makes Jackie a gift of a .38.
Not long after that, Tony drops by the casino above Mancuso Insurance to find Jackie - the polite young man who dates his daughter, who assured him he's getting A's in pre-med courses, who promised him he'd do what his late father wanted - sitting at the blackjack table. Tony greets the Godfather wannabe warmly, then grabs him by the neck and tells him he never wants to see him there again. Before letting him go, Tony gives Jackie a warning as serious as it is succinct: "Smarten up."
Whether Jackie was paying attention remains to be seen.
10 - To Save Us All From Satan's Power
A somnolent visit with the ghosts of Christmas past lands Tony back on Melfi's couch. Janice decides to host Christmas dinner - if she can find time off from her music making with sleepy boyfriend Aaron. Silvio has a bad dream about some missing Jarlsberg cheese and a dirty rat. With the annual pork-store holiday party approaching, Bacala reluctantly agrees to don the Santa suit that Pussy used to wear. Tony and Furio have a holiday surprise in store for Igor, the Russian who roughed up Janice. On Christmas day, Jackie Jr. arrives with a Xmas gift for Meadow, who in turn gives Tony a gift he can't refuse - but wishes he could.
11 - Pine Barrens
It started out simple.
Laid low by a virus, Silvio can't make a collection from a Russian named Valery. So Tony tells Paulie to do it. Although he'd promised his mother he'd accompany her to the Social Security Office, Paulie grabs Christopher and heads for the Russian's. All they have to do is knock on the door, get the money and go.
But when they get there, they find that in addition to the money, Valery's carrying a big load of attitude - which Paulie only exacerbates by cracking wise about rubles and Russian toilet practices. When Valery responds with an unprintable epithet, a nasty, sloppy brawl erupts; it eventually culminates into Paulie throttling the Russian with a floor lamp.
Christopher is understandably alarmed that Paulie's turned a routine collection into a hit. But Paulie, unruffled, says they'll simply bury the expired expatriate in the South Jersey Pine Barrens. "Twenty minutes from A.C.," he tells Christopher, "We'll get a room...play a little blackjack...the day won't be a total loss." But when they get to the woods and open the trunk they find something they weren't counting on: Valery's still alive. Not to worry, Paulie again assures Christopher; since the Russian is still respiring, he can dig his own grave. But unbeknownst to Paulie and Christopher, Valery is a former Russian army commando. With practiced efficiency, Valery uses the shovel to hit Christopher on the head, then Paulie in the groin; then he runs into the woods. A stunned Paulie and profusely bleeding Christopher go after him, guns blazing. But despite being hit - in the head, no less - by one of Paulie's shots, Valery manages to get away. And it turns out Valery's not the only thing Paulie and Christopher have lost: they can't find their way back to the car.
At least they have a cell phone. But when they call Tony, he, to put it mildly, is not amused. Valery works for Slava - the Russian who launders Tony's money - and so, Tony warns Paulie, "This guy cannot come back to tell this story." Tony then hangs up, leaving Paulie and Christopher to solve the problem on their own.
Tony, unfortunately, has his own problem to handle. Gloria Trillo, the woman Tony told Melfi makes him feel better than "your Prozac and therapy bullshit combined," is turning out to be less perfect than he'd thought. er moods turn on a dime and when she's feeling neglected she throws things, notably the London broil that smacks Tony square on the head. It started so easy and uncomplicated - what's with unstable women and meat, anyway?
And Tony's relationship isn't the only one going south; Meadow's is, too. One night, when Jackie tells her he's having his mother's car inspected, she catches him with a woman who is definitely not a mechanic. Back at her dorm, Meadow's girlfriends counsel her to forget him. "He's a drip," they tell her. And although she defends him, saying, "You don't know what it's like to grow up where we did," Meadow can't help thinking that maybe her friends are right.
Meanwhile, back in the Pine Barrens, the Outward Bound experience is not going well for Paulie and Christopher. They still haven't found Valery - dead or alive - or the car. They spend the night in an abandoned van, dining on ketchup packets and blaming each other for their predicament. Fortunately the next morning Tony and Bobby Baccala locate their half-frozen comrades and head back to civilization. On the way, Tony lets Paulie know the consequences of his sloppiness: "Let's be clear on this right now...he's your problem, not mine...you take the heat...you pay the price." Paulie considers, then replies, "Fine."
12 - Amour Fou
"We're like leather and lace."
That's how Tony's describes his relationship with Gloria to Dr. Melfi. He tells her that while Gloria is dark and dangerous and quite possibly a "full-blown loopty-loo," he just can't stay away from her.
"Amour fou," Melfi replies. That's French for "crazy love," she tells Tony - love that'all-consuming. But no matter whether you quote the French or Stevie Nicks, it all boiling down to one thing: Tony's got it bad...and it's about to get worse.
One day, Carmela is at Globe Mercedes, having some work done on her wagon. Since the courtesy van isn't available to give her a ride home, a member of the sales staff - a nice young woman named Trillo - offers her a lift. So Carmela ends up being chauffeured by, and chatting amiably with, the Other Woman. Gloria compounds her transgression a few days later by phoning Carmela to chat about a new car. Gloria sweetly suggests, "Maybe your husband will treat you (to one)." What she doesn't realize is that Carmela's husband is sitting right next to her, and when he finds out who called, he's not in the mood to dole out treats.
Seething, Tony tracks down Gloria and tells her he never wants to see her again. But later when she phones him, sobbing and hysterical, Tony ends up at her house. Not surprisingly, they start to argue. Tony decides he's had enough and turns to leave, and that's when Gloria makes a huge mistake: she threatens to go to Carmela.
Few people have experienced the full force of Tony Soprano's anger and Gloria finds herself suddenly among the elite. In a moment of simultaneous epiphany and rage, Tony realizes that Gloria's self-pity and vindictiveness are exactly like Livia's. Screaming, "I didn't just meet you, I've known you my whole fucking life!" Tony chases Gloria, overturning furniture and eventually hurling her to the floor. With Tony's hands almost crushing her windpipe, Gloria has just one thing to say to him: "Kill me."
But he doesn't. ony leaves her there and has Patsy Parisi give her a message later. While taking a test drive, Patsy pulls a gun on Gloria and tells her to stay away from the Sopranos, "my face will be the last one you'll see. Not Tony's." In case she needs further clarification, he adds, "It won't be cinematic."
Carmela, meanwhile, has her own concerns. She hasn't been feeling well, physically or spiritually. While her physical ailment is quickly diagnosed as a slight thyroid imbalance, her spiritual wound is more difficult to salve. She sees a new priest, Father Obosi, who counsels her to live off what's earned by "the good part" of Tony. Later, when Carmela and her gal pals - Rosalie Aprile, Angie Bonpensiero and Gabriella Dante - meet for lunch, they all agree they should be more self-sufficient. Shortly thereafter, Carmela stops wearing the sapphire ring Tony gave her and starts reading about the real estate license exam.
Carmela's not the only one thinking about self-improvement. Jackie, Junior - whose relationship with Meadow is "SO over" - decides to make his mark on the world by robbing Gene Pontecorvo's card game. He convinces his buddies that the score will earn them respect. But when they do the job, everything goes horribly wrong. Christopher and Furio are there. Flustered, they kill the card dealer and shoot Furio in the leg. Their get-away driver leaves them. Jackie manages to escape, but Christopher wants to find him and kill him right away. When Tony tells him no, Christopher angrily accuses him of being a hypocrite who'll let Jackie get away with shooting a made man.
But Tony's got another plan. Since Gene is part of Ralphie's crew, the robbed game was officially Ralph's. And Jackie and his cohorts claimed to be "with Ralph." So Tony declares that Jackie's fate is Ralph's to decide. So, will Ralph let Jackie's string play out a little longer?
Or will he snip it off?
13 - Army of One
Yet another academic misstep by AJ forces his parents to seriously contemplate a military-school alternative. Although Tony orders Ralph to deal personally with the Jackie, Jr. situation, he seems to take Ralph's side in a money dispute with Paulie. Once again, the family gathers in Artie Bucco's restaurant, where Meadow is forced to reflect on what it means to live, and die, in the Soprano family.
Jackie Junior is in hiding and sees only one way out: Tony. "You gotta help," he says into the phone between sobs, "For my dad, if not for me." But Tony's been down this road before and doesn't care to make the trip again. "He's been dead two years, " he replies, "In fact, the expiration date was last week on all your bullshit with that."