Chasing It

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"Chasing It"
The Sopranos episode
Sopranos81chasingit.jpg
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 16
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Written by Matthew Weiner
Cinematography by Alik Sakharov
Production code 616
Original air date April 29, 2007
Running time 50 minutes
Guest actors

see below

Episode chronology
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"Remember When"
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"Walk Like a Man"
List of The Sopranos episodes

"Chasing It" is the eighty-first episode of the HBO television series The Sopranos. It is the fourth episode of the second half of the show's sixth season, the sixteenth episode of the season overall. It was written by executive producer Matthew Weiner and was directed by Tim Van Patten. It originally aired on April 29, 2007 and was watched by 6.76 million viewers upon its premiere.[1]

Starring[edit]

* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

Tony Soprano is gambling with increasing ferociousness and frequency. He hits a particularly unlucky gambling stretch and his continuing losses begin to impact his financial obligations as boss. Vito Spatafore's widow, Marie, turns to Tony for help with her son, Vito Jr., who has become markedly antisocial following his father's murder. Vito, now a Goth, desecrates a graveyard, hangs a cat, and constantly misbehaves at school. Having been previously told by her late husband that she "would be taken care of" in case of his death, Marie approaches Tony with a request for $100,000 to move her family to Maine, where she believes her family could escape the contempt of the neighborhood for Vito's homosexuality and her son could be resocialized. Tony, to Marie's disappointment, resists and suggests that Phil Leotardo (Marie's cousin, who murdered her husband and who now, Tony believes, should compensate for any fallout of his actions) should get involved. Tony meets Phil in a party where he is celebrating becoming the boss of the Lupertazzi crime family, complete with a private singing performance of Nancy Sinatra. Phil agrees to talk to Vito's son. Both Phil and Tony each have a man-to-man talk with Vito Jr. to try to make him stop his delinquency, but their attempts seem to be fruitless and neither of them is willing to help with the move financially. However, Tony changes his tune after Vito Jr. publicly defecates in the school shower after being teased and is expelled from school. Tony proclaims to his closest subordinates that he will pay for the relocation of the Spatafores and receives their commendations for his claimed goodwill; Tony also angrily adds he will "never forgive" Phil for killing his capo without his permission. However, Tony soon gambles away the $100,000 he had reserved for the family's move to Maine on a football bet. In a change of plans, he offers Marie to pay her to sign her son up to a boot camp program in Idaho instead. He plays down Marie's worries that corporal punishment is permitted in such places, assuring her not to "worry" about the expenses as he would pay the $18,000 for it. Marie takes her time swallowing the disappointing offer but ultimately accepts it. Vito Jr. is then soon promptly taken away from his home against his will by the boot camp's representatives, leaving his mother and sister in tears at the sight.

At the same time, Hesh Rabkin begins to regret lending $200,000 to Tony as a bridge loan. Tony only grudgingly and disrespectfully pays Hesh his points, often making a show of the act. Hesh, increasingly worried and suffering from hypertension, later discusses with his son-in-law, Eli Kaplan, his concerns that Tony will find it easier to kill Hesh than pay him back and that debts end up destroying friendships. In fact, two of Tony's crime family's members, Bobby Baccalieri and Carlo Gervasi, encourage Tony to stiff Hesh, but Tony angrily responds that if Carlo earned as well as Vito had, he would not be in the financial situation he is in and that he has to maintain his public image of a boss paying his dues.

One day, from his car, Tony spots and eyes Ahmed and Muhammad mingling with traditionally dressed Middle-Easterners in a street.

A.J. proposes to Blanca, and she initially accepts, but later surprises him when she ends the relationship during the Puerto Rican Day Parade, citing her uncertainty whether she loves him.

Carmela and her father Hugh finally sell their spec house to her cousin Brian Cammarata. During the final inspection, Carmela worries about the sub-standard building materials her father used, going as far to call him during the night when a rain storm causes her to question the wood for the studs they used, but Hugh is not worried saying he has used the same material before. When she tells Tony that she has cleared $600K on the house, he passionately informs her about a "sure thing" gambling tip and encourages her to bet some of "his half" on a football game, but Carmela refuses, disappointed Tony would claim ownership of her earnings, although he quickly apologizes, accepting the money as hers. However, when Tony's pegged team does indeed win the football game, he gets furious Carmela did not bet and this way lost on winning big. They get into a heated and violent argument in which Tony brings up Carmela stealing money from his bird feed container to make market investments some years ago and reminds her of his contribution to her spec house venture by making the building inspector ignore the construction regulation shortcomings, for all of which he never got any proceeds. Carmela storms off when Tony speaks malice when he says her spec house's poor roof will collapse and kill Brian's unborn child.

In a session with Dr. Melfi, she confronts Tony about his habit of missing their meetings and only seeing them as his "vacation" time or a way to deal with his panic attacks he used to have. She says she has tolerated this enough, and tells him to either participate in therapy diligently or quit it altogether. Tony assures her he will attend the sessions. On the subject of his gambling fever, Melfi questions Tony if what he is "chasing" is really the money or the "high from winning." Tony admits there would be no attraction to gamble if the practice did not carry the inherent danger of losing.

Tony approaches Carmela to once again apologize to her. They seem to reconcile, and she expresses she feels their family is constantly vulnerable to various threats which never stops worrying her. Tony says that, although he lately lost a lot of money gambling, he survived a serious life-threatening gunshot wound and therefore, in the bigger picture, is "up" in life.

After Hesh's girlfriend suddenly dies of an apparent stroke,[2] Tony finally brings the full sum of owed money to a distraught Hesh, expressing his condolences.

First appearance[edit]

  • Jason Gervasi: Son of DiMeo capo Carlo Gervasi. He is seen greeting his father getting out of a car.

Deceased[edit]

  • Renata, girlfriend of Hesh Rabkin. Her cause of death is not revealed, but Hesh mentioned she was having migraines. Her death is attributed to a stroke in the official HBO website recap of the episode.

Final appearances[edit]

"Chasing It" marks the final appearances in the series of these longtime recurring characters:

Title reference[edit]

  • The title refers to Tony's gambling addiction. "Chasing the vig" is common parlance in gambling vernacular for when one loses a bet(s) and then makes further wagers in order to either make up for the losses and/or keep up with any loan interest (the vig) accrued.
  • It could also refer to Hesh having to actively look for Tony's debt money.
  • It could also refer to the tendency of Tony to chase the thrill of winning in dangerous activities, as hypothesized by Dr. Melfi.

Production[edit]

  • Max Casella (Benny Fazio) is promoted to the main cast of the series and billed in the opening credits but only for this episode.
  • The character of Vito Spatafore Jr. was recast for this episode with Brandon Hannan replacing Frank Borrelli.
  • John Cenatiempo, a stuntman on The Sopranos since its first season, joins the ranks of show's actors as well, appearing as a mostly background Soprano crime family mobster character Anthony Maffei, beginning with this episode.
  • This episode in unique in that it almost throughout its entirety employs the shaky camera style, with the exception of Dr. Melfi's scenes and scenes in Tony's car. The style may represent the episode's theme of Tony's feverish gambling and losing spree.
  • The casino scenes were filmed at Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel and Casino.
  • The headstone that Vito Jr. knocks over in the cemetery is for a "David M. Hackel". Episode writer Matthew Weiner worked for David Hackel as a writer for the sitcom Becker.[3]
  • The harmonica player in Sinatra's band is Southside Johnny Lyon, an underground legend of New Jersey's music scene. Notably, he has worked extensively with Little Steven Van Zandt, who portrays the character of Silvio Dante. Van Zandt has written, produced and performed on four of Lyon's albums and was a founding member of his band, the Asbury Jukes, before leaving to join Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Both Springsteen and Van Zandt appear on the Asbury Jukes' Better Days album, on the song "It's Been a Long Time".
  • Blanca breaks up with A.J. at the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade, which is held every year in June. However, Tony wagers on several NFL football games when the NFL season (including preseason) takes place from August to February. Moreover, due to the format of the NFL schedule, two of the games he bets on, Buffalo Bills-Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins-Philadelphia Eagles, cannot take place in the same season--both Miami and Buffalo play in the AFC East and would therefore play their inter-conference NFC games against teams from a single division, but Philadelphia is part of the NFC East and Tampa Bay the NFC South.
  • The Tampa Bay-Buffalo football game being watched at the Bing that Tony loses money on is actually footage from the film The Replacements.

Connections to prior episodes[edit]

  • While Tony lectures Vito Jr., he tells him he "goes about in pity for himself", which was the phrase he became intrigued with while in the hospital, and the same thing he said to Artie Bucco in the Season 6, Part I episode "Luxury Lounge"
  • "Johnny Boy" Soprano once, after he cut off Satriale's (who owed him money) finger, told Tony to never ever gamble for the debts could get a man into serious trouble. (A flashback in the Season 3 episode "Fortunate Son")
  • Tony brings up to Carmela she stole money from his bird feed stashes, which happened in the Season 4 episode "Mergers and Acquisitions."
  • Tony also mentions her about his leaning on her spec house building inspector ("Kaisha").
  • The ornament that Carmela throws at Tony and smashes against the wall is the Lladró figurine that she tells A.J. and his girlfriend is worth $3,000 in the Season 4 episode "Everybody Hurts".
  • Tony tries to give Hesh a cap from Cleaver, which was Christopher's movie from "Stage 5".

Other cultural and historical references[edit]

  • Silvio Dante is seen reading a newspaper with an advertisement for Filene's Basement.
  • The horse race Tony lost big on in Atlantic City was portrayed as being simulcast from Batavia Downs.
  • Christopher says Vito Jr. is probably planning another Columbine.
  • When Tony and Bobby drop by to take him for a ride, Hesh lies and tells Tony he was watching a piece on the Hezbollah on CNN.
  • The Twilight Zone episode that Carlo attempts to explain to Tony is entitled "A Nice Place to Visit." In that episode, a dead gangster, Rocky Valentine, finds himself unable to lose when gambling and able to have any woman or any other pleasure he desires.
  • Tony loses an NBA wager when Jerry Stackhouse hits a buzzer beater.
  • When Tony switches channels from the basketball game he was betting on as Carmela comes into the bedroom, the TV station shows a clip of then-president George W. Bush meeting the visiting Saudi king.

Music[edit]

  • Nancy Sinatra sings "Bossman", a track off her 2004 album Nancy Sinatra, to a gathering of the New York and New Jersey families celebrating Phil Leotardo becoming boss.
  • The song played in the Bada Bing! during the Buffalo-Buccaneers game is "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation.
  • The guitar instrumental "Cavatina" is playing in the restaurant when A.J. proposes to Blanca.
  • The music A.J. listens to in his car, while driving to the Puerto Rican parade day, is "Rompe" by Daddy Yankee.
  • The music heard in the background when Blanca breaks up with A.J. is an instrumental version of Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca".
  • Song playing when Tony is driving in the Escalade is Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk."
  • When Tony is in the back room of the Bing, talking to Silvio about Vito, Jr., "The Peppermint Twist" (1961) is playing. It is by Joey Dee & The Starlighters (from New Jersey).
  • The song played over the end credits is "Goin' Down Slow" by Howlin' Wolf.

References[edit]

External links[edit]