University (The Sopranos)
|The Sopranos episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Allen Coulter|
|Cinematography by||Alik Sakharov|
|Original air date||April 1, 2001|
|Running time||49 minutes|
"University" is the thirty-second episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the sixth of the show's third season. The teleplay was written by Terence Winter and Salvatore J. Stabile from a story idea by David Chase, Terence Winter, Todd A. Kessler, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess. It was directed by Allen Coulter and originally aired on April 1, 2001.
- James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
- Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi
- Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano
- Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti
- Dominic Chianese as Corrado Soprano, Jr. *
- Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante
- Tony Sirico as Paulie Gualtieri
- Robert Iler as Anthony Soprano, Jr.
- Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano
- Drea de Matteo as Adriana La Cerva *
- Aida Turturro as Janice Soprano *
- Federico Castelluccio as Furio Giunta
- Steven R. Schirripa as Bobby Baccalieri
- and Joe Pantoliano as Ralph Cifaretto
* = credit only
- Ariel Kiley as Tracee
- Suzanne Shepherd as Mary De Angelis
- Tom Aldredge as Hugh De Angelis
- Ari Graynor as Caitlin Rucker
- Patrick Tully as Noah Tannenbaum
- Sharon Angela as Rosalie Aprile
- Jason Cerbone as Jackie Aprile, Jr.
- Maureen Van Zandt as Gabriella Dante
- John Fiore as Gigi Cestone
- Dan Grimaldi as Patsy Parisi
- Frank Santorelli as Georgie Santorelli
- Joseph R. Gannascoli as Vito Spatafore
- Michael Garfield as Len Tannenbaum
One afternoon at the Bada Bing, Tony receives a "thank you" gift from one of the strippers, 20-year-old Tracee. She thanks Tony for advising her to take her sick son to the doctor. When she presents Tony with some homemade datenut bread, he is gratified by the gesture but explains that he cannot accept gifts from employees, since strippers are not supposed to make friends with their bosses, and because Ralph is carrying on an affair with her.
Meanwhile at Columbia University, Meadow is becoming closer to her boyfriend, Noah Tannenbaum. As they draw close to becoming intimate, Meadow's roommate, Caitlin, walks in and interrupts. Meadow asks if she needs to use the room, but Caitlin says she was feeling lonely and scared after seeing the horror film, Freaks, with friends, exhibiting something similar to the Mean World Syndrome. Meadow and Noah try to calm her down and remind her that she has been warned in the past not to see things that frighten her. Caitlin proceeds to pull her hair out as a sign of nervousness. Noah makes up an excuse to leave, and after a few moments of discomfort between Caitlin and Meadow, Meadow decides to go up to Noah's room, making sure she takes her X-Acto knife in case Caitlin grows more depressed. Noah empathizes with Caitlin and suggests they be patient with her. Meadow thus comes to adore Noah even more and loses her virginity to him. Later, Noah and Meadow plan to cheer Caitlin up by taking her out for her birthday. After an evening out with Caitlin, they spot a homeless woman babbling, which induces Caitlin to give her money. As she approaches the woman, Caitlin discovers that she is using a newspaper as an undergarment. Caitlin is more shocked and upset than ever and sobs in the dorm room. Meadow becomes tired of Caitlin's growing homesickness and seeks solace at the Soprano home. She tells her mother that she is in love with Noah and subtly hints that she has been intimate with him. Meanwhile, Caitlin visits Noah and pesters him for company. He is irked by this, as he is writing a term paper, for which he eventually receives a C-. Noah attributes his poor grade to repeated interruptions by Caitlin. Meadow tries to console him about it, but his father, being furious about his son's poor grade, has already filed a restraining order against Caitlin. Meadow meets Noah's father, Len, for dinner one evening and they discuss his profession and that of her father. The following day, Noah breaks off his relationship with Meadow, telling her that she is too negative and cynical. Meadow is genuinely shocked, becoming extremely upset and ends up taking it out on her parents.
Tracee continues to get closer to Tony as she shows off her new braces. As she dances, Tony and Silvio remark that she is a good looking "thoroughbred" and has a great, natural body, but her crooked teeth are a "train wreck" and that Silvio's "juicing" her on the loan. One afternoon as Tony leaves the club, she follows him to his car where she tells him that she is pregnant with Ralph's child. She seeks advice on whether to have an abortion or to keep the baby. Tony warns her that because her son has experienced domestic abuse (at her hands) and that, as the child is Ralph's, "You'd be doing this kid and the next three generations a favor" by aborting the pregnancy and not informing Ralph.
Unfortunately for Tracee, Ralph does not seem to help the problem. As he becomes obsessed with the 2000 film Gladiator, he begins to drunkenly shout out quotes from the film and plays around roughly with Georgie at the VIP lounge. After constantly making wise remarks and loud outbursts, things become tense when Ralph finds a length of chain and proceeds to swing it at Georgie, severely injuring his eye. Tony angrily sends Ralph to take Georgie to the emergency room. A few days later, Silvio is shocked to find that Tracee has not shown up for work. Silvio then finds her at Ralph's townhouse. He forces her to get dressed and slaps her as she is entering his car for talking back to him. Ralph watches and laughs from the window as she is dragged into the car.
Three days later, during an early-morning hours party, Ralph sees Tracee in the VIP lounge, where she insults him in front of the other associates and capos. Ralph then follows her out to the deserted Bada Bing parking lot, where he teases her into thinking he will marry and support her, then gleefully calls her a "cock-sucking slob". When she punches him and insults his masculinity, Ralph becomes extremely angry and brutally beats her, he then bashes her head into a metal guardrail, killing her. Soon after, Ralph returns to the club with bruised and bloody knuckles. Soprano associates soon find Tracee's body and Tony blames Ralph for what happened. As Ralphie is standing in front of a chain-link fence, Tony violates a well-established Mafia code and assaults him, a made man (made men are never to strike one another), but he justifies this by stating that Ralph disrespected the Bing. Ralph tries to defend himself yelling, "I'm a made guy!" Tony takes Tracee's death badly and becomes emotional during a therapy session with Carmela and Dr. Melfi the next day. He lies and says that a young male associate from Barone Sanitation died. Days later, the Bada Bing strippers wonder where Tracee went. One of the Bing girls mentions that she actually heard something along the lines of what actually took place (that Tracee went out to the parking lot with Ralph and never came back), but one of her co-workers strongly advises her to keep her mouth shut, lest she be next. As the episode ends, Georgie, sporting a bandaged eye, is training a new stripper to work at the Bada Bing in place of Tracee.
- Tracee: Bada Bing stripper murdered by Ralphie in the parking lot
- Much of the episode revolves around Meadow's university experiences.
- As the episode parallels the treatment of Meadow and Tracee, "University" is also a reference to the episode's theme
Other cultural references
- In the first scene, Silvio points to "Yo Yo Ma" as evidence that the Chinese, like his fellow Italians, also have "nicknames."
- After being introduced to Meadow, Noah's father says he sat next to a talkative Tim Daly of Wings fame on his flight from Los Angeles. Noah also mentions that his father did Daly's deal for the short-lived TV series remake of The Fugitive. Daly would later play the role of television writer J.T. Dolan on The Sopranos, beginning with the episode "In Camelot."
- Caitlin references the Lindbergh kidnapping while expressing to Meadow how she was worried about her missing.
- Noah's father says he worked with Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order.
- During a scene in the family kitchen, A.J. wears a Nine Inch Nails Fragility tour t-shirt.
- After dining out with Noah's father, Noah and Meadow see the Francis Ford Coppola film Dementia 13.
- Ralph watches Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas, which Christopher recommended as a good gladiator film.
- The song played during Tracee's show and during the end credits is "Living on a Thin Line", from The Kinks 1984 album, Word of Mouth.
- The song playing in the background during the first scene between Noah and Meadow is "The Dolphin's Cry" by Live.
- When the stripper (Kelly Kole) is trying to get into the VIP room of the Bada Bing, "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC is playing in the background.
- The song playing when Tracee shows Tony her new braces is Minnie Riperton's "Inside My Love" (1975).
- The song playing when Silvio is informed that Tracee had missed three days of work is "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman–Turner Overdrive.
- The song playing in the background when Meadow and Noah have dinner with Noah's father is "Everybody's Jumpin" by The Dave Brubeck Quartet.