Whoever Did This

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"Whoever Did This"
The Sopranos episode
Sopranos ep409.jpg
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 9
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Written by Robin Green
Mitchell Burgess
Cinematography by Phil Abraham
Production code 409
Original air date November 10, 2002
Running time 56 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
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"Mergers and Acquisitions"
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"The Strong, Silent Type"
Episode chronology

"Whoever Did This" is the forty-eighth episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and is the ninth of the show's fourth season. It was written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, directed by Tim Van Patten and originally aired on November 10, 2002.


* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

As Junior Soprano is leaving court, he is surrounded by media and accidentally hit in the head by a boom mike, making him fall down several steps. He is sent to the hospital with a concussion. Initially, Junior seems to be acting confused and a physician offers a theory Corrado may have had developing dementia and it could have been exacerbated by the concussion, but, later, Junior is found to be fine and enjoying his stay at the hospital as respite from the trial. Tony thinks the head blow could be a golden opportunity for Junior: Tony suggests to his attorney Harold Melvoin that they could use this in Junior's defense via an unstable mental capacity claim, and Junior is to act as if he has Alzheimers. Tony tells him all he has to do is "act oobatz" or crazy, and this will end his legal problems. The state appoints a psychiatrist to evaluate Uncle Junior's mental status in his home. She interviews him at his kitchen table. He pretends to not recall much of anything while Tony's sister, Janice, gives a thumbs-up on Junior's "performance" to Bobby Baccala. One morning sometime later, however, FBI agents posted outside Junior's house witness him being brought back to his house by his in-home nurse after idly wandering to the neighbors' house for ice cream; Junior seems to stand in his living room genuinely confused.

While Ralph Cifaretto's 12-year-old son Justin and a friend are playing an unsupervised game of The Lord of the Rings with a bow and arrows, Justin is inadvertently shot in the chest by an arrow. The maid bangs loudly on Ralph's bathroom door when he is taking a bath, urging him to come to Justin's aid. Ralph rushes outside to see his son lying on the ground bleeding and unconscious. Justin is quickly rushed to the hospital, where he remains in a coma. In the hospital waiting room, Ralph lashes out in rage against his ex-wife and her husband (who were accusing him of failed supervision) and at the boy who injured his son. During the altercation, Ralph has to be physically restrained by Tony, who says it was an accident and that when they were kids themselves they did similar foolhardy games. In the following days, Ralph is guilt and grief-stricken and claims he regrets his actions he has done throughout his life. He even goes and visits Father Phil Intintola to try to redeem himself, creates a $20,000-a-year scholarship at Rutgers University in Jackie Junior's name, apologizes to Rosalie Aprile for not being more sympathetic when her son died and proposes to her, but she declines.

Tony consoles Ralph when he breaks down in tears at the Bing after bringing Tony his share of recent earnings. Using the opportunity, Tony confesses to Ralph he is seeing Valentina La Paz. Although surprised, Ralph does not seem to protest the new relationship but passes on Tony's suggestion for him to spend therapeutic time at the stables with Pie-O-My. Paulie, however, still holds a grudge toward Ralph, especially since he knows Ralph prank called his mother (which traumatized her so badly, she had to be hospitalized) to get even with Paulie for telling Johnny Sack that Ralph made the Ginny Sack joke.

Tony and Ralph's racehorse, Pie-O-My dies in a stable fire, which was deemed as accidental by the fire department; however, Tony believes Ralph set the fire intentionally to collect on the $200,000 insurance policy he and Ralph had on the horse. After going to the stables the morning the trainer calls and delivers the bad news and seeing Pie-O-My's corpse wrapped up and dragged away by a tractor, Tony goes to Ralph's house. Tony delivers the news to Ralph that Pie-O-My is dead. Ralph expresses his condolences to Tony, but does not seem to be particularly moved by the horse's death. He and Tony go into the kitchen where Ralph is preparing eggs on the stove. Ralph seems to be more focused on informing Tony of Justin's improving condition, but Tony keeps bringing the conversation back to the dead horse. When Tony theorizes Ralph could have set the fire intentionally to collect the insurance, Ralph angrily assures Tony he had nothing to do with it. Tony asks him if he had heard from Corky Ianucci lately - an expert arsonist who was responsible for setting Artie Bucco's restaurant on fire. Ralph gets enraged, saying that Tony doesn't care about him having to beat up innocent people just as long as he gets his money, and then makes a snide and flagrantly insensitive remark about him caring so much about a horse while he eats meat at his desk. In a furious rage, Tony punches Ralph, knocking him across the kitchen. The two fight briefly, with Ralph unsuccessfully defending himself with pots, pans, a knife, and a can of Raid spray. The fight culminates with Tony shouting at Ralph, "You killed her!" Tony strangles Ralph and bashes his head against the kitchen floor until he finally dies.

Tony enlists Christopher Moltisanti - at an untimely moment as Christopher has just shot up heroin and is nodding out on the sofa - to help dispose of the body, explaining that Ralph was already dead when he arrived. Even in a heroin-induced daze, Christopher does not seem to buy Tony's version but also does not mind what has happened much. Christopher cuts off Ralph's head along with his hands, placing them in a bowling bag, discovering in the process that Ralph was bald and had worn a wig. When night falls, Christopher and Tony dispose of Ralph's body by dismembering and throwing it over a cliff into a quarry. They take his remains to an unattended farm owned by Mikey Palmice's father, who is hospitalized. Because the ground is frozen, Tony uses a backhoe to dig up a hole, while he scolds Christopher for his drug use. Christopher tells Tony that Ralphie "getting whacked" could be a problem, to which Tony replies, "You're the only other one who knows about it." The men shower at Bada Bing and get rid of their clothes which are to be burned.

Tony awakens at the strip club the next morning, calling Christopher's name, but realizes he has already left. Tony then sees a picture of Tracee on the mirror, the Bada Bing stripper who was killed by Ralph. Tony then throws open the back door of the club, and walks from the darkness into the blinding daylight of the next day.


  • Pie-O-My and several other horses: Killed in a stable fire. Cause is deemed accidental by insurance company.
  • Ralph Cifaretto: beaten and strangled to death by Tony Soprano due to suspicion that he caused the fire that killed Pie-O-My, which Ralph denies. His body is then dismembered and decapitated with the help of Christopher Moltisanti.

Title reference[edit]

  • Tony uses the phrase "whoever did this" when discussing with Christopher who exactly was responsible for Ralphie's death. Earlier, he used the phrase in reference to the guilty party responsible for the prank call to Paulie's mother. In both instances, the people listening most likely already know whom "whoever" actually is, but do not want to publicly utter the name.
  • The title may also refer to the stable fire and Tony's suspicions of Ralphie.
  • Ralphie trying to figure out who told Johnny Sac about the Ginny Sack joke
  • Whether God or the Devil, symbolized by Ralphie himself, is responsible for Ralphie's son's tragic injury

Connections to prior episodes[edit]

  • When Tony confronts Ralph about the fire, he asks him about Corky Ianucci. Tony believes Ralph hired him to start the stable fire which killed Pie-O-My. Corky was also apparently used by Silvio to help blow up Vesuvio, the restaurant owned by Artie Bucco, in the pilot episode.
  • When Tony looks in the mirror the morning after killing Ralph, he sees a picture of Tracee, the Bada Bing stripper whom Ralph killed in the episode "University."
  • In "University," Tony and Silvio remark that Tracee the stripper is a good looking "thoroughbred." Pie-O-My is also a good-looking thoroughbred, and Ralph is suspected of killing them both.
  • In "University," Ralph was particularly obsessed with gladiator films, quoting Ridley Scott's Gladiator and watching Kubrick's Spartacus. Ralph himself dies in a violent duel to the death.
  • In "The Weight", Johnny Sack tells Ralph "I should've let Tony chop off your head a year ago." This statement foreshadows the events of this episode.

Other cultural references[edit]

  • Carmela is seen wearing a Columbia University T-shirt when talking to Tony and her son in the kitchen.
  • After Ralph's murder, Tony and Christopher watch The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) on Ralph's television. The film is loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, "Babylon Revisited."
  • The reason why Tony killed Ralph may be a reference to the classic gangster movie The Public Enemy (1931). In the movie, Nails Nathan - friend of the main character Tom Powers - killed by a horse while riding it, caused Tom to whack the horse for revenge of his friend.


  • "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer is playing when Ralph is in the bath.
  • The Moonglows' original recording of "Sincerely" plays while Carmela and Rosalie dine at Vesuvio.
  • The song played over the end credits is "The Man with the Harmonica" by Apollo 440. It is originally from the Ennio Morricone score of Once Upon a Time in the West, a Sergio Leone film. The man with the harmonica was played by Charles Bronson.
  • Though not heard, the song "Sympathy For The Devil" by The Rolling Stones is referenced three times through various dialogue directly alluding to Ralph as the devil. Ralph to surgeon: "Please, allow me to introduce myself." Father Intintola to Ralph: "Were you there, when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain?" Tony to Paulie: "Paulie, his kid's in the hospital. A little fuckin' sympathy, huh?". The references allude to the fact that Ralph in this episode for the first time is portrayed somewhat sympathetically.

True-crime inspiration[edit]

Jason Bautista was convicted of killing his mentally ill mother in Riverside, California on January 14, 2003, then dumping her decapitated body with its hands removed off Ortega Highway in Orange County. Jason's half-brother, Matthew Montejo, who was 15 years old when Jason killed their mother, testified in court that he helped dispose of her body, and that they got the idea to chop off her head and hands to hide the crime from this episode.[1][2]


"Whoever Did This" was Joe Pantoliano's 2003 winning submission for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.


  1. ^ Derrik J. Lang, AP Entertainment Writer (20 April 2012). "Boston Globe". articles.boston.com. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Son sentenced to 25 years for mother's murder". nctimes.com. Santa Ana, California: North Country Times. 9 April 2005. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 

External links[edit]