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.

Starring[edit]

* = 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 mic, causing him to 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 recognizes this as a potential advantage in Junior's trial. He convinces Junior to feign dementia during his competency hearings, which he accomplishes. However, Junior begins exhibiting actual signs of dementia in private, and wanders to a neighbor's house looking for ice cream one morning.

Ralph Cifaretto's 12-year-old son Justin is hit in the chest with an arrow while play-acting Lord of the Rings in Ralph's backyard with a friend. Ralph rushes Justin to the hospital, but he suffers significant blood loss and brain damage. In the aftermath, Ralph is met with significant sympathy from the community, save Paulie Gualtieri, who (correctly) suspects Ralph was behind a traumatic prank call to his mother in retaliation for Paulie ratting him out to Johnny Sack. Ralph cries openly in front of Tony, making him visibly uncomfortable, and expresses desire for some kind of redemption, meeting with Father Intintola - though not yet confessing - and establishing a scholarship at Rutgers in Jackie Aprile, Jr's name. Even Carmela seems convinced Ralph may be turning over a new leaf.

Tony gets a call that Pie O My, his and Ralph's racehorse, was killed in an apparently accidental stable fire. Tony immediately suspects Ralph, and confronts him in his home. Ralph vehemently denies the accusation, but loses his temper as well, and the argument escalates into a physical fight, in which Tony murders Ralph with his bare hands on Ralph's own kitchen floor. He calls Christopher, reaching him immediately after he has injected heroin, to help with the clean up. A doped-up Christopher arrives late and helps Tony dismember Ralph's body (discovering in the process that Ralph is bald and wears a toupe), then dispose of his body parts in separate locations. Tony never outright confesses to Christopher that he murdered Ralph, and Chris never expresses outright suspicion, but both acknowledge that the situation would look bad. After completing the disposal, they clean up at the Bada Bing, where Tony passes out and wakes up alone the following morning.

Deceased[edit]

  • 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 Sack 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.

Music[edit]

  • "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]

Awards[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Derrik J. Lang, AP Entertainment Writer (20 April 2012). "‘Call of Duty’ latest fiction to inspire nightmare". =Boston Globe. 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]