"Army of One" is the thirty-ninth episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and is the finale of the show's third season. It was written by David Chase and Lawrence Konner, directed by John Patterson and originally aired on May 20, 2001.
Episode recap Edit
Jackie Aprile, Jr. is forced into hiding at a housing project in Boonton shortly after his failed armed robbery at Eugene Pontecorvo's Saturday night card game. Jackie calls Tony Soprano at his home and tries to tell him where he is and plead for help. Tony refuses and tells him to stay where he is and to talk to Ralph Cifaretto who is making the final call on what will happen. Tony then meets Ralphie, who has been hesitating over his judgment of Jackie, and asks that Ralphie make his decision in a "timely fashion". Ralphie had already dispatched Vito Spatafore to stay near the Boonton projects and find Jackie in case he tries to leave. But after the discussion with Tony, Ralph decides to act. When Jackie leaves the apartment to get some air, he is shot in the back of the head by Vito.
Meanwhile, A.J. and a friend in Verbum Dei high school steal answers to a geometry test and are later fooled into confessing the act by the school's principal. A.J. is promptly expelled from Verbum Dei permanently. Tony becomes enraged when he hears the news and decides to "save" A.J. before it is too late. His solution is to send his son to military school. Carmela receives a phone call from Marie, Rosalie Aprile's sister, informing her that Jackie has been shot and killed by "drug dealers." Tony uses Jackie Jr.'s death as an example for A.J. to start straightening him up by telling him, "You see?"
Paulie Walnuts demands that Tony have a sitdown with Ralphie and him. When the request is finally honored, Paulie states that he gave Ralph valuable information about a job that Ralphie's crew subsequently pulled off which Paulie feels he is entitled to half of the take ($50,000 out of $100,000). Tony listens to the case and orders that Ralphie turn over $12,000, much to Paulie's shock and dismay. When Paulie tries to convince Tony to reconsider, Silvio Dante intervenes, stating that Tony has made the decision and the sitdown is over.
Uncle Junior's cancer is in remission, leaving him physically competent for a RICO trial and his house arrest has been cancelled. With Big Pussy Bonpensiero missing (actually deceased), Agent Dwight Harris recommends that they should start looking for any incriminating information viaChristopher Moltisanti, who is moving through the ranks ever closer to Tony. Bureau Chief Frank Cubitoso enlists Agent Deborah Ciccerone on an undercover mission to befriend Chris's fiancée, Adriana La Cerva, and report back on whatever she can find.
A.J. is taken to an appointment at the Hudson Military Institute with the military school's administrator Major Zwingli, who lays out the basic schedule for students at the school. This includes an "0530" wake-up, "2200" lights out, evening study, drills, and no television. Zwingli has a talk with Tony and Carmela about the rigorous program and how he believes it will benefit their child. Carmela is still concerned since she believes they are training him to be a "professional killer". Tony tries to convince her that their son would be learning discipline and respect, not violence.
At Jackie's wake, the grieving Rosalie and her daughter Kelli Aprile are visited by the Sopranos. When Meadow sees Jackie lying in his casket, she begins to cry uncontrollably. Tony and Carmela try to comfort her, but are embarrassed when Rosalie notes the low attendance rate; the funeral has coincided with Super Bowl Sunday, a busy betting time. When everyone settles down, Carmela views Jackie lying in his casket. That night, Carmela decides to support Tony's decision to send A.J. to military school.
As A.J. prepares to depart for the military school, he puts on his dress uniform. Tony urges him to put on the military hat that came with the uniform, but A.J. resists. Tony, agitated at the insubordinant attitude, gets off the sofa and approaches his son menacingly. A.J. complies and puts on the hat. A.J then looks at himself in the mirror and, in tears, asks not to be sent away. Tony tells him to stop and reaffirms his decision, saying that "he needs toughening up." A.J. promptly suffers a panic attack and collapses. In therapy, Tony relates his dismay to Dr. Melfi that A.J. has inherited his psychiatric affliction and becomes teary. He says that he can no longer send his son to military school and begins to lose hope that he can guarantee a safe future for him.
On the day of Jackie's burial, Christopher and Silvio are arrested at the cemetery for illegal gambling. Uncle Junior, just arriving for the funeral, witnesses this and promptly runs back to his car, almost leaving Bobby Baccalieri behind. After the burial, a small group of people return to Rosalie's to comfort her. There, during drinks, Meadow is involved in an argument with Jackie's sister Kelli about the most likely causes of his death. Kelli states that members of the Mafia and their families are involved in killing him, while Meadow defends the version previously instilled in her by her mother that the illegal drug trade claimed his life.
The funeral attendees then proceed to Nuovo Vesuvio for a luncheon. At the restaurant parking lot, Paulie encounters Johnny Sack and expresses his contempt for Tony's ruling in Ralphie's favor, telling Johnny to offer his services to the New York family boss, Carmine Lupertazzi. Back inside, Janice Soprano is flirting with Ralph Cifaretto (who had distanced himself from Rosalie since her son's death) when Silvio and Chris enter the restaurant, having quickly made bail. Encouraged, Junior begins to sing the Italian love song "Core 'ngrato" ("Ungrateful Heart"). Everyone is touched, except for a very drunk Meadow who throws pieces of bread at Junior as he sings. Meadow leaves the restaurant and is confronted by her father outside; she tearfully denounces the funeral proceedings as "bullshit" and runs across the street, almost getting hit by traffic as Tony looks on concerned. Tony returns to the dinner, quietly telling Carmela that Meadow likely is headed back to her college dorm. He then puts his arm around A.J. as the three listen to Junior sing.
First appearances Edit
- Agent Deborah Ciccerone: An F.B.I. agent assigned to go undercover as Adriana's "new best friend".
- Marianucci Gualtieri: Paulie's mother who moves into Green Grove nursing home.
- Jackie Aprile, Jr.: shot by Vito Spatafore near the Boonton housing projects.
- In the original 2001 broadcast, Agent Deborah Ciccerone was played by actress Fairuza Balk. However due to scheduling conflicts, she was not able to return for season four. For the repeats and DVD releases, Balk was replaced by Lola Glaudini, who went on to play the role permanently in 2002.
References to prior episodes Edit
- Tony and Carmela watch a commercial for Dr. Fried's urology clinic, whose production was featured in the previous episode, "Amour Fou". Dr. Fried tends to Furio's gun injury.
- Although it is never explicitly mentioned in the episode, Jackie, Jr., Vito Spatafore, and Adriana LaCerva are cousins, through their uncle Richie Aprile. When Vito's brother Bryan is injured in the episode "Another Toothpick", Jackie, Jr. says that Bryan is his cousin.
- When Tony Jr. calls Meadow at Columbia, Creeper Lagoon's song "Wonderful Love" can be heard playing in the background.
- During Jackie's wake, Junior's performance of "Core 'ngrato" ("Ungrateful Heart") was actually sung by Dominic Chianese himself.
- The song sang by Junior before "Core 'ngrato", while he is at the table, is "Malafemmena".
- The French song that follows "Core 'ngrato" ("Ungrateful Heart") is "Parlez-moi d'amour" performed by Lucienne Boyer and written by Jean Lenoir.
- The song in Spanish that follows the French version of "Core 'ngrato" ("Ungrateful Heart") is "La Enramada" a Bolero written by Graciela Olmos and performed by a Mexican Trío romántico.
- The organ music played during Jackie's wake is "Ombra mai fu" from G.F. Handel's opera Serse.
- The song played over the end credits is "#8" (unofficially titled [blur] aka [circles]) by Aphex Twin, from his album, Selected Ambient Works Volume II.
- As Meadow is tossing bread at Junior, Meadow sings a line from Britney Spears' song, "Oops!... I Did It Again"; the original recording of that song was previously featured in "Employee of the Month".