|Index||4 reviews in total|
From the moment he showed his nasty face in the second episode of the
season, it was clear Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano) would cause a
truckload of trouble. His bouts of madness reach their peak in
University, one of the most truly disturbing eps of the series.
The story focuses on two relationships becoming what Woody Allen wittily described as "a dead shark" - a fitting moniker, given death is heavily involved in one break-up. On the one hand, we have Meadow and her boyfriend Noah (yep, the African-American one) drifting apart after a third person starts getting in the way. Nothing too dramatic, though, as opposed to Ralphie's affair with Tracee, a 20-year old stripper who works at the Bing: she is young, naive and optimistic about her future, not to mention pregnant with the man's child; he is arrogant, kinky, easily irritable, hung up on drugs and tends to get violent with random people for random reasons (at the start of the show he hits a guy just because the latter wasn't familiar with Ralph's favorite movie, Gladiator) - not the ideal father for the unborn kid. Tracee desperately asks Tony for help, but he doesn't respond to her pleas, claiming he can't be friendly with employees. Eventually, he has a change of heart, though not in time to stop an unwarranted explosion of brutality.
For the first and only time in the program's history, more focus is granted to the women who work for Tony and Silvio: most of the time, they're just a nice bunch of tits and ass, but through Tracee the previously labeled "stripper" emerges as a more complex, lovable person, and credit is due to the writers for not indulging in predictable "hooker with a heart" characterizations: this is a real human being we're talking about, and it's this unseen humanity that makes it damn near impossible for everyone involved, both in the show and outside of it, to stomach the bloody outcome of Tracee's attempt to lead a better life.
The whole episode is so brutal even fans of the show could find themselves surprised by Ralph's manic acts. Such is the profound insanity of the character, accompanied by the courage of the actor: a subtle bad guy in The Matrix and Memento, Pantoliano reaches levels he's never approached before, not even in Midnight Run, where he played a sort of proto-Ralph; and yet it never feels like he's going over the top, perhaps because with guys like these there is no top. It's an incredible performance, so strong it makes you wonder how come he won an Emmy for Season Four, but wasn't even nominated for Series Three: based on this episode alone, he would have won as easily as his character kills.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
More of an analysis, than a review
Future spoilers as well. This
episode is clever in that it's theme is discrimination/class, which is
what the name University implies. Noah discriminating against Meadow
because her father's profession isn't prestigious enough..."waste
management". Also Tracee's life holds less value because she's "just a
whore". University is one of the top 15 episodes (maybe 10) of the
Soprano 86 episode series. Ralph seems like a decent guy. He just busts
balls a lot and he has an element of genuineness to him, until this
episode. Just one more dimension added to Ralph Cifaretto's character,
whose character btw is one of the best in the Soprano series. One can
only wonder in confusion, why the creators/writers would have killed
him off in the 9th episode of the 4th season. When you have such a
great character and actor why would you kill him off prematurely? They
could have used his help in the 5th season big time (which btw is/was
the worst season of the Sopranos by far, could probably be stated as a
Noah and his father turn out to be quite the discriminators themselves. Waste management isn't prestigious enough for the father, who apparently has a much stronger influence over Noah's actions/beliefs as opposed to Meadow and Tony. A great angle the writers took on discrimination, demonstrating discrimination can go beyond race through Noah's hypocrisy. The restraining order part was great as well when Meadow says, "couldn't you just talk to her?" Just like, if the roommate was in the room bugging him for several hours, couldn't he have just asked her to leave?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ralphie gets one of Tony's strippers pregnant and also ends up beating
her up and killing her. Meadow has to deal with her roommate who seems
to be panicking and get upset about everything around and her
relationship with Noah doesn't go that well, he ever breaks up with her
at the end.
A well done episode. The character of Tracy we only know for one episode but it is enough to feel for her senseless day. Ralphie is sure a sick guy, guess he won't last too long but bring more trouble.
Meadow's roommate is a great idea pretty well done. Noah was pretty annoying, makes one happy they broke up.
The Sopranos (1999)
University 3.6 (2001)
Contains strong brutal violence, graphic sexuality and very strong coarse language
One of the most violent and disturbing episodes of The Sopranos, it shows the unglamorous and mindless brutality and coarseness of crime and the people behind it.
Ralphie, the new partner of Rosalie Aprile is causing troubles at the Bada Bing, which finally results with the senseless beating and killing of a young prostitute.
Meanwhile Noah and Meadow's relationship is not going so well.
Series 3 is a solid continuation of the dramatically superb and acclaimed Television series.
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