Sentimental Education Episode 58

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich
Written by: Matthew Weiner

“From now on, anytime somebody steps in a pile of shit – it’s gonna be called a ‘Blundetto

Struggling with two huge laundry bags, Tony Blundetto sets his foot on the back of his Kim’s Southside Laundry truck. Just as he’s about to heave in the bags, the motor starts; the truck lurches away and Tony B. falls backward onto the street. He manages to get up and give chase, only to trip and scrape his shin, leaving it a raw, bloody mess. When he gets back to the laundry, his boss, Sungyon Kim, is convinced Tony B. masterminded the theft. “Believe me,” he snarls, “I no forget you professional criminal.”

But Tony B. is making an honest effort at civilian life. With the encouragement of Gwen MacIntyre, his girlfriend whom he met online while incarcerated, he’s diligently studying for the massage therapist license exam, an effort which is “practically doing two years of medical school on my own.” Eventually, Mr. Kim comes to appreciate the additional load Tony B. is carrying and calls him into his office. He makes an offer: Kim will finance a massage studio to be run by his daughter and Tony B. “You pass test,” he tells his amazed employee, “then you, me, my daughter make the big success journey.”

Tony B. isn’t the only one facing an academic challenge. A.J. remains perilously close to failing English, so Carmela visits Mr. Wegler. In addition to discussing A.J., Mr. Wegler, AKA Bob, persuades Carmela to have dinner with him. Afterwards, they go to his place where, for the first time in twenty years, Carmela has sex with a man other than Tony Soprano. Later, an exhilarated Carmela sneaks home past A.J., who’s moved back following a physical altercation with his father.

Soon, things are looking up for Tony B. He passes his exam and spends his time off single-handedly gutting and renovating the storefront that will become the massage studio. Then something extraordinary happens: one night as he and Gwen are out walking, a car zooms past them and a small bag is tossed out its window. The bag contains several plastic vials and ten thousand dollars. Gwen convinces Tony B. to throw away the drugs and put the money into the business. “You are doubly blessed,” she tells him.

Carmela feels blessed, too. She’s enjoying a full-fledged romance with Bob and despite her initial misgivings and Father Intintola’s stern disapproval, she has no intention of ending it. But one night Bob unexpectedly announces that they should “take a time out.” Earlier, he used his position to strong-arm A.J.’s English teacher into raising his grade on a term paper. Now he claims Carmela is a “user” who slept with him to get him to do it. Brokenhearted, Carmela later tells her dad, “Whatever I say, whatever I do, because I was married to a man like Tony, my motives will always be called into question.”

And Tony B. soon takes a detour on the big success journey. He blows his windfall on gambling, clothes for himself and toys for his sons. Then, while painting the walls of the massage studio, he quarrels with Gwen on the phone about a screwed-up furniture delivery. Immediately after, Kim shows up and within minutes Tony B. verbally attacks him. “You fuckin’ stroll in?” he screams, “I’m over here bustin’ my fuckin’ ass!” Then it becomes physical, with Tony B. punching Kim in the face and beating him with a two-by-four. He ends up throwing out his back – and any hope of going straight. Soon after, he meets Tony S. at Vesuvio. Gingerly, he sits down, then says to his cousin, “You mentioned you might need someone to run the swag airbags.”

Posted in Season 5, Sopranos.

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