Directed by: John Patterson
Written by: Frank Renzulli
Now that he’s back with Dr. Melfi, Tony tells her that he’s angry with all the “happy wanderers” in the world: the people who manage to get through life “with a clear head.” At the moment, however, he doesn’t have time to explore this anger. He’s got to organize the “Executive Game.”
Started by Junior and Johnny Boy Soprano more than thirty years ago, the Executive Game is the Cadillac of poker games: the richest and most exclusive in Jersey. When Tony was a young cugine, Junior would chase him away just for peeking through the doorway at the game. But now that he’s Boss, well, control of the Executive Game is just one more perk Tony can claim for himself.
And Tony’s inaugural as the Executive host starts out well. The money and banter are fast-moving, and the players are an eclectic mix of wise guys, a penile implant specialist and none other than the “Chairboy of the Board” himself, Frank Sinatra, Jr. Silvio’s displaying his usual paranoid poker persona, but all in all, the game is going great. So great, in fact, that Tony doesn’t even mind when his old high school buddy, Davey Scatino, shows up wanting to sit in. Even though Tony’s warned Davey repeatedly that this game is “too deep” for a guy who runs a sporting goods store, Davey insists he can handle himself. So Tony relents and even fronts him five “boxes of ziti.” (That’s five thousand bucks.)
That’s when things start to go south. As the night wears on, Davey borrows – and loses – an additional forty boxes of ziti. Then Richie Aprile shows up. Richie glad-hands the room until his gaze falls on Davey Scatino, whom he immediately starts giving the Beansie Gaeta treatment. Why? Unfortunately, what Davey neglected to tell Tony is that he already owes eight thousand dollars in poker losses to Richie. Richie is understandably upset to see Davey playing with money that could be paying off his debt. But the Executive Game is not the forum for airing this kind of complaint. Sure enough, Richie’s temper tantrum causes the guests to decide to “close the lights” and head home.
Tony is furious, telling Richie that as a tax for disrupting his game, he won’t collect a penny from Davey until Tony gets what’s owed him. And Davey soon sees why Tony warned him to stay away; when Davey’s slow with his payments, Tony expedites matters with his fists. Still unable to come up with the cash, Davey takes his son, Eric’s, Jeep and gives it to Tony, who in turn makes it a gift to Meadow.
But Meadow wants nothing to do with the Jeep. She accuses her father of unfairly hurting the Scatinos, especially Eric, who is her friend and classmate. But later, when Eric screams at her that his father’s predicament is solely Tony’s fault, Meadow rises to her dad’s defense. Maybe she’s still Daddy’s girl, after all.
And speaking of “daddy’s girl,” that’s exactly how Janice refers to herself when she tells Richie he’s being shabbily treated by Tony and ought to stand up to him. As she encourages Richie, it becomes clear that while her heart may belong to daddy, Janice’s tactics are purely her mother’s.
Maybe there aren’t as many “happy wanderers” in the world as Tony thinks.