How ‘The Sopranos’ Played on Viewers’ Vengeance Fantasies in ‘Boca’

There’s a lot going on in “Boca,” season 1 of episode 9 of The Sopranos. With law enforcement closing in on the teams of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese), Junior heads to Boca Raton with his girlfriend Bobbi.

In a scene that takes place in bed, the audience sees Junior and Bobbi enjoying each other’s company and learning about the talents Junior has not seen in the sack. Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, Coach Hauser is on a roll with the girls football team.

But after that promising start, things get dark. When she visits a salon, Bobbi realizes that she has already learned too much about her sex life with Junior. As for Coach Hauser, Tony’s gang learns he plans to move on and take another coaching gig.

That makes the football fathers feel like the skies are falling, but there is nothing once they learn that Hauser had sex with Ally, one of their daughters’ team. At that point, the coach is going to be a marked person, and Sopranos writers would play on audience expectations – hungry, in some cases – for revenge.

‘Sopranos’ viewers expect Tony Soprano and his team to come down hard on Coach Hauser

Soccer scene 'Sopranos'
Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt) and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) watch a football match. | HBO

Sopranos writers actually back it up with Coach Hauser and Ally. After Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) reveals to her parents that Ally tried to kill herself because of the pain from her relationship with Hauser, Tony leaves to spread the word.

In a conversation with Silvio (Steve Van Zandt) and Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia), even Artie’s lawyer agrees that Hauser deserves to die. Artie then has the same conversation with his wife Charmaine (Kathrine Narducci), one of the show’s moral centers.

Charmaine will do her best to shut down the revenge plan before it begins. Finally, Artie agrees and goes to Tony to stop the crew from threatening (or killing) Coach Hauser. In a tight, almost violent conversation, Artie gets his point to Tony.

Although Tony despises him and even mocks Artie, he does as his old friend wants. He will not punish Hauser, which is a surprise to viewers. It may have disappointed some.

‘Sopranos’ creator David Chase talked about what fantasy fans of mob stories often do

‘The Sopranos’ stars Lorraine Bracco and James Gandolfini Getty Images

In “Boca,” viewers watch Tony defend his decision to hand out a penalty to Hauser in a session with his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). “I’m interested in why you feel like punishing this man,” Melfi thinks. Tony tries to ignore it.

In an interview with Patrick Bogdanovich (circa 2000), Sopranos creator David Chase addressed how listeners may want to kill in a fictional setting. “People have said there is a particular satisfaction with mob movies,” Chase said. “It simply came to our notice then.

“You can say to someone, ‘This man has honored me. Pay attention, ‘”Chase continued. “We all have that courage.” Sopranos writers took it the other way in “Boca.” Instead of a horrible response, the guide suggested smarter heads (mostly Charmaine). And, in the end, Tony used that as a reason to feel good about himself.

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