Bada Bing. Chris and Paulie are working the phones taking Super Bowl bets when Tony arrives. Paulie greets him warmly, but Chris barely even manages the token hug before sulking off to a betting parlor. Tony shrugs the diss off and opens the little mini-fridge that's next to the TV. Finding it empty, he goes ballistic, kicking the door right off the fridge and screaming that he's "been dreaming about that lo mein all the way over here. Now who ate my shit?" "Not for nothing, T," replies a nervous Paulie, "but, uh, I think you've been wound a little tight lately." Do we really need to do the whole pot/kettle thing yet one more time this season? No? Okay, good. Once Tony calms down enough for coherent conversation, Paulie launches into a rant about the money Joey Pants owes him. Apparently, Paulie set up the scam, gave Joey the alarm codes to get inside, and now two weeks later still hasn't forked over Paulie's half of the loot. Tony promises to talk to him, but that only makes Paulie more peevish. "Fuck that!" he shouts. "I've been telling you for months that this guy was no good. And I need that money for my long-range planning." Would it really have killed them to throw in something like a quick "plus, I just had to buy a new car" line here? See how easy that would have been? But no. Paulie instead demands a sit-down, and Tony consents, providing that Paulie answers the phone that's been ringing this whole time. He does so, and then hands it off to Tony, explaining that it's Carmela, and "it sounds like she's crying." Tony gets up to answer, and you can see him thinking it's about Gloria the whole time. From his shocked "What?!?" we cut to
Casa di Soprano. Tony and Carmela are lecturing AJ in the living room. "Permanent expulsion," exposits Carmela. "I prayed I would never see this." Uh, aren't all expulsions permanent? Wouldn't a temporary expulsion just be a suspension? I guess I'll need to leave one to my temporary expulsion of disbelief. Tony is furious as well, screaming that this could be a blessing in disguise, because Verbum Dei was too loose and easy. "How can you say that?" asks AJ. "I got expelled." That's actually a good, if rather snotty, point, and it sets Tony right off again. "I work hard all day to pay for this six-thousand-square-foot house, big-screen TVs, food on the table, video games, all sorts of scooters and bicycles Columbia University. And for what? To come home to this?" Okay, first of all, "work hard"? And secondly, "all day"? I guess Tony's never tried to write to a recap, or he'd REALLY know what "all day" means. I did use the money to buy a big-screen TV, though. Thanks, Sars. AJ apparently shares my feelings on this subject (about Tony, not Sars, although I'm sure he'd like her too), and he snarks back with the always clichéd "sucks to be you." This earns him a pretty heavy smack across the face, and while I'm not a big believer in hitting your child, if there were ever a kid who deserved it, it's AJ. Well, okay, it would be Meadow, but AJ's close enough. AJ runs off in tears, and Carmela (after yelling at Tony) tries to catch him. "There's more where that came from," Tony yells after him. "We're starting a new regime around here." It figures that in the one scene where the Tony "Robespierre" Soprano joke would actually be relevant, they've got him dressed in some nasty gray paisley button-down. Anyway, Carmela returns to the living room and chews Tony out some more for hitting the kid, telling him, "The guidance counselor said this could be a plea for help." She wants to send AJ to some school for troubled kids that Verbum Dei recommended, but Tony demands that they not use any more schools that will "coddle" him. Putting his foot firmly down, Tony declares that AJ will be attending military school, and that he even picked up some brochures. "You got school brochures?" asks an incredulous Carmela, and Tony explains the he got them from Janice, who was planning to send her own troubled (and barely even alluded to) son before it was too late. I'm betting Janice's kid was intended to be yet another parallel plot-arc for this season, or perhaps it's just another demonstration that no one in that generation on this show will be getting out unscathed. Tony stomps off, ignoring Carmela's claim that she won't send the boy away.