And marches right into a shot of, well, marching. The cadets are parading around the grounds at the Hudson Military Institute, and inside, AJ sits with a Major Zwingli, who's played by B-movie refugee Tobin Bell. Incidentally, I love this guy. The Major asks about the cheating incident, and AJ blames everything on the intense academic pressure he was under at Verbum Dei. After winning Sars's heart by correcting the kid's grammar, he prompts AJ to continue. It's also worth mentioning here that he's got what appears to be a live grenade on his desk as a paperweight. Anyway, AJ says the pressure comes from his parents as well, because they expect him to go to Columbia just like Meadow. Of course, if they keep making such big donations, that probably won't be much of a problem. Major Zwingli disagrees with me, but still manages to win my heart yet again through the cunning use of rhyme. "Around here we call that stinking thinking. It's precisely the same with an alcoholic. No one makes him put that drink to his lips but himself." "I'm not an alcoholic!" insists AJ, but the Major just launches into his recruitment speech: "At your school, and it's not a bad school, there's too much emphasis on what's good for you. What's good for Johnny. What's good for Janey. Here the higher good is the good of the corps. As General MacArthur said in his farewell address at the Point, 'The corps. The corps. The corps.'" Well, I guess that makes the General's feelings on arbitrary repetition pretty clear. And while this doesn't mean you should start triple-posting in the forums or anything, everyone should at least try it at least once. Or, you know, thrice. Major Zwingli then runs down the daily schedule, which starts at 0530 each day and runs up to taps and lights out at 2200. "What's missing? Give up? Television," he asks/says in one long breath, and I actually have to turn off the TV and down a few shots of tequila to calm my nerves after envisioning life in such a horrible environment. AJ's only concern, however, is what time 0530 is. After explaining it to him, Major Zwingli complains, "I just outlined for you a blueprint for total self-discipline that will take you through your entire life, and that's your only question?" AJ struggles for a moment to come up with another one, and then offers this gem: "Why do guys in the army, or like spies, use that 'O' thing when they tell time?" The Major sighs and replies, "That will be made abundantly clear to you."
In the outer office, Tony and Carmela are waiting on a sofa. AJ and the Major emerge, and Zwingli orders a cadet who could possibly be Matt Damon's younger, uglier brother to give AJ the standard campus tour. As he escorts the parents back into his office, he tells them that he feels AJ would benefit greatly from Hudson's program. Then he pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his desk drawer while Carmela snits that she doesn't "agree with all this hard-nosed discipline." The Major calmly opens a window and replies, "The mothers seldom do," before lighting up. He sits on the windowsill and tells her to "wait until he starts opening doors for you and pulling back your chair." Now, I never went to military school, but if my dad ever caught me not doing those things, I probably would have been enrolled the next week, so I guess I see his point. Tony thinks everything sounds great, but Carmela is still worried: "What about creativity? Independent thought?" Major Zwingli tries to reassure her by offering up the Army's new slogan, which is "Be an army of one," but Carmela isn't comforted by the StTM score (1,344), and wonders, "Why be an army at all? How about a veterinarian? Isn't there enough war in the world? With the amputees, the horrible displaced people…" You know, I haven't said it enough this season, but Edie Falco is a great actress, and I think her comedy chops are even better than her dramatic scenes. I've giggled every single time I've rewound past that line. The Major gives a bit more of his spiel, talking about mentoring and faculty involvement. Then he adds, "We've created too many options for our kids. We can't blame them for being confused. Then when things go wrong we fob them off on the burgeoning for-profit substance recovery industry." Cue the drag on his cigarette. Get it? Ha ha. Or, "Flick…ahhhh." You choose. Now Tony has some concerns, especially about this whole "army of one" thing. "What happens when each army of one decides, fuck it, I'm not going over the top of foxhole, or decides to blow the lieutenant's head off?" The Major replies with a joke about Audie Murphy that I'm way too young to get, and the scene ends with Tony and Carmela arguing about whether or not they want to train their son for a career in the military.