|The Sopranos episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Allen Coulter|
|Written by||James Manos Jr. |
|Cinematography by||Alik Sakharov|
|Original air date||February 7, 1999|
|Running time||56 minutes|
"College" is the fifth episode of the first season of the HBO television drama series The Sopranos, and originally aired on February 7, 1999. It was written by co-producer James Manos Jr. and series creator/executive producer David Chase and directed by Allen Coulter. The episode was ranked number 2 on TV Guide's 2009 list of "100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time".
* = credit only
Tony takes Meadow on a trip to Maine to visit three colleges she is considering. During the drive, Tony is taken aback when she asks if he is "in the Mafia", and he denies it. When Meadow is skeptical, he admits that a portion of his income is from illegal gambling and other activities. Meadow admits that she took speed to study for her SATs but, when Tony reacts angrily, will not say where she got it. Both seem relieved by this mutual honesty on difficult topics.
At a gas station, Tony thinks he spots Fabian "Febby" Petrulio, a former member of the DiMeo family who entered witness protection after turning state's evidence. Tony gets Christopher to run the plate number from his car, and finds that he now goes by the alias "Fred Peters". Tony resolves to locate and execute Petrulio while continuing his trip with Meadow. He leaves her with some students she has met and confirms Petrulio's identity when, in the office of his travel business, he sees a carved bust—a hobby of his when he was in the DiMeo family. Petrulio, who feels someone is watching him, finds the motel where Tony and Meadow are staying and aims his handgun at Tony, who suspects nothing; the presence of two other guests prevents him from taking the shot. The next morning, Tony drops off Meadow for an interview. He finds Petrulio at his office and garrotes him. Later, during a drive to another college, Meadow asks Tony about the mud on his shoes and a cut on his hand. She can tell he is not answering honestly, and after a time asks no more questions.
While Tony and Meadow are away, and with A.J. sleeping over at a friend's house, Father Phil Intintola drops by to enjoy Carmela's cooking and wine. Dr. Melfi phones to reschedule Tony's appointment; Carmela, discovering that Tony's therapist is a woman, assumes that he is sleeping with her. During confession, Carmela tells Father Phil about her fears for her family and her soul, and he administers communion. She sips the wine; he drains the cup. They fall asleep together on the sofa; half-waking, they are about to kiss, but Father Phil suddenly desists and walks swaying to the toilet, where he retches. He spends the night on the sofa. In the morning, Carmela firmly says, "We didn't do anything." Tony and Meadow return that day. Carmela tells Tony that Father Phil stayed the night. She counters his sarcastic comments by telling him that Melfi called.
The episode was rated as the best of the series by Time magazine, and was ranked #2 on TV Guide's list of "Top 100 Episodes of All Time".
Emily St. James retrospectively wrote that "the genius of the episode is that the storyline blends almost every aspect of the show's world so completely that it feels like a natural thing we're watching, not really a story being told." St. James also praised the cinematography (such as cross-cutting and point-of-view shots) as "very effective at putting us in the headspace of both Febby and Tony as they slowly stalk each other", and lauded the episode as "a strangely funny, incredibly tense meditation on what it means to choose the easy path every single time." Alan Sepinwall praised Chase's use of "only two stories so he could let them both play out in exhaustive, powerful detail", and wrote that the shot of Tony "staring wistfully up at a group of flying ducks, again standing in for the feelings of family and peace that seem to remain forever beyond his grasp – is ... stunning."
In order of first appearance:
James Manos Jr. and David Chase won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for their work on this episode. Edie Falco received her first Primetime Emmy Award nomination and win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Carmela in this episode.