In The Sopranos, Richie Aprile, the capo of the Aprile crew, causes all sorts of mayhem in New Jersey’s underworld after being paroled. He quickly distinguishes himself as one of the most sadistically violent members of the DiMeo Crime Family by battering anyone who stands between him and what he wants.
Richie’s brutality and unreasonableness make him clash with the boss, Tony, on the regular, resulting in some interesting exchanges. Nevertheless, his villainous mannerisms aren’t the only things that stand out about it. Ralph is very chatty too and even when his words are harsh, they still manage to leave the viewer in awe.
“What’s Mine Is Not Yours To Give Me.”
Upon becoming a free man, Richie demands that he be given some of his old street territories back. Tony tries to keep him in check by telling him that he will only take what he is given, but Richie doesn’t think so.
Richie’s sense of entitlement is clearly misplaced since he had been behind bars for a decade and much has changed during that time. His expectation that he ought to be handed back his colonies shows how delusional he is. Richie shows a lack of respect for authority when engaging Tony. That’s because the New Jersey Don is not only much younger than him but because he was just a street soldier when Richie went to prison.
“If There’s Ever Anything You Can Do For Me, Let Me Know.”
Eager to move up the Cosa Nostra ladder, young gangsters Sean and Matt try to endear themselves to top mafiosos. Tony snubs them, but Richie hints that he is ready to receive favors.
Since Richie is a respected old-timer, he believes people ought to do favors for him without him asking for it. Sean and Matt go big by attempting to whack Christopher, who Richie hates. The problem is they don’t let Richie know first. Ordinarily, all hits need to be sanctioned, so Richie takes a page from biblical Peter’s playbook by denying any association with the duo. He does so to avoid being targeted as part of any retribution.
“I Did, Then I Put It In Drive.”
When Richie goes to collect cash from Beansie’s pizzeria, the restaurateur refuses to give him anything. Angry, Richie runs him over with his car. Tony hastily summons the capo, reminding him that he asked him to back off Beansie. Richie jokes that he did back off with his car at first, before putting the car in “drive” and hitting him.
From the moment he is introduced in season 2, Richie is portrayed as an irascible man, hence audiences aren’t too shocked when he runs Beansie over with his car. What’s interesting though is that he shows zero remorse, despite the fact that Beansie is badly injured. By claiming he did indeed back off, he not only shows Tony more disrespect but also evinces his warped sense of humor.
“That Nose Is Like A Natural Canopy.”
During a chat with Sean and Matt, Richie cracks jokes that Christopher is the only man who can smoke a cigarette in the rain with his hands behind his back. According to him, it’s because his nose is like a canopy.
Richie isn’t known as the lord of shady burns, but he more than impresses here with the verbal jab he directs Christopher’s way. Sean and Matt’s laughter is reminiscent of standup comedy audiences or canned sitcom giggles. The scene is made even made more beautiful by the fact Richie says the words without ever once looking at Sean and Matt.
“I Got To Be Loyal. Without That, We Crumble.”
One night in bed, Janice suggests to Richie that it’s time for him to be boss. Richie thinks it’s a bad idea since loyalty is important. As Tony’s sister, Janice would be expected to be the last person to conspire against him, but she does so because she is not content with just ending up as one of the mob wives of The Sopranos. She wants to be the wife of a Don.
It’s a dangerous line of thinking since treason is often met with brutal punishment in organized crime families. Richie understands this, but the temptation soon grows too big.
“Sucking Up To Tony Soprano Has Done Wonders For You. I Go Away For A While, I Come Back, And You’re A Tough Guy.”
When Beansie refuses to be shaken down by Richie, the old-time mafioso becomes incandescent. He argues that Beansie’s association with Tony has made him rude, hence he vows to teach him a lesson.
Beansie is easily bullied by Richie because he chose to not become a made guy, instead choosing to run a legitimate pizzeria. Richie also targets Beansie because of what he sees as abandonment. The two used to do heroin deals together in the ’90s but Beansie never visited him in prison. Beansie’s closeness to Tony also gives him the false belief that he is untouchable, yet only made guys are, and true to his word, Richie brutalizes him.
“You And I Both Know He’s Gotta Go.”
Richie later considers Janice’s suggestion that he should take over as the Don. He thus approaches Junior to see if he could help him overthrow Tony.
Junior has tried to whack Tony before, so Richie isn’t wrong for thinking of him as the perfect ally for a coup d’état. Unfortunately for Richie, Junior has a lot on his plate at the moment. He has health problems, and as he magnificently puts it in what is one of the most character-defining quotes in The Sopranos, “Feds are so up my a** I can taste Brylcreem.” In a move that is unlike him, Junior tells Tony instead of simply refusing to help Richie.
“I’m Trying To Earn Here.”
Among the worst things Richie Aprile does is selling cocaine along the family’s garbage collection route. When Tony confronts him about it, his attitude is cavalier.
The mob is generally shown to shy away from the drug business since it brings too much heat from federal authorities. Richie is warned to quit the narcotics trade a number of times, but he remains insubordinate because he doesn’t consider Tony a worthy boss. With his latest act, he sets a record as the person who infuriates Tony the most within a short span of time. His excuse that he is only dealing drugs because he is trying to earn money doesn’t hold water, since there are numerous other safer alternatives.
“It’s The Jaaaacket!”
In order to clear the bad blood, he has caused after hurting Beansie, Richie offers Tony a jacket as a gift. According to Richie, it’s not just a jacket but “The Jaaaacket” because it belonged to renowned ’70s mobster Rocco DiMeo, who Richie beat up and made him lose his reputation.
In the mob, the amount of respect one is accorded is directly proportional to how tough a person they are. Richie values the jacket since it marked the moment he graduated into a “Man Of Respect.” But since Tony doesn’t consider Richie a true friend, he shows no appreciation for the gift. Though it holds much meaning to Richie, Tony feels it’s worthless, so he gives it to the husband of his cleaning lady, Liliana.
“You Think I Started This Life 10 Minutes Ago?”
Richie is furious when Ramsey Sports and Outdoors owner Davey Scatino gives him a light envelope. He thus bans him from playing on the executive card games until he gets his money right. Davey tries to complain, but Richie reminds him he’s been collecting a long time.
Having been taken under Ercole DiMeo’s wing in 1972, Richie is among the most experienced mobsters on the show, hence he knows that once someone starts giving light envelopes, the trend will continue. The manner in which he deals with Davey shows that he is capable of leniency, a trait rarely seen in him. Despite Davey’s heavy debts, at no point does he consider whacking him.