Scene: Butch's Phone Call With Phil - Little Italy
[A double-decker tour bus passes through the scene.]
Tour Guide: This is New York's famous Little Italy. It once covered over 40 square blocks but has now been reduced to one row of shops and cafes.
Here Little Italy is clearly a metaphor for the Mafia. The significantly diminished size of Little Italy is symbolic of the significantly diminished influence the Mob has on contemporary life.
[Butch walks and talks to Phil on his cell phone. When the call is complete, Butch looks up and realizes that he has left Little Italy and ended up in China town.]
Butch's meandering is an abstract depiction of time passing the Mafia by. The physical act of walking represents the passage of time - the more Butch walks, the more time goes by. Finally, when the call is over, Butch finds himself, the "made man," out of place and disoriented.
Scene: AJ and Rhiannon in AJ's SUV
This whole scene is played out against the backdrop of Bob Dylan's song It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding). One of Dylan's most famous lines occurs in this song, albeit at a point in the song that precedes the start of the scene:
He not busy being born is busy dying.
One reasonable interpretation is that AJ is unwittingly "busy dying" through the pursuit of his relationship with Rhiannon.
[Rhiannon smokes a cigarette]
The imminent engulfment of the SUV in flames is symbolic of the impending crucible of violence that awaits the Soprano family. Although the fire is ostensibly attributed to the SUV's catalytic converter and the leaves in which AJ parked, the fact that Rhiannon, just moments prior, is depicted with a source of fire is nonetheless symbolically meaningful.
The lack of noticeable flame and smoke associated with the cigarette is a curiosity. This may well be an allusion to the subtleness surrounding the idea that Rhiannon is the symbolic source of the "fire".
AJ: This could be a mistake.
More dramatic irony. On the surface this comment is referring to the AJ's concerns over his and Rhiannon's decision to pursue a physical relationship. However, in the broader context of the story line, this statement is an acknowledgement that the relationship with Rhiannon is a mistake, as it will ultimately enable the murders of the Sopranos.
AJ: At least my gas tank was practically empty.
In addition to providing comic relief, this line is serving to illustrate the extent to which AJ misunderstands the situation, both literally and symbolically. A gas tank that is "practically empty" is, in fact, a dangerous thing due to the presence of gas fumes and oxygen. He is equally unaware of the danger associated with his and Rhiannon's relationship.
Scene: Returning to the Bada Bing
[Cat jumps on the table]
Crew Member 1: He was at the safe house. We brought him over.
Paulie: Get him the f**k out. These are snakes with fur. The old Italians will tell you, you can't even put them around a baby. They suck the breath right out.
Crew Member 2: Well, you're the only baby here, so we're ahead of the game.
Paulie: You wanna be wearing his f**king pelt on your head? I said get rid of him.
Tony: Leave him. He's a good guy.
Equally important as the cat representing death - Tony's in particular - are Paulie's and Tony's respective attitudes toward the cat. Paulie wants to have nothing to do with it. He wants the cat gone, immediately. This attitude is a reflection of the take-no-chances, eternal vigilance, that a successful life in the Mafia requires. The reference to the "old Italians" is a confirmation of this attitude based on long-standing Mafia traditions. Tony, on the other hand, steps in on behalf of the cat and in so doing secures the cats presence in the Bada Bing. He is, in essence, letting down his guard and is so doing allowing the cat, i.e. his own death, to exist.