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At the start of the episode Unidentified Black Males Tony is eating at a restaurant with Meadow and her boyfriend Finn; when Tony asks for the check the waitress tells him Finn has already paid for the meal. Finn seemed to think footing the bill would impress Tony but it actually has the opposite effect of angering the man- why does this gesture enrage Tony so?

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    This is kind of hard to answer definitively ... but isn't it just a bit of a cliche about alpha males like Tony, particularly in some cultures, that they should be able to pay for their family, particularly for daughters? Someone else paying is challenging his status as a provider for his family. He's also got a very soft spot for Meadow, and wants to continue to be admired by her.
    – iandotkelly
    Apr 15 at 21:04
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    Because the head of the table pays for the meal.
    – Valorum
    Apr 15 at 21:12
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    Expanding on Valorum’s comment, it sort of works both ways. The person who pays for the meal is the head of the table. Paying undermines Tony’s status as leader and provider. Apr 16 at 0:32

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Tony's anger at Finn paying for the meal despite good intentions derives from the culture of the mafia world or even the overall societal norms.

a) Basic society norms: In our society an unwritten culture developed from a very long time ago that elders/hosts will pay for everything during a social gathering. That could be the simple reason for Tony's anger.

Regarding movie concept:

b) Alpha male attitude: For an Alpha male like Tony power, being in charge and having control is everything. So Finn's gesture of paying for the meal created the below impact in Tony's mind and he got angry:

--He thought that it would showcase that Tony is no longer in charge or has control over the family.

--Also he thought that this gesture would create a very bad impact on his reputation in the mafia world too, as no one can accept that a third person paid for the meal of Tony's family while he was there.

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While the existing answer is satisfying, I'd like to add something:

A consistent theme throughout the series is that Tony's gang members take turns when it comes to paying bills. Finn basically "initiated" this rotation by claiming the first bill without consultation, which is an absolute no-go for an alpha like Tony. If he knew that Finn was going to pay, he'd have ordered the most expensive stuff, just to show him who's who.

Another aspect of this rotation is that only made men are allowed to pay bills at a gathering of such sort. Finn is merely a student and doesn't have any money which is why Tony gave him a job at a construction site later in the episode. What should a father think of a man who's spending money that he obviously doesn't have? Would he be a good husband?

Also, if you deal with ultra-alpha men like Tony, you are expected to show submission unless you're willing to put up a fight of some sort. By paying the bill, Finn told Tony that he doesn't recognize him as a superior male. While the observer understands that Finn is simply an immature and inexperienced man, the alpha sees a lesson to be taught.

Irrespective of the Mafia or Alpha game, it's a bad habit in general to pay for other people's food, things, etc. if you haven't consulted with them first. While it's a sign of respect to buy someone a drink at a restaurant or a bar, it has the opposite effect if you pay for someone's food. It's even weirder when you don't ask them for permission first. But even asking someone to pay for his food generates an extremely uncomfortable situation because it implies that the person can't pay for his own meals.

When you combine all the aforementioned aspects of this simple act, you might comprehend why Tony became so furious. Not that it takes a lot for him to become enraged, but at that moment he probably realized that his daughter is dating a foolish boy who can't even behave properly around grown-up men. How was Tony supposed to introduce this "man" to his family? Therefore he sent him to the construction site.

(I don't remember who invited whom. If it was Tony who invited them, then that makes Finn's action even more inappropriate.)

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