Did Kennedy and Heidi damage your emotional investment in or connection to Tony?

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Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment in To

#1
I've been going back over the General Review thread from the beginning, hoping that the extra week and a second reading of the many excellent thoughts offered there might help me reclaim the missing visceral, personal, emotional connection to Tony that has always fueled my extreme passion for the show. I suppose that quest is failing in that the following post by wgaryw absolutely jumped off the page at me. It's as if gary is reading my mind and heart aloud:

wgaryw wrote:As usual for almost all the episodes in season 6, I had to watch this twice before really absorbing it. And as usual, the episode only seemed *more* layered and complex after the second viewing, which I guess is a good thing.

My overwhelming first reaction -- OVERWHEMLING-- is that I would probably have unconditionally loved this episode if it had aired *before* last week's. I suppose they'd have to snip out the references to the peyote trip in Melfi's office; and the scene with Kelly where she talks about the house being too big now that Chris is dead. But otherwise, continuity-wise, you could pretty much stick this episode before "Kennedy and Heidi".

The problem is, I'm disgusted with Tony and nothing in tonight's episode redeems him in my eyes. It's not that I'm looking for redemption, either. It's just that it leaves me emotionally disconnected with the show in a way I've never felt in all the years I've watched it. It's a weird way to feel towards a show I love, two episodes before the end.

So I tried to imagine how I would have reacted to this episode if it had happened before Tony killed Christopher, and it really hit home how much last week's episode devastated any empathy I once felt towards Tony Soprano.

In many ways, "The Second Coming" felt like an "old school" episode. Two good Melfi sessions, a session with Eliot, focus on the domestic family, all the stuff I love the most. Alongside this, the mob story was high tension, with a fairly typical Sorpanos scene of an innocent getting beaten (the construction guy). All good. All deeper and more interesting on a second viewing.

So why was I left so cold? I think it's because I just don't like anything about Tony anymore. At his most sympathetic moment, when he was cradling AJ in his arms repeating "It's all right, baby"-- a scene which many folks apparently found so moving -- all I could think of was the dead look on Tony's face as he suffocated Christopher. I think maybe *I* have post traumatic stress disorder.

Do you think this is the intended reaction (if there is such a thing)? Am I alone in feeling so alienated from any positive aspects of Tony's behavior at this point in the series?


I was in chat last night with jouster and Universal Polymath, and I got the distinct impression that they are feeling a bit the same.

So I thought it would be interesting to pose a poll question to see if we can identify and even quantify this phenomenon. If you do feel similarly, what do you think it would take for you to regain your emotional stake in Tony's fate?
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#2
Yeah, BUT... after Christophuh shot JT in the head the previous episode, that was the end of whatever investment I had in him. Then Tony takes an opportunity to rid himself of Chris. It's obvious what Chase is doing here: showing (or reminding us of) their true nature before the finale.
Is this what Melfi meant when she said "decompensation"? She seems rather resigned in her & Tony's sessions...

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#3
Mafiaphile wrote:Yeah, BUT... after Christophuh shot JT in the head the previous episode, that was the end of whatever investment I had in him. Then Tony takes an opportunity to rid himself of Chris. It's obvious what Chase is doing here: showing (or reminding us of) their true nature before the finale.
Is this what Melfi meant when she said "decompensation"? She seems rather resigned in her & Tony's sessions...


This is pretty much my reasoning for not losing my empathy to Tony's character. Chris was no saint, and Tony has done other reprehensible things throughout the course of the show. Ade's death comes to the forefront here:

Was it the fact that it was not Tony calling Ade the C word before he shot her multiple times that allowed us to continue to care for him? Even though he was just as responsible for her death as Sil or Chris? Do we all hate Silvio for what he did to Ade? Is the murder of Chris, a sociopathic murdering drug addict, worse than the ordered death of a naive but still very much innocent Adriana?

I don't think so. So while maybe I should have lost my personal interest in Tony's character ever since "Long Term Parking" (I didn't) I definitely won't lose it now.
A little powdered sugar and he woulda been done!

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#4
As you surmised in the chat, I do feel that way, Fly. One thing I have come to feel, mostly from reading here post-K&H, is that Tony may have in fact grieved for Chris, preemptively, in the emotional therapy scene in Stage 5. I think, post-Cleaver, Tony's so-called bond with Chris (never as strong as either one thought it was, if you ask me) was clipped and thus Tony's extremely emotional reaction at the time (for him). Now, that said, the fact that he killed Christopher and has shown no remorse or sadness of any sort is the real sticking point. Regardless of how their relationship has deteriorated, this is a huge development, and if there is not some kind of acknowledgment or reckoning for this (as well as his many other heinous acts), I will be greatly disappointed. As you said, Fly, we have been lead to believe that Tony regrets the choices he made and the life he leads, and his subconscious has practically screamed at him for change; I don't know if he can change at this point (:icon_cry:), but there has to be a direct confrontation with this aspect of himself before the series ends. Essentially, if these don't happen, then a lot of the series will feel like one big tease.

Now, the second option to get me reinvested would be if Tony could "save" AJ. He already did that literally, of course, in The Second Coming, but I'd like to see him somehow guide AJ down the path that he himself was perhaps too weak to take (the moral, compassionate path). I think the seeds for this have definitely been sown, in Johnny Cakes as well as in Tony's (seeming) growing distaste for murder illustrated in several episode this season (Soprano Home Movies, Chasing It). I'm unsure how it would be accomplished, but I have no doubt that Tony's fate is tied with AJ's at this point (and vice versa, of course).

I could write more, and probably will, but you definitely touched on a big thing here, FOMW. Thanks for rousing me from my lurking slumber :icon_mrgreen:

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#5
Mafiaphile wrote:Yeah, BUT... after Christophuh shot JT in the head the previous episode, that was the end of whatever investment I had in him. Then Tony takes an opportunity to rid himself of Chris. It's obvious what Chase is doing here: showing (or reminding us of) their true nature before the finale.
Is this what Melfi meant when she said "decompensation"? She seems rather resigned in her & Tony's sessions...


Mafiaphile, with respect to Tony only, I guess I'm questioning if what we saw of him in Kennedy and Heidi (and continuing into Second Coming) can in fact be his "true" nature if it seems to contradict what we've been led to believe for nearly seven seasons about his capacity for love and the existence within him of some modicum of conscience. I mean Tony was even haunted by his killing of Matt Bevalaqua, the guy who tried to murder Chris and against whom Tony felt such a personal need for revenge that he exposed himself as a mob boss to potential murder charges to carry out the hit personally.

His love for Pussy made him nearly oblivious to the truth of Pussy's betrayals for over a year, and Pussy's death, however much Tony felt it was justified, continued to haunt him for all of season 3. He even managed to remark, "Him you loved" when talking about what a great Santa Claus Pussy made, an acknowledgement (post rat) that seemed positively taboo by Mafia standards.

While his reaction to the news of Adriana's informant status was swift and sure and all about self preservation, he still was obviously burdened by grief and guilt afterward. When he found Chris high in the Bing, he gave him a sympathetic pat while stifling a pained expression. He blew his stack when Chris uttered, "I can't stand the pain. I loved her." The ensuing, vicious beat down of Chris, accompanied by Tony's exclamation, "You think you're alone in this!?" was every bit as effective an indication of Tony's grief as if he had been shown alone in streaming tears. It was classic, conflicted Tony.

More subtle but equally effective in communicating the emotional toll Ade's whacking exacted was the closing scene of Long Term Parking. With a lesser actor playing the part, the scene could be labeled a writing failure. But with Gandolfini so brilliantly adept at speaking with his body, his mannerisms, his tone of voice, and his facial expressions, it was a masterful scene of someone fighting a private battle with a highly oppressive emotional weight. You could literally see him struggling with that weight in his lumbering gait and in the way his feet seemed to laboriously shuffle and slosh through the dead leaves as he slowly climbed up the hill of the woodland that so closely resembled the land where Adriana drew her final breaths.

I've often felt that Tony subconsciously hated/resented Christopher on some level for telling him about Ade and thus forcing Tony to be the one to order her whacking. And this is without Tony understanding that Chris' "loyalty" to him was ultimately more about loyalty to a Hummer and a wiseguy lifestyle.

I'm not sure whether that theory of subconscious resentment is bolstered or refuted by what Tony told Melfi in the real therapy scene of Kennedy and Heidi. It's clear that Tony blamed Chris, not Adriana, for Ade's involvement with the feds, thus Tony's description of it as a "huge problem of his own making". So, in any case and for whatever reasons, there were ill feelings going both ways over what transpired with Ade.

Back to manifestations of grief over similarly "close" murders, I still maintain that the most profound expression of grief and emotional conflict we've yet seen out of Tony in this series ocurred in the scene in the motel with Chris after Tony has shot Tony B. Gandolfini's face was beet red, the area around his eyes and nose puffy from what appeared to be a serious crying jag before he entered the room, and his voice monotone and utterly robbed of vitality as he told Chris to bury his cousin. Then there was the embrace with Chris after Tony tells him to "forget Ade" because she was "a cunt". Halting, awkward, sobbing, and ultimately fierce, the hug completely belied the sincerity of Tony's words.

Because some seem to consistently misinterpret what I hold to be significant about such scenes, let me clarify that none of this in any way reduces the immorality or despicable nature of Ade's murder or of even the murders of Pussy or Tony B, the victims and motives for each murder distinguishing them from one another in significant respects. But as long as Tony feels serious internal conflict, as long as he is tortured in some measure by these actions, he remains a fascinating character worth investing in emotionally, a character worth understanding, a character worth even some empathy. Once the inner conflict over a horrible act ends, as it essentially appeared to in Kennedy and Heidi, there's nothing left worth trying to understand, worth caring about. And that's a place that some of us have come to.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#6
I am still very much interested in Tony's fate. I want to know if he'll come to terms, with Melfi's help, in understanding the root causes for his depression. I want to know if he'll ever allow us to see his own recognition concerning his lifestyle: will he own the fact that he is personally responsible for carnage, misery, sadness and disaster inflicted on other lives, including inocents and members of his own household? If he does come to that self-recognition, can he or will he do anything about it? These are the unresolved questions that make me still care about Tony and his character. Although the character of Tony Soprano has teased us with the possibility of redemption, the reality is that he is and was a murdering criminal, albeit one with a warped sense of ethics, morality and responsibility. Christopher's murder is just the latest manifestation of this truth. And, I don't think we have seen the final word on whether or not he truly grieves for Christopher. I wouldn't be surprised if that single act isn't the catalyst for some legitimate soul-searching with Melfi in the next 2 episodes to propel Tony along to reach his moment of clarity about himself and his life. Again, what he does about it, is still up for grabs. These are the things that have me as passionate as ever about this show and which have not really divested my emotional attachment to Tony at all. I say we are in for some fantastic finish! :icon_wink:

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#7
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:Mafiaphile, with respect to Tony only, I guess I'm questioning if what we saw of him in Kennedy and Heidi (and continuing into Second Coming) can in fact be his "true" nature if it seems to contradict what we've been led to believe for nearly seven seasons about his capacity for love and the existence within him of some modicum of conscience. I mean Tony was even haunted by his killing of Matt Bevalaqua, the guy who tried to murder Chris and against whom Tony felt such a personal need for revenge that he exposed himself as a mob boss to potential murder charges to carry out the hit personally.

His love for Pussy made him nearly oblivious to the truth of Pussy's betrayals for over a year, and Pussy's death, however much Tony felt it was justified, continued to haunt him for all of season 3. He even managed to remark, "Him you loved" when talking about what a great Santa Claus Pussy made, an acknowledgement (post rat) that seemed positively taboo by Mafia standards.

While his reaction to the news of Adriana's informant status was swift and sure and all about self preservation, he still was obviously burdened by grief and guilt afterward. When he found Chris high in the Bing, he gave him a sympathetic pat while stifling a pained expression. He blew his stack when Chris uttered, "I can't stand the pain. I loved her." The ensuing, vicious beat down of Chris, accompanied by Tony's exclamation, "You think you're alone in this!?" was every bit as effective an indication of Tony's grief as if he had been shown alone in streaming tears. It was classic, conflicted Tony.

More subtle but equally effective in communicating the emotional toll Ade's whacking exacted was the closing scene of Long Term Parking. With a lesser actor playing the part, the scene could be labeled a writing failure. But with Gandolfini so brilliantly adept at speaking with his body, his mannerisms, his tone of voice, and his facial expressions, it was a masterful scene of someone fighting a private battle with a highly oppressive emotional weight. You could literally see him struggling with that weight in his lumbering gait and in the way his feet seemed to laboriously shuffle and slosh through the dead leaves as he slowly climbed up the hill of the woodland that so closely resembled the land where Adriana drew her final breaths.

I've often felt that Tony subconsciously hated/resented Christopher on some level for telling him about Ade and thus forcing Tony to be the one to order her whacking. And this is without Tony understanding that Chris' "loyalty" to him was ultimately more about loyalty to a Hummer and a wiseguy lifestyle.

I'm not sure whether that theory of subconscious resentment is bolstered or refuted by what Tony told Melfi in the real therapy scene of Kennedy and Heidi. It's clear that Tony blamed Chris, not Adriana, for Ade's involvement with the feds, thus Tony's description of it as a "huge problem of his own making". So, in any case and for whatever reasons, there were ill feelings going both ways over what transpired with Ade.

Back to manifestations of grief over similarly "close" murders, I still maintain that the most profound expression of grief and emotional conflict we've yet seen out of Tony in this series ocurred in the scene in the motel with Chris after Tony has shot Tony B. Gandolfini's face was beet red, the area around his eyes and nose puffy from what appeared to be a serious crying jag before he entered the room, and his voice monotone and utterly robbed of vitality as he told Chris to bury his cousin. Then there was the embrace with Chris after Tony tells him to "forget Ade" because she was "a cunt". Halting, awkward, sobbing, and ultimately fierce, the hug completely belied the sincerity of Tony's words.

Because some seem to consistently misinterpret what I hold to be significant about such scenes, let me clarify that none of this in any way reduces the immorality or despicable nature of Ade's murder or of even the murders of Pussy or Tony B, the victims and motives for each murder distinguishing them from one another in significant respects. But as long as Tony feels serious internal conflict, as long as he is tortured in some measure by these actions, he remains a fascinating character worth investing in emotionally, a character worth understanding, a character worth even some empathy. Once the inner conflict over a horrible act ends, as it essentially appeared to in Kennedy and Heidi, there's nothing left worth trying to understand, worth caring about. And that's a place that some of us have come to.


Fascinating question. It hasn't changed my own emotional investment in Tony, because I don't see it as being too much different from Tony's killing of Tony B. Like Chris, Tony B had screwed up, but Tony essentially killed him for his own selfish reasons. He felt justified. I think he felt justified killing Christopher, too. And, as I've said before, I still think we will see some sign of remore, or serious internal conflict, regarding Christopher. One of the themes this season has been Tony's need to escape his problems -- the gambling, for example. The trip to Vegas was Tony's way, I think, to temporarily escape what he did to Christopher. But only temporarily....we'll see, I guess.

Here's what I wonder -- if, in these last two episodes, we do see some sort of breakdown regarding Christopher, will it have come too late?

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#8
jouster wrote:Now, the second option to get me reinvested would be if Tony could "save" AJ. He already did that literally, of course, in The Second Coming, but I'd like to see him somehow guide AJ down the path that he himself was perhaps too weak to take (the moral, compassionate path). I think the seeds for this have definitely been sown, in Johnny Cakes as well as in Tony's (seeming) growing distaste for murder illustrated in several episode this season (Soprano Home Movies, Chasing It). I'm unsure how it would be accomplished, but I have no doubt that Tony's fate is tied with AJ's at this point (and vice versa, of course).


Excellent point Jouster! Tony's "redemption" may come not in saving or changing his own life, but by the redemption of his son from a similar fate. In either case, Tony must unflinchingly accept his responsibility. I still strongly believe that such acceptance is coming and that Tony (and we) will reap the reward of Melfi's assistance.

Re: Did Kennedy and Heidi Damage Your Emotional Investment i

#10
There have been some excellent comments here. As we discussed in the chat room last night, yes, at this point I feel similarly disconnected from Tony and the entire show by extension (after all, Tony is the show), an unexpected and alarming feeling to have just two episodes away from the end. Earlier this season (hell, right up to just before “Kennedy and Heidi” aired), I felt that Tony Soprano’s moment of revelation and redemption was unquestionably imminent, and that the manner in which the moment of growth occurred would be the only surprise. Now though, I’m not so sure.


billymac wrote:I want to know if he'll come to terms, with Melfi's help, in understanding the root causes for his depression. I want to know if he'll ever allow us to see his own recognition concerning his lifestyle: will he own the fact that he is personally responsible for carnage, misery, sadness and disaster inflicted on other lives, including inocents and members of his own household? If he does come to that self-recognition, can he or will he do anything about it? These are the unresolved questions that make me still care about Tony and his character.


Yes, Billymac, the same questions continue to intrigue me, but it is my growing doubt that of a resolution that is affecting my attitude towards the show. You know, I can only have hope for a satisfying conclusion up until point at which the conclusion actually happens. I think on some level, I’m suddenly distancing myself from the show just to ease the emotional blow I’d feel if this series doesn’t end anything like I want it to.


What I'm worried about, more than anything, is that when all is said and done, my initial response will be disappointment. I'm not saying Chase's finale will probably be anything less than brilliant. And who knows, even if I am slightly disappointed, I may come to appreciate it over time. But I'd feel awful if my natural, uncontrollable reaction to the final episode was disappointment - if I felt a panicked wave of "Oh no, that can't be how it ends!", instead of sitting back and feeling total satisfaction. I just love this show so much, I really care about my reaction to it. Disappointment towards The Sopranos? It feels like sacrilege! And that disappointment would only be amplified because it would be with the conclusion. There'd be no chance after that for the show to redeem itself again. Anyone else worried about that?

We can't control our initial reaction to the show, it's also impossible to control runaway expectations as well. I want to curb my expectations of the finale and go into watching it anticipating nothing. But just thinking of some of the incredible moments in the series in past seasons, and being reminded of what greatness this series is capable of, it's only natural to hope the show will leave on a similar great note. And when people tend to think like that, as you said garthman, disappointment and a feeling of the show "falling short" is practically inevitable.


I posted this on April 8th, just hours before the first episode began. Now, this worry about being disappointed is becoming much, much more real to me than I thought it would.

I’ll try to curb any alarm I may be feeling at the moment until after “The Blue Comet”. This will be the last chance for Chase to reignite my interest in this series and its main character before the finale, and I certainly hope this happens. I don’t want to spend a whole extra week between the next two episodes in worry if I don’t have to.

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