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Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:30 am
by FlyOnMelfisWall
Longshot, sorry I missed the opportunity to welcome you to the forum after your first post. Please consider this a makeup.:smile:

I'm sorry you feel constrained by my request that gratuitous political commentary stay out of the Sopranos threads. If you shared my interest and experience as a board administrator and moderator, you might feel differently. (A poster was recently banned from this forum after mixing it up with another who sprinkled provocative political editorials in a series of posts.)

I'm more struck by the fact that the mere mention of the president's name as a conventional way of citing a time in cultural history through which we're living and in the legible contexts of which the Sopranos is deeply involved (e.g. the inclusion of the news footage of Iraq during the scenes with A.J. following Melfi's expulsion of Tony) prompts the closing of another (this time virtual) door.
The "mere mention of the president's name" as a time marker was not at all the target of my admonition. I think a thorough re-reading of the original posts should make that clear.

For the record, I have no problem with the invocation of facts from the political arena (though that's almost a contradiction in terms nowadays) when those facts are reasonably related to understanding or explaining some aspect of character or story. But political opinions are inherently incendiary in our current climate, the one created by 24-"news" and talk radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'reilly, and Jack Cafferty. I have seen fires rage from the most casual dispensation of political opinion. And so I'd rather wet the forest before anyone strikes a match.

If someone wants to start a thread about AJ's burgeoning obsession with Iraq, mid-east war generally, terrorism, and his obvious distaste for Bush foreign policy, and what this all may portend for his character or the show, that's fine. There's a genuine story nexus to that political discussion.

But it's gratuitous political editorializing to describe Bush foreign policy as one that "expels the threatening menace but coopts dignity by acting rashly", all to attempt to compare it to an act as small in scope, intent, and effect as Melfi finally listening to the soft little voice in her head and the loud voices of her colleagues, all of which have been telling her for years to dump Tony as a patient. Her action may have seemed precipitous to you, but the seeds for it were planted in the first season of the series -- no later than episode 6 -- when she was left to ponder Richard's claim that she would one day have to move beyond the "cheesy moral relativism" of therapy with Tony and confront the simple issue of good and evil . . . and that Tony was the latter. It took her 7 seasons, but she appears to have finally agreed with him.:icon_wink:

Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:50 am
by RefLib
Fly, I thank you for editing political posts. There is simply nothing else that will take down a forum as quickly as politics when people have an agenda to promote. It can spiral off in to all sorts of areas that just take the focus off the topic. People leave the subject and get into all sorts of arguments that destroy the purpose of the board.

Hold you head high. You are maintaining the best forum for the Sopranos.

Thank you.

Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:21 pm
by madribub
levinpsy wrote:Beautiful post, Madridub...I feel the same way about Tony, that he is a champion because he's trying to be better, no matter how clumsily. That's why Melfi's rejection of him is so painful. We want her to be able to help him, because we do relate to his essential humanity, and we also feel for the truly impossible set of choices and problems Tony has been dealt.


Thanks. Obviously, i deleted the post the next morning, sober and realizing that I was expounding all too idealistically on what I wish the show was about, what I hoped tony would do, and hoping that Tony as the hero/anti-hero protagonist will triumph. A tribute to how invested we are in the show.

With all that said, Melfi 'abandoning' him hit me hard. There's a great Salon article about the end where they say right out, Hey, we identify with Tony. All of the unevenness of life he deals with, trying to do the right thing, that struggle with his own ego, and so to see that one anchor in his life just go by the wayside was pretty devastating. The thing is, despite all the despicable stuff we've seen Tony go through, I still want to see him 'succeed in the end'. Chase would probably cut my fingers off for typing that.

Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 12:07 am
by HagensBing1977
I thought it was ironic that Patisie picked up the Italian hit-men from the airport, and then got shot at later during the episode. It was his twin brother that had made the airport trip before he got whacked by GiGi.

Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:52 pm
by Longshot
Thanks for the welcome, Fly. I appreciate it, as I do the job you've taken on facilitating discussion here while surveilling and trying to head off possible excesses. And, with that in mind, I'm grateful that you chose to let my last post go up.

You're no doubt right that political grandstanding is destructive and unhelpful. But that's actually very much in agreement with what I was claiming about the scene between Tony and Melfi. Melfi acts grandly, and the benefits of such action are complicated. Tony sees it as self-serving grandstanding. We see it as much more. And so, it asks viewers to consider it as a case study in the complicated meanings of grandstanding. There's always more going on than meets the eye: as you say, the word "facts" is itself "almost a contradiction in terms nowadays." Melfi strives to be responsible while seeming (to Tony, to psychologists and psychiatrists and other viewers here) if not terribly irresponsible then at pains to know what responsibility is any more. She is clearly agitated while wanting to be reasonable. She seems, to Tony and to some other viewers who post here, not to be acting purely justly but in a way that makes us wonder whether perfect justice is possible. Her actions are precipitous even if they have been building for years: they culminate at once in a blast that Tony didn't see coming. And if we did, then the scene wouldn't have anywhere near its punch. This terrific jumble of meanings coalesces in one bravura performance (I called it "baroque" for a reason) that recalls a whole host of analogous and complicated, contemporary political strategems and decisions. I didn't offer an opinion one way or the other about such Bush-era issues, except by alluding to "precipitous action" as a touchstone of critical commentary about these days. You did, by warning that my mentioning the show's use of these issues veered toward the gratuitously political. Those aspects of the scene may be less apparent or important to viewers watching the show in their own ways, but they're in no way unimportant and mentioning them has no gratuitous ulterior motive. I didn't mention them to disparage or promote any political position. Guarding too precipitously against noticing a scene's political subtexts isn't value-neutral: it insists that a politically charged show has scenes that can't be discussed that way. I'm not as comfortable as you are asserting what a scene is "intended" to do. If other readers think that I'm chasing ghosts that aren't there, I guess that's for them to decide and, I hope, to explain.

I hope, naturally, that what I see in the show will interest others and help them to see it too, as I've been helped by your many other contributors to see the show in new ways. Since the series is obviously having an extended conversation with its times not only in those moments when political events or facts are explicitly depicted or discussed (in news clips, dialogue, etc.), it shouldn't be off-base here to suggest that political satire or commentary is at work at other, to you less obvious, moments. For me, Melfi and Tony's last session worked like a miniature history play or a scene from one in which the king and his counsel are featured in climactic conflict. The series' last episode continues those Shakespearean aspects in Tony's conversations with Paulie (who calls him "my liege"), in Janice's news that Harpo has changed his name to Hal (from comedy to history or tragedy), etc. In Shakespeare's history plays, *all* action expresses a political point. All interpersonal conduct is loaded with ethical significance. And all performed scenes bear on the historical moment in which they were conceived and performed. That's no less true of The Sopranos. That kind of ripe subtext is there in every episode and in the least superficially political moments.

FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:For the record, I have no problem with the invocation of facts from the political arena (though that's almost a contradiction in terms nowadays) when those facts are reasonably related to understanding or explaining some aspect of character or story.

[. . .]

But it's gratuitous political editorializing to describe Bush foreign policy as one that "expels the threatening menace but coopts dignity by acting rashly", all to attempt to compare it to an act as small in scope, intent, and effect as Melfi finally listening to the soft little voice in her head and the loud voices of her colleagues, all of which have been telling her for years to dump Tony as a patient. Her action may have seemed precipitous to you, but the seeds for it were planted in the first season of the series

Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:15 pm
by levinpsy
Longshot, Fly,

I was away for a few weeks, and I will take a chance that you might check back on this thread some day. In short, I find Longshot's points most important, brilliant and true, while at the same time understanding Fly's administrative need to draw lines in our current political climate in order to keep this site functioning at a high level. But Longshot is surely right that the Sopranos is a highly complex and important political tract that deserves to be discussed on that level. What a fascinating conversation that would be, and I'd love to be a part of it. Thanks to you both, and I am going to miss this site...

Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:35 pm
by billymac
levinpsy wrote:Thanks to you both, and I am going to miss this site...


Levinspy, no need to miss the site. It is not going anywhere and I dare say, given the depth of the show, the fact that it continues to air on A&E and the ability for all of us to watch the DVD's at home at our liesure, that it will continue to be a place for high quality discussion for a long time to come. So, by all means, please stop by often and continue to join in the discussion as I hope all old and new members will.

Re: Tony's last words to Melfi/Yochelson, Elliot, Melfi and

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:39 am
by Billyv
I agree with the thread-starter that Melfi disappointed me in her final scene.
Although she was probably right in deciding that their therapy meetings should come to an end, she should have handled it more professionally.
She seemed to be simmering with anger toward Tony, as though he had disappointed her, presenting an attitude similar to Carm or a girl-friend who was upset over Tony's part in their relationship.
Melfi had just read the recent study regarding talk therapy with socio-paths. At this point, she agreed with its conclusion. Talk therapy was inappropriate treatment for Tony, and although Melfi had been previously in disagreement and/or unconvinced of that, it was essentially HER mistake that an inappropriate course of treatment had been chosen. Tony, the patient, had simply followed her professional lead, trusted in her judgement, and engaged accordingly. He didn't intentionally choose to decieve and manipulate to use the therapy for ulterior motives - he sought what he thought was appropriate help for his panic attacks, depression and general assistance dealing with personal life issues. Not only did Melfi choose talk therapy as the course of treatment but she often argued to convince Tony to continue with it, enabling and supporting whatever gains and insights he obtained to use in his criminal activities.
She owed it to Tony to discuss better options more thoroughly and guide his transition away from her to something possibly beneficial. Knowing him, it seemed obvious that he would abandon the idea of any therapy without being guided and convinced. She drastically failed to aid her patient and abandoned him as soon as she realized that she hadn't been helping. She had kept Tony on much longer than she should have due to her own fascination and attraction toward him, similar to Kupferberg's personal interest.