Coach Molinaro - Everyone remembers their first

#1
Hey.
Long-time lurker, first time poster. English is not my first language so if there's any grammatical errors or misspellings...that's why.

The Coach Molinaro part, which concludes the dream sequence in "The Test Dream," has always felt strangely out of place to me. Not only does David Chase add a character that ostensibly holds some importance to Tony at a very late point in the series, it also feels somewhat contradictory with what the rest of the dream appears to be about. After waking up, Tony tells Carmela that he has had the same dream (or similar ones, at least) many times before. This, of course, led me to scratching my head (in a good way, of course). Until I realized what was going on.

I firmly believe that the significance of the Coach Molinaro part of Tony's dream is to show Coach Molinaro as Tony's first victim and, as such, Tony's genesis as a mobster. In "Remember When" we learn that the first man Tony murdered was a man named Willy Overall but I maintain that it was Tony's relationship with his lonely, probably childless high school football coach that started it all. I'm probably not the first person to point this out so I'm not gonna take full credit for the theory but when it finally dawned on me, after watching the episode for the fifth or sixth time, it sure felt like some divine, cosmic knowledge had been imparted to me.

Tony says "I only told you I wanted to be a coach 'cause I liked playing ball. But I was just shining you on 'cause that's what I do with people" and a very important piece in the endless puzzle that is Anthony Soprano falls into place. Tony was already a shrewd manipulator in his high school years, or began to realize that he is one. Despite not having the makings of a varsity athlete, Tony probably received a good grade in P.E. because of his relationship with the coach. This was the beginning of everything. This was when Tony Soprano's humanity begin to wither away.

As the destined leader of the mob, this ritual of manipulation and deceit was even more important to him than merely killing a man. He would later perfect this craft of taking what he wants from men (money) and women (sex) as an adult (although I state he doesn't actually perfect it until "Kennedy and Heidi").

Tony, of course, is cut from a different cloth than most mobsters, that is what makes him an effective leader. Unlike Christopher, who's a soldier and is consequently plagued by nightmares of the first man he killed ("Email"), Tony's recurring nightmare is of the man he subconsciously know was his first true victim.

Re: Coach Molinaro - Everyone remembers their first

#2
Welcome to the Chase Lounge, Parps. That's an interesting theory and a very engaging post (and you certainly have an excellent command of English IMO:icon_wink:.)

I tend not to see it as you do, though, because I see Molinaro as symbolic of Tony's own inner struggle to commit wholeheartedly to one way of life or the other. From the beginning, the series suggested that Tony's depression and anxiety were at least partly due to a highly repressed, unacknowledged conscience, in essence an "inner" self that was at odds with the self as manifested in behavior and lifestyle. So the idea of there being "Two Tonys" was present at the outset but became most explicitly and symbolically treated in season 5 (the bear, an episode called Two Tonys, Test Dream, etc.)

Tony's task at the end of Test Dream is to kill (with a gun that conspicuously uses a silencer) the guy who keeps telling him he made all the wrong choices in life. The Coach of the dream has a demonic quality (bright red jacket, dungeonous environs) and is very subject to polar opposite constructions as to his intent and as to the actual advice he's giving Tony. But the one thing that comes through is that Tony is unprepared (at that time) to actually "silence" this inner voice of doubt, to kill his inner conflicts and make peace with who he is. When Tony's bullets turn to shit, the Coach yells, "You'll never shut me up," which I take to mean that Tony would never be able to quell his own inner conflict over the life he chose.


You brought up an interesting point:
Tony says "I only told you I wanted to be a coach 'cause I liked playing ball. But I was just shining you on 'cause that's what I do with people" and a very important piece in the endless puzzle that is Anthony Soprano falls into place. Tony was already a shrewd manipulator in his high school years, or began to realize that he is one.
That is one very valid interpretation of what Tony said. But there is at least one other that I think just as plausible: that Tony was using false bravado to hide the fact that he (Tony) was seriously tempted by a life in athletics (recall also his extreme hurt over Junior's "varsity athlete" insults) and regrets now that he instead became a gangster, the son of fathers (both real and surrogate) like Johnny Boy, Uncle Junior, Dicky Moltisanti, and Paulie rather than of a father like Coach Molinaro. It would be typical of Tony's ongoing self delusion to lie about genuinely regretting his choices. And I think if you look at the totality of the series, including the fervor with which Tony supported AJ's high school football efforts and the revealing therapy session in All Due Respect where he sadly confronts the truth that AJ will not have the same alternate root (athletics) available that he himself squandered, you see that he likely wasn't shining the coach on back then but was shining him on in the dream by denying his regret.

In the context of these considerations, he even tells Melfi, "All my choices were wrong". As usual there are a variety of valid interpretations for that remark, but I think it may have been one of those fleeting moments where Tony was able to admit out loud his own culpability for what his life became and what that in turn meant for his son.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"
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