Tony and Melfi stole the show for me.

#1
Aside from a welcome reassertion of Melfi into the story, I think there was so much foundation laid for possible developments later on. Among them:

(1) the very thing Melfi points out to him, that the sudden, urgent re-emergence of his romantic pursuit of her stems from an unconscious desire to return to therapy. When they last met, Tony lambasted Melfi for having basically done NOTHING for him, that after 4 years he was still someone perceived as so emotionally cripple that a one-legged woman told him she didn't want an ongoing relationship because she hadn't the time to be his crutch. He bitched that she'd not been able to help him with the impulse control that resulted in him killing Ralph. He's too chagrinned, too proud to admit that he apparently got more from Melfi's sessions than he let on. So the return instead takes the form of a romantic advance (not that he ever stopped having the hots for her, but he successfully squelched those impulses for over 3 years WHILE he was still seeing her, so the timing of their resurrection is curious.)

(2) However imperfect, his relationship with the basically decent Carmela was the only quasi-healthy relationship he's had with a woman, OTHER than Melfi, that involved any real emotional and intellectual components or intimacy. That was underscored tonight again in the wham/bam fashion he screwed Valentina and in his absolute disinterest in anything else about her (and given her shallowness, I can't blame him). He now has no outlet for that need, no woman to fill that void. Since Carm gave him the boot, he is forced to look for it again with Melfi. The fact that it was a romantic overture rather than an approach to resume therapy could therefore also mean that he is unconsciously using Melfi as a surrogate in his transferred effort to reunite with Carm.

Also worth noting here is that in the season opener of season 2, when Melfi rejects him and tells him to ?get out? of her life, the first place he goes is to Carm. It was very unusual for him to be there that time of day, and he didn?t speak, as per Tony?s m.o. He just followed her around like a homeless, abused puppy waiting to be claimed. She knew something was wrong, and, since he wouldn?t talk about it, she gave him the usual cure for all ailments in the Sopranos home: a nice big bowl of pasta, serving him at the table, asking him if he wanted something to drink, rubbing his back and fixing his collar.

Tonight, the first place he goes after Melfi rejects him is back to Carmela, the decent woman who accepted him -- warts and all -- more and for longer than anyone. And though she didn?t offer pasta this time, I did find it cute, at the very least, that she opened the door and asked if he wanted coffee. I think that was Chase?s way of saying that even from the yard, Tony derives a level of comfort and emotional security from Carmela that he will not ever be able to replace. And even though she?s ended the marriage, she?ll never quit caring about him.

(3) I took note that Melfi for the first time was shown working with a GROUP of patients. There was the one prior snatch in season 2 where a male patient she'd been individually counseling attended one session with his wife. And there were the joint sessions with Tony and Carm in season 3. But the circumstances for the latter (if not for both) were the temporary participation of the spouse in counseling for one member of the pair. It wasn't marital counseling and neither Carmela nor the marriage was the patient. Tony was.

Now I remember researching last year whether any ethical rules in psychiatry would prevent a therapist who'd treated one patient solo from treating that patient and his/her spouse later on because I was curious what role Melfi might play in season 5. Could she be a marital counselor for Tony and Carm where BOTH parties (or at least the relationship) are technically the patient? Would returning with Carmela allow Tony enough of an excuse (averting divorce) to go back on his proclamations about the uselessness of therapy?

In the course of my research I discovered that therapists usually conduct one kind of therapy or the other. That is, they tend to specialize in either individual therapy or group therapy (of which I suppose marital therapy is a subset). So I wonder if this sudden exposition of Melfi as a doctor who does both is to set the stage for marital counseling later in season 5.

Melfi's statement that she 'always saw something there' [with Carmela] also adds a little grist to that mill. She also previously commented that Carmela was the one choice Tony made in women that went against type, against his inclination to screw throwaway strippers or seek unstable, Livia-like replacements. So obviously Melfi believes there is something Tony should struggle to salvage in his marriage.

The prospect of Melfi as marital counselor is particularly intriguing in view of what were arguably Melfi?s efforts to undermine the marriage. Her behavior in the first of the joint sessions of season 3 could only seem likely to cause problems for Tony with Carmela, as many real shrinks observed in the Slate.com discussions. And of all the shrinks in the world she could have referred Carmela to, she chose Krakower, a former TEACHER of hers, who doled out unconventional, hard-lined moral judgments and who would be almost certain to counsel a divorce?(!)

Still, I?ve always seen the Sopranos, among other things, as a very unconventional love triangle between Melfi, Tony, and Carmela, one that is all sublimation on the Melfi/Tony side. As if any proof were needed, Melfi?s dream and reluctant retraction of a previous denial of sexual attraction show that she?s given thought to the same things Tony has. Thankfully, tonight also confirmed that their relationship will NEVER involve actual ?dating? or sex. But it is all the more a compelling relationship because of the sublimation, because it is all tension and no release.

I just wonder how good Melfi could be at patching up the marriage of a man she?d like to roll in the sack with a time or two herself.


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Re: Tony and Melfi stole the show for me.

#3
You've put so much time into this post, and the analysis is so superb, that I couldn't possibly read it and then not respond. Still, I'm responding more out of respect/admiration than any thoughts about your post...

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>(2) However imperfect, his relationship with the basically decent Carmela was the only quasi-healthy relationship he's had with a woman, OTHER than Melfi, that involved any real emotional and intellectual components or intimacy. That was underscored tonight again in the wham/bam fashion he screwed Valentina and in his absolute disinterest in anything else about her (and given her shallowness, I can't blame him). He now has no outlet for that need, no woman to fill that void. Since Carm gave him the boot, he is forced to look for it again with Melfi. The fact that it was a romantic overture rather than an approach to resume therapy could therefore also mean that he is unconsciously using Melfi as a surrogate in his transferred effort to reunite with Carm.<hr></blockquote>

Ah, thank you. I had these thoughts forming in my head, but I couldn't quite reach any understanding. Thanks for enlightening me.

I can't say much more than "Yep, I agree."

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>She knew something was wrong, and, since he wouldn?t talk about it, she gave him the usual cure for all ailments in the Sopranos home: a nice big bowl of pasta, serving him at the table, asking him if he wanted something to drink, rubbing his back and fixing his collar<hr></blockquote>

Now here's something really interesting...

Food--the preparation of, the serving of, and the eventual devouring of--serves as a vehicle through which to express love, both in real life and, more importantly, on The Sopranos. Carmella's offer of coffee to Tony belies her I-hate-you-Tony-and-never-want-to-see-you-again facade witnessed in last season's finale; Carmella still loves Tony. The love that still exists between them--not to mention their shared experiences--shows that there still exists a chance for them to get back together (although I'm sure Carmella will create certain stipulations and boundaires in their martial agreement).

On the love-triangle note: It's definately an interesting notion that Melfi has been subverting Tony and Carmella's marriage out of some subliminal attraction to Tony and petty envy of Carmella. Although no psychologist can ever truly be objective and unbiased (unless they are hermit who has never been in contact with another human being. (But I guess that'd be impossible because they wouldn't have any patients, and, therefore, couldn't be a shrink)), it seems that Melfi might have some ulterior motives driving her during Tony's appointments, which could majorly affect the outcome of...well, of the patient, for one, but many other things too. This show is just full of screwed-up people and scenes.

I love it.

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Re: Tony and Melfi stole the show for me.

#4
Thanks to shazahaha and Big Lou for the kind comments.

<blockquote>Quote:<hr><span style="color:maroon;">Food--the preparation of, the serving of, and the eventual devouring of--serves as a vehicle through which to express love, both in real life and, more importantly, on The Sopranos. Carmella's offer of coffee to Tony belies her I-hate-you-Tony-and-never-want-to-see-you-again facade witnessed in last season's finale; Carmella still loves Tony. The love that still exists between them--not to mention their shared experiences--shows that there still exists a chance for them to get back together (although I'm sure Carmella will create certain stipulations and boundaires in their martial agreement).</span><hr></blockquote>

I agree.

Time will tell about a reunion, of course, and it may ultimately depend on what additional interim damage occurs. Tony's questions about who visits and who calls the house and his insistence that hired help stay OUTSIDE to patrol shows that he's patrolling that house for more than a bear. He doesn't want another Furio on his hands, and God help the man that goes to that house to see Carm socially.

Coupled with that factor are subtle indications that Carmela is craving a new relationship. She smiled quite a lot at the "good looking" game warden and was so starved for companionship that she offered Bennie a place at the dinner table along with her and AJ. If Carmela does in fact puruse another romance, I'm not sure a reunion will ever be possible. Even if Tony didn't kill the guy, he'd likely never handle the displacement, however temporary, well enough to reconcile. And if he did kill the guy, there's no chance Carm would ever take him back.

I heard love once defined as "neurotic emotional interdependency", and maybe that's the reason I really think Tony and Carm belong together. I'm certainly rooting for that outcome.

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By the way . . .

#5
I noticed after I watched the episode a 2nd time that there was something kind of strange about Melfi's sex dream.

When they bring the camera in tight and pan up from all the butt/hands stuff, Tony suddenly looks almost like he's dead. He's totally motionless. I can't be sure, but it seems his eyes are closed. There's none of the usual moaning or facial contortions that you see with sex.

Melfi herself looks amazingly subdued. She's hardly moving at all. There's a very faint suggestion of heavy breathing, but not much in the way to communicate that there's hot sex going on.

She's also on top, for whatever that's worth. Of course, almost all of Tony's intercourse is depicted with women on top, which may say something interesting about him, besides the fact that women are afraid to be under his weight, LOL. But in this case, it's Melfi's dream, so I'm wondering if there's any significance to it here.

Being on top is loosely equated with being the one controlling sex and dominating the one "under". But it seems like the kinkier sex from a woman's POV, yet how could something so relatively quiet and uneventful be kinky?

Also, I'm thinking there has to be some point to a mirror being over the bed. I plan on re-running Employee of the Month so that I can compare Melfi's bedroom in that ep with the set where the sex took place. I'm not sure if it's the same set or a different one.

Anyone have any ideas on what this means?

</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub132.ezboard.com/bsopranolandforum.showUserPublicProfile?gid=flyonmelfiswall>FlyOnMelfisWall</A> at: 3/10/04 3:01 pm

sex

#7
Fly,

I noticed that as well and while I was watching the first time, I almost missed the point of it actually being Tony and Melfi because it just didn't look like sex.

As far as your other comments, I don't know what to make of it.

In certain aspects, I like you, am rooting for the Carmella and Tony reunion so for me I sort of want to believe that the dream either means:

1.Tony is that bored with having sex with Melfi that he's almost falling asleep. Thus meaning that developing a relationship with Melfi isn't what Tony would make it out to be. On the other hand, it was Melfi having the dream so this point might be completely moot.

2.Melfi thinks that Tony might be bored by having sex with her even though she's in the dominant, "kinky" posistin of being on top. This might play into Melfi's mind in thinking that sexually, she'd never satisfy Tony in much the same way that we sort of see Tony not being satisfied with Carmella and end up with women such as Valentina.

I guess a different point of view could see the dream as Tony finally being able to be relaxed almost to the point of falling asleep. The old saying that you never sleep better than when you are right where you want to be could apply.

I'm with you though on thinking it was a little weird. Like I say, I almost missed it completely.

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Re: sex

#8
Okay some follow up.

I checked the Employee of the Month ep because I think it shows more of Melfi's bedroom than any other ep. Her room was NOT the setting for the sex dream. So the location -- which seemed vaguely seedy -- was fabricated by Melfi's subconscious also. And this confirms that the mirror was specifically in the dream as a non-incidental, since her own bedroom does not appear to have a mirror over the bed.

Someone on another board astutely suggested the mirror means Melfi could not face herself if she were to actually do what she dreams about. This may be dead on since she never does really look at herself in the mirror.

Also after running the scene back about 10 times, LOL, it does begin with a long shot that shows them kissing and Tony being very active with his hands and her moving more. It's not hyperbolic, knock-over-furniture, wake-the-neighbors-with-screams, cliche sex, but they look "into" it. Then when the angle cuts in close for the second time, it reveals Tony suddenly motionless, expressionless, and apparently sleeping (the picture is still too dark to even make out whether his eyes are open). Melfi seems less animated at that point too and not particularly turned on, almost like she's going through the motions.

So my tentative read is that she thinks sex would be exciting initially but that that excitement would quickly fade and could never sustain a relationship between them. They would both wind up unsatisfied.

Someone at another forum felt the scene was really only vaguely sexual in the first place, that it had a whiff of sexuality but was really just the two of them naked trying to relate (the nakedness symbolic of efforts to be candid and intimate, I suppose). The poster felt this was buttressed by the non-descript "mutual sympathy", augmented initially by a sexual attraction, that Melfi described to Elliot.

I guess these distinctions aren't terribly important, except to note that the dream wasn't about a simple, secret desire on her part to get him in the sack.

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Re: sex

#9
I agree Fly. The location of the dream seemed to be a cheap hotel or something. It almost seemed like a drug induced encounter or something. i don't know why that springs to mind, but that's what I thought of when I first saw it.

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The rape angle on the Melfi/Tony stuff . . .

#10
At first I didn't think this worth mentioning because I'm firmly in the camp that feels the Melfi rape story, insofar as it questions whether she will ever seek or allow Tony to avenge her, was a dead issue the moment that episode finished. At the same time, Chase and company are WAY too smart to ignore the fact that Melfi's fears and reactions, particularly during the office visit where Tony actually kissed her, would have to have been influenced in some way by her recent experience as a rape victim. So somewhere along the line, I'd expect it to arise again as an issue, if only in Melfi's sessions with Elliot.

There was so much going on in that office scene. She gave a veiled cynical look at first as Tony disclosed the classic romantic gestures he'd considered (closing a restaraunt and hiring a mandolin player!). But at the same time, there was something almost pitiful about THIS guy exposing himself emotionally like that, setting himself up to be perceived with that kind of irony and cynicism. Of course all this was immediately preceeded by her sex dream.

And then came that moment when I think Tony really got to her. He was -- dare I say it -- virtually poetic with the "skin, mouth, eyes" comment and was 100% earnest. It shocked her (and me too, frankly), and you visibly see her affected. She took just that moment to recover before continuing with her "you don't know me, you're projecting these qualities, this is what happens in psychotherapy" speech. Then came the kiss. And for the moments immediately before and after it, I saw more than fear of how she could stop HIM from forcing himself on her, if that were to be his aim. I saw a momentary fear about whether she would TELL him to stop.

But, for good reason, Melfi has been afraid of him since mid-season 1, and I don't think the fact that he's always stopped short of actually hitting her before is entirely comforting. Nor is the fact that he yet again made violent overtures as recently as mid season 4. His parting verbal assault on her as a "c---" must have seemed reminiscent of her rapist calling her "b----" several times during that assault.

So even if the rape is dead from Tony's perspective, I suspect it's been revived from Melfi's perspective.


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