Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#11
Wow. I am still trying to process all of it. It's brilliant writing as usual but I don't buy all of it. I think you're correct about everything up until Kennedy and Heidi. At that point you start to lose me. It seems towards the end that you're stretching things to fit your ultimate conclusion. I also don't believe the final scene link to the football game. Also, on the Blue Comet commentary, Van Zandt says that Mangini was a fill in for Yogi Berra, who was in the original script.

I am still resistant the idea that Tony killing Chris was symbolic of his unconscious desire to murder his father. I think it was an act of self-preservation, justified, as you so coherently point out, by the tree on the baby seat. I think the those scenes of asbestos dumping is more symbolic of how Tony "lays waste to the world"-how his corruption effects all of us, most notably his own son A.J. Note that Paulie tries to comfort Tony after AJ's suicide attempt by telling him that kids today are exposed to "toxins" in the air. Tony has poisoned his own son, not by his genes but by his actions, just as Johnny Boy did to him. Phil also tells Tony to dump the asbestos in his pool which, as we all know, represented the home for his family of ducks.

That being said, it's a great piece of writing and I agree with the rest. I especially enjoyed and agree with how you highlight the traces of humanity in Tony. I actually may be one of the few who believes he did feel guilt over Christopher's murder, if only subconsiously. Tony taking on the persona of Chris through the drugs and sleeping with his girl speaks to some sort of transference that may be the result of his guilt.

By the way, the Sally Boy/Johnny Boy catch blew me away.

I owe it to you to re-read it.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#12
I'm behind on responses. First, a huge thanks to all who took the time to read the whole thing. With you guys and gals, I know I could get by with less precise annotation of the scenes under analysis -- because you know them so well -- and that would save a little chunk of reading. But the detail freak in me simply won't let me do it. So a heartfelt thanks for investing the necessary time to read the whole piece.

Irishwiseguy, thanks for your extremely kind words. Like you, when I'm contemplating these things and I catch new, subtle interconnections that I hadn't seen before (and that happened on a number of occasions as I was writing this article), I am overwhelmed all over again at what a great work of art this series is.

I say that while fully aware that sometimes the interconnections that exist weren't necessarily the result of deliberate, intellectual choices by Chase and his writers. Chase spoke about this very thing in interviews before, that there are things in the Sopranos that even he has been surprised to find there, after someone else pointed them out. He trusts the mysterious process of inspiration and the ideas that arise through his own subcionscious.

As an example, I don't know that it was a deliberate choice to have Christoper switch automobiles for season 6 part 2 so that he would be driving a black Cadillac when he and Tony crash. It may have been conscious, it may not have been. Either way, it's still a powerful detail that figures into what I am thoroughly convinced was the broad intention for that episode, that Tony's actions in those moments were driven by his own latent hatred for his father.

I'll have more to say later. Just realized that my basketball game is about to start!
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#13
CamMan wrote:Wow. I am still trying to process all of it. It's brilliant writing as usual but I don't buy all of it. I think you're correct about everything up until Kennedy and Heidi. At that point you start to lose me. It seems towards the end that you're stretching things to fit your ultimate conclusion. ....



Fly's "ultimate conclusion" (last words of the entry):



...And so, by series’ end, we, like Tony, were exhausted from a long journey that ultimately took us nowhere.


i tend to agree with CamMan in this regard. Fly, you talk about how 'the end' involved this high-tension build up, whacked off abruptly by the cut to black as a parallel to the Heidi Bowl debacle, etc., leaving the viewers in this exhausted but amped up state, perhaps like the recovery stage of someone who has just run an exhausting marathon, and whose legs are still pumped up and whose adrenaline levels haven't quite come down; their heart still beating too fast; needing to walk it off.

And by your interpretation, especially if we all went along the same round track going nowhere- never spinning out of the comet's track and hurtling towards the Sun, or somehow never managing to hop off the roulette wheel in a defiance of the forces that confines us- well- if we were all stuck on that unrelenting path- imo, it would be terminally exhausing!

It's energy-draining to trace the circle without external energy input. And ultimately, the train would run out of fuel and the journey wind down to a dull and uneventful sustained pause on a probably un-winning number; leaving us with a lifeless and feeble, fatigue-laden restless sleep.

However, some of us actually do not have this experience of being exhausted from the long journey, whether or not it took us somewhere or nowhere. i have truly noticed how a really big majority of posters did experience the end this other way- high tension, then sudden shock after the cut-to-black, belated dismay or surprise, etc., even anger.

Maybe no coincidence that, as a sometimes unwilling apologist or even openly willing defender of Tony's choices; i happen to have not experienced a sense of exhaustion at all from the whole journey, especially by and after the end. And in fact, have more a sense of impetus or momentum like a little roulette ball that has some mysterious extra force and is spitted out of the game! i do not see that Tony is at all exhausted by the end of the journey (maybe James Gandolfini got a little tired...).

People keep talking about the exhausting high tension and imminent hit at the end, but imo, it simply is not true. Not every viewer experienced it that way, nor entered into the final episode with a pre-conceived expectation of Tony's assasination or some other conclusion that would give answers to any questions if they had any, about Tony's disposition. The Soprano family had a fairly average uneventful dinner out with the family, and the story ended. That's it.

Now imo, this does not say that all the symbolism and theories you detailed are not true or relevant. It just means that to me, they can be true and also not result in the conclusion that the journey was exhausting and went nowhere; or that there was no epiphany in Tony's experience.

You describe the Peyote scene revelation as a 'bookend' to to Tony's coma epiphany. But the term 'bookend' itself implies the round closed-track, self-centered navel-gazing introspection that comes full-circle and doesn't result in anything new or off-track. And you may well be right that Tony was not shown to have had a true life-changing experience there, as you ably attempt to show or prove with your evidence.

But Tony's inability to articulate it well to his crew, or publicly show the results of it, is not the point. The point is that he attempts to descibe it at all, however poorly. That is the point (imo). He has found a new story, a new voice, a new paradigm, to start seeing life in, start seeing himself in. The Sun rose. Or another way of seeing it: The Earth "fell". And Tony was on the earth and saw himself in relationship to his space. Saw himself in a new way.

Actually living that out- well, that's everyone's struggle for the rest of their lives after a new epiphany. imo, He seemed well-rested and particularly Non- exhausted by the end of the show: prepared to face another day, not dragged down by his impending indictment, but rather almost peacefully resigned to it, confident that he had the support of his family, no matter how things turn out. What could be better in life for anyone? Witnessing that gave me energy, not exhaustion. :smile:

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#14
If anyone wishes to complement these pretty insights, I too wrote a treatise about The Sopranos that dealt heavily with patricide and Oedipal conflict in the show albeit incoherently. Also, I claim to be a problem drinker in it which is not even remotely true. Sorry. It's name is Sopranifesto and it's sitting all lonely on the internets. I'll extract some relevant points from it and try to inject them into this conversation's butt like some kind of anabolic steroid.

Oedipal conflict is so central a theme to the show, especially the final season, that I think it's found in relationships as minor and as briefly glmpsed as that between Geraldo Rivera's mafia expert guests. Listen to that cat fight. Pun not consciously intended. Also between Sydney Pollack's character and Rosen. And no question, Uncle June and Carter Chong (who I just discovered was played by ken leung, the actor who played the shrink in Squid and Whale and had a funny line about "hey you" the b-side to "comfortably numb". Pardon the ADD)

I share the belief that Tony bears hostility toward father figures for corrupting him. And I share the belief that the murder of Chris is (in part) a sort of attempted patricide or transfered aggression but more than that. I'll add one point that I didn't make in the 'festo and didn't catch here unless I missed it. At the barbecue, Chris tells Tony about his inherited disease saying, "Let's face it. The great Dickie Moltisanti was nothing more than a junkie." What a reaction by Gandolfini. Pretty sweet. Is Tony processing Chris's lack of respect for a father and resentfully transferring that to their own relationship? Probably. But... after the wreck, Tony's murder of Chris comes on the heels of Chris admitting to Tony he's high "I'll never pass the drug test." By the way, just on surface level motives, I always assumed Tony's anger is immediate to the situation. Chris shot up and drove and almost killed Tony. Anyway, the drug addiction combined with the barbecue conversation allows Tony to take his hostile feelings toward Dickie (or more general toward father figures) and transfer them onto Chris, the son who has his father's nature. I'll be back to this murder in a jiffy.

Forgive me for going back to the last scene now. Not trying to start a food fight. But from the original broadcast always viewed it as a scene of patricide and I bring it up because it conveys how core (adjective? corey?) patricide is to the series that it's the end of the series. This show is largely about the transmission of nature from father to son. Nature also meaning nurture, or let's say culture. Cultural violence, greed, selfishness, etc. I think external Oedipal conflict in this show is a metaphor for internal psychological crisis. Fathers and sons or "fathers" and "sons" (and transference is all over the place) personify forces within us, yin and yang of one nature. Tony and Chris driving in a car moving down the road are the father and son within one mind moving through life. And their conversation pre-crash is a gentle philosophical tug of war. Is life too short to worry about fighting with Phil Leotardo over money? (as Chris the son suggests) Or too short to live it as a lackey (as Tony the father suggests and teaches to CHris the son who then agrees with him)? This is also what the scene is about. The father corrupting the son. Should we stop and smell the roses? Or should we man up when someone shoves that rose up your ass thorns first? (I always pretend I didn't notice.) It is the same tug of war between Heidi and Kennedy. Should we go back and make sure no one was hurt and needs help? Or should we screw other people- they're not our problem- and avoid legal consequences for ourselves? Note Heidi, whose name evokes daughter, is the one who wants to run away and Kennedy, mother, the one who thinks we should make sure everyone is OK. Not because grown-ups are good. On The Sopranos, they suck basically. But the child is on her learner's permit. She's becoming a grown-up, learning and inheriting from adults the corruption of the world. And how to drive. The child is grown. The dream is gone. The son driving the other car is also son becoming father He says "Let the money go. Not worth fighting with Phil." but he "transforms" in the scene. It bothers him that his car speakers got "no balls" as it plays the "child is grown". And in this world, fathers live dangerously. They're junkies. They want thrills, sex and asbestos money though it ends the journey prematurely. Pun intended? I'm not the one to ask and I highly doubt you'd get an answer anyway.

Here's the thing about patricide though. It's not possible. Not where external Oedipal conflict represents internal crisis and the players personification of aspects of human nature. Because as the son inherits his father's violent nature, every attempted patricide ends up filicide as the son is the father destroying his own purity (personified by the son). Oedipal conflict, which is everywhere in the last season, derives its name from the patricide story. Oedipus killed his king father but became him, the new king and new lover of the mother. Tony the father and Bobby the son fight, father makes son into a killer, virginity lost and as can happen with real virginity loss, we end with Bobby as father, holding up his own daughter. Tony's father (or father figures) make him into a killer, Meadow is born 3 days later making Tony a literal father. Tony too is Oedipus. Call 911 or kill? The son calls 9 then 1, then on his learner's permit, hangs up and gets pinchy. In his attempted patricide, he is actually the father killing the son. He kills "son" Chris and sleeps with his woman and "becomes him" or "becomes Dickie" getting high on peyote. And yes, there are Star Wars references to be found. A shot of the space ship. Uncle Junior's accountant- the guy interested in money- the one who talks with a voice box and is "from another galaxy" as Junior says confused. Come to the dark side, Junior. The name Uncle Junior itself suggests the paradox in all of us. And remember the Emmys - the crazy Jersey Boys musical tribute to the Sopranos- a medley of "Walk Like a Man" and "I Love You Baby." That too.

AJ ends the series as father. Clad in Tony-like robe, losing his "virginity" (specific to Rhiannon, who Paulie nicknamed "Blondie" as Tony had before to Carmela). AJ is Oedipus, the new king, virginity lost. On the juke box - "My Baby Drives a Buick" - Heidi the daughter has learned to drive- Meadow, the daughter now on birth control (almost as literally maternal as you can be), has learned to parallel park and in her defense, that was a tight spot- AJ has learned to park like his father earlier in the episode. Dangerously. That parking on dry leaves was the way these gangsters live, relishing brushes with death. AJ tries to fuck Blondie and almost get exploded, giving himself a thrill (not unlike Tony's in Chasing It where risk of loss is the thrill). He confides it to his female therapist. The seat where he had been moments before got blowed up. AJ's "child seat" is also destroyed. The child is grown, the dream is gone. The man is here. He has a skinny beard. All Hail Oedipus. In the final scene, he uses the same accession speech Tony the father used when HE ascended to the throne of New Jersey: "Remember the times that were good." Wait? AJ kills Tony? Not literally but he does share an entrance with Sir Spicious. And AJ is basically wearing a Members Only jacket folks, no? And he talks about "getting coffee" in the same shot Members is drinking coffee right behind him. It's all en el festo. The show ends in patricide, or in a suggestion of it. Whether it literally happens in Holsten's is irrelevant. We see the danger of giving your son the example of violence. And The Godfather scene referenced is about Michael's first murder, the son popping his cherry, going to the Men's room, potty-trained, on the road to becoming his father. Well, it's only attempted patricide. The father remains - like the last shot of the "Seven Souls" montage- in that he passes his violent nature onto the son become father. So Tony as victim then represents the son, or even Christ, as purity killed.

You can kill Christ the son or Christopher the son but what about the Second Coming? (I don't think Chase had this thought out necessarily when he named his characters in 1997.) Doesn't Jesus's return come with the end of the world or something? For Yeats, it sounds like an anti-Christ thingy that is devastating for Western Civilization. AJ, representing the second coming of the killed son, with kitty cat turned into dangerous predator feline. The episode that follows the murder of Christopher the son is called the Second Coming and we see AJ's birth (which is what the suicide attempt represented). And Tony's panic attack was also on AJ's birthday, right? You teach him "What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine." but then what happens when the murdered son returns like Michael, lesson learned, and gives you the cleaver? This is why, I think, eggs forebode death, the murder at the hands of our own offspring who we have taught to be douchebags. And, as a film like Cleaver has "many parents" so does a character like Tony. And many children. So AJ doesn't kill Tony but he represents what happens when Tony puts his violence out in the world for others to inherit like a gun thrown recklessly in the snow found by a boy becoming man.

And I think it's about the deeper crisis of human nature. Why does generation after generation pick up the sins of the father? Why is the history of civilization drenched in blood? Is there any hope for humanity? Maybe Chase isn't as bleak as he's perceived to be but I think Tony is emblematic of the human race. And I speculate that AJ harping to his therapist maybe reflects Chase. I guess because AJ's "How can you not be depressed with everything going on in the world?" is met with the shrink suggesting he write about it.

I also think Tony and his internal crisis reflects America, the superpower "boss" of the world. Chase has been somewhat explicit about the finale being about the Iraq War. I have always suspected that the episode about Tony's reckless gambling, with his life, did not have the headline "Jets Bomb Chargers" as an accident. In "Soprano Home Movies", the ebbing of Tony's physical strength seems to echo America's struggle in Iraq. And AJ in his final tirade complains Bush attacked the wrong country. And I've always thought Tony's plot on Phil "We have to strike first" then killing the wrong target was meant to allude to the pre-emptive strike on Iraq. And the last episode seems to be about our oil consumption and bling we don't need and can't afford. The world is too much with us. I also took the replacement of Little Italy by Chinatown to maybe allude to the changing of the guard as China rises and America ebbs. I guess I've always thought that like "Born in the USA", "Made in America" was under-recognized as a protest piece. Maybe Steve Van Zandt is the problem. Don't mistake me. I love living here and am happy to be an American and a Jersey Boy. My dad drove me by the meadowlands just today. I was watching how he steered and think I get how it works.

If someone's ways can be passed on and survive them, today let's have a little MLK... actual quotes from his last speech... maybe they're relevant here... Long Live the King...


"You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?" And I was looking down writing, and I said, "Yes." And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, you're drowned in your own blood -- that's the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply,

Dear Dr. King,

'I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.' And she said, 'While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I'm a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze.'


.......


"That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question."

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#15
CamMan wrote:I think you're correct about everything up until Kennedy and Heidi. At that point you start to lose me. It seems towards the end that you're stretching things to fit your ultimate conclusion.


Just to clarify, since bada has already construed my "ultimate conclusion" to be something that I consider fairly ancillary to the whole of this piece: what I consider to be my "ultimate conclusion", the thesis I'm urging, is simply that Tony's dominant motives for killing Chris had nothing to do with Christopher's threat to flip or Tony's recent realization that Chris hated him and had everything to do with Tony acting out on deeply repressed hatred and animosities towards his own father.

Your statement above is a bit perplexing to me in that, if you do indeed agree with "everything" up to Kennedy and Heidi, how could you not agree with that ultimate conclusion? It seems to me virtually compelled if you agree with the analysis before it.

If, on the other hand, you mean something else by "ultimate conclusion" -- like what comprised Tony's "I get it" epiphany -- then I understand completely. That's so inherently nebulous and was presented in such an open-ended way that I imagine it would be hard to ever reach some kind of consensus among viewers on what, specifically, Tony's revelation was. The version I offered is just what makes the most sense to me at this moment in time after thinking and thinking about it and watching the episode many times.

I'm quite convinced, however, that the desert epiphany must relate very closely to the coma NDE and the identity of "Kevin Finnerty" -- who he was, his occupation, and why the monks were suing him. There are too many coincidences, too many overlapping symbolic/subtextual elements for it to be otherwise.

As I mentioned in the piece, I chose to simply offer what I think comprised the epiphany (because it involved a (fleeting?) appreciation by Tony of his own hidden motives.) I chose not to argue in any detail why or how I believe that interpretation of Tony's epiphany to have been supported onscreen because I think that really gets more into Tony's ultimate spiritual destiny and deserves its own treatment, which I hope to do in a companion article at some point.

I am still resistant the idea that Tony killing Chris was symbolic of his unconscious desire to murder his father. I think it was an act of self-preservation, justified, as you so coherently point out, by the tree on the baby seat.
If the car seat was an ad hoc justification, then why did Tony first manifest every intent of helping Chris? Why did his demeanor and intent change only AFTER he saw the branch impaling the seat and heard Chris moan about failing a drug test, indicating just how truly whacked his priorities were? And why was the audience given a shot slowly panning along the branch, clearly not representing Tony's POV at all, as Tony pinched Christopher's nose? Why the overt objectification of the carseat as factoring into Tony's motives?

Why did Tony himself observe in both his dream and waking sessions with Melfi that this murder left him uniquely void of sorrow or grief? What could possibly sustain such a singular instance of (somewhat perverse) righteousness and feelings of vindication? Pussy and Adriana were outright rats and Tony B. repeatedly defied Tony's authority and subjected the whole Jersey crew to a near war with NY over his rogue actions, transgressions that went FAR beyond Christopher's in mob terms. Yet Tony manifested, at one time or other, grief over all three of those killings. Why the profound difference here? How could Tony have been so defiantly unsorrowful, so giddy and gleeful in Las Vegas unless he was experiencing Christopher's death as some kind of unarticulated catharsis that had nothing to do with the relatively weak "justifications" he had for killing Chris in traditional mob terms?
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#16
badabellisima wrote:Fly's "ultimate conclusion" (last words of the entry):




i tend to agree with CamMan in this regard.


Bada, as I mentioned in reply to CamMan, I think you're placing far more emphasis on my idea that the journey went "nowhere" than I intended. I certainly don't consider that my "ultimate conclusion". I was merely trying to address what lasting relevance, if any, the epiphany had on Tony, if indeed the epiphany resmbled anything close to what I proposed.

The only real view I'm pushing here is the broad view that Tony was primarily acting out of unconscious paternal hatred when he killed Chris. All the rest is secondary to that.:icon_wink:
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#17
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:Just to clarify, since bada has already construed my "ultimate conclusion" to be something that I consider fairly ancillary to the whole of this piece: what I consider to be my "ultimate conclusion", the thesis I'm urging, is simply that Tony's dominant motives for killing Chris had nothing to do with Christopher's threat to flip or Tony's recent realization that Chris hated him and had everything to do with Tony acting out on deeply repressed hatred and animosities towards his own father.


Yes, that's what meant when I said your "ultimate conclusion".

Your statement above is a bit perplexing to me in that, if you do indeed agree with "everything" up to Kennedy and Heidi, how could you not agree with that ultimate conclusion? It seems to me virtually compelled if you agree with the analysis before it.


I agree with your analysis of Tony's resentment of Johnny Boy. I just think it has more to do with what Harpo talked about, the corruption of fathers to sons and how that is passed down. I am even open to the idea that Coach Molinaro suggested Tony "is not prepared" to kill his father or father figures. I am just having a hard time seeing Christopher as a Johnny Boy stand in. You seem to really get to those ideas at "Kennedy and Heidi" and the final few episodes but I find the argument a little convoluted, especially the "Heidi bowl" stuff. Now Harpo raises a point that I have not heard elsewhere, is MOJ some sort of stand in for AJ? He makes some interesting connections with the 'same entrance' in Holstens, the coffee talk, and the similar jackets and it really fits nicely into his Oedipal arguments. Then again, MOJ looks like Johnny Boy. So now the father kills the son? much like Tony kills Chris or Tony corrupts AJ? Now my head is spinning!! Or has Johnny Boy's corruption of his son telegraphed Tony's fate, i.e. Tony meeting a violent end. Perhaps MOJ killing Tony, if you believe that, is a symbolic representation of that.


If the car seat was an ad hoc justification, then why did Tony first manifest every intent of helping Chris? Why did his demeanor and intent change only AFTER he saw the branch impaling the seat and heard Chris moan about failing a drug test, indicating just how truly whacked his priorities were? And why was the audience given a shot slowly panning along the branch, clearly not representing Tony's POV at all, as Tony pinched Christopher's nose? Why the overt objectification of the carseat as factoring into Tony's motives?

Why did Tony himself observe in both his dream and waking sessions with Melfi that this murder left him uniquely void of sorrow or grief? What could possibly sustain such a singular instance of (somewhat perverse) righteousness and feelings of vindication? Pussy and Adriana were outright rats and Tony B. repeatedly defied Tony's authority and subjected the whole Jersey crew to a near war with NY over his rogue actions, transgressions that went FAR beyond Christopher's in mob terms. Yet Tony manifested, at one time or other, grief over all three of those killings. Why the profound difference here? How could Tony have been so defiantly unsorrowful, so giddy and gleeful in Las Vegas unless he was experiencing Christopher's death as some kind of unarticulated catharsis that had nothing to do with the relatively weak "justifications" he had for killing Chris in traditional mob terms?


I think Tony did want to help Chris but once he realized Chris was high and had actually risked Tony's own life, it was enough for Tony to take him out. Like I said before, I believe Tony did feel guilt over Christopher. When he does peyote and has sex with one of Christopher’s girlfriends, I think he’s identifying with Chris. He seems to be absorbing Christopher's characteristics as a way of dealing with his death, like some sort of defense mechanism. Tony did feel grief for Ade, Tony B. and Pussy. However, Christopher is the "son" he loved and swore to protect. Tony's defense mechanisms need to work overtime for this or we'll see the inevitable "decompensation"

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#18
CamMan wrote: Then again, MOJ looks like Johnny Boy. So now the father kills the son? much like Tony kills Chris or Tony corrupts AJ? Now my head is spinning!! Or has Johnny Boy's corruption of his son telegraphed Tony's fate, i.e. Tony meeting a violent end. Perhaps MOJ killing Tony, if you believe that, is a symbolic representation of that.


I have been arguing this point for a while, MOJ's resemblence to Johnny Boy was probably intentional. The image the actor conveyed was not just the father figure but a death figure as well.

I have to apologise in that I still haven't read the thesis and I do not know if it was raised, but the dream sequence in "Test Dream" is also revealing in that it is Johnny Boy who drives Tony to a "job" which then happens to be the family home.

A lot can be said about the symbolism there that defines Tony's relationship with his father and father figures, his life choices and significantly his (and Carmella's & AJ's) fate.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#19
I see my take as more or less in agreement and complementary with Fly On's great insights which I want to take a closer look at than an alternative. They're in the same key it seems to me. I share the opinion about aggression towards father. And I don't think there's any definitive answer to the question why does Tony kill Chris. I don't even think the murder of Chris being patricide is mutually exclusive with it being filicide. You don't need to distinguish between them when people's roles are so fluid in the mind. (Everyone is both at the same time, or mother and daughter simultaneously.) But I'm qualifying it by suggesting no matter what impels Tony to kill, patricide is philosophically impossible when murder itself is so clearly defined as the province of the father. In the destruction of the father's life, you become the thing you destroy. And that clearly happens between Tony and Chris post-mortem (like Oedipus and his father). And the victim is your "son" psychologically or spiritually speaking. Maybe that's why Bobby's shooting victim is a drummer like AJ and like Janice's son Harpo. Zoinks! I just spooked myself out. I'll be careful. Don't worry. Now I bet I can't do my laundry without having a panic attack. No more laundry for me. Just decided. Deal with it elevatormates.

Young David Chase also a drummer who like AJ went into the movie business. just thought of that. Same kind of with Phil Collins who was a drummer and later Oscar winner though this is not relevant to The Sopranos. What the hell am I talking about? Phil Collins: more popular in South America than you imagine.

If the actor who played Members Only was chosen because of a resemblance to Johnny instead of his obviously anagrammy name, it could be that the son who is prepared to kill has become father. I didn't want to start that debate though. You can find the symbolism in the final scene regardless of whether you viewed it as the instant of Tony's death. This scene also spooked me. Whenever I eat out now, I bring a drill and before ordering I screw the bathroom door shut to prevent any funny business in there. How would that scene have played if someone else was already in the bathroom and Members Only had to awkwardly stand around waiting to go as Tony cast glances his way?

I like that song Against All Odds.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#20
harpo wrote:Here's the thing about patricide though. It's not possible. Not where external Oedipal conflict represents internal crisis and the players personification of aspects of human nature. Because as the son inherits his father's violent nature, every attempted patricide ends up filicide as the son is the father destroying his own purity (personified by the son).


CamMan wrote:Now Harpo raises a point that I have not heard elsewhere, is MOJ some sort of stand in for AJ? He makes some interesting connections with the 'same entrance' in Holstens, the coffee talk, and the similar jackets and it really fits nicely into his Oedipal arguments. Then again, MOJ looks like Johnny Boy. So now the father kills the son? much like Tony kills Chris or Tony corrupts AJ?


Both these statements relate to why I thought Tony's desert epiphany was a realization that, in the end, he was BOTH his father and his "son". He was both a son who had been corrupted and a corrupting father. He was an uncle who killed a nephew, and a nephew who an uncle tried to kill. He was a child his mother imagined suffocating and a parent who suffocated his own child. He was both "Kennedy" -- his father -- and "Heidi", the child deprived of real parental love and guidance. (Incidentally, CamMan, the Heidi bowl argument simply brings an extra dimension to the choice of that name that I think ties together nicely with Coach Molinaro as Johnny Boy's alter ego in Test Dream and with the large football murals brought in for the shoot at Holsten's. But, in case you missed it, I also argued that Tony himself is also "Heidi", the oprhan, or at least the child who suffered a peculiar brand of parental abandonment.)

In any case, it all leads to the notion that "everything is everything". Things which seem opposite or mutually exclusive are part of a single, unified whole. That was the philosophy that left the deepest impression upon Tony post coma. That was what resonated with the philosophy of the Buddhist monks. And since the peyote epiphany was a bookend to the coma, I think it had to, in the end, reinforce and illustrate the "all is one" philosophy in an incredibly personal way involving Christopher's murder. And that means Tony had to realize that in killing his "son" he was also killing his father, the father he could never bring himself to consciously defy, disown, or repudiate.

Although I had planned to say all this much more elegantly in another treatment geared specifically toward Tony's spiritual desitination (as partially illustrated in the desert), don't forget that, as Finnerty, Tony was accused of selling defective solar heating systems. "Solar heat" = "sun warmth" = "son love", as I read it. In effect, I think the monks were accusing him of peddling defective "love" for his sons -- both of them -- by not providing them with what he himself would have liked to have had provided by his father: a proper role model and guiding male influence. His task in returning to life was to correct that defect, to "take [personal] responsibility" for his own actions and life and stop with the excuse that he had no choice to ever do anything else. He had to stop subconsciously blaming what he became on his father and stop consciously blaming so much of what he became on his mother.

But as the play on duality continues, even "solar heat" has a diametrically opposite meaning. Saying Tony was peddling defective "son love" could mean his love FOR his sons was defective and/or that his love AS a son was defective, that he was not owning up to his real, subconscious hatred of his own father.

Taking it further, heat can be both comforting and life-preserving or it can burn and destroy. Destructive heat requires insulation . . . asbestos. When Tony stripped away the psychic asbestos out on Pumping Station Road, the raging flames from his defective "solar heat"(love for his father AS a son) were no longer insulated and contained, and the result was destruction. That's why I firmly believe the asbestos storyline was juxtaposed with Christopher's murder. To me, it's an absolutely perfect metaphor for the decompensation and toxic catharsis comprising that act.

With the preface that I avoided mentioning the diner scene because I feared it would encourage certain people to derail the topic yet again, and with the caveat that I will delete any post from this thread that veers off into another discussion/debate about whether Tony died, the diner scene is relevant to this conversation. I have always agreed that MOG might have been cast because he vaguely resembles Johnny Boy. (Actually, the first night I saw him, I thought for a split second it was an aged Steve Perry himself coming in the door, but that's another story.)

As I thought more about the last scene in relation to the whole patricidal theory, I began to consider that the actor was cast because he could simultaneously suggest a bit of Christopher and a bit of Johnny Boy: father and "son" at the same time. Much was made at various times of Christopher's nose, and this guy has a nose about as prominent and protruding, yet his build and other features are a bit reminiscent of Johnny Boy.

Since he's in the diner to at least suggest a mob-directed threat at Tony's life, there's a kind of symmetry in that Tony unified killing a father and killing a son in a single act. In the diner, the specter of his killer was a composite of his father and his "son".

The point about AJ leading MOG into the diner is a good one, but note their paths diverge and their jackets, while perhaps similar, are ultimately different. AJ is NOT wearing a Members Only jacket. Hence, with one son (Chris), Tony continued the tradition of bad fathers raising bad sons. With the other son (AJ), Tony got it as right as a guy like him is likely to get it.
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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