Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#51
harpo wrote:My issue with finding the thematic resolution to Tony's story the 4th to last or 3rd to last episode is... what's the point of the last couple? Exciting but superfluous drama? With patricidal aggression so central to the series, and final season particularly, it seems an underestimation of Chase to not think he'd follow through with it and other major themes to the end of show. Isn't a song in B likely to end on B? And on that note... some possible examples of the center cannot hold. Sorry if someone's pointed it out already...

The roulette ball's broken orbit that precedes "He's dead."
The same of the Blue Comet model train as Bobby dies.
In retrospect, maybe that rhymes with Chris's running off the road before his murder.
Transfat free onion ring?


From my pov the thematic resolution happens in the last episode and not earlier. Murdering Chris plus AJ´s suicide attempt lead into the final resolution in Made in America.

Two important and significant things happen. AJ wants to join the army.
Tony pulls some strings to prevent it. Putting aside, whatever happened with the panic attacks as reason that AJ couldn´t go to military school Tonys shows a change of heart saying good-bye to his idea what his son should become.

And there´s the last scene with Junior. If I am not mistaken Tony says to Junior: "You, my father, you two ran New Jersey." In other words he admits through the choice of words (you my father) that Junior was his father. After avoiding Junior for so long Tony finally is able to see him.

I´m not sure what your saying with "the center cannot hold" and "the broken orbit".

Of course Chase followed through with a lot of themes of "The Sopranos" of which the father and son is in the last season the most imporant one, but
also therapy, (his) creative work and a critical reflection of american siciety or the struggle between NJ and NY.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#52
harpo wrote:My issue with finding the thematic resolution to Tony's story the 4th to last or 3rd to last episode is... what's the point of the last couple? Exciting but superfluous drama? With patricidal aggression so central to the series, and final season particularly, it seems an underestimation of Chase to not think he'd follow through with it and other major themes to the end of show. Isn't a song in B likely to end on B?


Not necessarily on the key deal. If it's in B-minor, it could well end in D Major, or there could be another type of modulation that shifted the tonal center entirely.:smile:

Seriously, if this is leading where I think it is, I don't care to rehash it in depth again, although I appreciate the honesty and relevance of the question. If one assumes MOG shot Tony, I'm not sure what resonance that has with the patricidal rage angle other than the fact that, as many noted, the actor playing MOG bore a slight resemblance to Johnny Boy. I even allowed that he might resemble a cross between Johnny Boy and Christopher, which really offers some interesting symbolism on this point.

Of course without even considering what Tony's putative assassin might look like, we know that if he's a mob guy, he will be, in many salient ways, a man like Tony, like Christopher, and like Tony's father, man with a similar cultural background. He would almost certainly be a bad son raised by a bad father, who was probably raising a bad son himself. And we know that if Tony was shot, he would simply be reaping an ending he sowed both as an individual, as a father (to Chris), and as a son. I'm not sure what exists beyond that.

I do believe the father/son stuff continues in the Second Coming, since that was about bringing AJ's "man" crisis to a nadir, beyond which we would only glimpse enough to know that he would make it out alive and would neither become his father nor anything particularly worthwhile but, as Chase said, an example of the "small bits of progress" that many families tend to make over generations.

That leaves Blue Comet and MIA, the first of which was an unusually procedural, action-driven episode that had significant plot work to do to bring the long-fermenting war with NY to its penultimate moment (or climax, if you prefer). Yet, at the same time, Blue Comet played host to Melfi's spectacularly hostile termination of therapy and most assuredly marked the last time Tony would ever set foot in her office. The exit of the character billed second in the actor's credits and whose office was the centerpiece for the opening of the series and for many moments afterward is no small matter to deal with from a writer's perspective. For those who want "closure" (and I'm not saying you are among them), you have to grant that the seismic events crammed into that episode were more than just "superfluous drama". They were absolutely critical to establishing any sense of resolution to those respective, overarching aspects of the show.

Moreover, Melfi got to stand there and be the effective voice of David Chase shouting to idiots like me, "You see there? He's a freaking, hopeless sociopath for whom therapy has been an absolute joke, and anyone who ever thought otherwise should feel as foolish and angry and used as Melfi does." From his interview comments, I'm certain that was something to which Chase ascribed significant moment.

That left MIA, which had to pick up from the cliff hanger in Blue Comet in good old soap opera fashion, and bring an end to Phil or Tony (or both). It also had to bring Tony face to face one last time with the uncle that was "dead to him" in an exchange that reflected all the paradoxes of these relationships between father figures and their surrogate sons and, in that sense, was absolutely a continuation of the father/son theme that featured throughout season 6. MIA also had to establish the final glimpse of Meadow's future, of AJ's future, of Janice's future, and of Tony's future should he live (finally the defendant in a RICO case with major, damaging testimony from a capo). That's a lot of stuff to get done.

I have argued many times that the black could also be interpreted as a comment on the nature of Tony's future, both in this world and especially beyond, whenever the "beyond" comes, and partly because the black so starkly contrasted with the sun Tony stared into as he raked leaves and wistfully listened to the cry of birds (ducks) in flight. The man who haled from Kingman, Arizona, and derived his truth from the desert sun while on a sojourn to nearby Sin City and briefly glimpsed his family in the blinding light of that same sun in a backyard in New Jersey contrasts with a man whose death, whenever and wherever it occurs, will consist of complete isolation, nothingness, and darkness. No sun, no light, and certainly no ducks. That seems to me a reasonably poetic use of imagery in the final episode.
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

#53
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:
I acknowledged your point, though, many times, which is that Tony's only real moral triumph in the series is the kind of father he was, especially towards AJ since that's where the real challenge lay for him. I tend to disagree that the Tony of season 1 was somehow different/lesser as a father to AJ than he was later. I actually see the things you cited (his excitement over AJ's brief football success, the military school thing) as evidence of how desperately Tony wanted to see AJ develop in some way that could validate him in the violent, masculine mob culture that unavoidably shaped AJ's values (by the simple fact that they were his father's values) but that achieved that validation in a morally legitimate way.

Tony was plagued from the very beginning by notions of what his mere life's example might mean for and to his son. And those fears were galvanized in a new way when he saw what happened to Jackie Jr., a mob boss' kid living a privileged, suburban life, coddled by his mother, showing high school football prowess that was ultimately meaningless because it would not translate into a career, intentionally excluded by his father from mob life in favor of a mainstream academic path to a vocation, despite the fact that he lacked the intellect and/or discipline to succeed in that mainstream path. The fact that Jackie Jr. was destined to fail in the life towards which his father (and later Tony) was pushing him led him to try to crash the gates on the world of his father anyway, to become a man like him despite the fact that his father did not consciously or outwardly want that. If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, it's clear why a son naturally driven to win a sense of validation and approval from his father would turn to imitation when fulfilling the father's express desires didn't seem possible.

Military school was Tony's last ditch effort to surround AJ with a different kind of male role model before it was too late, role models for whom the strictest discipline was a way of life and whose culture was socially legitimate, even prestigious, yet undeniably tough and masculine. Tony instinctively knew from his own life that the need to fulfill a father's value system, to be a son of which the father could be proud, is a major factor in shaping a son's own values and motivations. By pushing AJ towards a culture that was both masculine (sometimes violently so) and legitimate, he was trying to give AJ a way to both please his father and conform to a socially acceptable culture of masculinity. I actually think this act by Tony was very much unselfish, done because he felt on an intuitive level that it would ultimately serve AJ well.

Ironically, I think Tony had the right idea. I think had AJ not had the panic attack and had gone to military school, he would have turned out "better" than he did. I think he would ultimately have cultivated a decent work ethic and would have enjoyed a higher degree of self esteem, which would have served him well no matter what happened after military school ended.



That Tony gave up the military thing for AJ was made clear in Made in America.
At the same time in a broader sense Chase works a lot with the conflict between an individual and an organization. Soldiers who have to follow the rules, or "masters who makes the rules" form the Dylan song, the Vito storyline is exactly portraying this conflic. No coincidence, Tony shows understanding. He knows the pain that comes from that because the most important organization an individual belongs to is family.


FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:Back to my feelings on the journey to nowhere. As time went on and I allowed myself to fully ruminate about the vicarious patricidal angle to Christopher's murder, and began to see foreshadowing of it going all the way back to the Test Dream, I became more and more comfortable accepting what Chase was telling me about this man, that he cannot, will not meaningfully change -- ever -- but that he also never got over the way he was inculcated into a life of brutality by his father and uncle while his mother sat back and let it happen. There is a perverse moral rebellion or outrage in Tony's symbolically killing his father, and I learned to take my satisfaction in knowing that, at least, Tony was never truly at peace with what he did with his life.

The Molinari family on the coast guaranteed Fredo's safety, too.:icon_mrgreen:



Is Tony unhappy with what he did in his life? I don´t have the impression he is. Sure he would wish for different things. In the end, who doesn´t want to do at least something different. Big picturewise, Tony can be very satisfied in the end. He was very lucky as is shown through many, many contrasting examples. He is truly proud of his daughter, made his peace with AJ. Tony didn´t repeat the mistake of his father.

I think most of all he regrets he didn´t have the chance to try out something different, that he followed the footsteps of his father, by force or by his own choosing, hard to tell. After all he wouldn´t give up the money and the power because they allow him to live the life he as an alpha male needs to persue.
What he probably will never understand is why his fathers and his mother couldn´t show the love and affection he showed for his kids.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#54
TonysOriginalNJAccent wrote:I have visited TCL in about 2 years, but I felt inclined to respond to this.

Fly, you are simply amazing! You have created a framework of understanding for the end of this series (nay--the entire arc of the series) that I have been craving for since it ended. So many things make such perfect sense.

Thank you.


Thanks for the kind words, TONJA (how's that for an acronym?). It's great to know that folks still drop by, even after a long absence. I'd hope that everyone who actively participated here would pop in from time to time and just say "hi". I just feel this show was so special for so long that it's nice to maintain some sense of association with those who were similarly moved by it. And what other show could still provoke such thoughtful exchanges as in this thread two years after it ended?: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

#55
Corrado wrote:That Tony gave up the military thing for AJ was made clear in Made in America.


True, but I guess I view that differently because AJ was already an adult in MIA, and what was under consideration wasn't a military academy for adolescents but the real military where they use real guns and where US soldiers were dying abroad in war. When Tony tried to defend the military academy to Carmela, he specifically noted that "the US hardly goes to war anymore" (it was before 9/11) and that the guns at the academy weren't real, that what he hoped AJ would learn from the experience was "respect", i.e., the acquisition of discipline and respect for authority that would help him succeed in mainstream, moral pursuits.

Is Tony unhappy with what he did in his life? I don´t have the impression he is. Sure he would wish for different things. In the end, who doesn´t want to do at least something different. Big picture-wise, Tony can be very satisfied in the end. He was very lucky as is shown through many, many contrasting examples. He is truly proud of his daughter, made his peace with AJ. Tony didn´t repeat the mistake of his father.
I actually think Tony is basically unhappy, albeit he lives a highly functional life with many superficial pleasures. The compulsive indulgence of so many superficial pleasures is in fact some of the best evidence of the underlying unhappiness. Tony eats, sleeps, buys things, and fornicates voraciously to occupy his senses so that he doesn't have to think about or feel his root unhappiness. It's a theme that is brought out repeatedly in the series, most explicitly in episodes like House Arrest, Cold Cuts, The Ride, Walk Like a Man, and indeed much of season 6B as Tony's deep slumbers and other compulsions helped keep him "comfortably numb" to the rage that had built inside him over a lifetime. The mere presence of that enormous, repressed rage is, to me, fundamentally inconsistent with a disposition other than unhappiness.

Chase has pretty much stated this about Tony in pithier terms. I think it was a Charlie Rose interview where Chase answered some question about Tony with "Yeah, but he suffers so much" or is "so unhappy" about his life that it helped the audience identify with him and be willing to see his humanity despite his actions.

I do think Tony's greatest sense of contentment and happiness derives from his children, but, by the end of the series, he clearly saw how he managed to ruin the best of their promise, especially Meadow's. Because of his life example and Meadow's consequent need to defend/exonerate guilty criminals, she will not spend her life curing sick children but helping corrput politicians and white collar criminals escape responsibility for their felonies. It's pretty clear which of those is the more noble vocation, or at least which one Tony views as such.

Meadow will also not end up marrying a nice dentist like Finn because Tony's entire way of life came to so frighten and repulse him. Instead she will marry the son of another mafiosi whose life experience made him similarly attracted to the defense of guilty criminals. One of the striking "closure" aspects of the last two episodes is how Tony and Carmela had to face their own culpability in the partial collapse of their most noble aspirations, which they sought to live out through their daughter.

What he probably will never understand is why his fathers and his mother couldn´t show the love and affection he showed for his kids.
I concur that that's Tony's biggest problem in a nutshell.: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

#56
Great reply Fly.

I suppose my interest to find/illustrate a slight change in Tony was too big.

You are right about the differences in the military thing.

Chase pointed out afterwards that people were arguing about onion
rings while a war was going on. Sometimes the interest in the psycholgical
aspects of the show push the sociological aspect aside.

As much as it is about Tony it was always about contemporary America.
No doubt, Chase is being very critical about it. I mean you have AJ who
begins to take an interest in political affairs, than concludes he wants
to join the army to become a personal pilot for a celebrity. He just doesn´t know what´s going like so many other young men who serve in a higly controversial war that solved nothing and made some people very, very rich.

I´m not so critical about Meadow´s carriere choice. It is one of the
small steps imho. She´s neither gonna be a woman like Carme nor
a woman like Melfi. Maybe the step from being Tony´s and Carme´s
child to become a doctor was too big. More important is that they
gave her the choice like Tony said to Melfi. Yes, they projected their
most noble aspiration on Meadow, and they made their peace with
her choice despite their obvious disappointment. They showed support. All in
all a small progress from generation to generation I´d say.

About Tony´s happiness. He was over a long period deeply unhappy
inside, it´s hard to tell if he´s in the end still as unhappy.

I´m convinced nothing can ever cure the lack of love he experienced
from his parents. There´s simply no cure for it since they are all dead
or not capable to provide it like Junior. An inflicted wound never to heal
completely.

The significance for the last scene for me was, besides the obvious
visual potrayal of Tony´s life and american society, that Tony is happy
in this "magic moment" with his family. I´m not trying to open Pandora´s
box here about the ending, or force my interpretation on anybody. Speaking
of his mother the way he did with AJ´s therapist, the confrontation with
Junior and the fade out to black, the pilot started with fading in from black,
suggest to me Tony went as far as anyone possibly could, and believed to be happy or felt happy - finally.

He leaves Jun with tears in his eyes and afterwards he enjoys the company of his wife and son without any sign of repressed rage which could be easily triggered by the meeting with Jun.

Surely a man like Tony, with all the experienced psychological and physical violonce, will never be completely happy. It is impossible.

That´s Tony´s tragedy.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#57
A question to everyone;

Do you think Tony finally completely forgave Junior and therefore his father in the penultimate scene? Is the tear he shed a tear of pity not only for Juniors current mental disintegration but also for Juniors and Johnny Boys apparent lack of ability to pass on love? And also for the pathetic and absurd lives they had lived and that Tony has lived. Do you think Tony just said "F-this" as he made his way to the restaurant? What more can go wrong? I'm still alive and I'm still here, so I might as well enjoy it. As many people have mentioned Tony seemed very content in the final scene and with the possible indictment charges. Not like him at all. Maybe thats as far as he can go. His Journey has ended, he is mentally unable to cope or even comprehend the need to change further. He's done therefore the shows done.

One more thing. After the death of Christopher, Tony only seemed to muse on what he had done during that episode and when the Cat appeared in the last episode. Do you think someday after the final scene he will further delve into what he had done? (contradicting my earlier startment). It could be the next day, a week or a year after those last seconds. Can he possibly live with himself? Those final episodes were very busy for Tony, somewhat easy to dodge big questions. But now that he has sometime to rest can he possible live on?

P.S. Just thinking out load. Just realized that some of these questions are fairly obvious and already agreed upon.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#58
I don´t think he forgave him. In addition to the pity he feels
I think he´s sad. The ship has sailed. There´s nothing that
can be done about it. Better to focus on the good times.

I´m sure murdering Chris will hunt him, an act he can rationalize
and justify, but that´s it.

Re: Tony’s Vicarious Patricide

#59
Irishwiseguy wrote:Do you think Tony finally completely forgave Junior and therefore his father in the penultimate scene? Is the tear he shed a tear of pity not only for Juniors current mental disintegration but also for Juniors and Johnny Boys apparent lack of ability to pass on love? And also for the pathetic and absurd lives they had lived and that Tony has lived. Do you think Tony just said "F-this" as he made his way to the restaurant?


I think that's a very interesting question, Irish, and one I asked myself the first few times I watched the episode.

When you think about it, it was much more irrational for Tony to put Junior out of his life after the second shooting than it would have been had he reacted similarly after the attempt on his life in season 1. Not saying that I'd want to have anything to do with an uncle who nearly killed me in a fit of senile-induced paranoia and dementia either, but I'd want even less to do with one who put a hit out on me when he was possessed of all his faculties.

Of course there was a cumulative effect at work after the second shooting, and much like in Where's Johnny after Tony learned there really was a disease affecting Junior's mind and personality, I think he was very troubled that, even if Junior was acting out on ancient fragments of memory or thoughts or feelings without any realization of his own dementia, why did those feelings or memories always have to in some way be negative towards Tony? Were resentment and enmity the only real or lasting feelings his uncle harbored towards him? In recognition of how much Junior used to play ball with Tony and watch him in his high school athletic pursuits, why couldn't he remember a time when Tony made a great play? Why couldn't he remember that Tony lettered in football instead of getting stuck on his own, inaccurate and demeaning conviction that Tony "didn't have the makings of a varsity athlete"? Why didn't he mistake Tony for a pro baseball player, or a street vendor, for that matter, instead of for a mortal enemy like Pussy Malenga?

I think those are legitimate questions, but, in the end, I'm not sure they can be answered or that, even if they can, the answers would rule out Junior having loved Tony to the extent that he is capable of loving. Everyone, I suppose, loves only as much or as little as they are able, and you can't truly hold a person morally responsible for what they do when their mental capacities have been reduced to the extent Junior's had.

I think Tony may have glimpsed something akin to this during the meeting with Junior. And there certainly would have been some sadness or poignancy associated with that realization since it tends to de-legitimize the rage and anger Tony had been harboring towards him. But I tend to think Tony was most saddened by simply looking at this weak, toothless, decrepid, completely isolated, babbling idiot that he loved like a father now rotting his last years away in a cold, impersonal state mental facility. Junior lived a life without giving much love and he was now reaping a slow death without receiving much love. There's no joy in witnessing that.

The capper, and the thing that made Tony almost run out of the hospital in fear or revulsion or something, was Junior's reaction to Tony trying to remind Junior, in almost reverant tones, that he and Johnny "used to run North Jersey". "Oh, that's nice," was Junior's reply. What a devastating, devastating indictment on the true value or meaning of what these men have devoted their lives to. Someone who once ran North Jersey is eating baby food without teeth, is soiling his own diapers, has no real concept of who he is or what happened in his lfe, has no family (especially after Bobby died) who really loves or cares for him, and who stares out a window all day in a drab, probably stench-filled, cacaphonous state hospital where he will one day die in squalor and ignominy. How comforting for him to ponder for a few milliseconds in his diseased mind, though, that he once ran North Jersey.

I agree with Corrado and bada and others that Tony did exhibit a kind of peace or very quiet "joy", if you like, in Holsten's that undoubtedly owed to the contrast he felt with the situation he'd just left. No matter how else he failed in his life and no matter how cursed his background was, he has known real love with his wife and children. He may one day find himself in a position not terribly different from Junior's -- i.e., institutionalized in a prison hospital or the like -- but his end will be more like Johnny Sac's in that he will have people around him that day who actually love him and for whom his life meant more than just the fact that he once ran North Jersey.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Return to “Sopranos Symbolism and Subtext”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests