Corrado wrote:I read on the other thread that you were disappointed with the closure, and you said here the long journey ultimately took us nowhere.
Though I can understand the reasoning behind it I tend to disagree. I already mentioned AJ´s suicide attempt and the metaphorical meaning. However we look at Tony he is a much better father to AJ than Johnnyboy to him or any other father figure. He was headed down the same road, projecting his wishes and failed aspirations on AJ when AJ played football, or when he came up with the idea of military school where boys are educated to become disciplined men. He was confronted with the fact that his son is a week coward, a disgrace for a man of Tony´s nature and position, but he showed support for his kid. I doubt the Tony from the pilot would have been able to do the same. But of course that´s just a wild speculation on my part except for threatening to kill his son Chris in the pilot if he chooses the movie biz while his son AJ enters the same biz in the very last episode.
I can only speak for me, I wouldn´t describe the destination as nowhere only because the main character might not have changed, I think after such a long journey no one can have the same view as in the beginning of the journey. At least when it comes to television.
My feelings in the days and even first few months after the finale were all over the place, unsettled. I was "psyching myself out" a lot to try to make myself like and accept the way things ended, but the handwriting was on the wall with Kennedy and Heidi
. Tony would not only experience no true (lasting) introspection, insight, or spiritual growth, he would commit what amounted to ostensibly the worst act of betrayal of his life just four episodes from the end of the series. Since I was obsessed with Tony finding some kind of moral or spiritual redemption, and especially since I felt we were mercilessly teased, via the coma dream/NDE, with prospect that it was coming, I couldn't help but feel enormously let down.
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.
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.
Before I forget, Al Molinari was the actor who played the owner of a diner called “Arnold´s” on the show “Happy days”. Does that ring any bells?:icon_mrgreen:
The Molinari family on the coast guaranteed Fredo's safety, too.