Dickie Moltisanti

#1
This may not be as tight as it could, being that I'm at work (sshhh) but it's a point I've touched on over at the AV Club and I figured I'd bring it up here as well.

Three of the reasons usually given for Tony's murder of Christopher are his drug use, the carseat and the movie Cleaver. However, while all these are valid, I believe some people are missing something else.

We all know that Johnny Boy was not the kind of man that Junior, Tony, Fran and Paulie made him out to be. Subconsciously, I think Tony was forced to seek out other father figures in his life. Junior was obviously most important, followed by Dickie Moltisanti and then possibly Paulie, though he seemed more like a big brother. And Dickie is who I want to talk about.

Tony spends a lot of time, especially with Christopher, talking up Dickie. According to Tony, Dickie Moltisanti was just about the greatest guy around. When trying to explain why he feels the way he does about "Cleaver" he describes Dickie in the context of the relationship he has with Christopher as "He was like my me to him". "A mentor," Melfi offers, and Tony responds, "Yeah, but more than that. A friend, a guy you could look up to, that you could count on. And the hope is that you can pass that shit on, the love" He was also impressed with the set of balls (others would call it stupidity) Dickie possessed when he would pull shit like taking on a New England crew single-handedly. Johnny Boy, of course, was the most responsible for Tony ending up in the mob, but Dickie also played a big part. He was closer to Tony in age, he had been in the military and in prison...he was the awesome older brother/uncle.

However, that's just Tony's romanticized view of who Dickie Moltisanti really was. As I mentioned before, he spent most of the time he had with his wife and son either in the Navy or in prison. His wife can't bare to look at his picture and his cousin (Carmela) seems to make a face when ever Tony mentions his name. He took insane risks (the aforementioned New England story) and apparently pissed enough people off that he finally was taken out by a cop in front of his house. (Quick Note: Funny how Tony's memory has transformed Dickie into this mythic, legendary figure...and yet he sounds condescending when Christopher remembers the TV trays as a crib) There's also the fact that, the longer Chrissy was in recovery and the more he spoke to his mother, the more he and the audience realized that, in addition to his mom being an alcoholic, his father was that and much more. Booze, coke, "whatever he was squirting up his arm". The exact same shit Tony was about to murder Christopher over.

And there's the problem. As time went on, Christopher grew more disillusioned with who his father was. He was just a child when Dickie was killed, he barely knew the guy. It was much easier for him to accept the truth about his dad. Tony, on the other hand?

Well, Tony's big plan to name Christopher his successor started with Barry Haydu, the man who may or may not have killed Dickie Moltisanti. This "gift" tied Chrissy to Tony for the next two seasons...until Adrianna. After "Long Term Parking" and "All Due Respect"; and then through "Mr. and Mrs. Sacrimoni's Request" and "The Ride" his relationship with his father figure was irrevocably broken, and his view of his actual father started going through some reexamination. Christopher no longer was enchanted with the mob lifestyle, this was a guy who wanted to be in Hollywood since day one. And both "fathers" pushed him into an existence where he was forced to turn in the one person he truly loved, knowing she'd be killed. By "Stage 5" things that had been simmering for a while started to boil over. Both Tony and Chrissy realized that they each wanted the other dead. For Christopher, it was subconsciously. For Tony, it was after he realized the symbolism behind Cleaver. When they hugged in the church, I think the only thing that Tony was clinging to so he didn't have to murder Christopher was Dickie Moltisanti.

And then comes "Walk Like a Man". Christopher finally has Sunday dinner at his house (albeit with a wife he doesn't particularly give a shit about...or really known, even) and Tony starts giving him shit again about his sobriety over the grill. And then Christopher starts challenging him. Tony insists that Chrissy should be able to have a drink here and there without any complications, and when Chris insists that it isn't that simple, Tony replies, "Make it simple" and tries to equate it with the fact that he can't eat spicy food after being shot. Chris then changes tactics and, for the first time since the first season, mentions Tony's depression and therapy as a comparison. Then, in a wildly hypocritical moment which even Christopher can see, Tony refers to his depression as a disease and Chrissy's addiction as a crutch. As he sees Tony as completely unreceptive and unsympathetic, he comes out with "And what about my father?" If I'm not mistaken, Tony looks stunned for a moment, then asks "What about him?" Christopher, with a "Oh, come on!" look on his face, proceeds to completely shatter the legendary image of Dickie that Tony's had in his head for decades. "Between the coke, the vodka, whatever the fuck else he was squirting up his arm..." And then finally:

"Let's be honest about the great Dickie Moltisanti, my father, your hero...he wasn't much more than a fucking junkie"

In my opinion, that was it. Tony's view of Dickie, second only to Johnny in his opinion, was destroyed, replaced with the idea that Dickie then was exactly like Christopher is now. Also, the murder of Barry Haydu means nothing now. Whether he actually killed Dickie or not, it doesn't matter. If Christopher no longer gives a shit about his father or the memory of him, and sees him as a worthless drug addict, he's no longer tied to Tony through that "gift". I think it also brought Tony one step closer to examining who Johnny Boy really was and his relationship with him...the one thing he never wanted or could bring himself to do, and by the end of the series, he never did.

Even if Christopher hadn't been high on the way back from that meeting with Phil, it would've happened. Even if he hadn't lost control trying to avoid Kennedy and Heidi, it would've happened. Even if the tree branch hadn't gone through the car seat, or Chris didn't admit that he was high, it would've happened. It just happened to be the perfect opportunity. Yes...the drug use, the unreliability, his knowledge of Richie, Ralphie, Adrianna, Bevilaqua...it all would've added up eventually. But once Christopher finally decided to "Walk Like a Man", even if it was only standing up to Tony during one of his condescending lectures, it was only a matter of time. Tony was looking for an opportunity, it just came sooner rather than later.

I hope that came out better than I think it did.

EDIT: Why did I put this in Symbolism and Subtext?
What violin?!

Re: Dickie Moltisanti

#2
Very good post. I agree with everything you said. Probably the most salient message that Chase gave us throughout this series was that ultimately mobsters kill their own.

It might appear now that Dickie was not killed by that cop.

The father and son motif figures heavily in the Sopranos. I suppose one title Chase could have used in an episode was "All in the Family".

I don't think it was any accident that the final scene had a Johnny Boy lookalike appear. It has been argued he was sent to make a hit on Tony.

If it is assumed that Tony was eliminated that night then his demise did not really spell the end of the cycle.

Somewhere down the track that same Made Man in the Member's Only jacket would get his back as well. The son follows the father, the father follows the son....

Re: Dickie Moltisanti

#3
Pope Corky the IX wrote:
"Let's be honest about the great Dickie Moltisanti, my father, your hero...he wasn't much more than a fucking junkie"

I realised the significance of Chris saying that to Tony at the time. Reflecting on it, there are several aspects at play:

  • Tony respected Dickie and Chris is flatly disagreeing with him and telling him he is wrong. This is likely to anger a sociopath like Tony.
  • Tony has said Dickie was his mentor and that he wanted to be like him. He has said he saw himself as Chris's mentor. Chris is saying he wants to be nothing like Dickie and by extension then, nothing like his protege Tony. Tony will thus take that as disrespect to himself personally.
  • As Chris is effectively saying he doesn't want to be like Tony (which was Tony's plan) the question arises where is there for things to go from here for Chris, what does Chris want, does he even want to be in the mafia?
  • The diminishing of Dickie in Tony's eyes (if it would sink in and resonate with Tony - as in a similar way some level of realisation happened with respect to Johnny Boy) diminishes Chris also, diminishing his 'protection'. Tony hates Chris's drug addiction and by Chris characterising Dickie as a junkie it could stir a similar perception with respect to Dickie in Tony's mind. Hearing Dickie spoken of in such a way could be a hammer blow with respect to Tony's perception of Dickie, Chris and the situation between Tony and Chris.
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