Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#11
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:I'm glad this thread still sees some activity. It's been quite a while since I've read it, and I've gone through some important revisions of interpretations in my own mind since I wrote it, which was back in the week after that episode first aired.

I must also remind that several key interpretations in this post owe not to me but to chaseisgod and bravado. Sadly bravado is no longer posting with us, but chaseisgod is still here. Would be curious to see how he may view this episode now 3 years on.


If you ever have the time to post them, I would be interested in reading the new interpretations you have about The Test Dream episode. This episode has always fascinated me so much.

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#12
Great article!!! Wish I saw it sooner. Better late then never I guess. I'm particularly interested in Carmela's role in the Dream. I'm not sure if it ever dawned on Tony just to run from it all, but it was deep in his subconscious. Unfortunately my head is not working at the moment, lol. But I hope to watch the whole 86 episodes again and try to figure it all out. I think too much focus has been put on those final scenes and not on the show as a whole. What was the overall point and purpose of the show? I think these questions are still left unanswered. I think we have some pieces of the puzzle, but their are still a few pieces missing. I sometimes think I have it all figured out (well some of it). But like Tony, thoughts pop into my head and I think I have it grasped and then whoosh their GONE. Much like life, its not the destination that matters, its the journey.

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#13
Watched this episdoe again last night, and I think it is one of my favourites.

There is just so much to analyse there!

Personally, I see this episode as pivotal to understanding the ultimate ending.

There is the obvious link in that it is the first time we are made aware (I think) of the study that proves to be the divinding factor in Tony's therapy.

I think I need to watch it a few more times before I'm at Fly's level of understanding though!

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#14
Would love to read a post from you FOMW about how the "Test Dream" episode relates to season six a and b story lines. Chase has said in interviews that season five was a set up and blueprint for season six. Interested in revisiting this??? I love your posts. Thanks for everything!
[font="Franklin Gothic Medium"]You know, Vito called me “skip” the other day. Slip of the tongue, no doubt. But I noticed he didn’t correct himself.[/font][SIZE="1"][/SIZE]

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#15
SilvioMancini wrote:Would love to read a post from you FOMW about how the "Test Dream" episode relates to season six a and b story lines. Chase has said in interviews that season five was a set up and blueprint for season six. Interested in revisiting this??? I love your posts. Thanks for everything!


I don't recall Chase saying that, Silvio. That's interesting.

I haven't really tried to analyze the dream in light of season 6 specifically. It's still one the series' best episodes, IMO, but it was obviously about Tony's most repressed regrets and wishes and was never anywhere near as prophetic as I thought (hoped) it might be.

I suppose you could say that the ending phone conversation foreshadowed Tony's coma when a veil of darkness (the coma) came between him and the world of the living and Carmela was literally his communication link with that world. So instead of foreshadowing Carmela's death or near death, it was foreshadowing Tony's.

You could also say that whole moral dilemma that Tony confronts in the dream was a precursor to the similar moral dilemma/identity crisis that he confronts in his coma. And the "Christmas Carol" notion of spiritual rebirth, and of it never being too late to change, is echoed in the similar ringing of bells and the sudden transformation Tony feels as Janice and company are wheeling him out of the hospital and the wind overtakes him.

Off the top of my head, if I had to make one thematic link between Test Dream and the bulk of season 6 (both parts), I'd say it's about Tony acting out his Test Dream "mission" to kill his "father", represented in Test Dream by coach Molinaro and, ultimately, by Christopher in season 6b. (His mission in the dream morphed from killing his inner gangster to, by dream's end, killing the coach who was a composite of all his father figures.)

While the real coach Molinaro was clearly a (solitary?) "good" father figure in Tony's life, the Molinaro of his dream has an ominous, disturbing duality (like Carmela and Tony himself), suggested by the demonic red jacket and hat and damp, dungeon-like locker room where Tony goes to find him. Almost every admonishment, observation, or piece of advice the coach gives is subject to diametrically opposite interpretations. He chastises Tony for being friends with a good guy like Artie yet also for not "cleaving himself away from the bums (gangsters)" he hung with. He sarcastically wagers that Tony blames his problems on "his father" but just as sarcastically laughs "even better" when Tony confides that he blames his mother more.

So is Molinaro genuinely relieved that Tony is not blaming the coach himself ("father") for what he became or is he sarcastically chastising Tony for blaming anyone other than himself for what he chose to do with his own life? Was the "field of sport" where the coach said Tony was meant to lead other men the sport of football or the sport of mob machinations? Was the mixed sports/mob metaphor why Tony was always so particularly sensitive to Junior's "never had the makings of a varsity athlete" insult, i.e., never had the makings of a guy that could really make it in a legit enterprise like coaching or never had the makings of a guy who could be a successful mob boss? This pattern goes on and on in the dream, with the result that you can never be sure which "father" Tony is there to kill and which voice he's there to silence: the voice telling him he should have been a football coach or the one bragging about his success as a mob boss.

If Chase spent significant parts of four seasons focusing on Tony's relationship with his mother and its long-term effects on who he became, part of season 6a and the great majority of season 6b was, IMO, about dealing with the unique influence that fathers and surrogate fathers have on the development of sons and with Tony's unacknowledged hatred and resentment for Johnnyboy and other male role models of his ilk. There was the Vito Jr. storyline of 6a, where Tony intervened enough to hopefully avert another Jackie Jr. situation from developing, ultimately financing Vito Jr.'s sequestration to a "tough love" camp not unlike the military academy he wanted for AJ years earlier.

Most important was his intervention in AJ's life trajectory in two pivotal episodes, Johnny Cakes and Cold Stones. Looking back and trying to discern what, if any, lasting victory Tony's good moral impulses scored, you'd have to say the pinnacle came when he slammed AJ up against an SUV and flat out told him that killing Uncle Junior was "wrong," that AJ did not have the capacity for that kind of evil or violence within him and that Tony was "very grateful" for that fact. There was a brief moment of a mixed message when Tony betrayed shame that AJ proved so inept at executing his revenge plan. But the overwhelming sentiment was that a gangster way of life was beneath AJ.

It stands in stark contrast to the message Tony's own father delivered to him after Tony saw Johnnyboy chop off Satriale's finger. Where Tony was relieved that AJ didn't have it in him to be a killer, Johhnyboy was proud of Tony's seeming stoicism in the face of horrendous violence. He equated masculine maturity with that stoicism ("most boys your age would have cried like a little girl") and took the opportunity to teach that it was all Satriale's fault for being a lowly gambler, that gambling was wrong, and that chopping off a finger to collect a gambling debt was a perfectly legitimate way to "put food on the table". So even though Tony's panic attack moments later betrayed that he might not have been the genetic gangster his father thought he was, this "intervention" by Johnnyboy was nevertheless a pivotal influence in Tony's life and undoubtedly a signal of an even greater conditioning that led Tony into a life of organized crime.

Throughout the series, Melfi kept trying to make Tony ascribe fault to his father for everything from failing to protect the children from their "borderline mother" to modeling violent behavior, a short temper, and habitual dishonesty toward and betrayal of a spouse. Until the end, Tony would never condemn his father out loud, even though In Camelot unmistakably signaled the beginning of Tony subconsciously demythologizing Johnnyboy and even though Test Dream pointedly shows Tony's wish for a father like Artie, symbolized when Artie takes over driving Johnnyboy's car, leading Tony on his flight from a literal "mob" and "coaching" him to eschew "whorze" (Tony's wish for the horse hooves heard outside to "go away") in favor of more rewarding sex with Carmela (represented by "wife" Charmaine and the perfected female symbol Pie'O'My, who Tony introduced to Carmela with the same "she loves it when you rub her muzzle" line that Artie tells Tony in relation to Charmaine.)

I'm mindful of several key points here, first Tony's obvious shame at Johnnyboy shooting a gun through Livia's hairdo and his sabotage of Bobby's relative "innocence" after the fight in Soprano Home Movies, sabotage triggered by the embarrassment of losing the fight but motivated much more deeply out of fundamental jealousy that Bobby had a father who shielded him from the ugliest elements of mob life. I'm also mindful of Tony's hurt when he realized the kind of repressed hatred Chris had for him via Cleaver as well as the reciprocal hatred it suggested Tony had for his own father, born out in the fact that the very symbol for that movie (a bloody meat cleaver) was the best symbol for Tony's loss of innocence at the hands of his father and for the start of his indoctrination into mob life.

Then there was all of the episode Remember When, where Tony recalls his hesitation on his first hit, a job assigned by his own father (a fact that obviously bothers Tony when he leaves the table in the bar) and one where Paulie, who Tony admits viewing as a father figure at one time, urges him on. In that episode, Tony is annoyed at the most trivial things about Paulie and seeks to use the archaic revelation of the Jenny Sac joke as an excuse to murder him (with a cleaver-like implement). In a clear story parallel, the Asian kid that "adopted" Junior as a surrogate father and role model attacks him in the end with a murderous ferocity.

In the next episode, Tony seems to escalate his gambling to new, pathological levels, perhaps in subconscious rebellion against the father that taught him how wrong it was to gamble. He also goes out of his way to antagonize and humiliate another guy whose age and position made him a father figure of sorts, Hesh.

Also of great importance, I think, is Melfi's remark to Elliot in season 6a, that Tony would never discuss Junior shooting him and what must have been the terrible hurt of knowing that his father's brother -- and the man after Johnnyboy whom Tony most viewed as a father figure -- tried to kill him, not once but twice. She warned that she felt it was just a "matter of time before he totally decompensates". Recall further the Yeats poem first quoted by Melfi in Cold Cuts when she again raised the issue of Johnnyboy chopping off Satriale's finger and referenced that "the center cannot hold" and that depression is "rage turned inward". The poem reappears very conspicuously in season 6b, near the time when Tony kills Chris, and we are again directed to its key message: a widening gyre (orbit) away from some tethering gravity or belief, a loosing of "mere anarchy" and pent-up rage, and a "rough beast" that "slouches toward Bethlehem to be born" (harking back to the analogy of therapy to "childbirth"). Message: when a gangster "gets in touch with his feelings" -- or does so in only a half-assed way, the rebirth may be hideously ugly.

In this case, Tony came to at least subconsciously acknowledge that he hated his father, and he acted out that hatred by killing a proxy: a drugged-out, murderous mobster who was a danger to his own child. His "decompensation" for Junior's shooting -- and for all the other wrongs done him as a "son" at the hands of bad fathers -- happened not in a fit of tears or one cataclysmic panic attack but in a fit of rage redirected from inward to outward. He couldn't feel remorse or contrition for an act of what felt like righteous vengeance that took him a lifetime to consummate.

The "he's dead" in the Kennedy and Heidi casino scene referred not to Chris, IMO, but to the composite father that he tried to kill in Test Dream, Johnnyboy being the "Kennedy" part (clear reference to In Camelot) and Molinaro being the "Heidi" part (I exhaustively argued in the K & H forum that I think the "Heidi" in that title referenced the famous Jets game where TV coverage was abruptly terminated right before the end in order to broadcast the movie "Heidi", an argument that gains a lot more traction in view of Jets coach Eric Mangini's later cameo in Blue Comet and the end of Made in America.)

I suppose the unspoken epiphany that Tony has at the end of K & H will always be a mystery, but the sudden flare of a rising sun (or "son") gives, I think, the biggest clue: Tony has a conscious realization (though drug-induced and not recalled afterward) that, in killing Chris, he was acting on lifelong rage against his own father and against men like Junior and Paulie and Dickie Moltisanti and that, by the same token, in feeling the brunt of Chris' own hatred towards him, he was experiencing the same phenomenon from the other side. It resonates with his "everything is everything" or "everything is one" lesson from quantum physics as well as his coma insight that he and Finnerty were really one and the same person. He is both wronged son and bad father, both (would-be) murdered nephew and murdering uncle.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#16
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:.....

Also of great importance, I think, is Melfi's remark to Elliot in season 6a, that Tony would never discuss Junior shooting him and what must have been the terrible hurt of knowing that his father's brother -- and the man after Johnnyboy whom Tony most viewed as a father figure -- tried to kill him, not once but twice. She warned that she felt it was just a "matter of time before he totally decompensates". Recall further the Yeats poem first quoted by Melfi in Cold Cuts when she again raised the issue of Johnnyboy chopping off Satriale's finger and referenced that "the center cannot hold" and that depression is "rage turned inward". The poem reappears very conspicuously in season 6b, near the time when Tony kills Chris, and we are again directed to its key message: a widening gyre (orbit) away from some tethering gravity or belief, a loosing of "mere anarchy" and pent-up rage, and a "rough beast" that "slouches toward Bethlehem to be born" (harking back to the analogy of therapy to "childbirth"). Message: when a gangster "gets in touch with his feelings" -- or does so in only a half-assed way, the rebirth may be hideously ugly.



i think you are spot-on here. Especially because 'Therapy', in and of itself, is almost like an actual "character" in the series-- Chase has said repeatedly how important it is as a theme to the whole show, and any of his references to it thru the show are, imo, pivotal to interpretation of the End and the whole meaning.

Also, any rebirth, imho, while maybe "hideously ugly", is still rebirth, nonetheless....ANd while we don't know what world the person/beast rebirthing is born into, whoever is reborn still comes in fresh, new, and presumably, innocent...

I suppose the unspoken epiphany that Tony has at the end of K & H will always be a mystery, but the sudden flare of a rising sun (or "son") gives, I think, the biggest clue: Tony has a conscious realization (though drug-induced and not recalled afterward) that, in killing Chris, he was acting on lifelong rage against his own father and against men like Junior and Paulie and Dickie Moltisanti and that, by the same token, in feeling the brunt of Chris' own hatred towards him, he was experiencing the same phenomenon from the other side. It resonates with his "everything is everything" or "everything is one" lesson from quantum physics as well as his coma insight that he and Finnerty were really one and the same person. He is both wronged son and bad father, both (would-be) murdered nephew and murdering uncle.


I see this more as the Tony's revelation of his own participation and unavoidable connection to "the Sins of the Fathers (and Mothers)": Original Sin. He, like anyone, is connected -through his umbilical cord- to the long chain of humanity, with all its flaws and inherited sins and predilection to continue sinning; often, after the manner of our parents. However, imo, it also includes (perhaps yet-to-be realized) opportunities for redemption. It ain't over 'til it's over....(and of course, i argue that it ain't over for Tony...) :smile:

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#17
This is a question rather than an interpretation. From my limited knowledge of Christianity, simply being a good person isn't enough to "get" you into heaven. You have to accept Jesus Christ. (I may be generalising here, but the Christians I have talked to have given me this interpretation). Does that mean that any redemption or spiritual rebirth was in terms of Tony becoming a good person, rather than Tony not being condemned to eternal death?
What do Buddhists believe in respect to the afterlife? Is simply being a good person sufficient to move up the reincarnation foodchain?

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#18
Thanks Fly for responding!

I really love your knowledge and insights. Maybe I was wrong about what Chase said but I thought he said in an interview once that he had written season five anticipating a season six and maybe even having ideas then about the arc of the whole series concluding. So with him saying that I was assuming things in season five correlate closely to season six. I like you assessment of him dealing with the father side of himself. It is totally obvious given the story lines throughout season six.
If you have any more ideas please do share and thanks again!
[font="Franklin Gothic Medium"]You know, Vito called me “skip” the other day. Slip of the tongue, no doubt. But I noticed he didn’t correct himself.[/font][SIZE="1"][/SIZE]

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#19
turangawaewae wrote:This is a question rather than an interpretation. From my limited knowledge of Christianity, simply being a good person isn't enough to "get" you into heaven. You have to accept Jesus Christ. (I may be generalising here, but the Christians I have talked to have given me this interpretation). Does that mean that any redemption or spiritual rebirth was in terms of Tony becoming a good person, rather than Tony not being condemned to eternal death?
What do Buddhists believe in respect to the afterlife? Is simply being a good person sufficient to move up the reincarnation foodchain?


There are several relevant Biblical passages that come to mind when this question arises, many from Christ's own lips:

  • "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but by me."
  • "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
  • "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
  • "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
  • Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."
Most Christians maintain words like these mean that there can be no spiritual salvation without acceptance of Christ as one's personal savior. It may be semantics, but I think an equally valid interpretation is that one attains everlasting life and spiritual redemption by simply believing Christ's message (the sermon on the mount) and believing that He was who He said He was -- the son of God -- or that he was sent by and authentically represented the will and word of God.

In the latter interpretation, there are no particular words or pledges that matter. Rather it's simply a matter of belief in the divinity of Christ and his teachings. Good works or living a good life is not relevant. Redemption is granted by grace for the simple act of belief.
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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