Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#21
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:.....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.


It's plausible that when Tony said "I get it!" in his epiphany, that was exactly what he was referring to. Especially since he was communing with a rising "Son" at dawn.

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#22
turangawaewae wrote:So can we assume that Tony was never going to "heaven"? Did he follow the teachings of Jesus Christ? If the answer is no, does that mean the coma dream was just a dream rather than representing a near death experience?


No way would i ever presume to say we could know if Tony was going to heaven or not. Seemed to me he followed the "teachings of Christ" sometimes and obviously not others. (i think the idea is more to follow actually Christ, not just his teachings- meaning the willingness to follow Him even if it means sacrificing your life; or whatever you thought your life was...).

My take has always been that this whole show was a redemption story, and that Tony definitely achieved some level of redemption, even if it wasn't in the obvious sense like most people who live more "normal", 'socially' crime-free lives. His avenue of redemption included his journey through therapy and his progress in improving the way his children were raised compared to how he was raised. Introspection that resulted in actual changes- visible and apparent and real.

i am not seeing a connection as to why, regarding the coma dream vs. a NDE, one precludes the other- but its possible that Chase intended the scene to have some of the markers of the classic Near Death Experience: The bright light at the end, etc. But it didn't have the classic tunnel imagery, so i dunno. When i had a NDE, i definitely didn't have all my past images racing before my eyes, or conversations with people i knew, etc. Maybe Tony's dream wasn't fully Near Death, but enough to get him to reflect on his life. AFter my own experience, i didn't really reflect on my past life. I just actually changed, and was forever new and different. I remembered my past, but it wasn't so anchored or problematic to my present.

Which is why i can relate to Tony being possibly truly changed after his rising sun (Son) epiphany, regardless of the fact that he had killed Christopher and done many other horrible crimes. He was truly forgiven that day, and HE GOT IT. He received the forgiveness, and most importantly, accepted it. (i have other posts on this topic, so i won't belabor this thread with it). imho, Tony was a new man.

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#23
btw, i am aware that we have somewhat digressed on the topic of the Coma Dream, versus the Test Dream- which this thread is about. In that light, here is a tidbit from Wikipedia that really re-orients the original interp of the meaning of the title "Test Dream":

David Chase explained that the title refers to the dreams where an individual turns up late for a test in school and is wearing no clothing, meaning that the person is unprepared for a test or another task they have to face.[1]NJ.com: The stuff that Tony's dreams are made of

Also of interest: The book that Tony finds in the men's bathroom during his dream is The Valachi Papers, written by Peter Maas; it is the famous book based on the testimony of the first major informant within the Mafia and first person to confirm the existence of Cosa Nostra. It is seen again when Tony states he's done his homework. (emphasis mine).

Tony in his Dream: Season 5, Ep63

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Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#24
[B]FYI, Here's the article that Chase is quoted from, explaining aspects of The Test Dream:[/B]

[B](From The Star Ledger):[/B]

[B]"The stuff that Tony's dreams are made of"[/B]


Monday, March 06, 2006
THERE ARE going to be more dreams. Deal with it.
The only complaint more persistent among "Sopranos" fans than all the whining about whacking is those loud and long protests whenever Tony checks into a hotel and the viewers check into his unconscious mind.
The nightmarish griping came to a head late last season with "The Test Dream," an episode whose centerpiece was a 20-minute, 38-second dream sequence that included Tony on horseback; Annette Bening and dead cop Vin Makazian as the parents of Meadow's boyfriend, Finn; dead characters riding with Tony in his father's car, and Tony chased by a torch-bearing, lederhosen-clad mob, among other surreal images.
"The Test Dream" seemed to especially anger the whacking crowd because it took place late in the season, just as the New York mob civil war storyline was threatening to satisfy their bloodlust.
The "Sopranos" writers know a portion of their audience doesn't like the dreams.
And they don't care.
"People complained to me about it," says writer/producer Terence Winter, "and I said, "The opening shot of this series is a guy in a psychiatrist's office. You think maybe the show is going to deal with dreams and psychology?' That's how you've met Tony Soprano, so the show deals with that stuff. So if you're interested in Tony Soprano, aren't you interested in what he thinks about, what he dreams about? You would hope.
"Unfortunately, some people, all they're interested in is the mob (stuff). Everyone has their own thing. You can't please everybody."
"I know people complain about them, but we come by them honestly," agrees creator David Chase. "This is the story of a therapy patient, and dreams form a lot of that."
It's not as if "The Test Dream" should have been such a shock to the audience's system. Tony has been having bizarre dreams and hallucinations going all the way back to the show's fourth episode, where he struggled with erotic fantasies about Dr. Melfi and nightmares that his fellow mobsters would find out she was treating him.
And that was far from the last one before "The Test Dream." To name just a few: Near the end of season one, he hallucinated entire encounters with an Italian woman staying at the house next door. Whole chunks of "Funhouse," the season two finale, were taken up with visions of Tony at the Jersey Shore, lighting himself on fire and having conversations with a talking fish that sounded a lot like Big Pussy. The fourth season's "Calling All Cars" introduced the idea of Johnny Soprano's car as a chariot for the dead.
And over the years, we've also seen the dreams of Melfi (trapped under a vending machine as her rapist approaches), Christopher (haunted by the ghost of the first man he killed) and even Silvio (searching the Bada-Bing for a piece of cheese to feed that dead rat Pussy).
Though the dreams can illustrate aspects of Tony's psyche that plot and dialogue can't, they often serve a more practical purpose.
"We've used those dreams to further the narrative," says Chase. "For example, "Funhouse' could have been a story in which Tony gets some information that Pussy's the rat and he tracks it down and we do some stultifying procedural until we have the proof in hand. And I just couldn't go through that. I can't stand that (stuff). So we just decided it would be more interesting, that on some level Tony knows this, that his friend is betraying him, and it makes him ill in combination with some bad chicken, and his subconscious erupts like that and gives him the information."
Same with "The Test Dream," which took place just as Tony's cousin Tony B. was seeking vengeance against New York captain Phil Leotardo for the death of his friend Angelo. As Tony was dreaming of Tony B. shooting at Phil with his finger, the real Tony B. was using a real gun to wound Phil and kill Phil's brother Billy.
The episode's title refers to one of the classic anxiety dreams, in which you show up to school naked or otherwise unprepared to take a test or do some other task you're afraid to face. Throughout the dream, everyone Tony meets seems to be urging him to get rid of Tony B., from Bening to his high school football coach to the voice of God on the telephone -- played, appropriately, by Chase himself. ("I get those calls all the time," jokes Winter.)
"Tony knew, somehow or other, his cousin was up to no good," says Chase. "He got it a little wrong, but there was a feeling in his being somewhere that it was not going to end well with his cousin."
Chase, who scripts most of the dream sequences, acknowledges that "because we do a psychiatric show, (the dreams) are interpretable." However, the symbolism doesn't always come out intentionally.
Chase and the writers try to let the dream imagery "come from our subconscious," he said. While he was writing "Funhouse," the image of Tony riding a bicycle to a fish market came into his head, and then he remembered the success he had on "Northern Exposure" using digital technology to create a talking dog. From there, he wound up with Pussy as a talking fish, which in turn evoked the old "Godfather" line about sleeping with the fishes.
"So you have to wonder why, in my mind, subconsciously, he rode up to a fish market. I wasn't thinking, 'Let's do it, it'll be cool because he sleeps with the fishes.' It just started with this guy, he's riding somewhere, he's on a bicycle, and it turned out to be a fish market. And to me, that's kind of like a real dream. And then I realized, 'Oh, he sleeps with the fishes.' And then that led to the whole thing where (Pussy really) went into the ocean at the end."
Bening pops up in "The Test Dream" because, as Chase figures, "Tony watches mob movies, and he would've watched 'Bugsy.'" Vin Makazian isn't there because of his role in Tony's past, or because his first name sounds like Finn's, but simply because Chase missed working with actor John Heard.
It also isn't a coincidence that Tony's dreams in "Calling All Cars" and "Test Dream" both took place while he was staying in a hotel.
"It seems to me that when I travel, that I dream," says Chase. "Something about the foreign, strange room causes it, the dislocation. I think there are studies that show people dream more in hotels."
Early in the new season, Tony spends several episodes in another hotel in another strange city and ... well, we'll have to address that one, and what is and isn't a dream, a few weeks down the road, when heads will probably be scratched even more furiously than after "The Test Dream." "I, myself, find fault with (the dreams) sometimes," admits Chase. "I wish we could do them better. But I feel that there's a natural affinity between the way film unspools on a screen and the way a dream unspools. I can't stay away from it."

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#26
B]FlyonMelfiswall said:[/B]
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.


That's some great insight. What troubles me about your interpretation is that Tony's murder of Chris could be seen as a somewhat noble act or some sort of progress for Tony. Tony's murder of Chris was an evil act. Chris was the "son" Tony was supposed to protect and didn't (closer to Livia's "infanticide"). This after Tony had sabotoged Christophers attempt at staying clean. Tony sleeping with Sonja is the ultimate manifestation of Tony's petty insecurites. Tony failed to sleep with both Adriana and Julianna (to women who loved Chris) and now he finally bests Chris by sleeping with Sonja.

I see Tony's near murder of Paulie on the boat as more of a subconscious desire to murder his father although the act would have been just as cowardly.

I do disagree with "Heidi" referring to the cut off football broadcast. I think "Kennedy and Heidi" refers to the widow (Jackie Kennedy) and the orphan (the famous orphan Heidi). I don't see Chase cutting off the end of [I]Made in America for such a superflous wink to the audience about a long ago football game. Besides, the football broadcast was interrupted for another program. The final scene is interrupted for 10 seconds or so of nothing. I don't see them as analogous.

I find your breakdown of Coach Molinaro really provocative. The theme also fits really nicely into the Vito Jr. subplot (as you mentioned). Tony seems to want to be a better father than Johnny but always returns to his worst instincts. He forces A.J. to hang out with the two Jason's and almost indirectly seals A.J.'s fate to a life of crime.

I agree that Johnny Boy-Tony-AJ seems to be the major theme of the final season. MOJ looks a lot like Johnny Boy and walks into the diner in front of AJ. Tony's father has essentially ruined his life. MOJ may be there to finish the job, to murder his "son" (just like Tony killed Chris). In Chasing It Tony tells Vito Jr. that he now has to be the man of the house and gently grabs his arm. Tony gently grabs AJ's arm in the diner. These scenes are remarkably similar and may indicate the future awaiting A.J. A future that, if you believe Tony died right there, (which I uncategorically do), will be compromised by seeing his own father's bloody murder. The question remains whether Tony passed along enough "good" to his son to not have him resigned to his same fate. Can AJ make it or is he fated to the same JohnnyBoy/Tony/Christopher/Juinor cycle created by a lifetime of exposure to LCN?

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#27
CamMan wrote:B]FlyonMelfiswall said:[/B]


That's some great insight. What troubles me about your interpretation is that Tony's murder of Chris could be seen as a somewhat noble act or some sort of progress for Tony. Tony's murder of Chris was an evil act. Chris was the "son" Tony was supposed to protect and didn't (closer to Livia's "infanticide"). This after Tony had sabotoged Christophers attempt at staying clean. Tony sleeping with Sonja is the ultimate manifestation of Tony's petty insecurites. Tony failed to sleep with both Adriana and Julianna (to women who loved Chris) and now he finally bests Chris by sleeping with Sonja.

I see Tony's near murder of Paulie on the boat as more of a subconscious desire to murder his father although the act would have been just as cowardly.

I do disagree with "Heidi" referring to the cut off football broadcast. I think "Kennedy and Heidi" refers to the widow (Jackie Kennedy) and the orphan (the famous orphan Heidi). I don't see Chase cutting off the end of [I]Made in America for such a superflous wink to the audience about a long ago football game. Besides, the football broadcast was interrupted for another program. The final scene is interrupted for 10 seconds or so of nothing. I don't see them as analogous.

I find your breakdown of Coach Molinaro really provocative. The theme also fits really nicely into the Vito Jr. subplot (as you mentioned). Tony seems to want to be a better father than Johnny but always returns to his worst instincts. He forces A.J. to hang out with the two Jason's and almost indirectly seals A.J.'s fate to a life of crime.

I agree that Johnny Boy-Tony-AJ seems to be the major theme of the final season. MOJ looks a lot like Johnny Boy and walks into the diner in front of AJ. Tony's father has essentially ruined his life. MOJ may be there to finish the job, to murder his "son" (just like Tony killed Chris). In Chasing It Tony tells Vito Jr. that he now has to be the man of the house and gently grabs his arm. Tony gently grabs AJ's arm in the diner. These scenes are remarkably similar and may indicate the future awaiting A.J. A future that, if you believe Tony died right there, (which I uncategorically do), will be compromised by seeing his own father's bloody murder. The question remains whether Tony passed along enough "good" to his son to not have him resigned to his same fate. Can AJ make it or is he fated to the same JohnnyBoy/Tony/Christopher/Juinor cycle created by a lifetime of exposure to LCN?



Chase directly answered that question in an interview. He talked about small improvements from generation to generation. He stated that Meadow would not be a whore housewife like her mother, and that AJ would be a low level movie producer. If this issue really was the focus of the last series, why would Chase so readily talk about it in the interview?

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#30
Geez- i am so glad you clarified that! i was sitting here trying to figure out your post! i knew you must have meant something more than i was getting!! So now, you really have said something new and different than i have been hearing for a long time. Never thought of connecting the name Heidi to the empty carseat that served as a sort of placeholder for the absent soon-to-be orphan. That ominous shot of the empty seat showed as much presence as a real person sitting in it. Like the invisible sound of silence; making itself heard.

Very interesting that thru the selfishness of the two teenagers, --(Kennedy and Heidi, driving on a Learner's Permit after dark and fleeing the car wreck scene so as not to be caught...)--they ended up sort of indirectly causing the opportunity for the creation of another set of "parallel Kennedy and Heidi's": Widow and Orphan. Choices lead to Consequences. More succint and clear insights from CamMan!

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