Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#41
badabellisima wrote: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 agree that whatever redemption Tony earned (and I believe that's not much) had to relate to the fact that he was an immensely better parent to his own, biological children than his parents ever were to him. As you point out, that notion of "small progress" by each generation is one "message" of the show that Chase explicitly acknowledged in interviews post-finale.

On the other hand, Tony was a horrendous "father" to Chris, as bad as (or worse than) any father, real or surrogate, had been to him. And Tony's blindness to that fact persisted even as the cauldron of his own paternal hatred was erupting volcanically. He actually believed that he did Chris some sort of favor (an act of "'pity", as he tells Melfi) by murdering Adriana. The level of self-deceit, emotional myopathy, and moral vacuity it takes to maintain such a belief is truly staggering and has to be put on the other side of any scale that attempts to measure Tony's ultimate redemption or success at introspection.
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.
I see it as Chase's own creation in acknowledgment of a parallel spiritual or metaphysical alter-reality where he feels free to use both familiar and completely original metaphors and symbols to communicate. I think of it as completely "real" in the sense that Tony experienced spiritually everything we saw in Costa Mesa while also experiencing physically what we saw in the hospital room. And to me the culmination was the NDE-like white light that he saw as he flatlined but which resolved into the bright light of his hospital room when he was shocked back to life. Truly a brilliant concept by Chase.

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.
I can't get there. In order to receive forgiveness you have to first acknowledge that you need it. And I never saw any indication from Tony, inside the peyote trip or out, that indicated he felt the contrition that is a precondition to the authentic giving and acceptance of forgiveness. I would like to believe as you, but it just feels far too speculative (if you can keep a straight face hearing THAT from me, LMAO:icon_biggrin:).

As I said before, his fleeting epiphany would seem to me to relate more to a firsthand appreciation for the unity of the universe that the physicist and Bhuddists talked about and to unity/symmetry in his own roles as bad father/wronged son.

As a side note, it really is a shame that the upcoming DVD box set will not (apparently) include commentaries on K & H and other episodes of its immense importance and dense symbolism. It's a blight begging to be fixed.

Back to the topic, the saddest thing about the prospect that Tony's murder of Chris was an expression of primitive rage against his own father(s) is that he never got to understand that connection. It was never appreciated in a conscious or sober state. Had it been confronted in therapy, who knows where it might have led. But, as we saw over and over again, Tony was never willing to be honest enough in therapy for Melfi to help him to those kinds of real insights.
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

#42
badabellisima wrote:Well, if the Sopranos finale cut-to-black is a parallel with the Heidi Bowl cut-to-black, then to be consistent, we need to acknowledge that the football game did indeed continue playing on and on after the cut to black in 1968. The fans would have had to excercise a lot of faith to keep believing in their team's survival in the game since they (on the east coast) couldn't see what was happening after the cut. There would be no point in Chase using the Heidi Bowl analogy if he intended for the cut to black to imply that "Tony's game just ended" when the screen went black. Can't have it both ways, or the analogy fails. Life went on after both cut-to-blacks. :smile:


We're not going there again, are we?:icon_biggrin:

As you know, I've never been particularly opinionated either way on whether he died that night and, again, it doesn't matter much to me personally.

The Heidi parallel is fair either way but especially if Tony died that night because the circumstances (one of the most highly anticipated series finales in history with incredible hype and speculation centering on whether Tony would be killed), the editing and film-making techniques, and the symbolism of the extras in the diner created the expectation in viewers that something immensely climactic and momentous was about to happen and then suddenly . . . nothing. An abrupt and unexpected termination of intense action without the climax and without the catharsis of actually witnessing the resolution that it felt like we were about to witness. Yes the game went on after the Heidi cut, but there was an actual end to it moments later . . . with a clear winner and a clear loser. Come to think of it, Steve Perry was singing something very close to this right before the cut.:icon_cool:
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

#43
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:I agree that whatever redemption Tony earned (and I believe that's not much) had to relate to the fact that he was an immensely better parent to his own, biological children than his parents ever were to him. As you point out, that notion of "small progress" by each generation is one "message" of the show that Chase explicitly acknowledged in interviews post-finale.

On the other hand, Tony was a horrendous "father" to Chris, as bad as (or worse than) any father, real or surrogate, had been to him. And Tony's blindness to that fact persisted even as the cauldron of his own paternal hatred was erupting volcanically. He actually believed that he did Chris some sort of favor (an act of "'pity", as he tells Melfi) by murdering Adriana. The level of self-deceit, emotional myopathy, and moral vacuity it takes to maintain such a belief is truly staggering and has to be put on the other side of any scale that attempts to measure Tony's ultimate redemption or success at introspection.
I see it as Chase's own creation in acknowledgment of a parallel spiritual or metaphysical alter-reality where he feels free to use both familiar and completely original metaphors and symbols to communicate. I think of it as completely "real" in the sense that Tony experienced spiritually everything we saw in Costa Mesa while also experiencing physically what we saw in the hospital room. And to me the culmination was the NDE-like white light that he saw as he flatlined but which resolved into the bright light of his hospital room when he was shocked back to life. Truly a brilliant concept by Chase.

I can't get there. In order to receive forgiveness you have to first acknowledge that you need it. And I never saw any indication from Tony, inside the peyote trip or out, that indicated he felt the contrition that is a precondition to the authentic giving and acceptance of forgiveness. I would like to believe as you, but it just feels far too speculative (if you can keep a straight face hearing THAT from me, LMAO:icon_biggrin:).

As I said before, his fleeting epiphany would seem to me to relate more to a firsthand appreciation for the unity of the universe that the physicist and Bhuddists talked about and to unity/symmetry in his own roles as bad father/wronged son.

As a side note, it really is a shame that the upcoming DVD box set will not (apparently) include commentaries on K & H and other episodes of its immense importance and dense symbolism. It's a blight begging to be fixed.

Back to the topic, the saddest thing about the prospect that Tony's murder of Chris was an expression of primitive rage against his own father(s) is that he never got to understand that connection. It was never appreciated in a conscious or sober state. Had it been confronted in therapy, who knows where it might have led. But, as we saw over and over again, Tony was never willing to be honest enough in therapy for Melfi to help him to those kinds of real insights.


[B]I agree that whatever redemption Tony earned (and I believe that's not much) had to relate to the fact that he was an immensely better parent to his own, biological children than his parents ever were to him.
[/B]

Some people, especially in Tony's religion, believe that Tony doesn't have to earn redemption- he gets to have it for free. Maybe with Tony's "I get it!" exclamation, he is tapping into his own cultural understanding of actually BEing redeemed.


I can't get there. [B]In order to receive forgiveness you have to first acknowledge that you need it.
And I never saw any indication from Tony, inside the peyote trip or out, that indicated he felt the contrition that is a precondition to the authentic giving and acceptance of forgiveness. I would like to believe as you, but it just feels far too speculative ...

Again, in his religion, he can be forgiven whether he acknowledges the need or not. ANd as far as any indication that he felt contrition prior to receiving forgiveness in the epiphany- this may be a flaw in Chase's expression of the storyline. Or, perhaps he didn't make it clear because, like you say, Tony didn't actually have contrition! --Or, as i would argue- Tony's attempts to seek help thru therapy ARE his efforts at contrition, expressed however indirectly, weakly or lamely. Your points are good. Mine are unfortunately, as you say, more speculative.

...
the saddest thing about the prospect that Tony's murder of Chris was an expression of primitive rage against his own father(s) is that he never got to understand that connection. It was never appreciated in a conscious or sober state. Had it been confronted in therapy, who knows where it might have led. But, as we saw over and over again, Tony was never willing to be honest enough in therapy for Melfi to help him to those kinds of real insights...


I actually think that Tony was exactly doing just that: confronting it thru therapy, and other avenues. Therapy, i think Chase is showing us, isn't the only road to redemption. There's also his interior spritual life, his family/Family community reflecting feedback to him, etc. Sure, Tony wasn't always honest with Melfi- i think he couldn't be fully honest about particular facts due to Melfi's stated boundaries regarding her legal obligations about what she may hear from him about illegal acts. i think Melfi did help him alot- even if by abandoning him (in an inappropriate manner imo). She planted seeds, that later grew. My experience is that insights are often like that: well after the fact when the seed was planted, idea encountered/confronted, etc., the epiphany can later emerge, even long after the influencing force.

Still, you make good points in general, that the actual story as portrayed, doesn't very clearly spell out the milestones of his journey's choices, plainly showing where he achieved progress in his stages of enlightenment leading to his redemption. i suppose it probably overall shows more incidents where he makes the bad choices that impede it. Those other incidents that support my position are subtle and maybe too speculative to be believed by most posters, or perhaps i read too much into Chase's intent, thinking he sees some redemption in Tony, so therefore couldn't quite bring himself to kill him off.

And even if Tony went out of earthly existence that night- at least he went out trying: making some effort within his lifespan to address or contact his inner or even sinful nature; and therefore, an effort to contact his Creator. To me, that is the equivalent of "praying".

i can't help but conclude so far that even though you say you don't care too much whether he died or not, it still seems that your position is that you have deemed him- from your perspective- as 'spiritually' dead and un-redeemed by the end of the finale, and perhaps consigned to eternal disconnectedness from his creator, which you see as a sort of sadness. As if you've written him off in your heart. And that, to me, is the real sadness.[/B]

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#44
Obiously throughout the show, Tony's sessions with Melfi have allowed us to view Tony's inner turmoil, and his capacity to change/for redemption. Because at the end of the show, Tony wasn't in therapy, and we were just observing his actions rather than receiving that insight into his thoughts, I wonder if that changed people's perspective of him. A window which we had been viewing the more human side of him through had been closed.
For me, the look Tony gave Carmella as she came in to the diner in the last scene, coupled with the lyrics of Journey, and his interaction with AJ, led me to believe he wasn't a lost cause. Especially the looks Tony and Carmella exchanged. And the lyrics:

Just a small town girl, livin in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in south detroit
He took the midnight train goin anywhere

created the image for me of them both just trying to make it in their world, together. So I believe there was still hope.

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#45
badabellisima wrote:it still seems that your position is that you have deemed him- from your perspective- as 'spiritually' dead and un-redeemed by the end of the finale, and perhaps consigned to eternal disconnectedness from his creator, which you see as a sort of sadness. As if you've written him off in your heart. And that, to me, is the real sadness.


This is true. I've written him off spiritually (though it took two 180 degree turns since the finale to be comfortable and stable enough in that position to own it.)

Perhaps the more salient point is that I think Chase wrote him off. As he said, "There was a clear trend on view" regarding Tony's future, and it wasn't bright. He was looking at life in prison or an assassination or, at the very least, more empty years as a mob boss who has to look over his shoulder every minute and whose friends may die or become enemies at the drop of a hat. He never attained any ability to consciously look at his criminal conduct and say, "This is fundamentally wrong, wrong morally and a source of psychic unrest for me personally, and I don't want to do it anymore." And the purpose of highlighting Hunter's radical personal turnaround, the Yochelson study, and Melfi's emotionally violent expulsion of Tony from therapy was to show, once and for all, Chase's position: personal growth and change is hard, HARD work that only the most dedicated individuals can achieve, and therapy for psychopaths like Tony is absurd. It will never, ever succeed because he and his ilk are incapable of meaningful character reform and of the honesty and introspection needed to bring it about. The idea of therapy as "another con" for Tony was brought home in the few minutes of Tony's manipulative, self-pitying rant in front of the female shrink in MIA. If Tony was to return to therapy, it would only be to resume the comfort of a familiar con.

Now if you ask me whether that conclusion by Chase rings TRUE to everything he told us about the character over the years, I would say no. I do think Chase himself changed his mind roughly midway through the series about the kind of man Tony was and about the degree to which he was capable of conscience, compassion, or true introspection. I think Chase resented the hell out of the fact that so many people loved Tony and thought him "cool", so he naturally pushed to make him less and less lovable and more and more irredeemably evil.

Yes, I feel a bit betrayed by Chase in this because I was one who loved Tony, not in a blind or superficial way but while fully mindful of and haunted by his enormous flaws. I like to think I loved him and rooted for his triumph over the genes or psychic forces driving his criminality in some earnest (if pale) imitation of the way God loves and roots for mankind to overcome sin. And it was beyond immensely disappointing to me that the triumph never came.

You could say, "Because there was nothing definite about the ending and because Tony might have easily walked out of that diner and continued his life, it was not too late for him." That's certainly true. For a much more optimistic view from me in that vein, recall [thread=2026]the thread I started a couple of days after MIA aired[/thread], representing the first of my 180 degree turnarounds. My position in that thread (and in general) is that, when analyzing a work of art, I don't always feel strictly bound by the creator's intention, at least not if the creator chose to be as vague as Chase chose to be as to Tony's continued life or death in that last episode and if an interpretation contrary to the creator's supposed intent is reasonably plausible. On the other hand, if I feel I'm resisting the message of the creator because of a personal aversion to or simple distaste for that message, then I at least need to admit that.

The "orbits" thread was really just wishful thinking on my part, and I found I could not sustain the optimism with the continued passage of time. I finally had to admit that just because I desperately wanted Tony to conquer his demons and fundamentally reform his character didn't mean that that had to happen or that the bleak ending didn't itself serve a purpose just as great as if Tony had gone to prison and claimed a life reborn in Christ there.

If Christ's promise of everlasting life -- in effect the fruit of redemption and belief in him -- is to have any meaning, then surely the consequences of forfeiting or refusing that redemption/everlasting life must also be real and must be accepted as such. And, to me, the cut to black signified Tony's forfeiture of that gift. He had a chance at a "white" death, a death of "something" (i.e., of everlasting life but with the judgment he'd earned as Tony Soprano), and he turned away from it. As he told the physicist, he "went somewhere" when he "died" and he never wanted to go back there again.

Wish granted, whether it was at Holsten's or 30 years later. The sweet irony and, I believe, Chase's sense of "judgment" in all this is that Tony came away from the peyote trip consciously imbued with only one truth: "there's something out there." He believed that he would meet with "something" when he left this world. As he was raking in MIA, he wistfully looked up at the sun in the bright sky as the sound of birds (ducks?) squawked overhead, a moment that evoked his peyote "I get it" look at the sun and seemed to suggest his wish for and belief in an eternity with his family in the light as bright as the sun. Instead, he would reap a black death of nothingness, an utter void, as his mother believed and as he himself believed before his coma and peyote trip.
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

#46
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:.... If Tony was to return to therapy, it would only be to resume the comfort of a familiar con.


You are exactly right.

Which is why i think that either subconciously, or actually with real awareness- Tony has detached from the avenue of therapy for his journey on the road to redemption. Melfi did right to let him go, since she perceived therapy, or at least her specific therapy personally, wasn't helping him. (i think she would see it not as her personal failing, but Tony's. i would argue that point with her a bit; but agree it was time to end it...).

imo, and i think possibly Chase's to a degree, therapy has limitations, and is not the only solution for Tony- or lots of 'non-criminal' people. It obviously was very helpful and useful to a point, but again as i've said before, where therapy leaves off, spirituality or some sort of religion, picks up. Tony may not have been primed or able to get that or see that, until he participated in the useful step of therapy. Like Turangawaewae said, by the end, we were seeing Tony outside of being in therapy, and he was different. i think he was on his way to a better path, maybe even flipping.



If Christ's promise of everlasting life -- in effect the fruit of redemption and belief in him -- is to have any meaning, then surely the consequences of forfeiting or refusing that redemption/everlasting life must also be real and must be accepted as such. And, to me, the cut to black signified Tony's forfeiture of that gift. He had a chance at a "white" death, a death of "something" (i.e., of everlasting life but with the judgment he'd earned as Tony Soprano), and he turned away from it. As he told the physicist, he "went somewhere" when he "died" and he never wanted to go back there again.


i don't see how the externally applied cut-to-black could be seen as a symbol of Tony himself making a conscious choice to forfeit redemption. If he was actively participating in the cut-to-blackness, filmed in the simultaneous actual act of Tony himself applying a personally chosen cut-to-black (like a murder, or gunshot, etc.) to someone else, and the show abruptly ended, i could see that symbolism more...

And further, you say he had a chance at a 'white death' and turned away. i absolutely don't see how Chase portrayed that as an indication that he forfeited a good chance for redemption. From experience, i know you can "choose" or accept a white death, and the result is that instead of going to the mysterious 'heaven', you are sent back here on earth, still to work out karmic stuff, or the work of the Creator, or some other mysterious task. Not every turning towards the light of death results in earthly physical death. It might be a new life, albeit still human and imperfect, even if Chase didn't portray it well. Tony's return to the bright light and Meadow's presence might have been part of his task to fulfill here on earth- to continue to help raise his children in an improved way, before that final curtain call (even if it was that night at Holsten's). Just by the fact that he said he doesn't want to go there again, ('somewhere he went when he died'), is a good example of how he actually did get more internalized consciousness of the potentially bad consequences possible after physical death, and that he now can practice avoidance of; live a life avoiding the actions that could lead to bad consequences.



Wish granted, whether it was at Holsten's or 30 years later. The sweet irony and, I believe, Chase's sense of "judgment" in all this is that Tony came away from the peyote trip consciously imbued with only one truth: "there's something out there." He believed that he would meet with "something" when he left this world. As he was raking in MIA, he wistfully looked up at the sun in the bright sky as the sound of birds (ducks?) squawked overhead, a moment that evoked his peyote "I get it" look at the sun and seemed to suggest his wish for and belief in an eternity with his family in the light as bright as the sun. Instead, he would reap a black death of nothingness, an utter void, as his mother believed and as he himself believed before his coma and peyote trip


i don't think God necessarily grants wishes in that punitive manner (but imo, the karmic Universe does). The fact that you percieve irony here is really important. Maybe your accurate assessment of "his wish for and belief in an eternity with his family in the light as bright as the sun" is not ironic at all, but just exactly what it appears to be: genuine hope and faith in the future, hope for his family, faith in his God. Sincere and heartfelt, humble. Almost just a bit corny, like playing Journey at the end.

If you watch that scene with a cynic's eye, it will seem ironic.

Supposedly, Chase is apparently known for i think a sort of cynical, ironic or even sarcastic personality. So you may be accurately picking up on his intentions here, resonating with Tony's creator. However, i still think that even Chase could not help but see the life of it's own that his character took on- beyond his control like a Frankenstein, and he couldn't bear to kill him or see him killed; imo, because Tony still had hope.

i know it can't be forced or faked, and i don't want to sound patronizing at all, but I do so want you to hear genuine hope in the message of the finale!! :smile:

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#47
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote: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.


I read the above Fly and I think the crux of where we differ on this is in what you describe as his "mission " in the "Test dream". You're take is that it is to kill his father, at least on some unconscious level. My take is a little more prosaic and literal. The mission is to kill his cousin. The "test" is to see if he is up to the task of doing what he knows he has to do. I think it's possible the "you're not prepared" mantra from Molinaro WAS ACTUALLLY SAID back in his high school days and that in times of stress Tony has this same "recurring dream". Tony himself says as much. In this case, the stress is that he knows Tony B. has gone off the reservation and that it will result in Tony having to "take care of him".
I also think it's significant Fly that it was before Tony kills Pussy that he had the last "dream sequence", in "Funhouse". This, like Tony B. was a killing Tony didn't want to have to do. If Tony B. was his cousin, Pussy was like the brother he never had. I think it's telling that before Tony kills two of his childhood friends he has these revelatory, troubling ( to him) attacks of conscience.

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#48
dsweeney wrote:I read the above Fly and I think the crux of where we differ on this is in what you describe as his "mission " in the "Test dream". You're take is that it is to kill his father, at least on some unconscious level. My take is a little more prosaic and literal. The mission is to kill his cousin. The "test" is to see if he is up to the task of doing what he knows he has to do.


I think we disagree less than you suggest, primarily because I don't think the mission is limited to any single meaning. It legitimately has two and, I believe, even three layers to it.

On it's most obvious level, the mission is to kill Tony B. That was a conscious fear, a prospect on Tony's mind before he ever went to sleep. On a less obvious level (because it was an unconscious wish of Tony's that he never admitted, even to himself), the mission is to kill his inner gangster, to commit a quasi suicide and leave the mob. The symbolism on this is quite copious and is detailed in the initial post in the thread.

The least obvious interpretation is that the pursuit of the coach represents Tony's unconscious desire for retribution against his father, and it would take all of season 6 (especially part B) to illuminate the symbolism of this in hindsight. Chase knew the basic ending for the series by the time he was writing season 5, so I think there are grounds for looking forward as well as backward in interpreting Test Dream. This one's iffy enough that I can readily understand others not buying into it, even though it's an interpretation that makes perfect sense to me in light of Kennedy and Heidi.
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

#49
Fundamentally we don't disagree at all Fly. It's just that I can't quite make that leap that you have made with regard to the killing of Chris being partly an unconscious desire by Tony to kill his father. I think the problem I have with it is that, for want of a better word, the "symmetry" of your analysis seems wrong to me.

If, as we all agree, Christopher is his "son", then why would killing him represent the killing of his FATHER ? Do you see my difficulty ? There isn't a parallel in the relationships of Johnny Boy/ Tony and Tony/ Christopher, IMO. In the first, Tony is the SON but in the second he is the FATHER. Tony sees Chris as a SON , not as a father-figure that he can lash out at in unconscious rage. Surely uncle Jun, for instance, is a more worthy candidate as a father-figure who brought Tony in to a life of crime and therefore be the object of his unconscious rage ?

Re: Test Dream as Blueprint for Rest of Season

#50
If anyone had a sub-conscious desire to kill his father (or father figure) then it was Christopher. Cleaver the movie was clearly his desire to be rid of Tony who he felt cheated him on a number of levels.

If anything Tony was more than aware of Christopher's feelings especially when Carmella pointed this out to him after they saw the screening of the movie.

Tony killing Christopher, despite seeing the drugs and the crushed baby seat, was a vivid example of his own anxiety for self preservation.

An anxiety that deserted him when the quite obvious "father figure" and "death symbol", the man in the member's only jacket, entered Holsten's.

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