Executioner’s Song

#1
As someone who himself suffers from PTSD and has undergone psychotherapy, I maintain that the extreme recklessness which Tony Soprano exhibits at the betting table and the havoc he wreaks on his family (this is the ugliest I’ve seen Tony behave with Carmella since “Whitecaps”) is symptomatic of the sense of “foreshortened future” that many patients suffering severe clinical depression undergo.

Patients who feel that they’re doomed to die–that the other shoe is about to drop or that a piano is hanging from a wire over his head (Tony uses these images in this and the last episode)—often attempt to hasten what they believe is a looming death sentence. The result is often accidental suicide. Tony Soprano is not "chasing" the contact high of a gambler’s payoff; quite the opposite, he is tempting (actually he’s crying out for) Fate to finish him off. He’s calling for the executioner to stick the needle in his arm.

Tony rails at Vito Jr. for going about in pity for himself, which is by now a familiar trope, and has a group of "tough love" fundamentalists haul the boy off to a paramilitary school in Utah. Wasn’t this the same kind of solution he tried to impose on AJ in “Army of One”? It’s Tony’s worst regression: the Gary Cooper, strong-and-silent “old school” way of dealing with grief. Like everything else with the old school, it no longer works. It’s not about the money, it’s about traumatized sons. Shooting Hesh or repaying him won’t salve Tony Soprano’s psychological wounds. At this point, I doubt anything can save the North Jersey boss.


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Re: Executioner’s Song

#2
Very interesting stuff. It's Carmella that uses the piano analogy, as she has much of the same outlook. Perhaps that comes from living with Tony, but not all of it. Thunder and rain outside cause her to call her father late at night, agonizing over the spec house. She worries that she'll end up like Ginny Sack, with no resources of her own.

Re: Executioner’s Song

#3
That’s a very good point, Sopranology. Carmella has a similar intimation of impending doom as does her husband. The fact that the wood in her spec house is rotten is a symbol of the psycho-spiritual rot that infests the Casa Soprano. One good rain storm and the entire edifice/family will crumble.
"Écrasez l'Infâme" -- Voltaire

Re: Executioner’s Song

#4
Avellino wrote: Wasn’t this the same kind of solution he tried to impose on AJ in “Army of One”? It’s Tony’s worst regression: the Gary Cooper, strong-and-silent “old school” way of dealing with grief. Like everything else with the old school, it no longer works. It’s not about the money, it’s about traumatized sons.


I take issue with this post-mod revisionist view of the past. I read so much nonsense on message boards that trash traditional mores and institutions that made this country great. Most of what's being suggested just isn't true and the only people saying it weren't even around then to really know what was going on! As one who was raised by a Depression era immigrant family and who has witnessed first hand the social turns of every decade since the 50s, I can say with all candor that reducing men to feminized castrati expected to get "in touch" with their "feelings" has not improved society one iota. In fact, it has made it much worse. Ask anyone who lived back then who knows. By the way, I have been a happily married man for over 25 years to a lovely woman and we've raised two wonderful and well adjusted children. And the truth is, my wife worked all those years except during the time when the children were infants.

One of the reasons I can respect a character like Tony Soprano is that he shows respect for traditions, which by the way, post-mod revisionists, aren't all as negative as you'd like to paint them. Just let men be men and women be women and forget about all this other nonsense!

Re: Executioner’s Song

#5
MangiaCazzo wrote: I can say with all candor that reducing men to feminized castrati expected to get "in touch" with their "feelings" has not improved society one iota. In fact, it has made it much worse.

One of the reasons I can respect a character like Tony Soprano is that he shows respect for traditions, which by the way, post-mod revisionists, aren't all as negative as you'd like to paint them. Just let men be men and women be women and forget about all this other nonsense!


Wow! MangiaCazzo (which I believe translates loosely as “suck cock!”), there's an acrid tone to your response. If Tony Soprano were more eloquent, he might have written it himself. Times change; culture changes too. You came of age in the days of Gary Cooper; I'm a Gen X'er. The coping mechanisms of one generation differ from those of another. Still, the bilious quality of your response says a lot.

As another great cowboy, Roy Rogers used to sing, "happy trails."
"Écrasez l'Infâme" -- Voltaire

Re: Executioner’s Song

#6
As someone in their twenties, I still think Mangia hit the nail on the head. Whether it is trying to play a basketball game with people my age who constantly whine about everything instead of just playing, or its all these over medicated people who have so many "problems," I just become less and less interested in the evolution of the human race. We're on our way down.

Re: Executioner’s Song

#7
When MangiaCazzo bemoans those who “trash traditional mores and institutions that made this country great,” he reminds me a bit of Archie Bunker. You remember the theme song, “Those were the Days.” Archie longs for a time “when girls were girls and men were men.” Even CR is pessimistic about the “evolution of the human race.” In a sense, both posters reinforce Chase’s point: being “Made in America” ain’t what it used to be. Between Katrina and Abu Ghraib there’s not much cause for boosterism in the US today. Besides, isn’t patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel? Did you see the image of President Bush and the Saudi Prince flash across Tony’s TV screen tonight? That image (the show itself) is a reflection of Chase’s critique of the American dream. Made in America, indeed!
"Écrasez l'Infâme" -- Voltaire

Re: Executioner’s Song

#8
Avellino wrote:When MangiaCazzo bemoans those who “trash traditional mores and institutions that made this country great,” he reminds me a bit of Archie Bunker. You remember the theme song, “Those were the Days.” Archie longs for a time “when girls were girls and men were men.” Even CR is pessimistic about the “evolution of the human race.” In a sense, both posters reinforce Chase’s point: being “Made in America” ain’t what it used to be. Between Katrina and Abu Ghraib there’s not much cause for civic pride in the US today. Besides, isn’t patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel? Did you see the image of President Bush and the Saudi Prince flash across Tony’s TV screen tonight? That image (the show itself) is a reflection of Chase’s critique of the American dream. Made in America, indeed!


Whereas we are also given the contrasted scene of Muslims/Pakistanis, and the father is teaching the younger member and the younger member is showing respect. They still stick together.

President Bush thinks he is reaching out to the Saudi royalty but he could never truly grasp their culture and visa-versa.

Mario Puzo was fascinated by the concept of where America was moving, and how every subsequent generation of American-born immigrant groups becomes more spoiled, more lazy, and more likely to identify withe the new American culture and less with their old-country (aka Italian or Pakistani) culture.

Re: Executioner’s Song

#9
Puzo was on the money it is more about the lost values of our ancestors than it is about being an American. America is just a country of muts who forget where they come from at this point. Not that everyone is lost in their search for the American Dream (money), but the majority of the people seem that they can't find enjoyment in anything and just constantly complain without any intention of fixing their problems by them self.

Re: Executioner’s Song

#10
Avellino, a great thread you started, as reflected in the passion of the replies. Speaking of which, MangiaCazza, your excellent reply would have been even better if you would have left out both uses of the term "nonsense", an unduly inflammatory way to express disagreement.:icon_wink:

I agree that the sudden and extreme escalation of Tony's gambling is a deliberate signal of SOMETHING in him, although I'm not necessarily convinced that it's a signal of a subconcious deathwish. I think Tony fears death far more than he did before the shooting because of what happened in the coma, yet he can't help but become more and more dissatisfied with his life as presently constituted.

The flipside of Tony's gambling is found in the persisntance of a kernel of the "every day is a gift" philosophy, which he articulated genuinely to Carmela near the end of the ep. After acknowledging the long odds against surviving his shooting, he says, "Big picture wise, I'm up . . . way up." As billymac pointed out in the review thread, this is the outlook of a guy whose values are shifting and whose measure of what's most important in life seems poised for some permanent changes.

Though urged by his own guys to stiff Hesh on the debt and dare him to do anything about it, he ultimately uses his own stashes of money to pay his debts and salvage that friendship. He doesn't resort to claiming a portion of Carmela's profits from the spec house. He delivers what is probably the most heart-felt apology to her that I've ever seen (even though so much of what he said was true), and he didn't buy her a single bouquet of flowers or new dress or piece of jewelry to do it. All he did was sit face to face with her and talk and dare to be real.

I'm not sure at this point how to reconcile the sudden gambling addiction with the "I'm way up" mentality. But, IMO, the realm of possible, if improbable, motivations for the behavior lie in some unacknowledged guilt over the way he's "earned" his money. That guilt was made perfectly clear when he (correctly) imputed to Carmela an analagous guilt over having built and fraudulently sold a sub-standard home, greatly magnifying the cost in life and limb for her profits to more closely resonate with the human cost paid for his own. He can't sleep. He feels guilt for the way he's made his money. He's taken life, innocent and not innocent, on the road to his riches. He wants to make sure she feels that guilt too, since (to him, anyway) she was a big reason for him taking that road in the first place.

By gambling so much money on sports, he may subconsciously be seeking a whimsical, convenient way of repudiating his fortune and, derivatively, his way of life. Will certainly have to see if the behavior continues to get a real feel for it as well as what might come out about it in the Melfi sessions.
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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