Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#11
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:The fact that Chase has kept alive this Gary Cooper ideal in Tony, as recently as last night, makes me think he is preserving the chance that Tony, of all people, will be the one to really, meaningfully change. If nothing of any further import is to come out of his visits to Melfi's office, I think it would have ended for good last night.


I'm undoubtedly contradicting myself -- wouldn't be the first time -- but the one scenario I could envision in which Tony has his "breakthrough" or shows "meaningful change" is if he thinks by doing so, he could save his children, most notably A.J., although I've still got a feeling that they're saving Meadow for something big along this line.

What I think will happen -- and I don't have the slightest idea how they'll pull us off -- is that they'll leave us debating and discussing whether Tony really had a breakthrough and demonstrated meaningful change. It won't be clear, I'm guessing.

Watching again last night, I was struck by Tony's tone of disgust when he described the "putrid" genes that he had passed along to A.J. -- his "gift" to his son. There was so much self-loathing in those remarks, but also, when you think about it, some recognition that those "putrid" genes had been passed along from his father to him.

If Melfi can somehow convince him that it wasn't inevitable -- that it's a choice, not DNA -- then we'll be left with two questions: Can Tony forgive his father? Can Tony forgive himself? (I'm still sort of hoping that at some point Tony ends up at that old church that the Italians built when they first came over. He has shown both A.J. and Meadow that church, I believe. Both were bored out of their minds.)

If it means saving his son, or daughter, I think it's possible. (It also invests the Bad Guy with something universal and noble -- the willingness to sacrifice himself for his children. Tony essentially brings that up when he talks about wanting to take their place when they were children and sick.) But it's going to be an extraordinary feat for them to pull this off and make it seem real after all this time of having Tony dip his big toe in the waters of change and self-knowledge, then quickly back away. We've seen that so often that I, frankly, am getting tired of the repetition.

Why does Melfi seem to again be walking on eggshells -- hey, eggs! -- around Tony right now? At the end of 6A, she was basically provoking him ("We've danced around this for too long," or something like that), then last week she laid down the law in terms of his showing up for sessions. In this episode, she seems almost meek and fragile.....does SHE sense he's close to something, good or bad?

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#12
chaseisgod wrote:I'm undoubtedly contradicting myself -- wouldn't be the first time -- but the one scenario I could envision in which Tony has his "breakthrough" or shows "meaningful change" is if he thinks by doing so, he could save his children, most notably A.J., although I've still got a feeling that they're saving Meadow for something big along this line.


Fantastic post, CIG. This is very much what I think is being implied by Tony connecting HIS therapy to AJ's well being.

If Melfi can somehow convince him that it wasn't inevitable -- that it's a choice, not DNA -- then we'll be left with two questions: Can Tony forgive his father? Can Tony forgive himself?


Screw Tony. I'm wondering if Melfi can convince ME.:icon_biggrin:

It's a whole other topic for another time, but fundamentally I agree with Tony. I think "choice" in life is essentially illusory and superficial, although any society that wishes to be decent must continue to operate as if it were a genuine reality. This belief is, perhaps, the major stumbling block in my quest for a better relationship with God and Christ, yet I seem unable to alter the belief.

For Tony's sake, I hope he comes to believe in free will and, more importantly, believes that leaving the mob can still salvage something worthwhile for AJ's future. That, I think, was the meaning of Makazian's statement in Test Dream that if it weren't for "tooth fairy money" AJ/Finn would have nothing. Tony seemed to be projecting that by losing his own teeth (enduring pain and emotional bleeding to shed his psychological immaturity on the way to finally "growing up"), AJ could still benefit enough to have a decent future and vocation.

(I'm still sort of hoping that at some point Tony ends up at that old church that the Italians built when they first came over. He has shown both A.J. and Meadow that church, I believe. Both were bored out of their minds.)


That would be awesome! It was a beautiful church, and I well understand and identify with the wonder Tony expressed that people built this thing a hundred years ago, before modern power tools, before the holy grail of "higher education" robbed building trades of so much intelligent, proud, and experienced labor. I've always thought that grand cathedrals reflect a divine inspiration, and what better place for Tony to find the lost divinity of his own soul but in a place his esteemed grandfather, a Gary Cooper of stone masons, helped build.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#13
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:That would be awesome! It was a beautiful church, and I well understand and identify with the wonder Tony expressed that people built this thing a hundred years ago, before modern power tools, before the holy grail of "higher education" robbed building trades of so much intelligent, proud, and experienced labor. I've always thought that grand cathedrals reflect a divine inspiration, and what better place for Tony to find the lost divinity of his own soul but in a place his esteemed grandfather, a Gary Cooper of stone masons, helped build.


You're on to something important there.....maybe Tony will come to realize that he didn't just inherit the "putrid genes," he also inherited the genes of his grandfather, who helped built something lasting and beautiful, which Tony seems to ache for in his own life. If he could somehow pass that understanding on to A.J. -- that there are good genes in him, that his destiny is up to him -- well, that really would be a "gift."

I'm just rambling, but I said before that it would surprise me to see any rays of sunshine at the end of this series. But I really, really long for it. I mean, if Tony Soprano can change, can't we all?

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#14
I find it interesting that Tony's fatalist outlook on his genetic "gift" to AJ and what they have made him become prefaces his decision to continue therapy.

It seems that consciously Tony has accepted his rotten life for what it is, with no hope of escape, yet his sub-conscious continues to steer him in the direction of change. The Test Dream, the coma dreams, and his decision to continue therapy all reflect his sub-conscious belief in free will and the ability to change.

I'm really not sure what this all means as of yet, but until Tony can accept it was Johnny Boy's decisions in life and not his genes that made him the parent he was (and in turn, Tony is) he will continue to be the same Tony, trapped in his own fatalistic prison.
A little powdered sugar and he woulda been done!

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#15
I think the rant we saw in Melfi's office was the realization that Tony's therapy was having an effect. In my experience, this is how patients reacted when they realized they were "growing up." Tony and other mob guys are always talking about "being a man" and "getting respect," yet virtually nothing they do is really manly or respectful, and Tony is realizing this.

This type of breakthough is terribly painful and one who goes through it is teetering on fine line between continuing to mature or returning to the safety of arrested development. Tony gets angry with Melfi because she is pushing him toward maturity. Tony reacts badly because being an adult hurts a lot. Being a teenager with a fancy car, a gun, a pocketful of cash, and a gumar is a lot more fun.

Tony hates these theraputic revelations so much because he is seeing, although not always verbalizing, his immature behavior and the behaviors of his associates. Remember how he looked at Paulie when Paulie was sitting on the motel bed laughing and cackling like a little boy? Tony is in a precarious place. The mature thing for him to do is flip, and I think he's mulling that over in his head. The immature thing to do is continue in "the life" and hope for a good outcome. He is savvy enough to realize that probably won't happen. Like most people in denial about their situation, Tony is probably waiting for "the big shoe to drop" to push him into a final action.
Christofuh says: "Tony has big decisions to make, like whether or not to have that third sandwich..." :icon_razz:

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#16
The problem I have with the whole "Tony might change for the betterment of his kids" theory, especially as it regards AJ, is that he is so blind to his own biases in life that he is incapable of making objective decisions for AJ's benefit.

On the surface, his decision to push AJ out into socializing with peers to get over his depression from being dumped by Blanca seems like a good idea, and seems to have worked (along with some meds) to bring AJ out of his funk, in the short term. But look at who he pushes AJ toward...the two Jasons, who are now knee-deep in JV mob antics at Rutgers. While Tony obviously views them as "successes" as sons and suitable company for AJ to be around (and hopefully emulate), he seems oblivious, at least consciously, that this is also a pretty sure path to leading AJ to "the life".

Despite his apparent desire (like Jackie Aprile's) that his own son not be consigned to a "life" that ends in one of two ways (incarceration or premature violent death), Tony has now set AJ firmly on that course. It seems this myopia over the potential long-term effects on AJ of falling in with the two Jasons, et al., is further evidence that Tony, because of his own immersion in mob life, simply cannot make objective parenting decisions for his male child born into that life, and I can't imagine a plausible "breakthrough" that could alter that reality for Tony and his family.

One of the most powerful themes throughout The Sopranos is that once you are in/expose yourself to the mob life, whether by choice, birth, marriage, or even association, your life is never the same, and you can never be totally free of it.

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#17
Did you notice the reversal in Tony's recent thoughts about therapy? Last week he said that his appointments with Melfi were an oasis in an otherwise miserable existence or like a vacation. If it was a vacation to him, he might as well not be there, because it's obviously not working right. I think Melfi's point at that time about drawing the line was that therapy should be more like they have discussed before - painful like childbirth or taking a sh1t. This week Tony feels like he is on the hot seat even though he refers to the sessions as a jerkoff.

Another topic of discussion has been his lack of panic attacks since the shooting. In season 5, it seemed like most of his panic attacks had to do with Tony B. and his guilt about not getting busted alongside him. (or you could say, he had panic attacks because of his first panic attack) With Tony's gunning down of Tony B. ahead of the NY problems, those thoughts of guilt seemed to have died as well. That's odd considering that I would expect guilt to INCREASE after you killed someone.

Tony's sessions with Melfi could get really interesting very soon.

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#18
Lawdog wrote:The problem I have with the whole "Tony might change for the betterment of his kids" theory, especially as it regards AJ, is that he is so blind to his own biases in life that he is incapable of making objective decisions for AJ's benefit.

On the surface, his decision to push AJ out into socializing with peers to get over his depression from being dumped by Blanca seems like a good idea, and seems to have worked (along with some meds) to bring AJ out of his funk, in the short term. But look at who he pushes AJ toward...the two Jasons, who are now knee-deep in JV mob antics at Rutgers. While Tony obviously views them as "successes" as sons and suitable company for AJ to be around (and hopefully emulate), he seems oblivious, at least consciously, that this is also a pretty sure path to leading AJ to "the life".

Despite his apparent desire (like Jackie Aprile's) that his own son not be consigned to a "life" that ends in one of two ways (incarceration or premature violent death), Tony has now set AJ firmly on that course. It seems this myopia over the potential long-term effects on AJ of falling in with the two Jasons, et al., is further evidence that Tony, because of his own immersion in mob life, simply cannot make objective parenting decisions for his male child born into that life, and I can't imagine a plausible "breakthrough" that could alter that reality for Tony and his family.

One of the most powerful themes throughout The Sopranos is that once you are in/expose yourself to the mob life, whether by choice, birth, marriage, or even association, your life is never the same, and you can never be totally free of it.


Interesting post, lawdog. But isn't this a case where Tony deserves a little bit of a break? I mean, the crisis at hand was to get AJ among the living, to end this suicide talk. If I'm Tony, I'd also prefer my kid to get a lap dance than to sit around ruminating about, "What is the point?" and contemplating suicide.

I agree -- the long-term effect of this intervention on Tony's behalf may turn out to be AJ's undoing, but he's probably not even thinking of that. I also wonder if Tony even views the college boys as being headed toward Mob Life. Taking a few bets from your classmates -- what's abnormal about that (in Tony's view?)

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#19
chaseisgod wrote:Interesting post, lawdog. But isn't this a case where Tony deserves a little bit of a break? I mean, the crisis at hand was to get AJ among the living, to end this suicide talk. If I'm Tony, I'd also prefer my kid to get a lap dance than to sit around ruminating about, "What is the point?" and contemplating suicide.

I agree -- the long-term effect of this intervention on Tony's behalf may turn out to be AJ's undoing, but he's probably not even thinking of that. I also wonder if Tony even views the college boys as being headed toward Mob Life. Taking a few bets from your classmates -- what's abnormal about that (in Tony's view?)


That's the whole point...Tony is totally oblivious to the fact that what the two Jasons are doing is not "normal" or to be admired/emulated anywhere outside mob offspring because he himself is such a product of that environment.

I do give Tony credit/a break for the short-term good parenting move of getting AJ out and about and out of "the fetus position", which would be admirable under normal familial circumstances, or if Tony encouraged him to go hang with legit peers. Notice Carmella's gripe about Tony's suggestion/result is that AJ is underage drinking in a strip club, standard suburban Mom worries, which Tony rebuffs pretty easily. She has no idea, presumably, of what the Jasons are into, but Tony clearly does, and he completely overlooks/fails to comprehend the potential long-term effects on AJ because what they are into does seem "normal" on Tony's sliding scale of moral relativism.

I'm sure the potential consequence of pushing AJ this way is lost on Tony at this point, but it does set in motion an association that Tony has long avoided for AJ. It will be very interesting to see how far this storyline goes for both characters.

Re: Tony's Therapy: Lost Cause or Imminent Breakthrough?

#20
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:T
This begs the question: Why should TONY remaining in therapy have anything to do with AJ's potential for suicide unless Tony feels that his own personal behavior/change will influence his son's state of mind and future?



I could be oversimplifying things, but I got the distinct impression that Tony's decision not to quit therapy (at least for this week) had to do with his own bad feelings about AJ's situation, not some benevolent concern for AJ's future. It seemed like an immediate present-tense selfish need to be catered to, just like everything else Tony does. Tony remaining in therapy doesn't really have anything to do with AJ's potential for suicide, but seeing his son in pain and feeling guilty about it from a genetic perspective puts Tony in a dangerous place, emotionally, and he's staying in therapy (as I said, for NOW), to put a band-aid on the current gaping wound.

I don't think Tony feels his personal behavior or potential to change has any bearing on AJ's future. In at least that sense, because it's convenient for him, Tony sees that as a question of free will.
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