Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#181
about the beacon/carlights he sees when he kills chrissy:
he is cheating it, its a bit behind grass and he looks that he is out of sight of it so he can give himself a pass with whatever reasons he will come up with.
so maybe we can consider the beacon and the fire as something his own mind makes up.he is running towards the beacon, pretending to be good, and the fire is what he is running from(from a neutral point of view probably reality if you would have to judge him and his sins[not that i was innocent:P]), a man not yet caught in his own lies, pretending to be good...the fire, thats only for the bad people.

Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#182
Lawguy wrote:To me, the beacon and fire have to represent, if not good and evil, at least two things that stand in contradiction to each other. They certainly were presented to leave the impression that they represented two conflicting paths. If the beacon is death and the fires are mealy mob life, I can see no such connection.

The flickering sun had elements of both the beacon (flicker) and the fires (the sun is a ball of fire). It appears to be a melding of the two paths into one.

I am not sure that the other matter that you spoke of had a direct connection to either.


Lawguy, I doubt that an additional post will bridge any of the gaps in our perceptions, but I’ll offer one just in case and in sincere hopes that I don't sound argumentative.

I don't concur that beacon and flames represented opposing paths or good and evil. The fires, the red-handled staircase with black steps that evoke Dante's Inferno, the change from sushi to blackened grouper, all these represent that Tony was proximate to hell and that hell was clearly his destination at the convention. Call it purgatory, call it limbo, call it the waiting room for hell. It was the spiritual consequence/equivalent of the physical coma and health issues that left him near physical death.

Hell itself, or its threshhold, which Chase was presenting in a highly subjective fashion, was the house Tony nearly entered. It echoes the hell house in his dream from Calling All Cars, where a vague Livia-like figure terrified him as he approached. As in his coma, the CAC Tony that approached the house appeared very unlike the Tony Soprano we've seen through the series. He was in the soiled clothes of a stone mason, an incarnation of the humble grandfather whose work in the cathedral of the pilot was such an inspiration to him, a stranger unfamiliar with the language or landscape of his surroundings. And to ensure we got that the house was a kind of personal hell to him, when he awoke in a sweat gripping his chest, he went into the hotel bathroom and turned on a red/orange heat lamp, which we see in closeup.

At the Finnerty Family Reunion home, the place where he would choose his eternity ("infinity"), he was presented with the urgent ultimatum to resume physical life as a man who would take responsibility for himself and his son or die in the flesh as Tony Soprano, where his spiritual, infinite family reunion would be with the likes of Tony B and Livia. He chose the Finnerty Family reunion in his hospital room, not the one in the house. He chose to return to be a responsible father to AJ.

I do like very much your observation that the sun flickered like the beacon and is also a ball of fire. It’s interesting food for thought. But for me it does not trump what I see as the clearer symbolism of the coma beacon as a beacon to death/personal reckoning and the Costa Mesa fires as merely an indication that death at that time would have sent Tony to his personal hell.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Cleaver: Chris' Revenge Fantasy Lived Through Tony

#183
Don't want to inundate the board, but I had another tangent of thought that I hope is worth sharing.

When we first heard Chris pitch the Cleaver idea to JT, most of us probably thought it was exactly what Carmela called it: Christopher's revenge fantasy against Tony, his surrogate father. The William Holden movie alluded to the one factor in the mix that Chris couldn't put onscreen (Ade's murder), the Tony character threatening to kill both the Chris and Ade characters.

Interestingly, though, it took Carmela's direct, no-nonsense analysis to help Tony see the truth of the movie to begin with. He initially found it flattering. So despite his contrary representations to Melfi when she questioned whether he was reading too much into the movie, he really doesn't know much at all about the subconscious, especially his own. Even Sil was apparently far more aware of what the movie implied, thus his discomfort and avoidance when Tony tried to solicit his opinions.

I set out earlier what I believe to be this season's clear indicia that Tony is filling with hatred for his father and for men like him. And I also think that the Cleaver movie, with its symbol a bloody cleaver like the cleaver of the Satriale finger chopping incident, helped stir that pot of repressed paternal hatred in Tony. While Christopher was at a loss to understand why his imagination led him away from his initial choice of a pick hammer hand for his alter ego in the film in favor of a cleaver hand, it's fairly clear why David Chase made that choice.

Many questioned why the Cleaver hat was so prominently on Chris' head during the accident (remaining even after the car flipped numerous times!). I further question why we are given a closeup of the hat from Tony's perspective in the hospital.

In Tony's conscious mind, Cleaver arouses hurt and resentment for what he perceives as Chris' ingratitude for the love Tony feels he's given him. In his unconscious mind, however, I think it arouses more strongly his own similar hatred for Johnny Boy.

For 6 full seasons we've seen that Tony's keenest talent may be his ability to block his conscious mind from his unconscious mind, to wall off all the things that manifest in violent fits of rage; reckless gambling; panic attacks; bouts of depression; troubling, highly symbolic and recurring dreams; toxic relationships; and voracious eating and sexual indulgences.

IMO, all these add to the factors suggesting that THE determinative motive in the Chris killing, the one without which it likely would not have occurred, is Tony's subconscious paternal hate. Cleaver came true, but with Tony/Sallyboy and Christopher/Michael reversing roles. And, unless that was part of what Tony "got" in the peyote trip, I still don't think he realizes the real reason he killed his nephew. He's still thinking it was all about resentment for and disappointment in Chris and fear of him flipping.

If this theory is correct, there simply has to be an open substantiation of it in the final 3 episodes. I'm still betting it's the next one because of the title. Can't remember if this was mentioned before, but the Yeats poem ends with a haunting line about the "beast slouching to Bethlehem to be born". That in turn reminds me of Melfi's analogy of therapy to "childbirth". It may be hard to look at what's born when a multi-murdering mobster decides to finally take therapy seriously.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#184
I apologize in advance that this post got so long, but I've been really inspired by the comments in this thread and thought those who appreciated Yeats' poem might be interested in the parallels between its symbolism and the father issues that Tony is beginning to face in this episode, and what kind of 'birth' we might expect to follow.

Yeats' poem says: "Surely some *revelation* is at hand, surely *the Second Coming* is at hand." First we have Dr. Melfi quoting the line: "The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold". Next we have Tony (rather uncharacteristically) observing that the Roulette wheel "works on the same principle as the solar system." Then the Sopranos' website describes Tony's experience with the sun strobe as a 'revelation'. And now this is to be followed by "The Second Coming" episode. I think all of this gives the imagery of the poem at least as much symbolic importance as we have looked for in the names Kennedy and Heidi. So following are a few thoughts on how this poetic imagery might relate to the issues that Tony is now facing, the same issues that now also face all of us.

Yeats, who studied metaphysics all his life and was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, was familiar with astrological symbolism and incorporated into his poem references to the cycle of The Great Year in which the equinoxes (cycles of the Sun) progress through all twelve signs of the Zodiac, initiating a new Age roughly every 2,160 years. The lion body (Leo) with the head of a man (Aquarius) is the symbol encoded in the statue of the Great Sphinx, which is believed to be the Egyptians' (or their predecessors') monument to the time of their Golden Age which they called 'Zep Tepi'. The symbolism places this idyllic time during the Age of Leo (lion), roughly 12,500 years ago, and we stand now in Aquarius (man) a full 180 degrees from this symbolic point of origin and at the farthest possible distance to which "the widening gyre" of our journey of self-discovery can take us -- from primordial Oneness to maximum individual separation, conflict and confusion.

The symbolic point of origin is Leo, the lion, a "fire" sign and the sign of the Sun, symbolically linked with the great Masculine Principle of Creation and the Father. Every sign is secretly united with the sign which is directly opposite it in the Zodiac and Leo and Aquarius (on one level) can be seen as the two mutually supporting poles of of the Masculine Principle: Leo/fire representing the exercise of individual will, and Aquarius/air representing the realm of the creative intellect. The harnessing of the intellect to achieve the purposes of individual human will is the story of our "his"tory so far, a journey which has now become so one-sidedly "masculine" that the out-of-balance creative force of the Masculine Principle is now threatening to destroy everything it has created. During Tony's astral journey while he was in a coma, I believe these creative and destructive sides of the Masculine Principle were symbolized by the Light strobing at the horizon like a directional beacon (the intelligent, creative use of masculine 'fire'), and the raging wildfire that was threatening him on all sides (representing the out-of-control, destructive unleashing of unchecked masculine force). The "fire" of the Masculine Principle expresses itself in an entirely positive way only when it is in balance with the equal power of the Feminine, and I found it interesting that it was Meadow's loving, innocent/female voice that seemed finally to call Tony back to life.

We now have the opportunity to restore the lost balance of the masculine/feminine polarity as we enter the Age of Aquarius which is the great tipping point between "masculine" and feminine" because its ruler, Saturn, which symbolizes the Feminine realm of matter, has two 'faces' represented by the two signs which Saturn rules. Aquarius is Saturn's "masculine" face which is secretly united with its opposite sign Leo (the Sun, the Great Father). And Capricorn is Saturn's "feminine" face, which is secretly united with its opposite sign Cancer (the Moon, the Great Mother).

Saturn is the only planet which stands in polarity to both the Sun and Moon, the symbols of the great "Masculine" and "Feminine" Principles. The journey "outward" from the Golden Age of original unity symbolized by Leo and the Sun can be seen as a "masculine" journey of the separation of the One into the many to reach the point of maximum expression of each individual's identity and will, until finally the outwardly journeying 'falcon' reaches the point at which "the centre cannot hold", and the moment of a great "Shift" comes upon us as the force of the 'centre' begins to draw us inexorably back on the journey of return.

As individuals, we face the challenge of this transition when we are ready for it and many of us have already undergone some form of spontaneous 'revelation' experience in which our intimate connection to 'the centre' has been powerfully revitalized. The Aquarian Age represents the point in our evolutionary cycle at which all of us, collectively, will be called to leave behind the old, unbalanced, "masculine/father-dominant" model (Leo/Sun). But the progression is not to a "feminine/mother dominant" model, but to one which recognizes the equality of the two principles (Aquarius/Saturn is the balance point of the greater polarity of Sun/masculine and Moon/feminine).

The journey of separation from original Oneness is a valuable one that offers us the opportunity to experience great individual creativity and diversity, but the individual spirit/soul never loses its subconscious memory of its lost state of Unity. At the point of ultimate distance and alienation from the Source where we now stand, many of us may feel that we are nothing more than tiny, insignificant 'bags of skin' who must fight against all others to survive in an indifferent world. In the face of such alienation, our yearning grows to experience again that idyllic, lost state of Oneness, and a powerful drive emerges to escape from the isolation of ego consciousness.

During the Age of Pisces which we are now leaving, the urge to "escape" from the prison of our everyday consciousness tended to take one of two forms. The first was the traditional practice of an authoritarian (masculine dominant) form of organized religion (Jupiter as ruler of Pisces) which promised a return to "heaven", but only after death. While in this world, the faithful were endlessly exploited to serve one-sidedly masculine political power goals through "religious" wars waged for secular power and profit. The second form of "escape" was through those types of drugs which self-serving governments arranged to make most available, chiefly violence-provoking or stupor-inducing alcohol or high-profit drugs like cocaine or heroine whose 'black ops' trafficking fuels the arms trade and whose use leads inevitably to a descent into chemical dependency that destroys individual initiative and ultimately life itself, as we saw with Christopher (Neptune as co-ruler of Pisces).

The "Sixties" were a kind of abortive sneak preview of the real Age of Aquarius whose true energies are just beginning to be felt now. Through its ego-transcending co-ruler, Uranus, the expanded vibratory dimension of Aquarius offers a new alternative for those who are open to it, in the form of a process of non-sectarian spiritual evolution (as modeled by the quantum physicist character played by Hal Holbrook). This provides a bridge between the once warring realms of masculine-dominated organized religion and "value-free" (actually masculine value-dominated) science. But it also transcends and redeems both of these by adding the missing "feminine" elements of respecting human values, protecting the innocent (a big theme for Tony) and recognizing and honoring the sacred nature of the Earth (the ducks) to provide a viable future for the next generation. Now, instead of the only escape from ego consciousness being a destructive dissolution of the personality through dead-end drug abuse, we have the potentially evolutionary experience of psychedelic 'revelation' which brings at least the possibility of personal renewal, as we perhaps saw with Tony's desert experience.

The "rough beast" of Yeats' poem (as he should have known) is a symbol *not* of the coming Age, but of the spiritual/psychological phenomenon known as the "Dweller on the Threshold" and it is "born" only in the sense that we become consciously aware of it at the point at which we are ready to progress into a new Age or phase of growth. Alice Bailey explains: "Each life sees some progress made; some personality defects straightened out, and some real advance effected." But there remains a residue, "the sum total of all the personality characteristics which have remained unconquered ...which must finally be overcome before initiation can be taken." On a personal level, the Dweller represents the unacknowledged dark side or "shadow side" of each individual and on a collective level, it represents our collective, undeveloped potentials which, because they have not been allowed to express themselves, have created an imbalance that has turned destructive.

In our present transition out of masculine/father dominant culture, the Dweller on the Threshold which must be faced is made up not only of the unacknowledged dark, unbalanced aspect of masculine force which has turned so destructive, but also of the potential healing power of the Feminine Principle which this unbalanced masculine force has repressed and denied expression. The Feminine Principle values everything that our now out-of-control patriarchal power structures have exploited: women, children, nature, those who are defenseless and innocent (symbolically, widows, orphans, horses/ducks). In Tony's case, the beast/Dweller is the "bad father" whose criminal lifestyle continually creates widows and fatherless children, putting the family and the next generation at risk. This is the "rough beast" which Tony personally -- and all of us collectively -- must recognize as our own creation. We must understand how we allowed it to be created and we must take responsibility for its existence before we can move forward into the next stage of growth in which we can begin to dismantle and heal it through empowering the Feminine values.

Over the course of his therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi, Tony has come at last to the point of recognizing his own "rough beast", the "bad father" who endangers the child and the family (both Tony's own father and Tony himself as father to AJ), but this recognition alone isn't enough. In order to become the "good father" that he wishes he had as a child and now wants to be for AJ, he will somehow have to allow that nurturing, "feminine" part of himself that has a soft spot for innocent creatures like ducks, horses, and babies, to grow strong enough to exercise real power over his decisions.

But you have to wonder, is there any way that Tony Soprano is going to be able to 'hold the road' around that far turn of "the widening gyre" and allow the 'centre' to draw him back far enough to be the kind of father who can save AJ? Or will the violent, hyper-masculine, separative force that has driven him all his life simply be too strong to resist and send him spinning off into disintegration and chaos? Christopher symbolically couldn't make the curve, threatened to destroy yet more innocents (Kennedy and Heidi and the baby who would one day inevitably occupy the destroyed child seat), and Tony made the decision to 'take him out'. While we may deplore this on a human level, symbolically it may actually be a positive sign.

David Chase has publicly expressed his grave concern that in making his evil characters so recognizably human, he may have 'romanticized' them enough that we are tempted to overlook the destructive nature of their evil deeds, and that may be true for some less thoughtful fans of the show. But it is also true that the dark adventures of Tony and his extended 'family' vividly illustrate the qualities of the 'rough beast' which our dying, hyper-masculine, feminine-exploiting Age must recognize as 'our own' and take responsibility for before we can leave this old destructive pattern behind us. And in giving us this opportunity to relate to characters as dark as these and still recognize them and even sometimes empathize with them as fellow human beings not so very unlike ourselves, (instead of immediately and conveniently distancing ourselves from them and demonizing them), Chase has surely placed himself and his show in the service of our evolution and on the side of our better angels.

At the very least, no matter what the final episodes bring us, thanks to our sojourn with The Sopranos, we cannot claim -- as the 'rough beast' who guards the threshold to our future looms up to confront us -- that we recognize no part of him in ourselves. The question that remains for me is, will this story end with Tony's confrontation with the beast in his associates and within himself, and will he believe it necessary to destroy them or even himself in order to destroy the beast? Or can we take a clue from Tony's experience with the Roulette wheel where it apparently looked like the ball was landing on a losing number more than once before it somehow ended up making Tony a winner *for a change* -- now that he has recognized and taken a stand against the 'bad father' ("He's dead!"). Could this be an omen that somehow, for Tony, on that far curve of the 'gyre', the 'centre' unexpectedly holds and the falcon finally turns for home? I'd like to think it's possible, but I have to admit that it will have to be the Mother of all long-shots.

Of course, as FlyOnMelfi'sWall also acknowledged, all this is simply my own very subjective take on what has been posted here so far, and thanks so much for all the insights in this great thread. (And once again, sorry for the length.)

Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#185
hesper79, what a thoroughly stirring, informative, and insightful post! I will be reading it several more times before trying to substantively respond with the kind of thoughtfulness it deserves. But I just had to say a special thanks right off the bat.:icon_wink:

Can I slip in one question for now by asking about your occupation and/or educational background?
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#186
I agree, great post. And welcome to the forum, by the way.

And one question from me - where does Livia fit into that scheme? It is not something that has been discussed much this week, but there was definitely some allusion to Livia both in this episode and going at least back to Soprano Home Movies, at least in terms of Tony's speech and behavior. Your look at the ramifications of the poem are fascinating. And as I read it, kept thinking more of where Livia fell into that order.
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#187
Ann Althouse gives a pretty interesting theory for this episode, namely that Tony has died. Thought I'd share. Here's a snippet:

Before the crash, Christopher is driving his SUV -- he's the driver, thus corresponding to Heidi -- and he's having a conversation with Tony -- who as the passenger, could be said to be the Kennedy. (Maybe he'll get shot in the head in the end.) They're having a conversation about a deal with Phil over the disposal of asbestos. This episode began -- and it will (almost) end with a garbage truck dumping asbestos waste. The conversation has a philosophical dimension. Tony doesn't want to cave to Phil's demand because life isn't worth living if you have to bend over for people. Chris thinks that in life you need to "smell the roses," and this moves Tony to concede that some battles aren't worth fighting. Then Chris mentions his daughter, and Tony reverts to bitterness and says that Phil would take those roses and stick them up your ass.


Can't say I agree with her full analysis, but she does have some interesting takes (and she's one of my favorite bloggers.) :icon_wink:
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#188
And finally (three posts in a row - how did that happen?) I think we should look at two other aspects of the episode as we consider all this information. One (and this has some to do with the other thread out there dealing with materialism vs. nature) the episode certainly contains much mention of the effects of Tony's decision making (or lack thereof.) The entire asbestos plotline is left slightly tied up but with lingering aftereffects concerning Phil. At least the dumping of the asbestos into the innocent wetland must evoke a certain side of Tony and his life - what it means. Indeed, he could be said to want to leave it, but the path of destruction he leaves behind is considerable (and is likely not over.) And much of this was caused by a voracious appetite for the material things in the world (which Tony revels in while at Caesar's Palace, mind you.)

And this brings me to another analogy to Tony's Costa Mesa trip - as Finnerty, Tony is unable to leave his life behind. He cannot let go of the briefcase. But when in bed with Sonya, he mentions that unlike Chris, he could never let go of the responsibility, and that can be taken two ways. Certainly the responsibility of his life as parent, husband but also his life as mob boss. It can also be taken to mean he could never let go of the responsibility to care for those that did not care in turn (or care enough not to try and hurt him) - his mother, Tony B., Junior and yes, his father too. In the past, Tony has held on to some familial sense of debt and/or honor that he has slowly begun to realize has hurt him when these others turned on him for whatever reason. It can be said, that Tony let go of these responsibilities when he chose to take the Peyote trip. But certainly that "he leaves something behind" is important in that, unlike as Finnerty, this time he can let go of the briefcase on his way through the door.
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

What About Livia?

#189

Originally posted by DETECTIVE HUNT>
And one question from me - where does Livia fit into that scheme? It is not something that has been discussed much this week, but there was definitely some allusion to Livia both in this episode and going at least back to Soprano Home Movies, at least in terms of Tony's speech and behavior.


That's a great question. You're right, Tony lately has been saying "Poor you!" with exactly Livia's intonation and talking about Chris' baby possibly being "mangled beyond recognition", which definitely evoked for me the memory of Livia and raises the issue of the effect that she had on him as a mother. And now in "The Second Coming" episode, AJ, when trying to explain why he tried to kill himself, recalls Livia rousing herself from the brink of death to deliver her parting legacy to her grandson: "Life -- it's all a big nothing! Your friends and family let you down. You die in your own arms."

In terms of the shift from the Masculine Principle being dominant at the expense of feminine values, to a situation where the Feminine Principle is recognized as being of equal importance and power, you have to remember that each person has both masculine and feminine potentials regardless of gender, and what they actually express in life may not be what we think of as being "typical" for their gender.

In Livia's case, she seemed to me to have the temperament and sensibilities of a patriarchal man, trapped in a very frustrated woman's body. Her social and cultural role gave her acknowledged power only within the circle of her family and friends, but the way she exercised it on that level was worthy of any mob boss -- ruthlessly manipulating her husband, constantly threatening violence, and off-handedly dropping little strategically placed, incendiary information bombs to turn one character against another (mostly against Tony), all the while playing the long-suffering, self-sacrificing martyr "I gave my life to my children on a silver platter!" Did she ever genuinely bond with anyone emotionally? I saw almost no evidence of that (maybe a little bit with AJ), which means that for most of her life, the satisfactions that make life worth living for most wives and mothers were unavailable to her.

My guess is that Livia's temperament was so unsuited to her domestic role that the fate of having to invest her considerable power-drive in nothing much more than the everyday routines of a wife and mother would have seemed like the cruelest of sacrifices to her -- a sacrifice which *no one appreciated*. She took out her frustration over this on anyone around her who showed the slightest sign of contentment, getting whatever small satisfaction she could from her ability to pop their little happiness balloons with an unerring instinct as to just where to jab the pin. When others complained about their troubles, she had no sympathy to give because in her own mind, she sincerely believed that no one else could possibly be more unfairly victimized by their lot in life than she was herself.

So on the masculine-feminine scale, I'd say she would rank about the same as Richie Aprile. How she got that way would be an interesting question. If you accept the idea of reincarnation, she could have been someone like Richie in her "last life" and her karma dictated that her next experience be as a female to compensate, but she just never got the hang of it. We could also speculate that Livia's mother was either as unsuited to motherhood as she was or was so oppressed by her husband that Livia learned as a child to despise the powerlessness of the role of women in her culture. So her "beast" would be the same as Tony's, except that he seems to be way ahead of her when it comes to developing his ability to understand the source of his own problems and to play a nurturing role for his family. He hasn't mastered it yet, but he's obviously *trying*.

Great question -- thanks. :)

Re: Vegas and Peyote/Tony's Motives for Killing Chris/What D

#190
This may be inconsequential or covered in a previous post, but I noticed watching the Vega$ scene again the other night that before he looks up and sees the slot machine with the devil, there's a glancing shot of a "Pompeii" slot machine. I know this was supposed to be Caesar's Palace (another metaphor if you will for Tony's crumbling empire..possible foreshadowing of assassination by someone close to him?), but I thought the Pompeii reference was very interesting....destroyed by Mt Vesuvio (Tony once destroyed Artie Bucco's Vesuvius)

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