FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:I was never terribly captivated by the question of how much of that was just Phil reflecting and dutifully enforcing the societal conditioning of his times in the much more violently intolerant and macho milieu of the Mafia and how much may have been a reaction to cover latent homosexual feelings or guilt for perhaps having secretly availed himself of homosexual contact while in prison all those years.
The gay phil theory has never held much water with me. I wouldn't be surprised if he got some butt in prison, but the fact that this made him uncomfortable and magnified his homophobia seems like just another symptom of Phil's central character trait, his projection and self-consciousness of his own moments of weakness.
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:The aspect of Vito's story which most interested me and that I think was uppermost in Chase's mind had to do with Tony's desire (which he chickened out on) to let things be and not pursue any kind of "vindication" once Vito left town. This was clearly a departure from what Tony would have been willing to risk or associate himself with before his shooting. And it was meant, I think, to portray Tony's desire to change and evolve against all his conditioning and the pressures of the social/power structure he was part of. But like Vito himself, he would not change because he ultimately was unwilling to endure the risks, suffering, and sacrifices that change requires.
I definitely agree this was the underlying theme of the Vito arc as a whole, but my argument is that the simultaneous Phil storyline, as addressed in Johnny Cakes, represented the unforgiving old-school mob father mentality that Tony struggled with in regards to AJ, with Phil acting as a subliminal surrogate for Johnny Boy.
arrjay wrote:In the "IN CAMELOT" episode...Tony has a sit down with Johnny Sack to settle his claim to a racetrack owned by his father, Hesh, and Phil Leotardo
"In Camelot" is definitely another episode where I can see parallels between Phil and Johnny Boy, and it also happens to be the episode wherein Tony's conflict with Phil begins. Based on the psychological content of the episode, it seemed like Tony settling Fran's business straight was another attempt to please his mother (she may not have reminded him of Livia the way Gloria did, but as an older woman his father used to fuck, there definitely are some parallels). Since later that episode we find that one source of Tony's underlying resentment for Johnny is his neglect of Livia in her time of need, it may be that assaulting Phil was a subconscious outlet for that resentment - Phil was neglecting Fran financially, and Phil reminded Tony of his father. Note how quickly Tony entered a high-speed pursuit of Phil. There was already some kind of resentment there, even though they didn't really know each other at that point. Tony may have looked at Phil ignoring his commitments, and seen Johnny ignoring Livia when she was having a miscarriage.