Elliott K: (Mis)interpretation of gift

Before tonight's episode (Irregular...Margins), I wish to revisit Jennifer Melfi's supervisory session with Elliott. EK made the interpretation that the gift from Tony to JM of Dr. Haushka's Bath Products was an act of ablution, cleansing, and atonement, in reaction to his (Tony's) regressive outburst at end of earlier therapy session. For me this interpretation holds water only at the most superficial level. Granted, these products cleanse, hydrate, renew, and restore and may serve to symbolize penitence. But, for Tony, I maintain, they are highly intimate and personal balms and salves, and more likely suggest his ongoing desire for a more sensual and physical connection with Melfi. Essentially, Tony was characteristically continuing to push the parameters of a clinical relationship. Think about the visual imagery of Melfi (apres bath) applying such lotions, oils...then wrapping the robe around her nakedness. Why did EK make such a simplistic and obvious interpretation? He, as a seasoned therapist, surely sees and intuits more than the "ablutions" angle, right? I am thinking that EK has his own issues (attraction, jealousy, protection) with JM, and as such does not want to encourage her at all in her own erotic fantasies/countertransference with Tony.

I erred...will someone please reassign this post to the "Is Tony Changing/Psychoanalysis" thread. I did not mean to place this here. OE

</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub132.ezboard.com/bsopranolandf ... vingEgo</A> at: 4/4/04 7:01 pm

Re: Elliott K: interpretation of gift

Actually, OE, I see nothing wrong with this going in "All Happy Families" since it concerns a scene directly out of that ep. And as you framed it, it actually has as much to do with Elliot's/Jennifer's psychology as with Tony's, so I see no need to relegate it to a thread only about Tony.

Hope I didn't make you hyper sensitive about where to post just because I moved our previous thread. When in doubt, I say don't be uptight about where you put something and just go with what seems most appropriate.:-)

As for the substance of your post, I completely agree about the gift suggesting more than what Elliot offered. In fact, though cleansing, from the psychologist's POV, may have been the most obvious interpretation, it wasn't most obvious to me. I may not have ever even thought of it had Elliot not mentioned it, although I don't deny it makes good sense. Rather, the one you suggest was most obvious to me, that this was somehow a subliminal suggestion of Tony's desire for intimate/sexual contact with Melfi.

Bath products are among the most stereotypically feminine gifts you can give. And the fact that they were tied up with the belt from a pink terrycloth robe suggested to me what it did to you, a hyper consciousness of gender on Tony's part when he selected he gift and him imagining her putting on that robe after bathing with those products. Someone at another forum astutely pointed out that this gift echoed his effusive confession in ep 1 that he "wanted her skin" (among other body parts <img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/tongue.gif ALT=":p"> ).

Of course some mob journalists pointed out at slate that this gift choice probably came about because Chris or someone hijacked a truckload of such baskets, LMAO. But I tend to believe Tony picked it out and bought it himself.

In fact, this gift struck me for another reason as well, namely that it is the FIRST "apology" gift (or gift of any kind) that Tony's ever accompanied with a substantial written expression of feelings. Tony is constantly buying expesnive things for Carmela and others, mostly after he's done something that he secretly feels guilt over or that he knows has hurt them in some way. But in all cases thus far depicted, he's simply let the thing, the expenditure of money alone, be the apology or the thought. So it's an interesting gesture by Tony for several reasons.

I also tend to agree with you about Elliot. The professional competition between them (particularly spurred by Melfi) is what always comes out the strongest in their sessions. But I think Elliot has always sensed she is attracted to Tony and is especially bent on ramming home that Tony is a "sociopath" as a result. Now whether that's because Elliot is truly concerned about the consequences of her having (or acting?) on such feelings or because he is jealous that she has them, I'm not totally certain. But he did enjoy the opportunity to say the "c" word last week, didn't he? It was like he was relishing the chance to remind her who Tony is.


Re: Elliott K: interpretation of gift

Yes, Fly. Yes! Yes! Yes! Elliott did appear to enjoy what seemed to be his needless confrontation of restating Tony's denigration of Jennifer with the C-word. It (confrontation)was both unnecessary and artless . His comment, I thought, was what prompted Melfi's uncharacteristic sarcasm. At a supervisory skills level, EK's intervention was acceptable and defensible. But, his own supervisor, I think, would question and challenge EK on his motivations...


The gift

Carmella was seen in the bath tub soaking in a bubble bath with candles all around when AJ was in NYC, and she also had a terry robe on when she made her call to Meadow. I think Tony gave Carm a basket too because he felt bad about AJ' disrespect to her, which reduced her to tears. Tony gives gifts at times when he feels guilty and is trying to be seen in a better light.
Someone probably did high jack a truck load of them.<img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/wink.gif ALT=";)">


Re: The gift

Sopgirl, great catch on the Carmela angle! I would tend to disagree that Tony gave them to her recently, because I think at this point in their relationship, any gesture like that would be put onscreen, not off. Rather I think the coincidence you identified -- Carm depicted bathing amid bubbles and candlelight and in a robe right after Tony gives this gift to Melfi -- may be subtextual in significance.

The particular interpretation that jumps right out to me is this: Carmela is obviously the kind of woman that would actually use these products. (As opposed to yours truly, who would not.<img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/smile.gif ALT=":)"> ) Perhaps Dr. Hauschka is even her brand and perhaps Tony had given her those products in the past. (And don't forget that when talking skin care, Carm was looking at botox literature in the same ep.) So this could be another sort of Carm-Melfi transference, Tony displacing his romantic attentions and desire to reunite with Carmela onto Melfi.

I'm going back later to see what Carm's robe looks like. If it's pink terrycloth, it just became even more interesting.

</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub132.ezboard.com/bsopranolandf ... fisWall</A> at: 4/4/04 7:44 pm

Re: Carmela 'Reunification' Transference?

Just to update this thread, Carm's bathrobe was terrycloth in All Happy Families, though I've seen her many times in the past wearing silk or poly type robes. It looked predominantly white in the color reproduction on my tape but could have been pink tinted.

In any case, Tony has displayed in rapid succession two romantic fixations that are really quite atypical of him, first with Melfi, then Adriana. Both proceeded from emotional connections with the respective women that either ignited (or in Melfi's case reignited) very quickly (a chance sighting of "Prince of Tides", a chance conversation or two with Ade). Both caused him to speak in uncharacteristically romantic terms or contemplate idealized gestures (hiring mandolin players, buying tickets for a Bermuda vacation, "I want your skin, your mouth, your eyes", "you're different from what's out there" "this young woman really got to me" "I could do it right this time, start a whole new family with her"). Both times he used the term "drop dead" to describe the physical beauty of the women.

In fact, I think Melfi understood when he repeated the words "drop dead gorgeous" in describing Ade that there was an ephemeral, transferable quality to his recent fixation with her and probably with Ade as well.

Given sopgirl's observation about Carm in the bubble bath and in the robe after, my hunch is that the "transfer" is from deprivation in the relationship with Carmela and that he is displacing overtures that he would unconsciously like to make to her directly.


Why Tony Gave Melfi Bath Products

I assumed that Tony gave Melfi the bath products because he was sugesting that she relax. He had asked her to go on vacation because she worked so much and the basket of bath products certainly would be a gift that was neutral but viewed as elegant by someone of Melfi's stature. At least in Tony's mind.

Just my take on the bath products.

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