chaseisgod wrote:It hasn't changed my own emotional investment in Tony, because I don't see it as being too much different from Tony's killing of Tony B. Like Chris, Tony B had screwed up, but Tony essentially killed him for his own selfish reasons.
CIG, we see things so similarly most of the time that I always have to pinch myself and make a concerted effort to re-evaluate when our views significantly diverge. I just pinched myself.
To me, the situation with Tony B feels fundamentally different. There were enormous pressures on Tony from everywhere to give Tony B up to NY. The vaunted "code" of the mob required it. The all-powerful NY leadership required it. The lives and physical security of his own men required it. Their willingness to view and follow him as a leader required it. Even Tony's own shrink, however unwittingly, required it by telling him to ignore his emotional attachments to Tony B and act purely on the knowledge that some portion of that attachment owed to guilt rather than to love.
Many bought into Sil's ostensible truth that Tony didn't want to "bow down" to Johnny Sac and that that was the reason Tony took so long to come through. But, in fact, Sil was dead wrong. Tony DID bow down to John.
He approached him in LTP fully intent on doing the "right" thing for all involved, asking only for John's promise that Tony B wouldn't be subjected to a prolonged or agonizing death. Tony exhibited a level of deference and humility that strongly resembled grovelling. It started from the moment he greeted him, "There he is, the King of New York." It continued as he quietly endured Johnny's condescension about the indignity of meeting in the place Tony chose. It continued as he humbly reminded John that he [John] was the one with all the power, "John, you're the boss of NY. You can do anything you want." It continued as he endured Johnny's brush-offs, "Phil will do it his way." It continued as he made a last, heartfelt plea out of what he thought was a mutual friendship: "John this is me now talking. Tony. As a friend." And it finally crashed as John summarily rebuffed him a final time and casually picked tobacco from his tongue as if to underscore how trivial Tony and his pleas were to him. Considering that Johnny could have easily offered the promise to Tony with no intention of actually honoring it, Tony's modest request and giant leap of faith in Johnny's word solidifies for me that this was an entirely genuine concern that Tony B not be tortured. It wasn't about Tony's pride.
In the end, Tony chose the path that arguably did the most "good" for the most people. By blasting Tony B's face off with a shotgun, he made certain the proper result was obtained, that his cousin would not suffer torture or an agonizingly slow death, that he could restore his bargaining position with Johnny Sac to bring an end to the conflict, that Chris could emerge from hiding without a looming death threat, that his other men would no longer have to fear for their own lives, and, last but not least, that they could all continue to make money.
But while it did the most good for the most people, it was the choice that unquestionably caused Tony the most personal grief. Season 5 was said to focus on Tony as a leader, and what we saw in the end was that, in a perverse and subversive sense of that term, Tony proved to be a great leader. He put the collective good first.
In contrast, his ostensible motives for killing Chris were almost entirely selfish. If you discount Tony's concern for Kaitlyn (which many have done), his motives reduced to worry about Chris flipping and giving Tony up to the FBI, disgust in Chris for being a drug addict, resignation that that would never change, and extreme hurt and resentment over the hatred Chris aimed subliminally at Tony through Cleaver
I completely concur with others' observations that the relationship between Tony and Chris is extremely complex and that, therefore, Tony's reaction to the murder is likely to be equally complex. That is precisely why within 12 hours of the episode, I was searching for (some might say concocting:icon_biggrin:) an elaborate mechanism of motive that could explain the patent incongruities in how Tony did act during and after the murder versus how we might have expected him to act.
But to assess any of this, I think you must honestly ask how Tony's behavior in and around this murder differed from his behavior in and around others. I don't see how it's possible to interpret Tony's demeanor during the actual killing as communicating anything but a new and unprecedented level of depravity, evil, or emotional vacancy within him. One of the first remarks from my aunt when we spoke on the phone after the episode was that the look on Tony's face was one of pure, unmitigated evil, a look Gandolfini had never come close to affecting for any scene in this series.
I concur in that it was not a look of hatred or of vitriol or of anger. It was completely calm, sure, devoid of emotion, and yet showing complete commitment and conviction. Even the slightest grimace or scowl or uncomfortable shifting of his gaze elsewhere or tight clenching of his fingers on Chris' nose would have changed significantly what Tony appeared to be feeling (or not feeling) during those crucial moments. Instead, he stared at Chris with an unwavering, flat gaze, turning his head slowly at one moment only to ensure that the passing motorist above had not seen him. There was never a trace at any time of the ambivalence or sorrow he showed when he shot Pussy; the hatred when he strangled the rat guy in College
; the explosion of anger when he bashed Ralph's head into the floor and pummeled his face; the sense of sad, solemn duty when he shot Tony B and immediately felt for his pulse. The murder of Chris felt incomprehensibly like the most personal and least personal of all Tony's murders, all at the same time.
And when it comes to assessing what Tony was or wasn't feeling afterward, I'm surprised so many are ignoring Tony's own admissions, especially as they are unflattering and therefore circumstantially more credible. In his dream therapy session, the one where his subconscious is totally in charge of airing out repressed truths, he admits pain and then immediately calls himself on his own bullshit. He admits his relief, even his satisfaction that he killed Chris. He readily admits all the selfish justifications for killing him. He comments that he's murdered friends before but that this is much different . . . i.e., with this one, there are no mixed feelings, no guilt, no being "prostate with grief."
His real therapy session was remarkably similar with only the most obviously necessary of fictions inserted to shield Melfi from certain truths. The bottom line was that, as Tony told her, he didn't feel any abiding grief.
So the question remains a rather simple one IMO: Why wasn't Tony aggrieved over this death, and is that lack of grief consistent with the character we've seen over the years?
Chase was in fact telling a mirrored tale of repressed father/son hatred through Cleaver
and through Tony and Chris' relationship, a tale in which, from Tony's POV, they are both father and son, both themselves and each other, both Tony and Johnny Boy, both part of this nebulous whole that Tony came to believe in after his coma, then I have little problem with what has transpired since Kennedy and Heidi
. It even makes beautiful, elegant sense. And it explains to my satisfaction why Tony can be so jubilant in his peyote casino trip, why he felt a need to embody Chris in Las Vegas by banging his goomar and indulging in his lifestyle, and why he felt a surge of recognition when the sun (son) rose and flared at him. If killing Chris was the symbolic keystone for Tony ultimately rejecting his own father, his value system, and his notions about manhood, then I understand the otherwise incongruous behavior. It's hard to be mired in grief when you are simultaneously celebrating a triumph that's been a lifetime in the making.
I don't mean to sound impatient or as if I'm prejudging where this is going. But I'm just nervous that this last episode, Second Coming,
provided little to no continuing fodder for the one theory that seemed to make some sense to me. I need something more concrete than what we've been given in order to feel secure in this interpretation and reconnect with Tony. And I certainly need to see something from Tony that indicates he's taken the next step beyond a mere symbolic slaying of Johnny Boy . . . and that's to consciously, overtly reject what Johnny Boy stood for. If that means admitting to AJ that he, Tony, is a fraud who wasted his life pursuing an identity that he knows to be ugly and corrput -- right before blowing his own brains out -- that's fine. I ain't picky about how it happens as long as it happens.
Here's what I wonder -- if, in these last two episodes, we do see some sort of breakdown regarding Christopher, will it have come too late?
It won't be too late for me, and, in fact, is what I deem necessary to reclaim the lost connection to his character. It's not that I want or expect him to go into paroxisms of grief and sorrow for killing some lovely, innocent boy. Chis doesn't merit that kind of grief from anyone.
Rather, I need an explanation for why this murder was so different from all the others from Tony's perspective and how that difference resonates with and reinforces the history of this character and the path he seemed to be on immediately prior to Kennedy and Heidi
, one of condemning irresponsible parents, and particularly bad fathers, and one of recognizing his own failures as AJ's father.