I agree with the idea that we cry out for our "mommy" when in our greatest peril. But I have seen black bears many times in my garbage and compost and to be honest, they are not exactly scary. Impressively large and strong,yes, but not necessarily threatening. I felt the bear has and always been Tony or a metaphor of Tony. And AJ's fear of the bear reflects his fear of Tony...
You know, Vito called me “skip” the other day. Slip of the tongue, no doubt. But I noticed he didn’t correct himself.
AJ was always weak, which he definitely got from his mother's side of the family. He inherited a lot more of his innate nature from Carmela than from Tony. Under different circumstances he probably would have grown up to be like Hugh DeAngelis, a nice but unremarkable little guy. But with Tony Soprano as a father, he always held himself to an unrealistic standard of masculinity and strength, which manifested as cruelty and hypocrisy because it was impossible to live up to. This dissonance, I feel, is largely to blame for how AJ turned out. Ultimately he got the worst of both sides - Carmela's weakness, indecisiveness and complacency, combined with Tony's rage and depression, made for a turbulent brew.