The Scene with Melfi

Ok. Brace yourself….I’m about to talk about something that isn’t mafia related!

I think the one solitary scene with Dr. Melfi was very pre-meditated and very important. After years of subtly beating around the bush when it comes to Tony and his relationship with his mother and uncle…she lays out the entire situation for him flat. She forces him to come to terms with the undeniable fact that his mother and uncle conspired to have him killed.

I repeat….his uncle tried to have him killed. When Tony reappears in Dr Melfi’s office next episode…and tells her what happened….you can imagine Melfi’s reaction. My guess is she’s going to tell Tony that Junior did not necessarily “know” what he was doing but it may have been part of some repressed, uncurious desire to exact revenge on someone he has always resented.

Junior has apparently manufactured an evil demon to blame his problems on….and his name is Pussy Malanga. So why have his paranoid delusions decided to take this particular form? Juniors exact words when he’s talking to Tony when they are digging up the “money” is “HE knows I need that money for my re-trial”. These are exactly the type of complaints Junior used to make about Tony….but now that Tony, against Melfi’s wishes I might addd - has “forgiven” Junior and truly seems to care for him, Junior invented this fictional adversary to fill the void left from his and tony’s apparent peace.

Junior is a fighter and the only thing that was keeping him sane, alert and agile was his problems. A potential prison sentence, his problems with Tony and his battle with cancer. Now that these issues have been settled in some way or another his mind has truly started to drift and now’s he’s really losing it. But I still question if on some level Junior might have known what he was doing. After all this is the second time he’s tried it.

</p>Edited by: <A HREF= ... ebowitz>Mr Gebowitz</A> at: 3/13/06 12:51 am

Re: The Scene with Melfi

For all the therapy Tony has been through, he hasn't changed very much. The sushi/scale scene show he's still gorging on food. He hasn't been taking his medication properly. He alludes to having had a terrible year. He still has to buy his own wife's affections. AJ is still a useless lump.

Now Tony even makes himself feel guilty about his monster of a mother by calling GreenGrove a 'nursing home' and vowing never to send Junior to such a terrible place. It'll be fun to see how else time has twisted his perceptions.

I have to say I have never liked Melfi.


Re: The Scene with Melfi

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>I think the one solitary scene with Dr. Melfi was very pre-meditated and very important. After years of subtly beating around the bush when it comes to Tony and his relationship with his mother and uncle…she lays out the entire situation for him flat. She forces him to come to terms with the undeniable fact that his mother and uncle conspired to have him killed.<hr></blockquote>

I think the scene was important too, but not because Dr. Melfi "forced" Tony to come to terms with anything. In actuality Tony was more obstinate and set in his ways than ever before. There was an even greater distance between him and Melfi than we've ever seen. He's back at square one, and taking responsibility for his mother's behavior. Apparently all those years of therapy have gone for nothing. Very interesting.


Re: The Scene with Melfi

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>My guess is she’s going to tell Tony that Junior did not necessarily “know” what he was doing but it may have been part of some repressed, uncurious desire to exact revenge on someone he has always resented.<hr></blockquote>
This is exactly what I thought as Uncle June's motivation. He certainly still holds some bitterness in his mind. This was not premeditated (as in he meant to shoot Tony himself) but the conflicting thoughts of both Malanga and his remainingbitterness at Tony, not to mention being stuck at home all the time, barely able to remember things and possibly going back to trial...June's got a lot going on and not much to help him sort through it.

And Tony has simply regressed. He denies trying to smother his mother now? As suggested, he now calls Green Grove a nursing home. Melfi has her work cut out for her. But it is almost like the Doctor telling his patient the if he keeps drinking he will die...and the patient keeps drinking no matter what. What's to be done then?


Re: The Scene with Melfi

I always found Melfi's reaction (to the extent we've seen it) to Junior's attempted hit on Tony in season 1 a bit confusing, even moreso with this episode. From the get go, she never seemed to want to ascribe any blame to Junior for trying to kill Tony. All her focus is on Livia. In one of the early eps, Tony tells her something to the effect that his uncle said Livia wasn't involved and didn't know the consequences of what she was saying, to which Melfi replies, "Your uncle loves you."

That seems an incredibly risky assessment to make from Melfi's perspective. And she should know that the capacity to truly love is not something in great supply among the many sociopaths that populate the Mafia.

Now don't get me wrong, Livia was a big part of what Junior did, but he was by no means lacking independent will or motivation. In the pilot episode, in fact, it's Junior who tells Livia "something may have to be done" about Tony and waits to gauge her response . . . which is total silence. It's the personal "psychiatry and cunnilingus" thing that finally motivated Junior to take action, not just Livia's sly implantation of the fear of a Tony-led coup d'etat coming at Junior.

And Melfi should be smart enough to realize that she DOESN'T know the whole story there and that any version of events rendered by Tony will be subject to his typical conscious and unconscious lies, distortions, and filtrations.

But even if we accept that Junior "loves" Tony, as much as a man like Junior is capable of love, wouldn't it be logical for Melfi to assume that Tony also loves Junior? I mean he forgave Junior for attempting to kill him, for God's sake. She knows that the very first time she asked Tony about his father, the man Tony surprisingly started thinking and talking about was not Johnny but Junior. She even noticed the incongruity. So shouldn't she also assume and expect that Tony has reasons entirely independent of the whole Llivia thing for not wanting to relegate his uncle to ANY institution?

A sizeable percentage of people feel that institutional care of an elder is inherently less dignified and desireable than private care inside a home, no matter what the facility is called or how much it costs. Melfi continually ignores this fact and will not acknowledge either that Tony has a reason to feel guilty for placing Livia at Green Grove or that she had a right to resent him for it.

Since Tony knows the stigma that his mother and Junior both attach to such facilities, if Tony loves his uncle, why wouldn't he want to spare him that indignity? In other words, couldn't Tony's apparent about face on the whole "nursing home/retirement community" dichotomy be due to the simple dichotomy that he loves his uncle more than he ever loved his mother and not to what Melfi authoritatively ascribes to him: a rationalization for his mother's conspiracy to kill him?

I don't know. I just don't quite get this yet. Maybe some repeated viewings of this and a few of the old episodes will help it come together. But I'm troubled by Melfi's apparently incongruous positions on these matters and HER unwillingness to acknowledge that farming out care of elders is just that: farming it out, attempting to subcontract what many consider a moral obligation for personal care that's fundamentally no different than subcontracting the raising of a child.


Re: The Scene with Melfi

Assorted musings:

Therapy scene: Here we see Tony with Melfi almost 2 years down the road. He remains resistant, while she continues the assault on his defenses. On the surface there appears to be little emergence for Tony. However, the fact that he remains engaged in the process itself indicates the construction that for Tony, Melfi has emerged as his most constant object - the good mother who is predictable and consistent. Admittedly, he remans invested in his defensive narration. But these fantasies protect him.

Janice as the breast in the sky: Janice with new baby girl...madonna with babe...whoa not subtle imagery there. Melanie Klein posited in her mother-child attachment theory, that the infant sees everything and everyone as either the good or bad breast, and that in these early days wee ones develop a sense of the world based on the global breast. This concept and how it plays out with Janice's ability to provide a supportive and "good enough" base for her bambina will be interesting, in that she will model her mother's destructive patterns, or seek a redemptive path with her own little daughter. At first glance she did seem both cherishing, yet caustic.

Tony and Carm: The fact that Tony and Carm appear to have settled into a comforting and comfortable relationship of shared rituals speaks positively of the work he is doing with first glance. Admittedly he remains a food addict, yet seems more philosophically accepting and appreciative of simple attachments and pleasures.

Tony's sympathy of agent with parasite was a subtle yet huge indication that he is not the complete sociopath as are his colleagues. This piece was small yet enormous.


Re: The Scene with Melfi

I think it was telling when Tony turned the questioning around on Dr. Melfi and asked her about her mother. She said that she was a controlling woman, but had never tried to have her killed. Perhaps Dr. Melfi is projecting her own anti-maternal feelings into Tony's situation. It's why she keeps coming back to Tony's mother in all of their sessions, and is perhaps why she is avoiding some of the other tell tale issues in his life.


Re: The Scene with Melfi

got to agree with the last 2 posters, melfi has all her knowledge out of books, she only knows about standard situations and tries to press tony into a schematic and has no clue whats mainly going on.
she even goes that far to mention how he almost killed her mother and he quickly denies because he would never speak about a crime.
maybe she is trying to gain power and control by putting people into her schematics.


Re: The Scene with Melfi

Fly: All that you cite regarding Melfi's focused attention on Livia as opposed to Junior in terms of their dual conspiracy against Tony speaks to her operational belief and specific hypothesis regarding Tony's pathology: that his issues and impasse are related to Mommy. Granted, Uncle Junior conspired with equal gusto. At the same time, remember that in Melfi's frame, the maternal object especially the murderous maternal object would have a more significantly destructive impact on the psyche.

While T's resistance around Livia and need to protect her remain as a central core of the analysis, Melfi has never seemed at peace and assured about the treatment plan, progress or its efficacy on any front. Over the years we have seen her anguish in regard to "Tony-as patient" in her supervisory sessions with Elliot, and her clinical conversations with her ex, as I seem to recall. She struggles with the degree to which he is sociopathic and the attendant notion of possible change. Furthermore, the field has been contaminated by her own libidinous countertransference with Tony (which I do not believe that she has adequately resolved).

I think that the confusion that you express very realistically mirrors Melfi's own well-conceived treatment yet heinously vexing challenge with Tony as well as the notion that while psychology is a science, psychotherapy is an art.

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