Tony Belief Systems and random gibberish

This was without a doubt one of the best episodes of The Sopranos ever made.

- I absolutely love this existential crises Tony has fallen victim to within his "waking" time at the hospital and how it subsequently ended the moment he left.

Also, I absolutely love how whatever legitimacy the evangelical minister’s words “might” have had went out the door when he brought up dinosaurs.

It seemed that throughout the course of the episode Tony encounters and explores the validity of several different belief systems and ultimately embraces the one, or least gravitates towards the one belief system that denies the cartoonish dichotomy of good and evil and in my opinion, the ridiculous assumption that those man made distinctions are somehow inherently tattooed in the fiber of our universe. Clearly he was more moved by the one scientist there and his somewhat holistic interpretation of the world than the born again nutjobs and the instant gratification and easy answers they offered up as if they were some third rate cult. I think his general acceptance of moral relativism is reflected in his angry diatribes and outbursts throughout the episode which all seem to centralize around the idea that the world is an unjust, chaotic place where hurricanes kill thousands of innocent people and little girls get third degree burns over 80% of their bodies.

Also – Tony attempting to smoke the cigar in his meeting outside with Phil was great haha

</p>Edited by: <A HREF= ... ebowitz>Mr Gebowitz</A> at: 4/3/06 12:11 am

Re: Tony Belief Systems and random gibberish

Having said that -- what's your opinion with Paulie and Tony in relation to what James (The rocket scientist) was talking about the two guys being the same?

Since Tony took a strong liking to James and was more than willing to listen to him and his physics talk...I made a connection.

Paulie and Tony are together in almost every other scene and I couldnt help but get the idea that Paulie represents (at least in this episode) all the immoral/bad/evil/wrong that's inside Tony.

I believe in order to survive or find happiness or peac, he is going to have to rid himself of some people in some sort of fashion.

Judging from this episode:

The Bad:

4.Johnny Sac

The Good:





Re: Tony Belief Systems and random gibberish

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>Clearly he was more moved by the one scientist there and his somewhat holistic interpretation of the world than the born again nutjobs and the instant gratification and easy answers they offered up as if they were some third rate cult.<hr></blockquote>

My interpretation, and of course disagreement is welcome, was that both the new-age Christians and the scientist's theories held some initial appeal to Tony, who seems struggling to find his "place" in the world (witness the empire state building post-it comment), but that both, upon further examination were ridiculous.

Tony went back to the scientist to ask more about his theories, but was not willing to sign onto a world view without distinctions between anything.

Additionally, the moment when Tony stopped being into the evangelical thing was the moment he was invited to attend the Open Door Church of the Redeemer or whatever mumbo jumbo name the church had. THEN, the dinosaur comment really threw that whole theory off the cliff.

Add onto that Hesch's wife's comment about how Jerusalem was the true Holy Land, and you've now got fundamentalist Christianity, a wholistic world view, and Judaism raising their heads and being dismissed by Tony all in one episode.

My take? Tony has to find his own "religion" as it were, he's not going to be able to sign onto anything organized. And the idea of Tony rolling into any kind of church on Sundays doesn't seem real likely. Anyone catch the concerned looks that Chris was giving Tony when it looked like Tony was catching religion? I think that true religion as opposed to a facade of Catholicism within the mob is going to be seen as a sign of serious weakness.

P.S. -- anyone have any thoughts on what Hesch meant when his wife said "Jerusalem is the true Holy Land" and Hesch replies, "well, we'll see?" That comment struck me as very strange.


Re: Tony Belief Systems and random gibberish

Mr. Geb, good post.

IMO Tony was and is still trying to sort it all out. He seems a long way from embracing or rejecting any particular belief system. Like most of us, he'll probably end up piecing something together that makes the most sense to him, and that may employ shreds of many different schools of thought or one heaping helping of his own, inspired school of thought. To me the most important point to take from the episode is that he is really searching, really embarking on a journey of spiritual discovery/enlightenment. And if he stays on that journey, IMO its destination will never be a "relativist" moral code whereby he thinks it's just to steal for a living and maim and murder to back it up.

I agree that he seemed more impressed with the scientist, but he was not entirely hostile to what the pastor had to say either. Obviously the pastor's blind adherence to some of the false prophecy contained in the Bible cost him some real credibility. On the other hand, Tony did seem a lot more open to the guy than I would have thought, allowing him in the room when some of his business cronies were there (Jewish, no less) and not even ruling out coming to the guy's church (which he could have easily done by reminding him that he's catholic and has his own church). Perhaps the advice that will go the farthest with Tony is that God wants a personal relationship with him, not through the intercession of any other person or religious "leader". I also caught the fish symbolism again, with Tony accusing him of "bottom feeding" and the pastor replying that "that's where the big fish are".

While Tony was picqued by the idea of a completely interconnected universe where even distinct beings are illusory, he clearly couldn't accept it while watching one highly organized collection of molecules put the whoop ass on another highly organized collection of molecules in a decidedly unrandom fashion. He cannot ignore his own perception of the universe to embrace something that abstract. More importantly, though he retained no acutal recollection of his coma experience (very significant, in and of itself), he did retain the distinct residue of being pulled toward something while he was there, something he never wanted to go back to. It was then that he ventured the terms "heaven" and "hell". And in so doing, he makes it clear that while Schroedinger may not acknowledge such a dichotomy, his own soul does.

The thing that struck and puzzled me most about Tony in this ep was the anger he exhibited throughout most of the hospital scenes. He was unusually cranky and resentful, odd given his weak condition and what one might have presumed would be some goodwill toward folks like Janice and Bobby, who'd sat vigil in the hospital with him for days.

It took him being wheeled out of the hospital (and, as billymac has noted elsewhere, into the windy outdoors) to feel that. In that short span, he went from extorting 2K from an EMS worker to rejecting it and from typical Janice-baiting to grasping her hand in a heartfelt moment of affection. Want to watch the ep again to see what else might explain the difference in the Tony we see in the last 5 minutes and the first 50, but it was pretty pronounced.


Re: Tony Belief Systems and random gibberish

As for his angry side, I think Tony, despite his recent revelations about the larger universe, is still just a man filled with rage. As we saw when Janice was taking anger management classes, Tony exhibits the same unpredictable anger that looses itself whether provoked or unprovoked. I don't think that is going to change just yet, despite the fact that he's seeking religion. Just like everyone else on a spiritual path he is going to have to balance his personality with his qualms about good/evil. Tony has a good side, but he is gluttonous in many forms. Food and sex are just physical aspects of his indulgence. Because of his position of power and wealth, he has indulged his own fits of anger and irritability. When he's angry, he gets really furious and takes it out on random people, like that poor guy that used to work at Bada Bing. Or he'll break a pool stick. Or a refridgerator. Sometimes, despite his intelligence, his anger and pride overwhelm him .

As for belief systems, I agree that Tony initially gave both the evangelicals and the scientist a chance. However, Tony was immediately put off by the patronizing tone of the evangelical guys. I don't think they anticipated Tony being smart and Tony sensed that, making fun of their 6,000 years theory of dinosaurs living with humans by saying "Like the Flintstones??" A classic line.

However, Tony is searching. And I wonder how it will affect his business. Will he be more compassionate/friendly? Or will he realize he's going to hell anyway since he can't get out of this business and be more ruthless than ever? For someone prone to depression, realizing there is a higher power when your life is financed by murder can be a devastating thing. Also, how will this affect his relationship with Carmela? She has always made a show of being devout, although her faith is as questionable as his. And his relationship w/Meadow and AJ? Will he finally push them away from the family? Most importantly, how will his crew react? Tony will probably be smart enough to hide it from them, but if he ditches Catholicism for something else there will be gossip galore.

If nothing else, his conversations with Melfi will get more interesting as this is the first time he has really delved into morals beyond the immediate right and wrong of daily actions.


Re: Tony Belief Systems and random gibberish

I agree with a lot of what was said here, in that Tony is actively searching for something.

But I disagree that there was much to show of Tony rejecting the scientist's holistic view of things. He seemed to take to that pretty quickly, and came back to it over and over, until the end of the episode even.

It was no coincidence that the Scientist chose two tornadoes to be his example. "It's just wind".

Tony talks about how he felt he was being "pushed along", in his coma state and then we have the Ojibwe saying about a "great wind" carrying you across the sky. We saw that saying more this episode than the others.

Tony didn't like that saying at first (when he thought Janice put it there), but it has clearly grown on him. He even quotes it to Paulie, when Paulie is bitching about his Ma. "You can't go about it pity for yourself...!" "You gotta realize you are part of something bigger!!"

The pastor had an opening, with Tony in a state of soul searching, but he blew it each time he came in. The nail in the coffin was, after the evolution talk when he told Tony that his scientist friend was basically going to hell.

By the way, you can tell by who they cast in the role of the pastor that he was intended to be untrustworthy. He's got a very angular face, arching eyebrows, a perpetual smirk...looks a lot like Christian Slater.

Anyway, the episode ends, again, with Tony experiencing the wind. It's no coincidence. He obviously hasn't "chosen" any philosophy to believe, but we know which one is on his mind.

He really never wavered through the episode.


Re: Tony Belief Systems and random gibberish

It was a deep episode, and a very spiritual episode, which I think is not going to be everybody's interest in the Sopranos. The third episode was classic Sopranos, and this episode was more deep and introspective, offering viewpoints of several religions (Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity (Catholicism/Evangelicalism, consciousness).

I believe that Tony was more receptive to the scientist's point of view. The praying and such provided him comfort, and he was touched by the gesture, but the viewpoint of the scientist maybe helped him piece together the various things that can happen in the world: him getting shot, a girl with 80% burns on her body who did nothing it is implied. My own bias is that I myself have some predisposition to this view, based upon my experience so far.

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky<hr></blockquote>

What I take from that is that despite the many hardships that you can have, either the whole time this is done according to some plan, or you are a part of a whole, a "bigger picture" as Tony says.

My perception of the last scene was where Tony was sitting in his lawn chair and enjoying the wind, where he felt alive and connected to the greater consciousness, and the scene cuts to Paulie beating the crap out of Barone. Still, there the wind blows. Like the two boxers, where one hits and the other reacts, they are still connected as there is the one consciousness. The wind blowing to Tony's delight is blowing still in the midst of the violence Paulie brings to Barone, to the violence that poor kid witnessed of his father, in a farther extent to the kid burned over 80% of her body, the rapper getting shot in the ass, the couple in front of the building tony sees, the clock in the distance, etc.

That's my take.

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