How would you grade this episode on a 1-10 scale (10 being the best possible quality)

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Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

Welcome to the forum, episodezero.

My own take on Carmela's remark is that it represented a somewhat different, more romantic or optimistic concept of her character by Chase in season one than he eventually settled into for her. She like the other characters were not written in stone when the series started but were evolving in the mind of their creator as things progressed, and his mind became influenced, I'm quite sure, by audience feedback, though perhaps not in the usual way.

Chase has been openly disappointed that much of his audience actually LIKED these people in the first couple of seasons, and that very obviously (to me) resulted in darker and more cynical views of practically everyone as the series progressed. He was essentially saying, "Okay, I dare you to like them now!" The Tony of season one is much closer to feeling and expressing empathy than the Tony of season 7 (with the short-lived exception of his post-shooting "everyday is a gift" outlook of season 6). And the Carmela of season one is also much more concerned with Tony's soul and moral redemption than she is in later seasons (College is a prime example of this genuine concern of hers). Concomitant with her greater "love" for Tony early in the series was a lower priority on sustaining the materiality of the mob lifestyle. So I don't think she was in any way insincere or crazy when she was very attracted by and open to the witness protection offer after Tony narrowly escaped assassination. It's just that that Carmela was a different Carmela than the one we saw later, especially in season 5 forward. And I don't think the change was entirely organic but more of a reactionary move by Chase to make the characters as unlovable as possible.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

Thanks for the response!...You nail it discribing the two different Carmela's and the other charactors would become in later episodes.

I just started watching the whole series again (on dvd). And it's funny because in the first or second episodes there's a scene where Tony and Carmela are outside on the lawn furniture talking, and Tony is looking in to Carmela's eyes, I mean real deeply with his mouth open (so romantic). It's not at all the way Tony would become soon after and especially like you said in the later seasons.

It also seemed that at first the pork shop had a lot of activity with many employees but then later hardly anyone working there. Just Tony and the crew coming and going, then it seemed the employees all returned for a short while.

There is two things that stick out in my mind if someone wants to comment?

One: There seems to be too much smoking going on by everyone in the show, espeically Christopher, are these fake cigarettes they use? I mean..did they have a deal with Marlboro or something? lol

Two: Besides the normal cussing from tough guys like this, The cursing seems to target the Christain side of things. Constants blasphemies. Why is this? our friend Mr. Chase a atheist?'s all pretty interesting the way this show came to be.

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

I'll just take your second question briefly because it's interesting to me. Chase's views on whether or not there is a God are ambiguous. I won't detail all that I can recall from interviews where the subject was broached, but he's clearly conflicted on that matter. I think he WANTS to believe there is a "God" in the sense of an organizing principle in the universe that imparts meaning and is founded on love. But he, like many, is challenged to maintain that belief (at the level of ego consciousness) in the face of the world we live in.

I would say that his art ultimately speaks the loudest, and from that you have to conclude that he believes there is a level of consciousness that is independent of brain health and function, else we would not have had Join the Club and Mayham, two entire episodes built on the foundation and assumption of a reality that transcends the physical reality that most people consider the only reality. At the same time, if you want to read the cut to black at the end of the last episode as his version of death (Livia's "It's all a big nothing" or Tony's "It's all black"), then that's there, too, though that doesn't necessarily negate his belief in a God.

Chase made a comment somewhere that his choice of "Don't Stop Believing" for the end was about the need to keep believing that "we are people who would love", or words to that effect. It was his version of optimism and faith, I think. So even if he was commenting on the idea of death marking the absolute obliteration of individual identity (and the "Who am I? Where am I going?" stuff of Join the Club is all about that too), then I think he was still saying that there is a larger picture, a trans-personal picture, that still matters, and it matters ultimately because of love.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

The only direct reference that I can remember (and find on-line) about Chase commenting on the song is the following;

...Chase said choosing the tune was a no-brainer.

"It didn't take much time at all to pick it, but there was a lot of conversation after the fact," Chase told the Star-Ledger. "I did something I'd never done before: in the location van, with the crew, I was saying, 'What do you think?' When I said, 'Don't Stop Believin',' people went, 'What? Oh my god!' I said, 'I know, I know, just give a listen,' and little by little, people started coming around."

My own feeling about why the song was chosen might be that Chase was being ironic. However this is not to say Chase wasn't expressing something akin to faith and optimism.

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

Conkcom, trust me on this as someone with a pretty good memory who, at one time, devoured every single word Chase uttered. I don't feel like unearthing the quote, but there was one in which a link was made to that song (implicitly if not explicitly) and the idea that we have to "go on believing" "as if we are people who would love". That's not verbatim, but it's close enough. I'm rather certain the quote in its complete and annotated form is somewhere on this site.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

I don't doubt what you say. I too have some vague memory of something along those lines. However Chase more often than not makes more cynical observations about the human condition. And the comments he has made sometimes are open to interpretation.

I admit to being wrong about this but my gut feeling is that Chase has a mainly liberal secularist or post-Christian or lapsed Christian view of the world with perhaps a hint of Jungian psychoanalysis with east Asian (Zen Buddhism and Taoism) and native American spiritual motifs.

But that could just be transference on the part of me.

But I do think that the Twilight Zone might be more of a clue or exemplar as to what shaped (or perhaps characterises) David Chase's paradigm.

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

I agree 100% about his cynicism., and I think your description of his general sort of life/religious philosophy is pretty accurate as well. (Of course Jung was anything but a "non believer". His entire body of work is based on the assumption or existence of a transpersonal consciousness that most people call "god" and is, in many respects, modern spiritual wisdom dressed in the secular vocabulary of psychology to make it more palatable to Western, left-brained intellectuals.) But he (Chase) is conflicted about his beliefs in that realm.

A prime example is from an interview he gave with, I believe, the NYT in advance of season 5. The interviewer asked if Tony believed in God. His answer was (again, paraphrasing) something like, "Do I really want to get into that and have to say whether or not I believe in God?" The interviewer responded, "Are all questions about Tony necessarily questions about you?" Chase said, "No, but for some reason I found it difficult to separate Tony's views about that from my own."

I believe he also stated in that same interview that he wanted to believe in God, words to that effect, but that in the day and age we live in he found it hard to say he did believe in God and phenomena like miracles. I'm pretty sure this was a pre-season 5 promotional interview, so if you check around the forum, you'll find the exact quotes. This was the most explicit he ever got on the whole "G" word, but, again, I think his work speaks loudest. And you would not have gotten two whole episodes, and really an entire season based on them, where a transcendent reality was depicted unless a very, very real part of him glimpses a truth in that.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

I wonder though whether he really is (or was) making at the very least a sub-conscious expression about a transcendant reality. In more ways than one the only god that existed in the Sopranos universe was its very human creator - David Chase. (You might remember in Tony's Test Dream when he was listening to "God" on the phone it was none other than Chase himself).

I'm inclined to think that whatever hankering for a meaningful spiritual influence might also be a realisation that it's a nostalgic reflection of youthful innocence and trust in the religion of one's upbringing that for whatever reason is lost, rejected or outgrown. Some of us can relate to this.

I don't think we should overlook nor underestimate the Twilight Zone's influence as a fictional work on Chase the auteur. The final season in particular acknowledges Rod Serling's seminal work. This is where the fine line between day and night, light and darkness, and reality and dreams crossover making one indistinguishable from the other.

Perhaps your insightful observation about Chase's apparent personal conflict might be another expression of the "greyness" that is the twilight zone of existence and nothingness.

Re: Episode 1.12: Isabella - Grades & General Review

I can't comment on the Twilight Zone because I never watched it. My only familiarity is with the distinctive theme music and Rod Serling's voice introducing it. That's about all I can remember ever seeing of it. But I don't doubt its influence on Chase. He has said as much explicitly. Good for you folks who watched it and can glean the areas of influence first hand.:icon_wink:
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"
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