I disagree with this. I think Tony was right. AJ would have been very well served by the military school, if only it had been imposed on him a couple of years earlier, before he was irretrievably made a hostage to his father's idea of what it means to be a man and how to "earn" a living and before life as a modern, wealthy suburban teenager in schools with almost as many counselors and school psychologists as teachers provided him with an Oprah Winfrey paradigm of manhood. He did not find the happy medium. The cracks through which he fell were so wide that the mere prospect of military school brought out his latent anxiety disorder.Avellino wrote:Tony rails at Vito Jr. for going about in pity for himself, which is by now a familiar trope, and has a group of "tough love" fundamentalists haul the boy off to a paramilitary school in Utah. Wasn’t this the same kind of solution he tried to impose on AJ in “Army of One”? It’s Tony’s worst regression: the Gary Cooper, strong-and-silent “old school” way of dealing with grief. Like everything else with the old school, it no longer works. It’s not about the money, it’s about traumatized sons. Shooting Hesh or repaying him won’t salve Tony Soprano’s psychological wounds. At this point, I doubt anything can save the North Jersey boss.
I dare say, the single most important factor in a boy becoming a "good man" his having a good man as a father or other primary male role model. And that in a nutshell is AJ's problem. I credit Tony with recognizing, albeit too late, that he did not have the credibility to be that role model for AJ. He wanted him to grow up with respect for authority, a work ethic, a sense of discipline, yet the example he set was one of flouting the law and stealing from others.
He wanted to impose on AJ a different set of male role models. And had AJ not passed out that day, I've no doubt he would be a lot closer to the man Tony wanted him to be than he is now.