Re: Tony's Trips - Vegas and Peyote (accidentally deleted!)

#11
I don't think Vegas girl was actually a whore, she or Tony said she was stripping her way through college. I guess some people equate strippers and whores, but they are different, not all strippers are hookers. Especially in Vegas there seems to be a clear line, since prostitution is legal there.

If she's not a hooker but a stripper that Chris actually liked, and who presumably liked him too, and not some arbitrary girl he paid for, then it makes it more significant that Tony went all the way out there to nail her and take drugs like Chris.

Re: Roulette, the Solar System, and Kevin Finnerty

#12
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:At the time, I posted that perhaps Tony was learning that he had betrayed his purpose and function in the universe, to be an agent of the sun, of light rather than dark, of warmth (love, good) rather than cold (hate, evil), of unity rather than dispersion. As the beacon called to him in the coma, the sun appeared to be calling to him in the peyote trip.

While the symbolism of the end might support this earlier theory, Tony's prior behavior in the episode did anything but support it. I feel somewhat idiotic for even reviving it at this point except for the fact that the sun definitely pointed back to Finnerty in this episode IMO.
I think that viewing the sun or light as meaning love or good may be too literal. When Tony was in his coma the accepted thinking is that he was in Purgatory and that the light beacon was Heaven and the forest fires were Hell. What if the beacon represented correctness and the fires represented incorrectness? If you take it that way then the sun beacon in the desert just before Tony's epiphany could mean that his shedding of the last shread of his moral self is the correct path for him to take. Is the show leading to Tony's redemption or the fulfillment of his destiny?

Re: Tony's Trips - Vegas and Peyote (accidentally deleted!)

#13
I couldn't help but also associate the ending sun/beacon scene with Albert Camus' "The Stranger". It's a personal favorite of mine, and since the book was somewhat central to an episode in Season Two with A.J. I think it's a relevant comparison. For people who are not familiar with the book, and since Wikipedia can do a much better job of summarizing the novella than I can, here is a quick rundown.

The novel tells the story of an alienated man, Meursault, who eventually commits a murder and waits to be executed for it. The book uses an Algerian setting, drawn from Camus's own upbringing.

At the start of the novel, Meursault attends his mother's funeral, where he does not express any emotions. The novel goes on to document the next few days of his life, through the first person point-of-view. In these days, he befriends one of his neighbors, Raymond Sintès. He aids Raymond in dismissing one of his Arab mistresses. Later, the two confront the woman's brothers on a beach and Raymond gets cut in the resulting knife fight. Meursault afterwards goes back to the beach and shoots one of them, in response to the glare of the sun. "The Arab" is killed. Meursault then fires four more times at the dead body.

At the trial, those prosecuting seem more interested on the inability or unwillingness of Meursault to cry at his mother's funeral. The killing of the Arab apparently is less important than whether Meursault is capable of remorse. The argument follows that if Meursault is incapable of remorse, he should be considered a dangerous misanthrope and subsequently executed to prevent him from doing it again, and making him an example to those considering murder.

As the novel comes to a close, Meursault meets with a chaplain, and is enraged by the chaplain's insistence that he turn to God. The novel ends with Meursault recognizing the universe's indifference for humankind. The final lines echo his new realization: "As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate."



Could a Meursault-esque epiphany be the revelation that the entire series has been building toward for Tony all along? His final realization that there are no absolute truths and no underlining morality within the universe? It would certainly explain his consistent fascination with the many tragedies that fall upon the innocent. A.J. echoed such sentiments of a younger Tony in therapy last night, that in a world this "d*&#ed up" how could one not be depressed?

Tony has always acknowledged that his depression was self-inflicted, that he brought it all upon himself. Many of us assumed that this was in reference to the horrific choices he has made cumulatively weighing down on his conscience. Maybe that isn't the case. Maybe last night he finally "got it" that all of the pain he has felt in the past, at root, stemmed from his ill-founded acceptance of the existence of good and evil in the universe. This brings to mind Tony's encounter with the rocket scientist during his hospital stay and his views on life, could he have finally subscribed to such a notion?

I know many posters would be dissappointed if something so unexpected as this turns out to be true, that Tony never officially recognizes the pain he's caused as it relates to his life choices and accepts the indifference of the universe as his own philosophy, but I can't think of anything "more Sopranos" than taking the path less travelled like the one described above.

Re: Tony's Trips - Vegas and Peyote (accidentally deleted!)

#14
I don't think the peyote trip was a dream, but actually happened. It is not impossible to win at roulette like that and the fact that he did was what clued him in. I did consider it from both angles, but the fact that the entire trip is intercut by the shot of the dump-truck dumping the asbestos speaks to reality. Had it been a dream, I doubt very much that Chase would have disrupted the flow with a shot of something real happening. Even in The Test Dream, Tony B. was a killer in the dream (and killed a different person.)

Now, how much of what we saw was "heightened" by the peyote and thus perhaps a little different from what truly happened, I cannot say. But I do think we should view this as something Tony actually did rather than merely thought.
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: What does Tony "Get?"

#15
I almost started a new thread for this, but thought that the discussion of my post might fit in with other thoughts on Vegas and the peyote trip. What follows is a slightly altered version of what I posted on my blog this morning:

The two characters of the title are nothing more than a starting off point for one of the darkest and difficult to interpret Sopranos episodes ever (though I imagine even the title is open to interpretation.) Two girls out late and only on a learner's permit are involved in an almost-accident that sends Chris and Tony tumbling off the side of the road. Their SUV rolls several times as a song from the The Departed soundtrack skips and then stops. The song? "Comfortably Numb" - the same song Tony sang as he descended the stairs last week. Once the car rolls to a stop, Tony hears Chris say something that sets the young man's fate. No more can Tony give him a pass. When earlier Tony had tested Paulie, Paulie kept up the lie and saved his own hide. Chris could not do that. And now he is gone.

Before moving forward with my thoughts, I think it is terribly important that the accident Chris and Tony had somewhat resembled the accident Ade and Tony had that caused so much trouble back in season five. That time, Chris got yet another pass thanks to Tony B, one of many on Tony Sopranos hit list. This time, too much history had built up, and too much resentment (probably from both sides) made sure that Chris would not make it out alive. In some aspects, much like Tony killed Ralph over the horse (or so we are to assume) Tony can be said to have killed Chris over Ade. If one wanted to find a shred of humanity in Tony Soprano, it might be that not only did he perform a mercy killing, but that he got even with Chris for Ade's death. But lest we forget that Tony Soprano is a killer, let's take a look at the earlier mentioned hit list: (and thanks to the forum member that posted this earlier, I apologize for not recalling who)

Willie Overall (1982)
Fabian Petrulio (1999)
Chucky Signore (1999)
Matt Bevilaqua (2000)
Pussy Bompensiero (2000)
Ralph Cifaretto (2002)
Tony Blundetto (2004)
Chris Moltisanti (2007)

And that's just the people Tony has killed directly. So as much as we might be able to look hard and find something decent about Tony, looking at every other aspect of the man speaks to the monster he truly is. And though we all might have found something to like about him over the years, let us not forget one of the first things we see him do in season one - hit a man with a car and then beat him up over money. Chris' car in fact. Ah, the irony.

So now, Tony has moved forward with this spur of the moment decision (clearly made easy by hearing and sensing Chris' drug use once more) and now we have one more widowed mafia wife and Tony clearly not in the mood to wear the "long face." He resents it, in fact. One of the most fascinating scenes ever on the show was the dream Melfi session in which Tony begins to delve into his own murders. But once awake, he still can't help himself to at least try and talk around the fact that he is not entirely sad that Chris is gone. Melfi asks him how he himself is doing and Tony gives her a pretty solid answer - he doesn't care.

On top of the Tony we have seen several times this season - egging on Janice and Bobby, fighting with Carm and putting her down, ready to kill Paulie for something that happened years ago, and disgusted at Chris for airing their dirty laundry (so to speak) but mostly for not idolizing Tony as perhaps Tony himself idolized Dickie Moltisante or Paulie growing up. Their relationship pretty much ended at Ade's death. We just didn't want to see it that way. Maybe they did not either. Regardless, Tony can't take it anymore, and sets out for Las Vegas - Sin City. Not a bad place to go for a sinner like Tony. And if it is not abundantly clear - Vegas is a stand in for Hell and the Devil (see the shot of the slot machine for a glaring reminder.)

It's here where I am going to try and work through a few thoughts as concerns not just this episode, but two other episodes filled with imagery and dream states - The Test Dream and Tony's near death experience from Join the Club and Mayham. Clearly we are being reminded of The Test Dream from the very start. In fact, I thought at first Tony was headed back to The Plaza. But instead he ventures out west and flys over what we learned much earlier was the home of "Kevin Finnerty." During the time in Vegas, one cannot but be reminded of his time in Costa Mesa while in the coma.

In both circumstances, Tony was searching for something. In fact, the entire time we have known Tony, he has been searching for something. His first entrance to Melfi's office followed a period of panic attacks and Tony was in search of a cure, if not also a cause. By the time of The Test Dream, however, I don't think it is accidental that Tony sees Melfi in the lobby of The Plaza. It is a reminder of her usefulness, perhaps. Or uselessness. She has served as a unwitting consigliere for much of the time she has treated Tony, and unless he can be totally honest with her, she will never be able to help him find his true self and accept that with all the responsibility that comes with it.

Witness the difference between Tony's dream therapy session and the real one. In the dream, Tony is able to admit what he's done and be honest about how that effects him. This is why he has come to therapy. But in truth, he cannot say such things to Melfi, and both at one time or another have been frustrated by this necessary silence. So instead of admitting his actions and owning them, he must play around the issue and thus is unable (or unwilling) to take responsibility for himself.

Of course, The Test Dream is simply the first "dream lobby" we have seen on the show (Literally. It might take time to see if Tony's other dreams have anything similar.) The second occurs during his near death experience in which Tony as Finnerty is confronted by Buddhist monks for not supplying the promised heat for their monastery (read:living up to his word, regardless of his actual job.) Now Finnerty can be considered either the side of Tony with a moral compass in need of redirection, or he could represent the Tony of infinity slowing moving towards the afterlife. But when summoned and directed into a haunting yet seemingly peaceful house, by none other than Tony B., Kevin Finnerty is not ready to go. Is Tony unprepared to face his lot in the afterlife?

In The Test Dream, Tony was certainly unprepared to do what he needed to do in taking out the problem of Tony B. He's chased around like a monster and hides with his one legitimate friend, though even then he can't help himself but dream of screwing Charmaine Bucco. In his near death experience, Tony is unprepared to own up to the lawsuit of his life. The end is hell, at least as represented by the house and those inside, especially the ghost of Livia at the front door. And now, Tony has done what needed to be done and though it takes him a side trip on peyote, he realizes that by Chris being dead, Tony is free of a hardship (more of one than he probably realized given Chris' actions in the previous episode and his rants about what he knew or could tell the FBI.) In this lobby, Tony does not need to wait long.

And not only does Tony do this by sleeping with one of Chris' women (cuckolded even after death) but finally connects his turn of luck (as witnessed by his lucky streak in roulette - that works on the same principle as the solar system, so Tony tells us) to the question of his near death experience - "Who am I? Where am I going?" By the end of the episode, he knows the answers to those questions. He stands when he sees the sun come up (beacon-like) and states, "I get it." What he gets is that Tony Soprano is a monster and that is how it should be. Too many times in the past he has let his sense of morals or emotions speak louder than that voice as boss in his head. Livia, Junior, Pussy, Richie, Ralphie, Tony B., Feech LaManna and now Chris. But this time, Tony did what he had to do. He got it.

Throughout Tony's searching, he never quite knew what it was he was searching for. Now he knows. Rather than searching for that good part in Tony (as many have speculated), Tony won't be going into witness protection or committing suicide to escape this life. In fact, he may not detest it as much as I thought. Perhaps what he detested was the uncertainty of his emotions, or the question his morals put in his mind. One assumes that he will be free of that and not prey to his "pussy ass weakness" anymore. It's not the decency Tony discovered and "gets." It's his own true nature - a murdering criminal.

I called my initial reaction to the show something like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and Tony is all three. Watching it a few more times has not changed that impression and the music over the credits certainly assists that notion. There is Tony the Good (who I think Tony clearly dislikes or resents), Tony the Bad (whom Tony accepts, I think) and Tony the Ugly, which I think he just realized. This is the Tony we've seen much of this portion of the season, and I think is the true Tony. While the idea of him finding some morality in his life is interesting, I never did think Tony would move in that direction, nor Chase.

The question for me now, I suppose, is what form dealing with Johnny Boy takes for Tony and is he still in line for a decompensation or has he solved that little pesky problem? I don't think so as this "epiphany" is likely short-lived. We'll see.
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: Tony's Trips - Vegas and Peyote (accidentally deleted!)

#17
DH, you make a good point about the intercutting of the dump truck. In the end, though, I don't really think it matters whether Tony actually gambled or went to the desert. Very much like the metaphysical trip in the coma, the important thing is what epiphany he had during that time and what residue of it will remain with him when he's sober.

nen10dough, excellent thoughts there about The Stranger. This show has made me regret from time to time that I've never been a reader, never gravitated to literature or philosophy beyond the minimum necessary for a college degree. My mother was an avid reader in both areas and spoon fed me from time to time. Alas, she's not here to help me unravel this stuff, so I'm very grateful to folks like yourself for taking up the slack.:icon_wink:
Could a Meursault-esque epiphany be the revelation that the entire series has been building toward for Tony all along? His final realization that there are no absolute truths and no underlining morality within the universe? It would certainly explain his consistent fascination with the many tragedies that fall upon the innocent. A.J. echoed such sentiments of a younger Tony in therapy last night, that in a world this "d*&#ed up" how could one not be depressed?

Tony has always acknowledged that his depression was self-inflicted, that he brought it all upon himself. Many of us assumed that this was in reference to the horrific choices he has made cumulatively weighing down on his conscience. Maybe that isn't the case. Maybe last night he finally "got it" that all of the pain he has felt in the past, at root, stemmed from his ill-founded acceptance of the existence of good and evil in the universe. This brings to mind Tony's encounter with the rocket scientist during his hospital stay and his views on life, could he have finally subscribed to such a notion?
That is certainly one very possible interpretation and is in keeping with the nasty, black darkness this episode left me feeling. However to understand the true nature of Tony's epiphany, we will probably have to wait another episode or three. It seemed to be left vague in this ep, but I suspect that will not be the case by the end.

My biggest problem with constructing a Camus-like epiphany for Tony is that repressed aversion to his own immorality hasn't been the chief engine behind his anxiety or depression. The biggest agents in that regard have all revolved around love or the lack of it. He struggled with killing Pussy not because he was really bothered by it being "wrong" but because he loved the guy and it hurt him to face killing a man he loved. He struggled with the decision to kill Tony B largely for the same reason (plus a couple of others). His first panic attack in the series happened because he experienced symbolically the loss of or abandonment by his family. He falls into his greatest despair in season one because he intuits that his mother is so devoid of love for him that she can actually conspire to have him killed. He has still not spoken to Melfi about Junior shooting him because, ostensibly in part, he is far more wounded by the fact that a man he thought of as a father could twice try to kill him without love intervening or mitigating the act.

Once you accept that there is a thing called love, once you feel it, once another person's interests become part of your own self interests because they are important to you, you've tacitly, even if unconsciously, accepted the philosophy of John Donne. You accept that when a bell tolls for someone else, it tolls for you or for someone besides just that person (and, lest we forget, tolling bells have been important symbols both literally and in the form of the Three Bells Song at various points in season 6).

And I think that phenomena is the soil that allows concepts of good and evil to grow. All notions of morality are ultimately standards for judging how one person's actions affect another person. It's all about answering for more than just yourself.

So, to me, if Tony's epiphany is that there is no good nor evil (as opposed to accepting that there is and that he is a much more efficient disciple of the latter than the former), he is giving up on the power or reality of love. It's the antithesis of "everything is connected" and "we're all one". And that truly is the darkest of dark epihanies imaginable.

My words convey a certitude in all of this that I don't actually feel. I fear I have not myself come to grips with the whole yin/yang puzzle of good and evil, how the two things could ever be seen as one. That's important because the message of much of season 6 is about interconnectedness and the lack of distinct entities or forces in the universe. This is illustrated right down to the naming of the mysterious doctor who had so much input into Tony's post-shooting care but was never shown. Dr. "Tashlan" presumably represents the merger of the names given to the false "god" or anti-Christ of the Narnia Chronicles (Tash) and the Christ figure (Aslan). IIRC, someone posted last year during the Join the Club analyses that a character in the book actually advocates at one point that Tash and Aslan are really the same being and that the true god's name is "Tashlan".

Whether there's a substantive difference to viewing good and evil as distinct but cooperatively united forces -- like the gravitational and tangential forces that hold planets in orbit -- or as fictional constructs of man, I don't know. I plead to be enlightened.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Tony's Trips - Vegas and Peyote (accidentally deleted!)

#18
Yeah, first post here - love the forum

I like what your saying Hunt, it seems to fit in real nice.

To me, this trip was very reminiscent of the trip to the Plaza. Shit is going down, Tony doens't like it and he is off. But where people called the Plaza heaven, maybe Vegas is hell? There was a lot of christian symbolism spotted in this episode, from the madonna to 'Mary the stripper', which i think is exactly like intented.

About the 'i get it' part, i don't think it has anything to do with Tony's mob-life. Altough Tony has a lot of revelations about life and death, the meaning of things etc., he never clearly used this revelations in his decisions in the mob-part of his life. Tony just 'got' how the universe works, as hinted before with the roulette being like how the solarsystem worked. This 'understanding of the universe' is a very common effect caused by certain mushrooms and cactii.

Let me know what you think, we can figure this out! I gotta believe!

Hey Fly

I think your right on the spot here, for Tony there is no absolute good or evil. But one thing keeps ringing in my head. When Phil was in the hospital, Tony said something like 'remind yourself what is important, we do this for our kids'. People that Tony killed often had personal motives that undermined this principle of 'do it for the kids'. There is no grief for those, because they deserved this. The only ones Tony griefs for are animals and kids -> the tree branch trough the babyseat.

Mercy killings, Godfathers and breakthroughs

#19
I've seen very little discussion so far about the baby chair in the vehicle Christopher was driving. Seems to me that seeing that is what turned Tony from wanting to assist Christopher to wanting to kill him.

Tony mentioned the scene a couple of times -- how the branch went right through the window, how Caitlynn (sp) would have been killed had she been sitting there. The implication seems obvious -- it was only a matter of time until Christopher's actions would have threatened the baby's life.

Tony is the child's godfather, right? With all this attention paid to fathers and their children in this series, is it possible that Tony was not acting purely for selfish and business reasons when he covered Chris's nose? Just last week, a drunken Chris told the assembled group that babies were the future.

Tony very likely saved that baby's life last night -- either actually, by preventing a future car accident, or symbolically, by making sure she was not brought up in a Mob household. If you're inclined to look for a mercy killing, there you go. It is absolutely in Tony's nature to react with rage when an innocent is harmed -- the stripper that Ralph killed, Pie-O-My. In this regard, Tony killing Christopher for putting his child in danger (the drugs, the alcohol, the speeding, the lifestyle) is of a piece with killing Ralph.

I don't know what this bodes for Tony and his own children, but "I get it" might mean he realizes that he will have to "die" in some fashion for his little ducks to fly away and live. He must know that his children will not thrive, let alone survive, if the old Tony lives. He certainly seemed to realize that with regard to Christoper/Caitlynn. And he tried unsuccessfully a couple of times to explain it....but nobody wanted to listen.

Maybe there really was a breakthrough last night and we just didn't see it.

Re: Tony's Trips - Vegas and Peyote (accidentally deleted!)

#20
love this place ...always have since well before the move...Its been a while and I had to re-register for whatever reason................

Absolutely loved this episode. I think that once the season is over this episode will be looked back on as the most pivotal, important episode ever. There is much we are not meant to understand.....yet.
There are just so many levels to every scene and phrase that after 100 viewings we can still be picking stuff up.

A couple quick things and then I have to get back to work (I want to post a long one now but will have to wait until I am home:icon_wink: )

- count me among those who think he said " I did it" on first hearing, but I believe and understand that in retrospect (and with help from the text on screen) that he said "I get it"

- In my opinion (and it is just my opinion) The "trip" was real in that his roulette winnings and trip to the desert were 'real world" events, not hallucinations. Those type of synchronistic events (like his streak at the roulette wheel, are hallmarks in making certain psychedelic experiences psychologially devastating in their ability to open the mind to viewpoints and feelings not before surfaced...I am using "devastating" here as in "profound in either a positive or negative light" not necessarily negative)

- In the desert at the end I believe (again opinion) that it was definitely Sunrise and not Sunset. It is de rigeur and cliche to trip and see the sunrise.

-It is no coincidence that the psychedelic expeirience was on Peyote, and not MDMA(Ecstacy), LSD or mushrooms.
Peyote is a ritualistic drug used by native americans for centuries and is more related to Vision Quests and shamanism and is thought of in heavy spiritual terms to use for enlightenment, rather than a party drug like ecstacy.
When we saw Tony with a Peyote button in his hand, my wife and I looked at each other and said "Uh-Oh" at the same time! Having a man with a head like Tony Soprano eat Peyote is a SCARY, SCARY propsition.


This episode along with Test Dream and Long Term Parking mark the true genius of this show. God I am going to miss it!

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