Melfi's ultimatum

Tony is told in his therapy session that his cancellations are unacceptable, and if he doesn't change this habit, he will be cut off as a patient. I have a few thoughts about this, but firstly/mainly, where do you think this comes from? It wasn't so long ago that Melfi hung on to Tony as a patient, against her peers (Dr. Kupferberg and her ex-husband) advice, because she thought she would be able to do good. Not to mention the fact that she is clearly very fond of Tony personally and attracted to him physically.

Is Melfi now feeling that she can't help Tony? If so, what prompted this feeling? Is she merely so fed-up with his absences that she has come to feel she is wasting her time? Or was it an empty threat? If so, why did she issue it? Is this her own way of saying "put up or shut up" to Tony? Telling him to be serious about therapy, now, or end it? I don't know the answer just yet, but I think it's important.

Secondly, is this just another test for Tony? We've seen his relationships tested in this new season with nearly everyone he is close to, already. Will Melfi be the next? Will he quit therapy again, only to realize he desperately needs it? Will he be "abandoned" by her when the decompensation she feared happens?

I'd love opinions on this.

Re: Melfi's ultimatum

Apparently Tony has already been driving her away, just as he is everyone else.

Her plan is to move him forward in his life. His plan is to show up when he needs it. His point of view is that as long as he calls ahead to cancel or pays for a missed session, they are okay.

Melfi sees this as a way for him to avoid moving ahead with his therapy to get him to a better place long term.

It seems to me that she drew a line in the sand. Tony can get onboard with the long term purpose of therapy or he can get off for good.

Re: Melfi's ultimatum

Tony is openly talking about gambling in this session. We don't have a clue how how this has been going on, however Tony also said he's been on a downfall for a few months. Melfi can see/smell the breakdown. It's time for her to "Step up"
I didn’t want to show crime pays, I didn’t want to show crime doesn’t pay...David Chase on the ending

Re: Melfi's ultimatum

It seems to me that she drew a line in the sand. Tony can get onboard with the long term purpose of therapy or he can get off for good.

I would agree and I'm pretty certain that Tony would never knuckle under to Melfi on this for many reasons. The most important ones certainly including her gender. Tony is very sexist.

Tony wants to keep a line open to Melfi so that if he ever starts having panic attacks again, he can try to get some help. Panic attacks impinge on his business and he can't afford to have them.

As far as Tony agreeing to do what he is told by Melfi and making a real effort to do the work of therapy, you gotta be kidding me. Are you serious, or what?

I think that we could understand what's going on by putting ourselves in DC's shoes. What reason could he have for getting Melfi out of the picture for most of the rest of the season? Maybe there is just too much planned to include lengthy therapy sessions. Maybe there is just not enough time for them. Anyway, my sense is that the answer to this puzzle can be figured out by that kind of thinking.

Re: Melfi's ultimatum

You've got me thinking ... It's a given (according to Melfi last season) that the "decompensation" will set in if Tony doesn't face his mother & Uncle Junior issues. So maybe she wants to bail out before the inevitable happens before her eyes?

How long since Tony's had an attack? (Not since Livia died I think) Is he still on medication? Right now, I'm pretty sure Tony's gambling & other problems are merely symptoms of this far bigger decompensation process. Melfi doesn't want to watch the train wreck coming. Tony wants to keep a "lifeline" open; he wants the psychological "band-aid" occasionally applied by a nurturing woman. But he doesn't want to face the scary & very painful issues Melfi knows he must to survive.

Re: Melfi's ultimatum

My impression is that Melfi is beyond weary of Tony's bullshit, is beyond clinging to a miniscule hope that there's actually a person there she can help improve. The excitement of "treating" a celebrity Mafioso has worn off. The novelty has worn off. The possibility of a stunning upset of her colleague's expectations has worn off (Richard's and Elliot's). Even the sexual attraction has mostly worn off, or has at least gone in hibernation. She seems to finally be dealing with him in the appropriate fashion.

As long as Tony was having panic attacks or deep depression, there was a real, physical health threat the tied him to the sessions and prolonged her reasons/excuses for treating him. Without that, she senses that she is essentially like a golf date for him, a recreational friend with whom he can socialize at his whim.

If therapy is going to do him any good, it can't be predominantly recreational or easy or comfortable. It has to be, to quote Melfi, like "childbirth" or, to quote Tony, like "taking a shit". There has to be a pain component, an expulsion of psychic toxins. To me, her ultimatum was to remind him that if those elements are completely missing, there's no point in continuing. Sort of, "call me back when the panic attacks and/or depression return."

I'm reminded of that brilliant scene (one of many) from Calling All Cars when she was trying to convince Tony to stay in therapy. He was then relatively free of panic attacks and clinical depression. She said, "Anthony, when we're not constantly having to put out fires, we can delve into who you really are and what you want out of life in your very brief time on this earth." (Ergo, we can find out which of the "Two Tonys" is real, which is your true identity, Kevin Finnerty or Tony Soprano.)

I think Melfi's had the same hope I've had for the character all along, and she's finally being forceful enough to demand that he either craps or gets off the pot (pun intended).

As an aside, his description of the sessions as "an oasis in my week" was interesting. "Vacation" was her interpretation, but I think that's short shrift. Oasis, a place to get water in the desert, implies a sanctuary, a place of refuge, a singular place to get the principal necessity of life. If her office is the sole place of escape for him, it begs the question: from what is he trying to escape?

I'm surprised Melfi didn't push him more on that point. Then again, maybe not. Time was up, and she, like the "Jews in her business", was acutely aware that the meter was running.:icon_wink:
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Melfi's ultimatum

Cassata wrote:Tony is openly talking about gambling in this session. We don't have a clue how how this has been going on, however Tony also said he's been on a downfall for a few months. Melfi can see/smell the breakdown. It's time for her to "Step up"
Cassata -- I was also struck by this point. It suprised me when Melfi referred to the gambling debts "we've been talking about." While Tony wasn't completely honest with her -- "you have to make it look like it hurts less than it does" -- it was impressive to me that Tony was opening up about needing to "feel the risk."

We've seen Tony get into this funk before, when he was trying to disassociate himself from day-to-day operations and missed the thrills.

I wonder how much of this need for thrills fueled Tony's request to Carm about the house money, the result of which was completely foreseeable given Tony's knowledge of how important the house is to Carm. Tony was able to pony up the cash almost immediately to Hesh when the time came. I also wonder about the timing of the repayment, whether Tony had anything to do with Hesh's girl's death, but that's another topic.

I'm not really very comfortable discussing decompensating, as I don't know anywhere enough about the concept to approach it cogently. However, Tony seems to be systematically tearing down his financial security, relationship with Carm, and relationships with the people in his life who seem to actually mean things to him (Chris, Paulie, Hesh, Bobby Baccala, etc.)

Tony seems so desperate to experience a thrill, whether from torpedoing things that really seem to matter to him. I really thought he was going to have another panic attack when Meadow Gold lost, especially after he told Melfie that he hadn't had one since Uncle Junior shot him. Maybe he is trying to reclaim that feeling of actually experiencing life that he had when he thought he was going to die. The gambling and fighting with various people all seem like a desperate grasp at the feeling of life.

To quote the Eagles, it seems like Tony is feeling that emotionally he is "losing all the highs and lows, ain't it funny how the feeling goes away." He is looking more and more like a desperado, trying to reach out for something, but its pretty clear he doesn't know what it is that he is looking for.

EDIT: FLY, some of my thoughts resonate extremely well in the thread you had to close for obnoxious behavior, especially with a few thoughts from billymac. I know it might be a pain, but is there a way to import some of the comments from that thread to here, where they fit in in my mind with Tony's responses to therapy?
Post Reply

Return to “Episode 6.16: Chasing It”