Thursday, May 18, 2006

"There's no getting out."

During season four of "The Sopranos", Rosalie Aprile warned Carmela against having an affair with Furio. Tony and his men, she warned, "are living in a different century."

Well, the best that might be said of Tony is that he lives in the 1950s, at least when it comes to his marriage. On Sunday, he finally submarined Carmela's ambition to be a home developer, and the final straw was his clumsy attempt to give a distraught Meadow relationship advice. (A great scene, providing another reminder that "The Sopranos" is as much sitcom as it is drama. How many times have we seen sitcom dads giving poor counsel to their daughters?) The thought that Carmela might achieve some measure of financial independence was bad enough. But the prospect of having to come home to make his own dinner, and having to shoulder the load in dealing with their spoiled and emotionally stunted children, was more than Tony could stomach. He's already given up his favorite pastime, adultery. I mean, how far can you push a man?

Contrast Tony with Johnny Sack, whose fierce devotion to his plus-sized wife Ginny has always been good for comic relief, and more than one tender moment. His decision to accept a plea bargain was motivated in no small part by the fact that it allowed Ginny to keep enough of their assets to support herself. What a turn for Johnny Sack. Last season, he consolidated his power with ruthless efficiency, while Tony was nearly undone by guilt over his cousin. (Thank goodness for him that Dr. Melfi was there to relieve that guilt.) Now it is Johnny's turn to be brought low by sentimentality.

Not that this is good news for Tony. Once again, he finds himself in a face-off with Phil Leotardo, who wants him to kill Vito, and who, with Johnny Sack disgraced and out of power, will no longer feel obliged to keep the peace with Tony. Will Tony do what needs to be done, or will he hesitate, and once again place his empire in peril?

Which brings us to Vito. I was growing bored with his adventures in Stonewall, but this recent episode provided a nice coda. Vito no longer felt liberated in his new life, but imprisoned; like Tony, he is driven mad by the demands of domesticity--the man couldn't even perform a few hours' honest labor, for God's sake. He sinks back into gambling, and by necessity, murder. You might be able to take the man out of the mob, but you'll never take the mob out of the man.

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Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

yeah, i'm glad brokeback mobster is over. it was one hell of a long story line to show that these guys can't adjust to any other kind of life. on the other hand, we've all had our vito moment of trying not to watch the clock while on the job.

that's the real beauty of the sopranos, even in their worst moments, the characters have the same hopes, fears and anxieties as us not so "wiseguys." Tony wants a better life for his kids...Paulie dreads dying of cancer...Johnny truly loves his wife...Janice seethes with jealously...and so on. There's genius in using such deplorable people to probe what makes us all human.

9:36 PM

Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

okay, if you watch the promo for this week's show, it looks like bobby's going berserk at the bing or the pork store. he seems to be slamming someone up against a wall, with silvio rushing to break it up. of course it's wild speculation, but unless bobby's banging on tony, i don't see sil rushing in as a peacemaker.

though the teasers always are great a misdirecting such speculation, there seems to be a lot of hints that someone big gets whacked. of course, they lean toward the vito angle (phil's little talk about making a decision, sil telling tony to get back in his car instead of coming inside a building, a trunk lid being slammed and christopher telling tony "he was stalking you." but what better way to get rid of another minor character who's outlived his usefulness to the show than whacking bobby? janice doesn't need the boob to get her ire up. and vito is too good an earner to dump, regardless of his sexual leanings.

1:53 PM


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