Monday, June 04, 2007

"Oh my God. Oh my God."

After I watched, white-knuckled, last night’s episode of “The Sopranos”, I couldn’t help think of the tagline from another HBO series, “Six Feet Under”: Your whole life is leading up to this.

Last night’s final scene perfectly captured where Tony Soprano’s life has lead him. Tony is in bed, lying alone with a gun—which I briefly thought he was going to stick into his mouth--haunted by the words of yet another dead associate. He must face the greatest crisis of his life without his most loyal men: Silvio, hospitalized with gunshot wounds from which he is unlikely to recover, and Bobby, who died in a hail of bullets in a model train store.

That Bobby should die while buying one of his beloved trains perfectly underscores the fact that he was ill-suited for the world he inhabited. Here was a man twice damned, first by birth and then by marriage. As I’ve said before, Bobby was the closest we got on this series to a genuinely likable character, and his murder was the most awful in what has been a season of superlatives on “The Sopranos.”

Bobby was Tony’s brother-in-law, and his death is a symbol of the simultaneous disintegration of both Tony’s crime family and his real family. Meadow is drifting through life, heading towards the same comfortable but hollow existence as her mother. And it has become increasingly obvious that A.J.’s depression is just another manifestation of that old Soprano family narcissism.

As for Carmela, both she and Tony seem increasingly unable to relate to normal people, as evidenced by their awkward conversation with Artie and Charmaine Bucco. The Buccos have always been a sort of Bizarro world version of Tony and Carmella. Charmaine is the kind of domineering wife that Carmela wishes she could be, and unlike Carmela, Charmaine has a financial stake in her husband’s business. Artie and Charmaine, once separated, reconciled not long after Tony and Carmela got back together, but unlike Carmela, Charmaine no doubt negotiated from a position of strength.

But perhaps the worst blow that Tony suffered was being tossed on his ear by Dr. Melfi, who has finally faced up to the fact that she’s become his enabler. We’ve seen Tony try to go without Dr. Melfi’s help in the past, and the results have not been pretty. She is an emotional crutch for Tony, and she’s also unintentionally given him advice that has helped him to be a better crime boss.

Quite frankly, it’s about time she put down her foot. Dr. Melfi is something of a surrogate for the audience, and she appears to have had her fill of Tony at the same time that we have. This season has laid bare the rot at the heart of every character on this show. After next week, I’ll miss the series, but I sure as hell won’t miss the Sopranos.

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Blogger Maria said...

I thought that Dr. Melfi owed Tony more of an explanation for dropping him after all these years. It just didn't seem right to me. I realize that she probably couldn't quote the research because it could be dangerous to call a sociopath a sociopath to his face, but it just seemed wrong. I also kept thinking that if Tony is killed, Melfi will feel guilty for abandoning him in his darkest hour -- not that I'm saying that she should feel guilty -- just that she will.

RE Bobby: While I agree that he was the most sympathetic character, he would never have been able to buy an $8,000 train set if he wasn't mobbed up. I can't see him making that kind of money in another line of work that he'd be qualified to get. So he did make his bed -- especially after finally killing someone. Still, I didn't like watching him die.

And, yes, AJ came off very badly. I kind of wanted to smack him myself and say "this isn't about you."

1:52 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

No argument that Bobby was not clean, even before the murder he committed at the beginning of the season. We've seen him threaten and beat people previously.

A lot of therapists are up in arms over last week's episode, particularly because of the dinner in which Elliot reveals Tony's identity. Please. Like any show, "The Sopranos" sacrifices realism for good storytelling. Still, there was something contrived about it.

The show is not done with Dr. Melfi, I don't think.

8:54 AM

Blogger Maria said...

I got the impression from Bracco on "The View" today that you may be right about Melfi.

I am wondering why so many people think that Carmela will end up dead...

Also, I must say that I hope Chase was being honest when he said that he's always known how the series would end. It makes me feel hopeful that it will be good and in keeping with the series as a whole. (Yes, this last comment should really be at the previous post.)

10:42 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I don't see Carmela dying, though I think in some ways that would be more devestating to Tony than losing one of his children.

A lot of people predict a "Godfather 3" type ending in which Tony suffers a horrible loss that will presumably haunt him for the rest of his life. It would not be inappropriate.

However, unlike "The Godfather" series, "The Sopranos" is not a tragedy in the classical sense, in which a well-intentioned protaganist is destroyed by a fatal flaw. Tony is merely a corrupt man who has just enough self-awareness and conscience to understand that there is something wrong with how lives, but not enough to do anything about it.

1:25 PM


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