May 13, 2007
POP CULTURE: Three Sopranos To Go
Thoughts on tonight's episode - SPOILERS INCLUDED so don't say you were not warned...but I will warn you that you should watch this one ASAP if you recorded it. There were Things that Happened in this episode.
Tonight's episode was pretty cleanly focused on two of the major remaining storylines - Tony's real son AJ and his surrogate son, Christopher - and, perhaps tellingly, Tony's reaction to the latter's death while paying minimal attention to the former's downward spiral. About the only distraction was the sudden death of Paulie's Ma. The main question is whether Tony killed Christopher
1. Because he thought he was basically dead anyway
2. Because Tony's discovery that Christopher was high made him decide to cut bait on a guy he gave lots of second chances to and could no longer trust
3. Because Tony was incensed when he realized that Christopher being on drugs got them in an accident that could have killed Tony
4. Because the sight of the wrecked baby seat made Tony decide that Christopher was a menace to his own innocent child.
The really interesting one is #1 - we pretty much know from the rest of the episode that #2 and 4 were true and we can guess #3 from long experience with Tony. But we are never really told what Tony thought Christopher's condition was. What is also interesting is the look on Christopher's face - he doesn't look like he is resisting or even disagreeing with Tony when he cuts off his air.
A question: the woman Tony sees in Vegas - have we seen her before, with Christopher? She has obviously been out of touch with him for some time, but she looks enough like enough interchangeable women we've seen on the show that I just couldn't tell.
Tony seems to be getting at least a minor case of what Christopher had in a major way: a desire to spill his guts. I almost felt like the scene in his bedroom Tony was in some sense signalling that Christopher may have died for reasons other than the reported cause, but that Silvio seemed to be the only one picking that up (either that or Little Steven left his other facial expression at home during that scene).
I can't even count the number of episodes where Tony and his crew did something that could get them easily caught - here he was talking openly - even directly with the head of another crime family - about illegal asbestos dumping on a cell phone. I guess it would be ironic if he goes down for pollution, but I almost feel like it's the boy who cried wolf for law enforcement to finally catch up with him over some loose end we have seen on camera.
As for the coming attractions, two unsurprising plotlines are afoot, though they may end in surprising ways: AJ's descent into either suicidal depression or incompetent gangsterhood, and Phil's bottomless desire for revenge.
awesome run down, you hit the main points right on the nose. I'm looking forward to next weeks!
If the asbestos dumping was a red herring then he (Chase) got me. I agree it was obvious, but I turned to my wife and said "there you go, the serial murderer falls to the EPA". Caponesque.
I didn't recognize the brunette in Vegas either.
I still think Tony is becoming his mother.
Here, he decides it is more worthwhile to choke out Chris than to run the risk of a potentially sticky situation.
When he, "saw the light," I think he realized his power. Phil will be dealt with most violently. If it means a few of his crew go down, so be it.
He has become a complete sociopath.
Depends on what you mean by AJ's spiral downward. In a way, he is merely echoing what his father and grandfather did, when they started out. Tony was mentored by his father slightly, and, as we've seen, by Paulie a lot. AJ is getting influenced by the idea of dad as scary boss, but mentored by a younger mobster involved (the son of one of Tony's inner guys). Tony didn't want his son involved, but I always go the idea that it was because AJ was incompetent, and then because it's an illegitimate life.
And I don't think Phil is becoming a psychopath. They really all are. Phil is simply becoming, or wants to become, what Chavez, Fidel, Saddam, and all their ilk want to be: King of a rotten, smelly decrepit hill.
It's clear that the subplot with the asbestos is going to blossom into a major element in the last three episodes, as in indicator of the trouble Tony is going to have with Phil if nothing else.
The thing with AJ is interesting. Up to the fight with the guy on the bicycle, it looked like he was getting drawn into the family business. Now it looks like he's seen the violence for what it is for the first time and could turn away. Sort of the opposite of Michael in the Godfather. All this could drive him to college and the straight life.
I don't remember Sarah Shahi (made an effort to catch her name in the credits) before either. If I had, I would have remembered. :D Apparently she was in "The L Word" before this.
I thought it was clear that Tony killed Christopher because he was threatened by him. Christopher's recent behavior -- staying sober, staying away from the Bing, making the movie, etc -- showed that he wanted out and that he didn't appreciate Tony. More so, Christopher harbored deep animosity, maybe even hatred, towards Tony for the Adrianna situation.
Tony's not dumb. He saw his opportunity to get rid of the biggest threat to maintaining his power. And the final scene -- a drugged-out Tony smiling and yelling "I did it" -- showed that he no little remorse for the act.
The car seat is how the human Tony justifies it. The Chris was a liability is how the professional gangster side of Tony justifies it.
Christopher had to go, to pay for Adriana, the irony is that he would go for more or less the same reasons by more or less the same hand as Adriana.
The lose ends are coming into focus:
NY Mob - specifically Phil
The Law - gun charge, epa, racketeering, etc.
AJ - is there redemption through the son for the father? It looks like not.
Internal Mob - Bobby, Paulie, the search for a number two, the next generation of gangsters.
OK, so how does the song "Comfortably Numb" from Pink Floyd fit into this story? Tony was singing it a week ago in the kitchen and then it was the song they crashed to yesterday. Was that it or is there more we should be getting out of that?
Asbestos is the 'flying ointment'.
I thought the use of "Comfortably Numb" was brilliant (though I question the decision to use the version from Berlin with the atrocious Van Morrison vocals...). Chase obviously puts a lot of thought into the soundtrack and the song totally echoes what's going on with Tony. In The Wall, "Comfortably Numb" is the moment when Pink, after a period of dysfunctionality, manages to put himself together just enough to continue on autopilot. He goes through the motions but has lost any semblance of autonomy. And that's the state Tony needs to be in to continue doing what he does, to numb himself to the guilt that comes naturally and distance himself from the pain he causes those closest to him. He's spent several seasons straddling the line of sociopathy and killing Chris was probably the act necessary to push him over the line for good and numb him to any moral compunctions about what he does. Which will probably lead to unprecedented violence in the final episodes.