Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
A Six-Shooter's Worth of Sopranos Bullet Points
2007-05-21 08:26
by Jon Weisman

Firing up below …

  • I thought perhaps we might feel Christopher's death in this episode more than we did, but life presses on.

  • A.J.'s lengthy spiral into an attempted suicide has been well-executed – his coming to terms with the bleakness of his existence has built effectively. Dr. Melfi dismissed the thought of suicide as the "coward's way out." I think we could see in A.J. that trying to commit suicide might have been one of the most courageous acts of his life, and in fact it was his fear of facing death that saved him .

    I spent about a solid minute talking to the television: "Are they going to kill A..J.? They're going to kill A.J." Robert Iler's jag after being rescued from the pool by Tony was his finest moment as an actor on the series. Quite a scene.

  • Bold of Carmela to eschew all responsibility for A.J.'s problems. It seemed pretty clearly a defense mechanism, punctuated by frustration with the Sopranos men, but still, to completely disallow Tony's right to feel depressed over A.J.'s suicide attempt highlighted her own contribution to the family's dysfunction. Carmela turns on blinders like a car's left- and right-turn blinkers.

  • It was nice to see Meadow get some screen time. She's a supporting character through and through, but I've felt that she's been unfortunately marginalized for being perhaps the show's only true success story. At first, it appeared she would only be a sounding board for A.J.'s problems, but then she got a story of her own with the verbal abuse she took from Leotardo's stooge, the threateningly named Coco (no relation, one presumes, to Coco the Monkey).

  • I didn't think Tony's gruesome attack on Coco was unjustified within the moral code of the series, and was surprised that he had to be urged to go hat-in-hand to see Phil.

  • Despite his "Why me" lamentations, Tony Soprano is a detestable human being. He's not without love, but he's detestable. And yet week after week, I find myself rooting for him. It's amazing.

    Phil Leotardo, on the other hand, is a piece of something unmentionable.

  • Comments
    2007-05-21 10:59:40
    1.   Bob Timmermann
    If there's a "Godfather III" ending, then I'll be an investor in Jamie-Lynn Sigler's next film.
    2007-05-21 11:12:53
    2.   Marty
    Phil lives in a great house.
    2007-05-21 11:12:57
    3.   jasonungar07
    I am still trying to figure out if Tony killed Chris out of compassion or if all that stuff after was just Tony's guilt talking.
    2007-05-21 11:26:02
    4.   Disabled List
    I'm certainly not rooting for Tony. His character has been alternately detestable and lovable throughout the entire course of the series--until this season. Slugging Bobby, the weekly fights with Carmela, whacking Christopher, almost whacking Paulie... I think David Chase has been making the character purposely irredeemable. If there's any justice in the world of TV make-believe, Tony's gonna get what's coming to him. It seems like they would need more than two episodes to wrap everything up, but I can't wait to see how they do it.

    Even more than Tony, the character who I can't wait to see get what's coming to her is Carmela. That's why I really thought AJ was gonna succeed in offing himself last night. That would've been justice for the blind eye Carmela has turned time and time again.

    2007-05-21 11:31:13
    5.   Andrew Shimmin
    Tony killed Chris because he was weak, had a grudge, and knew where the bodies were buried. Two out of three was nearly enough for him to throw Paulie off a boat. Three out of three was untenable.

    I'm not sure what to make of A.J.'s suicide attempt. How could he not know the rope was too short? He's angry with his parents, so, picking to do it in their pool (plenty of bridges where he lives) seems like it could be as much a swing at them as a coming to terms with the bleakness of life; the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, though.

    2007-05-21 11:47:59
    6.   Marty
    5 The rope was too LONG.

    I'll be unhappy if Phil comes out the winner in this. I'll accept it if both Tony and Phil die, but Phil can't come out of this alive. He should be beaten to death like he was in Goodfellas.

    Actually, Frank Vincent has gotten the snot kicked out of him by Joe Pesci twice in Scorsese films.

    2007-05-21 12:05:42
    7.   GoBears
    I enjoyed last night's episode, especially the conversations with Melfi (it's been a while since those were interesting). When she suggested that AJ's choice of too long a rope might be a sign that he didn't really want to die, and Tony responded (I paraphrase) "or maybe he's just an idiot...historically, that's been the case" - good stuff.

    I also love Little Carmine. They gotta spin him off into a sit-com, entitled "Malapropisms."

    I don't think Chase WILL tie everything up. I expect the series to end with a lot of loose ends, but also with an overwhelming sense of dread.

    2007-05-21 12:13:12
    8.   bryanf
    I'm something of a new-comer to this series right now. I've watched Season 6 from the get-go with my fiancee who has watched since Season 3. I didn't really love any of the early episodes of Season 6, but I've backed up and begun watching from the beginning...I just finished Season 1. I must say, the show seems to have declined. Season 1 was truly incredible and it seems like they lost some of the focus and it's just more of a soap opera now.
    2007-05-21 13:08:41
    9.   Disabled List
    6 What was the 2nd time? Joe Pesci killed Frank Vincent in Goodfellas, but it was Vincent who whacked Pesci in Casino.
    2007-05-21 13:10:28
    10.   Marty
    Pesci beat him up on the sidewalk in Raging Bull
    2007-05-21 13:28:42
    11.   jasonungar07
    Yeah Andrew you are right. The more it sinks in the more you are right about Tony offing Chris. In the context of being a sociopathic Mob boss it had to be done.
    2007-05-21 13:29:14
    12.   EricNus
    4 I disagree with your very rational opinion, because at this point in the show I think most of the audience is too emotionally invested to lose sympathy for Tony. He's been the good guy for far too long, and his recent misbehavior is still peppered with humanity and humor, like the AJ pool scene or the tooth in the pant-cuff. Like Jon pointed out, rooting for him is completely innate now. Plus, while Tony encapsulates both good and evil, there are characters like Phil Leotardo (an all time great TV bad guy in my opinion) who are just pure evil.

    And a side note...what happened to Artie Bucco? He showed up at the funeral for a minute, but that's it.

    2007-05-21 13:31:00
    13.   EricNus
    Also, I don't know how to do the cool linking to numbers thing. Pardon my ignorance, but I'd really appreciate it if somebody could explain or point me to a place on Toaster where it is explained.
    2007-05-21 13:40:50
    14.   Bob Timmermann
    Bracket Number Bracket
    2007-05-21 15:20:30
    15.   dzzrtRatt
    The overarching message of this series is a kind of syllogistic logic:

    1) Tony is a sociopath;
    2) He justifies his sociopathic behavior as being necessary for business;
    3) We symptathize with Tony because we're not sure if we'd do things differently if we were in his business.
    4) We're all sociopaths.

    2007-05-21 15:35:20
    16.   EricNus
    14 Thanks Bob.
    2007-05-21 15:44:54
    17.   Jon Weisman
    15 - No therapy for me then.

    I sympathize with Tony because I see his humanity, but that leaves me open for repeated shock during his repeated inhumane moments. He's an anti-hero with the best of 'em, and I'm invested in him against my better judgment .

    To say that I would do thinkgs differently if I were in his business is an understatement - the first thing I would do if I woke up and found myself in his business would be to run.

    Or at least, like Christopher, try to get my movie made.

    2007-05-21 17:20:26
    18.   Andrew Shimmin
    Perhaps I reveal too much about myself by saying so, but I don't think Tony's a sociopath. It's not that he has no regard for the rights of others, it's just that the society he chooses to associate with has a different set of rights. It's an alternate society that happens to sit in the middle of New Jersey. If it's not too loaded a comparison (and if it can be divorced from politics), it's not wholly unlike people who feel bound by the laws of Sharia, to the exclusion of the legal authority of the place they live in.

    Tony doesn't run around killing people for sport. He whacks other people who've consented to live in the same underworld, and to live by the rules of the underworld. Tony's a predator, no doubt about it, and a scavenger to boot, but it's sort of a libertarian's paradise style predator. The prey consents to it. They may not do so with a full, or even good, understanding of what they're getting in to, but they're adults. And they don't enter into the bargain clean of conscience, or pure of soul.

    It's not a nice world and there are good reasons most people don't seek to live in it. But, the reason Tony can appeal to outsiders is that his world is not totally without merit. If somebody said something creepy to my sister the legal repercussions are zero; she can get a restraining order if she likes, but there's no punishment, outside of community shunning, which is haphazard at best. In the back of our reptile brains, we know that the offense warrants a more than that, and in the way back recesses, we feel that justice demands the low-life's teeth to go flying in several directions.

    2007-05-21 19:16:42
    19.   weatherman
    I just finished watching the Heroes finale and I don't know where else to go. Can we get a Heroes finale topic going?
    2007-05-21 20:17:58
    20.   Andrew Shimmin
    Every thread is an open chat. Although, I think you're supposed to wait for west coasters to get a chance to watch it live. Checking the schedule, it ends, out here, in an hour and forty-five minutes.
    2007-05-21 20:56:32
    21.   jtrichey
    I was somewhat let down by the Heroes finale. The Sylar-Hiro battle was one of the most unexciting of all time. Of course they leave it open whether Sylar is actually dead. I don't know exactly why, but that episode was one of the worst of the series.
    2007-05-21 23:13:09
    22.   Benaiah
    "Heroes" was terrible on many, many levels. It was entirely anticlimatic, didn't have much of a cliffhanger and seemingly killed off three of its best characters (Sylar, Peter and Nathan) while allowing its worst characters (Parkman, DL and Nikki) to escape unscathed. After months of build up to both a Sylar battle and Peter exploding, the follow through was actually boring. The best ending would have been a nuclear battle between Peter and Sylar, and the worst ending would be... no bomb, no nuclear, lots of speeches. I have been pimping this show as the antidote to "Lost," but at least "Lost" always had interesting finales.
    2007-05-21 23:15:25
    23.   StolenMonkey86
    24 seemed to pick up its intensity in the finale. The last few hours before seemed to drop off a bit, particularly when they took care of the main threat.

    I wonder what would happen if they made an episode where they didn't kill someone.

    2007-05-21 23:18:10
    24.   Benaiah
    "The Sopranos" was excellent though. The true lesson of "The Sopranos" is that everyone is incapible of improving their lives and given a choice between the the right way and the easy way, everyone chooses the easy way. Matt Zoller Seitz pointed out the scene in last week's episode as a key: Two girls are driving away after Tony and Chris careened off the road, one says "Maybe we should go back, Heidi," the other replies "Kennedy, I'm on my learner's permit after dark."

    David Chase's opinion of human nature must be very low indeed.

    2007-05-21 23:40:24
    25.   Bob Timmermann
    "24" was abysmal this season. It gave me no desire to watch it next year or ever again. I don't care about Jack and Audrey. I don't want to see a sensitive caring relationship between Chloe and Morris. Abysmal.

    And I too felt let down by "Heroes."

    Let Monday, May 21, 2007 forever be known as Anticlimactic Monday!

    On the other hand, I figured out to how reset my DVR to fix its memory issues. It kept thinking it was running out of space. This was bad.

    Very bad.

    Now it's fixed.

    2007-05-21 23:45:19
    26.   Agronox
    18 But what of the people who've never consented to that world? What about the waiters who end up dead after complaining of a shoddy tip, or the Elvis impersonators in the wrong place at the wrong time?

    Pretty much everyone on the Sopranos is scum, and in a just world they'd all be dead.

    2007-05-22 00:50:27
    27.   overkill94
    Agreed that Season 6 of 24 turned out to be a real stinker. Tonight's show had no cliffhanger for future seasons and really wasn't all that exciting. They really need to find a new location besides Los Angeles to spice things up because they've fallen into a terrible rut.
    2007-05-22 02:04:11
    28.   Mark T.R. Donohue
    I was a little surprised by the "Heroes" finale's lack of punch, but after watching it a second time I decided that it was entirely in keeping with the show's style. I am thinking particularly about how Nathan's decision to become a good guy, finally, parallelled the journey of Claire's father from stock heavy to sympathetic compromised villain to true heroism. It's a little weird that the show put so much emphasis on this being the end of one "volume" and the beginning of another, since this seemed much more like a "Lost" or "Deadwood" finale, a slightly louder middle than any kind of huge denouement like "Buffy" finales used to be. That said, everything made logical sense to me and I can definitely see the threads assembling themselves for the second season, which is going to be all about the largely unexplored backstories of the show's elderly power brokers, the characters played by Malcolm McDowell and George Takei, Mrs. Petrelli, and now apparently Simone's father too.
    2007-05-22 05:08:44
    29.   weatherman
    28 - Thanks for your post on Western Homes, I went ahead and commented there.

    19 - There was such a good Sop's discussion going on, I didn't want to break it up.

    2007-05-22 06:28:22
    30.   StolenMonkey86
    27 - The problem was they killed off Fayed too early. Once they secured all the nukes, they really lost too much tension.
    2007-05-22 08:14:00
    31.   Benaiah
    26 - This point deserves expounding upon. Hobbes (and Locke) talked about a social construct that all people are born into. Hobbes believed that the natural state of man was so terrible (nasty, brutish and short) that even living in tyranny was preferable to living outside of society.

    The mobsters are people who living in society, but do not follow the social construct. I don't believe that people need to follow the laws in order to be compliant to the social construct. However, you have to be willing to accept the punishment for breaking the laws if you are caught. Mobsters kill and intimidate to forstall punishment, which makes them outside of a society that they profit from. Everyone who comes into contact with them is at risk, because they are wild animals in the zoo.

    2007-05-22 10:45:21
    32.   Rob M
    To take up one of Jon's points - I also didn't understand what line Tony crossed in his attack on Coco. Maybe the curb stomp was too much? I guess a beating that puts him out of business is a big economic hit on Phil, as opposed to just a good beating. But what would Phil have done to Sil or Paulie in the same circumstance? There's no way you can get away with talking that way to someone's daughter. That almost transcends the world they live in.
    2007-05-22 14:27:59
    33.   dzzrtRatt
    25 While I don't care about Jack & Audrey -- she's a completely lifeless character -- I was getting ready to enjoy Jack as a kind of nerd Rambo, angry at what his masters have turned him into.

    If he'd killed Audrey's father the same night he killed his own, that would have set up an interesting storyline for next season.

    Alas, 'twas not to be.

    2007-05-22 22:45:09
    34.   Andrew Shimmin
    26- Wasn't the uppity waiter killed by Paulie? I don't remember the Elvis impersonators; if Tony's killed civilians, that certainly undermines my point. But my point is only that I don't think Tony is a sociopath. Not that no one in the mob is. Paulie could easily be. The thing with his adopted mother argues against it, but he doesn't have normal human relationships.

    I agree, broadly, that they're scummy people. I just think Tony's problem is a character deficit, not a mental illness.

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