May 24, 2004

The Sopranos

There's no way to talk about it without discussing the plot points. If you're following the show and didn't watch last night--but plan to see it later in the week--don't click on the extended entry.

Last night's episode, number 64, is entitled "Long-Term Parking." There are at least three meanings: collect 'em all.

Oh, and Kelly also took a crack at this show. We're all so shook up, doncha know.

It's hard not to obsess about Adriana, because that's been coming for so long. Though I know the coming showdown with Johnny Sacks is probably a much bigger deal.

One thing that's impossible to ignore in this show is just how rotten the Christopher Moltisanti character is. He is a much colder man than Tony is: as a matter of fact, if he were the main character the show would be unwatchable. Chris makes his decision to betray Adriana not out of fear, but materialism: the last thing we see of him before she's killed is him looking at his Hummer appreciatively, patting it. He's not doing this to save his life, but to live the Good Life.

What a long, slow death. All Adriana can see out the window of the car is trees. And she knows.

That has to be some of the best acting I've seen from Steven van Zandt, who shows us that acting is actually part of the mobster's life: the character Silvio has to put on an act in the car, being reassuring and paternal. It's only at the end when he knows she's sure he is going to kill her that the character can let his real contempt and rage show.

And she dies, as my husband points out, "like a dog, on all fours."

Silvio is the obvious choice for this "job" for two reasons--other than being Tony's right-hand man, and the best guy for any confidential project that Christopher wouldn't be asked to do--he's also the guy who's accustomed to being violent toward women (other than the violence they all permit themselves against wives and girlfriends in the heat of anger). We've seen before, in the "Traci" episode, that part of Silvio's job as manager of the Bing is to cuff women around.

At first I thought the choice Christopher has to make in this episode is similar to the one Tony has to make, but on reflection, I don't quite think it's so. Tony is willing to let TonyB be killed, but he isn't willing to let him be tortured, and Johnny Sacks is stubborn on that point, presumably because he's grown fed up with Tony Soprano's bullshit (Tony reneging on a deal to take out Carmine for him, Tony lying to him about TonyB's participation in the Joey Peeps murder, etc.).

And now there will probably be a war--or at least a minor skirmish.

What remains to be seen is who will outmaneuver whom: both men are smart, and both have blind spots. And both are capable of nearly unquenchable rage.

Meanwhile, we see that for women in this world there is only one role: that of a prostitute. The successful ones, like Carmela, just set a high price. The scene in which Tony and Carmela get back together is almost as painful to watch as the one in which Adriana gets killed: they are negotiating how much money Tony has to pay to move back into the house. (The promise he makes, that no woman will ever call the house again, is one he can't necessarily keep, except by luck and hard threats: he really cannot control that, especially given his taste in women [he likes 'em a little crazy].)

Carmela has also decided she prefers The Good Life. And the other man in her life--her father--will likely not help her get her business off the ground unless she gets back together with Tony. Like Adriana, she lives in a world where you can't run away from home, because you don't have permission to cross the street. It's the hand you're dealt, and there's only playing it well (Carmela) and playing it badly (Adriana).

Adriana's and Carmela's problems have less to do with an addiction to material things (big houses and Jimmy Choo shoes) than a fear of what it would be like to be out there hustling in the real world without anyone looking out for you at all. And Carmela has seen that she can't function in a normal relationship: manipulating men is practically instinctive at this point.

One more thing: did you catch the right-wrong mirror image in Adriana's story? In her backward universe, the only real wrong you can do is to talk to the authorities. In the world of the Sopranos one can be seduced by "evil" a little at a time, by making a series of bad decisions. Just like the world we live in--only reversed, of course. Had Adriana come clean with Christopher and Tony after her first arrest, she would have lived. And had she cooperated fully with the FBI, she would have stood a fighting chance. Instead, she never fully picked sides, and was protected by neither side.

What remains to be seen is Tony's motivation for moving back in with his wife and son. Is this because he cannot live without Carmella, or is it because threats were made by the New York family against his own kin? We don't know for sure. He may be dependent upon Carmella, or he may feel that he has to be "on site" to protect her and Anthony Jr.

Because there are bears in the back yard. Lots of them.

Posted by Attila at May 24, 2004 05:21 PM

Very well-written post. I'm still too inarticulate after this episode to write one like this.

I've seen some harsh comments about Adriana around the web and that makes me mad as hell. Adriana did nothing wrong. She was just very afraid and was easily bullied by people, which was evidenced by all the abuse she took from Christopher. It's easy to sit here and be Monday morning QB's when we didn't face the situation she did. But she did not deserve to die on her hands in knees, crying in terror. That was just wrong. And it's going to come back and bite them all in the ass.

Posted by: Burnt Fuse at May 27, 2004 05:57 PM

If you contrast the way they treated her with the way they treated (the unfortunately nicknamed) Pussy, the misogyny of that culture is very apparent. Pussy did wear a wire; he went much farther than Adriana in his dealings with the FBI. But they gave him the courtesy of asking him how it happened, and they honored his request not to shoot him in the face.

Adriana is never even asked for her side of the story, and doesn't get the courtesy of a final meeting with the men she supposedly double-crossed.

I'll be interested to see how her death is explained, since the usual way the men explain deaths to their mothers, sisters and wives is to say that the dead person "went into the witness protection program." Wonder if they'll use that with Adriana.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 27, 2004 07:05 PM

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