Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E10 "A Hit is a Hit"

Family Events
: After gifting Dr. Cusamano a box of illegal Cuban cigars to thank him for his referral to Melfi, Tony attempts to branch out and socialize with some of the wealthy neighborhood families (who he coins, "the mayonnaises up the street"). Carmela worries about money. After Meadow eavesdrops on Carmela purchasing stocks, Carmela suggests that women should maintain individuality. After Tony realizes that Cusamano and his wealthy friends are using him as a token criminal association, Tony begins playing up fictional performances to mess with them. 

Mafia Events: Pussy, Chris, and Paulie kill a young drug dealer in New York and bring home tons of his cash, which Tony wants to invest in stocks, legally. After Chris makes a racist scene in a restaurant, he and Adriana get invited to a party with rapper Massive Genius, where he explains he wants royalties from Hesh. Christopher arranges a meeting with Hesh; Adriana toys with the idea of becoming a music manager and introduces Massive to some musician friends. Hesh refuses to consider paying anything. After several struggles, Adriana's new band Visiting Day records a demo for Massive G, which he likes. Suspecting Massive has his eye on Adriana, Chris takes the demo to Hesh, who says the music is terrible. 

Mental Health Events: Melfi has dinner with the Cusamanos and a few others and becomes uncomfortable when the group begins to discuss the Mafia, going as far as to defend Carmela's Murano glass after Jean dismisses it. Later in the bathroom, Melfi looks out the window toward the Soprano house and hears a loud groan. In therapy, Tony admits he's bored by his neighbors, but after golfing with them realizes they made him into a spectacle. Tony shares a story about Jimmy from the old neighborhood, a kid with a cleft palate who was bullied by. the crew, and admits to Melfi that Cusamano and his group made him feel like Jimmy.

Significant Ideology: The importance of each group's cultural identity can be considered both superficially and in greater depth. On the surface, the episode deals with three cultures at odds with each other: Hesh, who is Jewish and is connected to both the early music industry and the Mafia, refuses to pay royalties he owes; Massive Genius, who is African American and a successful producer himself, is open to business with Adriana but seeks justice from Hesh over exploited music vocals; Christopher and Tony are proximally involved through their protection of Adriana and Hesh. 

There are many cultural stereotypes tossed around by each group, Christopher and Hesh use racist language toward Massive Genius, Massive Genius suggests certain exploitative and legally related behaviors are common to Jewish people, and the upper class, professional Italians look down on the Sopranos and anyone in organized crime. But Cusamano's comment about the similarities between the mob and legitimate businessmen is important, not because they are the same in the way that he thinks, but because the white American businessman has largely been able to achieve without "whacking someone." Surely crimes are committed in business, but they're not judged in the way the Mafia's, gangster rap culture, or to lesser extent, Hesh's crimes are judged. 

When Tony discusses his "Medigan" neighbors with Melfi, she tries to clarify, "you don't consider yourself white?" Tony says he does, but that he's not white the way Cusamano is white. It seems like this episode is about ethnicity, and it is, but it's about economic class even more. Hesh had to exploit someone else's talent passed off as his own in order to succeed in the music business; Tony, born into his father's Mafia wanted a good life which was only attainable through criminal means, and Massive Genius used his violent experiences to create art, which then became marketable. All three cultures were denied access to the legitimate American dream, because of their social and economic classes. Adriana is dangled before us as someone who has the potential to successfully cross cultures in a legitimate way, but in the end Christopher and Massive Genius reduce her to a sexual thing, ignoring her enthusiasm and ambition to succeed in the music business, which is easily and commonly done to women in lower economic classes. 

Tony's financial worth and beautiful house may rival Cusamano's, but despite being literal next-door neighbors, he is still kept out of the upper class Italians' spaces (Ivy League, stock trading, the golf club). This is likely going to become an issue for the Soprano children, especially Meadow.

Italian Language: 

Paisan =   ("Talk about Paisan Pride, go Jovi! ") fellow Italian American

Medigan = American

Salcicc' = Italian sausage made of fresh pork and scraps of pancetta and pork neck

Que coso, ragazzo? = what's the thing, boy? (Adriana asks Chris when he's being distant).

Tony wraps a secret package for Cusamano with Carmela's help: 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E9 "Boca"

Family Events: Livia again brings up Tony's seeing a psychiatrist with Junior, referring to Tony as, "my son, the mental patient." Tony and Carmela attend Meadow's soccer game and are inspired by the team's coach, Don Hauser. After the girls get together in the park, Meadow finds her friend Ally just after she's cut her own wrist. Tony soon finds out the coach has taken a position in New England; Silvio and Artie pay Hauser a visit to implore him to stay. Meadow becomes increasingly hostile toward Hauser and soccer in general; she admits Ally has been having an affair with the coach. 

Mafia Events: Junior hides out from any possible indictments in his lawyer's office but decides to vacation to Boca Raton with his girlfriend, Roberta San Fillipo. In Boca, Bobbi speaks candidly with Junior about his oral abilities but Junior doesn't want anyone to know he does it out of fear of appearing weak. Tony's crew delivers a big screen to the coach and he becomes hostile, stating he refuses to be threatened or bribed. Later one of Carmela's friends hears Bobbi's manicurist speaking with her about the topic Junior wanted to avoid and soon everyone knows. 

Mikey, acting on suspicions that Tony is informing the feds, has Tony followed. During a golf game with Junior, Tony is angered by a comment from Junior and begins ridiculing him armed with the new information about Bobbi; Junior retorts with a comment about psychiatry. In the locker room after the golf game, Junior floats the idea of having Tony "clipped" to Mikey. Artie begs Tony not to harm Hauser; Tony explodes at Artie for his audacity but decides not to act in the end.

Junior angrily confronts Bobbi about her inability to keep his secret, smashes a pie into her face (a nod to Cagney and the grapefruit), and fires her from the job he gave her.

Mental Health Events: Tony discusses Ali's suicide attempt with Melfi and apologizes for his outburst the week before. When Tony shares his frustrations over the situation with Ally and the coach, Melfi demands to know why Tony thinks he needs to deal with it, himself. 

Significant Ideology: The actions of Coach Hauser are serious and require serious attention, both in the fictional world for the characters as they navigate such disturbing abuse and for the viewers, who are equally shocked and upset by these events. The writing of this episode seems to rely on this shock value to take focus off some of the more confusing points ---the coach randomly takes a job in New England and is leaving an entire year in advance, before the season ends? He loves Ally but won't leave his wife? Meadow plays soccer now, not volleyball and hangs out with Heather Dante, Ally, and Deena, the coach's daughter but not Hunter? Melfi kind of blowing Tony's legitimate second-hand trauma over Ally's suicide attempt (which she'd before done in the past, not connected with the Coach affair)? For a serious topic such as suicide, it all seemed kind of thrown together. 

The problem with Junior has more depth. Carmela's light (ambiguous) teasing of Junior arouses only Tony's suspicion and in the end is harmless until she tells Tony what she knows. Tony may have kept his own teasing under the radar on the golf course but because Junior insulted him first, for making too much noise when Mikey was teeing off (and then suggesting Tony failed to make a play as a high school athlete because he was talking then, too), Tony, who becomes angry and can't keep himself from retaliating, goes full throttle into  cunnilingus-inspired mockery of Junior. Tony responds to being hurt by Junior by humiliating Junior in return; Junior responds to the humiliation by escalating what was until then knowledge he was willing to live with (Tony seeing a psychiatrist) to the suggestion of full on war. Junior brings Mikey up to speed in the locker room, knowing that Mikey has no choice but to support him:

Mikey: "Are you thinking of having him clipped?" 

Junior: "No one would slap my wrist if I did . . . " 

Things are about to get violent, all because these men cannot be seen to lose macho in the eyes of their peers (I give my lady oral) OR to be honest about their true feelings (what you just said was really hurtful). 

Italian Language: 

lecca fica = what Junior doesn't want to admit he does for Bobbi

Tony and Junior: the fighting words begin

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E8 "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti"

Family Events: Carmela takes Livia out so Tony can hide contraband in her room at Green Grove. When the FBI shows up at the house, they find nothing. Livia tells Junior that Tony has been seeing a psychiatrist. 

Mafia Events: Christopher dreams of Emil Kolar, the man he killed at Satriale's Deli just before federal indictments get handed out after the wedding of a family friend. Tony and Carmela clear money and guns out of a secret hiding space in the ceiling vent. Christopher works on his screenplay but is dismayed when he's not mentioned on a news update about the indictments. He snaps and shoots a bakery employee in the foot, admits to Paulie that Emil is haunting him in his dreams, and he digs up Emil's corpse with Georgie. Tony reprimands Chris for his actions but learns that Chris might be dealing with his own depression. Chris is later overjoyed to see his name finally mentioned in the New Jersey Star-Ledger. 

Mental Health Events: Tony explains that he might disappear for a while and for Melfi not to worry. Later when Tony returns, Melfi angers him by charging him for the session he missed during the FBI issues. 

Significant Ideology: Livia sat on the psychiatrist information for one episode before taking it to Junior, but she waited for chaos to begin first. Her actions lately suggest she's become accustomed to Green Grove, might even be enjoying it there, but for her to tattle on Tony to Junior is an act of war---punishment to Tony. Stone cold. 

Chris thinks life is like a movie, and that his life as a wiseguy should follow Goodfellas. Writing a screenplay is a challenge for seasoned writers, let alone people who have little grasp on grammar or spelling. Paulie does little to ease Chris's frustrations with how real life really is in the gangster world ("I was born, spent a few years in the army, a few more in the can, now this,"), and then in the car to Tony, Chris laments the "regularness of life." Reality has its lulls; Tony knows this and now Chris does, too.

Italian Language: 

Coma stai = How are you?

manugia l'american = (unknown, said by Adriana to Chris in regard to his misspelling of the word "managed").

strunz = (from stronzo, worthless)

Tony and Carmela gather the goods to stash:

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E7 "Down Neck"

Family Events: AJ gets busted drinking communion wine at school and gets suspended. A school psychologist wants to test AJ for ADD. During his suspension AJ visits Livia at Green Grove and lets slip the fact that Tony sees a psychiatrist. Eventually AJ asks Tony about being in the mafia but Tony deflects. AJ is determined to be a borderline case of ADD; Tony doesn't agree. 

Mafia Events: Tony asks Pussy about his children's knowledge of the business, Pussy admits they knew but loved him anyway. Chris steals watches from a FedEx truck; Tony scolds him for it.

Mental Health Events: Tony admits to Melfi has a girlfriend but can't turn off his feelings for her. He asks her about AJ's ADD diagnosis but Melfi wants to direct his attention to his feelings about his own father. Tony has several flashbacks about his father, first beating a man who owed him money with Junior, and of him taking his sister Janice to a carnival. Tony remembers his father getting arrested at this carnival and realizing his father wasn't like other fathers, also two specific incidents of Livia threatening him (with a meat fork and pillow).

Significant Ideology: Jefferson Airplane is used to introduce Tony's memories of his father in the late sixties and again at the end of the episode to show Tony's love for AJ as he makes sundaes for them. Tony admits to Melfi he doesn't want AJ to be like him, despite having not really harbored any negative feelings for his own gangster father. How will AJ fare as a Soprano? He also has a gangster father (and knows it now) but he also has a good relationship with his mother, unlike Tony. If the show is taking the position that Livia did more to screw up her son's mental health than the entire North Jersey mafia, it's one hell of a reveal. 

Italian Language: 

ubatz = crazy 

caporegime = captain, ranking member

AJ spills the beans:

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E6 "Pax Soprana"

Family Events: Livia seems happier at Green Grove, but when Junior comes for a visit she implies that Junior should receive monetary benefits from Tony's relationship with Hesh. Carmela tries to voice her frustration with Tony's not being sexually interested in her any longer, later she buys furniture to soothe herself. Carmela discusses her jealousy of Melfi with Father Phil, who tells her she's not blameless. Tony apologizes to Carmela and she admits she wants to be the woman who helps him.

Mafia Events: Junior makes changes down the ranks: strong-arming a card game, taxing Hesh, and seeking a drug dealer who sold deadly stuff to a colleague's grandson. Tony meets with New York's Johnny Sack about how to handle Junior and the two cook up a scheme to get him to come down on the tax amount. Mikey murders Rusty Irish, the drug dealer in question, by throwing him off a bridge, and the captains discuss how to handle Junior's recklessness. Tony persuades Junior to distribute Hesh's tax among the top five captains; Tony returns his share to Hesh.

Mental Health Events: Tony continues to have Makazian spy on Dr. Melfi. In
session, Melfi suggests Tony's choice of her (female, Italian) as a doctor might indicate his desire, through "coming clean" with her, to dialog with Livia, Carmela, and Meadow. Tony informs Melfi he has been experiencing a decreased libido from the prozac but keeps having sexual dreams about her. In the next session, Tony lies about events that happened with Irina and after complimenting Melfi, tries to kiss her. Melfi suggests they need to talk further about this event but Tony refuses. Later Melfi discovers someone has had ailing starter on her car replaced. Tony admits to fixing the car, and then tells Melfi he loves her. Melfi tries to explain that he's feeling this way because the therapy has progressed well.

Significant Ideology: Tony seeks a relative peace (Pax Soprana) within his both of his families---with Carmela over his lies and therapeutic relationship with Melfi and with Junior, over his need to make a splash as he takes the reins as new boss. In both cases, Tony is dishonest and manipulative, to Carmela, whom he professes to love but devotes all his energies to pursuing Melfi, and to Junior, behind whose back Tony schemes with Johnny Sack, Hesh, and the captains of his own crew in order to establish control. Funny how despite this need for control, Tony accepts Melfi's rebuff and continues therapy. While being told "no" might not be something Tony is used to, he takes it from her and then later paraphrases her words to Carmela ("what you think you're feeling, you're not feeling, and what you're not feeling is your real agenda,"). Tony seems to respect her enough to realize on some level that Melfi is right. This power differential is both unlike and exactly like one he's already experienced, he just isn't able to see it yet.

Melfi has been right about a lot of things so far, but her being an Italian woman does create an interesting dynamic in how Tony views the therapy and himself, given how much he personally needs a strong, compassionate person in his life. This powerful transference of Tony's needs onto Melfi could make for an explosively dangerous situation down the line if not addressed, but Melfi addresses it almost immediately. Tony has likely encountered men who have had more power and control in his life, but Melfi is teaching him how his mother (and her own mental illness) has colored his perceptions in his family and business life,  and why this matters at all: 

1. What do your mother, your wife, and your daughter all have in common?

2. It's not appropriate to bring me gifts.

3. You've made me all of the things that are missing in your wife and in your mother.

The panic attacks were just the beginning.

Italian Language: 

Morte = dead 

Putan' = prostitute (Livia to Junior,  "What are you wearing? You smell like a French putan'")

che brutta = how ugly (Livia, "I'm going to the dining room to get away from the che brutta activities lady,")

Capisce = he understands

mezzo morte = half dead (Junior to Tony, "You been walking around mezzo morte all week!")

Livia accepts biscotti ONLY IF THEY ARE ALMOND: 

Junior gets a new card

Monday, August 23, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos, S1 E5, "College"

Family Events: Tony drives Meadow to Maine for college visits while a sick Carmela entertains Father Phil. Meadow asks Tony directly if he's in the mafia. Dr. Melfi calls to reschedule a therapy appointment and Carmela learns she is a woman. Carmela and Father Phil eat leftover ziti, have a conversation about religion, and decide to watch a film together. Carmela becomes distraught during the film and Father Phil offers to hear her confession. Carmela admits she has lived in sin for years, knowing Tony's misdeeds and illegal acts, and takes communion from Father Phil in her living room. The two nearly kiss each other but suddenly Father Phil becomes ill and rushes to the bathroom to vomit. The next morning Father Phil admits he has desire for Carmela in his heart. 

After Tony picks Meadow up from Colby College, she senses Tony is hiding something and pleads with him to be honest about where he was but he puts her off. When he gets home Carmela informs him that Father Phil spent the night and he scoffs; she also informs him she knows who Jennifer Melfi is.  

Mafia Events: While in Maine, Tony recognizes a man he thinks is Febby Petrulio, a colleague-turned-informant. Tony asks Chris to look into the man's license plate and discovers the man has been going by the name "Fred Peters." Through a local phone book, Tony finds Fred's travel agency but by this time Fred has also been tracking Tony and Meadow. Chris offers to take care of Fred for Tony but Tony insists he handle it himself. The next day, Tony surprises Fred at the travel agency and strangles him to death.

Significant Ideology: Tony comes clean to Meadow, kinda, and that's a big deal by itself, but the bigger picture here is that Meadow is not only smart enough to have figured it out on her own but has the bravery to ask him about it point blank. This makes her different than Carmela, who knows some, but not all, of what goes on in Tony's work life, and who, even while confessing to Father Phil, is vague about the "horrible acts" she believes her husband has committed. Carmela chose a life of organized crime by marrying Tony; Meadow and AJ did not, and through Tony and Meadow's conversation about how Tony came into the life he chose, it seems like Meadow empathizes with Tony but judges Carmela. 

Italian Language:  

Ugatz = shit/nothing valuable (Chris mutters this on the pay phone with Tony)

Pisha-do = toilet

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E4 Meadowlands

Family Events: Anthony fights in school, Carmela presses for more details. Tony brings Livia macaroons from her favorite bakery but she reacts very negatively despite initially being pleased. Tony meets with Lieutenant Vin Makazian, a detective he hires to check on Melfi. Makazian ends up assaulting Melfi's date on a traffic stop. AJ demands money from Jeremy, the kid he fought with, and the two again scuffle and make plans to fight after school. Instead of fighting, Jeremy pays AJ the money owed for the shirt and exits. AJ speaks with Meadow about why Jeremy was scared to fight him and Meadow explains what Tony does for a living.

Mafia Events: Christopher gets released from the hospital and finds Brendan dead in his apartment. Tony has a near miss with Silvio in the hall at the medical office. The crew visits a declining Jackie, and Chris plans to seek revenge on Mikey for killing Brendan. Tony prevents Chris from acting but assaults Mikey with a staple gun and confronts Junior himself. Junior refuses to cooperate and sends Tony away. The council of captains discusses how best to deal with the situation with Junior and want Tony promoted to acting boss while Jackie is sick. Chris assaults an employee after Junior's crew took his cut of drug money while he was in the hospital. At the Bing, the crew gets news that Jackie Apriel has died, and Chris shares the news that Junior is moving in on their turf. Tony confronts Junior again and surprises him in offering him Jackie's position as boss. 

Mental Health Events: Tony dreams of seeing all his friends in the therapy waiting room; when Melfi turns around, in her chair is Livia in disguise. After a mild panic attack, Tony receives Xanax from Melfi to get him through the stressful week. When Tony tells Melfi about his frustrations in dealing with Junior and Livia, she suggests Tony give them illusion of still being in control, to handle them like children. Melfi admits to Tony she's upset by the assault on her date.

Significant Ideology: Roles change in this episode: AJ, the only remaining family member ignorant of Tony's true occupation, learns the truth and like everyone else becomes an accomplice to it. Tony becomes acting boss of not only Junior but presumably Livia as well (though we have yet to see how this plays out) after Melfi's suggestion and book recommendation. Even before this though, Tony had unique insight into his business dealings that Junior and Chris lack, neither being fathers. Junior is angry at the perceived disrespect Chris has shown toward him but also at Tony's refusal to hand out punishment. Chris expects immediate action and retaliation for Junior's murder of Brendan (which Mikey goaded Junior into committing by playing up the disrespect factor) and twice has to be restrained from acting impulsively. In the first case, Tony acts himself, taking the staple gun to Mikey, and in the second case, having just heard the news about Jackie's passing, Tony admonishes Chris and bullies him physically into standing down so he can approach Junior with the plotted offer of boss. 

Tony has also learned to pick his battles with Livia, which lessens her power over him. "You could be happy here, if you wanted to," he tells her before leaving with the macaroons she rejected. It's almost as if since having his panic attacks under control he's able to think two steps ahead of everyone else's actions instead of simply reacting with aggression. Despite this, his need for control remains, evident in his need to know intimate details about Dr. Melfi and in employing Makazian to spy on her.

Italian Language: 

Cialtrone = rascal/scoundrel (Junior tells Tony, "You crazy cialtrone, you had me worried, there.")

Jackie Apriel's Funeral:

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E3 "Denial, Anger, Acceptance"

Family Events: Meadow feels the stress of studying for SATs; Tony and Carmela visit Artie and Charmaine Bucco in their new house. To help the Buccos, Carmela hires them to cater a pediatric hospital fundraiser at the house. Charmaine is receptive to the honest work until Carmela gestures to her as she had done earlier with her housekeeper. As they box up the effects after the party, Charmaine admits to Carmela that she slept with Tony back in high school and that she's fine with her life decisions. Meadow asks Christopher and Brendan to score her some crystal to help study for exams, which he does. Tony joins Carmela for Meadow's choir concert and is moved to tears by his daughter's singing.

At Green Grove Junior floats the idea of punishing Christopher to Livia but is surprised to hear Livia profess her love for Chris ("he put up my storm windows for me one year,"). Suggesting that Chris could rather use a talking-to but shrugging an implication of something more severe for Brendan, sly Livia colludes with Junior to hurt Tony. Junior arranges to have Christopher roughed up by Russians but sends his own man, Mikey Palmice to shoot Brendan. 

Mafia Events: Chris and Brendan return the jacked truck to Comley; Junior is not placated. Tony and the crew visit boss Jackie Apriel in the hospital and discuss getting involved with Teittleman, a Hasidic Jew, who wants a divorce for his daughter. Tony gifts Jackie an escort and booze in his hospital room while Paulie and Silvio assault Teittleman's son-in-law, Ariel. After Ariel finally agrees to give them what they want, Teittleman tries to get out of paying Tony the agreed-upon sum. Tony tries to relay the drama to Jackie back in the hospital, but Jackie is preoccupied with his temperature.

Mental Health Events: Tony accuses Melfi of hanging a depressing painting of a barn outside her office to trick him but then admits he's worried about his friend Jackie, who has cancer. Later Tony asks Melfi for her medical thoughts on Jackie's cancer but becomes immediately defensive when she tells him her honest opinion and stomps out, again mentioning the painting of the barn. Later with his Russian mistress, Irina, Tony asks her what a poolside painting above her bed means to her. 

Tony eventually comes clean with Melfi about mourning Jackie but insists he's not afraid to die for a reason.

Significant Ideology: Faced with the devotion of the Hasid,  Tony comes to terms with the fact that some deaths have more meaning than others. He realizes Jackie's death is imminent and will be a cancer casualty, and will not reflect the strength of the man he once was. Tony references Jackie's appearance and formerly harsh attitude as if to reinforce that the gangster inside Jackie still exists and brings him a Bada Bing employee to enjoy (Jackie may be sick but he can still bang). The full masculine power of the mafia is in focus during this episode, so it's no surprise that the final threat to Ariel is to remove his manhood, what could possibly be worse than that?

However, Tony seems to be learning in therapy. After Melfi explains how the ducks and the barn painting "took on another meaning" for him because of his inner feelings, Tony asks Irina what she thinks of her painting. Teittleman calls him a golem, a Frankenstein, but Tony all but sheds tears for Jackie in Melfi's office and also during Meadow's choir concert. 

Italian Language

Statti zit = shut up 

Rewatching The Sopranos S1 E2, "46 Long"

Family Events: AJ's teacher's Saturn is stolen, Carmela suggests Tony help find the car. When Tony calls Livia to check in on her she neglects a pan of mushrooms on the stove and starts her kitchen on fire. After the fire department leaves the house, Carmela tries to reason with Livia, suggesting she get someone in to help her, but Livia refuses. Eventually Perrilyn, a Trinidadian housekeeper, is hired to help but Livia sabotages the relationship almost immediately. Later Livia accidentally injures herself and a friend with her vehicle and Tony insists she live at Green Grove Retirement Community. When clearing out his mother's house, Tony becomes emotional over old pictures of Livia smiling.

Mafia Events:

As Tony and the gang count money they watch a former wiseguy turned informant discuss the overall decline of organized crime. Unwillingness to do hard time for drug charges is what has brought the mafia down, the man explains. Later, Christopher and friend Brendan Filone hijack a semi full of DVD players and distribute the goods to the crew. The truck belongs Comley, one of Junior's legitimate business partnerships, and after a sit down between Tony, Junior, and boss Jackie Apriel, the two are made to pay restitution to Junior. Feeling unappreciated and ignored, Chris and Brendan plan to jack another Comley truck in defiance, this one full of Italian suits, but Chris backs out at the last minute. Tony and the crew keep some of the suits but chastise Chris for not stopping Brendan.

Mental Health Events: Tony speaks with Dr. Melfi about his guilt over Livia's living situation; Melfi tries to gently draw attention to Livia's parental shortcomings but Tony becomes defensive. Tony later relays his near panic attack during the cleaning out of Livia's house and Melfi points out that he's made progress in having awareness of his sadness but that he needs to acknowledge his anger before it seeps out to other outlets. Tony scoffs at this idea but then randomly beats Bada Bing bouncer Georgie for not being able to manage the telephone.

Significant Ideology: It's interesting that this episode begins with a mafia informer telling the audience that long prison time (hard consequences of criminal acts) led to the demise of organized crime as the crew looks on in agreement while counting piles of cash, presumably earned from the same actions described, still ongoing within the business. They acknowledge the truth but refuse to make changes that may help them avoid the very outcome being discussed. They don't listen. Or if they do listen and understand it doesn't matter because they don't change their behavior. 

The same thing happens with Chris and the Comley trucks. He listens, nods, agrees, but does little to show Tony he understands the problem in his rogue act and what it means for the organization, not to mention Tony's relationship with Junior. When Melfi tries to make Tony aware of the anger he's stifling, he listens to a point but then stomps out of the office, unwilling to admit she's right. He is so angry about his mother's treatment of him that he releases physical violence on an innocent colleague. 

Tony and crew have shown they have the ability to think critically about topics such as cloning or cultural appropriation (ala Starbucks), they also have advanced capacity for strategy: the Mahaffey scam, playing Chris and Brendon's misdeed for an ultimate financial/material gain, obtaining the science teacher's stolen car for leverage with AJ's grade, and so on. The fact that a hard warning waved in their faces does not deter the actions of any of these men suggests a very primitive way of thinking and behaving. Are they defiant (if you try to tell me what to do I'll do the exact opposite) or simply impulsively selfish (I want this thing so badly and so immediately that I cannot think logically and must have immediate gratification in getting it)? 

Italian Language

Indifendibile = indefensible (Paulie shouts this or something like it to the tv)

Chiaccherone = chatty (Paulie refers to the informant on tv)

pastin = "pastina" or little pasta (Carmela offers to make Livia some pastin to get something in her stomach after the mushroom fire incident)

O trippa di zia = or aunt's tripe (Pussy laments this after going through the paperwork at the body shop after having been away for six months).

Marone = Madonna or Madon, used similarly to 'dammit.' (Paulie laments this in frustration at the many options at what is meant to be Starbucks). 

Puzzi = stink (Paulie explains Americans ate "puzzi" before Italian cuisine became available). 

Fiori = flowers

(il tempo e la pazienza) cambiano la foglia di gelso in seta = Time and patience change the mulberry leaf to silk (Bonnie DiCaprio at Green Grove says this to Livia). 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos, S1 E1 "Pilot"

Family Events: Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) has a lot going on in his life. Son Anthony, Junior (Robert Iler) turns thirteen, daughter Meadow (Jamie Lynn Siegler) rebels against wife Carmela (Edie Falco). Mother Livia (Nancy Marchand) resists the idea of assisted living and is generally unpleasant. Tony cheats on Carmela; Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) resents Tony's being in charge. Tony admits being in therapy to Carmela but does not disclose the fact that his therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) is a woman.

Mafia Events: Mahaffey is assaulted by Tony's nephew Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) and Tony for defaulting on gambling debts, Christopher shows initiative by executing the son of one of Tony's waste management rivals. Hesh (Jerry Adler), a former colleague of Tony's father, helps Tony with a plan to extract the money owed by Mahaffey. Silvio Dante (Stevie van Zandt) informs Tony that Junior plans to kill rival Pussy Malanga inside childhood friend Artie Bucco's restaurant; Tony tries to get Artie (John Ventimiglia) to leave town but ends up destroying the restaurant in an explosion. Christopher feels unappreciated in his work and mentions writing a screenplay.

Mental Health Events: Tony meets Dr. Jennifer Melfi for therapy after panic attacks, storms out of first session when asked if he felt depressed. Returns for second session after collapsing at Green Grove Retirement Community with mother Livia. Tony describes mixed feelings about family of ducks in his pool. Melfi prescribes Prozac, which Tony takes. Tony skips a therapy appointment, begins to feel better, and assumes he won't need to return; Melfi suggests that talking about his thoughts and feelings is what is helping. Tony becomes tearful in a discussion over the ducks and realizes he is afraid of losing his family.

Significant Ideology: Tony's infidelities are referenced and later shown; he is a powerful, desirable man who has significant appetites in both women and lifestyle. His house is enormous, he dines in fancy restaurants, he plays golf. Yet the first thing he mentions to Dr. Melfi is that despite having "reached the heights," he still feels unsatisfied. Why? He's the boss, he's in charge, he has a family that loves him, what is the reason for his unhappiness? Spoiler alert: IT'S PROBABLY HIS MOTHER, but could it also have been his having bought into the the capitalist myth that money buys happiness? Material excess and extravagant lifestyle are indeed popular glamours of the mafia genre, the mob boss synonymous with unrestricted wealth and greed, but always at a price. Mafia films were once regulated by the Hays code (you could make a film about a criminal but he had to meet a violent end, because morals), so we're used to seeing consequences of negative or violent actions be realized, but what consequences can we expect in Anthony Soprano's story? Will therapy help, or is he better off not knowing what's at the heart of his anxiety and depression?

Italian Language: 

Sfogliatelle = Italian dessert pastry ("Hey girls, you want some of last night's sfogliatelle?").

Se dici = "If you say," (Junior yells this or something like it to Tony after he tells him not to get Anthony Junior anything big for his birthday).

Goomara = Mafia mistress. ("Well, havin' that goomara on the side helps," Carmela responds when Tony states that no marriage is perfect). 

vaffancul' = vaffanculo = F--- You ("Then it's dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction VAFFANCUL'!" Tony, to Dr. Melfi, describing Gary Cooper getting in touch with his feelings). 

Stugots = sto cazzo = personal possessive of male sex organ (Tony's boat is named "Stugots").

Buenosera = Good Evening (in restaurant).

da queste parte = around here (in restaurant).

Agita = shake ("I'm all agita all the time!" Junior, in solidarity with Livia's being very upset about the state of the world). 

Meet Livia: 

Rewatching The Sopranos, opening credits

Tony Soprano drives from New York to his home in New Jersey in his SUV smoking a cigar.

Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3

"Woke up this mornin' Got yourself a gun

Your mama always said you'd be the chosen one

She said "you're one in a million, you got to burn to shine"

But you were born under a bad sign with a blue moon in your eyes

And you woke up this mornin' All that love had gone

Your papa never told you about right and wrong

Hey but you're, but you're looking good, baby

I believe that you're a-feelin' fine Shame about it

Born under a bad sign with a blue moon in your eyes

Woke up this morning, got a blue moon in your eyes (woke up this morning)

I see ya, you woke up this mornin' The world turned upside down

Lord above, things ain't been the same Since the blues walked into town

Hey but you're, but you're, one in a million 'Cause you got that shotgun shine

Shame about it Born under a bad sign with a blue moon in your eyes

Woke up this morning and got yourself a gun, got yourself a gun

Got yourself a gun"

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 24, Live Together, Die Alone part 2

On-Island Events: Charlie brings Eko the hidden dynamite, which Eko brings to the hatch. Eko pleads with Locke to let him into the computer room; Locke refuses and Desmond assures him the blast doors are strong enough to withstand a dynamite blast. Eko eventually lights the fuse but the blast doors do not open. Desmond talks with Locke about his beliefs; Locke tells Desmond about the night he found the hatch in the jungle just after Boone's death. In explaining what he found in the Pearl Station, Locke inadvertently causes Desmond to reevaluate his position on not pushing the button. Desmond looks through the sheets of entered numbers printed out from the Pearl Station and determines that one of his late entries resulting in a "system failure" warning may have also caused Oceanic Flight 815 to crash.

Desmond demands that the button be pushed; Locke seizes the computer and throws it on the floor, ruining it. Desmond opens the blast doors, finds Inman's key and attempts to execute the failsafe procedure as the numbers count down. Desmond tells Locke his pounding outside the hatch after Boone's death saved his life so that Desmond could save Locke's. The numbers count down to zero, the hieroglyphics seen before in red and black flip down, and the metal objects inside the hatch begin flying toward the hatch walls. Eko helps move Charlie out of the hatch but refuses to leave without Locke, who is terrified but admits he was wrong. Desmond, remembering the words of Penelope's letter, flips the key inside the Dharma octagonal
switchpiece marked "System Termination." 

Jack, Hugo, Kate, Sawyer, and Michael see Sayid's smoke signal a few miles inland and begin to argue about where Michael has been leading them but are taken down by tranquilizer darts and transported to a dock near the shore. The bearded man appears with several others; Kate tells him she knows his beard is fake and he removes it. "Henry" pulls up to the dock in a boat, and just as he begins to talk to Michael, a loud buzzing occurs and the sky becomes purple. "Henry" explains Michael can take the boat following a compass bearing of 325 and he will be able to find rescue with his son. He adds that once Michael leaves, he'll never be able to get back to the island. Michael finds Walt inside the boat, the two embrace and depart. Miss Klugh tells Hugo to return to camp and to tell the rest of the survivors they can never come to this area. Hugo asks about his friends; "Henry" announces they are coming home with them. As the others put a cloth bag over Sawyer's face Kate looks worriedly at Jack, who tries to smile back at her. 

Flashbacks: Desmond watches Inman augment the map on the blast door, which he explains was started by a man named Radzinsky. When Desmond asks what became of Radzinsky, Inman shows him a mark on the ceiling, a stain from Radzinsky's suicide. Desmond begs Inman to allow him out of the hatch, stating he's been locked inside for two years, but Inman refuses. Later, Desmond finds Inman drunk, hiding a Dharma Initiative key which he says is a "failsafe," which fits into an octagonal switchpiece. He further explains that pushing the button releases a buildup of electromagnetic energy that has been leaking out of the area under the hatch, which is why someone always needs to be there, "saving the world."

The next day Desmond follows Inman outside back to his sailboat, which Inman has been secretly repairing. The two struggle and Desmond accidentally kills Inman. Desperate and suicidal, Desmond finds a gun and grabs his special Dickens book, Our Mutual Friend (which as explained in Live Together, Die Alone part 1, he has saved to read just before he dies). Inside it is a letter from Penelope; Desmond reads it and cries. Moments later, Locke (who, after fleeing the caves after Boone's accident, is up above pounding on the outer hatch door) surprises Desmond. He then switches on the light that will convince Locke the island has given him a sign.

Greater Meaning
: Locke is proven wrong in his thinking that none of his actions had meaning when the hatch begins to dangerously hyper-magnetize. The button indeed needing pushing, but what does its legitimacy say about the Pearl Station and the Dharma Initiative? Of course Locke was right in feeling manipulated (and we saw the field of pneumatic tubes filled with notebooks, for what, exactly?) If their experiments were to spy on whoever was in the hatch tasked with pushing the button, and if they were just going to throw away the notebooks of observations, then it does seem like it was all pointless, unless the Pearl Station itself was the subject of the experiment, NOT the hatch. Would the subjects do as they were told? Was there anything to be learned about the people in the hatch? Was it an elaborate monitoring system in case (as with Kelvin, Desmond, and eventually Locke) the button-pushers decided to mutiny or abandon their posts? Were the duties in the Pearl Station meant for some sort of punishment? Were potential members vetted there? Philosophically, the experiment seems to examine how men respond to their orders, whether or not they question them, and how they deal with unknowns. 

Given what we've seen of the island's special abilities, one wonders if the Dharma Initiative factored in any policy or procedures for things like the monster (which we haven't heard from in a while), the mysterious healing properties, or any additional unknowns. Finally explained was the "Quarantine" warning on the outer hatch door; Kelvin tried to sell Desmond on it not being safe outside of the hatch but ended up admitting it was a lie when he was caught trying to leave with Desmond's boat. Kelvin and Desmond, though they both performed the same duty, are different. Kelvin stated he willingly left the armed forces to join the Dharma Initiative; Desmond (like the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815) crashed onto the island by accident. When Locke mentions the printed logs of the numbers, Desmond works out that he, by entering the numbers in late, caused the crash by verifying the time and date. Later, as Desmond prepares to kill himself, Locke pounds and shouts outside the hatch and prevents the suicide from happening. Were both men destined to save each other? Locke's importance on the island has thus been connected with his faith and appreciation for nature in contrast to Jack's skepticism and devotion to science, how is Desmond important, and where does he lie on the faith/science spectrum? If unaffiliated with either, is he the link between Locke and Jack?

Further Questions: 

1. What will the others do with Sawyer, Kate, and Jack?

2. What is the reason for the costumes? 

3. Will Michael and Walt make it back home?

4. What is "Henry's" real name? 

5. What will become of the hatch?

6. Will Locke get his faith back now?

7. How did the explosion of the hatch affect the island?

Monday, May 3, 2021

My Octopus Teacher

My husband was watching this and I came in less than halfway through. I watched about thirty seconds of it and knew it was going to make me cry but of course I had to finish it. I won't spoil anything. I won't even describe any of the events that happen because it's just better to discover it your own way, uninformed (don't even google anything because the spoilers come up immediately). What I will say is, this is humanity, the way it should be. 

My Octopus Teacher, 2020. d. Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed

Starring: Craig Foster 

Summary: " A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world," (IMDB). 

I think we all know people out there who walk around like Clint Eastwood characters, hating everything, scowling at everyone, but who are able to feel safe in showing kindness and love to animals. This film is important because Craig Foster shows us how to take that kindness and tenderness (which we may keep hidden) and take steps to share it outward, toward other humans, toward the land, and toward ourselves as well.  

See others' existences. Protect the land, protect the seas. Allow yourself to feel and empathize. Take your humanity seriously and challenge yourself to do better. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 23, Live Together, Die Alone part 1

On-Island Events: Jack, Sawyer, and Sayid swim out to the boat just offshore from their beach. Once aboard gunshots ring out at them from below its galley and they discover Desmond, apparently inebriated, is the shooter. They bring him back to the beach and Desmond explains that he couldn't leave the island. Sayid suggests that he use Desmond's boat to meet Jack and the rest of the group as a surprise attack when they return to the others' camp; Jack agrees. As they make their way through the jungle Kate discovers two others tracking them. A shootout happens and one other is killed. Jack informs the group that Michael has been turned and forces him to confess his betrayal to the group. Michael admits his role everything and apologizes for killing Ana Lucia and Libby. Hugo wants to return but Jack insists they carry on, stating he has a plan.

When Sayid asks Desmond to borrow the boat for a trip northward, Desmond asks if he's headed to see "the hostiles." Desmond refuses to sail Sayid, but Jin has sailing experience and is willing to accompany him. They set out with Sun along the island's coast and are confused when they happen across a four-toed statue of a foot. 

Locke demands that Eko stop pushing the button in the hatch; Eko refuses and pushes Locke out. Later Locke finds Desmond drinking on the beach and shares the contents of the pearl station's orientation video with him. Desmond lures Eko out of the computer room inside the hatch and forces the blast doors down so he and Locke can wait for the countdown to run out. Eko runs to the beach and asks for Charlie's help in getting back into the hatch. 

Flashbacks: A short-haired Desmond receives a collection of possessions, including a Dickens novel (Our Mutual Friend) which he says he'll read just before he dies, at the conclusion of having served time in jail. He is met by a gentleman who presents him with a box full of letters addressed to Penelope Widmore, his daughter. The man attempts to pay Desmond to stay away from Penelope. 

Desmond is in America where he meets Libby, who pays for his coffee and offers up her late husband's boat, The Elizabeth, for Desmond's sailing race around the world. Later, Desmond meets Penelope who asks why he didn't write to her while he was in prison. He shares his plan to win Widmore's race, intending to regain his honor in doing so. Lost in a storm at sea, Desmond falls and is knocked unconscious on the boat. When he awakens, Kelvin Inman, the same man who trained Sayid to be a torturer, is standing before him in a yellow hazardous materials suit in the hatch. Inman shows Desmond the hatch's orientation video and explains the need for him to vaccinate himself.

Greater Meaning: Desmond's flashbacks reference the previously introduced connection with Jack at the stadium but now include connections with Libby and the previously unidentified Kelvin Inman, who was connected directly with Sayid and secondarily with Kate (through Sam Austen). The connections are growing with every new episode, but thus far Desmond is special for having multiple links to survivors. This again seems too important to ignore and must be for a bigger purpose than just coincidence. Obviously Desmond is not just a throwaway character. He's the person with the most knowledge about the hatch and the button, he has a sailboat (although why the boat was unable to carry him away from the island is a mystery and he seems upset about it), and now, he has these connections. We must conclude, like Locke has consistently maintained, there is a reason for this and that ultimately Desmond is important for what lies ahead. The fact that he's entertaining Locke's stop-the-button-pushing idea as a serious one says a lot about what Desmond knows (or suspects) about the island. If they stop pushing the button and nothing happens, they've all been duped, but why? Are the people Claire saw in the medical station the scientists who are conducting the psychological experiments being observed? Are they "pretending" to be scientists just as they are "pretending" to be hillbillies (as Kate stated)? If they stop pushing the button and something happens, it will be clear that Eko's faith was guiding him correctly and that Locke was wrong to doubt himself and his importance on the island. Desmond doesn't seem quite as invested in the right and wrong of it all the way Eko and Locke are, but he is interested and we are heading for a potentially explosive series of events for the season two finale.

The stealing of children from parents remains an ongoing theme in the show's narrative: first Rousseau
(Alex), then Claire (Aaron, by Rousseau then Ethan), and now Michael (Walt). The two young children from the tail section were not with their parents but were also taken. Walt tells Michael the others make him do tests; are they doing experiments on the other children? Alex seems to have joined their cause but chose to free Claire and shows a kindly concern for her, now. This only people able to fully empathize with Michael are Rousseau and Claire as none of the rest of the survivors are parents. Of course everyone continues to look to Jack for answers, but Jack is a doctor, not a father. The reactions of everyone's faces after Michael admits his terrible acts are ones of disgust; they cannot fathom Michael having chosen Walt, his own son, over other community members. This seems significant as Rousseau was unable to reclaim Alex and eventually lost her; Claire was drugged into agreeing to give the others her baby but was saved by Alex, and now Michael, after killing two people and betraying another four, is fighting to get his son back. Will he? 

Further Questions: 

1. What is Jack's plan?

2. What happened to the foot statue?

3. What will happen when the countdown completes and the button isn't pushed? 

4. What is Desmond's role in all this?

5. What happened to Kelvin Inman?

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Queen of Hearts: A Twin Peaks Fan Film, An Early Look

When filmmaker Cameron Cloutier asked me to check out the early version of his film, Queen of Hearts: A Twin Peaks Fan Film, I was immediately interested. Doing re-watches of the Twin Peaks series along with Fire Walk With Me is something I do at least once every few years. Of course Mark Frost's books, The Secret History of Twin Peaks: A Novel and Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier have provided additional content to enjoy, but getting a chance to revisit the Twin Peaks aesthetic while experiencing the characters of Annie Blackburn and Caroline Powell (with several other familiar faces by their sides) in their own original stories was a very unique and exciting journey. Overall I think Queen of Hearts is a clever story with beautiful imagery and a ton of heart from its creator, cast, and crew.

Annie Blackburn (Madison Bates) is still the newly-crowned Miss Twin Peaks and her escape from The Black Lodge after being abducted by Windom Earl (Paul Griffith Springer) drives the majority of the film's events but she's not entirely on her own. Caroline Powell (Charlotte Roi), Earl's wife and move-for-move partner in eccentricity, enjoys a queen-like power over her husband, over a young and eager Agent Cooper (Nico Abiera), and over the developments that would eventually influence Cooper and Annie's experiences in the greater Twin Peaks narrative. Though woven together skillfully, Annie's and Caroline's stories are not just an afterward and beforehand of the original series but also entirely new adventures, themselves: Annie's are vulnerable, powerful, and linked strongly to Major Briggs (Larry Oblander, II); Caroline's are mysterious, worrisome, and linked to Cooper. Once we begin to understand these two queens we can appreciate their similarities, not just in relation to the men they pair with but in relation to things a whole lot bigger in general. 

Central to the story is also the concept of place, and the visuals in each scene honor the Twin Peaks locations and landmarks we already know while also introducing new ones, just as interesting. Colors and patterns jump out and captivate while trees, bridges, and familiar signage bring intense feelings of nostalgia. The music choices enhance these visual experiences by offering a just-right balance between pop and instrumental, playful and serious. Though there are questions and impossibilities posed by the narrative, we are well-practiced members of this very specific fandom and we can handle them, always in good hands with these skillful technical elements while waiting for answers and enjoying each aesthetic moment. 

Most Twin Peaks fans have their favorites, who they love, who intrigues them, who they want to be.  Personally I never really connected to Annie Blackburn as a character before, as a younger viewer I spent most of my time rotating my interest between Laura Palmer's power and Lucy's outfits. After this journey and in taking in the overall theme of the film (no spoilers!), there is definitely a connection, now. This was a fun, inspiring film, and I'm glad to know Annie's out there, much bigger now than any of us ever knew. Here's to the next adventure! 

Madison Bates as Annie Blackburn

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 22, Three Minutes

On-Island Events: Michael's attempts to find Walt are replayed in a then-and-now style. Michael stands outside the hatch, reads a pink piece of paper, and then sets it on fire. Jack tries to discuss a strategy in going after the others but Michael wants to call the shots. Hugo voices concern about Ana Lucia and Libby's bodies and Jack agrees they will bury them and go after Walt the next day. 

Michael cleans Libby's blood from the floor as Eko shares his thoughts about hell and sin. Michael meets Jack in the jungle and again insists that he decide the way they go after Walt; he wants Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hugo, and no one else. Jack agrees. Michael returns with Jack to the beach and shares the news of Ana Lucia and Libby's murders. Michael becomes angry when Sawyer asks Sayid to come along on the expedition and later speaks to Sayid about it, stating he must be the one in charge. 

Eko announces to Charlie that he will be staying in the hatch, no longer participating in the building of their church; Charlie reacts poorly. Later Charlie follows Vincent to Sawyer's tent, where the heroin statues have been stashed and tosses the statues into the ocean. 

As Kate and Hugo dig the graves for Ana Lucia and Libby, Michael tries to encourage Hugo to come along on the journey to rescue Walt. Hugo apologizes but states emphatically he will not go along. As Sayid and Jack walk to the funeral on the beach Sayid suggests that Michael has been compromised. Jack wants to speak directly to Michael about it but Sayid prefers to keep their suspicions secret in order to create an advantage. Jack gives Ana Lucia's eulogy; Hugo gives Libby's and tells Michael he's changed his mind about going along. Just as they finish the funerals Sun points to a boat coming near their beach.

Flashbacks: Michael encounters some of the others; they exchange gunfire and eventually capture Michael. As it turns out, the others keep Michael in the jungle until dark and eventually confront Jack, Locke, and Sawyer as it happened before when the bearded man and his people lit up the torches. Alex, the teenage girl who saved Claire, speaks with Michael and asks about Claire and the baby. After Jack, Locke, Sawyer, and Kate leave the jungle, the bearded man redistributes the weapons he took from the group and Alex apologizes before knocking Michael out with the butt of one of the guns. 

The next day Michael arrives with the others at a cliffside tent settlement and he meets Miss Klugh, who asks him a series of questions about Walt. "Did Walt ever appear in a place he wasn't supposed to be?" she asks; Michael is confused. Later Michael demands he be allowed to see Walt; Miss Klugh delivers him and allows Michael to speak with him for three minutes only. Walt says he's not been harmed but that he's being made to take tests. "They're not who they say they are, they're pretending," Walt explains. After they take Walt away Miss Klugh tells Michael that in order to get his son back he will need to retrieve their man, who is being held by his people. She gives him a list of four people, "James Ford" being one of them, and promises Walt will be freed if Michael succeeds. 

Greater Meaning: Since seeing Michael suddenly murder Ana Lucia and Libby we have wondered what would drive him to do such a thing, and now we know: "Henry's" people are using Walt as a bargaining chip. It seems that Michael wasn't lying about having seen the others in their camp (canvas tents, dirty clothes) but something still appears to be missing in our ability to understand who the others are and what they do --- the fake beard, costumes, and makeup that Kate found in the medical station. When Claire had her flashbacks of Ethan and his people preparing to operate on her, the man Ethan spoke with was the bearded man, sans beard. He was dressed in typical-for-the-timeframe clothing, the others were dressed in professional medical garb. Now Michael sees the group of others dressed in shabby clothing living in makeshift huts. Do they live this way and then don medical uniforms and practice medicine when the need arises or do they live in a modern, more sophisticated area and simply pretend to be a primitive people? Why do they want to fool Locke, Kate, Sawyer, Jack, and Michael but didn't bother to try to fool Claire? Walt confirms that the others are "pretending." Why are they doing this? 

Further Questions

1. Will the others keep their promise to Michael and allow him to reunite with Walt?

2. What was that list all about, and why only the four names?

3. Who is the leader of the others? 

4. What did Miss Klugh mean when she asked about Walt "showing up in a place he wasn't supposed to be?"

5. What are the others going to do with Michael's blood sample? 

6. How did Walt communicate with Michael on a computer? 

7. Will Sayid follow the group? 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Rage Inherent in The Handmaid's Tale

For the last three weeks I've been rewatching the first three seasons of The Handmaid's Tale in order to prepare for the premiere of the fourth. I thought my anger would have died down a little after a year's hiatus. I was wrong. So I decided to make a list of what's been bothering me just to calm down a little. Also I need to give myself a break from Joseph Fienne's face for a while because damn he makes me want to break something. 

Trigger warning: rape, harassment, abuse, imprisonment 

Rage Item #1: Ritualized Rape whitewashed as "The Ceremony" 

Maybe the Commander/Wife pairs who have thus far been unable to conceive en masse should read the room: God doesn't want any of you having children, so why not just focus on your knitting or your gardening and leave the handmaids out of it? Despite the fact that a very small percentage of the handmaids actually signed up for their positions, NONE OF THEM enjoys the rape ceremony, having the babies they carried stolen from them, or being harassed and leered at by their respective commanders. No, Fred, she's not hot for you, she's scared, she wants her kid back, and she wants to GTFO. I'd go so far as to request a personal message on the ridiculousness of it all delivered by God, Jesus, and Mary themselves stating "Hey, you've got this 100% wrong," but clearly they'd ignore it, anyway. And do they think it's working? The majority of these situations end in negative outcomes and the people in charge don't seem to be learning any lessons or adapting the setup at all. 

Rage Item #2: PTSD

Moira, Emily, and countless others (as well as the young children), despite having escaped, will have lasting effects from their time in Gilead. Were Canada not a free healthcare nation with solid refugee resources I'd say the entire bill should be directed right back to Gilead, specific to whichever Commander/Wife pairs were responsible. Aunts, too. They cannot just be allowed to DAMAGE A HUMAN RACE. True there cannot really be a dollar amount attached to the psycho-emotional damage that has been done but there should still be accountability. The commanders are war criminals; treat them as such.

Rage Item #3: Gilead being allowed

Watching the episode that described the insurrection dismantling the former United States is definitely a different experience, post 1/6/21, but the question in both cases is the same: WHO LET THIS HAPPEN? WHO STOOD TO THE SIDE AND ALLOWED IT? I can't believe anyone, any country would take this seriously or acknowledge the Gilead experiment in any way, shape, or form.

There are mentions in various episodes of how other countries view Gilead (Mexico continues trade and considers handmaids for their own society; Canada accepts refugees and refuses to extradite but is wary of Gilead's military), but where was the UN? Where was the resistance? We've heard about the wars in Chicago and the map shows Texas in rebellion, what's happening there? Can people escape southward?

Rage Item #4: Women as Things

They rape the women, take their children, enslave them, and beat them. The handmaid's bodies' worth is judged solely on the ability to provide healthy children. Their eyes are expendable. Their hands and feet are expendable. In Washington, the handmaid's mouths are clamped shut with wires. Serena Joy has the misguided idea that as a prominent wife of a commander, her thoughts and feelings count just as much as her husband's, but she soon learns that her position is also limited; she is to be controlled and governed over, too.

Rage Item #5: No reading

Females--- children, handmaids, Marthas, and wives --- are not allowed to read. Again, Serena Joy thinks her past experiences as spokeswoman for the religious cause and former book author exempts her but she's wrong. In Canada she seems embarrassed when given an illustrated no-word itinerary sheet (as would be the norm in Gilead); after requesting permission for Gilead's girl children to be allowed to learn to read the Bible, she loses a finger for her efforts at the command of her own husband.

Where will it all go in season 4? I have hopes and dreams for Janine, June, Emily, Moira, and Hannah. Don't let the bastards grind you down, ladies! You get your shit together and you FIGHT! 

(season 4 premiere recap forthcoming!)