Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Rewatching the Sopranos S1 E12, Isabella

Family Events: Tony is both worried and depressed about Pussy's apparent disappearance but brightens when he meets Cusamano's cousin Isabella, a dental student staying next door. After his therapy session he runs into Isabella and takes her to lunch. While chatting, Tony has a vision of her nursing an infant named Antonio. Livia comes to dinner that evening and scoffs at the idea that Tony is depressed but becomes upset when Tony refuses to stay for her insults. The next day Livia attends a film with Junior and insists what they've planned is justified given Tony's disturbing condition. Tony is attacked outside his vehicle, shot, and then crashes into a parked car. In the hospital, Carmela confronts Tony about the danger he's in but he refuses to acknowledge it. Livia and Junior show up to visit Tony after the shooting and Livia makes a comment suggesting she doesn't recognize Meadow. Junior confronts Livia about the botched hit and her sudden memory loss but she insists she doesn't understand.

Tony sees Cusamano and asks after Isabella; Dr. Cusamano knows nothing of her whatsoever. 

Mafia Events: At a funeral, Jimmy Altieri openly asks Junior about the hit on Brenden
Filone; Mikey informs Junior that the hit on Tony is happening the next day. Christopher updates Tony on what's happening in the crew and is concerned about his depression so he follows him out. Just as the hit is about to go down, Christopher blocks the street and thwarts the attempt. 

Mental Health Events: Melfi explains that the lithium she's prescribed is meant to kick start his system, but Tony says he feels dead. "I don't even know why I come here." Melfi suggests Tony consider a residential treatment program but Tony says he'd rather kill himself. Carmela brings Tony to Melfi's car for an impromptu therapy meeting where they discuss whose knowledge of Tony's treatment might be implicated in motivating the attempt on his life. Tony tears up when he tells Melfi about the vision he had of Isabella nursing the baby. Melfi explains this fantasy is about him, desiring the nurturing the baby was getting. Later when the lithium is revealed to be the source of Tony's fantasy of Isabella, Melfi draws further conclusions about the meaning of the hallucination.

Significant Ideology: Tony wants a nurturing mother so badly he hallucinated one. Funny how the momentary "escape" from his crippling depression was at the hands of just what he needs. The question of what Livia saw as the end game to this assassination still remains to be seen: either through her own skill or the help of the crew loyal to Tony Carmela would have eventually figured out Junior and Livia's involvement, did Livia think this would get her house back? Clearly Green Grove would have been out in the absence of Tony, it may have actually worked, if Carmela simply washed her hands of the entire business and someone (Junior) intervened to stop the sale of the house. However, Livia instead turns on Junior and plays up dementia instead, suggesting she is afraid of Tony's retaliation, knowing he'd likely figure out her role. 

On some level, Tony has known his mother was troubled: ineffective as a parent and unable to provide love and nurturing, and victim to depression, anxiety, and possibly one of three personality disorders. Did he consider her to be capable of arranging to have him killed? From the beginning of the season he's tried many times to prove his love to Livia (with the exception of almond biscotti bringing a somewhat positive reaction) but fails to elicit anything close to love or even kindness back from her. What will he do about this?

Monday, May 30, 2022

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 3, Episode 1, A Tale of Two Cities

On-Island Events: 

Others: A blond woman (Juliet) looks into the mirror and listens to Petula Clark's "Downtown," and cries; moments later during her book club group the house begins to shake. As she and her guests hurry outside they encounter "Henry Gale," dressed as they are in clean, contemporary clothing. They look up at the sky to see Oceanic 815 fly over and then break in two pieces. Goodwin and Ethan come running and are instructed to hurry to the respective landing places. After the two men depart, "Henry" looks down at Juliet's book and laments that he's out of the book club, ID-ing him as "Ben," the man another book clubber earlier stated who wouldn't read Juliet's pick, Carrie, in the bathroom. 

Survivors: Jack, Kate, and Sawyer awaken in three different confined areas: Jack a dark glass enclosure, Kate a locker room, and Sawyer an outdoor cage across from a teenage boy. In his cage, Sawyer sees a red button and pushes it twice, but when he ignores the boy's advice not to push it a third time, gets electrocuted. The boy escapes from his cage and unlocks Sawyer's to let him out but Juliet shocks Sawyer. Later, Sawyer discovers a certain combination of button-pushing earns him a fish biscuit from a feeding slot in the cage. 

Kate meets Ben, who provides a fancy breakfast on the beach and tells her the next two weeks will be very unpleasant. Later, Kate is returned to the cage adjacent to Sawyer's.

Jack meets Juliet as he's trying to dismantle the chains in his room; Jack thinks he hears Christian's voice through an intercom but Juliet insists it hasn't worked in years. Jack tells Juliet a series of lies about who he is and what he does but is honest about Christian's death. As Juliet delivers a tray of lunch for him, Jack charges her and insists she let him go. He ends up opening a door that floods the area. Juliet explains to Jack she is not part of the Dharma Initiative, but that he is being held in one of their stations (the Hydra), underwater. She reads to him from a file of information and knows everything about Jack. After Jack asks after his ex-wife, Sarah, and is told she is happy, Jack allows Juliet to bring him dinner. 

Flashbacks: Jack watches Sarah outside a school building conversing excitedly with another man, in the next scene they are meeting at a divorce hearing. Jack confronts Christian after he finds out his number is in Sarah's phone and later confronts him at an AA meeting. Jack is arrested; Sarah pays his bail after Christian, no longer sober, told her about the confrontation. Jack sees Sarah's new love interest and cries about what he has done to Christian.

Greater Meaning: Juliet is a new character, one that apparently works with Ben-formerly-Henry, does his bidding ("Good job, Juliet,") but selected a book Ben decidedly doesn't like for book club and is allowed to fend for herself when Jack opens the flood door. There seems to be a bit drama in this relationship, one wonders how and why. 

Kate is the only survivor given a sit-down with Ben; her word choices of Sawyer first, Jack second are noticed twice. Chances are good she's more worried about Sawyer's fate as he had been seriously injured and just recently recovered, but possibly for deeper reasons. She admitted to Sawyer, unconscious, that she associates her feelings for him with her feelings for Wayne, her abusive father, and despite also having feelings for Jack, there seems to be a slight inferiority complex between them ("I'm sorry I'm not as good as you!") Sawyer and Kate are being held prisoner very close to each other; Jack is underground. Whatever Ben has planned, it seems Kate and Sawyer for whatever reason, need to be separated from Jack. 

The title of the episode, "A Tale of Two Cities," might refer to Jack being separated from the other two, or could also be a reference to Ben's people, who live in a functioning, upscale community on the island where the Oceanic 815 survivors have very different experiences and quality of life. 

Further Questions: 

1. Who is Ben? 

2. Why is there drama between Ben and Juliet? 

3. What will happen to Jack?

4. Is Hugo okay on his own? 

5. Will Sawyer and Kate escape? 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Rewatching the Sopranos S1 E11 "Nobody Knows Anything"

Family Events: Livia refuses to attend Carmela's open house party; Carmela comes to Green Grove and admonishes her for manipulating Tony. Livia refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing and instead complains about being abandoned. When Tony asks Bonnie to inform Livia that her house has been sold Livia retaliates by suggesting to Junior that Tony has meetings at Green Grove to talk about him with his crew, effectively setting in motion the plot to have Tony killed. 

Mafia Events: Pussy suffers an injury to his back and then gets arrested with Jimmie after fleeing an FBI bust at Jimmie's club. Junior criticizes Pussy for having run from the feds and for carrying too much cash. Makazian informs Tony that Pussy is "wired for sound" after being busted dealing heroin; Tony reacts poorly to this news but begins to entertain suspicions. Tony visits Pussy and listens to his concerns but immediately informs Paulie about the wiretap, saying he's "90% sure." Paulie offers to take care of Pussy but Tony insists that he actually see the wire before acting. Paulie surprises Pussy with a trip to the spa but Pussy refuses to get undressed and storms off. Silvio discovers that Makazian owes Pussy upwards of thirty thousand dollars. In the middle of afternoon traffic, Makazian pulls over after presumably being fired from his job as a detective and jumps off a bridge, killing himself. Jimmie gets released from prison and insists on getting Tony to talk about the Columbian money deal; Tony realizes Jimmie is the one who is working with the feds. 

Mental Health Events: Tony admits he's worried about Pussy; Melfi tries to refocus Tony's attention
on his own therapy but eventually suggests too much responsibility and secrets could be factors in someone's chronic back pain. In a passing comment to Bonnie, Tony mentions that Livia has always been "depressed." 

Significant Ideology: The strength of men is questioned: Jimmie and Pussy have charges serious enough to scare them into cooperating with FBI as neither of them feel strong enough to do jail or have the financial ability to stop earning. Makazian is not strong enough to handle his suspension after the raid on Debbie's place, or he's overcome by his sizeable gambling debt. Tony is the only one to put in motion what has to be done (re: Pussy) but he's very conflicted about doing it. Livia casually manipulates Junior into killing Tony with absolutely no remorse. Carmela understands both her husband and her mother in law and is the only one strong enough to confront Livia. 

The consequences that threaten the men are immediate and physical, jail or death; the consequences of Livia's decisions change in this episode from chronic emotional manipulation to also immediate and physical. She is willing to have Tony killed for the simple act of selling her home, and not only that, this is her second attempt. Informing Junior about the psychiatry introduced the idea of killing Tony but did not bring about immediate action. Livia may have been content to just revert to her usual emotional manipulation (as she has seemingly come to tolerate living at Green Grove) as evidenced by her refusal to attend Carmela's open house, but the news of her house being sold was enough to push her over the edge. This time she makes it personal to Junior ("maybe it was you that they were talking about!") and she knows exactly what she's doing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Thoughts on Season 2

Did everyone just forget about being rescued? 

Bernard didn't of course, he tried to build an SOS signal out of rock but was quickly redirected by Rose's reveal in regard to the island's influence on her health. Claire and Aaron seemed to be nicely settled on the beach with a number of fellow survivors to watch out for them; Sun and Jin are preparing for the challenges of parenthood; Eko started to build a church! Jack and Locke, as always, are in different places, but the events of the second season reveal just how wrong they've both been, all along. 

Jack versus Locke versus The Island versus The Others

As Jack is busy doctoring and leading, making decisions for the group, he doesn't often get the chance to actually see the island for what it is (which can't really be defined, anyway), and this is not the case with Locke. Because he's been personally affected in a way that leaves no room for interpretation --- before island: paralyzed, after island: able to walk --- Locke is prepared for the island's mysterious abilities, and seeks them out, even. Of course Locke has never had any interest in being rescued, like Rose, he can appreciate the gift the island has bestowed upon him, but the island doesn't just let him off easy simply because he believes in it, either. Locke is put to the test in this season, being made to earn his gift, earn his knowledge, and his faith in the island. He initially believes that pushing the button inside the hatch was important, but after finding the underground question mark hatch (Pearl Station) he questions everything he's done since landing on the island. 

Locke was invested in the Henry Gale situation, first by colluding with Sayid to interrogate him, then after the lockdown when Henry helped him, and again when Henry claimed the reason he got captured was that he was coming for Locke, "one of the good ones." Whatever Henry's intentions, he seems to be just as invested in Locke, if only for reasons of manipulation or playing him against Jack. After Sayid, Charlie, and Ana Lucia discover the truth about the balloon, it's clear that Henry has been lying about everything, which is further confirmed when Michael kills Ana Lucia and Libby in order to free him. After Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and Hugo are kidnapped, Henry is in charge of it.

Tail Section, Henry's Pretenders, The DI

Early in the season after the thwarted raft launch, Jin meets who he believes to be the others but who are really just survivors from the tail section. Henry's others are revealed to be the group who abducted Claire to the medical station (where Kate found the fake beard and other costumes) and later took Walt off the raft. Why did they take Walt in the first place, and why did they put Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hugo on the list to be taken only to release Hugo from the dock? After Michael asks who they are, Henry replies that they are the "good guys," but Henry's manipulation of Locke, physical assault on Ana Lucia, abduction of children and pack of lies in general seem to indicate the opposite. 

The Dharma Initiative is yet another division of "others," and though Desmond was trained by Inman and not a member himself, he and the orientation videos are the only link we have to this group. The completeness of the Swan Station (kitchen, bathroom, exercise equipment, and food stores) seems an amazing bit of good fortune to just be existing on its own in the middle of the jungle, especially considering the style of the others' clothing and the low quality of the huts where Walt was kept. Henry didn't seem ravenously hungry when they brought him to the hatch and his clothing was traditional for a middle-aged man, confirming as Kate suggested that they were "acting." Why are they taking such trouble to convince the survivors that they live so simply? The discovery of the tail-section at the Arrow station, Claire's stay at the medical station, and the strangeness of Pearl station (notebooks that go no where and a screen showing the man with the eye patch) imply a strong presence throughout the island. 


Shannon saw Walt twice after the raft departed; after the others took him, Ms. Klugh asked Michael if Walt had ever appeared somewhere he wasn't supposed to be. Was this phenomenon the island's work or Walt's? During the first season, John Locke took a special interest in Walt, and Michael's relationship with his son though strained at first, became more stable with Locke's help. Brian, Walt's stepfather, claimed there was something "different" about him, but what? If there has always been this special element to Walt, the island seems to have intensified it. It makes sense to assume that the others take all children that come to the island (Rousseau's daughter Alex, Emma and Zach from the tail section, Aaron, in attempting to induce his birth, and now Walt) but did they know about Walt's specialness or was it discovered during the tests they made him do? As far as we know, Walt is the only child that has this magical quality about him. 

Live Together, Die Alone, part 2

Live Together, Die Alone, part 1

Three Minutes


Two for the Road




The Whole Truth

Maternity Leave

One of Them

The Long Con

Fire + Water

The Hunting Party

The Twenty-Third Psalm

What Kate Did


The Other 48 Days


. . . and Found

Everybody Hates Hugo



Man of Science, Man of Faith 

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: