Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Sopranos, season 4, proper.

Maybe Livia was right?
What a dark, sociopathic mess. Seriously, if it wasn't so brilliantly written, I may have just had to, you know, quit watching because it's really hard seeing everyone literally hurl themselves directly into the gutter. What I think Season 4 accomplishes best is a concrete link to the gangster film genre and its theme of decline (or self-destruction). Emptiness and despair. Where we all may have idolized Tony Soprano et al in the past, the events in these episodes serve to pretty much neutralize that sentiment and to leave us backing away slowly. Christ, what a downer.

---Bobby Bacala's wife suddenly dies; his kids are traumatized by AJ and a ouiga board.
---Gloria Trillo commits suicide.
---Ralph Cifaretto's young son takes an archery arrow through the chest.
---Paulie betrays Tony to Johnny Sac.
---Ralph burns down the stables; Tony reacts by killing him.
---Paulie's mother is pathetic and unable to make friends at Green Grove.
---Christopher is addicted to heroin.
---Adriana meets regularly with the Feds.
---Tony cheats. (Again). (A lot). Carmela finds out. (Again).
---Carmela and Furio are in love but cannot act on their feelings.
---Tony quits therapy.
---Johnny Sac wants Carmine clipped; Tony first agrees and then backs out.

It's all very disheartening. Also, there is a scene, near the end of the episode "Calling All Cars," where Tony dreams he is a masonry worker at an old house. He knocks at the door and starts to open it when suddenly, slowly, a dark figure comes down the stairway just in front of him. You never see the figure's face, but it's clearly a woman. It just sort of hovers down the stairs, silently, while he watches from the door. And it's goddamned terrifying, almost in a Mother-Bates kind of way. What does it mean? Is it Tony's depression? Livia, from the grave? A warning of events to come? THE DEVIL? Who knows, but seriously, gross. I very nearly didn't even include the clip because I really didn't want to revisit it, but if this has to be in my head, I figure it can be in yours, too. Enjoy.

Lastly, there are two positive things I can include, but they're pretty minor considering the rest of the season's (unfortunate) events:

1. COUSIN BRIAN CAMARATTA (Matt Del Negro). Wow. Like a tall, Italian Doctor Carter. Definitely captured my interest. Unfortunately I was not able to find any action shots of his drunken vomiting or snorting coke off the stripper's rack, which is a shame.

2. Carmela's (Edie Falco's) performance in "Whitecaps," the season finale. Double-wow. That was some seriously heavy acting. Nice work.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

My parents loved this show. I never really watched it past a few episodes in the first season. I did find it funny how my dad seemed to sort of...I don't know if I'd say idolize (as you said)...but he definitely seemed to find Tony Soprano an appealing character. I always found him to be a real bastard and never liked him in any of the episodes I saw.

But anyway, yeah...creepy scene. I can't even imagine what kind of fucked up nighmares you'd have to endure as a mobster if you retained even a modicum of conscience.

Anna said...

I have to say, rewatching it now, Tony's a giant prick. To everyone. I think the first three seasons had a little bit of optimism or at least positivity to them, but 4 and 5 are downright brutal. And doing it all in one sitting (as opposed to every sunday night strung along for a season) is not the way to do a show that's negative.

alexis said...

i think you hit it right on the nose when talking about the loss of optimism over the course of season 4. Chase does a really good job of sort of endearing Tony to the audience by presenting him as a "normal" family man struggling with balancing his professional ambitions and his family life, through the first 3 seasons. However, during season 4 we see the true impact of Tony's actions on those around him. Culminating with Tony repeatedly begging the question- "Am I a toxic person?", and the death of his one last mutual love- Pie O My. Remember by this point even Carmela has come to see Tony as a impediment to her own happiness. A change occurs at this point in the series, symbolized by the dream of Carmela, Ralphy, and Gloria driving Tony. Here we see every facet of Tony's life (familial, professional, romantic) represented by people he has victimized. The caterpillar/butterfly (synonymous with change) on Ralph's head points to the fact that Tony, from this point on, will have to own the consequences of his actions. The terrifying scene is a foreshadowing of Tony's death, a guarantee of certain consequences to come.

Anna said...


WOW! yes! I guess I never really looked very deeply into the dream before because I was so horribly terrorized by the black shadow bit coming down the steps . . . but
yeah, you nailed it.

Pie-O my---the last innocent, gets nothing but a painful death. I guess even knowing Tony is hazardous. It's all coming home to roost now, I just got season 6 in the mail. I hardly remember any of it from the initial run . . . I'm bracing myself.