Friday, July 1, 2011

The Sopranos, season 6, part two, proper.

I finally finished. And I will again stand by my previous statements; this is honestly one of the best shows created. Anthony, it hasn't always been easy, but I'm really going to miss you. 

So how do things wind down in the second half of season six? 

Melfi can't handle the peer pressure from her shrink friends and dumps Tony as a patient just after his son's suicide attempt. As he's leaving, he says to her, "I think what you're doing, as a doctor, is immoral," then stuffs a steak recipe he had earlier stolen back into one of her expensive magazines in the waiting room and storms out. It made me not like her. 

AJ is a wreck, attempts suicide and is hospitalized. "He was our happy little boy," Carmela weeps as they all watch his psychiatrist wheel him away. I loathe AJ but this was difficult and emotional for me to watch.

Phil Leotardo takes out Bobby Bacala and severely wounds Silvio; Paulie is basically the last man standing in Tony's crew. The FBI aspect (watching this time around) was important, as Agent Harris, currently working terrorism but still with a soft spot for Tony, is instrumental in Tony's overall survival and triumph over Phil. The decline of Agent Harris was a little sad, considering he really seemed to enjoy his work back when he was planting bugging devices and hanging around Satriales just like one of the guys. First came the parasite from Pakistan then the longer, more stressful hours, and strain on his wife---the poor guy looked just beaten down by the end. One of my *very* favorite scenes in the entire show (linked to another from season 2 that shows Harris's obvious fondness for Tony) was when, after hearing of Phil Leotardo's death, Harris jumps up from his desk shouting, "YES! We're gonna WIN THIS THING!" I don't think there's any two ways about what he says---he means TONY, not the FBI. How sweet. 

The Finale: There are so many things about this that are brilliant, not the least being its ambiguity, but I was one of the three people who really loved the way the show ended, and loved it even more after watching it a second time. 

If Tony Lives, the family reoccupies their places around a table, eating, just as they did at the finale of the first season. AJ said just before Meadow arrived that they should remember the good times, as Tony did previously at Vesuvio. Meadow chooses a law career, focusing on civil rights of minority groups; AJ had formerly been interested in a military or intelligence career in order to fight terrorism but then accepts Tony's help in launching into film (via Little Carmine). The bigger theme here ("Made in America") is that both Tony's children, while at first insistent in putting as much space between themselves and Tony and Tony's livelihood as possible, completely turn around and choose careers that intertwine them deeper to him, Meadow, criminal law and AJ, the family business as Carmine Lupertazzi's development assistant. They grew up with advantages, had opportunities to leave, and both chose to stay. Tony Soprano is at root, a family man and life goes on.

If Tony Dies, the link to gangster cinema is firm, and precursors from The Godfather (beginning all the way back with that orange cat) abound. As there is no one left on Phil's crew, the hit had to be authorized by Carmine or another New York family, and that particular bit isn't all too clear or motivated, but there are a few things that can't really be ignored. The lingering white hoodlum-type gets up and goes to the bathroom just as Michael Corleone went into the bathroom before hitting the table of cops in the restaurant. Why? Just before the very end, two African American men, a little gangster-ish, come wandering in and will presumably walk directly past Tony's table. Why? These are conscious choices made by David Chase, and significant ones, just as the fact that Meadow can't quite get her car parked in a spot twenty-five feet wide on the street is significant. There was happiness at the table, and as far as conversations with AJ had gone in the past, the mood was downright chipper. Journey plays on the juke "Don't Stop Believin;" and they all enjoy the best onion rings in New Jersey. If Tony and the rest of the family gets clipped in the diner, they die happy or having at least experienced good times, as Tony had hoped for his family. In ending that way, Tony Soprano becomes at root, The Godfather and his story, epic.

My own personal thoughts on the finale are that I don't care which is true, only that Tony picked that song and that it started when Carmela walked in. (Matt sang this to me when I was 18, waiting tables at the Sheep Shedde).