Friday, July 21, 2023

Rewatching The Sopranos S2 E2 "Do Not Resuscitate"

Family Events:
Tony confronts Janice about the for sale sign, later at the hospital Livia accuses Janice of wanting to take her house. After speaking with Meadow ("what is she into?" "NEGATIVITY!") Janice uses a Pavarotti CD to charm Livia. When Janice offers to take Livia home to live, she says she'd rather go back to Green Grove. Janice tries to convince Tony to sign a "do not resuscitate" order; AJ overhears the conversation and innocently admits everything to Livia during a visit.

Livia calls Carmela from the hospital and babbles about nothing; Carmela hangs up on her when she begins to criticize her children but adds first, "THEY ARE ALL UNHAPPY."

Mafia Events: Tony visits Junior in prison; Junior insists that Livia had no part in the assassination attempt and that Tony make peace with her. Junior's guy Bobby Baccalieri meets the crew at Satriale's where Tony explains which of Junior's businesses he'll be allowed to keep. Junior is released from custody on house arrest due to his health issues but once back home falls in the shower. When he refuses an ambulance, Tony picks him up and carries him to the car. 

A group of Black activists protest at a Masserone Brothers Construction site; the owner arranges with Tony to handle the issue. Tony meets with the leader's father, a reverend, and likes him, but still orders his crew to attack the activists. 

In a flashback, Pussy is driven home after a medical procedure by Skip, revealing that Pussy has been working with federal agents since 1998.  

Significant Ideology: Livia throws out many contradictions, switching gears a few times throughout the episode. In what seems to be a one-off conversation with AJ, Livia says, "daughters take better care of their mothers," explaining how Janice comes every day to play pinocle with her but earlier criticized Janice for being unable to stay in New Jersey and for being unable to stand herself. She also introduced the idea that Johnny Soprano might not have been the "saint" she's been praising all this time and after hearing the disturbing news about the DNR, begins mentioning hidden money she has stashed away to both Janice and Carmela while bizarrely mixing up family names and whispering nonsensical chatter. 

The unnamed reverend Tony meets with unfortunately dies; Junior falls and has potentially broken his hip. The older generation is declining, as the reverend stated, but in all of the cases, the sons in this story are (or in Tony's case, were) the ones caring for their elders. Janice is an opportunist, in town only to capitalize on Livia's disability, and this has been observed and commented upon by Tony, Barbara, and even Livia, who may be confused, but who definitely knows her own daughter's cunning. While Tony has refused to make peace with her (as Junior and Janice have both encouraged), he is somehow roped into caring for Junior, the man who arranged to have him killed. While he hasn't explicitly stated that he forgives either of them, his interactions with Junior, first arranging through Bobby to allow him to continue earning and then physically hauling him to the car after his injury suggest that Tony still loves his uncle. The difference with Junior is of course that he has no one else; for the time being, Livia has Janice (and Meadow, who seems sympathetic). 

The insertion of the Pussy-being-an-informant into a crew heavy episode like this one shows the vigorous nature of Tony's position as boss and how the constant chaos allowed for such a problem. When he's not dealing with Junior, he's dealing with Masserone Brothers, when he's not dealing with staging a riot between his crew and the protesters, he's arranging with the reverend's son and hacking up construction deal spoils. When he gets home, Janice grills him about Livia's house and the DNR after he's explicitly told her not to mention their mother. There was no mention of Christopher (although his two finance bros derped their way into the riot) nor of Tony's mental health. Things were just too busy.

Italian Language: disgratziata (Pussy in regard to Livia when Skip says "this fuck tried to suffocate his own mother"): poor, wretched, unfortunate, unlucky

Monday, July 17, 2023

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 3, Episode 3, Further Instructions

On-Island Events


Locke awakens in the jungle, sees Desmond run by naked, and is nearly struck by Eko's scripture stick as it falls out of a tree. He conveys to Charlie through gestures that he needs to speak to "the island." Locke makes a sweat lodge, ingests some sort of plant material, and induces an altered state in which Boone appears. In the old wheelchair from the crash Boone pushes Locke around an airport, looking for someone who apparently needs Locke's help. At the top of an escalator Locke finds Eko's scripture stick, bloody. Boone, also suddenly bloody says, "Clean it up, John. They've got him. You don't have much time." Locke bursts out of the tent and informs Charlie he is going to save Eko's life. While searching for Eko, Locke and Charlie pick up a blood trail, find the imploded hatch, and a recently killed boar. After running from a polar bear they encounter Hugo on his way back from the dock (last seen in Live Together, Die Alone part 2), who Locke nearly kills with his machete and sends on his way back to the beach. Hugo meets naked Desmond in the jungle, offers him a shirt, and questions the fact that Desmond was not at all harmed in the detonation of the hatch. "You're not gonna like, turn into the hulk or something . . . ?" Later Hugo is confused when Locke makes a speech about going after Jack, Kate, and Sawyer as Desmond referenced this very event when they were in the jungle moments before it actually happened.

Following the polar bear's tracks, Locke finds an old Tonka truck, various bones, and an
injured Eko. The bear attacks but Locke and Charlie carry Eko to safety. Locke passively accepts guilt in being responsible for the hatch implosion and informs Charlie he is following Boone's advice to clean up his mess. Locke apologizes to Eko, acknowledging he should have listened to him; Eko awakens momentarily to encourage Locke to save his people, emphasizing that he is indeed, a hunter.

Flashbacks: Locke picks up a young male hitchhiker in California and gets pulled over by police who find a large sack of guns in the back of his truck. Locke brings his new friend, Eddie, to dinner on a farm site. After staying with Locke on the farm for six weeks Eddie asks Locke for access to a greenhouse neither of them are allowed to enter; Locke laughs at Eddie's assumption that they might be building bombs. It turns out farmers-in-charge Mike and Jan are growing marijuana, Eddie is an undercover police officer, and Locke has ruined the farm operation by inviting Eddie into their midst. When confronted by Locke on a hunting trip in the forest, Eddie admits he was a purposeful target in that his psychological profile suggested he would be "amenable for coercion."

Greater Meaning: Locke wakes up in the jungle in the exact way Jack did after the crash in the first episode, suggesting again that the conflicts and similarities between the characters continue to be meaningful. Despite their frequent disagreements over how best to lead the survivors, Locke and Jack are both considered leaders and are equally important; with Jack being held by the others, Locke is the de facto leader. As such, the issues Locke has been struggling with (losing his faith after finding the pearl station, causing the implosion of the hatch/putting Eko in danger, and everything regarding his father) impact how he sees himself and affect his leadership. 

Repeated references to being a hunter or a farmer are mentioned by Locke (to Eddie, regarding the sweat lodge at the farm), Eddie (stating to Locke he was a farmer not a hunter), and Eko (to Locke, affirming he is a hunter), suggesting that Locke's identity is an important factor in his confidence. The troubling thing isn't just the truth in Locke's statement to Charlie---"bad things happen to people who hang out with me," but that many of the bad things that happen seem to come from Locke's vulnerability in trusting the wrong people (or in the case of Boone's death, the wrong signs from the island). Because of his rocky history with his father, Locke's need to prove himself is similar in importance but different in context to Jack's same need. Emily Locke informed Locke about his father well into his adulthood where it must be assumed that Locke had already formed an identity for himself (whereas Jack's conflicts with his father were present from childhood and thus informed the development of who Jack became); Anthony Cooper took an otherwise functioning adult male and traumatized him, causing Locke to question everything about himself. Locke's need to be a hunter may be about being an alpha, masculine man who could conceivably win favor with the father who rejected him AND it may also come from Locke's anger at said rejection---hunters get to kill, hunters are

Further Questions: 

1. Were there other parts of Locke's vision that are important? (Charlie and Claire---Boone said, "they'll be fine for a while," Sun and Jin---"I think Sayid's got it,"). What was the significance of the airport? 

2. Are Locke and Charlie friends again?

3. How did Desmond know that Locke was going to give the speech about rescuing Jack, Kate, and Sawyer? Was Hugo onto something about becoming The Hulk?

4. Will Eko be okay?

5. How many polar bears are on the island and how did they get there? 

6. Does Locke recover his faith in the island? In himself?

7. Was the pearl station meant to teach Locke a lesson? Is the island communicating with him? The title of the episode is "Further Instructions." FROM WHOM?

8. Did Eko really speak to Locke or was he imagining it? 

9. Was Locke really meant to save Eko? What if the vision meant someone else? Boone saying "They've got him" points more to the others (they = plural, as there was only one bear that we know of)---could this have been in reference to Jack? Boone didn't say anything specifically about Jack not being the one in need of help, only a general "there's nothing you can do for them, not yet," after seeing Sawyer and Kate. Jack was shown going through security and being examined by Ben (as a security agent). 

10. Is Jack being vetted for something by the others?  

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Rewatching The Sopranos S2 E1 "Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist's Office"

Family Events:
 Oldest sister Janice Soprano shows up, when she asks about Livia, Tony says, "she's dead to me" and that he's selling her house. Meadow visits Livia in the hospital; Livia gives her two of her own grandmother's rings so that she won't be forgotten. Tony arranges a house party for Janice and their other younger sister, Barbara. When he finds the "for sale" sign for Livia's house hidden in Janice's car, Tony rages to Carmela about Janice's intentions.

Mafia Events: Junior's "Boss" standing in the FBI's photo lineup is downgraded; Tony's picture remains in its place but is relabeled "Street Boss." Pussy returns, surprising Tony as he gets his morning newspaper. He admits to Tony he knew they all suspected he was the rat but that he had been away for his back problems in Puerto Rico. Tony forgives him but pats down his body to check for a wire. 

Junior's guy, Philly Parisi, is assassinated, apparently for being "a bigmouth fuck," and spreading rumors about Tony's treatment of Livia and seeing a female psychiatrist. Christopher is given a SEC compliance officer role in a brokerage office; two younger guys he brings in use physical threats to force everyone to push "Webistics" stock.

Mental Health Events: Tony crashes into a telephone pole when he has a panic attack; he sees a new male therapist who refuses to treat him for more than a single session. Tony continues to have issues with controlling his anger over Janice's actions and seems to struggle with further panic symptoms during the party at his house. Eventually he surprises Melfi, who is not receptive to seeing him. He attempts to discuss his recent panic attacks with her but she refuses to talk to him about it or anything else. She snaps, "How many more people need to die for your personal growth?" 

That was a different time for us.
Significant Ideology: The passage of time is shown in both the beginning of the episode (the montage of everyone going about their activities to Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year,") as well as the end (acknowledged through a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Time is on My Side"). Changes in Tony's life are part of the importance of the passage of time, including his fallout with Livia, professional breakup with Melfi, concerns over Junior in prison, Christopher launching off on his own as a broker, and Pussy's possible involvement with the feds. The one constant, reliable figure in his life throughout these changes is Carmela. Her montage footage was wholly focused around the delivery of lasagna from oven to table, just as she closes the episode by presenting Tony with a bowl of spaghetti after he comes home confused and upset from being rejected by Melfi. She helps Tony regulate his emotions over Livia's house and Janice's meddling and encourages him to find pleasure in being with his friends. Knowing Melfi had been helpful to him in the past, Carmela insists Tony resume therapy, citing among other reasons that they have not had sex in "God knows how long." 

Though there have been no such scenes between Carmela and Tony, Tony has what is assumed to be frequent relations with his goomar, Irina. Without reading too much into what has been shown thus far, (Tony admits to offering Carmela oral sex only once a year on her birthday, Tony does not do much other than lie there with Irina, Tony has had sexual fantasies about Melfi) it seems as though there might be specific expectations for his relations with Carmela that either don't come easily to him (emotion, genuineness, consideration for her needs) or that he just doesn't make the time for when he can use Irina for his own needs without any further provisions. Carmela wants him, physically, and is doing everything else she can to manage the house, the kids, and feeding everyone, but Tony seems to need her nurturing more than anything else. Carmela's mother in criticizing Livia (and it seems her own daughter's marriage) reminds her that Livia told her on their wedding night that marrying Tony was a mistake, that he'd only get bored with her; whatever he is currently, bored or something else, he needs Carmela more than ever. In some scenes, ("you mope your way through this and I will cut your throat," and he LISTENS TO HER) she actually seems to wield more power than anyone.


Tony tells Janice that a doctor told him Livia's "stroke" was actually a conversion reaction; this is a mental health disorder and would typically prompt treatment from a psychologist. Surprise, Livia should be in therapy! 

Chris hits Adriana in the club (as in, full public with onlookers) in front of his two broker associates. For this and various other reasons, Christopher could also benefit from some psychological help.

Italian Language: Batiamo le mani - I kiss the hand; my respects (when the crew explains to Pussy that Tony arranged his pickups while he was away). 

Schifosa (you fucking) unsatisfactory/trashy re: Silvio's performance of Kay Adams asking Michael Corleone "is it true, Michael?"

Streg (re Livia, she's the devil, said to Janice) strega, witch

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Hella Nopes + Wambsgans

My husband would have said, "wow, that's too bad,"
thrown some loose change at them, and
slammed the door.

1. Knock at the Cabin (2023) d. M. Night Shyamalan

Family goes to cabin; 4 randos show up and demand one of the dads kill either the other dad or the child to stop the end of the world.

This was put together well (aside from weird extreme closeups in the very beginning) and I probably would have liked it maybe 10 years ago because omg what an interesting, high-stakes mythology! But now, today, this feels very much like Cult Initiation 101 and after all that has happened in the last 7 years, the writing feels irresponsible. I realize that worrying over whether or not some zealot out there is going to take this seriously is probably not a big enough reason to pan a film, but I have concerns for very specific and gullible members of the population and I honestly can't believe this is a 2023 narrative. Just quit trying to freak people out this way, they've HAD ENOUGH! This was like Saw but with religion.


2. ER, season 13 (2007)

"It's giving old, creepy Malucci."
My daughters are rewatching this and it's always been this exact season where I quit giving a shit about the show. I don't even think I watched it full to the end, to be honest, and this upsets me because I absolutely count the first 10 seasons as one of my best shows, ever. Abby Lockhart is 100% my favorite character, ever, and I wish she would have stayed in psych with her perfect cardigan and all her experience and empathy. What a god.

A. The change in the opening credits was bad, someone on Reddit said it was to make room for more ads. WHY.

B. Tony Gates as some sort of rebooted Clooney bad boy was annoying. Bonus negatives for Stamos, who is very problematic (look him up, JANE magazine interview), any time, anywhere. BYE.

C. No more Greene, Corday, Benton, Chen, or Romano, Weaver is hardly in any episodes, they need Carter. Abby and Luka are good, keep them along with Sam, Pratt, Neela, Ray, and Morris but Abby is just a doctor now. Not a nurse becoming a doctor, not a resident doing psych and NICU rotations. I want more for her, not just a surprise pregnancy. And there could have been multiple episodes about Darfur, not just a couple. 


3. If There be Thorns by V.C. Andrews

I cannot believe this even exists. I read it in middle school (!), then again in college with my roommate where we would circle ridiculous stuff in the text and make comments on the story in the margins, and now I'm reading it again. This is the third book in the Flowers in the Attic series (4th if you count Garden of Shadows first, chronologically and I hate myself for knowing this) where Cathy's ten-year-old son, Bart, goes off the fucking rails after Grandmother Corrine moves in next door. Bart is moody and unloved (by stepfather Chris and Cathy, who seem to prefer Jory, the older brother and Cindy, a little girl Cathy adopts. Chris and Cathy are yes, brother and sister and yes, MARRIED) so his initial interactions with Corrine seem hopeful because he's finally getting attention from someone but lo and behold John Amos, the Foxworth's butler, decides to groom Bart to become the next Malcolm Foxworth, forcing him to read the old diary, speak in his voice, and grow to hate all women for bothering to exist. 

I have a lot of sympathy for children going through struggles with parents, and many times kids with the biggest problems come off as extremely unlikeable to most people, but mental health struggles aside, there were very few redeeming qualities to Bart (to the point of me thinking GOD just let it end), and the Malcom stuff was weird and confusing. At various times in the story this change in Bart was presented as 1. He accepted what John Amos was selling and decided at 10 to be like, sounds good, Imma hate women and be like my great-grandfather, 2. A sort of supernatural possession of Bart by Malcom, or 3. An actual second personality in line with dissociative identity disorder, Malcom a second side of Bart, who was always aware of the presence (making it decidedly not DID). If I had to guess, she was going for all of these things under the umbrella of "this is what happens when you do incest," (even though Bart was conceived through Cathy's affair with her mother's husband Bart Winslow, not her own brother). See? GRANDMOTHER OLIVIA WAS RIGHT! 

Clearly I missed everything messed up about this book the first time, slightly less the second time, but this thing is off the charts ridiculous. Chris and Cathy seemed to ignore tons of red flags throughout the story just because Bart was already slightly unpleasant, and that makes me sad, but overall the story was a giant ICK.The continued incest, the abuse toward animals and Cindy, and most of all the indoctrination of a little kid into said abuse plus misogyny. I know I was just looking for creepy locked-in-the-attic stuff the first 2 times reading it, since that's what I thought these books were about, but my god, how clueless was I to be reading through this at 12, "yes, all these things are fine because SCARY BOOK!" Also, not a single adult, anywhere, thought this might be an issue because everyone I knew was reading these also.


4. The Idol

Just NO. That's all.

5. Succession

So enough time has gone by where I am able to think more about Succession and Tom Wambsgans. Yes, I made a video freaking out about how cringey he was and how he was one of the worst people on the show, but I am going to retract that. Sometimes I get it wrong. 

Tom Wambsgans was at times annoying, and I still have a problem with how he treated Greg (manipulation, water bottle assault, the bodega sushi issue, etc.), but I have come to appreciate his character as one of the only ones that reacts to the disturbing elements of both the business and the Roy family with any sort of emotion or empathy. This sets him apart from Kendall, Shiv, and Roman as they also realize their lives are disturbing and problematic yet they just continue to try to one-up each other in the race to see who can get the attention of Logan (King disturbing and problematic). While the siblings try to become more like Logan, Tom tries too, but it's a challenge for him and he consistently acts out, usually targeting Greg in the process. This is not unlike the Patrick Bateman situation in American Psycho where he wanted to be noticed so much in a money-obsessed, materialistic environment that he became a serial killer and still no one cared. Tom pretends he's like the Roys, even wants to be like them, but he's not. Shiv wants an open marriage; he feels guilty after hooking up at his bachelor party and turns down the 3-way on the boat. He doesn't want to go to prison over the cruise line issues but offers to do it for Logan. He helps Logan in the bathroom with care and tenderness none of Logan's own children would have been able to match. This is not to say Tom doesn't have the ability to become more heartless and Roy-like with time, especially considering the finale (no spoilers) but yeah. 

I am kind of okay with him now. And it has totally nothing to do with (below). 

6. Pride and Prejudice (2005) d. Joe Wright

I rewound this scene and watched it 3 times after finishing the film. I just . . .