Monday, May 21, 2007

Sopranos Rewind: The Second Coming

Once again, deadline issues mean that Sopranos Rewind is going to be online-only on Monday, which means I can link to the column right away.
Sometimes, it's not the fire that burns you. It's the juices.

Two episodes ago, in "Walk Like a Man," Tony suggested that Chris pull a steak off the barbecue because it would continue to cook in its own juices, even away from the flame. At the time, it was an apt metaphor for the growing resentment Chris and Tony were feeling for each other in the aftermath of Adriana's death. But it applies even more to last night's "The Second Coming," where nearly every character is stewing in the juices of some very old beef.
You can read the full column at NJ.com, but feel free to comment here.

42 comments:

Edward Copeland said...

The book Silvio was reading has to be one of the great sight gags ever on the show. I've always wondered when someone would pose to Melfi the question as to whether she's doing Tony any good at all, especially after hearing David Gregory ask Lorraine Bracco the same question in an interview last week and her reply that she thinks she's help make him a better husband. Really? As for Curatola, his name only appeared in episodes where he appeared whereas other cast members (such as Imperioli, Chianese, Aida Turturro, etc.) are always listed whether they are in the episode or not.

Anonymous said...

I have a weird question - does anyone know the song that was playing in AJ's room when Meadow came to talk to him? I really liked it.

Anonymous said...

The defeated look on Tony's face and posture as he slowly walked down the long, white antiseptic hallway at the end...it was like he knew he is now a "dead man walking" doing the gallow's march. Chilling.

Edward Copeland said...

One other question, related to the preview. Who does everyone think is "playing both sides of the street?" Little Carmine?

Anonymous said...

RE:playing both sides = paulie

Withnail said...

Strictly speaking, Imperioli was in this episode, appearing in the picture that now hangs in the Bing.

Something similar happened when they killed Ade. Drea De Mateo was listed in the credits in the following episode, even though she only appeared in a photo.

Regarding next week's episode. I heard a vicious rumor. A living or dying rumor. Not spoiling anyone - but I'll call it if it happens next week.

DonBoy said...

"But [AJ] was always such a happy boy!"

It's not typical of Chase for him to give us Tony turning violent over something that the audience can get behind him on, as if it's a good mobster vs. bad mobster show. But I can't deny that the notorious part of my male brain that gets off on bad people getting beaten up was getting off on it, yes. (And how creepy was it when that guy leaned into Meadow and asked if she was Tony's daughter, in the same way that we've seen hitmen confirm their victims' identify just before they shoot them?)

Teresa said...

I'm so glad you posted your entry before I went to bed, Alan. I was itching for your analysis.

The episode. Wow. This was one of the bleakest episodes ever. It felt dreamlike in spots; the voices seemed otherworldly. In a weird way, the end will come as a "relief" after tonight. It seems like the show can't get any darker, though it probably will.

I had this fantasy that we could get at least one entire hour in Melfi's office. A girl can dream, can't she?

I'm kinda glad Carm lost it tonight. Depression affects everyone in the family. Why wouldn't she snap and tell Tony she's sick of it. The truth is inconvenient and hurtful. She deserves to act out too. Rock on, Carm!

I'm scared to watch the final two. I'm already depressed from the past two episodes. Everything is spinning out of control. No one seems safe. But they better not lay a hand on Carm or Melfi or else!!

Anonymous said...

"What kind of finesse has to be involved in a curb-stomping like the one Tony gave Coco without actually killing him?"

The first thing that ran through my mind when I saw that scene.. American History X

dez said...

AJ's suicide scene and the subsequent shot of Tony cradling him was wrenching.

The defeated look on Tony's face and posture as he slowly walked down the long, white antiseptic hallway at the end...it was like he knew he is now a "dead man walking" doing the gallow's march. Chilling.

I thought of him more as the rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem.

I do disagree with one thing in your analysis, Alan. I don't think Tony "gets it" at all. Of course, I've been wrong before--Chase can be quite confounding!

SJ said...

Melfi knows that Tony is only validating himself in all these therapy sessions (proved by his look after she said "that was insightful"), but she still refuses to let him go as a patient. Wonder why..?

I'm just surprised that the guy was alive after the curb stomp. And yes, American History X instantly came to mind.

Sandi said...

Anonymous, I was wondering the same thing about the song playing when Meadow was in AJ's room. I hope someone can provide that answer.

Was glad to see Janice in next week's preview. She's been MIA since they visited the lake house, I believe.

Louis said...

My teeth still hurt from watching what Tony did to Coco.

After last night's episode, I've come to believe the show will end with Tony's suicide. Something will bad will happen to one of his children -- maybe in an unexpected way -- and it will be too much for Tony to bear.

Lisa V said...

The song is "Ridin" by Chamillionaire. It's good to have a teenager.

I can't wait for the next two episodes, and I hope the last one is two hours.

This was a great episode.

stevie said...

"Ridin" was the one that woke Tony up (the hip hop song). When Meadow went in his room, it was "Into the Ocean" by Blue October.

I had to watch parts of last night's episode through my fingers; it's so great and it's all come to this, but I'm filled with unspeakable dread and can't predict what'll happen next.

Anonymous said...

What was the song over the closing credits?

Adam said...

Oddly, I feel like the series could have ended right there. Tony knows what Livia's parenting did to him, and he now knows what his own parenting did to AJ. What's left may well be more plot than character development, and it's hard to imagine things working out well mob-wise for Tony's side of the Hudson.

Had you told me a year ago we'd end with an AJ-centric season, I'd be disappointed and shocked. Now? This has been great tv.

ironheart said...

I was glad that Sunday's episode seemed more normal. I guess it seemed normal because it was more about Tony's kids but also because Tony himself seems back to normal. What happened to the paranoid prick from the last few episodes? I thought Christopher's death was going to send Tony more over the edge, with him realizing that he would no longer let personal feelings get in the way of business and his own freedom and safety. I thought that was what he "got" last week, that he was choosing the path that could take him to hell in more ways than one. But I think killing Chris had the opposite effect; Tony is now comfortable again, believing the negative energy and therefore his losing streak is out of his life. Granted, AJ's suicide sunk his mood but it's more like helpless depression. Tony saving AJ from the pool and crying as held him seemed to return to Tony the humanity he'd been lacking recently. This episode did seem to slow things down a bit while at the same time setting up the pins for the last two episodes. It doesn't feel like everything can be resolved in two hours but we'll have to wait and see. Wait two weeks, though, since there's no episode next week! Get on with it, HBO!

BTW, HBO's schedule indicates only one hour for the final episode.

Ted F. said...

According to Wikipedia, there are two types of curb-stompings; one breaks the neck, the other "merely" separates the jaw from the skull. Of course, that's according to Wikipedia, which is prone to misinformation.

Homertojeebus said...

How great was Robert Iler in this ep? The scene where Tony rescues him from the pool was one of the best things I've seen on this show. As a father of 3 boys, 2 of them teenagers, it had particular resonance for me.
Tony's tenderness with AJ just after the rescue is exactly what you would expect from a human being, which made the scene that much more wrenching. No sooner had AJ dried off when Tony began to repudiate that same humanity.
Also, the shot where the cinderblock is pulling AJ down, and Tony is pulling him up, was a great "rock and a hard place" metaphor.
I loved Phil's dissertation on "compromise." All in all, it's great to see someone giving Tony a taste of his own medicine in concentrated form.
With only 2 episodes left, I hope that the show pulls back the curtain on Tony, et al, and shows them to be the true monsters that they are. All of the glorification of violence and crime and misogyny need to build to this, because the show has done very little to counter it thus far. They need to unite the 2 audiences, the one that watches for the artistry and drama, and the one that watches for the whackings. People who think of these guys as lovable thugs who don't hurt "civilians" need to be given a clear memo. A pile of garbage in the Passaic isn't cutting it.

Anonymous said...

HBO always posts the music used in each episode on their website. Here is a recap of the music from last night's episode.

http://www.hbo.com/sopranos/music/episode84.shtml

Cagey said...

I thought it highly ironic that Tony's reaction seemed okay with everyone as opposed to everyone's reaction in the previous episode when Paulie insults Christopher's daughter (gesturing to the surroundings at the strip club, he says "Maybe she'll be working here someday"). Everyone seemed to agree that Tony needed to do something when HIS daughter was insulted, yet Paulie's insult towards Christopher's daughter was okay?

I was shocked that Christopher let him get away with it and I was shocked the other guys didn't tell Paulie to cut the crap.

Edward Copeland said...

I don't know that it's Paulie who is playing both sides. After he got burned when Johnny Sack led him on and he realized Carmine didn't know who he was, he went running back to Tony and also made sure to give him the espresso maker when he sensed Tony was thinking of clipping him.

Edward Copeland said...

One other sidenote: Did it seem to everyone that AJ wasn't that serious because surely in his household he could have found a gun if he really wanted to end it.

pc in NM said...

I was struck by two aspects of the keats' poem that this show was titled after - "The Second Coming".

The desert imagery is in stark contrast to Tony's optimistic psychedelic response to the desert sunrise ("I get it"), that Tony so clumsily tries to share with both Melphi and the guys at the Bing....

"somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds."

AJ is absorbed by this poem the night before his suicide attempt.

He's also really taken by the line: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity." I see this as another stark contrast between Tony and AJ? Tony's sociopathy has been his defense, his counterbalance, to his own depression. Tony can only demean AJ pathetic whining with "Poor you!"

BTW, there were so many mentions of AJ being on Lexapro - more than seemed dramatically necessary, I thought. There are several allegations and lawsuits about violence and Lexapro (suicidal & homicidal) - a hint of things to come??? Might AJ put an end to the family curse??? "Get off the bus" to use Tony's metaphor on family....

Pete said...

Cagey, the difference between Paulie insulting Chrissy's daughter and Coco "insulting" Meadow is that Coco did it to Meadow. Paulie was humiliating Chrissy--another made man--but Coco was humiliating Meadow with Tony nowhere in sight. Chrissy could take care of himself, more or less, but Meadow was threatened and humiliated with no one but Patrick Parisi to stand up for her.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has mentioned that odd moment in the family therapy scene with AJ's therapist. The camera slowly panned off the therapist's face to Carmela who says something like "What kind of poem is that to give to college kids to read." And then there's a cut to a wide shot of the room that is a complete mismatch. The odd thing is there is no mention of the poem before or after she says this. It's a total non-sequitur. It almost felt like a dream sequence was going to start. Anyone else notice this?

It's funny that someone mentioned that Melfi is the only good character on the show. It's true. She did exactly what Meadow didn't do last night. She decided not to tell Tony something that would have given her the satisfaction of knowing a violent retribution had been taken out on someone who hurt her. Meadow had the impulse not to tell Tony, but she told him anyway. And Carmela wanted her to. Carmela most certainly doesn't rock. Carmela, like the rest of them, sucks.

Also, I think Silvio is saying "You're playing both sides of the fence" in the preview. He seems to be accusing Tony. I'm sure it will be that Silvio resents Tony bringing everything down because he can't control his emotions. Playing both sides of the fence in that he doesn't allow Phil his revenge for the murder of his brother, but takes his revenge because someone said something dirty to his daughter. I could see Silvio getting pissed about that.

BWC said...

Couldn't playing both sides of the fence refer to Tony's alliance with the feds over the Arabs from the Bing?

I find Carmella as despicable as any of the other characters (perhaps more so, since she doesn't have the honesty to admit to herself the source of her lifestyle), so I agree that even if I could understand her lashing out at Tony I find it awfully hard to say "rock on, Carm."

Old Man Snap said...

As this season continues, I feel like I'm watching a completely different show than the one I've waited every two years or so for.

It's an almost abrupt return to seasons 1 and 2, and I'm really digging this.

Meadow and AJ have long been off limits, which is what made the CoCo scene so real and frightening. I actually thought she might take a bullet at the table.

I'm really looking forward to how this all ends -- the unpredictability reminds me of the last season of The Wire, when Michael ends up in the back of the car with Chris and Snoop.

Tragic, yet fitting.

Anonymous said...

Just 1 week ago Carm was saying "Why are we so quick to blame?", now she's saying AJ's suicide attempt is all the fault of Tony and his family.

She and Tony are really made for each other.

Anonymous said...

RE: The odd thing is there is no mention of the poem before or after she says this. It's a total non-sequitur. It almost felt like a dream sequence was going to start. Anyone else notice this?


Actually, the poem was referenced quite a bit during the episiode: AJ's teacher in class, AJ reading it out loud -- for Carmela to point to that poem as a trigger to AJ's suicide attempt was truly the ultimate cop-out.

Ted F. said...

We've seen Carmela pull her mob-wife rank in the past, if sometimes just passive-aggressively. See especially her insistence on a recommendation for Meadow to Georgetown.

No, Carmela is as bad as the rest of them: she made her decision long ago to live off of blood money (right up to a $400k payoff to return to the household), and Dr. Tartower's prediction of doom for the corrupting influence of that blood money looks to be coming true.

Anonymous said...

The inscription Tony put on Carmela's watch harkens back to an early episode when he said, "Carm, you're not just in my life. You are my life." Also, that he inscribed it with his mob nickname rather than the one she calls him further indicates the boundary line between the two families is crumbling.

Anna Laperle said...

Little Carmine: Why is [Phil] like this?

Tony (thinks): Because he's not dead.

Another hint about the Muslims again. Maybe Tony is thinking of sticking the asbestos dump on them?

chalmers said...

When The Sopranos started, one could argue that Carmela was a good person who had made some immoral, but understandable, compromises. Not anymore.

This episode caps the descent of her character over the last couple of seasons. While obviously less violent than Tony and less cruel than Livia, she seems to occupy the same moral plane as those afflicted with "The Soprano Curse."

First, Tony's gift of an expensive watch buys her tacit approval of his Vegas lost weekend (but not until she notes that it's a Baume and Mercier).

She browbeats Meadow into telling Tony about the lout who insulted her, knowing that it probably meant a death sentence for the guy (Coco got off easy with a curb job).

With AJ near catatonic, she infantilizes his problem by offering him mac and cheese and "Lincoln Logs." She then leaves him home alone so that she and Gab can hit the gym and Nordstrom's.

It's interesting that AJ's confirmation party was referenced because it brought back the empahasis Carm placed on her faith (whether real or phony) during the show's early seasons. I'm also reminded of this every time the actor who played Fr. Intantola shows up somewhere.

Now, it's a non-issue. I don't know if it's because the kids have grown up, she became disenchanted with Fr. Intantola or whether Ade's death led her to give up on the charade.

Old Man Snap said...

One reason why I love this season: I took a walk outside after lunch and Tony saying, "James Brown, now?" in reference to Kelly at Chris' funeral had me giggling for the whole walk.

Anonymous said...

Alan,
Just wondering...can you confirm that in fact the final 2 episodes are one hour each, or is either one extended past the 60 minutes?

Anonymous said...
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Alan Sepinwall said...

Guys, how many times do I have to say this? THIS BLOG IS A SPOILER-FREE ZONE. I don't care how juicy your advance info is, I don't care what rumor you heard on the radio, or from a friend who knows the craft services guy, or got mentioned on somebody else's blog. DO NOT POST ANY SPOILERS, OR EVEN RUMORS OF SPOILERS, HERE.

I swear to God, I'm going to have to start doing a daily post on this.

Anonymous said...

The slang term for what Tony did to Coco is a "Mexican Can Opener"

Pageturners said...

Not a Keats poem, but a Yeats poem. Very different concept!

I see that HBO's list of music lists Ninna Ninna as Artist: Unknown. There is a version on La Musica della Mafia Vol II, but not by the same gypsy-voiced singer, I think. Beautiful song.

Pageturners said...

Aha. The actual song is from this album:

http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/containerdetail.aspx?itemid=1225

It's called Italian Folk Songs and Dances, and is a Folkways record. It's available for download, or on CD from the Smithsonian.