- Tony jokingly surprises his uncle with the same gimmick in this episode, and ironically he himself is shot by Corrado in 6.01 simply out of nowhere. And in the end, going with the aforementioned Members Only Jacket theory, Tony and Phil, both almost equally arrogant and reckless, are awarded with sudden deaths. Does that necessarily say anything about their characters? Which one is a better, or rather more dignified, death; getting killed right in front of your family by surprise, or have them know it’s coming, like it was the case with Johnny Sack?
- “We had some good times, some good years.” – With a glimpse of the Last supper at the church and the series’ promo shots in mind, just consider how the final scene would play out after Tony is thrown into silent blackness, had it been shot from other characters’ point of view: upon entering the diner, Meadow would have been struck by the sheer horror of witnessing his father getting ‘whacked’ right alongside AJ and Carmela. Do the ducks symbolically hint at the notion that Tony might lose his family one way or the other, either through getting killed out of nowhere or by putting them in danger? That every family dinner could potentially be the last one? This brings us to concept of cherishing the good little moments, noted by Tony himself in the Season 1 finale. A vital reminder he himself forgets at the family’s real last supper in the series finale. What caused him to miss those little reminders? “Isn’t that what you said one time? Try to remember the times that were good? – I did?” (6.21)
“I feel like lately my life’s out of balance.”
- Moving on from the death drive (or Thanatos), by contrast we have a full set of elements conveying the essence of life and liveliness, mostly divided into the categories of enthusiasm, passion and compassion. Simply put, in Tony’s case, his nearly-exquisite taste for food (the show’s rich representation of the Italian cuisine; the zest for life), his fixation with pets and his lustful adventures (plus the fact he usually conducts his business in Bada Bing of all places). Tony’s infidelity creates room for some great character development for himself and Carmela as later in Season 5 she’s faced with the question of how much more she can take. Notice the opening shot of the series which frames Tony between the legs of a slightly sexually provocative, libido-testing, submissively dominant sculpture. Does it hint at Tony’s seemingly endless quest for finding the perfect comare; often ending in him coming across similar brunettes with ‘exotic’ features? His mother issues (note the legs with regard to Tony’s position in the shot, again)? Or the twisted manifestation of Dr. Melfi’s therapeutic motherly care shrouded in subliminal seductive indications in his eyes and his fantasies? (See 1.06) This shot is also replicated with Carmela in 3.07 when she begins the contemplate the spiritual price of turning a blind eye to Tony’s sins.
- “Father is a spiritual mentor. He’s helping me being a better catholic.” – Interesting that even though Tony knows Carmela is fully aware of his affairs, he still tries to get back at her by bringing up men from her life, like Father Intintola for instance, in this episode. Although, we could assume that both Tony and Carmela are seeking some sort of spiritual comfort in these people; with Tony it’s the desire to find the ideal mother he never had in the comares (or in his fantasies, like Isabella from 1.12), while with Carmela it’s the need to seek a lesser ‘profane’ way out of the guilt brought upon by Tony’s lifestyle, or rather to repress it. Speaking of Father Phil, is it a coincidence that he’s so obsessed with food, especially the dishes prepared by Carmela or Rosalie? Hmm…
- We’ll get to Tony’s fascination with pets (specifically, ducks) in the following section, but for now, suffice to say that in the penultimate episode of the series, Melfi realizes through reading the study suggested by Dr. Kupferberg, that the quintessential criminal’s sensitivity often shows itself in affection towards pets and babies. Animals evoke both positive and negative sides of Tony’s emotional spectrum, from the brutal to the sentimental, highlighted in his soft spots. Perhaps the best example of this duality is showcased in Tony’s favorite racehorse, Pie-o-my, whose presence brings forth his compassionate side and whose death awakens the raw monstrosity resulting in the brutal murder of Ralph (while the man’s cooking eggs, no less.). Also Tony’s inner-circle meetings (later the ones with Agent Harris) go down at Centanni’s-later changed to Satriale’s- a meat market; an iconic location in the mob film universe, on some level best symbolizing the implications of butchering and bloodshed.
- Similar to the double symbolism associated with animals, the heavy presence of food throughout the show could also hint towards two close yet distinct examples of symbolism: 1) Food brings the family together (remember the cold occasions where Tony’s eating alone), hence highlights the aforementioned “seize the day”/”cherish the precious little moments” theme. Artie’s restaurant which stands, under threat, at the core of the pilot’s business-side plot, eventually becomes the perfect shelter for Tony and both his families in a dark (thanks to the power cut) and stormy night, during the essential season 1 finale scene mentioned earlier. 2) Food brings out the bestial side in the characters; standing for relentless violence, ceaseless ambition and lust for power, which are probably best represented in the scene where Christopher murders Emil Kolar in the Satriale’s or in 3.03, where after examining Tony’s recount of his experience upon witnessing what his father did to Mr. Satriale, Dr. Melfi makes the observation that ‘meat’ is almost predominantly present during most of his panic attacks.
Next: The Loss Dream…