IT ALL GETS WASHED AWAY
“Lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.”
The symptoms of Tony’s feelings of loss and his depression also resonate in his nostalgia, or the longing for ‘that real thing of theirs’ that’s apparently collapsed. He longs for the standards and the pride that used to play a big part in the family. But is the dream truly over (as of “Made in America”) or does Tony suffer for the very same thing the generations before him did: glorifying the image of the past and ignoring its underlying repercussions? Will Tony be remembered as a “saint” like his father after death, a tragic hero like Billy Leotardo, or will he be labeled as an incapable leader? Is there a mark of progression or is Tony just going through motions, thinking he’s in charge of making the important decisions, and all the while causing history to repeat itself over and over again, each time with less novelty and more ironic tragedy?
- As Emil is getting whacked, with each gunshot we cut to a portraits of classic movie icons such as Bogart (another Strong, silent type beside Cooper), Martin and Edward G. Robinson, as if to indicate that cinema’s gangster archetype has now transmigrated into Christopher, the quintessential new-generation soon-to-be made man, in the form of a real life demonstration of authority, in bloodshed. Fittingly, the same visual transitions are used in 3.01, only now we see modern-day legends, or should we say, failures in the eyes of their forefathers. Of course, Pussy Bonpensiero was revealed as the informant, but in the end was Tony able to restore the family‘s reputation to the glorified days of the past?
- “Whatever happened to Gary Cooper? The Strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings, he just did what he had to do.” Tony’s reluctance towards therapy, the subconscious denial of guilt discussed in the previous section, works its way throughout the sessions, until Melfi finally catches on to the sad truth, that ‘coming there and talking’ has not only cured Tony, but it’s actually helped him become a more pragmatic, efficient criminal, with all sorts of academically-asserted excuses up his sleeves to justify his actions. “I find I have to be the sad clown. Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.” And so the depression assertion turns into a subconscious defense mechanism to project his self-pity (see previous section) onto others. Dr. Melfi’s motivational advice, ‘hope comes in many forms’, turns into a bitter joke when Tony reiterates it to distract a victimized Artie and to subsequently maintain control over his inner mob circle.