“You and I of the younger generations, we have issues in common…” – Past mistakes lead to future regrets:
- “You may run North Jersey but you don’t run your uncle Junior!” – Corrado’s seriously offended when Tony stands in his way, Livia turns even more bitter and verbally hostile when Tony places her in a “retirement community,” like her father, Meadow doesn’t get along with her mother (“Our existence on this Earth is a puzzle; my own daughter hates me.”) and Tony’s constantly disappointed that AJ’s not grown into his ideal version of a son, and so on. Is it always the same with past and future generations? Strangely enough, AJ experiences his first anxiety attack at a football field while Tony’s cheering for him (similar to how he supports Meadow in her volleyball game which leads to their pivotal conversation in the church of the forefathers.), and we know that Tony himself has got some self-esteem issues when reminiscing about his football days in high school (see “The loss dream”, above). Does “it” inevitably run in the family?
- “I drove to work with my nephew, Christopher. He’s learning the business. He’s an example of what I was talking about before…” – Between their first (on-screen) and last fateful car rides, Tony indirectly influences Christopher. We see the same extortion n’ beating techniques Tony uses on the gambler, Mahaffey, with Chris when he treats and ultimately murders his screenwriter NA sponsor, J.T. Dolan. Ironically though, contrasting the bullying ways, it’s Christopher who in the last ride with his Uncle Tony suggests surrendering to Phil’s demands. Perhaps in the end, the unintentional teachings served no real good purpose other than turning Chris into an unbearable thorn in Tony’s side. Apart from their nearly-mutual trust and the complicated affection Tony has for Chris, It’s the sheer joy they get from breaking the law which fuels the superficial side of their relationship, the same side that takes a dark turn when they dispose of Ralphie’s body, or when Tony in the end puts Chris out of his misery (6.18).
- “I have no defense, that’s how I was parented, never supported. Never complimented.” – And of course, Christopher feels unappreciated for the sacrifices he’s made throughout the story, like coming to Tony with the truth about Adriana. Here he casually mentions the offer of making a Hollywood flick out of his life story which he refused, an idea later morphed into his self-produced “Cleaver” (originally titled “Pork Store Killer”, to make matters more interesting), a film that carries Chris’ experiences with Tony implicitly. The metaphorical blood-stained cleaver is also seen in this episode as Emil Kolar is shot, and then as Johnny Boy Soprano cuts off Mr. Satriale’s finger in Tony’s flashback. Their relationship is mutually complicated; Tony both cares for Chris deeply but at times just can’t take anymore of his drama, similarly Christopher sees this father figure in Tony, respects the man deeply and yet at times completely despises him for the way he treats him. Tragically though, the tough-guy wannabe Chris we see in this episode (much like “The butcher” in the film), shooting Emil while the man’s snorting cocaine, ultimately falls to addiction himself and experiences constant humiliation.
- “Lots of things are different now from Johnny’s and my day. […] What are you going to do? He’s part of a whole generation.” – Corrado and Livia (reluctantly, maybe) conspire against Tony, AJ attempts suicide, Jackie Jr. gets killed as a result of getting involved in the family business and Christopher is emotionally broken until finally mercy-executed by his master…perhaps the missing link lies in the past.
Next: Observation Leftovers…