What Lies Beneath
The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 1
What Lies Beneath
Talking television.
Sept. 16 2002 11:31 AM

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 1


Dear Peggy, Phil, and Joel,


Carmela ominously informs Tony that "Everything comes to an end." Ever the henpecked husband, Tony reflects a bit on this axiom. He decides that there is an alternative to being whacked or ending up in the "can." One can decide to trust only "blood." That way you preserve your freedom, knowing that your "blood" will not squeal on you. Oh really? Come again, Tony? Didn't you just con your old Uncle Junior out of a prime piece of real estate under the guise of helping him with his legal bills? One of the recurring themes throughout the series is that festering beneath the oaths of loyalty and pledges of devotion are intense rivalries that threaten the entire edifice. In an interview, James Gandolfini, who plays Tony, once said that The Sopranos is about how we lie to ourselves. In keeping with his vertical split that we discussed last year, Tony manages to believe in family loyalty on the one hand while screwing over his uncle on the other.

Dr. Melfi makes a late appearance with new glasses, new do, and higher hemline. She looks composed, but she can't help asking the question that the audience wants to ask Tony: "Why don't you give it up?" Jennifer speaks for us. We sit there year after year wanting Tony to go straight and give up his life of crime. Maybe therapy will transform a bad man into a good man. Her hopes are dashed when Tony ignores her question. We, too, have trouble sustaining hope for the guy. This season opener shows us a tormented Tony with a shorter fuse and a darker pessimism. Don't expect any happy endings.


Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and author of The Psychology of The Sopranos, inspired by this discussion. Philip A. Ringstrom, Ph.D., Psy.D., is a senior faculty member at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles. Joel Whitebook, Ph.D., is on the faculty of the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Margaret Crastnopol, Ph.D., is on the faculty of the Northwest Center for Psychoanalysis. All are practicing therapists as well.

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