The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 7

Little White Lies
Talking television.
Oct. 28 2002 8:06 AM

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 7


Dear Glen, Joel, Peggy, and Philip—


Let's start from the end: namely, the final scene of last night's episode, in which Tony, after having given assemblyman Ronnie Zellman permission to date his old mistress, Irina, pays Zellman a brutal, late-night visit. On the one hand, he seemed to gaze on Irina with some genuine tenderness. But his whipping of Zellman didn't seem designed to win her back. What motivated Tony's change of heart, do you think—just macho possessiveness, or maybe Zellman's delay in telling Tony?

On that last note: This episode revolved around the classic debate over the difference between lying and withholding information. Christopher hit the roof when he discovered that Adriana hadn't told him about her worries of fertility trouble. No reasonable person could blame Adriana for keeping quiet: They're only vague concerns, and it's perfectly normal for women to fear reproductive trouble. But Chris insulted and abused his fiancee anyway—and allowed us to imagine how he will react if and when he learns Adriana's real secret.

Finally, Tony and Melfi had a remarkably productive discussion about Tony's outburst over Melfi's failure to tell him about Gloria's suicide. Would you have shared such information with a patient? I know it's taboo for a therapist to discuss one patient with another, but perhaps it would have been better for Tony to hear the traumatic news from a trusted source in a therapeutic setting, rather than learning it by happenstance. Perhaps Melfi withheld the news because she felt guilty for bringing Tony and Gloria together—or guilty for failing to prevent Gloria's self-ruin.

Speaking of ruin, the mobification of Brian Cammarata, Carmela's financial-planning cousin, continues. His corruption is a bitter reward for Carmela, who sought out his services in order to add some propriety to the family's savings and insurance plans. But perhaps it's a poetically just one: Carmela used Brian's arrangements as a flimsy bandage for her nagging sense of guilt and dread. This is what she gets for pursuing easy respectability instead of a real self-reckoning.

Despite his progress in therapy, Tony's hypocrisy still knows no bounds. Last night he lectured A.J. about the Italians who have stood by Newark—who gave a damn, in his phrasing—at the same time he set about stealing federal housing loans designed to help rehabilitate the old neighborhood.

I loved the moment, by the way, when the FBI agents sat around over lunch dissecting Adriana and Christopher's relationship. Everyone's a shrink these days, no?


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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