Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 11

Tony Soprano Leads a Life of Not-So-Quiet Desperation
Talking television.
May 17 2004 12:26 PM

Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 11

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Jerry,

We can say anything we like, even when Jeff is here. Unlike that former mob client of yours, Jeff doesn't bark or bite. And I think he'd like your King George III analogy. I think it fits pretty well. I know you would never violate your lawyer/client privilege and declare which client you were referring to, so I won't ask, but the best mob quote that I can recall on the subject came from turncoat underboss Sammy Bull Gravano. Describing the role he played for his boss, John Gotti, on the witness stand at Gotti's trial in 1992, he said: "John was the boss; I was the underboss. John barked and I bit."

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I guess we could spend lots of time analyzing the symbolism of Tony's dream but—and here is what is wrong with many of the subplots this season—who cares? The writers have reduced Tony to a caricature. They've even gone out of their way to make him physically repulsive. Last night he looked like a hairy, beached manatee in underwear—not a pleasant sight. He has alienated the few people who were, or would be, his friends—last night it was Artie—and he has either dumped or been rejected by every woman in the script.

We knew pretty early on in the hour that this episode would be to be filled with dreams and a lot of symbolic psychobabble when we spotted Dr. Mefli strolling through the Plaza with a friend or business associate—Hmm, in light of the recent revelations about Vito Spatafore's sexual preferences, could she have been her lover?—but I would have much preferred to have seen Tony B. shoot Billy Leotardi than to have heard Christopher's account of it. Still, Chris spelled it out pretty well, and he provided a bit of comic relief when he asked Tony whether he was going to eat the $50 chocolate bar that Tony Soprano had thrown on the table, and then quickly scooped it up when Tony shook his head no.

One nice touch in last night's episode was the way the writers emphasized the emptiness of Tony's existence, making a night at the Plaza look like a version of hell. But again, what's the point? As we've said in past weeks, we get it. Tony is not a nice guy. So why should we keep watching? The only thing left to find out is how he is going to get his. Will it be Johnny Sack who gets him? Or will it be Adriana? Or will it be former No. 1 cousin  Christopher? Or perhaps the FBI? Or maybe he'll overcome his demons and prevail?

Really, the only part of the dream that I enjoyed was seeing Tony ride the horse—I don't recall a mention of the horse's name but it was obviously the dead horse that Ralphie C. had killed—into the house and tell Carmela he wanted to come home. Either that was a very well-trained horse, or James Gandolfini has acted in a few westerns that I've missed. Or both. I got a chuckle out of Carmela's explanation as to why, if she did let Tony come home, the horse had to go: "The stink and the shit."

It's been fun beating up on Tony Soprano with you Jerry.

See you in court.
Jerry

Jerry Capeci is author ofThe Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia and Jerry Capeci's Gang Land: Fifteen Years of Covering the Mafia. His weekly column about organized crime, "Gang Land," appears in theNew York Sun and at www.ganglandnews.com.

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