"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Sopranos: Seventh of Nine: What Rough Beasts

AJ reads from W. B. Yeats' "The Second Coming" ...

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ...
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats' Collected Poems
This poem pushes AJ to almost committing suicide, and Tony saves him. The poem of course perfectly captures just what is happening to Tony and his family and business as we reach the end of their story in this series.

But the thread of tonight’s episode that struck me as an even clearer picture of Tony’s situation concerned Meadow.

With tension dangerously increasingly between Tony and Phil, one of Phil’s guys comes over to Meadow’s table at a restaurant in Little Italy. He makes sexually harassing remarks to her. Meadow tells Tony.

Tony comes close to killing the guy – he admits later that he “lost it,” over his daughter, but managed to exercise some restrain by not killing this guy.

But this means little to Phil, who ups the insults another big ante…

What else could Tony have done? It would have been understandable as a father had Tony put Phil’s goon completely out his misery – Tony did show remarkable control. But yet he’s paying the price for it, anyway. He did the right thing – the best he could have done under the circumstances – and he is still being drawn, ever deeper, into a pit with no escape.

This has been Tony’s story, and the story of The Sopranos, all along. On the one hand, upper-middle class, even rich, suburban parents, who love their children and want what’s best for them. On the other hand, in a business which, however hard Tony and others may try, inevitably bleeds into their personal lives, as Tony aptly put it in his conversation tonight with Phil.

There’s no getting beyond or away from or out of this. The only question now will be whether Tony and his family can survive. . . .

Useful links:

Naked Bodies, Three Showings a Week, No Commercials:
The Sopranos as a Nuts-and-Bolts Triumph of Non-Network TV
my 2002 article, published in David Lavery's This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos

reviews of other episodes this final season: The Sopranos: First of Nine, Second of Nine, Third of Nine, Fourth of Nine, Fifth of Nine, Sixth of Nine, Eighth of Nine, Ninth of Nine

listen to free podcast of this review, and reviews of all the other final nine episodes


Anonymous said...

The other important text attributed to AJ's suicide attempt was the song he played upon waking up that morning, "Ridin'," by Chamillinaire:

They see me rollin
They hatin
Patrolling they tryin to catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty
My music so loud
I'm swangin
They hopin that they gon catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty
Tryin to catch me ridin dirty

And this verse closely mirrors Chrissy's death in the previous episode:

I been drinkin and smokin holdin shit cause a brother can't focus
I gotta get to home 'fore the po po's scope this big ol Excursion swerving all up in the curve man
Nigga been sippin on that Hennessey and the gin again is in again we in the wind
Doin a hundred while I puff on the blunt
And rollin another one up, we livin like we ain't givin a fuck
I got a revolver in my right hand, 40 oz on my lap freezing my balls
Roll a nigga tree, green leaves and all
Comin pretty deep, me and my do-jo
I gotta get back to backstreets
Wanted by the six pound and I got heat glock glock shots to the block we creep creep
Pop Pop hope cops don't see me, on a low key
With no regards for the law we dodge em like fuck em all
But I won't get caught up and brought up on charges for none of y'all
Keep a gun in car, and a blunt to spark, but well if you want, nigga you poppin dark
Ready or not we bust shots off in the air Krayzie Bone and Chamillionaire

I'm sure there's an EW writer who can make something of that.

Paul Levinson said...

:) Good points, Zach - about the song, the other verse, and EW writer...

Anonymous said...

Will there be a special finale prediction podcast for The Sopranos?

Paul Levinson said...

Yes, there will ... after the next-to-last episode ... and that will be the toughest predictions of all I've done this season...

dajerz said...

First off I thought that this episode ranks among the best of The Sopranos, quite riveting in every aspect.

These are dark days for casa soprano, dark indeed, the world is imploding on Tony.

I have to say that I am disappointed in Meadow, giving up on med school and going out with one of the Parisi sons. If I had any influence on the script I'd of had her moving out to the coast to live with Finn and go to UCLA med school. That way she could have linked to the honest Soprano generation, i.e., her great-grandfather.

By the way does anybody know the Italian folk tune that was played at the end?


Paul Levinson said...

hey, welcome to Infinite Regress, dajerz...

Interesting you raise that about Meadow. I was thinking that, in some ways, she's grown into a more real member of The Sopranos - law makes more sense as a profession in that family than medicine...

A good thread in a story set five years from now would be to have Meadow defend Tony in court, assuming he's still alive ...