Disrespecting the Bing
A turn away from comics for a second...kinda.
The Sopranos season ended last night, and I was horked off. What the hell was that all about? What the hell did it all add up to? Felt like squat.
It took me a while, but I think I've got it. There is indeed a single idea running through this last season of The Sopranos:
Everybody tries to change and fails. Everybody is given a look at a new life and rejects it.
This way, when the hammer falls on everybody in the final season, nobody can say they were trapped. Everyone chose to return to their old ways. (Well, most everybody. This theory doesn't fit Uncle Junior, for example. Batshit crazy from episode one to episode thirteen, and it's hard to say he "chose" anything.)
Look at the character arcs:
Gets shot by a delusional Uncle Junior. Has a near-death experience. Revives and realizes "every day is a gift." Tries to abide by this policy: less violence, fidelity to Carmela, etc. Slides back into his old ways by the end of the season: sex with random women, violence, etc.
Becomes very attached to Tony during his coma. Grouses about her "spec house," the deal that got her to return to Tony last season. Realizes something's hinky about Adriana's disappearence. Awakens to a larger world when she goes to Paris. Ends up losing interest in the broader world when Tony, to keep her from digging into Adriana's disappearence, gets the spec house approved. She'd rather have her business than find out the truth.
Waffles between law school and med school. Demonstrates her willful blindness to her family's business in an argument with Finn. Takes an internship with a law firm. Moves to California to be with Finn and avoid a decision about her future.
Spends almost all season as a club-hopping loser, a wannabe gangster celebrity. Confronted with his loser-ness and the fact that his loser friends hang out with him only because of his mob ties, he gets panic attacks again. Tries to smuggle a knife into the nursing home where Uncle Junior is kept, to avenge his father’s shooting. Gets caught, and would serve jail time if not for Tony’s influence. Forced into a construction job by his father, in the last episode, he suddenly becomes a pretty decent guy, as his father insisted he was. Gets a girlfriend who is several years older than him and has a three year old son, both of whom AJ treats well.
A putz from beginning to end. Discovers that his aunt is really his mother, and his mother is really his aunt. As befits his stupid nature, he cuts off both of them in a rage. Later, he returns to the woman who raised him when he finds out he has prostate cancer, acting like a scared little boy.
Knocks up and immediately marries a new, random girlfriend. Still has dreams of Hollywood and has a dumbass mafia/slasher movie “in the works.” Falls in and out of drug use several times. Takes as his mistress a woman whom Tony nearly had an affair. They take up drugs together.
Has the biggest story arc of the season. Spotted at a gay bar by mafiosi on the job. Flees the area to save his life, ends up in a small town in New Hampshire. Discovers life different from the mob, where he can be open about his homosexuality and have a real job. Falls in love with a local fireman and moves in with him. Takes a job in construction. However, cannot deal with the difficulties of actually working for a living and being a regular guy. Ditches his lover and returns to Jersey, hoping to start again. While Tony considers what to do with Vito, Phil Leotardo, Vito’s brother-in-law, has Vito murdered for “disgracing the family.”
Spends the entire season in the joint. Runs the operation through his #2, Phil Leotardo. Attends the wedding of his daughter, gets dragged from the reception by the cops. Ends up pleading guilty to a lot of stuff to lessen his sentence, and is regarded as a traitor for doing so.
Starts out as Johnny’s loyal retainer, grows into the job more and more. Maintains a personal beef with Tony over Tony Blundetto’s murder of his brother. Kills Vito for “disgracing his family.” Pushes hard against Tony time and again, eventually plots to kill “someone close to Tony.” (We never find out who.) Then has a heart attack. While in the hospital, had a possible rapprochement with Tony.
Mocked for his lack of initiative and love of model trains. Eventually, due to Janice’s pushing of Tony, the possibility of promotion arose. Bobby screwed it up. Making a late-night pickup in a rough neighborhood, gets beaten up and blinded in one eye by a group of surly kids. Returns to his zerohood.
Delusional from start to finish. Has no idea what’s going on.
A pain-in-the-ass drama queen from beginning to end. Has a slight reconciliation with Tony.
Given the job of acting boss during Tony’s coma. Proves unfit for the task, has a severe asthma attack from stress. Happy to return to his toady status.
Schmuckface from the first episode whose name I forget
Gets a massive inheritance. Tries to leave the mob. They won’t let him go. The Feds are also onto him. Rather than go to jail or flip, he hangs himself.
This would also explain why the season felt so unsatisfying. What fun is it to watch a group of people run in circles, changing briefly and then changing right back?
Which, come to think of it, does make this a comic book post of sorts.
"Batman's a troubled loner who rejects his friends? Again? Jeez..."