Pop Culture Junkette

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Monday, May 22, 2006

In what surprised no one

SPOILER ALERT! Vito Spatafore met his demise last night. Yet he served a number of quite useful purposes. First, we got to see in full light the conflict within Tony about what to do about Vito and what being a man required of Vito and of Tony. As much as Tony wanted to do nothing, he ultimately felt that his position required that action be taken. His debate with Sil was classic with Tony stressing that if only Vito could have kept his sexuality private, there would have been no problem, and Sil noting that he had kept it private. And, of course, we know that it's one thing if Tony wants to whack Vito, but another thing entirely when Phil (literally coming out of the closet) does it. I sense the culmination of the series is, in part, going to involve an all out war ("going to the mattresses") between NY and NJ. It is off to a good start.

Yet perhaps the most interesting part of the show involved Tony's other family. Carmela continues to struggle with who she is--a mobster's wife who needs his crime to maintain her life style. (As we saw last week, Carm is too well aware of and too complicit in what Tony does when she sought to have Sil "influence" the building inspector.) The trip to Paris was great--and David Chase et al. must have loved the excuse to go. She loved the beauty, the culture, the history, the un-New Jersey of it all. She had given up this type of beauty to be with Tony. (Even the utterly unreflective Ro did not want NJ brought to France when Carmela tried to discuss Jackie, Jr. (whom Tony, of course, had whacked).) Perhaps my favorite contrast was Carm admiring the slightly tarnished statue of a classically beautiful woman with the immediate cut to Sil having the nude woman on the sign of the Bada-Bing cleaned. Nice touch.

And Tony's moral compass is as skewed as ever. Because he didn't sleep with Nurse Hathaway, he expects certain things from Carmela--like a home cooked meal. Because he's good and she's neglecting him, she can't have her spec house. Yet when Tony lets her go to Paris, he can have his fun with the stripper. And yet, his confrontation with AJ was just what he needed, albeit breaking the windshield may deprive him of a nomination as father of the year. As much as Tony disgusts himself, at least he has done something with his life. AJ, he recognizes, is a bum, which is even worse.

So one more episode and then we have to wait until January for it all to reach a final crescendo.


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