Life, Death, and the Movies
So last night on the Sopranos, we had numerous intersections of life with our favorite NJ crime family and certain cinematic achievements. (As if I need to warn you, SPOILERS AHEAD.) Most obviously, we had the Tony/Christopher relationship come to a screen near you in Cleaver. With Daniel Baldwin in the lead (who needs an Oscar winner although Danny boy seems to have followed his brother in the fine dining department), we have what is perhaps an allegory of the Tony/Christopher relationship with a nice twist on the Adrianna relationship thrown in. How much is really there and how much is in Tony's head is not certain but, in the end, it doesn't matter--if Tony perceives it, the impact is real. (Okay, so Dr. Melfi made the same observation. Sue me.) And there is no question that Christopher has some issues with his father figure. Whether he really wants to give him a cleaver is another thing entirely, but we will see. (And, as usual, Tony saw through J.T.'s attempted explanation of the source material in 2 second while Paulie was extra frightening during this exchange. Paulie reminds me a little bit of Creed on The Office only without any inhibition on the use of violence.)
But while seeing the Sopranos played out in a crude Saw meets The Godfather caricature that is Christopher's epic, the actual show repeatedly paid homage to the latter film. First, the one whacking in the episode (not counting those on screen) echoed Michael Corleone's killing of Tattaglia. Here, the similarity was, I think, simply stylistic as it said nothing deeper about the unnamed killer (as opposed to the way that this killing was the turning point in The Godfather as it transformed Michael from the good son into a part of the mob family). The second echoing, however, has much greater portents--the final baptism scene where Tony becomes Godfather to Christopher's baby. Just as Michael Corleone became Godfather to his sister's child (whose father he had had killed) while becoming Godfather to the mob family, here Tony was becoming a (the?) central figure in his nephew's child's life while possibly involved in a life or death struggle with the actual father. I can't see both Tony and Christopher getting out of this season alive and wouldn't be shocked if one finally offed the other, but we will see. Of course, Michael ended up the boss of one family while losing his other one. I feel that Tony will at least lose one of his families before all is said and done.
And the other big drama is who will run New York. The sad demise of Johnny Sack featured an outstanding cameo from Sydney Pollack (who brought whole new meaning to the term "fully committed") and a portrayal the not so glamorous way in which so many mob bosses (and non-mob bosses) go. And yet the candidates to succeed him seem to be diminishing quickly with one executed, one happy living it up on the Island (with his mellifluous box, the latest example of Carmine, Jr. slaughtering the English language), and one more interested in revenge for his brother's death and the mangling of his family's name. It seemingly leaves Doc as the one most likely to succeed, but how this will affect Tony remains to be seen.
Until we meet again.