Pop Culture Junkette

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Monday, May 21, 2007

This Is The Way The World Will End

If last night's Sopranos can be named after and focus on a wonderful poem by Yeats (for the complete Second Coming, see here although almost the entire poem was recited during the episode), I can title my blog post with a quote from Eliot although I'm still not sure whether the show will, in fact, end with a bang or a whimper. Probably a little bit of both.

The poem is about--among other things--the destruction of World War I and the Irish Revolution (perhaps also the Russian Revolution). If nothing else, the war about to break out between NY and NJ is encapsulated here:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

Is Tony the "best" and Phil the "worst"? Or is Tony a little bit of both? And the harbingers of death (and to be sure rebirth) fill the poem as well as last night's episode.

Enough literary criticism. Last night featured two of the most disturbing scenes ever on television. AJ's suicide attempt was--in its horror and realism--more powerful than any similar scene I have seen. And did he survive because, once again as his father pointed out, he simply screwed up and made the rope too long? And for him to try to kill himself in the pool--Tony's one refuge where he (long ago) tried to raise the ducks (was he trying to be their mother and did they get off the bus?)--besmirched forever this one place of peace. Will the series end in that pool? It wouldn't surprise me.

As for the other scene, Tony's beating of Coco was simply vicious. I don't know how Coco survived after that beating. (Finding the tooth while with AJ, Carm, and AJ's shrink was a particularly gruesome touch.) The tag line for the first season was "if one family doesn't kill him, the other one will," but now we see once again that it is the intersection of the two families and, in fact, the inability to separate the two that is the most dangerous. (This was seen as far back as Tony's relationship with his mother.) Coco's bringing Meadow into the NY/NJ feud was idiotic and Tony's reaction was predictable. Carmella clearly knew what would happen once Tony found out and wanted it to happen. Contrast that with Dr. Melfi's ultimately not telling Tony about her rape several season ago even though she wanted to. And while AJ keeps demonstrating that he is unfit for mob life (Even as he has been dragged into it), Meadow seems headed in that direction albeit in a way like her mother--seriously dating Patsy's son. And I am skeptical that Patsy's kid is simply a do good attorney. The intersection of family and mob family is very dangerous and at the roots of the NY/NJ bad blood, namely Phil still not getting over his brother's killing by Tony B.

So things continue to build as there seems no way both Tony and Phil can survive and the terrorism subplot continues to slowly bubble. And that's the 800 pound elephant in the room. (It's a pygmy elephant!)

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