Amour Fou (3.12)

Gloria Trillo gives Carmela a ride home, enraging Tony.
Jackie Jr shoots up a poker game, enraging Chris.
Patsy Parisi makes sure that Gloria will not cause any more problems,
while it’s up to Ralphie to make sure Jackie will not cause any more problems.

Episode 38 – Originally aired May 13, 2001
Written by David Chase & Frank Renzulli
Directed by Tim Van Patten

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I think “Amour Fou,” is one of the great episodes of the series.  Chase has said on more than one occasion that this episode is one of his favorites, mainly because of the way that it pulls disparate stories together into a unified whole.  What I find most appealing about “Amour Fou” is that it is a powerful, well-muscled episode but still manages to be, in typical Sopranos’ fashion, quite limber—it is flexible enough to allow different interpretations, particularly regarding its use of painting, music and sculpture.

On the  DVD commentary track for this episode, David Chase says that “The Sopranos is a slow build…we spend a lot of time setting things up which pay off later.”  This is the episode in which the storylines of Gloria and Jackie Jr reach their payoff.  I previously noted that Chase conscientiously paralleled these two characters in “The Telltale Moozadell” (3.09) by staging their back-to-back scenes in a similar manner:

gun juxtaposition

The two seem to be following an impulse to fuck themselves, and Ralph and Tony are not doing anything to steer them away from self-destruction.  I’ll break the episode down by looking primarily at these two doomed characters, starting with Gloria first.

Gloria
Tony’s feelings for Gloria changed after she flung a side of beef at the back of his head.  In episode 3.09, Tony was more than happy to help exhibitionist Gloria “fuck herself” at the Bronx Zoo, but when she stalks him now in the parking garage, his attitude has shifted—“Go fuck yourself,” he tells her.

fuck yourself

Tony discusses Gloria with Dr. Melfi.  The therapist cannot quite reveal everything she knows about the troubled woman and Tony remains intrigued by her.  He compares her to a portrait by “Goyim,” obviously meaning Goya.  I think it is a revealing malapropism.  Goya was interested in dark subjects, and even created a series of murals referred to as “the Black paintings” due to their bleak, harrowing style and subject matter.  The most famous of the Black paintings is Saturn Devouring His Son which depicts the Roman god committing filicide.  Livia Soprano had filicidal impulses, and Gloria is the current manifestation of Livia in Tony’s life.

Saturn devouring his son - Sopranos Autopsy

The Goya reference also made me think of one of his etchings entitled Nada (Nothing).  A decomposing corpse climbs out of its grave to scribble the word nada onto a piece of paper, perhaps communicating that there is nothing after death:

Goya, Nada

Livia lived by a philosophy of nada—“It’s all a big nothing,” she told her grandson.  Gloria Trillo seems to live by a similar philosophy.  Within minutes of first meeting Tony, she told him that she murdered seven relationships.  While we and Tony chuckled at her self-effacing joke, it belied a deep neurosis.  She destroys romantic relationships, she is unable to forge lasting or meaningful connections.  Melfi suggests that Gloria is drawn to Tony as a way to destroy herself, like a moth to a flame.

But Tony finds it hard to resist the dark beauty.  He meets the deeply troubled, smoldering sexpot in a motel room.  As Gloria complains about her relatives and her niece’s school, it is clear that there is something amiss in her coping mechanism.  But as she sings and gyrates to Stevie Van Zandt’s “Affection” in her lingerie, it is easy to understand why Tony keeps returning to her.

Tony is willing to endure much of Gloria’s emotional volatility but he absolutely cannot tolerate her violation of his domestic space.  Gloria drives Carmela home from the Mercedes-Benz dealership during which she pays Carm some left-handed compliments.  Although Gloria subtly mocks Carmela, it is very likely that she envies Carm’s life and possessions.  Tony quietly seethes when he learns that Gloria made such close contact with his wife.  A bristling Tony comes to Gloria’s workplace to make it clear to her that it is over between them.  She has managed to murder another relationship, sever another connection.  Mercedes-Benz tristar emblems surround Gloria in her desperation, ironically underscoring that happiness isn’t found in material wealth or luxury goods, but in the connections we make with others.  (Or as Chris Stevens from Northern Exposure once put it, “Happiness doesn’t come from having things but from being a part of things.”)

mercedes gloria

Gloria’s cup of crazy overfloweth.  A hysterical phone call to Tony pulls him back to her house.  In a tender moment, Tony puts his hand to her cheek, recalling the imagery of the Giuseppe di Ribera painting we saw in the episode’s first scene:

cheeks

But this tender moment is short-lived.  Tony finally recognizes just how similar to Livia his goomar really is.  “I’ve known you my whole fuckin’ life,” he realizes.  Janice Soprano has functioned as a Livia-substitute within the series after the passing of Nancy Marchand, but Janice has been largely absent for the past few episodes.  Gloria, with her neediness, aggression and nihilism, has taken Livia’s mantle in this latter half of Season 3.  Gloria threatens to reveal the affair to his family which drives Tony into a fury.  His response is difficult to watch.  Even after half-a-dozen viewings,  I still grimace as Tony slams Gloria into the floor.  (It is a violent scene, one that recalls Ralph’s brutal beating of Tracee in “University.”)  Tony closes his hands around Gloria’s throat to choke the life out of her—as she wants him to—but his realization of how disturbed she is prevents him from doing it.

Gloria hoped Tony would provide a dramatic end to her life, but he is not willing to oblige.  Tony sends Patsy to finish her off, so to speak.  Patsy assures her that death by his hand “won’t be cinematic.”  Perhaps Tony sends Patsy—as opposed to one of his other goons—because he has an “uncinematic” look about him.  Patsy could pass for an accountant or an optometrist, he doesn’t have Paulie’s dramatic “wings” or Silvio’s pompadour or Christopher’s dark intensity.  (We might remember that David Chase used Patsy to provide an undramatic, uncinematic climax (of sorts) in episode 3.01 when he showed up at the Soprano home drunk and ready to kill Tony, but ended up just pissing in the swimming pool instead.)  Patsy’s promise to Gloria that “it won’t be cinematic” is one more expression of Chase’s commitment to portraying the fuckin’ regularness of life.  There are no fireworks here to close the Gloria-storyline.  The “hits-and-tits” fans who tuned in every week looking for violence and nudity would be just as disappointed as Gloria to find not frenzied drama at the end of this line, but only the face of Patsy Parisi.

patsy 2x

After calmly threatening Gloria’s life, Patsy picks up some groceries and returns home to his wife as Bob Dylan’s “Return to Me” plays. 

Jackie Jr
While Gloria’s story ended with a whimper, Jackie is set up to go out with a bang.  He has the opportunity, like Meadow, to get a good education and make a legitimate living for himself.  But he has instead been long trying to worm his way into mob-life, hoping to bank on his last name.  He and buddy Dino go to Ralph’s office (where Dean Martin’s “Return to Me” is playing) to kick up to him and seek his protection.  When Christopher approaches the boys with a job, they decline, hoping that keeping their loyalty to Ralph will curry his favor.  But Ralph does Jackie no favors in this episode.  Ralph’s story about Jackie Sr’s takedown of a card game many years ago plants a dangerous idea in Jackie’s head.  And Ralph’s treatment of him as a child (“Make sure you rinse those plates before you put them in the dishwasher”) only spurs Jackie to make a big move that will prove his manhood.

Like Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte in 2.08, Jackie and Dino decide that the only way they can be taken seriously by the New Jersey Mob is through a dramatic, over-the-top act:

matt sean jackie dino

In “Full Leather Jacket,” Matt and Sean decided to hit Chris as a way to make themselves better known to the Jersey mobsters.  They succeeded in becoming well-known, but they also succeeded in becoming dead.  Jackie and Dino don’t have as murderous a plan as their precursors Matt and Sean—they decide to rob a card game instead.  But motor-mouth dealer Sunshine annoys one of boys with his incessant commentary, and ends up taking a couple of bullets to the chest.  This is arguably the most intense shootout of the entire seriesFurio gets shot in the thigh.  Like his precursor Sean, Dino is killed immediately.  And like Matt before him, Jackie manages to escape, but only for the time being.

Christopher knows that Jackie is the man who got away, and insists that Tony give him permission to get vengeance.  But Tony refuses, perhaps because he is considering giving Jackie a pass, or perhaps because of his promise to Jackie Sr. that he would protect his son, or perhaps because he wants to farm the hit out to someone outside the family.  The reason for Tony’s refusal is as ambiguous as the painting in front of which he and Chris argue:

abstract

Franco Ricci, in his essay Aesthetics and Ammunition, writes that the splatters of paint on the canvas look may like a storm at first glance, but…

A brewing storm is an apt but facile analogy.  Closer examination of the cloud formations, however, reveals two sneering tigers, nose to nose, eye to eye, chin to chin, revolving around a turbulent celestial vortex.  One of the tigers is larger…he looms over the smaller tiger.  As in the scene in which the frothing behemoth has just collared his younger nephew, here, too, further explosive action is anticipated.

I’m not convinced that the two masses of color represent tigers.  (It’s more believable if I squint real hard.)  But that’s the beauty of it—it’s open to interpretation.  While it is difficult to know exactly why Tony prevents Chris from hitting Jackie, his intentions becomes clearer when he meets with Ralph later.  In a textbook example of mobster management, Tony lets Ralph know that he needs to pop Jackie without ever saying out loud that he needs to pop Jackie.  By obligating his captain Ralph to carry out this abhorrent job, Tony is able to get a little sweetness out of his distasteful (but necessary) decision to make Ralph a captain.  By never telling Ralph outright that the boy must be whacked, Tony also—technically—does not break his promise to Jackie Sr. to protect Jackie Jr.

Dylan’s “Return to Me” becomes a lament as it scores Rosalie’s wait for her doomed son.  But it is Ralph that returns to her, not Jackie.  Ralphie knows what the future holds for her son, and feeds Rosalie some bullshit story about Jackie’s dalliance in drug-dealing in order to prime her for his upcoming death.

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The third major storyline of the episode centers around Carmela—or more specifically, Carmela’s Harry Winston ring.  The Sopranos can sometimes be guilty of too enthusiastically hammering home some idea or image, and Carm’s ring fits the criticism here.  It is displayed prominently throughout the episode:

rings

In fact, the hour begins on a close-up of the ring as Carmela walks into the Rodin exhibit at the Brooklyn museum.  Carmela and Meadow, standing amidst the sculptures, almost look like museum pieces themselves:

rodin

Rodin’s sculptures, according to Helen Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, express “the existential situation of modern man, his inability to communicate, his despair.”  Rodin’s figures do not look like the heroic characters of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture; they seem to have been shaped by the tensions of real life which push and pull at them mercilessly.  The greatest tension pulling at Carmela is represented by her ring.  She despairs that her luxurious lifestyle is funded by crime and violence, and that her criminal husband lavishes her with expensive gifts partly out of guilt for his philandering.  As the pair walk into the next exhibit, Meadow denigrates one of the portraits hanging on the wall: “She’s just the wife of a rich merchant.”  Carmela takes the characterization as a personal insult and lashes back at Mead’s sagging grades.  In a sensitive state, Carmela starts weeping in front of Giuseppe di Ribera’s The Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine.

classical painting

Carmela feels that she too has married a baby.  But in reality, Tony is nothing like the baby Jesus depicted in the painting, nor is Carmela a saint like Catherine.  Carmela is an accomplice to crime, as Dr. Krakower told her, and she knows it.  She goes to her new priest, Fr. Obosi, for advice.  Obosi couldn’t be more different from Krakower.  He tells her that Carmela must not leave Tony but must instead “learn to live on the good part.  Forgo those things that lie without it.”  David Chase says that they got this from a priest who once did say something very similar, but added that other religious leaders have found this advice to be morally questionable.  I don’t think Chase is criticizing Catholicism here as much as he is giving Carmela a way to rationalize staying in her marriage.  Chase, like Father Obosi’s God, “understands that we live in the middle of tensions.”  At the end of the episode, as Dylan’s “Return to Me” plays, we understand that Carmela and Tony have returned to each other: Carmela by taking off her expensive sapphire and rededicating herself to her marriage; and Tony by ending his affair with Gloria.  If Gloria represented amour fou, a crazy, passionate love, then Carmela represents a solid, stable domestic love.  Although Carmela removes her expensive ring here, she will increasingly stray from Obosi’s advice to “live off the good part” as the series continues.  She will, like Hillary Clinton (who the mob wives discuss), take all the shit in her life and spin it into gold.  Literally spin it into gold—the future holds more jewelry and clothes and houses and a Porsche for Carmela.

OPEN TO INTERPRETATION
On the DVD Scene Selection menu for this episode, the first chapter is titled “Open to Interpretation.”  It is in this first chapter that Carm and Meadow visit the Brooklyn Museum.  I’ve already given my own interpretations of how some of the sculpture and paintings are used in this episode.  Also open to interpretation is the way that some of the music is used.  “Amour Fou” makes use of repeated music more than any other episode.  The Italian aria that opens the hour as Carmela walks through the museum is “Spoza so dispprezzata” (“I am the scorned wife”).  Its lyrics about a woman who is cheated on but remains faithful to her husband can clearly refer to Carmela:

I am a scorned wife,
faithful, yet insulted.
Heavens, what did I do?
Yet he is my love,
My husband, my beloved,
My hope.

But the aria is also interesting for the way it bridges this episode with the previous one—the musical piece played during a short scene in Tony’s car and then again over the final credits in “Pine Barrens.”  It’s almost as though the music is being used to carry the ambiguousness that remained at the end of “Pine Barrens” into “Amour Fou.”  Another song that is repeated here is Van Zandt’s “Affection” which Gloria dances to in the hotel room and is then heard again over the final credits.  Chase may have recycled the song just because it’s a kick-ass track, but he may also have replayed it as a sort of final farewell to Gloria.  (Especially because its chorus, “Give me some affection / Why’s it so hard?” sounds like something Gloria would say.)  The third song to repeat is “Return to Me.”  Bob Dylan approached David Chase wanting to do a Dean Martin song specifically for The Sopranos, and his cover of “Return to Me” was the result.  Dean Martin’s version plays in Ralph’s office while Bob Dylan’s version closes the episode.  Kevin Fellezs, in his essay Wiseguy Opera: Music for Sopranos, makes several points about this:

  1. The older Dean Martin version was recorded during the golden days of the mob and ironically “reinforces the way in which the old rules, and the context in which they were formed, have changed.”
  2. “Dylan and Dean represent an antagonistic generational difference nearly forty years ago” and our understanding of this reflects our understanding of the popular culture in which The Sopranos exists.
  3. The newer Dylan version is heard loud and clear and its lyrics seems to mirror the onscreen action at times.  In contrast, the older Martin version is barely heard, “but is almost subliminally inserted into the background of the soundtrack, reflecting the failure of ‘the old way of doing things’ in the present moment.”

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ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • The sacred and the propane, er, profane:  Carmela weeps before di Ribera’s 1648 religious painting, but she also cries watching a frickin’ dog food commercial.
  • Carmela must be moved by the dog food commercial because dogs are known for their loyalty and protectiveness, and these are characteristics that Tony is not demonstrating to her right now.  (Tony does have these characteristics, however, and perhaps this is why Dr. Melfi interpreted the dog in her dream after she was raped to be a representation of Tony.)
  • David Chase says the episode title may have been influenced by Jacques Rivette’s 1969 film, L’amour fou, about the dissolution of a marriage.  But he undercuts the highbrow episode title by allowing Tony to mispronounce the French phrase as “mo-fo.”
  • As Dr. Fried removes the bullet from Furio’s leg, Tony jokes, “Doc, see if you can remove this ladies’ underwear.”  Furio’s blue nut-huggers are probably a byproduct of his European heritage.  Most of the New Jersey-born tough guys probably prefer boxers.  (In reality, actor Federico Castelluccio moved to NJ from Italy when he was eight years old.  It is unknown what type of underwear he prefers when not playing “Furio Giunta.”)
  • I think Annabella Sciorra’s portrayal of “Gloria Trillo” is one of the highlights of her career.  As much as a whackadoo Gloria was, I regretted not being able to see Annabella play her after this episode.  (Though she does appear again in a quick dream-sequence in Season 4.)
  • This penultimate episode of Season 3 originally aired about four months before the terror attacks of 9/11.  In one shot taken from near Newark Bay, we can see the WTC towers standing on the eastern horizon.

twin towers

 

73 responses to “Amour Fou (3.12)

  1. Furio’s underwear is a callback to when he was making fun of Sean and Matt’s underwear after demanding 1000 dollars

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I don’t know if this was intentional on the part of David Chase, but both of Camille’s “confessors,” Dr. Krakauer and Father Obosi were very hard to understand and little was done in sound editing to make them understandable. Both had heavy accents, and Camilla, both times, at first has difficulty hearing their message. By making the viewer strain to hear both men, we’re put in the same position as Camilla.

    This is a very interesting episode and almost seems to be a link between the first half of the series, which is lighter than the second half. It’s almost like the escape of the uncontrollable evil n Pine Barrens (the unfound, unexplained escape of the Russian) has finally been released in Soprano’s world.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree with both of your observations. Perhaps it was intentional: the heavy accents might emphasize that Krakower and Obosi are both “outsiders,” and therefore cannot truly understand Carmela’s turmoil inside the mob nor give her any plausible advice.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great thoughts as always. I’m with Chase — this is easily one of my favorite episodes. It just has a great momentum to it, an exciting pace yet still room for the typical languorous and ambiguous Sopranos digressions. I particularly love how it ends with Dylan’s soft, sweet “Return to Me” cover being blasted into oblivion as the credits roll by the loud rock of “Affection.”

    The next episode is maybe even better in some ways. It certainly is, to me, a fascinating bridge between the lighter first 3 seasons and the darker last 3 seasons. Although Season 4 is when things really got darker and slower-paced, even in S3 we have this undercurrent of malaise and sadness starting to creep in in these last several episodes. Interested to hear your take.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks David. I think you might be surprised by my approach to the next episode – I’m focusing on opposing worldviews: liberal vs. conservative. (I’ll be posting it in a couple of days.) I definitely agree that the series gets gloomier from S4 onwards, and my guess is that the events of 9/11 darkened Chase’s already-dark perspective. There’s a growing sense that there will be no light at the end of this tunnel. One of Carmela’s lines in the Season 4 opener sets the tone:”Everything comes to an end.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mitchell Chialtas

    Good job. One thing I noticed was a reference to Season 2 Episode 1. Gigi Cestone is riding shotgun, and Philly “Spoons” Parisi is in the driver’s seat. Gigi then turns his gun and shoots Philly. In this, Philly’s twin brother is similarly in the driver’s seat, except he is the one with the gun, pointing it at Gloria, whose riding shotgun. I’m not sure the symbolic significance of this, but it definitely means something. Hey Ron, if you could share your thoughts on this I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mitchell. That’s an interesting parallel you’ve found between Philly and Patsy and perhaps it definitely means something, as you say, but I’m not sure what that might be. Perhaps it simply underscores how different the fates of the two brothers are: Philly is killed for gossiping about Tony’s mother whereas Patsy has become one of Tony’s trusted henchmen. I think one of the great things about The Sopranos is how it leads us to notice these types of parallels and then supply our own interpretations of what they might mean.

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  5. those “two masses of color” are actually tigers if you look closely. What they represent may be up to interpretation, but they are tigers.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great review. I really enjoy reading you as I am re-watching the series. One thing that I noticed in this episode is that when Gloria insists to give a ride to Carmella, the ladies are dressed in black and red respectively (moth and flame?)

    Liked by 5 people

  7. What Victor said! Although it seemed to me that when Tony was talking to Ralph about Jackie, he a) didn’t want the responsibility of making the decision b) was hoping Ralph would give the kid a pass and, if Ralph didn’t, wouldn’t need to feel guilty about it since it wasn’t his decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Tony’s Amour Fou malapropism is easily my favorite of the series – given that he is in essence “FO-ing” his “MO” in his relationship with Gloria

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Gloria giving Carmela the ride home was intense. I remember wondering when this episode premiered if Gloria was going to just steer that thing off the road and into a tree at 70 mph, taking Tony’s wife with her. There was a rage in her. She was just getting as close to the point of no return as possible. Total meltdown. I don’t know if there’s a show that has explored mental illness as well at The Sopranos.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ron, I think you are brilliant but I must disagree with one thing. I think Tony wants to give Jackie Jr. a pass, but gives Ralph the option of letting him live. He seems to encourage Ralphie to give the pass but then says “if the decision goes the other way, the one thing you cannot do, cannot do, is blame yourself. You took this kid under your wing, you schooled him as best you could, didnt ya” (the last two words said almost in a sarcastic tone. Then he shows Ralph the piece that he gave to Jackie, implying that it was Ralphie who essentially set Jackie up for this scenario.

    In the following episode he expresses surprise and says “you were gonna give him a pass, but he should know” I believe that Tony wanted to spare Jackie, but knew that he would not have been able to give the order outright to spare him. It would have had to come from Ralph.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I would mostly agree with your reading of the situation. But I think it’s often impossible to know with certainty what it is that motivates a character in SopranoWorld. It’s possible that Tony is of two minds concerning Jackie: part of T may want the kid to live (because he is so young and because he is Giacomo’s son) and part of T may want the kid dead (because Jackie has committed various transgressions against Tony, Chris and Meadow over the last few episodes – plus, putting the burden on Ralphie is a great way of getting back at Ralph after all his bullshit…)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hey – I’m coming in awefully late but just saw the episode and enjoyed this echange between Tony and Ralph immensely – great job by Gandolfini. I interpretted as Tony really enjoying it because he knew he had Ralph over a barrel – he either has to kill his girlfriend’s son or Tony gets to destroy Ralph with the other members of the family when Ralph gives him the pass.

        Remember how he told Chris to let it go – to let him deal with it. Because Tony had this plan to get Ralph one way or the other. I think Tony urged the pass so that he could use it as a club to get rid of Ralph – just think what Chris or Furio would do after Tony tells them Ralph orders Jackie not to be touched. I think Ralph sensed that and that is why he OKed the hit on Jackie.

        Liked by 4 people

    • I always read the scene with Tony and Ralphie as Tony wanting to give Jackie a pass, but being unable/unwilling to do so as Boss. Nothing compelled him to say “he’s Rosalie’s son, everyone would understand it if you did”.
      I think Ralphie’s decision to go ahead with the hit (and him giving Jackie the gun) was just another unstated factor in Tony’s hatred of Ralphie that led to his murder. To bad Ralphie didn’t make it to season 5, can you imagine the bullshit he would have provoked with New York during that season? Again, piece-of-shit-Ralphie is my favourite non-Soprano character of the show.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I definitely agree with THAT!

    Thank you so much for all the amazing work you are doing on this site, I stumbled across it one day and now am re-watching all the Sopranos episodes with a new light. Keep up the awesomeness!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The Rodin sculptures are the Burghers of Calais and while it’s a group of six figures standing in unison; here they are separated as individual figures. According to the back story of the statues they sacrificed themselves to save their city. Rodin depicted them as they leave the city and face their doom. Each character embodies despair and hopelessness some depicted with ropes around their necks…
    They may be used to represent the sacrifice Ralph makes of Jackie Jr. or the despair Gloria faces…

    Prior to reading sopranos autopsy I never noticed the art work in the show – thanks for the insightful blog , hope you keep it going

    Liked by 5 people

  13. here David from Rome, near where “all began”. Nice job Ron, thanks.
    I’d just like to say something about the scene when Jackie and his pal first decide to go on with their plan and then get distracted by Sharon Stone’s famous leg move. It reminded me of that scene in Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America when little Patsy buys a “Charlotte russa” (at least so called in the Italian version) to buy a sexual service from Peggy. He’s so thrilled and nervous for his big adult move but can’t resist the taste and beauty of the pastry and ends eating it. Because, you know, he’s just a kid. As Jackie and his pal are and should be.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Lol the author in this article sounds like such a beta 😂 I got super wet when Tony threw Gloria on the floor and choked her since it reminded me of my bf

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think Dr. Melfi would have a lot to say about Stacey’s comment…

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Another fine selection playing on the Vesuvio Juke as our Favorite Mob Wives have Lunch. “No hay problema” (No problem) by Pink Martini plays through out the scene as Carmella reports her mostly clean bill of health. The Hilary Clinton discussion is something I didn’t pick up on originally. We know in future seasons Angie running Big Pussy’s Body Shop and of course Carmella’s real estate license.

    And in a case of maybe digging too deep….The painting behind Christopher and Tony didn’t look like Tigers to me at 1st glance. Instead they made me think of a portion of a painting by Michael Angelo. The Creation of Adam. Just the portion of the hands reaching out to touch. Tony would be God and Christopher would be Adam.

    Is it me but other than her Lingerie Gloria is always wearing dark or black clothing?

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Mr. Wakaflaka

    Am I going crazy, or did all of you not notice at the end Patsy’s tires were slashed while he obliviously hums his way driving back? (Hello Gloria)

    Like

  18. The statues in the museum are very much like the miniatures in Malfi’s office on the window sills.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I just want to say that this is incredibly well written and you deserve some type of medal.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Hey this is the first comment I’m leaving here, really enjoying the episode breakdowns on this site. A friend of mine pointed out and something I always see through the show, is that tony is evolving into his mother and more and more embracing her world view. This episode is especially poignant in that regard as I believe tony wants Jackie jr. gone. Has anyone noticed the similarities between Tony pressuring Ralph to kill Jackie jr.(his surrogate son) and Livia pressuring Junior to kill Tony(her actual son)?

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Who did slash Gloria’s tires I wonder? Interesting that we didn’t find out or did we?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think we ever find out. My guess is Gloria did it herself, it would be one more way of proving herself to be The Victim, as always…

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree that it is a “Valery”-type ambiguity. It does harken back to Livia, though. Specifically, Johnny Boy Soprano roped Tony into a lie about his whereabouts during Livia’s miscarriage by claiming that he (Johnny Boy) had a flat tire and had to spend the night away. Tony subconsciously must be irked by the guilt of his childhood lie to his mother that Gloria’s flat tires evokes.

        Liked by 2 people

  22. Tony used Jackie’s transgression as a way to get back at Ralph. He as much as said that he would lose respect if he gave him a pass. It tied up the conundrum in a positive way, because he didn’t have to be the one who did it, and he could make Ralph feel insecure about his status. I don’t think that anyone or anything could have stopped Jackie from wanting to join the mob. Ralph had no fatherly feeling for him, and he’s a criminal so why wouldn’t he encourage him? Jackie was an idiot…I didn’t feel sorry for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. David J Noone

    “Mo-Fo” is definitely the highlight of Season 3 and one of the best episodes of the series. This episode drew me in like earlier episodes such as “Nobody Knows Anything” or “Bust Out.” I think the use of music has a major part in that. I have enjoyed all of your autopsies however this one stands out. You should be given some kind of medal, such as one commenter above stated. Your ability to take an idea and break it down with supporting data is just excellent. The Gloria storyline was great. Someone has commented on here about how the Sopranos covers mental illness and in regards to Gloria, it was pulled off brilliantly. I can recall Tony telling her she is a “dangerous fuck” lol. I could not believe she drove Carm home! No doubt she was deranged, but I am not so sure that she wanted to die. Perhaps at the time when Tony was choking her she did. Patsy, the unassuming person telling her to back off seemed to genuinely scare her. And as far as we know she did as we never hear about her until her death. This is all wrapped in ambiguity, just as many other things in this series. I haven’t seen all of Annabella’s work, but this is definitely my favorite work of hers I’ve seen by far. About the music, I wonder if there is any significance to using the same song to close Pine Barrens and begin “Mo-Fo”. The song seems to set the mood and carries that mood into this episode. Tony’s feelings towards Ralph handling Jackie could be debated forever. That way I interpreted the conversation was Tony more or less telling Ralph what he has to do, without telling him. If he doesn’t take care of the problem, he will have a problem, since he was mostly responsible for leading Jackie into these behaviours. Jackie was an ass, and most likely wouldn’t have made it far anyway, but Ralph sure didn’t help him. In the end Tony knew what kind of guy Ralph is, and knew he would take care of Jackie. Tony possibly feels better about having to make him a captain now Ralph must do something he clearly does not want to do. Tony’s decision to not let Chris take Jackie out really conflicts their relationship for quite some time, possibly for the rest of the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Was just watching this episode again last night and caught a detail I haven’t read mentioned here yet. When Tony goes after Gloria in her apartment she quickly grabs a corkscrew to defend herself which is an illusion to James Gandolfini’s role in True Romance when he beat Patricia Arquette in the hotel room. Another example of Chase’s “meta-fictional post-modern playfulness”…

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Carmela’s menopause is starting. This accounts for her weepiness and for needing a tampon because she is suddenly spotting in the middle of her menstrual cycle. I love how Chase juxtaposes Meadow and Carmela as two stages of a woman’s life. He does this most poignantly later in the “eloise” scene at the plaza in which their resentments about one another are on full display. It just amazes me that Chase can write so sensitively and so accurately about the experience of mothers and daughters, and of women in general. This review was really wonderful and I learned a lot, but I think sometimes male reviewers are not as tuned in to the female storylines and relationships among the women of the show.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Hi Ron, I’m a really huge fan of your analyses’! Can you speak a little more to Tony and Ralph’s conversation of what to do with Jackie after the card game? I’ve watched this episode several times and I could never really understand what Tony was going for. Did he want Ralph to make the decision to kill Jackie or was he trying to pass the burden of giving Jackie a pass? I agree with what you wrote as well, but do you any other thoughts on this scene?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tony speaks with such subtlety in that conversation, it’s hard to know exactly what his intentions were. My gut feeling is that Tony really wanted Jackie dead, and he also really wanted to antagonize Ralph by forcing him to make the final decision. In the end, both of those things happened. Tony got to have his cake and eat it too…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Ron! I just want to thank you for all your hard work with this site. I continuously re-watch the series and it’s spectacular to have someone give such brilliant insight. I’ve learned so much about the series from your work and I enjoy sharing your thoughts with my friends and other fans of the show! It motivates me to keep re-watching! This might be a loaded question, but do you imagine that “The Many Saints of Newark” will be just as excellent as the show?

        Liked by 2 people

        • I think the medium of TV suits Chase’s talents and inclinations better than the medium of film does, so it will be hard for any of his films to match the quality of his TV shows. But I hope Many Saints proves me wrong!

          Liked by 1 person

      • I think the scene reads in so much not only has Tony already decided Jackie must die, but Ralphie does too. I think it’s a “thing of honor,” but neither wants to take the outright blame for the demise of Little Lord Fuckpants. Every back and forth between the two men shifts the responsibility to the other side of the table; they even pause before answering each other, as if taking in their move. Also, in that shot of Ralphie after he walks outside the Bing, he looks really pissed the onus is left on him.

        In a show full of great actors acting out great writing, Jim Gandolfini and Joey Pants are absolute diamond when they share screentime together. In his writeup for “He is Risen,” TVDW notes how the two are best together when Ralphie is cornered, as he is somewhat here. As Tony’ s prime nemesis, I’ve always preferred Ralph Cifaretto over Richie, Feech, or even Phil.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I prefer Ralphie too, but for me I think a lot of it has to do with screentime. Richie and Feech didn’t get a whole lot of screentime because neither of them lasted a full season. On the other end of the spectrum, Chase overplayed Phil (in my opinion) by using him to bring tension in 3 seasons. Ralphie is Goldilocks, his arc in SopranoWorld is not too long, not too short.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think you’re right on the money about Phil being overplayed. It DOES help make him (somehow) more despicable than Tony, which is increasingly impressive in 6B. Not that Tony isn’t selfish and blinkered, but Phil’s myopic and petty in more annoying ways. I know on YouTube, the favorite Phil joke in comments (besides all the shinebox references) is his frequent reminder that he did “20 fuckin’ years,” but I feel like he brings up “that animal Blundetto” waaaaay more often. Fuck Angelo Garepe, I guess.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I just don’t think Phil’s character was as interesting as Richie’s, certainly not Ralphie. Not to say anything in his character was badly played or written, he just felt very much the standard mob character we’ve all seen a dozen times before. I did enjoy that stupid scene where he tells the story of his family’s name though.
            I still think Ralphie was a complex enough character to be kept on until very late in the series, don’t forget all his scenes with Paulie were gold too. It would have been fascinating to see him exert his sick influence on AJ or interact with Blundetto too.

            Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like Tony giving the gun back to Ralph is the key in that scene. Tony knows Jackie must die, and he is telling Ralph he has to do it because it’s his fault Jackie is where he is. Tony tried talking to Jackie and when that failed he went with “tough love”. All the while he was being undermined by Ralph. So to Tony, Ralph must now reap what he sowed.

        Tony is in a win-win because if Ralph gives Jackie a pass, Tony knows Ralph will be f’d in the respect department. But I don’t think Tony has much doubt about what Ralph will do.

        Liked by 3 people

    • I think he wanted to use Ralphie’s ego to get him to kill Jackie. I don’t think he cared that much about Jackie anymore, but it was a good way to pressure Ralph and make him feel that the other guys will talk badly about him and think he’s weak. It was a great way to get revenge on Ralph for all his bullshit and not get his hands dirty. It was good management skill on Tony’s part. Playing to Ralph’s insecurities and sense of manhood. That’s what I think.We all knew Jackie Jr. was going to die…I especially think that the projects where he was staying and the great Michael K. Williams
      ratted him out. His expression when the other guy told Jackie he would be safe made me think he was not safe at all. Either that or his friend that he was meeting ratted him out. How could Vito know he was coming out of the apartment? I didn’t feel sorry for Jackie, he was just another asshole like they all are. Plus, he lost his nerve initially and previously peed his pants…so how tough is he really? Even his sister said he was pathetic.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Eh, I still felt very sorry Jackie, stupid meathead didn’t stand a chance after Ralphie’s bedtime stories got him excited. He didn’t seem naturally cruel or violent, just an idiot surrounded by the mob all his life. Too soft.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think ultimately Jackie is responsible for his own actions. Ralph didn’t advise him to rob a card game. Yes he gave him a gun, but Jackie was determined to follow in his fathers footsteps. His sister confirmed that it was Jackie’s biggest wish. Also Tony and Jackie Sr. Didn’t kill anyone. He was an idiot, destined to come to a bad end.

          Liked by 1 person

  27. I love Gloria’s “School of Broadcasting?” jab. Carmella couldn’t believe anyone could be so unimpressed with what Meadow is up to. College…New York…Columbia actually–SHUT UP! So desperate to brag about the result of her “homemaking”, give me a break. Carmella is a despicable character that pretends to care about her soul or her children…until a shiny object shows up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha perhaps… but I know quite a few parents who are very quick to name-drop the school their kid got into

      Liked by 2 people

      • Carmela’s whole thing is making sure the kids do well in life and don’t follow in the family footsteps. and the success of the kids is a reflection on her. It’s also easier for Meadow to avoid the pitfalls (which ultimately she does and doesn’t) because she is a female. Remember that Carmela has no idea that Gloria is her husbands mistress…so why would she think too deeply about what she says? It’s just a ride home. I think Carmela is not proud of herself really, but she is proud of the daughter. Also, we find out pretty early that her weakness is expensive things and a comfortable life…that’s why she made the choice she did. She manages to make peace with herself, but like everyone on the show, she’s deeply flawed…the success of the children relates to her success as a mother, which is all she can really brag about.

        Liked by 4 people

  28. Hey Ron: great write up, as usual. I just wanted to mention a few things about the ring. Chase opens the ultrasound scene with a shot of the ring in the foreground. Later, the ring is conspicuously missing from Carmela’s finger. Perhaps when she finds she is cancer free, she decides to take the priest’s advice. As far as the priest giving her an out and a way to rationalize her life, I think it’s more of a case that he knows which side of the bread his butter is on, and doesn’t want her to feel alienated by the church as a mob wife. Similar to Fr Intintola, and to the priest Paulie pisses off in “The Ride” episode

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Much like the situation with Richie Aprile, it’s someone else that carries out Tony’s desire to “eliminate” a problem….in this case Gloria. Difference being Janice’s hit on Richie was unplanned while Patsy was deployed to give Gloria enough rope to hang herself…..literally.
    When Tony wants somebody gone, it happens, one way or another.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Actually literally and figuratively.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think if Tony had handled that any other way Gloria would not get the message. Then Carmela would find out. He had to scare her to get through to her. I’m sure he didn’t expect her to kill herself. He tried to break it off himself and she threatened him. I I think he genuinely felt guilty when she killed herself. He’s an inherently selfish sociopath. Of course he won’t leave his wife or take her very seriously. I think she was looking for just the right reason/relationship to commit suicide and she found it in him.

        Liked by 2 people

  30. I know I say this every other episode but goddamn is your analysis incredible. The analysis of the sculptures/paintings alone was almost as artistic as the art itself.. I feel like I’m kissing your ass now but I legit think this is the best write-up you’ve done up to this point (I’m still catching up on episodes). I just wanna stand and salute you, sir. I can’t wait for the compilation book to come out.. I will preorder that shit today

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I just noticed that Ralph has a cigar in his hand in the scene that Jackie and Dino kick up to him. In the very next season with Tony and Gloria in the hotel room it appears that Tony is smoking the same type of cigar

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Adding my two cents on the Tony Ralphie interaction. I think this is one of the best conversations where there is this cloud of unspoken but very tangible forces surrounding a seemingly simply table. Both men have multiple impinging factors that must be negotiated, both within and between themselves.

    Tony needs Jackie dead because he shot at made guys, but he also has to contend with his promise to Jackie senior, but he also has to worry about Meadow’s feelings, but he also has to navigate the general displeasure of the rest of the family that might not be expressed to him directly (akin to the later rancor caused by Tony not giving up Tony B to NY). Were Tony to not rectify this insult, the rest of the family would grow increasingly upset at the preferential treatment of Jackie Jr., galled by Tony’s unspoken but inarguable shadow of protection. Ralph on the other hand has to worry about how this will upset Roe (really how Roe being upset will bore him), and how it will look if he kills Jackie Jr. (“the heir apparent” according to Christopher). Both men are aware of the double standard imposed by the mob community on this issue, kill the boy and you will have killed mob pseudo nobility, let the boy live, and you break the expectation that nobody can f**k with made guys. This conversation is a battle of wits to save face and deflect blame that, if shouldered, would diminish the status of whoever takes responsibility. Tony is not going to lose boss status, nor Ralph capo, but as we are shown throughout the series, position is one thing, respect is another. Tony though boss beats down Muscles Marinara to show strength, Chris when acting capo doesn’t really get respected, Bobby though Jrs right hand man is all but a fetch boy early on, these all show how title is different than actual standing.

    By giving Ralph the decision, Tony makes sure whatever the decision is, Ralph will get the all the blame leaving Tony relieved of all the weights he’s negotiating. If Ralph kills Jackie, Tony did his best to guide the youth and is not hurting him (superficially fulfilling his promise and his best friends dying wish), and best of all, the onus of killing the son of the former boss is on Ralph. If Ralph lets him live, the rest of the family will be upset at Ralph overlooking the transgression. Either outcome will diminish Ralph whose growing popularity in the family irks Tony. Tony even rubs it in Ralph’s face a little when he asks rhetorically if Ralph didn’t do his best to school Jackie, and he brings out the gun he found on Jackie which he seems to unambiguously know is Ralph’s. Superficially (and perhaps at some real level) Tony is commiserating with Ralph about the tragedy. Below this though, he is (not so) subtly letting Ralph know, that he knows, Ralph screwed up . . . yet again defying Tony’s will.

    By forcing the decision on Ralphie, Tony navigates all of his needs/feelings into an outcome optimum for himself, in manner utterly befitting the Boss.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. ‘ He tells her that Carmela must not leave Tony but must instead “learn to live on the good part. Forgo those things that lie without it.” ‘
    No, not ‘lie’ but ‘lay’. The writer must have been listening to colloquial speech. The priest says ‘lay’. He is probably not a native speaker but when Carmela repeats his words she also repeats ‘lay’. The error is odd, together in a sentence with the formal word ‘forgo’, and with the word ‘without’ having the old meaning ‘outside, beyond’.
    – – – – –
    They may not see this, but thank you to matteobrasi and, in particular, Simian for their excellent comments on Ralphie.

    Liked by 1 person

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