The Army of One (3.13)

Anthony Jr gets expelled from school.
Jackie Jr gets expelled from the world.
Meadow drinks too many Cosmos after Jackie’s funeral.
Adriana’s attractive new friend has ulterior motives.

Episode 39 – Originally aired May 20, 2001
Written by David Chase and Lawrence Konner
Directed by John Patterson


Despite having several standout episodes, I didn’t find Season 3 to be particularly gripping when it originally aired in 2001.  Perhaps it was because I didn’t think the ‘Jackie Jr.’ character was very compelling and I was disappointed that Chase had replaced Ralph Cifaretto—who is a very compelling character—with Jackie in the spotlight.  (Of course, Ralph is “saved” for next season where he returns as a contentious antagonist for Tony.)  I also was not very moved originally by this season’s Finale, maybe because it seemed anti-climactic, particularly after the one-two punch of “Pine Barrens” and “Amour Fou.”  But subsequent viewings have proved to me that Season 3 is quite a powerful beast indeed, and “The Army of One” provides a resonating finish to this excellent season.

The episode title obviously comes from the slogan that the US Army used from 2001-2006.  The “One” in the slogan was apparently an acronym for Officers, Non-Commissioned and Enlisted, the three types of Army soldiers.  But “An Army of One” was probably also meant to appeal to the individualism of the generation reaching adulthood in the early 2000s, a generation more likely to balk at uniformity and conformity than any previous American generation.  (Ok, maybe the Boomers, beatniks and bohemians of the 1960s were more non-conformist, but the military still had the draft to fill its ranks at the time.)  The slogan was retired after only five years (the previous slogan, “Be All That You Can Be,” was in use for 20 years) supposedly because it undermined notions of teamwork within the military community.  I’m providing this short history because the episode title deeply reflects ideas about individualism and community which reside at the heart of this hour.

In the previous episode, we saw Jackie try to force his way deeper into the community of the NJ mob, but he tried to do it in a selfish way—by robbing Eugene Pontecorvo’s card game.  When the robbery goes sour, Jackie only looks out for himself—he doesn’t even slow his car down (“a quintessential Sopranos moment” according to David Chase) to pick up his buddy Dino, who ends up dead because of his selfishness.  Now, the community that Jackie longed to be a part of is turning its back on him.  Christopher wants Jackie dead, and wants to pull the trigger himself.  Ralph is readying himself to do it.  Jackie reaches out to Tony who gives him no aid or hope.  In fact, Tony is annoyed by Jackie’s phone call and complains about it to Ralph, applying more pressure on Ralphie to kill the young man.  Tony is clearly enjoying putting his troublesome captain in a difficult position (despite the fact that Ralph Cifaretto has just kicked up $300k from the Esplanade project to him).

Jackie is hiding out in the Boonton projects in RayRay’s apartment (“Omar” from that other great HBO series, The Wire).  He plays chess with RayRay’s daughter Leena.  Meadow’s Scrabble board had previously displayed Jackie’s foolishness; now more of Jackie’s personality gets revealed at the chessboard:


When Jackie tries to move his pawn more than two spaces, it almost seems like a reflection of his eagerness to get ahead in the Mafia without really understanding how the mob works.  Like his lowly pawn, he tried to do too much too quickly.  When RayRay observes, “You’re done for,” we understand that the observation applies to Jackie’s life as well as the chess match.  Immature Jackie smashes the board out of frustration, unwilling to let the game play out so that he could learn from his mistakes.  When he leaves the apartment to go meet his friend, Ralph’s man Vito Spatafore puts a bullet in the back of his head.

News of Jackie’s death comes to Ralph just as he’s arguing with Rosalie about some silly thing.  He abruptly ends the phone call, and tells her that he won’t be coming home till late.  When he reaches for a tube of toothpaste, we suspect he’s going to meet another woman.

In the next scene, Tony gets a call from Carmela.  We, like Tony, figure that Carm is calling with the bad news about Jackie.  But no…

The camera cuts to the Soprano home and circles around to reveal that the phone call was about AJ getting permanently expelled from school.  The camera and editing are used to replace the viewer’s thoughts of Jackie with thoughts of AJ.  The episode continuously equates Jackie and AJ (at times a bit heavy-handedly).  Chase wants to make sure we get the point: if Tony and Carmela cannot set Anthony Jr. straight, he may end up dead like unfortunate son Jackie Jr.

Tony and Carmela have two very different ideas of how to deal with their boy.  In an illuminating essay with a super-long title, “Whackos in the Wilderness vs. Getting Whacked in Newark: Dueling Family Models in Northern Exposure and The Sopranos,” Mardia Bishop compares the different ideas of parenting—and different worldviews—that are found in two of David Chase’s TV series.  She uses models that are found in George Lakoff’s book, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, to analyze the differences.  Lakoff argued that liberals follow what he calls a “Nurturant Parent” model, while conservatives follow a “Strict Father” model.  The Sopranos is an investigation into this latter model.  Strict Father is characterized by patriarchy, adherence to a rigid hierarchy, belief in only the “traditional” definition of the family, and an emphasis on the moral virtues of strength and discipline.  Tony Soprano believes in this model (and his exclamation in 1.11 that “in this house, it’s 1954” reflects this belief).  The Strict Father model, conservatives hope, prompts a good society in which individuals are strong and self-reliant but know their place.  They neither expect charity nor feel obligated to the welfare of strangers.  Tony’s other family certainly follows this model: the mob’s well-defined hierarchy and emphasis on strength, respect and masculine power fit neatly into the Strict Father paradigm.  An analog can be found between the conservative notion of “family values” and the values of la famiglia.

Northern Exposure, in contrast, reflected the Nurturant Parent model: children benefit more from parental love than patriarchal power, and the emphasis is on the moral virtues of empathy and nurturance.  Airing during the Clinton administration, Northern Exposure reflected a Clintonian vision of society: a caring, diverse society in which tolerance and understanding motivate individuals to give high priority to community needs.  In one episode, for example, we see an abandoned infant be cared for by the entire town of Cicely.  Another episode has the entire town take part in the birth of Miranda, the baby born to unmarried partners Holling and Shelley.  When Miranda is baptized in a later episode, the priest quotes an African saying: “The village raises the child.”  This is the same proverb which was the inspiration for the title of Hillary Clinton’s book It Takes A Village.

Carmela is socially conservative but she doesn’t buy into the Strict Father concept to the extent that her husband does.  She wants to send AJ to Burnwood Day, a school for troubled kids with a psychologist on staff.  She tries to be empathetic towards her son, believing that his hijinks may be a form of “acting out” and that he is, at heart, not very different from most boys his age.  But Tony is sick of Carmela’s soft approach.  He doesn’t want to send AJ to schools that “coddle” him any longer.  He mocks pediatrician/author Berry Brazelton, who Carmela is a fan of.  Interestingly, the vision statement of a Brazelton organization reads like an advertisement for the Nurturant Parent model:

The vision of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center® is that all children grow up to be adults who can cope with adversity, strengthen their communities, constructively participate in civic life and nurture the next generation to be prepared to do the same.

I don’t think Tony could care less whether AJ is taught to “constructively participate in civic life” or “nurture the next generation.”  He wants AJ to act like a man, or at least conform more to his conception of what a man is.  Tony insists on taking AJ to visit Hudson Military Institute.  While Major Zwingli’s description of an academy that forms disciplined young men impresses Carmela, she still wonders if HMI would stamp out “creativity and independent thought.”  Tony and Carm remain at loggerheads after the visit to the school.  Much of this episode’s power comes from James Gandolfini and Edie Falco’s ability to intensely capture the anger and frustration that married people experience as they lock horns over opposing worldviews.

While attending Jackie’s funeral, Carmela recognizes that the stakes are very high for AJ.  She changes her mind: “Let’s try it your way,” Carmela quietly tells Tony.  (We can find a national parallel to Carmela’s change-of-heart: our culture shifted more to a Strict Father mentality after 9/11 made us aware of threats to our existence.  Conservatives like George W. Bush emphasized—and benefitted from—the resurging popularity of the Strict Father model.  Conservative Senator Rick Santorum, in a direct rebuff to Hillary Clinton’s idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” wrote a book entitled It Takes A Family.)

Hudson Military Institute has institutionalized the Strict Father virtues of strength, discipline and competition.  This is not to say the military school doesn’t also believe in community.  But it is a relatively narrow conception of community that Major Zwingli’s describes to AJ:

Zwingli:  At your school…there’s too much emphasis on what’s good for you, what’s good for Johnny, what’s good for Janey.  Here, the higher good is the good of the Corps.  As General MacArthur said in his farewell address at the Point: “The Corps, the Corps, the Corps.”

The community of the Corps is quite different from the liberal vision of community represented by Northern Exposure’s town of Cicely or the Clintons’ idea of the global village.  The community of the military Corps is regimented, competitive, still patriarchal, and extremely hierarchical—and part of a machine that literally destroys rival communities.  The military community and the mafia community are, in a sense, mirror reflections of one other.  (We remember that various mobsters have even described themselves as “soldiers” in other episodes.)

When AJ descends the stairs in uniform, his parents feel a sense of pride.  But AJ rejects the silly looking outfit and the loss of freedom it represents: “I look like a total jerkoff.”


AJ has an anxiety attack and passes out cold.  This precludes him from going to HMI or any other military academy.  Verbum Dei knew about AJ’s attacks but never told his parents about it.  Viewers knew about his attacks because we saw AJ suffer from one in “Fortunate Son” (the first episode in which AJ and Jackie were strongly paralleled to each other).  Tony conveys serious worry in Melfi’s office, he believes AJ has inherited “that putrid, rotten fuckin’ Soprano gene.”  He wonders how he can save AJ without the aid of military school.  He is less worried about Meadow.  He poignantly expresses his fervent hope that she is able to get far away from him; her moving to New York for college indicates that she has taken the first steps in distancing herself from Tony and the mob.

When Meadow returns home for Jackie’s funeral, she correctly surmises that there is more to Jackie’s death than the official mob story of “a drug deal gone bad.”  (By hiding out in the projects where he was ultimately killed, Jackie inadvertently made Ralph and Tony’s bullshit story more believable.)  Carmela defends Tony, but it is a case of the lady doth protest too much.  Carm knows there is a real possibility that Tony, or at least the mob, had a hand in Jackie’s death.  Meadow herself takes her mother’s position in a later discussion with Jackie’s sister.  (Kelli Aprile nails the immediate cause of her brother’s death: “He was killed by some fatfuck in see-through socks.”)  Though Meadow may not be fully certain just how complicit the mob was in Jackie’s murder, she does have a strong sense that neither Jackie’s family nor his famiglia did all they could for him.  Regarding the Aprile parents, Meadow says, “Jackie’s family were never there for him…they let him do whatever he wanted.”  Regarding the mob famiglia, she says, “Look at who he grew up with.  Look at who his father was.  Look at everybody we know,” insinuating that his death should not be very surprising given the community he grew up in.  Jackie’s parents did not follow the Nurturant Parent model, and neither did the Mafia community in which he lived.  The Strict Father model here has led to the formation of a community of selfish, careless individuals.  The mob community doesn’t even care enough to show up for Jackie’s funeral because it is playoff season in the NFL.

The two previous Sopranos seasons ended with scenes of social gathering.  Season 1 ended at Vesuvio and Season 2 closed with Meadow’s graduation party.  Season 3 is no different; it ends at Vesuvio again.  Corrado is singing to himself at the restaurant when his community of friends and family persuade him to sing for them.  He goes into a rendition of “Core ‘ngrato” (“Ungrateful Heart”).  Meadow, drunk on wine and Cosmopolitans, starts tossing bread (gasp! carbohydrates are venerated in Italian culture and should never be used as projectiles) at her uncle while humming Britney Spears’ “Oops…I Did It Again.”  She runs out of the restaurant, stopping only to yell “This is such bullshit!” at her father.  She can’t escape the bullshit fast enough, rushing headlong into oncoming traffic as she makes her way back to Columbia University.

Tony returns to his wife and son while Corrado continues his song.  The episode closes with one of the most experimental, difficult-to-decipher moments in the entire series: Corrado’s voice gets “replaced” by the voices of three foreign singers, one after the other:

Several commentators have given a shot at interpreting this unconventional ending.  Maurice Yacowar writes:

At the end, other singers and three other songs are overlaid, as if to broaden the cultural context…By this abstraction we are pushed out of the scene.  In the last shot we are above and behind Tony, Carmela and AJ.  After all its complex identification, the season ends by detaching us from the family and returning us to a perspective of objective judgment.

Todd VanDerWerff takes a stab at it: “…the final medley of songs that drown out Junior’s voice?  I want to say the show is trying to say something about certain emotions being universal, but, really, I’m just bullshitting you.  I have no idea.”

Soon after first watching this scene, I came to believe that David Chase was making a connection between Corrado and Major Zwingli by playing on the words “core” [the “heart” in Corrado’s “Core ‘ngrato”] and the similar sounding “corps” [the subject of Zwingli’s speech to AJ].  Corrado’s mobster community and Zwingli’s military community share several characteristics.  They are insulated and parochial, and both are shaped by the Strict Father model.  By injecting foreign voices into the final scene, Chase criticizes and undermines the insularity of the mob community.  The three worldly, foreign voices (French, Chinese and Spanish) also serve as a direct rebuke to Zwingli’s three narrow priorities (“the Corps, the Corps, the Corps”).  The foreign voices point to the liberal, Clintonian vision of a multi-cultural, tolerant, true world community—a “global village.”

Meadow recognizes that the communal values of the mafia are counterfeit (“This is such bullshit!”) and runs to the more cosmopolitan, multi-cultural community of Columbia University (and New York City).  By distancing herself—something that Tony had earlier told Dr. Melfi he hoped his daughter would do—Meadow is able to protect herself.  Her brother, on the other hand, is never able to escape Tony or the false community of the mob.

family portrait

AJ never moves away from home, he doesn’t mature or become independent, and his troubles only worsen.  In Season 6, he himself decides that military service would be the solution for his lack of discipline and strength.  But at that time, the U.S. will be embroiled in a bloody war on terror on multiple fronts, prompting Tony to find a less dangerous job for AJ in a mob side-business.  Like Jackie, AJ is never able to branch away from this selfish, insulated mob community that doesn’t really care very much about him.

I was so proud of myself for figuring out that Chase was using the music of three foreign singers as a device to counter the provincial values of the mob and the military.  And then I found a 2005 interview (Dying to Belong) in which David Chase gives Martha Nochimson his take on the foreign singers:

That singing thing is about how all over the world people engage in pure sentimentality.  Everyone loves a good cry.  And I don’t mean to denigrate funerals or death.  It also has something to do with entertainment, filmed entertainment.  Music can be used so manipulatively.  And Junior, who is the most selfish character in the cast, is pouring his heart out.  Didn’t mean a thing.  Just to wallow in the moment…Pop music is so abused and overused, manipulated and employed in the service of the devil.  It was to give the audience a laugh about how they are being manipulated everyday.

Oh well, c’est la vie.  You think you know, but you really don’t.


Season 3, like its predecessors, does not end with a cliffhanger.  However, there are plenty of threats setup here to drive the narrative in upcoming seasons.  Agent Deborah Ciccerone poses as Jersey-girl “Danielle” and easily befriends Adriana (who discusses Tony within minutes of meeting her new friend).  Paulie is under some financial pressure after enrolling his mother at Green Grove, and believes Tony made an unfair ruling against him, costing him tens of thousands of dollars.  New York mobster Johnny Sac seems to be interested in exploiting Paulie Walnuts’ frustrations with Tony.  And Ralph is still around.  We suspected Ralph was tidying himself up for a date when we saw him reach for his toothpaste earlier, but we are surprised to find out who his new woman is:


Janice has been quiet for the last couple of episodes.  But now that Gloria Trillo has been banished from the story, Chase brings Janice back to reclaim her position within the narrative as the Livia-replacement.  And coupling Janice with madman Ralph?!  Madonn’, Tony would surely prefer to battle federal prosecutors or the New York mob than deal with this destructive duo.



  • An instrumental version of “Core n’grato” was heard in Season 2’s “Commendatori.”  Dominic Chianese, an accomplished singer, released an album in 2003 named “Ungrateful Heart.”
  • The character “2 – 5 / 7 – 9” is listed again in the credits but she is not mentioned in the episode.  She shows up at mob funerals throughout the series.
  • Ralph makes a reference to a flying saucer sighting over East Rutherford.  There were actually reports of a UFO in this area the previous year.
  • RayRay gives Jackie the pseudonym “Mr. X.”  This is fitting, because X is what Jackie had been dealing, not crack cocaine like Ralph and Tony try to make everyone believe.
  • Smoker #1:  Major Zwingli’s spiel about the importance of discipline is undermined by his smoking.  He mocks the “substance recovery industry”—and then takes a long drag on his substance of choice, nicotine.
  • Smoker #2:  Johnny Sac steps away from his wife to sneak a cigarette because “she can get heavy.”  The cigarettes will get the better of him in Season Six.
  • Janice dumps a copy of her Contemporary Christian Music demo CD on to Mr. Cozarelli who gives it its proper due, setting it on a heap of other things he doesn’t want to deal with right now.
  • The Long Pause: When Paulie brings his mother to Green Grove, Nucci says, “My son lets me live in a place like this…(long pause)…such a good boy!”  We were half-expecting Nucci to condemn her son, the way Livia did Tony when he brought her to Green Grove.
  • At Vesuvio restaurant, we hear Ralph say the punchline to the famous joke about a guy who doesn’t want to be healed by Jesus because he doesn’t want to lose his disability payments.  Everyone laughs and Janice climbs onto his lap—which is somewhat ironic, as we know that Janice has gotten paid from false disability claims in the past.
  • David Chase and Lawrence Konner teamed up to write this episode.  The two had previously co-created the critically acclaimed but short-lived CBS series Almost Grown.  Konner gets credit for writing episodes 3.07 and 4.08 of The Sopranos as well.
  • Some viewers may remember that Fairuza Balk appeared as the FBI agent that befriends Adriana in the episode’s original airing in 2001.  Balk was a big fan of the show and jumped at the chance to play a character in it—but she had no desire to make a long-term commitment to a television series.  So Chase reshot her scenes with replacement Lola Glaudini playing “Danielle” for the DVD and all subsequent airings of the episode.
Instagram sopranos.autopsy
If you’d like to help support the site, please visit my Venmo or PayPal
© 2020 Ron Bernard

75 responses to “The Army of One (3.13)

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. I’m watching “The Sopranos” for the first time. Sadly, I’m now on Season 4 and you don’t have those episodes listed here yet. Will you continue your writing? Thanks!


  2. Again with the symbolism, but I am curious as to your thoughts about Jackie’s murder. Face down in a pile of snow, which as we know represents death… or is that black… whatever. It does look very intentional that he landed there though (as opposed to just falling in the street). I guess you could say that the blood on the white backdrop would make for better cinematic effect, but after Pine Barrens…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very interesting that you would bring this up…I don’t know if Jackie falling face-first into the snow after being shot by Vito Spatafore symbolizes anything in particular, but I think it is very interesting that as Vito drives back to New Jersey in Season 6 (after spending some time with Johnny Cakes in New Hampshire), he again shoots a character who falls face-first into the snow – which may signify that Vito is returning to Business As Usual after his voyage of self-discovery in Dartford, NH. (More on this in my entry for episode 6.10 “Moe n’ Joe.”)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. More on Major Zwingli. Despite his mockery of the “substance recovery industry”, he’s clearly adopted two terms commonly used in drug/alcohol rehab: “Keep it simple”, and “One day at a time”.

    For all of Tony’s blaming of A.J.’s schools and society in general making him less of what he views as a “man”, Tony is confronted with the fact that his “putrid Soprano gene” might be more to blame. However, Dr. Melfi puts the pieces together, teaching both Tony (and perhaps the audience) that blaming his own DNA is effectively him blaming himself. This could also give us a glimpse into modern day conservatism. For example, it could be that Tony’s blame of a liberal or politically correct society for his son’s failures is a way to distract himself from failing at his own delusional standards of parenting, standards which are practically impossible to meet in the world AJ’s growing up in. If you don’t succeed in raising your son to be some sort of anomalous, 21st century “Gowy Coopah type”, it’s Obama’s fault!!!

    Half drunken Meadow laments to Carmela about Jackie’s apathetic parents, to which Carm replies something to the effect of , “Now you see”. …I sure see shades of Gloria when Meadow quickly goes from somber to outraged and psycho analyzes Carmela’s response.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your site – watch an episode, read an analysis, watch an episode, etc etc. It’s fun to catch symbolism you’ve never seen before, you seem to have a good eye for this sort of thing. But I have to say, in a time when people are sadly identifying themselves by their politics instead of who they are as individuals, it’s disheartening to see in this episode analysis what I thought was an impartial view of sopranos, take such a heavy handed political stance.
    “..conservatives hope..” – ” ..Conservatives like George W. Bush..” – “..Conservative Senator Rick Santorum, in a direct rebuff to Hillary Clinton’s idea..”
    Not ‘Liberal’ Hillary Clinton? You use ‘Conservatives’ almost like a damning negative label, but leave everyone else with just their name alone.
    I wouldn’t identify myself as conservative, I just get tired of having everyone shove their own political agenda down each others throats.
    I will not be returning to your site, I do hope you manage to finish it – outside of this episodes review, it’s been a wonderful experience.


    • Thanks for your comment Jack. Sopranos Autopsy expresses my interpretations and thoughts on the show, things that are deeply personal and unique to me as an individual. And who I am as an individual is inseparable from my history, my experiences, my emotions and my politics. I never claimed that this site will be “impartial” (and I would never have started it if I had to put such a restriction on it).

      That being said, I have made an effort not to allow too much of my personal politics into these write-up. This particular write-up, as mentioned earlier, is built upon Professor Mardia Bishop’s essay (which can be found in the excellent book Considering David Chase.) Going forward, politics will factor more heavily in my write-ups, but only because I feel that David Chase dipped more into the political fray after 9/11, in seasons 4, 5 and 6. (Chase criticizes aspects of both liberal and conservative ideology in future episodes.)

      Although I don’t think I am very far left of center on the political spectrum, its true that the antics of the Right rile me up a bit more than the antics of the Left. But when I use terms like “conservative senator,” I am using them mainly for clarification – more than 1/4 of the visitors to this site are from foreign countries and may have no idea who Rick Santorum is. I try not to let my personal biases slip through. I hope you decide to return, if only to help me stay in check.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi, I’m going through the Sopranos for the first time and really enjoy your writeups. There are lots of things that I miss, so it’s nice to get someone else’s take.

    Regarding Jackie Jr.’s death, I noticed something throughout his arc that maybe you can expound upon. Jackie Jr. never eats. He interrupts dinner at the Soprano’s house several times but leaves when they offer food; he skips dinner at their house when invited, and even at home, while cooking with Ralph, we never see him eat. Thinking of imagery with food and violence, it makes me wonder if Jackie never fit in because he never partook in such a familial tradition. Could this be an intentional characterization or something that just happened? Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good observation, I think you may be on to something, especially considering how much emphasis there is on food and eating throughout the series…


      • Actually, Jackie Jr is seen eating spaghetti with Dino in Amour Fou — it’s when Ralph tells them about the card game heist which they will later idiotically try to re-enact. Perhaps you could say this one depiction of him eating is telling as it occurs right before his death, right as he gets the spark to start the incident which leads to his death.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Nice catch. I think you should watch the series through a few times before reading the analysis. It’s interesting to see all the things you can pick up on when rewatching. Not to mention there is plenty of foreshadowing. Probably the best part about season 1 next to the ending of Livia “smiling”

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m new to this site and I would like to comment about the association of objects to psychoanalyze any situation in the Sopranos series. Could it be that the whole thing is a coincidence. There is certainly a connection of food to violence or similarity of characters. But I don’t believe every bitty little observation signifies intentional characterization.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hardly anything in the Sopranos is just a coincidence. There are so many rhymes, so much connective tissue, and almost no
      throwaway lines, let alone scenes. Even when Meadow was tossing bread at Junior to the laughter of her friends, that rhymed with the scene
      in “He Is Risen” when Tony tossed bread at Janice’s narcoleptic boyfriend to the laughter of all.

      That’s what makes the series so re-watchable. The plot is just the beginning.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Ron , Do you plan to write about rest of the seasons soon ?
    if you do I will rewatch the seasons 🙂


  8. One thing I can’t quite figure: Why does Meadow switch her cosmopolitan for white wine immediately before bursting into “Oops”? It feels like something highly symbolic and must be there for a reason, but surely if it were a regression into immaturity or that “Meadow recognizes that the communal values of the mafia are counterfeit (“This is such bullshit!”) and runs to the more cosmopolitan, multi-cultural community of Columbia University (and New York City)” they’d be switching their white wine for a cosmopolitan. Does it have something Catholic to do with how they are shown literally breaking bread right after? I really have no clue.


    • I suspect the point here, as sometimes happens in drinking situations, especially with the young, is that Meadow is simply drinking whatever alcohol is available to her. She was drinking Cosmos, but now that she’s finished her latest, she grabs whatever drink floats by next, which happens to be white wine. I think the point Chase is making is that she’s upset about Jackie Jr.’s death, and her confusion about whether or not her father was involved in Jackie’s death, and “drowning her sorrows”, rather than a symbolic reference to Catholicism. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

      Liked by 2 people

    • i don’t think she switches it i think she just need something new to drink.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a good commentary it really shows how ruthless and selfish these people are.what kill me is when they say we got to keep jackie jr from the life yet nobody he is around is a role model or gave 2 cents about what he did yet tony swears he was helping him but he knew the boy was really stupid like alot of his crew members…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The shadowy figure in the doorway at jackie juniors funeral, is it Jackie senior watching ralph watch tv? I am watching Sopranos for about the 5th time and still asking questions!

    Liked by 2 people

    • He’s way too old to be Jackie Sr. But it is a weird little scene. I always wondered the purpose of it, but I think it’s just a relative of Jackie/Ro, who spots Ralph being so insensitive as to watch TV at that time. Just a little comedy. But visually it does call to mind, say, the weird old guy on the stairs at Livia’s wake (the two men look fairly similar I think).

      Liked by 3 people

  11. As an EXTREME sopranos fan I just finished researching this episode.. Probably 7th or 8th watching the series again. I had to drop back in to your website to help my brain decipher this ending. Very interesting analysis and I certainly agree the most experimental ending in the entire series. Great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Denny Jenkins

    Ron, I know you had to enjoy the mild foreshadowing to next season’s “The Weight” – during Paulie’s convo with Johnny Sack “Ginny can get heavy”! Ha. Looking forward to the rest of the analyses. I can’t wait to see what you do with “Long Term Parking”!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Re: Major Zwingli — interesting choice of name. Huldrych Zwingli was a leader of the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland. The Reformation was an ascetic breakaway from the extravagant, opulent Catholicism of the time. Likewise, AJ’s routine at Hudson Military Institute would be stark and regimented, as opposed to his life at home and in school at Verbum Dei.

    I love your series of commentaries and am looking forward to the rest! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hmm that’s interesting. I’d be surprised if the writers were actually making such a little-known reference but it certainly would fit into the dynamic of the episode, as you suggest…


  14. Hey Ron,
    I interpreted the scene where Junior sings a bit differently:

    For me it’s one of the show’s greatest symbols regarding one of its themes, that of Italo-American culture or let’s say the contrast and harmony between American mainstream culture and the remainings of (thought to be) Italian culture.

    You have that family that considers itself “Italian”, that makes ongoing references to it, how proud they are of their roots, the food an so on. But in fact you find out that they are an ordinary completely Americanized family with only some superficial Italian “garniture”. You figure out that this self-claimed “Italianness” is first of all a facade for their mobster business, a kind of protective identity from the environment but nothing authentic.

    And this scene stresses it perfectly: Everybody was touched and cried, but like nobody knew what he was singing in Italian. Complete superficiality. This was finally underlined even more with the music from the OFF when the Italian song suddenly switched to a French, Spanish and Chinese one while Junior’s lips perfectly moved to them. He could have sung the greatest bullshit, they would have been moved believing they’d listen to a great Italian tragical ballad (which he did but in fact they had no clue).

    Let me know what you think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s a very interesting take, and I think you can tie it in with what Chase said he was trying to do with the scene: highlight how falsely music can be used on TV shows. The bullshit sentimentality that Chase speaks of and the bullshit Italian-ness you speak are both forms of inauthenticity…

      Liked by 1 person

      • For what it’s worth, I find that take by Chase to be almost absurdly cynical. Music is an art form, and all art is meant to touch people, to make them feel something. If it doesn’t it’s just crap. Using that cynical viewpoint, all art is inauthentic. It is all something made up by someone in the hopes it will manipulate the viewer’s or listener’s emotions. It’s a strange point to be made by somebody whose career is built on doing just that, and generally doing it quite well. What’s more, would anyone seriously argue that we would be better off without art that manipulates is into feeling something? I no Chase seemed to emphasize pop music in his statement, and certainly it is easier to take that cynical view of pop, what with all of its assembly line like creations. But still, if it succeeds on some level in eliciting emotion, it hardly seems worthy of that level of cynicism.
        As for the “inauthentic Italian” viewpoint, it also seems overly cynical. What is wrong for an Americanized family wanting to maintain some level of contact with their heritage? They are who they are, both their Americaness and heritage and there is nothing inauthentic about that. Further, Chase shows us the emotional reaction of the “most Italian” person in the room, Furio, along with all of the Italian Americans.

        Liked by 2 people

        • The whole show is about cynicism and unauthenticity and Chase knows how to stress this by symbolism. Coldblooded killers and their partners in crime attend a funeral and cry like little children to a text they do not even understand. It’s comical. And even when they understand the text, it’s more than hypocrite when these cold blooded killers breaks out in tears over an “ungrateful heart”.
          There is nothing wrong with maintaining an amount of heritage. That wasn’t the point. It’s the overemphesis of their self-claimed Italian identity even in contrast to “the Americans” which makes it unauthentic when they are an ordinary American family. The Italian facade is crucial for their “business”. It keeps the family together and keeps outsiders out. And still, there is only superficial Italianness left.
          Furthermore, it’s not only unauthentic within an American context, it’s first of all the Italian mobster “identity” itself which is completely fake. Or how would you call moaning killers that attend their own victims’ funerals, criminals who play good catholics, who all cheat on their wives, people whose lives are basically built on lies.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes the show thrives in showing us their hypocrisy. But it is only interesting because it is merely showing us ourselves, just to a greater degree. We are all hypocrites. It’s just these guys take it to levels most (though not all) never see. But their emotions, like ours, are not inauthentic. Just as we can claim to value all life while eating a cheeseburger and squashing a spider, they can do so after shooting someone in the head. They are not completely without humanity just as we are not without it. Hypocrisy and inauthenticity are not the same. And thankfully so, or we would all be psychopaths.

            Unfortunately this idea that a hypocrite cannot he auhentic is all too prevalent in our society. Rather than evaluate a thought or idea, people strive to attack the messenger by finding character flaws and hypocrisy. These gangsters are not inauthentic in their emotions. Writing them off as such due to the hypocrisy of their actions is to miss a great deal of what is genuinely engaging and often heartbreaking about these characters.

            Chase himself did not claim to be making a point about the inauthenticity of the gangsters’ Italianess, which makes sense given there was an authentic Italian in the room (Furio) who reacted with emotion.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Hypocrisy is a form of inauthenticity – for the entourage, the external image and in most cases NOT for the self image. So, of course, they can have real emotions. for the external view, however, the discrepancy of a grown up man crying about a kitschy emotional song who can be a monster without any empathy minutes later is what it makes contradictionary behaviour – not for himself. And yes, we are all like this to some extent. In this context here, it has reached a perverted maximum though. If you say you value life and squash a bug at the same time you are no being authentic.

              You can see the inauthenticity of their Italianess virtually thoughout the show. Remember the episode when they are in Italy? There you can see the culture clash, for example when Paulie is disgusted by a typical southern Italian style restaurant toilet just before they are shocked that the Napolitan mobsters are even crueler than them…or when he tries to act like a local and gets dismissed as a dumb foreigner… Btw, this is not an exclusive Italo-American thing, there are German-Americans who attend Wurstfests, drink beer and claim that’s it, I’m German! Italo-Americans, however, tend to overemphasize their roots, certainly in the mobster environment and historically one might have to do with the other…

              Liked by 2 people

  15. I love all the AA cliches that pepper the military academy guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. David J Noone

    Good write up on a bland episode. I agree about your original feelings about this episode. This is the worst season ender of the series in my opinion, however, like all episodes it has some great parts. This is overall a sad episode in that Rosalie looses her son. Nobody made any real attempts to straighten him out. Later next season when Tony asks Meadow “you dont think I tried with that kid,” I was not convinced he really did try. The failures we seen with Jackie can be seen with AJ. The character’s selfishness and carelessness is shown over and over again; nobody really cared about Jackie since his dad passed. To use your words, the “mob community doesn’t care about him.” The main idea this episode drives home is what will the future hold for AJ? The conflicting viewpoints of Tony and Carm and their frustrations about how to handle AJ are very real. They definitely make this episode better through the realism and seriousness of this situation. The Jackie storyline kind of puts it in perspective; AJ will be Jackie in a few years if he don’t wise up. The telephone call Tony gets revealing AJ was expelled was unexpected. Anyone watching this for the first time automatically assumed this call was regarding Jackie. It’s very possible military school would have worked for AJ but that’s something that we will not ever know. I always thought Major Zwilgli was a strange bird, but was a great scene. Like AJ knows what the hell “group think” is. I always loved the sit down scene where Ralph makes fun of Paulie about the flying saucer. Joey Pants is a riot. While this season had it’s excellent scenes, I don’t think it quite measured up to Seasons 1 & 2, perhaps since it took a few episodes to get the storyline going.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. My take on the closing scene where Junior’s voice is replaced by other singers was that as the camera pans around the other mourners, we hear what they are each hearing – each hears a slightly different rendition of the same song.
    That’s how I (first time of watching) saw it anyway, it’s about how the same thing can be viewed (heard) differently from different perspectives.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Just started my third re-watch.
    You are an excellent critic and writer. Thanks.


  19. To me season 3 is the beginning of the descent into darkness the series takes. The situations and characters have become darker, more sinister. Irina had her issues, but Gloria is a deeply disturbed and tragic figure. Ritchie was an asshole, but Ralph is much further down the socio/psycho scale. AJ is turning from just goofy to showing major signs of psychological issues. Meadow is no longer just a rebellious teenager, she fully comprehends what her father does and is beginning to grasp the ramifications. Carmela is running out of ideas to save her marriage (and herself). Jackie Jr was lost, and now we are forced to consider what will happen with the more central characters of AJ and Chris. Season 2 ended at the top of the hill. Season 3 starts taking us over the crest. We can now see the abyss, but we are not yet hurtling toward it.

    I agree with others that this finale doesn’t quite measure up against the finales of season 1 or 2. But I think it still serves its purpose very well, especially when viewed as taking us slowly down the first part of our descent. Like we are in the front of a roller coaster where the back is still connected to the chain, yet we have started downward and can see there is no turning back.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. “’Jackie’s family were never there for him…they let him do whatever he wanted.’ Jackie’s parents did not follow the Nurturant Parent model, and neither did the Mafia community in which he lived.”

    I interpreted this differently. Meadow remarks that Jackie’s parents were lax, and I remember there was even a brief descriptive anecdote about him as a young boy being given either too much freedom or not enough discipline. My take is that it illustrates that neither model works 100% on its own, that too much “nurturing,” which can backslide into lack of appropriate discipline, is just as bad as too much strictness. By the time Tony tried to crack the whip on Jackie, the dye had been cast. He was used to the easy path and a lack of consequences. Maybe his parents just had no model, lol. But in Season Six, Rosalie calls out AJ to Carmela. Carmela wants to shield AJ from seeing Tony’s open gunshot wound in the hospital, and Rosalie protests with “he should get a pass? You know kids his age are getting blown up in Iraq.” It is a fascinating line on many levels. Not only does it call back to AJ’s possible military path, but she swings to the opposite end of the spectrum, and without a sense of irony that Iraq and the mob can be equally violent, or that a kid who was spoiled (Jackie) can take a bullet to the head as easily as a well-disciplined soldier.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Great analysis of an episode as always. The theme of conservative vs liberal ways of upbringing was definitely the underlying theme here. You brought up how Meadow mentioned “His (Jackie’s) parents were never there for him”. There’s a subtle emphasis on this point in another scene. After Tony hangs up on Jackie’s plea phone call, the little girl asks him “Can you play chess?” and after Jackie’s responding no, she continues “I can. My daddy taught me.”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Tony’s approach towards Jackie Aprile is entirely different. He wanted to save Jackie Aprile, but didn’t want to be involved directly. He feared insubordination from his crew if he gave Jackie a pass, and pressured Ralphie to do it. Ralphie, a newly made captain, wanted to give him a pass, but also knew the consequences of giving Jackie a pass. Ralphie also knew that killing Jackie would hurt Tony. Tony actually curses Ralphie when he learns about Jackie’s death.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Love this write up Ron, but I’m wondering if you can answer a question about something Tony and Carmela say about AJ regarding the neighbor’s cat. Something about cherry bombs and frogs and killing small animals. What the heck? AJ admits blowing up frogs with dynamite in an earlier episode with his friend Jeremy P. For all her reading and research on schools and ADD etc, doesn’t Carmela know this is Sociopathic behavior? She practically screeches at Tony- “no! He’s a normal kid!” Sounds a lot like her overly strong denial to Meadow about how Jackie Jr died. I guess Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Overcoming denial also a big part of “the ever burgeoning substance abuse recovery business.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the years. When I was a kid, I had friends who horribly abused frogs and lizards (I still wonder why my 9-year-old self didn’t punch them in the face so that they would at least stop doing it in front of me), but they have all—as far as I know—grown up to be normal, law-abiding dads and husbands and adults. Maybe that type of behavior is actually just a “normal” part of boyhood after all…


  24. The way Meadow runs across the busy street is similar to the final scene in “Made in America”. All that is missing is the sound of a roaring plane.
    An observation.. when Carmela kneels down to fix AJs uniform pants, there is a small pumpkin decoration on the floor between the two. Its so out of place. I can only think it was in Carms hand before fixing up the pants.. no idea on what the point of this is though. There are pumpkins throughout the season as it seems to takes place in October – December.. but by now in the season, Christmas has passed.. so why the pumpkin?
    Also.. there is a crate of oranges that pass by in front of Furio before he falls. A reference to the Godfather I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the “pumpkin” was actually a pincushion styled to look like a tomato. Carmella was pinning the cuffs of AJ’s pants.
      Those tomato-pincushions are a pretty common sewing kit item. Kind of odd, really! Why a tomato?

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Lots on my mind from this episode: On a quick note, it was classic Sopranos, with the show telling us blacks killed Jackie Jr over drugs, while showing us they were actually protecting Jackie from the Italian mob and teaching him to play chess.

    Carmela is revealed to me as Livia’s Foil in this episode. Carmela, with her blonde hair, stands out compared to Livia and the many “faux Livia” goomars Tony messes around with. Both Carmela and Livia view Tony as a baby needing care, however Carmela talked to meadow about it as if it was a woman’s duty (“we all do”), while Livia openly complained about “giving her life to her kids on a silver platter”. Carmela is often seen engaging with tony in short, pointed exchanges. She also allows Tony’s cheating, choosing to “focus on the good parts”. In contrast, Tony’s many girlfriends beg him for attention and love when he threatens to leave them for another woman (aka, his wife). Carmela often asks for and responds well to monetary support and physical gifts. Conversely, Tony’s current goomar Gloria states that she only wants kindness and emotionally balks at Tony casually throwing money at the issue of her slashed tires. Carmela is religious to a fault, using Christianity as a crutch to keep her precarious marriage and lifestyle going. Livia rejected the teaching’s of Christianity, calling reality a big nothing and eventually both her and Gloria ended up begging for death.

    Interestingly, Tony’s marriage to mother figure Carmela often leads to him getting his sexual fix elsewhere, Carmela even acknowledges it as “other women picking up the slack”. The few times Tony and Carmela do get sexual, Carmela tends to take the lead.

    Carmela defends AJ from Tony throughout the episode. She later wraps herself around Tony in a dominant, yet motherly manner as she acquiesces towards using his parenting method for AJ.

    Melfi confessed to Tony that Carmela is the one thing he did right. In a storm of “side women” who represent aspects of Livia, Carmela is the motherly figure that Tony always wanted for himself growing up. This ties back to Tony’s dream in “Isabella” where “Dream manifestation of Carmela” threatened to cut off his dick at Tony fantasizing over a new mother figure temporarily residing at Cusamano’s neighboring residence. A new mother figure may be the only way Tony could truly cheat on Carmela, and fittingly his subconscious attacks him severely for it.

    In fact, Tony confesses feelings for “paid mother figure” Melfi. We see Tony subconsciously hide the fact that Melfi is a woman from Carm. We also see Carmela speak on her jealousy of not being able to treat Tony as Melfi can. Fortunately for Carm, Melfi rejects Tony and later states that he will “never leave Carm”.

    It’d be very interesting to see where the story would have gone if Melfi gave in and confessed to Tony about the rape. I believe this would have been a transformative event, leading Melfi down a slippery slope to a relationship with Tony (Melfi admitted her attraction to patriarchy was the reason behind her marriage to an older man, and you don’t get more patriarchal than what Tony is running in Jersey). Between accepting Tony’s protection, Melphi’s disgust at the failure of the system to punish her rapist, and her impassioned defense against mob stereotypes in talks with her own family, the writing was on the wall. With the kids getting older and leaving the nest, I imagine Tony would have left Carm for Melfi who was more useful for both sides of his identity. Melphi functions as both an advisor on mob rule, “how do I get people to do what I want?”, and someone who understands Tony emotionally. Additionally, with her dark hair, she’s much more his type aesthetically. This paring may have altered the ending of the entire series significantly. Tony had no allies in the end, which lead to his demise. However, with shrewd Melfi at his side he would have seen the double cross coming and been on guard. Tony would very likely have to give up his goomars to be with Melfi, but I’m convinced she’d satisfy the need that’s driving him towards them in the first place.

    But on a final note, Melphi would really have had to evolve as a character to fit this mold. As shown in an earlier episode she doesn’t like to mix business and pleasure, preferring to turn off the psychiatrist act during dating and personal time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really like He’s insight about Carmella because of how she was crying over being married to the baby Jesus. She is thinking of being married to an innocent baby. She wants to see Tony as an innocent baby. But she is also thinking of her children growing up and leaving the house. I end u coming back to how whenever the truth about their actions and their consequences get revealed all the soprano, the mobsters try and distract, change, the subject, get angry, blame others, say they did not mean it, blame drugs, eat, or say it wasn’t their fault. They do everything they can not to see. And they end up bullying and destroying their children beating them down when they actually do gave the courage to be honest or do the same e thing the parents do. Its truly unfortunate when the future gets destroyed to hold on to those lies all they can do is sing cheap sentiments and parody the rich culture given to them

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Ron, thank you for your incredible insight into each episode. It has been a couple of years now since I have returned to your site and I see that you have only one episode left to review… wow!

    So, it has been a while for me but there is one thing that has always stuck with me regarding this episode and the finale (Made in America). One person has already partially commented on it on this thread:
    “The way Meadow runs across the busy street is similar to the final scene in “Made in America”. All that is missing is the sound of a roaring plane.”
    Like I said, it has been a while, but this observation is something I found overlooked in many reviews over the years (maybe I’ve missed something – please let me know if that’s the case).

    “Meadow recognizes that the communal values of the mafia are counterfeit (“This is such bullshit!”) and runs to the more cosmopolitan, multi-cultural community of Columbia University (and New York City)”

    Agreed. I also think there are more parallels to be drawn to the series finale. I remember reading that David Chase had an ending in mind long before the end.

    Personally, I feel that the way in which we see Tony’s reaction to Meadow’s comment in 3.13 parallels to that of which we never see of Meadow before screen goes black in Made in America.
    Tony seems taken aback by the utter conviction of her comment in 3.13. It is a moment of truth. This scene, in my view, can also be the height of Meadow’s revulsion to the mafia and Tony’s persistent lies regarding it. The parallel moment of truth as she walks into Holstein’s… at the height of her acceptance of her father and the mafia.
    In 3.13 she is seen running away and, in the finale, she is seen running into the diner…

    I am not going into much detail or depth here, but I strongly feel that this scene in 3.13 connects significantly to the final scenes in Made in America.
    Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

    Ron – I very much look forward to reading your final review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mikey! I think it’s very possible, maybe even probable, that Chase called back the scene in this hour when he constructed the last moments of the Series Finale.


  27. Thanks for the reply, Ron.

    I mentioned you have only one episode left to review (The Blue Comet) as I imagine you’ll pay homage to the last episode with a blank or black page as your final review ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I really enjoyed the analysis of Nurturance vs Strict Father models of parenting, even if David Chase appears to contradict your thoughts with his comments about manipulation through music and our desire to indulge in ‘high sentimentality mode’. I never understood the description of sentimentality as the ‘unearned emotion’ until reading this page and your analysis.
    Personally, I always found the Junior singing scene in the restaurant to be corny and a bit cringeworthy – maybe that is the point Chase was trying to make about people wallowing in ‘unearned’ sentimentality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m usually not into any kind of analysis that begins with “There’s two kinds of people in the world…” Most of the time, it’s just too simplistic to be very insightful. But I really like Lakoff’s Nurturant Parent vs. Strict Father model—I think it explains a lot about the world, definitely in the current moment but even going all the way back to the Athenians vs. the Spartans..


  29. I will put in a few words for a transient character who most people probably won’t remember – Kelli Aprile, Rosalie’s daughter, and sister of the murdered Jackie, Jr. She is, I think, an intelligent, unhappy, clear-seeing woman, who knows what her father was and what her brother was trying to be, and rightly suspects that he was killed by ‘a fat Italian’. Although she may love the individuals in her family, she is estranged from them and from her Italian-American heritage. I hoped we would see her again, but we don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Another excellent analysis, Ron.

    I know “you probably don’t even hear it when it happens,” but how the hell does a guy like Vito Spatafore appear out of nowhere and clip the “hair apparent” without being noticed first? Jackie knew his life was in danger AND he was walking downhill in a neighborhood where he obviously stuck out like a sore thumb. Was he that obtuse that he couldn’t see the see-through socks coming? I guess props to Vito and his ninja stealth.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. When AJ and his friend broke into the school to steal test papers they had to pee in the instructor’s office. When Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte pulled robberies with Chrissy Sean always had to take a dump. We see how they ended up.
    When Jackie left was going to cheat Meadow we saw him cleaning himself up. This was similar to how Ralphie abandons Rosalie over the phone and reaches for toothbrush and toothpaste to get ready for his date.


  32. Pingback: Why 'The Sopranos' Season 3 Ended With Songs in Italian, French, Chinese, and Spanish - Mecca Motive

  33. Pingback: Perché la stagione 3 di "The Sopranos" si è conclusa con canzoni in italiano, francese, cinese e spagnolo

  34. Notemma Goldman

    Zwingli is one of the most pathetically comic characters in the series. He doesn’t know anything about what AJ’s problems are, he delivers the same speech about schools being too individualistic and kids watching too much television and getting addicted to drugs that he’s no doubt rattled off to 500 parents that year, and he buckles to the first pushback from Carmela on the value of military culture, backpedaling about “the marching aspect” and letting Tony dismiss weapons training as “symbolic.”
    He’s a salesman trying to close a deal for another tuition contract, and he’s barely even putting any effort into his pitch – dream-verse Tony the patio furniture/optics salesman could run rings around him. He’s basically putting on the table “if you have already deluded yourself into thinking military school is going to solve your kid’s problems, I’m willing to take your money, and if not, I’m not really interested in going out of my way at all to try to change your mind.”

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I loved seeing Tony’s subtle expressions of power in this episode: the game of Jackie Jr. hot potato between Tony and Ralph (you’re a captain now v. ‘he took a shot at your guys’), and also Tony’s decision against Paulie at the sitdown. Paulie’s decision to put his mother in Green Groves was an affront to Tony. Paulie is his underling and should not be able to afford the same amenities. Giving him $12K instead of $50K ensures a lower quality of living (and also some possible resentment of Paulie being his mother’s hero for providing the same thing that earned contempt from Tony’s own mother).

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Chase’s comments about the sentimental responses to Junior’s singing remind us how different they are to those to the death of Jackie Jr: hardly anyone present at the wake, and some of those who bothered are more interested in the NFL. But what else should we expect from these people, that they would have such warped reactions?

    Liked by 1 person

  37. The similarity between the scenes in which Meadow runs away from Tony across the road, and that at the end of Made In America, is important. Both are emotionally charged for Tony. In the first, Meadow is rejecting him and his lifestyle and risking her life. In the second, Tony is asleep in a safe-house, scared and lonely. He is near to death (the painting of the house from Mayham, the Inn at the Oaks, which represented the afterlife in that episode’s dream, looms over him), and so his dreaming mind reaches out to his lucky star Meadow, recalling and subverting his experience in this episode. Instead of running away from him, he dreams of her hurrying to be with him.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. The parallels of Tony’s three sons: A.J. and surrogates; Christopher & Jackie Jr.
    -They all reluctantly lived the life that was expected of them, but longed for something else.
    -They all descended from someone that Tony loved,admired and respected: Dickie Moltisanti (Chris), Jackie Aprile Sr. (Jackie Jr.) and Johnny Boy Soprano (A.J). He may have loved their offspring, but never viewed them with the same reverence.
    -They all showed him respect out of fear and a need for acceptance, but secretly loathed him.
    -Whenever they spoke their mind (usually through an emotional outburst), they got a heaping, helping of Tony’s wrath.
    -At various points, Tony tried to set them straight, or toughen them up, which just led to more resentment towards Tony.
    -He subsequently lost his patience and trust with each of them, despite giving them multiple chances.
    -Their emotional frailty and feeble incompetence consequently led to an untimely death for two of the three (there’s a good probability that when AJ eventually joins the family business, the same traits will lead to his demise).
    -For all his bitterness towards his mother’s toxic parenting, Tony never grasped that he was a toxic “father” to his “sons”. Therapy be damned!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. I dropped by to pay my respect to the actor Michael K. Williams, who played Ray-Ray on this episode and Omar on The Wire. He passed away yesterday, September 6th.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. The foreign voices singing at the end always threw me for a loop. When critics and commentators suggested that the message was the universality of these questions and themes throughout the world, I never bought that. It just seemed trite and pretentious. Even VanDerWerff seems to realize that interpretation may be disingenuous when he admits he’s just “bullshitting” and has “no idea.”

    The review by Joyce Millman at Salon was perhaps on to something.

    At the end of the finale, Junior’s song morphed into several other songs, sung in other voices, in French, Chinese, Spanish. Again, Chase seemed to be asserting the universality of the Sopranos’ dilemmas. But for the first time, that universality rang false. What was most compelling about “The Sopranos” this season was its tight-focus specificity. These were the problems of one family — husband, wife, daughter, son — trying to figure out where their relationships begin and end.

    With his subsequent interview, it would appear that Chase intended the faux-universality to “ring false.”

    This funeral is a cynical hypocritical ritual. The whole event is being thrown by men who directly caused or facilitated Jackie Jr.’s murder. Not that the hypocrisy is convincing. Even though it’s supposed to be about mourning Jackie Jr., most of the mobsters don’t even bother mustering crocodile tears or any kind of fake solemnity. At the wake, Paulie tries to pester Tony over money issues again. At the burial, both Paulie and Junior cravenly flee the cemetery when they see the police. Although Christopher and Silvio berate the police for arresting them “at a funeral,” they can’t help but boast about how fast they will make bail and beat the rap. At the dinner, Ralphie makes his corny jokes and fools around with Janice, even though he’s still technically engaged to Rosalie. Although Junior sings this ostensibly heartfelt song, his and almost everyone else’s opinion about Jackie Jr. was made clear beforehand. When Tony says this is a “sad day,” Junior responds “Kid was always a dumb fuck, though, wasn’t he? Didn’t he almost drown in 3 inches of water?” Tony nods in agreement. This is no great loss to any of them. Junior observes “Look at this crappy turnout. You know if Jackie Sr. was still acting boss, with a child passed away, this place would be filled to the rafters. Flower cars up and down the block. No matter what the boy had done. Now…” Whatever affection or care the mob famiglia purported to have for Jackie Jr. was only based on the power of his father. Now that Jackie Sr. is gone, Jackie Jr. is just some spoiled stupid feckless punk whose death is less important than playoff season.

    Meadow dismissing the whole thing as “bullshit” is spot on. But I guess her humming Britney Spears’ “Oops…I Did It Again” while Junior was crooning had greater significance than I thought. I originally assumed that was just Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s improvisation. But in his interview, Chase specifically made the point about how “Pop music is so abused and overused, manipulated and employed in the service of the devil.” Perhaps Chase was suggesting that Junior’s maudlin Italian song can be just as shallow and insipid as the latest pop song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • From what I’ve heard, Chase didn’t allow very much improvisation at all… That’s a great connection you’re making between the two songs.


      • Sorry, I didn’t know that. If the line was planned and scripted, maybe the juxtaposition of the two songs is relevant. I only considered improvisation because I didn’t think Chase would be so familiar with Britney Spears and the lyrics of her latest song. Of course, there were other writers on the show and maybe people who kept Chase up to date on pop culture stuff. And 2000-2001 was when Spears was at the peak of her fame. I recall some subsequent episode in Season 4 when Meadow’s college roommate says how her brother was accused of “severe immorality” and beaten with sticks because he had a photograph of Britney Spears.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jackie Jr.’s funeral and the singing was a sticking point for Meadow. In Season 4, Episode 2, “No Show,” Meadow sees the therapist recommended by Dr. Melfi (the one that supported her plans to travel to Europe). Meadow starts off by denouncing her family’s indulgent insincere behavior at the funeral and the choice of cloying music.

        It was supposed to be his funeral…and all they all stood around, drinking and blubbering at these egregious, saccharine, fucking Italian ballads! It was revolting. After I left the restaurant, I actually vomited.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s