Long Term Parking (5.12)

Blundetto remains in hiding after killing Billy Leotardo.
Adriana and Silvio go for a ride.

EPISODE 64 - ORIGINALLY AIRED MAY 23, 2004
WRITTEN BY TERENCE WINTER
DIRECTED BY TIM VAN PATTEN

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“Heartbreaking” is the word that kept popping up in online forums in the days after this episode aired.  Probably no Sopranos episode pulled at the heartstrings like “Long Term Parking” did.  I remember two or three weeks after Season 5 ended, I caught myself moping around the house, feeling kinda down.  This in itself was not very surprising – I always went through a period of withdrawal after a season wrapped up.  But I felt particularly raw that summer of 2004 – and then I realized what it was: I was still bummed out over the death of Adriana LaCerva.

I’m not normally prone to overly emotional responses to the deaths of fictional characters.  So why was I so downcast over the demise of this big-haired Jersey girl?  The answer: because David Chase wanted me to be.  “Long Term Parking” is a powerful, resonating hour in and of itself, but much of its resonance also comes from its connections to long-running threads, associations and images from over the course of the series.  Some of the bells that ring in this hour are set off by mallets that began their swing years ago.  Almost everything in this episode—every twist, every scene, every line of dialogue—is anchored to something that we’ve viewed or heard or understood in previous episodes.  If we are shaken by “Long Term Parking,” it is because the hour taps so deeply into our experience of being embedded in SopranoWorld over the last 5 seasons.

Another reason why this episode works so well is its position in Season 5.  Looking back at the series now, many of us would consider Season 5 to be fairly conventional, especially in comparison to the unorthodox manners of Season 6.  But at the time of its original airing, Season 5 was still quite unconventional by normal TV standards.  It was not typical, for example, to have so many characters enter and exit a series in the span of just a few episodes, and it wasn’t typical to have so many storylines that didn’t contribute to some sort of “larger” plot.  There was: Lady Shylock, who made quite an impression in SopranoWorld but was dispatched pretty quickly; Feech, who got ushered out of the narrative more quietly than we would have predicted; Corrado’s mini-strokes which explained (some of) his assholey behavior; Hugh’s birthday party which was almost Seinfeldian in that very little happened there; a black bear that managed to represent various—sometimes contradictory—things; the list of curiosities goes on… And then on top of that, the almost avant-garde “Test Dream” came along and took a big swat at the very notion of conventionality.  We didn’t know what to expect now for the 12th episode, although most of us were probably guessing that Tony Blundetto’s increasing troubles would be the main topic.  But Blundetto’s story is actually Plot “C” in episode 5.12.  Chase puts his primary spotlights on Adriana and Carmela instead, and he does so in a very conventional way.  This, I believe, is where the hour’s power truly comes from – “Long Term Parking” is an emotionally gripping episode, certainly, but it also pulls us in with its conventionality.  It represents a return to a more traditional form of storytelling at the end of a season that jolted some of us (and bored some others) with its unconventionality.

The episode begins with the FBI reviewing some suspicious footage that they’ve gotten from the camera behind the Crazy Horse.  Adriana is busy planning her wedding, with no idea that serious trouble lies just ahead.  Adriana’s greatest worry right now (and her mother’s too) is that her medication will give her a Jerry-Lewis-moonface on the wedding day.  But when a body is found with connections to the Crazy Horse, the Long Beach police department pay her a visit.  The FBI sees this as an opportunity to apply more pressure to her.  (When Chief Cubitoso yells at Adriana, Agent Harris gingerly gives her a glass of water to drink – Harris was there the last time they turned up the heat on Adriana and she slimed them all with her projectile vomit.)  Ade pleads to the Feds that she had nothing to do with the murder.  It is Matush that is the guilty party.  Chase’s decision to bring back Matush for this episode is brilliant for multiple reasons.  For one thing, it emphasizes the idea of connectivity: we first met Matush in “The Telltale Moozadell” (3.09), the same episode in which Adriana was given the Crazy Horse.  This early connection between Matush and the Crazy Horse comes to a head now.  (This is an example of how the episode’s resonance comes partly from associations that were first made years ago.)  More interestingly, Matush was first introduced to us prior to the attacks of 9/11, but Chase brings him back now as a Muslim with possible links to terror organizations.  In doing so, Chase adds a vicious and bitter irony to Adriana’s story.  (I’ll come back to this later.)

Adriana convinces the Feds that she will be able to get Christopher to flip against the famiglia.  We might believe for a moment that Ade can succeed at this; after all, Chris has been frustrated and angry at Tony and other members of his famiglia for several episodes now.  However, Chris begins to fume when Ade reveals that the FBI have their hooks in her.  The rising bubbles in the fish tank behind Chris seem to mimic the emotions that are boiling within him:

I thought for sure that this was the end of Adriana.  Chris takes her to the absolute brink.  But he gains control of himself and releases her.  And then Adriana actually does begin to flip him.  In Season 2, Chris had to make a career choice: the movies or the mob.  Ade now finesses his deep-seated desire to become a filmmaker/writer: “You could start writing again,” she tells him.  (“I could do my memoirs, finally,” he muses.)  It’s starting to look like there might be a light at the end of their tunnel.

But Chris needs cigarettes.  Adriana begs him not to leave, offering her own cigs to him.  He wants to drive to the store to get his own brand instead.  (Ah, the perils of brand loyalty.)  When he leaves the cocoon of their apartment, can we describe him as a broken hero on a last chance power drive?

The sugar-coated idea of the Witness Protection Program that sounded so good when Adriana presented it to him back at the apartment starts to turn sour at a gas station.  As Christopher caresses his beloved Hummer H2, he gets a glimpse of his future in the form of a mullet-headed yokel.  Chris doesn’t wanna be a mook like everybody else.  He doesn’t want a life that is even more banal than it already is.  He complained back in the first season that “the fuckin’ regularness of life is too fuckin’ hard for me” – and choosing Adriana and the FBI now over the mob now would essentially mean choosing a life of banality and workaday drudgery.  It’s not all that difficult to imagine Sylvio or Paulie flipping (as Big Pussy did) if they found themselves ensnared in a trap set by the FBI.  But Chris is very caught up in the idea of living The Life of a Made Guy, because this is where he has been building his “arc.”  So we are led to wonder: Is Chris willing to forfeit his girlfriend’s life in order to maintain the relatively exciting, expensive lifestyle that is such an integral part of how he defines himself?

David Chase plays the next couple of beats very close to the vest, making it difficult for us to know for sure if la famiglia has found out that Adriana is a snitch.  James Gandolfini is in particularly fine form here: when Tony calls Adriana to say that Christopher has attempted suicide, nothing in his performance tips his hand – we don’t know if he is telling the truth or if it’s all just a ruse to get Adriana out of the apartment.  For a brief moment, we are led to believe that Adriana has packed a suitcase and is making a run for it.  But it turns out she is only daydreaming.  (For me, the image of her suitcase strongly recalls the image of Finn’s suitcase a couple of episodes ago, when he felt threatened by the mob and considered running away from New Jersey.)  Chase inserts a couple of enigmatic shots of trees here as Adriana looks out the window of Silvio’s car.  The trees somehow seem to portend that a horrible event is imminent…but then again, they’re just trees…I mean, what else is she supposed to be seeing as they drive through this forested area?  Silvio is an inscrutable figure as he sits behind the wheel.  Is he the man that has been sent to finish Adriana?  Or is it a caring, avuncular Sil that comforts Ade now, much like he comforted her when Christopher lay in a coma back in episode 2.09?

2 Silvio Dantes

The song playing on Sil’s radio may be signaling what type of man he is: it is Heart’s “Barracuda.”  When Silvio pulls into an isolated area in the woods, the truth of the situation finally dawns on Ade.  She tries to escape.  Silvio calls her a cunt and wrenches her out of the car.  We might note that her last moments on earth look a lot like Lorraine Calluzzo’s final moments:

Lorraine and Adriana

By putting both women on their knees, perhaps Chase is making some comment about the subservient position of women in SopranoLand.  Or perhaps it is just another example of echoing imagery in an episode that reverberates with echoes from the past.  Perhaps the rhyme of the images are nothing more than a coincidence.  (What really stands out for me in Adriana’s final moments is the presence of the slick black Seville in the background, parked at a jaunty angle behind Silvio as he pulls out his gun; if not for the terrified woman trying to scramble away from death, this would almost look like an advertisement for Cadillac.  These mobsters have a luxurious lifestyle, replete with expensive cars – but it comes at a high price, paid in blood.)  We are spared the sight of Adriana’s execution as the camera tilts up into the trees, and it is this arboreal canopy that we are looking at when we hear two gunshots.

When the episode first aired, I revolted at the idea that Adriana was killed.  We didn’t actually see her death, we only heard gunshots, and so I grasped at the hope that perhaps it was Silvio that had been shot and killed.  (By who?  I don’t know, perhaps a local hunter or a picnicking off-duty cop.  Hell, I even hoped that Valery the Russian might have emerged from the trees that he disappeared into in “Pine Barrens” to come save Adriana now.)  Adriana LaCerva was a flawed person, at times greedy and hypocritical.  But she had a vulnerability and guilelessness that we didn’t see very often in SopranoWorld.  It may not be accurate to describe Adriana as “innocent,” but her relative innocence in comparison to the wickedness of the monsters that surrounded her made her death a difficult thing to swallow.

Agent Robyn Sanseverino doesn’t want to believe that Adriana is dead either.  But Cubitoso and Harris know better.  Chief Cubitoso orders the Nievez murder case to be taken over from the Long Beach Police because of Matush’s possible terrorism connection.  (The FBI agents raised their eyebrows when Ade told them that Matush had become very religious and was sending money to a “prep school” back in Pakistan; they must suspect Matush of funding terror-teaching madrassas.)  And this is how David Chase throws in a cruel, vicious irony to Adriana’s fate: Cubitoso had used the Long Beach P.D.’s murder investigation as a way to increase the pressure on Adriana, but he actually had the power to take control of the investigation all along.  He could have actually relieved the pressure that was mounting on the young woman, which might have ultimately prevented her death.  The Feds ended up being as heartless to Adriana as the mobsters who killed her.  It doesn’t take bureaucrat Cubitoso very long at all to put the loss of Adriana out of his mind and return to his paperwork.  It’s back to Business As Usual at the FBI.

Agent Cubitoso - Sopranos Autopsy

I guess it is pretty obvious in hindsight, but once Adriana fell into the clutches of the FBI, there was no way she would ever taste real freedom ever again – except through death.  Christopher dumps Adriana’s suitcase—that symbol of potential freedom—in a remote area, and leaves Adriana’s car—a Ford Thunderbird, one of the great American symbols of freedom and “the open road”—at an airport parking lot.  And then he snorts a little H to escape the pain.  (Chris is going back to Business As Usual as well: heroin.)

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Carmela has wanted a man in the house ever since Tony left, but AJ and her father Hugh do not really fit the bill.  Now she talks to Tony about the conditions of a possible reconciliation as he sets up the TV.  (Is there a more effective cultural shorthand for manliness than being able to manipulate the remote control?)  The duo iron out the details of their reconciliation over dinner at Vesuvio.  Carmela names her price, and gets it – literally.  Even after several viewings, I still snort with astonishment—and some admiration—at how Carmela reveals the cost of the lot for her spec-house with such nonchalance (a well-rehearsed nonchalance, surely): “Six hundred thousand.”  What would Dr. Krakower say about Carmela’s little arrangement?  (In 3.11, he told her that staying married to Tony is the equivalent of accepting blood-money.)  What would Father Obosi say?  (In 3.12, he counseled her to live only on Tony’s legitimate earnings.)  On the other hand, who gives a shit what these losers would say – Carmela has got her groove back, that’s the important thing, right?  She can once again be the Soprano family homemaker, going back to the role that she is most comfortable playing.  In addition, she gets to literally be a homemaker – build a house on speculation and hopefully turn a tidy profit on its eventual sale.

For his part, Tony promises that his so-called “mid-life crisis problems will no longer intrude on you anymore.”  (Prof. Yacowar notes that this is more a promise of “discretion rather than fidelity.”)  The fact that Tony recently dumped Valentina, his main squeeze, after she was damaged in a fire may make it easier for Tony to make this promise to Carmela.  I think Valentina’s presence in this episode is very interesting because it helps us recall a previous arrangement between Carm and Tony.  It was Valentina’s acrylic fingernail which Carmela found in “Mergers and Acquisitions” (4.08) that prompted Carm to filch tens of thousands of dollars from the backyard storage bin without Tony’s permission.  By the end of that hour, husband and wife had forged a nice little compromise: Carmela won’t ask about the fingernail as long as Tony doesn’t ask about the filched money.  A very similar arrangement between them, larger in scale, has now been made in “Long Term Parking.”  History certainly does repeat itself in SopranoWorld.

Tony moves back home.  The family is feeling a little tentative and uncomfortable around the dinner table at first.  AJ even describes the situation as “fuckin’ weird.”  Chase heightens the weirdness by giving the scene an unusual lighting scheme.  It’s all soft glow and shadows, very unusual for the Soprano dining room.  But things pep up when Tony pops open a bottle of champagne.  After dinner, Tony sits in front of the TV with a bowl of dessert – just like the ol’ days.  The W.C. Fields film It’s A Gift plays on the television.  It may be worth noting that It’s A Gift had played on Tony’s television back in “The Telltale Moozadell,” the episode in which Adriana received the Crazy Horse nightclub as a gift from Chris.  Now, three years later, after the FBI try to leverage a murder at the nightclub against her, we see that this was one gift that Adriana would have been better off without.

The final scene of the episode starts off with a shot of the overhead tree canopy, very similar to the canopy that we looked at when Silvio raised his gun at Adriana earlier in the hour.  We think for a moment that we’re back at that same location.  (Even now, I find myself hoping that the camera would track down from the canopy to find Adriana and Valery the Russian sitting around a campfire, roasting Silvio on a spit.)  But these are not the same trees – we are at a different location.  For years now, Chase has been associating trees with a cluster of dark emotions and issues.  Trees have been associated with death, decay, confusion, uncertainty and depression.  Some examples:

While deeply troubled by Jackie Aprile’s cancer diagnosis and questions about the ultimate meaning of life in Season 1, Tony believed
he saw a rotting tree in Dr. Melfi’s “Korshack” painting:

red barn painting

A shot of wind rustling through the overhead trees came just before Corrado and Livia’s  hired goons made an attempt on Tony’s life in “Isabella”:

trees overhead

The image of a fallen tree (and then the sound of another tree falling two minutes later) in “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano” closed out the first season:

fallen tree for 5.12

Trees were abundant in the Pine Barrens, a place of violence, ambiguity and possibly death (and I will also note that the imagery of Paulie’s Cadillac winding its way through the trees in that hour is now echoed by the imagery of Sil’s Caddy in the current episode):

2 Cadillacs - Sopranos Autopsy

In “Whitecaps,” Chase cut to a shot of overhead trees just after Credenzo Curtis and Stanley Johnson are killed, and Tony is looking up at these trees in his
backyard after his marriage to Carmela hits troubled waters:

Whitecaps trees

In “The Test Dream,” we watch the wind rustle a tree just after Phil Leotardo is shot by Blundetto (and just before a man in the crowd
asks Tony about capping Blundetto):

tree from test dream

As the Soprano couple steps into the frame now in “Long Term Parking,” we understand that these are not the woods where we last saw Adriana but the wooded lot that Tony has purchased for Carm’s spec-house.  Chase’s rhyming shots of the two overhead canopies were so effective that some viewers made too literal a link: they believed that Adriana was buried in this newly purchased property.  This defies logic, because Tony would never put her corpse (or what’s left of it) so close to home.  But Adriana is nevertheless “in” this land: this land was purchased with blood-money, and now Adriana’s blood is in Tony’s—and Carmela’s—account.  Tony has tears in his eyes as he scans their new property.  He knows that their lifestyle comes at a very high cost.  Carmela knows it too, but she blinds herself to the details of the ledger book.  She needs to keep herself blinded if she is to park herself, for the long term, with Tony Soprano.

Long Term Parking - Sopranos Autopsy

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Blundetto’s storyline was at the heart of the previous episode, but in a totally unconventional way.  We didn’t even see his attack on Phil and Billy Leotardo, because Chase was too busy giving us a tour of Tony’s subconscious.  But this episode returns to Blundetto’s story in a more conventional manner.  We are even shown the attack that Blundetto made in the previous episode (through Phil’s flashback) now.  Unfortunately for Blundetto, Lil Carmine pulls out of the power struggle in New York, allowing Johnny Sac and Phil to take the reins.  These guys don’t have very kind feelings toward New Jersey or Tony S. or Tony B. right now.

I don’t exactly remember the first movie I saw with Steve Buscemi in it.  Was it Mystery TrainMiller’s Crossing?  Whatever it was, I felt from an early point that this was an actor, despite his bad teeth and weathered-looking face—or perhaps because of his bad teeth and weathered-looking face—who had the ability to project the soul of whatever character he was playing up on to the screen, regardless of how mean or misfit or dimwitted that character might be.  Buscemi certainly brought a measure of soulfulness to the character of Tony Blundetto.  In a poignant scene now, Blundetto calls Tony to ask him to take care of the twins.  Tony is irked, not so much by the request but by the entire situation.  Blundetto is aware of the immense trouble he has caused and expresses his regret: “I don’t know what to say cous’.  I’m leavin’ you with a real pile of shit in your lap.”  Tony is moved, and finally reveals to Blundetto why he was not there the night of the truck hijacking.  Tony is trying to clear his conscience so that he can do what he has to do next.  He makes two quick calls—one to his man at the phone company and one to Uncle Pat—and is able to figure out exactly where Blundetto is hiding out.  We wonder: will Tony divulge his cousin’s whereabouts to Phil and Johnny Sac?

Chase had used the New York mob to bring some suspense to Season 4, when the HUD scam and the Esplanade profits became thorny issues.  Chase utilizes the NY guys to ramp up tensions in the final quarter of this season as well.  Johnny Sac and Phil are thirsty for blood, licking their chops at the thought of ripping Blundetto apart.  Tony Soprano is a reasonable businessman – he knows that his cousin must pay the price.  But he will not tolerate Johnny Sac’s irrationality.  Or his arrogance.  John has assumed the mantle of the New York famiglia, and the ascendency immediately goes to his head.  When he and Tony meet for a face-to-face in a scenic spot beneath the Manhattan Bridge, John insists that they do not ever meet like this again – it’s “undignified.”  (John had no problem meeting with Tony like this before he became Boss.  It was just 6 episodes ago in “Where’s Johnny?” that they met near the old Shea Stadium [a setting that reminded me of the cover of The Great Gatsby.])  Johnny Sac is being unreasonable now, and copping an attitude too, so Tony takes cousin Blundetto’s side and tells John to go fuck himself.  And so we go into the season finale fully expecting an all-out war between NY and NJ.

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EPISODE TITLES AS FORESHADOWING?
We may remember that a parking attendant mentioned long term parking in the previous episode, and now a major death occurs in this episode entitled “Long Term Parking.”  In “Long Term Parking,” Rusty Millio says the phrase “all due respect” and a major death occurs in the next episode, “All Due Respect.”  It seemed to many of us that Chase was setting up a sort of pattern: when an episode title gets directly mentioned or referenced within the show, it somehow connects to the death of a major character.  Of course, there may not be enough examples to justify calling it a pattern, and I don’t think the “pattern” is strictly followed anyway.  Chase is too interested in the concept of ambiguity to create and then follow any sort of fixed, definite pattern.  But if this pattern does indeed exist, it’s intriguing what that might imply for the episode that follows “Long Term Parking” and “All Due Respect” — “Members Only” features a man in a Members Only jacket, and many viewers believe that a very major character was killed by a man in a Members Only jacket in the Series Finale.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Drea DeMatteo won a Best Supporting Actress Emmy for her work in this episode.  (She deserves it just for the way she says “Oh you fuckin’ piece of shit” to callous agent Robyn.)  I think DeMatteo took a page out of Steve Buscemi’s book for her work on The Sopranos: she opens herself up and lets Adriana’s soul glimmer through all that makeup and hairspray and synthetic fabric right on to the screen.  It was all the way back in episode 4.02 (which aired a full 20 months before “Long Term Parking”) that Adriana was pressured to become an FBI mole.  During all that time, her gut told her that this was something that would not end well for her; her gut was literally sick and contorted all the time.  Maybe if she was a little bit brighter and strong-minded, she would have found a way to manage the entire situation better and ultimately not have gotten herself killed in the woods.  And if she was truly bright and independent, she would have left Chris a long time ago and never have gotten herself into this situation in the first place.  But that’s not who she was.  She was a needy creature who clung to Chris in her desperation, trusting that everything would work out fine.  (Even in this hour, she physically clings to Chris just moments after he almost chokes the life out of her.)  While her personal failings contributed to her ultimate destiny, there was also a sense throughout her story that Fate was setting her up for an ambush that she could not escape.  Though we may be shocked by Adriana’s murder here, we recognized for some time now that SopranoWorld was becoming a trap for her.  It is a dark, fatalistic sensibility that Chase is presenting to us, this idea that the Universe will serve up brutal circumstances that combine with a person’s moral and emotional shortcomings to inevitably lead that person to their doom.  This sensibility becomes more and more pronounced as the series continues, from the next hour “All Due Respect” all the way through to the end of Season 6.

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ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • The deer hunter:  The name “Silvio” is derived from “sylvan,” meaning of the forest, and “La cerva” means the deer in Latin.  I certainly don’t believe that David Chase knew Silvio would kill Adriana LaCerva in a forest as she scrambled away on all fours like a deer when he named these characters so many years ago – it’s just one of those weird coincidences.
  • According to a couple of sources,  David Chase wanted to include a scene of Chris giving Adriana up to Tony in this hour.  But others convinced Chase to shelve the scene, rightly so in my opinion, thereby increasing the suspense and power of the episode.  (Chase eventually uses the scene, to great effect, in next season’s “The Ride.”)
  • Adriana wears two tiger-print outfits in this episode, and tiger-prints have long been a staple of her wardrobe.  For this reason, some viewers connect Ade with the orange tabby that appears in the final episode of the series.
  • Johnny Sac doesn’t believe that Blundetto committed murder without Soprano authorization, and he sarcastically says to Tony, “The lone gunman theory!”  So this may explain the Oswald-like imagery in Tony’s dream in the previous episode:

Lee Oswald - Sopranos Autopsy

  • We may remember that Hugh humorously referred to Carmela as “Virginia Mayo” in “Marco Polo,” the episode in which Tony began the process of pulling Carmela back to him.  Now, as Carmela has maneuvered a $600k piece of land for herself, we see that she has once again become the gangster’s girl, the type of woman that Virginia Mayo so famously played.
  • Shawn Smith’s “Leaving California” sets the appropriate tone for Adriana’s last car ride on earth.  And his “Wrapped in My Memory” closes out the episode.  Wow.  Just wow.
  • Chase uses shots of trees to stitch scenes together in this episode, and tree imagery is a recurring motif that creates links throughout the entire series.  In The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge, Manuel Lima demonstrates that tree imagery (including “tree diagrams”) have been used for thousands of years in various cultures to organize and connect information.  With his use of tree imagery, David Chase is tapping into an ancient visual archetype to create connectivity within The Sopranos.

tree diagrams-001

48 responses to “Long Term Parking (5.12)

  1. I know it is “heartbreaking” that she was killed off, but in reality she was very complicit in Chris’s lifestyle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just searched thru my write-up and saw that I neglected to put the word “betrayal” anywhere in there… What I found heartbreaking more than her death per se was the fact that she was betrayed by Chris. She was definitely complicit, as you say. But its still tragic when someone, even someone as morally compromised as Adriana, is so betrayed by the person they care most about…

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  2. “I’ll see ya up there”…right then I assumed Ade was a goner. You can plainly see the pain on his face as he surreptitiously says goodbye to her, as he obviously always liked her, but there’s nothing more disposable in Sopranoland than a female rat. Poor Ade, always so gullible, there’s no WAY I’m getting in Sil’s car under those circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, quick minor correction…it’s Long Branch PD, Long Branch is a Jersey shore town a bit north of Asbury Park, once a resort-type place and now a mix of yuppie hipsters and downtrodden inner city.

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  4. Great write up as always, been looking forward to this one in particular! A subtle detail that I missed the first time around is that Tony calls Adriana from a payphone… a pretty big hint in retrospect that Adriana’s fate is sealed.

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  5. As always great analysis, you´re the man Ron! I liked when you mention the crazy horse, as the “gift” in her life that started the downward spiral, i always had the feel she looked at crazy horse as her gateway from that sick world she was in. Something similar happened with Christopher i think, in my opinion, “cleaver” is the main reason behind his death, it´s the moment when Tony starts looking at him as a serious threat , not his beloved fucked up nephew anymore, but a bittered man who could kill him . Both were caught up in their own dreams, careful what you want, seems to make sense when we look at their deaths.
    Anyway, greetings from Portugal!

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    • It all comes back to cleavers. If young Tony never witnesses his father lopping off Mr Satriale’s (a lovely man BTW) finger, perhaps he doesn’t end up suffering from panic attacks, never passes out after the fight with his mother and ends up going to the can along with Tony B.

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  6. I think Carmela “selling out” was a sometimes overlooked moment in Sopranos lore. Carm always wanted security, a “nest egg” of her own to ease her anxiety about something happening to Tony and she finally got it, but at the price of once again burying her head in her cognitive dissonance and ignoring reality. Tony calls her on it (brutally too) in “Chasing It”, as he DID front her the money for the lot and lean on the building inspectors and she really IS a shitty businesswoman who built a piece of shit house she had to dump on her cousin to get “her” money back, as Hugh was just like everyone else in her world, doing everything half-assed and/or wrong in pursuit of a buck. Carmela is just as amoral as the rest of them only she tries harder to pretend she isn’t.

    Just my opinion but the scene where Chris sees that schlub loading the wife and kids into that horrible car was JUST a touch on the nose LOL, I mean wow, that guy was just BEATEN by life. Love your write-ups and greatly looking forward to the rest, esp. 6B which IMO is the single greatest season of television ever made.

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  7. I thought the Blundetto murder was a bit unorthodox – a shotgun to the face, with gloves on. We are usually shown mob murders as a pistol bullet to the back of the head, but this one was quite jarring. I’m not sure you could extrapolate any kind of deeper meaning from this, though.

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    • I think the rationale behind it was that Tony was just doing it as quickly as he could, but Chase was also able to get a lot of shock value out of the scene. That’s in the next episode though…

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  8. Glad to see you posting again! These are always so insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great analysis, as always. I saw this episode just last summer. I knew what was going to happen to Adriana, I knew the trip was without return, and even then the episode completely destroyed me (I envy those who did not like Adriana), although I was shocked that the characters did not show too much reaction to her death, especially because when an important character dies in a series I love see the reactions of others characters to it, but then I realized that is what is important in this episode: the characters do not react completely because they are already dehumanized.

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  10. As season five heads to its endgame your write-ups have risen to the occasion. Great job, Ron, doing service to what many consider (myself included) the finest episode of the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “It’s not all that difficult to imagine Sylvio or Paulie flipping”

    Wow, really? I find that extremely difficult to imagine. Sylvio, punisher of rats (this episode exemplifies that he hates rats more than anything), was so loyal to Tony all through the series. I honestly can picture Christopher with the FBI (out of spite to Tony, if nothing else) than Sylvio.

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  12. Nice website, anyway. Forgot to compliment you on that. Looking forward to read your entries for season 6, particularly my favorite, season 6b.

    Cheers!

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    • Thanks. I get that Silvio is a very loyal guy, but I don’t think anyone in SopranoLand is above flipping. I think Chase established this idea throughout Season 2 when Pussy—a prototypical mobster and Tony’s best friend—betrayed Tony all season long. In Paulie’s case, there was a period when he thought of colluding with Johnny Sac, so it doesn’t require a too much of a stretch to imagine he could collude with the FBI. (Of course, we knew that Paulie would never actually become a rat because Tony Sirico made Chase promise him that his character would never become a rat.)

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      • I felt that when Silvio gave Patsy the ok to steal from the esplanade construction site against Tony’s orders that it signaled even his loyalty had its boundaries

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you Ron for continuing your brilliant analysis and giving us all a forum in which to nerd out!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My only contribution to the discussion of “Long Term Parking” is in regards to Gandolfini’s performance whilst dining with Carmela at Vesuvio’s. At this point in the season, the audience realizes the marital reconciliation is a foregone conclusion and it’s the details of said event that need to be revealed. The twist (I believe) is that Carmela has orchestrated this night to essentially be a cosa nostra “sit down” in which terms will be put forth to end a conflict. Tony doesn’t seem to realize this when the meal begins. He loves Carmela, he wants her back, and when Carmela states, “I need something else in my life…” He interrupts her and casually remarks, “You want another kid..” while stuffing his face like usual.

    Gandonfini’s acting genius is on full display here as it dawns on him that he has to “buy his way back in” (as Vito Spatafore explicitly offers to do after he is outed as a homosexual) to the marriage. When Tony asks Carmela, “What’s the price of the lot?” and she responds (without batting an eye), “Six hundred thousand.” The camera captures (and briefly lingers) on Tony’s expression of absolute heartbreak as he realizes the reality of the situation. Tony’s immense emotional pain is conveyed with one wordless 1-2 second facial expression as only Gandolfini could do, and it’s breathtaking to watch. It’s a gut-punch that gets me every time. The rest of the terms are then hammered out and the business of the “sit-down” is punctuated by one of the most awkward kisses ever. And of course the kiss is awkward as hell because love had nothing to do with this reconciliation.

    I love Tony’s expression/realization as just another brilliant piece of writing and acting coming together as it so often did in this show. Gives me chills!

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    • We sometimes use financial metaphors when talking about love and relationships: “my wife is priceless” or “my daughter is a treasure,” we “invest” in a relationship, we feel “emotionally bankrupt,” we “value” friendships etc. Here, Tony and Carm’s relationship has ACTUALLY become a financial transaction. Tony would probably monetize every aspect of his life if he could, with the one exception being his marriage; to see his marriage now just become another commodity must be heartbreaking to him…

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  15. Her “Price” for giving him a comfortable life, and for looking the other way is 600,000 dollars. She is trying to make her way when the inevitable happens. He hates giving her money, and only really does it when they have a mutual interests. He still reneges on it anyway, because he doesn’t call the building inspector after he recovers, and when she doesn’t make him dinner he gets annoyed because she’s not holding up her end of the deal. When she starts talking about finding Adriana, then he calls the building inspector. He doesn’t take her seriously, really. I always wondered why she didn’t sell all the jewelry and leave him. On some level, she is ok where she is. She had a little fling…so she proved to herself that she is still attractive to men, so she got that out of the way…and when she goes to Paris in the last season, she all but tells him its ok for him to fool around….she wants him to be “true” to her in theory, but in reality…not so much, because its a big burden to her really. They do better when he has a girlfriend, because he’s happier and so is she. JUST DON”T CALL THE HOUSE!!

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  16. Adriana was doomed from the time she went to the mall and spoke to the agent. She should have run away as soon as they took her in to the FBI office. Unrealistic ideals….Male modeling, screen writing…Music Manager…come on already. Run…

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  17. I’ve seen this episode numerous times and I never paid any attention to the aquarium let alone the bubbles. Another thing I never noticed is exactly what Chris says while he is choking Adriana. At the 1:11 He starts to say “We’re dead” but He switches in mid sentence to”You’re dead” It’s quick and subtle. She is a dead women from that moment. The couple at the gas station just reinforces the decision.

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    • It may be true there are “clues” that Adriana will be killed by the end of the hour, but are we just seeing them in hindsight? In my first viewing, I genuinely thought Ade might survive, up until the moment when Silvio pulled the car into the forest clearing. Maybe I got too focused on the uncertainties produced by Chase’s style of ambiguous storytelling, or maybe I was just being naïve, I really don’t know…

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  18. I’m right there with you. I saw this when it first aired and I was taken by surprise like you an everyone else. Having forgot the lesson of the Big Pussy’s fate. I have watch the show over the years in bits and pieces and in 2016 I watched the series on Blu-ray in my perpetually unfinished attempt at a home theater. Then last year I watched the series again with my Late wife who was watching it for the 1st time. Each time I see it it elicits some of the same feelings I experienced initially. My wife’s reaction was just like everyone else’s. She didn’t believe Ade was dead at first. From my experience the deaths of Adrianna and Big Pussy seem to move viewers the most. To this day if this show comes up in a conversation between me and my sister we usually end up debating / discussing those two deaths. With all those past viewings it was only today that I noticed Chris’ little slip of the tongue.

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  19. Could Tony’s sad demeanour at the end of the episode signal he knew that Adriana died in a similar setting? Assuming he knew where Sil took her, but we knew how much he did care for her and that maybe that hit was the hardest.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Chris didn’t betray Ade because of a regular life. He betrayed her, because he always wanted a big family with children. Something that Adrianna was unable to give him. He called her “damaged goods” before.

    So when he had seen that family, he realized it’s something Adrianna cannot provide him. That sealed the deal in my opinion.

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    • You’re right, I’m sure that played into his decision… but remember he was planning a wedding with Adriana when this whole thing went down, so he was actually ok with spending his life with her despite her being “damaged goods”

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  21. Excellent write up. Truly. Just wanted to add two things. First: as far as Adriana being associated with cats and possibly with the orange tabby in season six, another car association is in “A hit us a hit” when she is listening to that Defiler song…”Meowwwww.”
    Second: the scene after Christopher chokes Ade and they are both crying and moaning and hugging each other is very reminiscent of Goodfellows, when Lorraine Brasco tells Ray Liotta that she flushed the cocaine.

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  22. *I meant another “cat” association, not car.

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  23. It seems that Adriana’s naivete is contagious. It was heartbreaking/ironic how the female FBI agent told her to “get her head out of her ass” after she was taken in earlier but later suggested that Adriana could’ve escaped, much to the other agents’ disbelief. Guess the agent did care about Adriana in a warped sense, much like Chris did, serving as another parallel between the FBI and the mafia.

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  24. I’m glad you brought up the uses of trees and wind. Before reading your analyzations, I thought maybe I was just overthinking the trees, wind, and bells that are used and mentioned throughout the series. But it became obvious that they were all a big part of the show.
    I’m also glad you brought up the connection of this episode to “Telltale Moozadell”, and how Tony is shown in both episodes watching “Its a Gift”. In “Moozadell”, hes watching it while laying in bed eating cake, here hes eating ice-cream. Carm sees this while doing the dishes, and perhaps realizing that nothing has really changed with Tony, even after that promise he made. As you put it, its “back to business as usual.”

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    • Yes, a lot of the “connections” we may be seeing may be coincidental or reaches, but over the course of the series it becomes obvious that Chase is making a concerted effort to connect things within the episodes..

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  25. I also want to point out a small detail.. when Adriana is stalling & crying in the FBI bathroom , someone can be heard talking about a sort of dinner party and how they only have “the one leaf”… are they talking about a leaf food platter? ..if so, Adriana receives a leaf platter at her bridal shower in “Watching Too Much Television”.

    I guess just too make that scene and the situation that much more depressing.. as Adriana will never be able to use that leaf platter.

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  26. Adriana Le Cerva was never a sympathetic character for me. I saw her as worse than Carmela in regards to wanting the rewards of mob life without the responsibilities. Carmela was conflicted, but Adriana didn’t appear conflicted at all. She didn’t seem to love “Christopher” so much as she loved what Christopehr could give her. Shoes, clothes, support for her music management and finally, Crazy Horse (another connection since Chris was becoming “crazy” about “horse” at this time). I saw no innocence in her in any form and certainly not relative “in comparison to the wickedness of the monsters that surrounded her”. She was complicit in Chris’s rise, knew where he wanted to go and what it took to get there and wanted to be comped a 1st class seat for the ride. She was anything but innocent, but she was naive. She thought she could ride for free, thought she was somehow immune from any consequences. Right up until that day she took her dog for a walk and the FBI showed up. The stress affected so severely (projectile vomiting, IBS, etc.) because it was totally unanticipated. She started grasping at straws, taking her legal advice from TV shows and thinking that marrying Chris would solve all her problems. What might have solved her problems was being more cooperative with the FBI and going into Witness Protection. But that life did not promise the glitz and glamour she wanted. Her choice was predictable, and once she made it—forcing the FBI to increase the pressure—so was her fate.

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    • A lot of your points are true and correct, but I think that just because Adriana took into consideration all the glitz and glamor that Chris could provide her doesn’t mean that she didn’t really love him. Literally billions of people have taken lifestyle and material considerations into account when they made their long-term romantic commitments. (And we should note that Ade threw her lot in with Chris even before he became a Made Man, before there was any guarantee he would be able to bankroll a very glitzy life.) She compromised herself morally, certainly, but I think that she was primarily motivated by love, or at least by her understanding of love. Her understanding may be paltry and misguided, but I believe it is genuine — and that makes her very human and relatable to me.

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      • I didn’t say she didn’t love Chris, just that she didn’t love him as much as the glitz and glamour. Chris had similar thoughts as he said in the following episode, “She was willin’ to rat me out because she couldn’t do five fuckin years? I thought she loved me.”

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        • Ok, but didn’t Chris say that primarily to justify his role in killing her? He can’t tell Tony the truth: that he was seriously considering flipping along with Adriana. Chris may genuinely believe that Ade, if she really loved him, should have opted to serve prison time. But I think (though Chris may disagree) that it would be unreasonable to expect her to voluntarily serve time for a drug charge and/or accessory-to-murder charge which the FBI cruelly trumped up just to get her to cooperate. Instead of refusing to cooperate, she tried to get Chris to turn — which would have meant a life without glitz and glamor but with the man she loves. Of course, by that point in time, none of her choices would have allowed her to continue her posh life. Chase fashions an almost perfect (perfectly absurd and perfectly inescapable) trap for Adriana, and to me it seems very likely that Chase did this in order to get us to sympathize with her.

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          • Well, she was facing 25 to life, not 5, but did Chris know that? 5 years might be a reasonable expectation for someone in the mob, but not 25. Big Pussy flipped facing 30 and he was not the only one. Ade was not even inside. Chris’s first reaction was “We’re dead, you know that?” and then he almost killed her himself. That’s how Chase left them. When we come back, Ade is trying to flip him. She describes an idyllic scenario. He considers that he could finally write his memoirs. Then he leaves for cigarettes, he sees they guy with his family and knows he can’t live like that. And he probably also realized that writing his memoirs or doing anything that brought attention to himself like a book or a screenplay was just a pipe dream. In other words, he had nothing to look forward to and nothing to live for except life as a schnook (channeling Henry Hill). That is what made the suicide plausible. I think Chris realized that Ade was looking out for herself when she tried to flip him; trying to hang on to what she could. Her vision of WP would be fine for her. He could write his memoirs? For what if he couldn’t publish them. And if he did, Chris would not be working from a trailer office in the Maine backwoods. He wouldn’t be in hiding anymore . He would be exposed, vulnerable. So would she. And he knew that from the moment she told him about the FBI. “How could you fuckin’ do this to us?”

            In hindsight, your interpretation is certainly valid, but it requires having developed sympathy for Adriana, and I never could generate any. From the beginning, she just always struck me as being selfish and self-centered. Tragic a figure as she is, it’s still hard for me to have any sympathy for her at this point.

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            • It all comes down to the issue of sympathy. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot as I watch my country get fractured along political lines. So many of the divisions in the U.S., I believe, stem from our different understandings of what sympathy actually is. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go deep into politics here, but I’m troubled by how both the Right and the Left practice sympathy. I know, of course, that I don’t have the right to insist that you should feel sympathy for Adriana or for anyone else. (The insistence to feel sympathy is one of the things that troubles me, particularly how this insistence manifests itself on the Left.) But I think it has become necessary in this country for us to find a way in which we can be critical of others while still maintaining a sympathetic understanding of their situation and background and personality. Criticism and sympathy cannot continue to be mutually exclusive concepts.

              I’ll go deeper into the issue of sympathy for SopranoWorld characters in later writeups, especially in relation to Meadow, who gets far more hate than I think she deserves…

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