April 17, 2007

"Can you explain to me who that guy was in Sunday night's episode who was dining with Silvio when he got iced? What was that all about?"

LOL. "The Sopranos" does not insult your intelligence. The truth is, you have to watch the episode twice to understand it. More than that to get the nuances.

23 comments:

Ernie Fazio said...

The guy was one of the mokes up for Johnny Sach's job since Frank has opted out after his open heart surgery. The new headliner is "Doc" the fat guy with the white pompadour who people are concerned with.

This is the boomer year when aging chiefs and capos start thinking about the ridiculousness of getting up, going to work, wacking a few guys and being stressed by the pressure.

As Tony learned at the country club, sometimes being the boss is not what you want, even though your dad was the boss and it is expected of you. A few more sessions with Dr. Melfi and Tony will retire--to Leavenworth or to "sleep with the fishes."

Ann Althouse said...

My biggest problem with the show is keeping track of a lot of characters that I'm not interested in enough to tell apart. Then they get killed and I have to try to figure out why that happened.

johnstodder said...

Sometimes they create characters on the Sopranos just for the purpose of having them killed. This is especially true when the story is about the New York mobsters. Remember when Patti D'Arbanville was the "lady shylock?" Seemed like an interesting character in the making, but it was all just a set-up to show what a cold-blooded fucker Phil Leotardo could be if he thought he was being shown a lack of respect. At the time, Phil Leotardo was a somewhat obscure character, but now he's pivotal, and that aspect of his character is one of the biggest threats to Tony.

Like Kurt Vonnegut said about writing short stories: "Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action." That's what these "who that guy was?" characters are there for.

Freder Frederson said...

The end of the series is Tony being protected by DOJ by giving the FBI a bunch of worthless information about "terrorists" infiltrating the New Jersey docks. Homeland Security will trump good ol fashioned organized crime as the government crawls back in bed with the mafia to fight another inflated threat to the country.

For fifty years the federal government looked the other way, and even actively supported the Mafia, as organized crime corrupted our unions, ports and cities because they kept the communists at bay, or so the Feds thought (and they had the goods on J Edgar Hoover). I think Chase is going to use the last few episodes of The Sopranos to sound a warning about the Feds doing the same thing with the Mafia again when it comes to Islamic terrorism.

NSC said...

I think Chase is going to use the last few episodes of The Sopranos to sound a warning about the Feds doing the same thing with the Mafia again when it comes to Islamic terrorism.

Eh, warn me all you want, but if soliciting intel from criminals will help us avoid another 9/11 then I sure as hell hope they are soliciting it. Oh, and inflated threat - lol.

dax said...

ALL POINTS BULLETING !!

Be on the lookout for Black Hellicopters over the freder frederson house.

Dude! What are you talking about???

dax said...

If should be Bulletin........like it really matters.

Seven Machos said...

Shockingly, Fred finds his agenda in The Sopranos.

Dude, do you find it in your potatoes au gratin, too?

blake said...

A lot of HBO series are like that.

I had to watch "Rome" and "Deadwood" more than once just to get what they were saying.

joe said...

I was trying to figure out who the guy was dining w/ Silvio too, then realized it doesn't matter. The point is that the NY family is in a power vacuum and struggle for control.
I think the first two episodes have set up any number of series endings - Tony getting whacked by Phil, or even by his nephew Chris, or going to prison, or even getting out of the Life somehow. They were pretty heavy handed last week with the theme of the aging mobsters handing over the reins to the younger generation. The prospect of Tony's death would preclude a Sopranos movie, unless it is a prequel of some kind.

Freder Frederson said...

Dude! What are you talking about???

Starting last season (or even before?) the FBI agent who used to follow Tony shifted to tracking Al Qaeda. Now he is trying to get Tony to watch the docks for him (it is how the episode started). This is analogous to how the Mafia got so powerful in its heyday from the thirties to the seventies. They were used, often with the full knowledge of the government, to root out communist influence from unions and even in foreign countries.

Seven Machos said...

Right. The Mafia got powerful in the 20s and 30s because they were government stooges. Right. Wasn't anything else going on. Unions and fish markets. That's where the big money was back then.

Idiot.

johnstodder said...

Plot-wise, you've got to give Freder some credit. This is would the perfect ironic ending Chase might be looking for. It also fits with the recurring water symbolism -- the harbor as his salvation.

I do think Chase is trying to avoid having an ending that Coppolla or Scorcese has already done, however, and the "Tony-as-informant" device was an element of "The Departed." But the terrorism angle has not been explored. It's always struck me that in the opening credits, you still see the WTC. Probably not an accident.

Give Freder a break. In Godfather II, Coppola strongly implied that the mafia owned JFK, at least from what Hyman Roth told Michael Corleone. That's gotta have left a mark.

Seven Machos said...

And in The Godfather III, Coppola hamhandedly showed Mafia guys using helicopters when killing and being in business with the highest levels of the Vatican.

I think the terrorism angle is obviously important. But saying that the mafia somehow was used extensively to root out communism is crazy.

johnstodder said...

But saying that the mafia somehow was used extensively to root out communism is crazy.

I think history would dispute you. It was a more selective, localized process than Freder's sweeping comment suggests, but it certainly was a factor in various organized labor battles at mid-century: famously, with regard to the Hollywood union battles of the late 40s, but also the longshoremen, the teamsters...

Seven Machos said...

Key word: extensively.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder's sweeping comment suggests, but it certainly was a factor in various organized labor battles at mid-century

Why do you think Lucky Luciano was let back in the country after he had been deported. It was to get the communists out of the unions and ensure labor peace during the war. Also, Mafia infiltration of the unions was tacitly, if not actively accepted, as a way to root out communists and socialists.

As for foreign countries. Cuba was run by the mafia (e.g., Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Malone) and they were the biggest backers of the Batista regime. Throughout the sixties, mafia figures continued to be involved in anti-communist activities, sometimes with the active knowledge of the FBI and CIA.

Freder Frederson said...

Key word: extensively.

Of course I never used the word "extensively".

Seven Machos said...

How to make a shallow argument:

1. Mafia entities had business interests in Cuba before Castro.

2. Therefore, Cuba was run by the mafia.

3. During World War II, the federal government cooperated with mafia entities to watch unions and infiltrate docks.

4. Therefore for fifty years the federal government looked the other way or actively worked with Mafia entities.

How were the Jews involved? Was that the Bugsy angle?

johnstodder said...

Just as a reminder, this is what Freder said originally:

This is analogous to how the Mafia got so powerful in its heyday from the thirties to the seventies. They were used, often with the full knowledge of the government, to root out communist influence from unions and even in foreign countries.

Seven Machos, I'm not sure why you're wasting precious minutes of your life disputing this. There is a lot of historical documentation supporting this statement. And if a criminal organization is given a pass in return for its services on another matter, it's not a stretch to suggest this is why they grew more powerful.

Imagine the opposite. Imagine the FBI identifying Italian organized crime as a major problem from the beginning. That would have made them weaker, right? But since it didn't happen, they grew stronger? Proof? Well, once the FBI was forced to take them seriously, they started to decline. Not immediately, but steadily.

I know Freder gets under people's skin sometimes but it is silly to fight with him about this. He's not accusing Bush of being in the mafia. He's saying the government at times used them when they had interests in common.

vnjagvet said...

Please also note that the period during which organized crime was not actively pursued by the FBI was during the 30's and 40's -- primarily during the administrations of FDR and HST.

Seven Machos said...

RICO and the crackdown on hard drugs brought down the Mafia.

To say that the federal government was in any serious way in league with a bunch of criminals for 50 years isn't true. It's just not.

You people are watching too many crime documentaries.

Freder Frederson said...

To say that the federal government was in any serious way in league with a bunch of criminals for 50 years isn't true. It's just not.

There are all kinds of shades of grey, Seven. And there is no doubt that the FBI did not vigorously pursue the Mafia until the seventies, when significant inroads were made into breaking up the crime families. In the early days there was a definite acknowledgment that organized crime purged the unions of the communists and socialists. In later years they continued to do some dirty work for the FBI because of course they were staunchly anti-communist. Now, granted, after practically everyone, even the working man, had been convinced communists were evil, being able to threaten to expose J. Edgar Hoover for the pervert he was, also helped a lot.

But the fact remains that the rise of the Mafia in this country was aided by both business concerns and the government who saw communism as a greater threat. Once they had gained the power, it was very difficult to bring them down.

A sub-theme of the last couple seasons of The Sopranos has tracked a similar pattern. The agents that know Tony the best have been yanked off Tony to chase terrorists. They are obviously frustrated (they went to Pakistan and all they got was some nasty bug) and now they are back begging Tony for leads at the Jersey docks. I bet Tony turns in those two Egyptian petty criminals who sometimes hang out at the Bing as "terrorists".