Carmela has another furtive romance collapse, while Tony B. throws away a chance to turn his life around.Carmela has another furtive romance collapse, while Tony B. throws away a chance to turn his life around.Carmela has another furtive romance collapse, while Tony B. throws away a chance to turn his life around.
- Bobby 'Bacala' Baccalierias Bobby 'Bacala' Baccalieri
- (as Steven R. Schirripa)
But when you look closer there are some interesting things to learn in this episode. The three stories illuminate each other in very disturbing ways. Notice how AJ and Tony B are both "students." But where Tony B really cracks the books, studying day and night while holding down a full time job, AJ barely even makes an effort. He goes to sleep and his mother has to do the work for him! Meanwhile Carmela claims to be looking for love, yet when she hooks up with one of AJ's counselors all she does is blatantly manipulate him to help her son pass at school, even with minimal effort.
What's the point of showing all this?
It's not what we learn about these characters, but what we learn about Tony Soprano. He's at the center of the episode without even doing anything. The weak people fail but what's disturbing is how Tony reacts. Like when he finds out AJ is copying some girl's paper, he's pleased instead of angry or sad. He acts like AJ is wising up, becoming an adult, but it's really the other way around. An AJ who could do his own work or even ask for help outside the family would be a son that Tony couldn't control. By the same token, when cousin Tony B seems on the road to his own legitimate job and even starting a business Tony Soprano is sullen and resentful, but as things fall apart for Tony B Tony Soprano is obviously pleased. His most sinister line in the episode is when he observes, "it's hard doing business with strangers." What he means is that he needs to be surrounded by weak, dependent people. It's funny, Tony seems terrifying, strong, and ruthless. But real strength scares him. In this episode the three weak characters all receive an "education" that they either ignore or can't profit from. It's Tony Soprano who profits instead.
Literary note: AJ is supposed to read and analyze ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell and LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding. These are very common high school texts, but they each comment on this episode in some way. Tony Soprano is a lot like Napoleon, the ruthless pig dictator who takes control of Animal Farm. Napoleon is supposedly the leader of a revolution that will benefit all the animals, but unlike Snowball (or Cousin Tony B,) he doesn't really believe in change, or progress. He literally pours filth all over Snowball's plans for the wind-mill. Like Tony Soprano, Napoleon doesn't talk much but "has a reputation for getting his own way." At the same time, Tony Soprano is also like Jack in Lord of the Flies. He promises freedom from rules and civilization to his followers, but instead they become slaves to fear and worshipers of "The Beast."
The shoe fits!
- Mar 10, 2020