Since so many of my readers have been coming here lately in search of Sopranos spoilers, and presumably clicking away disappointed in the lack of dish, I’ll do the next best thing: Here are some of my favorite places to read about the Sopranos, especially the most recent episodes:
- Slate’s TV Club dialogues on the Sopranos. In the past, they’ve had organized crime experts and psychologists. This half-season, they’re just using a couple of good writers, Timothy Noah and Jeffrey Goldberg.
- The Television Without Pity forum on the latest episode.
- A brief post by Ann Althouse, plus some good comments.
- MSNBC’s “Sopranos Body Count.”
- TV Squad has a contemplative take.
What everyone seems to be picking up is: The overt references to The Godfather (Tony with his tomato plants, the christening scene in the previous episode, the brief reign of the New York boss ending with a bullet in the eye like Moe Green got), the eerie resemblance of the young Asian man incarcerated with Uncle Junior to the Virginia Tech madman, and the prevailing sense that things might end “not with a bang, but a whimper.”
That line is originally from T.S. Eliot, by the way, and that’s what “The Sopranos” reminds me of: Being an English major. For all its violence, comedy and great characterizations, what’s most notable “The Sopranos” is the richness of its symbolism, the subconscious parallels between two things that seem unrelated, but connect in our minds and in the characters’ minds, especially Tony, Carmela and Christopher.
We see the three of them try to make sense out of their world on this deeper level in a way that compares with how we follow another trio’s subconscious thoughts: Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, the main characters in Ulysses. Part of the joke, though, is that the poet in Tony is the same psychic realm from where his murderous thoughts seem to arise. Tony vents his rage verbally, but he is most dangerous when he is listening and watching. Tony is a great listener and watcher
Like last night: For some reason Tony wanted to know if it was Paulie who, years earlier, told Johnny Sack about an offensive joke made at the expense of Sack’s wife, leading to all kinds of headaches for Tony. What made him think of it? Listening to Paulie prattle on about his mob life with some prostitutes. Then listening to one of the prostitutes repeat some of the information back to him in bed. Somehow, these and other observations come together in his mind; and as a result, he almost murders Paulie on the boat, because sharing the joke with Johnny Sac was a sign of Paulie’s disloyalty. With war looming with the New York family that Johnny Sac once headed, this is a detail that suddenly alarms Tony.
Water is everywhere in “The Sopranos,” always has been, but especially in these past three episodes. Tony and Bobby and their wives on the lake. The FBI interested in what Tony might be learning about Muslim terrorism at the Port of Newark. Tony and Paulie on a fishing boat. Tony and Beansie chatting by a swimming pool. Even Junior pissing his pants. He has to take medicine to control his bladder, but the medicine leaves him too sleepy.
Tony can only control the flow of words from Paulie’s mouth by killing him, but he doesn’t do it. Water is where bodies are dumped, where bad memories are forgotten, only to float back up again. Keep an eye on the way water is used in the remaining episodes if you want clues (er, I mean “spoilers”) to how it’s all going to end.