Conflicting Interpretations

May 14th, 2007  |  Published in etc

Spoilers. Last night’s Sopranos … eesh. Emphasized portions hit the incongruities between the Salon spin and the Slate spin:

Salon:

The episode takes an odd turn when, instead of taking his anger out on someone close to him, Tony flies to Vegas to get some peace. We see him eating dinner alone, sitting by a pool. Finally, he looks up a hooker who slept with Christopher, then tells her Christopher is dead. The two end up sleeping together (no surprise there) and then talking honestly. They smoke a joint, and suddenly it seems that Tony may be trying to crawl inside of Christopher’s experiences. He asks the girl about the time she took peyote with Christopher, and then she and Tony take the drug together and hit the casinos, looking dazed. Instead of losing all of his money as you’d expect, Tony goes on a huge winning streak, then falls down on the floor, suddenly struck that Christopher is dead and gone and he can’t even feel happy over his good fortune. Will Tony ever feel happy again?

At the end of the episode, Tony and the girl are watching the sunrise on peyote. “I get it,” he says, as if he suddenly understands where Christopher has been all those years. Half crying, he yells out loud, “I get it!” But it’s too late.

Slate:

Tony, who spends his life being comfortably numb about the reality of what he does for a living, can’t in this instance abide the hypocrisy of pretending that Christopher died in the accident and that he’s sorry Christopher is gone. He escapes to Las Vegas and looks up Sonya, an old girlfriend of Christopher’s who’s working her way through college as a stripper. (I assume Sonya figured in the show a few seasons back, but I don’t remember her. Do you?) They have sex, and then Sonya introduces Tony to peyote. At first it makes him puke, but later they wander, high, into a casino, and Tony soon finds himself winning at the roulette wheel. His streak of bad luck is over, he realizes; killing Christopher ended it. Remember how Tony told Carmela a few episodes back that he was fated to survive Uncle Junior’s shooting? The peyote deepens that delusion. The episode ends with Tony and Sonya in the desert, Tony shouting, “I get it.” Mario Puzo meets Carlos Castenada.

Tony is good and comfortable with his numbness now. Drugs made Christopher weak, but they make Tony strong. Christopher was a loser, Tony is a winner. This goombah is headed for some kind of serious fall, don’t you think?

I tend toward Slate’s read.

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