Monday, June 4, 2007

Decisions at Sundown

Showdown # 1

The Yanks-Sox weekend series was more of the same, a flame broiled three games in which Joe Torre got himself booted trying to fire up his beleagured cast, bewigged fans flooded the stands for a comical A-Rod throwdown, Mike Lowell rolled over Robinson Cano and unintentionally took out Yankee first baseman Dougie “Ballgrabber” Mientkiewicz (who was replacing the injured Jason Giambi) and continued to look like a straight-up all star and consummate pro, Bobby Abreau played right field bad enough that his counterpart, Willy Mo Pena, looked like Dewey Evans, Dusty Pedroia again played like the real thang, Scott Proctor came awful close to ringing Grizzly Youlkis’ bell in a big way, the umpteenth coming of Lazarus Clemens was postponed for at least a week, and, while still 12 & ½ games back, the Yanks grabbed two of three, also managed to score one come-from-behind run apiece against the heretofore untouchable Okajima (first blown save) and Papelbon (first loss), while the much despised A-Rod stuck the final fork in our New England asses. Yankee moral victory? Indeed. Next match up? August 28.

Showdown # 2

As last night’s next-to-last Soprano’s episode wound down, with the New Jersey clan hitting the mattresses, Godfather style, it was obvious (and strangely gratifying) that creator David Chase (co-writer of the episode) was giving in to both audience pressure (in a backwards way)) and the constrictions of the very gangster genre the series has so sublimely aerated by placing the drama squarely in Mobsville, with assignations and reprisals, the strapping on of the guns, essentially tossing the masses some fresh meat over the genre fence. (Yet another impeccable eyewink moment occurred when the boys sat down to dinner over the strains of the Raging Bull theme and playfully boxed in fake slow motion.) The guns are blazing, the blood flowing, let’s temporarily ditch the soul-searching and the road paved with moral ambiguities and cut to the heart of any good yarn—How is it gonna end, man?
1. T gets deadbanged.-- Doubtful, unless Chase manages to couch Tony’s death in the heaviest of ironic circumstances.
2. T gets jailed.-- Maybe. After a soul sucking arrest and conviction we watch Tony alone in his cell, devoid of his trappings and stripped of his kingdom, until in a quick, understated scene, he musters back his Big Machiavellian mojo and does the prison jungle king thing.
3. T gets witness protection.-- Sure the sight of Tony mowing his postage stamp lawn in sun burnt Arizona with a face drained of life and vigor would be poetically unsettling, but it’s also too direct a lift from GoodFellas.
4. T achieves nirvana.--Tony miraculously emerges from the New York-New Jersey war basically unscathed with his family intact, and voluntarily adopts the straight life, medium shot of him smiling, wildly content, flipping a hamburger over a grill in a greatly downsized backyard, area unknown. Too easy, too clean.
5. A.J. steps up.—All this focus on the dazed and confused A.J. pays off dramatically when inexplicably A.J. steps up and transforms into an avenger, morphing into the role once assumed to be that of either dead Christopher or Bobby. The finalcamera movement and shot is a slow zoom in, close-up on A.J., half determined, half lost, the second coming of Tony Soprano.


Charlie Drago said...

More alternate endings for "The Sopranos."

-- A Scorsese-inspired ambiguity (think about Travis Bickle and Ruppert Pupkin: hero and star, or ultimate victims and fantasists) in the wake of dreamy violence.

-- Tony already had a chance at the Witness Protection Program, but he passed on the Kevin Finnerty (I get it: infinity) persona. But then there's that light, a final image second only to the spiritual redemption inherent in the return of the ducks.

-- A.J. steps up and takes a bullet for his father.

-- Meadow assumes control of the family, carrying the perfect combination of genes: Dad's greater-than-street sense brilliance, Mom's tainted humanity, Granma's cunning.

-- Will Tony survive physically? Of course he will -- only to receive a life sentence of dealing with the horror he brings about in a final episode only David Chase could imagine.

"I get it!" Tony swears to the sun.

I'm sure he will.

skylolo99 said...

Tony and Paulie are bloodied but alive. They look at each other and laugh among the bloody bodies, shards of glass, smoke and splinters and bullet holed streams of light filled with cinematic mist. Paulie looks at Tony, "Like the fuckin Alamo the fuckin' Alamo."
Lou Monte's version of "Sixteen Tons" (sung in Italian) plays and the credits roll. (muscolo ed anima e pelle ed ossa)

mdoggie said...

2...About time. I've been waiting for the chance to speculate wildly. I have often thought that Meadow is the obvious choice to take the reins, but I have to agree with Scott - the recent emphasis on AJ definitely foreshadows his figuring largely in whatever happens. What about Carmela? I suspect she may play a role too. I do think we're gonna see Tony shoot that BFG.

john k said...

A scorecard for those interested..

Charlie Drago said...

OK, I'll go first.

The ending was exquisitely post-modern, its ambiguity reflecting and commenting upon (scathingly, I'd submit) our unwillingness to understand the political motivations behind the Manichean fait accompli we're force-fed by the minority for whom the maintenance of power depends upon keeping the majority mired in endless conflict and the requisite uncertainty from which it springs.

In essence, David Chase gave us two options.

The storytelling simply and abruptly comes to an end, minus sculpted denoument. In poetic essence, he whacks his series.

Or ...

Tony is hit in the worst imaginable circumstance (rendering the popping of Phil Leotardo's pimple tame by comparison), one that will destroy the delicate balances at long last attained by his children and wife.

In either case, that unnerving fade-to-(Brad) gray and excrutiating silence conjure the materialists' beloved "lights out" expectations for the resolution to all individual existence.

AND it sets up any number of sequels and/or spinoffs.

I know for a fact that HBO is girding for a major loss of subscribers; its desperately hyped new shows seem cut of the same insipid cloth; bereft of passion, humor, and the ability to reconcile brains and balls, they reflect a post-"Sopranos," post-Chris Albrecht reality that will cast much darkness before the light of inspired creativity shines once again upon the network.

Unless something very interesting happens within the next few weeks ... something of local origin ...