Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tony Lays Waste

Three more Sopranos episodes left. There is amazing commentary from Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, and their cadre of posters. The water looks so fine and interesting, I’m jumping into the exegesis pool myself for the end of this historic, unsettling television creation.


It must be fun to be David Chase, and get to make very skilled wordplay that crosses aural to visual and back again. A 60-second reference to one of the demigods of English poetry in “Kennedy and Heidi” not only brings layers and layers of ideas to a TV show, it give us a reason to remember what distinguishes a Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet: the ABBAABBA of the opening octet, followed by CDCDCD of the sestet, with a proposition, and then a turn.

The poem being discussed in the class AJ is auditing is Wordsworth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Why is this one small piece of the whole so perfect?

"We lay waste our powers"
Tony is dumping asbestos waste into beautiful marsh land, and he ends up wasted on peyote.

“Little we see in Nature that is ours”
Tony started the series attracted to the ducks, but they represented a decency and goodness that were completely beyond his reach from the minute we met him

“For this, for everything, we are out of tune”

In the car before the accident, when Chris is fiddling with the radio station, Tony says, “What is this, the Make Believe Ballroom” a reference to William B. Williams’s old radio program. As much as Tony may be quoting “Comfortably Numb,” his real tunes are from an earlier era, before music became nihilistic and stopped making sense.

“Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn”

Kevin Finnerty had some idea of Christian redemption; Tony has given up. He needs to get away from the wake ritual of the Church, and enters the alternate universe that is Vegas, complete with the Devil on the slots. Wordsworth believed if we got away from human institutions, we would be able to encounter the natural order of goodness.

“So might I, standing on this pleasant lea
[or a canyon peak outside of the Vegas strip]
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn”

And that’s where we leave T this week: glimpsing the dawn light that he "gets" and being less forlorn for the moment, but a truly damned soul walking, looking part clown the entire episode with those bruises on his face. And he’s cackling, like a fool, like a demon.

Where does it go from here? No real predictions, but I fear for AJ.

Deep gratitude to anyone who can tell me what was with that mariachi music over the ending credits.


blue girl said...

Wow. Great post! As I was driving around doing errands yesterday I was writing different endings to the show in my mind. I'm not sure whether to read your links before I post my ideas or not. Or...I'm not even sure I should post about my predictions.

Great catch about Tony looking like a clown with his face banged up like that.

M.A.Peel said...

BG--you must post your predictions. It's no fun if you don't share them with the world.

thomas tucker said...

Nice blog.
I enjoyed that music at the end also. It was Minas De Cobre by Calexico.

M.A.Peel said...

Thomas Tucker--deep gratitude for the name of the piece and the band. But it seemed out of left field. Any associations to the episode, or just something David Chase likes?