I’ve been ill for the past ten days or so – the same virus that’s now struck the Duke of Edinburgh, so I’m in good company. For three days I was speechless, which struck my husband and children as a gift from the Almighty. Less of a gift, they thought, was that since I have now acquired the rest of the Sopranos series and damned the cost, I have watched them, guiltily, back to back when my head has been too thick to work.
Though I know I join, rather late, those who think the series is extraordinary, gulping it down in great blocks has been psychologically interesting, scary even. The theme tune floats permanently in my head. I find that I’m thinking about the characters all the time. Yesterday I caught myself wondering whether I’d begun to imitate Paulie’s strangled walk. And when I ‘woke up this morning’, I didn’t ‘get myself a gun’ but I did sit bolt upright, wondering if there’d been a plot breakdown over the murder of Adriana. I mean, if she was going to bring Chrissy in to the Feds, wouldn’t they have been watching her door? After all, seeing if Christopher would ‘flip’ was hideously dangerous for her. Quite apart from that, wouldn’t they have wanted to ensure that the two toxic lovebirds didn’t do a quick flit? So when Christopher left to ‘clear his head’, did no agent follow him up to Tony’s house, and could Syl really have picked up Adriana without the Feds noticing? Or did I just miss something?
Then there’s Vito, with whose fate, in my watching chronology, David Chase is still playing. Will he be allowed to survive and find happiness? That would be an unexpectedly bright spot in this slow descent to hell. More likely, I expect, Vito will revert to type when his new moustachioed lover smiles innocuously at another man. Death for somebody – perhaps in a barrel of pancakes – seems inevitable.
I’m trying to pinpoint the moment when we finally understand that this is not a story about mobsters with hearts but about heartless mobsters. It is different moments for different people. The moment with Carmela is not when, in Series 3, she goes to Dr. Krakower, the shrink who tells it like it is, marvellous as that moment is. It’s when she sees Dr. Melfi after Junior shoots Tony, and after a little honesty, just when we’re thinking Carmela is prepared to see what we see, she suddenly says that there are worse crooks in the world than her husband, as if that makes everything ok. Perfect pitch writing and yet another example of the viewer thinking we’re going up one path and then realising that we’ve entirely misconstrued what we’ve been witnessing.
Sorry to non Sopranos fans but I can’t sound off to the rest of my family as my husband and son couldn’t watch it – they like the America of the West Wing – and my daughter found it hard to cope with after Dr. Melfi’s rape scene. So here I am, talking to you and I’m afraid I can’t promise not to again, particularly as I think it may somehow feed into my own writing. Help or hindrance? I’m still waiting to find out.
Onwards and unsteadily upwards,