oscar run i: march of the penguins
not bi, but tri

dr. melfi revisited

A few years ago I posted a piece called "Carmela Soprano" that I liked enough to place amongst the "oldies but goodies" in the sidebar to your left. In that post, I looked at The Sopranos through the prism of two of the female characters, Tony's wife Carmela and Tony's therapist Jennifer Melfi. The Sopranos is mostly a "guy show" ... although it does an excellent job of examining key women characters in depth, those women are always peripheral. (One thing that wasn't clear back when I wrote that post was how important Adriana would become.) My argument was that "we aren't all Tony Sopranos, but instead we're Carmela Sopranos, enjoying the benefits of living with Tony."

I also discussed Dr. Melfi's rape, which remains one of the two or three most disturbing scenes in the show's history. "Along with the doctor, we realize early on that the proper retribution for the vile act performed on her can only come from Tony Soprano. Dr. Melfi leans over the precipice and decides, rightly, that while she might need proper retribution, she doesn't want anything like that from Tony."

I'm working my way through all the past episodes of the show, in anticipation of its return in a couple of months, and this morning I watched the rape episode. I know what's coming this time, at the end of the episode, when Tony is asking Melfi if she has anything she wants to tell him, and we in the audience are begging her to say "this guy raped me and got away with it," so Tony can exact retribution ... I know what's coming, and still I'm on the edge of my seat, wondering what she'll do. Which is simply to say, after long thought, "no."

It was the right decision. And now, some seasons later, I look back on her decision and realize that while I still believe The Sopranos is a show about the compromises we make, Melfi's compromises are the least harmful and most proper of any of the characters. In the world of The Sopranos, there are only two kinds of people, those in the game, and those who prosper from their connection to those in the game (truly unconnected civilians never show up on The Sopranos). Melfi prospers less than most of the other "outsiders," and in that, she remains honorable.

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