Down Neck

Episode Report Card
Sars: D | 1 USERS: D
Down Neck

Flashback of Li'l Tony coming home after dark. Livia sits on the plastic-sheeted couch, smoking, and she tells Tony triumphantly that "your father may not be home for dinner tonight." "I know," Tony says glumly. She turns to look at him: "What do you know?" "I saw 'im gettin' arrested," Tony tells her. "What did he do?" "He didn't do anything," Livia shouts. "They just pick on the Italians!"

Flash forward. "Still, in my heart, I knew that my father was no freedom fighter." "So...he went to jail?" Melfi asks gingerly. "Nah, he came home in a couple hours. We were watching Ed Sullivan."

Flashback to Tony and Janice watching the Rascals on TV. Johnny comes in, and they run to greet them; he's brought ice cream. Livia appears and observes sourly, "That didn't take long -- you must be in good with the uppity-ups." He tries to kiss her on the cheek, but she leans away from him. Johnny plops down on the couch with Janice and lies that the cops went to the wrong place and arrested the wrong guys. He asks if Janice is okay, and she says yes; Tony watches them guardedly. From outside, a man's voice yells, "Johnny Boy! Hey, Johnny Boy, hey!" The whole family goes to look out the window, and a guy with a bandaged head and a sling on his arm yells out his own window, "Good for you, Johnny!" and says Johnny "showed them." "Eh, thanks, Rocco," Johnny says, and everyone sits down again. Tony stares at his father as Johnny asks, "Everything okay here?"

Flash forward to Melfi asking incredulously, "The man your father beat up was the same one who was congratulating him?" "Yeah, one of 'em," Tony says, smiling wryly. "Rocco Alitore." Melfi asks why Johnny got arrested in the first place, and Tony tells her that "he was in violation of his parole -- 'association with known undesirables.' But nothing ever happened about it, and it just kinda went away." Melfi asks if Johnny ever did any time; Tony says that "he was away when I was a little kid, but they told me he was in Montana, bein' a cowboy." Man, the whoppers that adults will tell kids never cease to amaze me. Kids just don't buy stories like that, even really little kids. They don't know what's going on, exactly, and they won't contradict you because they don't want to get yelled at, but they know. And they'll find out later anyway. They'll believe in the monster under the bed, or they'll think that The Brady Bunch is real, but if a grandparent dies and you tell them that Grandma went to sleep for a long time with God, they don't believe that crap. Anyway, Melfi sort of snorts, then nods sympathetically. Tony asks, "What?" Melfi shrugs. "My son is doomed, right?" Tony sighs. "Why do you say that?" "C'mon," Tony says bitterly. "This is the part where I'm supposed to tell you how terrible my father was, and the terrible things he did to me, and how he ruined my life." Defense mechanism...activated. Tony leans forward: "But I'll tell you somethin', I was proud to be Johnny Soprano's kid!" When he saw his father whale on that guy, he went to his classmates "and told them how tough my father was." "Do you think that's how your son feels about you?" "Yeah, probably," Tony snaps, "and I'm glad! I'm glad if he's proud a me! But that's the bind I'm in, 'cause I don't want 'im to be like me!" Melfi looks puzzled. Tony rants that AJ could grow up like a kid he knew in high school whose grandfather invented the ties on the end of salamis and made millions. Huh? Melfi sees through this digression: "Have you communicated any of this to your son?" "Not in so many words," Tony grumbles, then admits, "Probably not at all." Then he gets frustrated again: "And what difference would it make, you said so yourself -- it's in the blood. It's hereditary."

Melfi points out that genetic predispositions "are only that: predispositions," and it's not written in stone: "People have choices." Tony says mockingly, "She finally offers an opinion," but Melfi takes it with good humor, asking whether he thinks that everything is preordained and human beings don't have free will. "How come I'm not makin' fuckin' pots in Peru?" he asks. "You're born to this shit. You are what you are." Melfi repeats that, within that range, people have choices: "This is America." She smiles. "Right. America," Tony snorts, but he smiles too.

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