My Thoughts on The Sopranos Fortunate Son & Its Unfortunate Counterparts
The Sopranos Fortunate Son (season three, episode three) features a couple of significant milestones. It follows Livia Soprano’s death in the prior episode, so there’s definitely a lot going on above and below the surface. While American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival released “Fortunate Son” in 1969, it was the song’s author, John Fogerty, who revealed the meaning behind it.
Fortunate Son: Once You Enter This Family, There's No Getting Out
Primarily, in Fortunate Son, Christopher Moltisanti has been waiting for over two years to “be made.” Also known as “uomo d’onore” in Italy, being made is considered the American mafia’s highest honor. Essentially, a made man is “untouchable other than by another mobster, and then only after a ‘sit down’ with the bosses.” Well, the day for making is finally here.
On one hand, Christopher Moltisanti wasn’t your typical “Fortunate Son.” He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in hand (maybe a couple of extra T.V. trays, though). He grew up without a father and with a mother who suffered from alcoholism. For those with experience in child welfare, it’s likely safe to say Chris had a high ACE score.
We’ve all heard the phrase before: “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” Yeah, I know, it’s super cliche. But there’s a reason we’ve all heard it before. Although Christopher was quite jubilant immediately following the making ceremony, he soon learns that his new status might not be all it’s cracked up to be. In this case, it’s not the state of being made, per se, but the additional responsibilities that come with it.
For example, during his first week in his new role, Christopher came up short on his six G minimum he owed to Paulie after making a bad college football bet. Whether it was owing Paulie a minimum of six G’s a week or being basically on call 24/7, it isn’t long before Christopher develops that famous agita we know all too well in The Sopranos. As Paulie so eloquently stated, “Welcome to the NFL, rookie.”
Some Folks Are Born, Silver Spoon in Hand
Next, we come to Anthony Jr. (A.J.) Soprano. One could argue A.J. was born with a silver spoon in hand. He was raised in a big house in a nice New Jersey suburb, fancy cul-de-sac, A-rated schools and all. Not to mention the expensive private school Tony and Carm enrolled him in after he was expelled from one school.
For what it’s worth, Fortunate Son made clear that A.J. and football were not a winning combination. After making a good play in his football game, A.J. was less than thrilled when Tony offered to take him to get some (hot) dogs. If Tony could have seen the big picture at that moment, perhaps he wouldn’t have expressed such distaste for Anthony’s request to play Nintendo. After all, playing Nintendo wasn’t part of “that life” Tony wanted him to avoid.
Unfortunately, I imagine this parking lot scenario made A.J. less inclined to express what he wanted moving forward. This takes us to the next football field scene, where A.J. passes out on the field when the coach makes him defensive captain. The fainting spell wasn’t from overexertion or heat exhaustion. It was due to his overwhelming fear of having to take the lead or be responsible for his teammates. A.J. was definitely a fortunate son in that regard (just wait til’ we get to An Army of One!)
Sopranos (Un)fortunate Son, Jackie Jr.
Besides Chrissy and A.J., there’s another son who falls somewhere in the middle. Enter Jackie Aprile, Jr. Before Jackie Sr. died, he told Tony he wanted Jackie Jr. to be a doctor. With the complete loss of control over his friend’s life, Tony wanted to feel capable of carrying out at least one of the late Jackie’s wishes. No such plans were in the cards, though. We soon learn that Jackie wasn’t even going to Rutgers anymore. Well, I should say, not going there for class. He did go there and pee in his pants while waiting for Christopher & Benny Fazio to finish robbing the benefit concert. His dropout status doesn’t become apparent to Meadow and Tony until later in the season, though.
To be clear, Jackie probably wouldn’t have become a doctor even if he had stayed at Rutgers. I’m not trying to be judgmental. All I’m saying is he almost drowned in the penguin exhibit. In any case, when I saw how easy it was for Jackie to disrespect Rosalie and the Soprano family, I knew that wasn’t going to end well. When I say “that,” I mean Jackie Aprile, Jr. All in all, I feel pretty confident proclaiming Jackie as one of The Sopranos unfortunate sons.
Notably, in The Sopranos Fortunate Son, Tony and Dr. Melfi unearth his memory of seeing his father cut off Mr. Satriale’s pinky. I believe Tony when he claims it was a rush. I’m just not sure if it was the sociopathic kind of rush, or the rush of panic and shock from witnessing a traumatic event. He did have his first panic attack later that day, so that may give us a clue. Either that, or he’s certainly a soldier in the making. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. I know I’m looking forward to hopefully learning more about Mr. Satriale in The Many Saints of Newark, which premieres in March 2021.
Eugene Pontecorvo: Not a Fortunate Son
Finally, I want to note one more character in The Sopranos Fortunate Son before I wrap up. While we didn’t see him too much, Eugene Pontecorvo was extremely symbolic for The Sopranos as a whole. I presume the writers based Eugene’s character off a New Jersey mob figure who wore a wire to his own making ceremony back in the 90’s.
To summarize, what did you think about this episode? Was there anything in particular that stood out to you? Connect with me on social media, subscribe to my blog, and check out my other blog posts and Sopranos quizzes.