The upcoming Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, will flesh out Tony’s backstory, but the film will also set up more of an explanation for how he and his nephew, Christopher, began their interesting crime relationship. The original HBO drama followed the increasingly precarious life and times of mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). Violent, debaucherous, and self-centered, he still managed to be a protagonist that fans could root for. And a vital component of that was the incredibly intricate writing of both the show’s events and its multi-layered characters.
Despite Tony being the main focus, those he interacted with on both personal and professional levels were also crucial to the plot and overall effectiveness of the show. Aside from characters like Silvio and Paulie, Tony’s nephew, Christopher (Michael Imperioli), also played a key role in the on-screen crime family. The two had a relationship that swung back and forth between love and hate, with Tony eventually killing Christopher in season 6. But throughout the show, they talked about each other as if they were uncle and nephew.
Of course, this wasn’t actually the case. Christopher wasn’t blood-related to Tony; he was Carmela’s first cousin, once-removed. He was only related to Tony through marriage. But since his father, Dickie (played by Alessandro Nivola in the prequel), died when he was very young, Christopher never had a real father. And his “Uncle” Tony was the closest thing to a paternal figure that he had. Naturally, Tony ended up taking Christopher under his wing. In the Many Saints of Newark’s trailer, it seems that Dickie did the same thing with Tony when he was young. It looks as though he was instrumental in bringing Tony into the mob world that already surrounded him due to his father’s lifestyle. Thus, not only will the prequel explain the dynamic within Tony and Dickie’s story, but it will also flesh out the past behind Tony and Christopher’s relationship too. Dickie was a criminal mentor, who was technically unrelated, to Tony, and the show’s main character became the same thing for Christopher.
This follows a recurring theme from The Sopranos, one where patterns and cycles continued within both personal and crime families for generations. More minor examples include how Tony unconsciously sought out emotionally unavailable women like his mother for romantic relationships, and AJ inherited the tendency that his father and grandmother had for self-pity. These seemingly unbreakable familial patterns also reinforced the idea that, in The Sopranos‘ universe, certain characters, like Tony, were forever tied to a life of crime. Despite seeing the horrors of gangster violence as a kid, Tony later joined the mafia’s ranks anyway.
And even after his brush with death and subsequent life reevaluation during the gunshot-coma debacle in season 6, he couldn’t stay away from his inherited mobster role. It was too deeply ingrained in him–a pattern he was doomed to repeat, despite seeing the notable advantages of changing his ways. Within The Sopranos, characters like Tony, Dickie, and Christopher didn’t have to be blood-related to see each other as relatives. But, unfortunately, the show’s idea of family wasn’t always a good thing. The Many Saints of Newark will surely follow this trend and take the original series’ lead in depicting how corrupting and damaging both personal and crime families can be throughout generations,leaving negative imprints to be repeated.