The Sopranos

The Many Saints of Newark Hints Tony’s A Genius — Why This Isn’t A Retcon

The Many Saints of Newark's trailer throws out a lot of hints, and one of them is that Tony's a genius. Here's why it isn't a Sopranos retcon.

The new trailer for The Many Saints of Newark, the upcoming prequel movie to HBO’s The Sopranos, hints at Tony’s genius–but here’s why it isn’t a retcon. The iconic gangster drama followed Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a New Jersey mobster who often struggled to make sense of his professional and personal life. In many ways, Tony fit the role of a stereotypical mafia boss; he presented as masculine, could be incredibly intimidating, and had a volatile temper.

Tony also fit this sort of archetype due to things he would say and outdated or ignorant views he had on certain issues. His old-school mentality and emotionally reactive nature also caused him to regularly say things that didn’t sound very bright. In fact, there was often a layer of comedy to the sort of role that he perpetuated for himself. But part of what set The Sopranos apart from other shows was its ability to flesh out multi-faceted characters. Tony was no exception; as with any human, he was many things at once.

RELATED:The Sopranos: How The Prequel Trailer Confirms A Tony Theory

In The Many Saints of Newark’s new trailer, a younger Livia (Tony’s mom, played by Vera Farmiga) speaks with her son’s high school teacher. When the woman tells her that Tony has a high IQ, she initially dismisses the idea. But the teacher insists that “he doesn’t apply himself, but he IS smart.” In a great act of foreshadowing, she also says he’s a natural leader. Anyone who watched it may have had a similar reaction to Tony’s mother in the prequel trailer, as his character could be so hotheaded and free with sentiments that severely lacked tact. But, though the exchange is a surprising inclusion, what the teacher says isn’t surprising. Tony often got a bad rap for being “dumb” but he was far from it. Firs, it would be nearly impossible to stay alive as a mafia boss for as long as he did without smarts of some sort. He was uneducated and certainly didn’t hang out with a progressive or thoughtful crowd, but he was quite intelligent, often showing perceptive and cunning sides of himself.

Tony and Livia speak in the school in The Many Saints of Newark

This part of him was repeatedly showcased throughout The Sopranos‘ six seasons. He was great at assessing how a situation needed to be handled, where a person’s weak point was, and ensuring the best possible outcome for his interests within a particular set of circumstances. Of course, his criminal’s intuition and perceptiveness were also part of what made him so dangerous to his enemies and, sometimes, himself. One notable time when his intelligence really stood out was toward the end of season 1, when he ultimately decided to let Uncle Junior become the crime family’s boss. Despite his macho and alpha dog tendencies, Tony had the foresight to realize that, though Junior would technically be the boss, he could be the puppet master behind the scenes, acting as the real head honcho while his uncle kept some of law enforcement’s sights elsewhere.

And in situations in The Sopranos where it initially seemed like Tony wasn’t seeing what was in front of his face (like the proof that Big Pussy had flipped on the family in season 2), it was often an emotional matter of not wanting to see or accept the truth, not an intellectual inability to grasp what was going on. The Many Saints of Newark has a unique chance to explain a lot about Tony, his backstory, and other characters. Hopefully, it fleshes out both the good and bad sides of them all.

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