Did Tony Soprano lie to Christopher Moltisanti about his father’s death? Of the myriad ways The Many Saints of Newark adds to the mythos of The Sopranos, one of the most pertinent is the fate of Christopher’s dad – Richard ‘Dickie’ Moltisanti.
During the TV series episode ‘For All Debts Public and Private’, Tony tells Christopher that the retired police investigator Barry Haydu killed Dickie. Christopher goes to this man’s house and murders him in cold blood, getting redemption for the father he never knew. It seemed all neat and tidy – but we know Tony will lie to anyone about anything to protect the business. So, was he telling the truth?
The Many Saints of Newark has the answer, and it’s a surprising one. The facts are the facts, of course, but what they say about the characters involved is fascinating. Nothing in Tony Soprano’s life is ever as simple as it seems, sometimes in ways that he might be aware of. Let’s get the easy part out of the way, before we dig into what it all means.
Who killed Christopher Moltisanti’s father?
In The Many Saints of Newark, it’s revealed that Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano is the one behind Dickie Moltisanti’s death. Amid all the upheaval of the thriller movie’s events, Junior’s resentment boils over and he decides to whack Dickie as a way of instituting control and maintaining the status quo.
Dickie plans to start moving away from organised crime. He envisions a future in which Tony and Christopher don’t grow up as mobsters, living a life of violence and depravity to maintain a social hierarchy. In fact, he considers guiding Tony towards sports and schoolwork – a good deed he can do to even out killing his own father, Aldo ‘Hollywood Dick’ Moltisanti.
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Needless to say, Junior would rather things stay the way they are, so he can eventually have his time at the top. He wants power, and if the DiMeo crime family falls apart through lack of new recruits, or people adopting legitimate pursuits, he won’t get it.
Throw in that he suspects Dickie of lying about what happened to Hollywood Dick, and you’ve got motivation for him to make a move. The Sopranos was never shy about Junior being narcissistic, duplicitous, and murderous if he felt like it – he suggested having Tony killed in the pilot. But The Many Saints of Newark makes it clear he’s not beyond hurting anybody to get what he wants.
Did Tony Soprano know he was lying to Christopher?
This is a more difficult question to answer. Perhaps he did, but there’s also a good chance that he didn’t. He certainly doesn’t know the truth in The Many Saints of Newark ending, and Junior can be unscrupulous when he wants to be. Especially in these kinds of circumstances – tempers were flaring, it was suspected Dickie had killed his father, and political unrest provided easy alibis all round.
Tony may have just accepted that sometimes even made men die without anyone knowing who did it, because having power puts a target on the back of your head. The problem in front of him in The Sopranos was that he knew Christopher could unravel without having someone to pin the blame on for his dad’s fate. So, in order to bring Christopher in closer and lay this all to rest, Tony chooses a retired cop, because nobody in their line of work would ever pass up the excuse to kill an officer of the law.
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It works. Christopher feels closure, and Tony has one less thing to worry about. We know Junior did it, but what are we going to do about it? The Many Saints of Newark renders all greatness here a façade, built on lies and deception. But would the truth really make anyone feel better? Sometimes it’s best not to even ask.
The Many Saints of Newark is in theatres across the UK and US now, and on streaming service HBO Max stateside.