MAMMA’S DIARY – DIARIO DI MAMMA
For anyone just waking up to the phenomenon that is Gomorrah in Italy, here’s a quick rundown. The book Gomorrah, which was an investigative, first-hand look at Naples’ Camorra mafia, became a movie and the movie became a TV show. The book, movie, and TV show are hugely popular in Italy. People simply can’t get enough of this view of the intense, violent, and despicable life of those in the Italian mob. SundanceTV shared the series with viewers in the United States every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET. The first season has ended, and you can get recaps to catch up on what happened in the first six episodes, episodes 7 and 8, and episodes 9 and 10 right here on Italian Mamma. Without further ado, here’s what happened on the season finale, which aired Sept. 28:
Episodes 11 and 12 (season finale)
This show makes me sick to my stomach, yet I can’t turn away. It’s not that surprising considering in the course of season 1 a number of the characters in the film, mostly those who are novice gangsters, vomited themselves. Although I had heard a bit about how things would unfold before watching these last two episodes, I was still in shock about how it all went down. At the start of this season, Imma, the wife of the head of the Savastano clan, was all about making a man of her son, Gennaro. She wanted him to toughen up. Then, when she sent him to Honduras and Ciro to Spain, it seemed as though she just wanted to get rid of them. Both of them could have easily been killed on their trips. For one moment, Imma cried when her visiting her husband, Don Pietro, in jail and asking if she was doing the right thing with Gennaro, their son.
I know Italian moms, and I never understood this one. I know she really exists out there in Napoli and other parts of Italy, too, for that matter. But I had never seen her come out of the darkness. It was a shock to say the least. This woman wanted her son to be a killer and put his own life in danger for the sake of money and some perverted sense of prestige and power. All the Italian mammas I know did the exact opposite; they wanted to preserve the life of their children at all costs. After all, a mother gives you life. Finally, in these last episodes, you understand that in her own way and in this criminal world Imma was doing the same for her son.
Besides forcing him to toughen up and become the leader of this family in his father’s absence, she was willing to die for him. In this final showing in season 1, things come to a head with Ciro, once Gennaro’s best friend and right-hand man to Gennaro’s father. Imma and Gennaro may have miscalculated shunning him. And I think Imma was counting on Ciro getting killed and Gennaro sticking around after Spain and Honduras respectively. Unfortunately for her, it didn’t work out that way.
Episode 11 opens with the funeral of Daniele, the young kid who got killed by Don Conte for offing his henchman Tonino Russo. Daniele did this because Ciro told him Gennaro wanted the hit, but that wasn’t true. Before getting killed he told Conte the truth. Conte understood that Ciro was doing this, so he could start a gang war and change sides. Gennaro and Imma had pushed him aside and started treating him like one of the young delinquents just starting out. He resented it, and he might have even been hurt by Gennaro’s maltreatment after all he had done for him leading up to this point. Then again, it’s hard to imagine any of these people have true feelings, especially Ciro, who grew up as an orphan, and thus far has shown little in the way of sentimentality. All I keep thinking is that he swallowed Don Pietro’s urine to guarantee his spot next to Gennaro in this family, and it didn’t matter. He drank the pee pee for naught. Can you imagine?
But I digress. Daniele’s friend Bruno has disappeared for fear someone will discover he helped hide Daniele in those few days before he was found and taken out. We also learn that Daniele’s brother, who had been shot while driving appeared to be dead and forgotten still in the car in an empty field. Bruno’s mother, however, found her son’s phone and heard the message Manu, Daniele’s girlfriend had left on his phone. Manu, 15, was tortured and killed because she would not and could not tell Ciro where Daniele was hiding. She was a true innocent and knew nothing. Her phone message caught the start of her hell with Ciro, beginning with him tricking her into his car and beginning his threats. The mother shares the message with Imma, who is outraged and quickly decides what she has to do.
In the meantime, this plan to start a war is working. The young friends of Gennaro are annoyed by the old men, who seem to be more loyal to Ciro and want to do things in a more honorable way. Well, they want to do things in a way that is honorable for criminals anyway (not using drugs themselves, keeping their promises to fellow criminals, and never killing wives and children). The new generation doesn’t get any of this. When Zecchinetto, one of Don Pietro’s closest allies, fumes out loud about the new course of the Savastano family and this desire to continue the war, Gennaro’s henchmen go and kill him. One of the murderers was a nephew of another of the henchmen, who couldn’t believe one of his best friends was killed by his nephew for this one disagreement. Gennaro asks Ciro to talk to the old guys. The old guys ask Ciro to talk to Gennaro. He’s playing both of them like a fiddle to drive the war. And he starts talking to Salvatore Conte, the head of the rival family, who had been working with the Savastano clan since Ciro negotiated with him in Spain. Crazy!
Things are starting to catch up with Ciro, though. Imma calls a private meeting with him, and she knows she might get killed over this. She tells the woman who has been driving her around to take the recording of the phone message to her lawyer if something happens to her. She adds that she has to save her son’s life. Ciro meets Imma, and she plays the message for him. She tells him, “You killed a young girl, and you betrayed everyone.” She offers him the chance to make good by killing Conte and ending the war. But he’s not stupid. He knows she knows he’s not with the Savastano clan anymore. He takes the phone with the message on it. You’re pretty sure Ciro’s going to kill Imma, but you don’t realize how quickly it’s going to happen. The two leave the bar and go in different directions. Shots ring out and Imma falls to the side of the road. She’s gone.
Shortly after Imma gets killed, viewers see one of Ciro’s guys carrying another woman’s body under an overpass with tons of garbage and covering it with plastic and other rubbish in the area. Next, the guy breaks the CD that Imma had given to her driver to bring to the lawyer. Driver’s gone, too. And the lawyer never heard the message. For a moment, you think Ciro is somehow going to get away with this. Aah, but even from beyond the grave, Donna Imma is a force to be reckoned with. She left another CD with the copied message in the fancy purse Gennaro bought for her in Spain before he had found himself as a criminal mastermind. Gennaro found it when seeking the clothes for her to bring to the funeral parlor. Of course, she knew he would. The envelope read, “Per il mio Gennaro,” which means “For my Gennaro.”
Gennaro listened to the recording and got serious fast. Prior to this, he had been teary eyed. After all, despite having been angry with his mother and having a few words with her when he first returned from Honduras, they had become a team in his father’s absence. She made him. Viewers were certain of this during the mayoral election episode when Gennaro took his mother’s arm at the reception. Mamma e’ sempre mamma. Mamma is always mamma. Presumably he had also realized his mother gave her life to save his. Now, that’s something every Italian mamma I know would do.
Earlier in the episode, Gennaro goes to visit his father, Pietro, the leader of the family in jail. He is bearded and looking unwell. Gennaro uses the metaphor of two parties – his and a friend’s – being on the same day to ask him for guidance about the potential gang war. Pietro doesn’t respond and seems incapable. Gennaro says nothing to his henchman in the car. But he does share it with Imma before she gets killed. Imma tells him to tell no one about Pietro’s mental state. He doesn’t.
With Imma dead, the folks in the jailhouse have to break the news to Pietro, and he still shows no emotion and says nothing. He is a shell of a man, especially compared to what we saw in the first few episodes. Perhaps, jail has broken him. After Imma is dead and he knows about it, viewers see him getting transferred to another jail in cuffs and a maximum security truck with a cell inside it. Only another car comes heading for the truck. People start shooting at the cops and glass shatters. Everyone dead, and Pietro is completely stoic. He seems unaware of the carnage around him. Then, the gunmen set him free. You see a little light in his eye. Maybe he’s not completely gone. We should note that in the previous episodes leading up to this one, viewers are given the sense that Imma and Pietro – despite their ugly lifestyle – shared profound love for one another. Sick or not, they seemed to care for one another.
Gennaro, for his part, puts on a good show for Ciro. He invites him to be with him in the funeral parlor and even in the car on the way to the burial site. Ciro seems concerned about this sudden return to their previous rapport, but he plays along. In the car, Gennaro asks Ciro if he’s a believer in God? Conte, who is religious, had asked Ciro the same thing. The religious symbolism continues. Gennaro continues to say that “Only God knows how their story is going to end,” after he reminds Ciro of how he covered for him with his father back when he was too scared to kill the first guy when his father ordered him to do it. He also mentioned several times that God sees all and knows all. It was as though he was telling Ciro to his face that he knew he killed his mother. Once the pair arrive at the burial place, a typical outdoor Italian mausoleum, Ciro stands back, away from Gennaro. They stare each other down.
Then, Ciro’s right-hand man, comes over and points out that none of Gennaro’s young henchmen are present for the funeral of Imma. Ciro suddenly understands they are out killing the old guys. When Ciro’s wife Deborah and their 10-year-old daughter arrive, he quickly ushers them away from the scene before they can even give their condolences. Gennaro had previously given the order to make sure all the older gangsters were present to bid farewell to Imma (so they would know where they were). Ciro and his family run and start packing bags and fleeing as people come searching for them. The henchmen shout that they will find him and that he’s a walking dead man.
The new blood in the clan go house to house as the old guys return from the funeral and gun down everyone. Much like in the Sopranos, important characters were fair game. The only difference is that in Gomorrah, everyone gets killed in the same episode. No one is left of the old guard but Ciro. At this point, we know that he promised his daughter he would be at her chorus recital.
Gennaro and the younger gangsters, who are just getting used to the stench of death, are holed up in an apartment building. Tension is running high. One of them hears a noise at the door and starts shooting. He kills a dog. The owner, Diego, is about 10 years old himself and is devastated. Gennaro learns that Diego’s father had died recently and he had given him the dog. His mother forces Diego back in the house and away from the dog and yells, “You don’t want to end up like the dog, do you?”
Later, Gennaro gives Diego a video game console and game after his mother tells him she doesn’t want to accept the gift. She tells her son that these are bad people and to stay away from them even if they gave him a nice present. Later on, Gennaro shows up at Diego’s house while his mom is picking up groceries. He lures him to come with him to a chorus recital and insists. When his mom arrives, she intervenes and forbids Diego from going and tells Gennaro to leave her son alone. He gets Diego to go with him. Diego disobeys his mother, who is physically trying to get to him and is blocked by one of the henchmen. While Gennaro is in the car with little Diego, he tells him he has a score to settle. He asks Diego what he would do if a person he trusted betrayed him and killed his mother. Diego says, “I’d kill him.” Gennaro says, “You’re a good boy.”
When they arrive at the recital, Gennaro pretends that Diego is his kid and that he needs to get on stage. While Diego is standing backstage and Ciro’s daughter and the other children, dressed like angels, are singing to the audience, Gennaro walks in and catches Ciro’s eye. They are far apart from one another and they begin shooting into the crowd. The others flee. Ciro’s wife and daughter escape. Gennaro is hit and falls to the ground. Ciro runs out and commands his wife to get in the car with their daughter. She grabs their daughter and tells him he’s crazy for having a shootout amid a children’s recital and that she’s not listening to him anymore. She runs off with their daughter. Ciro gets in the car and runs off with his henchman, presumably the only one left or one of a few left.
As for the new regime behind Gennaro, they were driving on the highway presumably to help Gennaro when they were ambushed by Don Salvatore and his henchmen. Ciro is in this weird transitional period as he crosses over to this other family, and Salvatore wasn’t sure he could trust him, especially since he had promised that Gennaro was out of the picture when he wasn’t yet. So, Salvatore threatens to cut Ciro’s throat. Presumably, Ciro helps him track down these younger guys and he believes Gennaro. I don’t think anyone expected that Gennaro would try to pull off the hit during the recital with all those children around. When Salvatore ambushes the group, everyone gets killed. None of the young guys are left by the end of the episode either.
In the end of the first season, Ciro and Pietro seem to be the only ones standing…until you see Gennaro’s arm move. He just might be coming back from the dead. Who knows what will happen next?