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The Sopranos: the Death Spiral. Spoiler alert

Posted Nov 18 2008 12:11am


There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

--Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb

Well, it wasn't a complete surprise, but, wow! It was foreshadowed a little in last week's episode, and you knew something very, very bad was going to happen when Christopher inserted the CD soundtrack of "The Departed" and cranked up Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." I didn't catch it, but Tony Soprano evidently sang "the child is grown, the dream is gone," while listening to the song during last week's episode, and that verse of the song was the last of the music before it actually happened. Still, it was a major "wow!" "It" was Tony murdering his surrogate son, Christopher, in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck. Christopher had been Tony's great hope for the future of This Thing, to the extent Tony cared about anyone but himself. Chris's history of drugs and other screw-ups had been tolerated for years, but, as the song says, "the child is grown, the dream is gone."

Chris's death coming right at the beginning of the ep. made for brilliant television, as we got to see Tony's denial and self-deceit at its worst for the rest of the hour. Tony was rather uncomfortably numb. Not only did he convince himself he was happy to see his biggest personnel problem solved, but he was annoyed about having to hypocritically pretend to be grieving, and about having to be around people who genuinely were grieving. He even attempted to convince others that Chris's death was cause for relief.

But does anybody really think Tony is okay with killing his surrogate son? To get away from the sad people, he went to Vegas, met and slept with one of Chris's goomahs, and did some drugs--most significantly, peyote--just like Chris used to do. Hmmm. Interesting. Also, Tony won big at roulette, in contrast to the big losing streak he was on a couple of weeks ago. Again, interesting. There were a couple of moments in Vegas in which the peyote-stoned Tony looked into a light, much like in his dream sequence of going to the house of the dead (Steve Buscemi, doorman) in season six, part one. At the end, the high-on-peyote Tony shouted, "I get it!" into the Sun as if he had a moment of personal enlightenment. What might that be? I could venture a guess that Tony realized the meaning of his Kevin Finnerty dream when he was in a coma, but, on this show, who knows?

Was this Tony Soprano's Shamanic Journey? Thus far in season six, we've had Carmela's dream with William S. Burrough's version of the Egyptian seven souls; Tony's dream with Tibetan monks; and, now, Tony using a Native American religious hallucinogenic substance to achieve some kind of major insight. These aren't the types of metaphysical experiences one would expect Tony and Carmela to have. As Tony asked A.J. a few years ago, "can't you be a good Catholic for fifteen fucking minutes?"

We could be some major irony coming up, as the writers have been running parallel storylines involving Chris and Tony's actual son, A.J. We may yet see Tony do some grieving of his own as A.J.'s depression and involvement in criminal activity both deepen. Should A.J. commit suicide or some serious crime, Tony won't be comfortably numb, Carmela will place all of the blame on Tony, and Tony's marriage will be over.

Oooh, I read on TWoP that next week's epsiode is titled "The Second Coming." That may help explain Tony's choice of Las Vegas as his getaway destination. Or it could just refer to A.J. and his mini-mob.

This show is some dark stuff this season. It won't end well.

[Edited upon a second viewing of the episode]

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