May 16, 2007

The Sopranos - Heidi and Kennedy - Episode 83

Christopher's death in the first five minutes of Episode 83 was the most shocking of the entire series. Perhaps it was because of the way he died. Christopher was driving Tony home from a meeting with his asbestos-dumping guy where he learned that Phil wanted a 25% cut of the asbestos-dumping business before he could resume dumping at Barone's. While driving he was trying to talk Tony into accepting the deal and wondered what happened to the "stop and smell the roses" philosophy bandied about by the two men after their extensive hospital stays. He was also distracted by the radio and continued to fiddle through the stations until he got to Comfortably Numb (not the Pink Floyd version by the way). It was around that moment that Christopher swerved into the wrong lane of traffic and then swerved again, causing his car to flip over and over until finally landing in a pile on the side of the rode.

Tony was looking over at Christopher, lying in a heap behind the steering wheel when he heard him asking for Tony's help because he would never pass a drug test. Tony looked at the back seat where he saw a tree branch had somehow crushed the baby's carseat. Then he made a decision I never imagined he would make. He pulled himself out of the wreck, limped over to the driver's side of the car and suffocated Christopher. But it wasn't just that he suffocated Christopher, it was how he did it. When he saw that Christopher was coughing up blood he knew how badly injured Christopher was. He suffocated him by holding his nose and mouth so he could choke to death on his own blood. He held his nose and mouth with one hand and waited until Christopher was dead. With his bare hand. Hand.

The rest of the episode he tried to convince himself and those around him that Christopher was better off dead. His unfeeling gangster pals agreed but I got the feeling they didn't care either way. Actually, they don't really seem to care about each other - at all - except in as much as they can trust a guy. And I guess Christopher was no longer trustworthy. Their reaction made me think that in the world created by David Chase the death of someone you can no longer trust is the result of some kind of kharma. In other words, Christopher had it coming to him.

The accompanying story line followed AJ's descent into a world antidepressants and violence. We saw him talking to his therapist about how even tempered he's been feeling about Christopher's death and Bianca's desertion. In stark contrast to the peace AJ seems to be feeling, the next time we see him, he's laughing with his friends about violently amputating some kid's toes in a previous episode - as if that violent episode had somehow pacified his inner rage. After that his friends beat up a Somalian guy who crashed into the door of Jason Parisi's car - calling him the N word and telling him was in the wrong neighborhood. When AJ went to see the therapist after that he was clearly distraught and I saw the beginnings of a conscience, sadly lacking in his father - who to deal with the death of his believed surrogate son Christopher, decided to go to Las Vegas, screw Christopher's girlfriend and gamble.

The episode ended with Tony winning at roulette. It seemed Christopher's death was what he needed to break his losing streak which was thoroughly explored in the previous episode.

I really enjoyed this episode even though it was highly upsetting. It was the first time, that viewers really got to see just how ruthless and loathsome Tony Soprano really is. Sure there have been hints over the years, but the fact that he would kill Christopher just to appease his own guilt about failing the young man he'd taken under his wing as a tribute to his friend, Christopher's dead father, in such an intimate and cruel manner and then celebrate his death for freeing his guilty conscience. It was just despicable.

Other things happened in the episode but for me, the above two storylines were the highlights.

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