Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #22: From Where to Eternity

US Transmission Date: 12 March 2000
UK Transmission Date: 7 December 2000

Writer: Michael Imperioli • Director: Henry J. Bronchtein
Cast: Brian Agular (Jimmy), Seth Barrish (Doctor), Michael Cannis (Detective #2), Tom Cappadona (Daniel King), Nancy Cassaro (Joanne Moltisanti), Scottie Epstein (Quickie G), John Christopher Jones (Kevin Cullen), Peter McRobbie (Father Felix), Judy Reyes (Michelle), James Sioutis (Detective #1), Lisa Valens (Felicia Anne), Gameela Wright (Nurse)

Storyline: Two days after being shot, Christopher is still in intensive care. Tony and his crew plead ignorance when questioned by the police about Matt Bevilaqua. They plan to deal with the surviving assassin themselves. Richie and Janice visit the hospital. Richie says a drug dealer named Quickie G may know something about Matt’s hiding place. Gabriella Dante tells Carmela that the mistress of a mobster called Ralph Rutaldo just gave birth to his illegitimate child. Tony and Carmela go home but Carmela can’t sleep. She says Tony should have a vasectomy to save the family the same shame as the Rutaldos.

Christopher’s heart stops. The doctors manage to revive him and operate again to stop internal bleeding. Carmela prays for Christopher’s recovery and that God should grant him the gift of vision. Christopher survives the operation, but the surgeon says he was clinically dead for about a minute. Christopher asks to see Tony and Paulie. He tells them about a vision he had of hell. It was an Irish bar where every day is St. Patrick’s Day. Christopher’s father was at the bar, along with Mikey Palmice and Brendan Filone. Mikey gave Christopher a message for Tony and Paulie: “3:00”.

At a therapy Tony says he doesn’t believe Christopher will go to hell. He says only the worst people deserve hell, like psychopaths who kill for pleasure, cannibals, child molesters and people like Adolf Hitler. Dr Melfi asks Tony if he is going to hell, but he doesn’t believe so. He likens himself to a soldier in a war, following codes and orders. Dr Melfi challenges Tony’s belief that he is trying to preserve old Italian values of honour, family and loyalty. He gets angry and accuses her of making a moral judgement on his actions.

Paulie is wide awake at three in the morning, fretting about the cryptic message from Mikey. He visits Christopher in hospital and asks questions about the vision. Paulie decides Christopher visited purgatory instead of hell because it wasn’t hot and nobody had horns on their head. At her own therapy session, Dr Melfi admits to taking pills and drinking alone. She is afraid for herself and her son after passing judgement on Tony. Pussy meets with his FBI handler, Agent Skip Lipari. Pussy believes Tony is suspicious of him. Skip suggests Pussy try to get into Tony’s favour again.

Carmela visits Christopher in hospital. She believes he has been blessed with a second chance and says she will pray for him every day. Carmela and Tony argue about the vasectomy. AJ drops a plate of food on the kitchen floor and Tony shouts at his son for being fat. Paulie keeps having nightmares about hell. His goomah suggests he visit a psychic in Nyack. Quickie G approaches Pussy with word on Matt’s hiding place. Paulie goes to the psychic, who sees the ghosts of all Paulie’s killings around the mobster. The psychic talks to Paulie’s first victim and Mikey Palmice, who reveal things only they could know. Paulie is shocked and stunned. He talks to Tony about what happened, but Tony dismisses it as nonsense.

Tony goes home and apologises to AJ for shouting at him. They are overheard by Carmela, who has taken a phone call for Tony from Pussy. Tony and Pussy find Matt and take him to a deserted snack bar. Matt says shooting Christopher was all Sean’s idea and that Richie wasn’t involved. Tony and Pussy murder Matt. Paulie confronts his parish priest, demanding answers about what the psychic had to say. The mobster says he should have immunity from all his past sins because of his many years of making donations to the church. Tony and Pussy share a joke and a meal after the killing. Tony goes home and volunteers to have the vasectomy, but Carmela has changed her mind. She might want another baby when Meadow leaves for college. Carmela wants Tony to be faithful – they make love.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti:
Pussy frets about an incident involving six sandwiches – four with ham, salami and cappicola, one with eggplant, the other with tomato and mozzarella. Tony claimed to have ordered the eggplant when Pussy knew he had ordered it and Tony had ordered tomato and mozzarella. Tony let Pussy eat the eggplant sandwich. But Pussy believes Tony gave him a suspicious glance as he surrendered the sandwich. Christopher’s mother offers to bring her son some peppers and eggs on round bread for breakfast. AJ drops a plate of food on the kitchen floor. Tony rants at his son for eating again just an hour after dinner. Paulie worries about what the psychic told him but Tony is unimpressed. He asks if Paulie eats steak – he does. Tony says Paulie would go to hell for doing that in India, which proves religion is meaningless. Tony brings a pizza to share with AJ when he apologises. Tony doesn’t get a chance to eat but AJ scoffs a slice. After killing Matt, Tony and Pussy eat beef at Duke’s Stockyard Inn.

How Do You Feel?: Tony dismisses Christopher’s vision as bullshit, a dream combined with morphine. Tony sees himself as a soldier and don’t got to hell for killing other people – it’s part of war. He says people like him want to stay Italian and preserve the things that mean something to them – honour, family and loyalty. He is infuriated when Dr Melfi passes judgement on what he does.

How Do You Feel, Doctor?: Dr Melfi is in tears when she relates what happened at her session with Tony. She wonders if she was insensitive, or whether she did it deliberately because she hates Tony. She fears for herself and her son, having told Tony that Jason is a student at Bard. Dr Melfi says she took Tony back as a patient because she felt a professional and ethical responsibility. She didn’t want to judge Tony, she wanted to treat him. But now she has judged, and she is afraid.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Matt Bevilaqua, shot more than a dozen times in the chest by Tony and Pussy for the attempted hit on Christopher. Christopher Moltisanti was clinically dead for about a minute, but he got better.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano:
Christopher says he had a vision of hell. He saw a tunnel and a white light. Then he was at an Irish bar called The Emerald Piper, where it was St Patrick’s Day every day. Mikey Palmice and Brendan Filone were there playing dice with two Roman soldiers and a bunch of Irish guys, and the Irish were winning every throw. Mikey was wearing an old fashioned pinstripe gangster’s suit. There was a bouncer at the bar told Christopher he would be coming to the bar when he died. Christopher’s father was at the bar and he was losing every hand of cards he played. Every night at midnight he gets murdered the same way he was murdered in life and it’s painful. Christopher doesn’t think it was hot at the bar and nobody had horns or buds for horns like goats.

Quote/Unquote: Gabriella Dante notices that Adriana has pinned a broach of Pope John Paul II on Christopher’s hospital gown: ‘You got his holiness, that’s good. He got shoot too and survived.’ Paulie is reassured that Christopher’s vision can have been of Hell, because it wasn’t hot: ‘Hell is hot. That’s never been disputed by anybody.’ Dr Melfi ponders her situation with Tony: ‘I’m living in a moral never never land with this patient.’ Tony tells Pussy a joke about a poor man who bought his wife a pair of slippers and a dildo. A rich man asks about the choice of gifts. ‘And the poor man says, “She don’t like the slippers she can go fuck herself.”’

Soundtrack: ‘My Lover’s Prayer’ by Otis Redding. ‘Used Ta Be My Girl’ by the Ojays. ‘King Nothing’ by Metallica. ‘Mona Lisa’ by the Starlite Orchestra.

Surveillance Report: Carmela is reading ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. Paulie uses the name of British poet Ted Hughes when he visits the psychic in Nyack. Gabriella Dante is played by Maureen Van Zandt, the wife of Steven Van Zandt, who plays her screen husband, Silvio Dante. This episode is written by Michael Imperioli, who plays the role of Christopher Moltisanti.

The Verdict: ‘He was dead. Science said he was dead.’ Christopher has a near death experience which leaves the Family members pondering the eternal consequences of their actions. Tony and Pussy execute Matt Bevilaqua in retribution for the attempted hit, while Dr Melfi passes judgement on her patient. The aftermath of Christopher’s shooting produces one of Season Two’s best episodes. Many of the key characters are brought face to face with the hypocrisy of their beliefs but none are able to change themselves. Dr Melfi is drawn ever closer to the abyss by her sessions with Tony but cannot resolve her dilemma. Unlike so many television series, ‘The Sopranos’ offers no quick solutions or trite morals for its story, and this episode is a great example. As this instalment draws to a close, Carmela contemplates having another baby when Meadow goes away to college. Could there be a new mouth to feed in the Soprano household soon? That will have to wait, as a new crisis threatens Tony because of his actions in this episode…

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