The dream is gone
Perhaps what was most shocking about this week’s “The Sopranos” was that it was shocking at all. We’ve seen people shot, brutally beaten, dismembered, and permanently maimed. Yet Tony’s suffocation of the helpless Christopher, following a violent car wreck, somehow seemed like the most depraved act the show has ever thrust upon us.
A channel surfer who stumbled upon this scene with no prior knowledge of “The Sopranos” might have thought they were witnessing an act of mercy. In reality, Christopher was the victim of the most grievous act of betrayal that we have seen from a show whose characters wallow in duplicity. Evil can be the only word we use to describe Tony’s murder of Christopher, who Tony had raised as a son.
Not that we weep for Christopher, whose own savagery was brought home to us last week when he gunned down J.T. Dolan. Let’s not forget the waiter that he and Paulie murdered over an insult in season five, nor the fact that he handed his own fiancé over to Tony to kill. Christopher’s death leaves his daughter fatherless, but this show has shown us what happens to the children raised by men like Tony and Christopher. They develop the kind of corrosive cynicism that Meadow mistakes for sophistication or they end as aspiring thugs like A.J. and his new buddies.
Still, murder is murder. What shocked Tony was his own lack of remorse. He was relieved, as he admitted to Dr. Melfi in a dream, and tried to tell her in real life. He projected these feelings onto Carmela, who was horrified at Tony’s suggestion that she was secretly glad Christopher was dead. She tearfully admitted that she was grateful it was Christopher and not Tony who had died. Tony, seemingly disappointed, says, “That’s normal.”
Tony tries to comfort Carmela by noting that in the accident, the car seat in the back of Christopher’s SUV was destroyed; had Christopher’s baby been in the car, she would have been killed. The sheer randomness of the accident epitomizes the moral chaos that reigns on “The Sopranos." When Tony goes to Las Vegas, he bets on the roulette wheel, a gamble that is totally based on chance. Later, stoned on peyote (which he gets from a stripper who used to sleep with Christopher) he stops at the roulette wheel and says “It’s like the solar system.” Suddenly he can’t lose, placing bet after bet until he falls on the floor in laughter, as though he’s suddenly realized that the bolt of lightening he’s been waiting for is not going to strike after all.
The end of the episode finds Tony and his new companion in the desert, where the rising sun seems to blink at Tony, who calls out “I get it.” Many fans and commentators online find the sunrise reminiscent of the mysterious beacon that Tony saw in his dream while in a coma after being shot by his uncle. It’s an interesting observation, but I’m not sure how much it really matters. Tony is bound to use whatever drug-induced revelation he’s discovered to justify his own narcissism. In Tony’s universe, he is the sun, and no one can break free of their orbit around him.