‘The Sopranos’ Gets Comfortably Numb

Courtesy of HBO

Fantastic episode of The Sopranos; totally depressing episode of The Sopranos. Lately, they amount to the same thing, but either way: at last, an epic event, with Chris dead at Tony’s hand — literally — and promptly eulogized by his murderer as “a weak lying drug addict who fantasized about my downfall.”

Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” was the theme song — Tony came down the stairs singing it just last episode — and weirdly, Tony’s catalyst for killing Chris seemed to be the sight of the broken baby seat in Chris’s car. (Why? Because he imagined Chris killing his daughter? Because it reminded him of his own failures as a parent? As a child?) Then he spent the rest of the episode rationalizing his role; attempting to get Carmela to reflect back his sense of relief; dreaming of confessing his true murderous bravado to Melfi; shifting blame to everyone from Chris’s grieving drunk of a mom to his gorgeous “Jackie O” of a widow; and compulsively testing those around him for reassuring traces of his own nihilism, for some sense that even as a murderer, his feelings are normal.

And once again, the show’s central theme seemed to be the absolute disconnect between the lives of these characters and the language they use: the American rhetoric of therapy, of “intimacy” and spirituality and twelve-step recovery. Even as Tony congeals into a smirking monster, he gains insight into his own life, complaining that dealing with the grief of others “makes me feel like a hypocrite. And that makes me mad at them.” It’s more insight that helps him function without making him change.

Personal favorite line: “He’d been working the program very dedicated ever since he threw Paulie out that window.” —Emily Nussbaum

‘The Sopranos’ Gets Comfortably Numb