From Where to Eternity (2.09)

Christopher believes that he visited the Afterlife.
Paulie has some very specific beliefs about life after death.
Tony and Big Pussy go get some vengeance and steaks.

Episode 22 – Originally Aired March 12, 2000
Written by Michael Imperioli
Directed by Henry J. Bronchtein


Two episodes ago, in “D-Girl,” Tony gave Chris Moltisanti an ultimatum: he must choose to pursue either his dream of becoming a screenwriter or his goal of becoming a Made Man.  After thinking it over, Chris chose the latter.  This doesn’t mean, however, that the actor playing Chris cannot be a screenwriter.  David Chase likes to play with Chris/Michael Imperioli in the meta-level (that strange place between fiction and reality) and Imperioli’s writing credit here adds to the playfulness.

About midway through this episode, Agent Skip Lipari tries to reassure Big Pussy that Tony is neither acting differently nor has he made Pussy out to be a rat.  On the contrary, Lipari tells Puss, “You’re the one who’s different now.  You’re the one who is seeing through different eyes.”  This idea of seeing through different eyes—of shifting perspective—informs the entire episode.  Characters view themselves, each other, religion and the afterlife in shifting, changing ways as the episode progresses.

The episode begins atypically, with musical scoring over the first scene.  (It is almost as though Chase is now making up for the lack of musical scoring over the ending of the previous episode, which closed to the sounds of life support machines.)  Otis Redding’s “My Lover’s Prayer” is used evocatively throughout the hour.  We identify the “lover” in the song ostensibly with Adriana, who hopes for Chris to recover, but the “lover” may just as well be Carmela, who prays for Chris’ recovery and also for her own husband to be faithful.  In “D-Girl,” Carmela’s Christianity seemed dogmatic and trite when she tried to answer AJ’s serious questions, but now her Christian belief is more high-minded and noble, providing her with comfort when she needs it.  Of course, the relief and sense of meaning that she finds through her belief is not necessarily an experience that others will share.  She is convinced that her prayers saved Christopher’s life, and tries to share the significance of this to him while he lays in bed.  Carmela has the hypnotized eyes and serene expression of the True Believer—and it freaks Chris out a little bit.  He starts pounding the morphine pump; he has always found relief and a sense of meaning through chemical means.  (I can relate to him here—I too have sometimes wished for opiates when talking to the Born Again and other fundamentalists.)

carmela and chris

Carmela has been operating under a misunderstanding—she believes that Chris had a sweet vision of Heaven while unconscious, and is therefore very surprised to learn now that Christopher’s vision was not of Heaven but of Purgatory (perhaps even Hell).  It’s a bit of a reality check for her.  By the end of the episode, she loses much of the glassy-eyed conviction that she showed earlier.  Early in the hour, she chose the Bible (much to Tony’s surprise) as her bedtime reading material, but she switches back to her usual popular fiction before the end of the hour:carm reading

Paulie too loses some of the religious certainty that he’s been living under.  It turns out that he has an absurdly simplistic conception of Heaven and Hell.  According to his spiritual accounting system, all of his mortal and venial sins add up to a 6000 year stint in Purgatory, after which he will be granted access to Heaven.  He strongly believes that Chris visited the Afterlife during the minute that he was clinically dead (and is also convinced that the “3:00” that his victim Mikey Palmice utters in Chris’ dream/out-of-body experience is some kind of ominous warning).  Unsure now that his financial donations to his church have adequately protected his everlasting soul, he rails against his Priest and decides to make no more contributions.  In his uncertainty, he even goes to a psychic, whose seemingly accurate reading pushes him further into a nervous state.  Before this episode, we did not know Paulie Walnuts to be a man of such simple, absolute religious convictions.  His certainties here seem a bit ridiculous, particularly because this is a TV series that perpetually argues that there are no absolute truths, only relative ones.  In the backroom of the Bing, Tony voices the relativist position, trying to get Paulie to see through different eyes:

Tony:  You eat steak?
Paulie:  What the fuck you talkin’ about?
Tony:  If you were in India, you would go to hell for that.
Paulie:  I’m not in India.  What do I give a fuck?
Tony:  That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  None of this shit means a goddamn thing.  [He gets up to answer the telephone.]

There is some wisdom in Tony’s words.  But there is also ugliness in them.  Although Tony is wise enough to recognize the foolishness of absolute certainty, he has great difficulty figuring out how to live in a world without absolutes.  A relativist worldview can be very creative, one in which meaning, morality and identity are responsibly and rationally constructed.  And relativism need not necessarily be an agnostic or atheistic position; religious faith can still have an important, fulfilling role in the life of someone who has shrugged off the crushing certainties of dogmatism.  But Tony cannot fathom this positive aspect of relativism.  As an heir to Livia’s philosophy of meaninglessness (“It’s all a big nothing,” she said two episodes ago), he can only convey to Paulie the lesson that he has inherited: in a relativist world, “none of this shit means a goddamn thing.”  (Metallica’s “King Nothing” playing in the next room underscores that, for Tony, neither Jehovah nor Shiva nor any other deity is king—the Big Nothing ultimately rules.)

tony versus paulie

This episode is laced with the ambiguity and uncertainty found in a relativist worldview.  Tony’s reference to Hindu belief undermines the idea that there is only one true faith, as does the presence of the Muslim family in the waiting room of the Catholic hospital.  We also can’t reach an absolute conclusion about the psychic Paulie visits; although most of us would tend to think he is a scam artist, some of his observations are precise enough to make us think twice.  Even the episode title itself points to uncertainty.  The title is obviously derived from the 1953 film, From Here to Eternity (or the 1951 novel of the same name).  By changing the word “Here” to “Where,” Chase calls the inciting event of this episode into question—exactly where did Chris go while he was clinically dead?  Was it Hell?  Or was it Purgatory?  Or was it all just a bad dream?  Impossible to say with certainty…

It would be almost paradoxical for an artwork to clearly convey the theme of uncertainty.  Ambiguity expressed unambiguously would be a contradiction.  That’s why I find it so interesting that the clearest expression of the relativist position in this episode—that conversation between Tony and Paulie in the backroom of the Bing—is cut short by a telephone call.  Before Tony can expound on his idea any further, he gets up to answer the phone.  The telephone call is never referenced again, we don’t know who calls or for what reason—its only purpose within the episode seems to be to kill this conversation.  As I argued in my write-up for “D-Girl,” Chase usually cloaks his life-lessons very well. (So well, sometimes, that we can’t even be sure that there is actually any lesson there).  Tony’s words here do serve as a counterpoint to Paulie’s absolutism, but the curtains are drawn too quickly for us to be able to say anything more about them with certainty.  David Chase may indeed be using Tony’s words here to reflect his own deep commitment to an art of relativism and uncertainty, but we just can’t say so for sure.

Carmela sees Tony with different eyes over the course of the episode.  Early in the hour, after learning that another mobster’s goomar gave birth to an illegitimate child, she wants Tony to get “snipped.”  Tony sarcastically appeals to her newfound religiosity to make his counter-argument: “Whatever is down here [grabbing his crotch] is God’s creation.  Isn’t it a sin to undo the good work He’s done?”  (Now that’s an awkward Sunday School lesson: “And on the sixth day, God created Tony’s junk…”)  Carmela is losing patience with Tony and his lies.  However, her attitude changes after he returns from the Bevilaqua killing.  Although Tony does not say it outright, Carmela knows that he has avenged the attack on Chris.  She now recognizes him as a man who must make difficult choices for the sake of his family and his business, and he does so decisively.  Although Tony is now willing to get the vasectomy, Carmela refuses.  They embrace passionately, and the camera moves in close to them.  In a very tight shot, we see them kiss more passionately than we have ever seen before.  I think this scene may be a further reference to the 1953 film, which was famous for its extremely steamy (by 1950s standards) beach scene with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

tony and carm deep kiss

from here to eternity - sopranos autopsy

Like Carmela, Dr. Melfi is seeing Tony through a shifting perspective.  Until now, Melfi has tried to retain professional distance and be non-judgmental toward this particular client.  But now she seems to have lost some patience with him, and some of her questions and comments have the tone of a personal attack.  Tony argues that he is immune from eternal damnation because “We’re soldiers.  Soldiers don’t go to hell.  It’s war,” but Melfi pushes back against him, questioning whether this is a valid justification for his behavior.  When he takes a different tack in defending himself, going on a rant against the JP Morgans of the world, she just pushes him some more, almost mockingly rather than therapeutically.  Later, crying in Dr. Kupferberg’s office, she admits that her personal feelings are getting in the way of Tony’s therapy.  She is truly scared of Tony Soprano and what he is capable of.  She wonders if she hates him.  She reveals to Eliot that she’s been drinking.  The relativist stance that she has taken toward Tony Soprano from their first meeting onwards is taking a toll on her.  Next season, another therapist—Dr. Krakower—takes a much more absolute stance against Tony and his criminality.  And many viewers find him to be quite admirable.  But even at that time, Chase will use juxtaposition and the sequencing of scenes to undermine Krakower’s simplistic, black-or-white absolutism in favor of a sort of relativism (as we will see).

We see Paulie Gaultieri through different eyes over the course of the hour as well.  As I mentioned earlier, we were not so aware previously of his deep religiosity.  Although there is something cartoonish about certain aspects of his faith, I think Paulie’s belief reveals that there is a deeper dimension to him.  More surprisingly, perhaps, we learn in this episode what a tender man Paulie can be. He is all sweetness and light with his girlfriend and her small children.  Chase likes to shift our perspective on his characters, and so everyone becomes full o’ surprises on The Sopranos.


Religious and culinary images snake their way through this episode: the hospital in which Chris recovers is a Catholic institution filled with crucifixes; Pussy is munching on some capocollo at Satriale’s when an informant tells him of Matt Bevilaqua’s whereabouts; AJ drops the giant tray of pasta that he pulls out of the refrigerator.  But there is a particular sequence of scenes, occurring around the climax of the episode and about eight minutes long in total, that spectacularly underlines the connections between food, faith and violence in The Sopranos:

food faith firearms 10

  1. Tony is sharing pizza and a six-pack of soda with his son when he gets a call from Pussy regarding Matt’s hiding place
  2. In the next scene, Tony and Pussy grab some guns from a hidden arsenal at—where else?—Satriale’s Pork Store
  3. Tony and Pussy drag Matt to the snack bar at Hacklebarney State Park
  4. The badly beaten Matt drinks a diet Coke (and vengeful Tony rubs it in that that “sugarless motherfucker” is last thing he will ever drink)
  5. Tony and Pussy fire more than 15 rounds into Matt’s body.  Cut to…
  6. An exterior shot of Paulie’s church
  7. Paulie’s chain-smoking Priest almost looks like a mobster himself (and he seems more interested in Paulie’s checkbook than in his salvation)
  8. Paulie glares at Jesus as he leaves his church.  Note the stain-glass windows which get echoed in the next shot…
  9. An exterior shot of Duke’s Stockyard Inn, with neon-tube signs in the windows that simulate stain-glass in a secular way
  10. Tony and Pussy indulge in rich food at Duke’s Stockyard after a job well done.  Tony asks Pussy here if he believes in God.  (On the DVD commentary track, director Bronchtein says they staged the shot so that the “stain glass” would be seen behind Pussy, and producer Landress notes the significance of the cut from Paulie’s temple to this “temple of beef.”)


Director Henry Bronchtein says that he is constantly asked about the significance of “3:00.”  After the beguiling Series Finale, many “Tony is killed” theorists cited this episode’s reference to “3:00” as evidence that a shooter emerged from Tony’s right (his three o’clock) to kill him.  Now of course, it may very well be true that Mikey Palmice’s warning, via Chris, does indeed play into the final moments of the series.  I just don’t think it is rationally justifiable to reach a state of utter certainty regarding these things.  I mean, geez, we don’t even know for sure if Mikey was actually communicating to Chris from the world beyond or if it was just Chris having a trauma-induced (or medication-induced) dream.  I suppose it is our human need for certainty that leads us to discover meaning where there may actually be none.  There is a hilarious scene here in which Paulie’s girlfriend discovers her own meaning of “3:00”:

She travels a twisted, roundabout road to reach her discovery.  She is so dazzled by the coincidences that they leave her almost breathless.  “3:00” becomes very meaningful to her when she looks at it through her own eyes—she plugs it so neatly into her own experience and her own emotions that “3:00” ceases to simply be a coincidence and instead becomes fraught with meaning and significance.  When we look at it through eyes different from her eyes (i.e. our own), we can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of her roundabout conclusion.

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46 responses to “From Where to Eternity (2.09)

  1. One thing I noticed was that right after pussy and tony kill they are seen to eat steak, so by Tony’s own definition they are going to hell for their crimes, ( or rather eating steak is tied to sin after Tony’s rant about Indians and having tony and pussy eat it shows ( in my mind) david chase is underscoring their sinful lives). I also wonder what the significance of ” memoirs of a geisha is”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris says that their hell is an Irish Pub where it is always St. Patricks Day. If you notice, after Matt is killed, Tony and Pussy are in an Irish Pub, wearing green and drinking Heineken – a green beer. Pussy is also framed to make it look like he has horns coming out of his head because of the glass behind him.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I find it interesting that when Paulie awakes at 3AM, he is disturbed by the sound of wind chimes. Another reference to the wind relating to mortality? And what are wind chimes? Bells that are activated by wind (and we all know how the bells play into all of this later on in the series).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. To add on to Pat, that Puss is framed like a ‘devil’ with his horns on his head; he is also wearing a ring with a hoof. Also a sign of the devil.
    The chain with the holy cross is also hidden in his jacket, but Puss does believe in God.
    “He’s been very good to me” he tells Tony. While his life is falling apart, he has mental and physical problems and he is facing either a bullet in the head or a long jail-sentence.

    Also funny that Carmela is reading “Memoires of a Geisha”. A book about a prostitute, where finally (I haven’t read the book, but this was on the internet 😉 ) “It is revealed that they have an illegitimate son together”. Something Carmela is afraid of at the beginning of the episode.

    Another thing that I found remarkable, was Tony taking Carmela to talk in private when AJ went to the fridge. Since when does Tony care about what the kids see or hear? He’s been swearing, arguing and even smashing stuff around his kids. Why suddenly be ‘careful’?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great website and write-up. Thanks for having done this. I just finished watching The Sopranos for the first time (did not know what I was missing all those years) and it was amazing – best show I’ve ever seen by a mile. Never before has a show affected me like this show did – it was incredible. Kudos to David Chase, the writers, the directors, and especially the actors and in particular, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco (incredible chemistry the two had).

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Your hawk eyes made this yet another fantastic review. Imperioli’s episodes have always had a special significance to me… the meta about it is really neat, of course, but he is a gifted storyteller.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. If I remember correctly this is the fist episode from start of a show where we can see Tony and Carmella are having sex with each other. I think this can be added to ‘fucking regulariness of life’ basket. Their married life is so regular that it was not even worth to show sexual scenes between them in previous 21 episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One thing I noticed that I hadn’t noticed before: While the psychic is talking to Paulie, the psychic suggests that one of Paulie’s ghosts is talking from a corner of the room, and the camera pans over to the empty corner, where there’s a shelf with a lot of knick-knacks including a statue of the Virgin Mary dressed in white and blue. The same, or a similar, statue appears to Paulie in the Bing in a later episode.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The part where Paulie talks to the man who can “see dead people” — to me it’s BS, but does Chase want us to think it’s real in the show? I love when he says “poison ivy? He wants to know if it still itches?” haha.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. To address this:
    “She travels a twisted, roundabout road to reach her discovery. She is so dazzled by the coincidences that they leave her almost breathless. “3:00” becomes very meaningful to her when she looks at it through her own eyes – she plugs it so neatly into her own experience and her own emotions that “3:00” ceases to simply be a coincidence and instead becomes fraught with meaning and significance. When we look at it through eyes different from her eyes (i.e. our own), we can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of her roundabout conclusion.”

    I think the whole point of her seemingly unconnected story was to show that
    A) people can make crazy associations, because that’s what we do (especially Paulie and gangsters in general. But especially Paulie)
    and B) serve as the final straw for Paulie to actually look more deeply into this stuff. And by that I mean go see a psychic. Which is deep for him.
    Mikey and JoJo’s wedding was planned for 3 o’clock until he saw the room and freaked out, and it was Mikey that said the words 3 o’clock in Christopher’s uhhhhhhhh coma vision let’s call it.
    Her beginning a tenuously related story ends with an equally tenuous connection, but is something that’s a weird enough coincidence to fuck with someone like Paulie.
    So her discovery becomes Paulie’s discovery, because Mikey + 3 o’clock happened in real life.

    Just another layer, methinks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great analysis throughout! From Here to Eternity: a movie related to the mafia canon. Sinatra fought for and won the role that garnered him an Oscar. This supposedly played out fictionally as Johnny Fontaine got his big role through Don Corleone’s intercedence with the producer Woltz and the horse’s head in The Godfather.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. David J Noone

    Hard to imagine this show without Tony Sirico. His scenes in this episode are hilarious. My favorite Paulie Walnuts scene in the entire series is when he is “fucking around up in Nyack” with the psychic. It was interesting that the psychic new as much as he did about Paulie. “Fucking queers!” I have very little negative to say about this series in general but the use of music in this episode (Otis Redding) didn’t do it for me. There are far better songs to use for such scenes but however this is subjective. Watching this for the first time I was very surprised that Tony involved Pussy in the killing of Matthew. The feeling right after this was aired and talking to people who actively watch this series was Pussy was going to testify against Tony about this murder and the show would turn into a courtroom drama (Thank god this never happened). I don’t think Chase would have ever thought to go down that road. I found it interesting and plausible that Tony would even directly involved himself in this hit being he was so paranoid this entire season about where his conversations took place and who was around him. Some of Tony’s impulsiveness is showing and a quick glimpse of what can happen when Tony acts like this can be seen (such as his beating of Coca, who deserved it). Still an excellent scene. Your connection to food, faith and firearms can be seen throughout the series if we really pay attention. Until reading your autopsies I can say I haven’t really noticed this connection. Excellent work as usual. I also thought Tony’s make up scene to AJ was pretty good. A father is telling his son of his flaws and shortcomings, but the son more or less has the same issues. Regularness of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is kind of strange that Tony would kill Bevilaqua himself instead of just having his underlings do it, but I think a lot of times Chase accepts these little logical inconsistencies in the immediate plot because it leads to a greater payoff in other places. Here, Carmela probably realizes that Tony pulled the trigger himself and it causes her to nix the whole vasectomy plan. (I wonder how some viewers would have reacted to seeing their Favorite Mobster get his manhood pruned…) Also, the bond between Puss and Tony gets strengthened now because of the murder, which makes Tony’s internal conflict about Pussy all the more wrenching at the end of the season…


  13. Tony killed Matthew because he shot Christopher, it was personal. I also think the whole vasectomy thing was something that Carmela thought of on the spur of the moment. The fact that he said he would do it was all she needed to hear. None of Tony’s girlfriends are serious, I doubt he would have a long term relationship with any of them, and if they got pregnant he would insist they don’t keep it. He’s conventional.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the website and analysis’.

      Maybe Carmella revised her opinion on Tony’s vasectomy after hearing his Father-Son talk with AJ over Pizza and Coke.

      At his core, Carmella believes Tony to be a good father, to the extent that she thinks about having another child to Tony.

      Side comment- every episode I watch, makes me hungry as hell! This series is not helping my waistline.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve spent many hours watching this show with a bowl of ice cream resting on my stomach, Tony-like…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tony must have found it interesting that there were two soldiers present in Christopher’s possible vision of hell.
          The psychic scene is difficult for me to reconcile. Not because of the ambiguity, that’s normal for the show. More so for what is really a certainty that something supernatural is going on. Believe me, in the real world I dismiss these types of claims pretty much out of hand. But in this case, it is extremely difficult to come up with a logical explanation for the psychic to have the kind of knowledge about Paulie that he did. Given that any other possible afterlife or supernatural occurrence in the show is cloaked in ambiguity, the fact that this one leaves almost no room for interpretation makes me think the intent is clear. But why would Chase do that here? Within the context of this show, I am vexed. In real life I would still assume there was some way for the psychic to get this info, so maybe I am to assume the same here? In other words, take it on “faith”?


          • Forgetfulness is a sin.
            This is long, but only because it’s such a great episode that deserves some conversation.
            1. Carmela prays for Chris then proceeds to tell him her prayers. Chris’s reaction is panic/fear, which explains why he pumps the morphine drip. In other words, Chris subdues his memory lest he have to remember the things he should be asking forgiveness for. When Carm asks him if he’ll pray, he slips into opiate-induced unconsciousness. “Opiate for the masses” seems eerily appropriate, as Carm gets a sort of “high” praying for others, and Chris un-ironically gets high on real opiates while denying the “opiate for the masses” that is God, Catholicism, and/or any supernatural power. Plus I think Chris knows Carm is out of her element when she says he can still get out, and that this “getting out” of mob life is also code for “getting out” of certain hell upon death.
            2. The psychic is a symbol for God and repentance/remembrance. Paulie has chosen to forget about Sonny. It isn’t about “someone else knows;” the crew and especially Tony know plenty about who killed who and who did what to who – the difference is they forget it as quickly as it comes. And if they don’t really know what happened to so-and-so, they know, like Socrates, that they don’t know. They live in constant, willed forgetfulness, ignorance, and denial.
            And this is a sin. Which is why Paulie has an angry outburst: he can’t tolerate being reminded of his own memory and guilty feelings. It’s unlikely he has no guilt or fear, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t care who knows about Sonny. The psychic only has to know a name in order to threaten Paulie with a possible moral/legal judgment. Keep in mind Melfi is in tears over having judged Tony for his believing he will go to heaven when he dies.
            2a. Melfi asks Tony who deserves to go to hell. Tony answers a different question, saying “psychos who kill people for pleasure… the Hitlers, the Pol Pots, they’re the evil fucks who deserve to die.” Tony has already evaded the question – possibly out of fear that he knows he believes he should go to hell and doesn’t want to admit this to Melfi (because he will feel vulnerable and weak). So, he confuses “hell” and “death.” I.e., a normative secular American materialist with no real concept of heaven or hell, or morality, dying is hell, and hell is death, and there is no after-life. Or, re-phrase it, Tony lives in denial of death, commits plenty of bad sins, and yet still blindly believes he will go to heaven, regardless. Chris has already informed Tony and Paulie that he’s going to end up in hell no matter what. I think Tony feels anger towards Chris’s certainty of his fate which comes from a possibly drug-induced dream.
            Tony later tells Pussy he wants to kill Matt Bevilaqua – emphasis on “wants.” This obviously contradicting what Tony says to Melfi about those sick fucks who take pleasure in killing.
            2b. Paulie says Charles “Sonny” Pagano was his first (kill), “more than thirty years ago.” Again, 30 is an echo of the three in “3 o’clock.” There are other possible connections which are interesting: ex: Paulie tells his priest he’s not getting another dime (dime = 10) just as a semi-truck is heard and seen passing by outside the window. The truck is an obvious symbol of their semi-truck hijacking/theft racket (which also involves murder, greed, forgetfulness, etc). It also carries a wind, not unlike the wind blowing the chimes when Paulie wakes up at 3 am in his goomar’s bed.
            2c. On the theme of prayer, Carmela praying, etc., The Third Mystery of the Rosary involves the descent of the Holy Spirit:
            “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
            -mention of wind
            -the psychic arguably speaks in tongues, as he mutters names of people he can’t possibly have known
            -the psychic operates out of a house
            -there is a group, just like the group in the hospital surrounding Chris
            -a, or, The Spirit is controlling their voices (and even fates)
            At this point in saying a Rosary, one is instructed to say an Our Father, and then Ten Hail Marys. As it’s the third mystery, one could say it follows the theme of three: 3 x 10 (Hail Marys) – whether 3 or 30, both have significance for Paulie (not to mention Christ in three forms as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The camera is perched from Christ’s perspective as Paulie exits the Church he has decided to abandon. As stated in other comments: a statue of the Virgin Mary is seen on the bookshelf the psychic seems to be looking at while communicating with Paulie’s demons. Paulie also hallucinates or sees a Virgin Mary statue appear in the Bing in Season 6 (6, which is also 3 two times – a premonition of “3” in connection with the Virgin Mary twice?).
            In short, I don’t have an answer.

            Liked by 1 person

          • For the record:
            The psychic appears to know the Christian name ‘Charles’ and the nickname ‘Sonny’, but it is actually Paulie himself who reveals the surname ‘Pagano’, although in the stress of the moment he doesn’t know it. The psychic instantly picks up on it with the skill of, perhaps, a cold reader.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah Tony doesn’t exactly strike me as the Romantic type who would ditch his lifestyle and family for some floozy. But again, none of Tony’s women were very interesting, except Gloria Trillo (and Svetlana, though she doesn’t really count), who generated some of the best episodes of the series. In a way I wish she were around longer, but perhaps then the storyline wouldn’t have been as strong as it was, and it’s hard to see how it could have been extended anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think Matthew shot Christopher, the other guy did it. He shot at him but I don’t think he hit him.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. During the original airings I was eating like a champ!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ron, right now I’m Jonah and this blog is the Whale. Thanks for the work. One speculation on why Tony brings Big Puss on the Drinkwater kill; Tony probably knows that flipped criminals working as informants are often allowed to carry on with their day-to-day earning operations, but participating in serious violent crimes is strictly verboten. By bringing Big Pussy along he may be testing these waters? Surely if Pussy has flipped, he’ll refuse or make an excuse why he can’t go with him. If I recall correctly, there’s a bit of dialogue between Big Puss and his handler on this very subject in a subsequent episode? Still, I’m not sure how administering this test outweighs the risk of being recorded committing premeditated murder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Steve. I think you’re description of the situation is spot-on, and it’s bolstered by the fact that when Pussy is slow to shoot Bevilaqua, Tony sort of eggs him on, as though he really wants to test Puss…

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Renato Wilker

    What I find interesting in this episode is the summary of Tony’s relationship with AJ. After AJ knocked over the noodles on the kitchen floor, Tony complained to AJ that he had dined an hour ago and told Carmela, “Look at what life gave me. How am I going to do a vasectomy if that’s my only male heir? ”

    Then when Tony apologizes to AJ he takes 6 cans of soda and a pizza, initially he offers the food to the boy and AJ says he is not hungry so Tony starts his speech and says AJ is the best son that he could have (which until now I believe to be true of Tony, since AJ leads a life that Tony would like to have had as a child, without involvement in the affairs of Famiglia), then he again offers the food with a characteristic look that only Gandolfini had, AJ accepts and then Tony cuts the piece with his own hands, gives AJ, wipes his hands and answers the call of Pussy. Tony walks away and AJ seems annoyed because he thought his father would eat with him, but in seconds he seems to settle and turns his attention to food. What would be the real meaning of this situation for both?

    Also the scene in which Paulie visits a medium is funny and at the same time terrifying, to this day I still can not define exactly what happened at that moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I don’t think that Tony’s conversation with Paulie ended because of the phone call.
    Tony studiously ignored the phone ringing whilst making his point about eating steak in India, then got up not to answer the phone but to leave, exasperated at Paulie.
    I think the phone – which went unanswered – was Pussy, trying to find Tony to let him know the whereabouts of Matt. (One of the first things Pussy says to Tony on eventually making contact is that he’s been ringing everywhere to try and get hold of him).
    Great site, am loving reading these recaps and discussions after watching each episode.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Steve’s comment covers exactly what I was going to say. I don’t think that Tony gets up to answer the phone. I think the phone is ringing, and he pointedly ignores it, and leaves the premises. This blog is superb, many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. First of all, thanks for your Sopranos essays! I’m very much looking forward to read them.

    Regarding the episode titles “From Where to Eternity” and “The Knight in White Satin Armor” from this season, I believe there’s a specific Italian reference to be found linking them together: These titles appears to be referencing Italian electronic disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder and his albums “From Here to Eternity” and “Knights in White Satin”. Both titles are themselves obviously referencing the film/novel and the Moody Blues song/chivalric literature (chivalric romance and courtly love are of course central themes of season 2), as you’ve already covered in analysis.

    In regards to the Moody Blues song, which Moroder himself covers on his album, it should be noted that the song makes prominent use of a chord mainly associated with Italian opera, namely the Neapolitan chord.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the info, it’s very interesting. I didn’t know Moroder had an album named “From Here to Eternity” but I did note the other album in my “Cold Stones” write-up (because we can hear that album playing in that episode…)


  20. Re: food, faith, firearms:
    Pussy tells Skip Tony has been looking at him different, giving him “glances.” They had sandwiches brought in the other night: 4 with ham, salami, gabagool, 1 eggplant, and the other with tomato and mozzarella. Six sandwiches but only five guys. Tony says he ordered the eggplant but Pussy knows he ordered the tomato/mozzarella. Tony lets Pussy eat the eggplant while Tony takes the tomato/mozzarella.
    I’ve seen it suggested that tomatoes appear as a symbol of retirement, loss, quitting, giving-up, or death in the show.
    – Tony takes the tomato sub wanting the hidden feud and/or mob life to be over with.
    Tony’s arranging six sandwiches seems to be a covert way of monitoring how closely Pussy is monitoring him. And Tony surely seems to know – the glance says it all, Pussy thinks. Also, half of six is three. (“3” o’clock premonition; 4 sandwiches with 3 types of meat each).
    A Freudian reading is obvious enough: eggplants are dark in color and phallic in shape.
    Also, “moulignon” is Italian for “eggplant.” It is also an Italian slur for a black person.
    Tony may be covertly-not-so-covertly insulting and denigrating Pussy.
    Which ties into Tony’s joke later about the poor man who buys his wife the slippers and the dildo.
    In other words, Tony seems to be saying, like the poor man, that Pussy, with all his calculating and observing and ratting can “go fuck himself.”
    Just my $0.02

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Does anyone else see a Wizard of Oz analogy in the hospital scene with Chris telling the story of his trip into purgatory?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paulie Walnuts as the Scarecrow?


      • Yes – I think he would be the scarecrow. He’s certainly not the lion or the tinman. I hope I’m not the only one who sees a similarity between Chris’s hell, and Dante’s Inferno. In Alighieri’s Inferno, the sinners were very carefully chosen and they were punished in the same way as they sinned in life. Chris’s dad got whacked every night, just like he did in real life. And they were stuck in an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s day. And, in the Inferno, the devil is encased in ice, so it is cold, not hot. Paulie thought since it wasn’t hot, it couldn’t have been hell. Paulie is kind of like the scarecrow!

        Liked by 1 person

  22. I was thinking about the three o’clock bit and we know Christopher likes to watch TV often while chemically stimulated. The Irish pub of hell where they can’t win is sort of a muddled version of a Twilight Zone episode about a crook in hell where all he does is win. Another Twilight Zone episode is called 4 o’clock where a man believes that all the evil people in the world will disappear at 4. I think Chris was just hallucinating about TV he sort of watched and screwed up the recalling ofm

    Liked by 2 people

  23. And speaking of the different characters’ attitude towards religion, I recall that hilarious line in the first episode where Carmela says, “Father Phil is a spiritual mentor.” Then later in that episode, we see how Carmela and Phil interact: eating and watching romantic movies together!

    Liked by 1 person

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