I Did It!
SPOILERS APLENTY! As I predicted last week, last night saw the demise of Christopher Moltisanti. (Note: I didn't predict he would die last night, only that he wouldn't make it through the next 4 weeks.) But he went via the hand of Tony in a manner much quieter than anyone would have expected. Why did Tony whack him? Was it out of disgust for Christopher's latest relapse? His fear that Christopher would finally rat him out (as Christopher had been tempted to do repeatedly for several seasons)? His disgust over the portrayal of "Tony" in Cleaver? His recognition that Christopher was incapable of succeeding him some day? A little bit of each of these things, I would say. Tony is a man who won't blow an opportunity, and here one was presented to remove Christopher with no one even suspecting foul play. He only had to justify what he did to himself--which he tried to do in conversations with Carm, Dr. Melfi, and, of course, Sonia (Christopher's old stripper friend in Vegas). And for the most part, he failed.
Yet the great irony of the episode--and here, once again, is the genius of the show--is that after killing Christopher, Tony adopts many of his "son's" vices. Not only does he shack up with Sonia in Vegas, but he too starts using drugs, not to Christopher's level, but still. And perhaps worst of all, he shows his weakness by confessing. Okay, his confession is to the mountains outside of Vegas and in front a stripper who has no idea what he is talking about when he yells, "I did it," but still it shows that in order to live the lives that Tony, Christopher, Paulie, and others do, one has two choices. You are either so stupid, that you don't fully comprehend what you are doing. See Paulie Walnuts. Or you are forced to rely upon drugs (whether prescription or otherwise) to numb oneself of the actions you have taken. (And, I note, that Comfortably Numb was playing as Christopher sideswiped Kennedy and Heidi's car--if you saw the title of the episode, Kennedy and Heidi, and had no idea to what it was referring, now you know (although it also refers to Tony's comparing Chris' widow to Jackie Kennedy, but I'm not sure how the little Swiss girl has any relevance.)
I note that there is some debate in the blogosphere and elsewhere about whether Tony said "I did it" or "I get it." I heard the former, Mrs. Bartender the latter, and supposedly the closed captioning agreed with her although I have seen both quotes on various websites. I like my interpretation better, but "I get it" still works as far as Tony's supposed sudden comprehension of the randomness of life. It does, however, take away his own confession and the parallelism with Christopher. Thus, I will believe what I heard.
Of course, Tony's declaration of "I did it," was not simply a confession. (Anyone else notice the similarity of the Sopranos ending last night with Tony yelling in the desert, and Drama yelling "Victory" in front of the Grand Canyon?) It was also a recognition of his winnings at the roulette table and, through the use of peyote, a (temporary, I'm sure) understanding of life. This understanding seems to simply reflect, however, the randomness (and ultimately meaninglessness) of it--his winning big at roulette--whatever other game so clearly demonstrates luck--epitomized the randomness of fate and led to this epiphany. What happens when he comes down from his high remains to be seen.
Finally, a note on two of Tony's "subjects." As for Paulie, he can't beat Christopher even in the death department, and his disgust how everyone is at Chris's wake instead of his "ma's" is typical, shallow Paulie. As for AJ, he appears headed for either a severe breakdown or gangster work or both. For AJ, however, to pursue this line of work, he will, like his dad and Christopher, need some serious mind altering substances. And he lacks the strengths of these other characters, so this cannot end well. Just as Tony's "son" is now dead, I fear for his biological child.
I can hardly wait for the final 3 episodes.