Season 2, Episode 09
From Where To Eternity
Picking up where the previous episode left off, the Soprano family and crew wait at the hospital, where Christopher remains in critical condition. Richie arrives at the hospital with some information on Matthew Bevilacqua, the surviving shooter, but other members of the crew are wary of his presence. Carmella prays to God to help Christopher see the light so he can get into heaven.
At home, Carmella brings up the topic of a vasectomy to Tony, referencing an acquaintance who impregnated his goomah with a bastard child. Tony bristles at the suggestion of getting his tubes tied.
After a close call in which Christopher's heart stops for two minutes, he recovers and his condition stabilizes. After gaining consciousness, he asks to see Paulie and Tony specifically. He says that he saw his father and Mikey Palmice in Hell, which took the form of an Irish bar, and Mikey asked him to relay a message: "Three o'clock". Tony dismisses this story, but Paulie is shaken. He suffers from night terrors and visits a psychic under a false name. The psychic claims to see the spirits of the men Paulie murdered following him around. Paulie, frightened, throws a tantrum and leaves.
Carmella visits Christopher under the false belief that he saw Heaven rather than Hell, as this was what Tony told her. Christopher reveals the truth and Carmella sees it as an opportunity for him to repent, but Christopher is not receptive and ups his morphine dosage, passing out. At home, Carmella gets into an argument with Tony about the vasectomy, and he berates AJ for dropping a plate of food, shaming him for overeating and disparaging him as an unsatisfactory "male heir".
In therapy, Dr. Melfi tries to broach the subject of Tony's morality as a mobster. Tony iterates that he believes mobsters are exempt from going to Hell for murder, comparing them to soldiers and claiming Hell is reserved for child molesters and people like Adolph Hitler. When Melfi presses the issue, Tony has an outburst and asks why she would bring that up when his nephew is in the hospital - he claims Christopher "might not get out", although this is no longer a danger.
Agent Lipari demands that Big Pussy get closer to Tony, in order to provide more information to the FBI. A low-level associate of the Soprano crew approaches Big Pussy, asking to speak to Tony and saying he has information on Matthew Bevilacqua. Pussy demands that he tell it to him instead of going to Tony directly, seeing an opportunity to get closer to Tony as Lipari demanded.
Feeling remorse over his cruel treatment of AJ, Tony attempts to bond with him, bringing him a pizza as an olive branch and speaking candidly and with a great deal of self-awareness about his own anger issues. This conversation is interrupted by a call from Pussy, who now has Matthew's location. Tony leaves AJ to eat the pizza by himself. He accompanies Pussy to personally kill Matthew. They beat him severely and take him to a garage, where Tony torments him, then feigns forgiveness, giving Matthew a moment of hope just before sadistically executing him. Tony and Pussy fire multiple rounds into Matthew's head and body. Afterward, they get dinner at a steak house, the same place they had eaten after Tony committed his first murder. Tony asks Pussy if he believes in God, which he says he does.
Tony returns home to find Carmella in bed. Following the brutal killing of Matthew, he seems more open to the idea of getting a vasectomy. Carmella tells him he doesn't have to, and asks instead that he simply remain faithful to her. They then make love.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Matthew Bevilaqua cries and begs for his life up until Tony shoots him.
- Asshole Victim: After all the crap he's pulled over the second season, nobody in universe or among the audience is going to shed a tear for Matthew.
- Bait the Dog: Tony gets a remarkably sympathetic scene when he speaks honestly to AJ, only for it to be cut short when he gets word of Matthew Bevilaqua's location and heads off to torture and kill him.
- Bastard Bastard: Carmela's motivation for suggesting a vasectomy to Tony. She doesn't mind him enjoying Goomahs on the side, at least not yet. She just doesn't want him to have bastard children that she thinks will likely amount to no good, and bring shame to the family.
- Black and Grey Morality: Tony invokes his rationalizations of his lifestyle when he has a therapy session with Dr. Melfi following Chris' Neath-Death Experience.Melfi: [on Christopher] Do you think he'll go to hell?Tony: No. He's not the type that deserves hell.Melfi: Who do you think does?Tony: The worst people. The twisted and demented psychos who kill people for pleasure, the cannibals, the degenerate bastards that molest and torture little kids. They kill babies. The Hitlers. The Pol Pots. Those are the evil fucks that deserve to die, not my nephew.Melfi: What about you?Tony: What? Hell? You been listening to me? No, for the same reasons. We're soldiers. Soldiers don't go to hell. It's war. Soldiers they kill other soldiers. We're in a situation where everyone involved knows the stakes and if your gonna accept those stakes you gotta do certain things. It's business. Soldiers. We follow codes, orders.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Matthew wets himself after he is captured by Tony and Pussy.
- Continuity Nod: Paulie's visit to the psychic has the spirit of Mikey Palmice mocking Paulie by asking if the poison ivy still itches.
- Catchphrase: "I'm sorry T" is the very first thing the audience hears from Chris after he wakes. If there were any doubts that it was going to solidify as his catchphrase for the series, they were definitely removed afterwards.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Tony and Big Pussy reduce Matthew to a collection of cuts and bruises through an offscreen No-Holds-Barred Beatdown combined with Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique. Tony then manufactures the Hope Spot noted below, refrains from pulling the trigger for a few moments to savor Matthew's terror, before he and Big Pussy finally fill him up with bullets.
- Descent into Addiction: Dr. Melfi admits to Dr. Kauffenberg that she's been taking her prescriptions and drinking more than she should in response to the stress of treating Tony.
- Divine Intervention: Carmela believes that her desperate prayer lead to Chris' recovery and his subsequent Near-Death Experience. Chris isn't convinced.
- Foreshadowing: Chris' Near-Death Experience and vision of a Mundane Afterlife after getting shot will resonate with Tony going through very similar things in a future season when he gets shot.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Carmela is seen holding a copy of the book, Memoirs of a Geisha, before she reconciles with Tony and drops the demand for a vasectomy. It indicates a resigned acceptance that Tony is inevitably going to cheat on her.
- From Bad to Worse: Played with when Chris' heart stops and we see a team of doctors and nurses performing emergency surgery on him. Subverted in that Chris recovers soon thereafter. But while it lasted, it did keep the audience anxious about Chris' fate, and also acted as a set up for his Near-Death Experience and view of a Mundane Afterlife.
- Hope Spot: Tony deliberately orchestrates a hope spot where he seems willing to hear out Matthew's side of the story, all just to make the despair hit harder when he kills him after all.
- Hypocrite: Tony and Carmela accused each other of hypocrisy during their argument.
- Tony accused Carmela of being religious only when it's convenient for her.
- Carmela in turn calls Tony out on trying to justify to avoid a vasectomy by invoking Catholicism's prohibition against birth control measures (condoms included).
- I See Dead People
- Inadequate Inheritor: Tony holds out AJ as this, along with a You Are Fat dig at AJ, as an additional argument against getting a vasectomy.
- Ironic Echo: Silvio tries to comfort Adriana by assuring her that Chris is a tough kid, and he'll be able to pull through it. He repeats his words almost word for word in a future conversation with Adriana, but with far different intentions.
- It's Personal: Tony could easily assign any of his underlings to the task of whacking Matthew. Big Pussy even lampshades that fact to Tony, suggesting he and Furio could take care of it. However, given that it was Chris who was almost murdered by Matt, he insists on seeing to it personally.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Matthew didn't have a hope in hell of coming out of that concession stand alive. But Tony still grabs the opportunity to combine the beating of Matthew with questions as to whether or not anybody else was involved with shooting up Chris. Tony is particularly curious as to whether Richie was involved.
- Leitmotif: "My Lover's Prayer" by Otis Redding recurs three times throughout the episode, twice at the beginning during Christopher's ordeal in the hospital, and again over the closing credits.
- Mundane Afterlife: Christopher's vision of Hell is an Irish bar where Italian mobsters lose every card game. His description of the afterlife amuses Tony more than anything else.
- Near-Death Experience: Chris has one during his heart attack and being technically dead. The description of a tunnel of white light before seeing not so pleasant visions of the afterlife is actually a pretty common theme in several documented Near-Death Experiences.
- Not-So-Phony Psychic: The psychic Paulie visits has some uncanny details about some of the men Paulie has killed.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Tony really is unaffected by the warnings of Mikey's spirit (through Chris) that he'll haunt Paulie and Tony at 3:00 a.m. each night. He also invokes this on Paulie, who really is spooked out by the 3:00 a.m. thing, to try and get him to focus on the task of tracking down Matthew.
- Plot Armor: After his fate being the center of the previous episode's Cliffhanger, Christopher stabilizes and regains consciousness within the first twenty minutes of this episode.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Tony manages to combine brutal revenge for Chris, Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique and a test of Undying Loyalty for Big Pussy all in the same action. That's efficiency.
- Prayer Is a Last Resort: Carmela does this, genuinely fearful that emergency care in the hospital won't be enough to save Chris' life.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: One of the most memorable ones ever from Tony to Matthew. "'Cause that sugarless motherfucker, it's the last fucking drink you're ever gonna have."
- Price on Their Head: Tony puts one out on Matthew. If anyone can bring in Matthew within five days, they'll earn points that can mean promotion in the Jersey mob.
- Raised Catholic: Shows up more than once.
- Carmela when she prays for Chris' life, even as she acknowledges the Hypocrisy of enjoying the Mafia lifestyle and practicing Catholicism at the same time.
- Paulie, in response to getting spooked by Chris' visions of long-dead Mikey Palmice and his perceived 3:00 a.m. hauntings, expresses his own belief that he won't actually go to hell for his many crimes. It'll just lengthen his stay in Purgatory before going to heaven.
- Paulie also tells a priest he was hoping that his donations of tithes to the church would immunize him from any repercussions for his crimes, both in the afterlife and his present hauntings.
- Redemption Rejection: Carmela tries to convince Chris that his recovery and Near-Death Experience were Divine Intervention to give him a chance for redemption. She takes it further by stressing the need for Chris to come back to Christ, and inviting him to join her in prayer to begin his redemption. Chris, who still likes being a Mafiaso even after getting shot up, responds by taking another hit of morphine to make himself pass out.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: How the other mobsters view Richie when he visits the hospital. Also has shades of Convicted by Public Opinion as they also to one degree or another suspect Richie of having something to do with Chris' shooting.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Tony and Big Pussy completely empty their guns into Matthew.
- Unbroken Vigil: Adriana is the one character who never leaves the hospital while Chris is in a coma. Underscored by her frequently crying at his side.
- Undying Loyalty: Tony can't shake his suspicions that Big Pussy is The Mole, so Tony has him come along for the slaying of Matthew, something an undercover mole would be forbidden to do. Big Pussy obliges, but it gets him in hot water with his FBI handlers later on.
- Unfinished Business: If the psychic is to be believed, Paulie has a small army of murder victims following him around.