Just because Tony's paranoid doesn't mean there's not someone out to get him. As the downward spiral continues to the end of the series, Tony's insulating himself by cutting off his confidants one by one, and this episode saw him snuff out probably the most significant of them all (consider this your spoiler alert.) As always, The Sopranos utilizes music to tell the story, and the theme song here was "Comfortably Numb" (making it two weeks in a row that an episode has started with that Pink Floyd number.)
While last week had Tony mumbling the tune, leaving it open for debate on it's significance, this week it's cemented into the plot in a couple of ways. Christopher pops a CD of Music From The Motion Picture The Departed into the stereo (it's the lead track,) while he and Tony sing Martin Scorsese's praises. Of course creator David Chase has reference Scorsese before, mostly homages to Goodfellas, but this one is far more overt. The Departed plot line of an undercover cop infiltrating the mob is a nod to Tony's (justified) paranoia about Chrissy. It's more then that though, as Scorsese's use of the particular version of the song speaks multitudes in both The Departed and in The Sopranos. The song itself was a live recording (video) featuring Van Morrison (singing David Gilmour's part) from an all-star re-staging that Roger Waters did of The Wall in 1990 (The Wall: Live in Berlin,) to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall just a few months prior. They setup the stage at Potsdamer Platz, that strip of no mans land between the East and West wall. While cleaning up the area, they found a smorgasbord of Soviet armaments and even a furnished Nazi bunker (not Hitler's as some rumors would have it.) It's this long-buried evil rearing it's head later that is a key to Scorsese's drama, and even more so to Chase's Sopranos, so it's hard not to forgive him for borrowing it.
The lyrics given emphasis here are "I cannot put my finger on it now / The child is grown, the dream is gone / I have become comfortably numb" which in last week's episode corresponded with Tony's disappointment with his son, AJ, so it's no surprise that Tony seems to be in the same mood here with his mafia son Chris. The songs lyrics also speak to the ease of one's pain, more specifically through drug use (legend has it Waters wrote the lyrics base on an experience with prescribed painkillers.) Christopher is high when he crashes the car, and later Tony hypocritically eases his pain through similar means (albeit, more of the 'organic' variety.)
Of course, there's more going on here then just being numb in comfort, naturally, as every song fits into place with the plot. When Chris' wake causes, and drives the strip to Lucinda Williams' "Are You Alright?" - which is a more then valid question. Later, Tony meets up with Chris' old stripper friend of Chris (Sonya, played by The L Word's Sarah Shahi) to deliver the bad news, and we here M Ward's "Outta My Head" - which is an apt description of Tony's state of mind. He's unconsciously becoming Christopher, showing that there was a bit of jealousy in there thrown in with his resentment. As Tony has proxy sex with Sonya, The Pretender's "Adultress" plays, and he's finally able to follow through on an affair with one of Chris' ladies (see Adriana and Julianna.) The Pretenders continue to provide the soundtrack with "Space Invader" as Tony gets high, ultimately leading him to try some peyote for the first time.
Out of their minds, Tony and Sonya walk through the casino to the roulette wheel, where Tony wins roll after roll, much like the gambler in the Twilight Episode referenced a couple episodes ago ("Chasing It," Episode 616.) This, you'll remember, turns out to be hell, so when they stumble into the desert and Tony sees a sunset that looks a lot like his Costa Mesa coma dreams, I'm reminded of the theory a lot of folks had about that being a sort of purgatory that Tony was visiting. As he sees the light, he yells, "I get it!" and it's pretty obvious that he doesn't, even if Calexico's "Minas De Cobre (For Better Metal)" contributes to the Carlos Castaneda-like setting.
Playlist: The Sopranos - Ep618
1. "Comfortably Numb" - Roger Waters - Christopher and Tony driving home, crash
2. "Are You Alright?" - Lucinda Williams - Tony drives on the Las Vegas strip
3. "Outta My Head" - M. Ward - Tony meets Sonya at her apartment
4. "Get It Crunk" - Lil' Flip - AJ and his friends get in a fight outside of the fraternity
5. "The Adultress" - Pretenders - Sonya rides Tony
6. "Space Invader" - Pretenders - Sonya and Tony talk in bed
7. "Sophisticated Lady" - Duke Ellington - Phil talks to Tony on the phone in his social club
8. "Minas De Cobre (For Better Metal)" - Calexico - End credits
More: Anyone notice the seemingly random Katherine Hepburn interview with Dick Cavett that Carm watched when she couldn't sleep? Hepburn would've turned 100 this past weekend, and my bet is it was a tribute to the "First Lady of Cinema." Regarding addiction, she says in the interview: "Cold sober, I find myself absolutely fascinating." I think we pretty much all did, Kate.
Previously: Manly Solutions (Episode 617)