Cue the credits. Cigar smoke. Highlights of the Jersey Turnpike: smokestacks, exit signs, graffiti-covered overpasses. Ah, my old New Jersey home. The pork store. Pizzaland. Excuse me while I set MS Dictionary to ignore the word "fuck" in all its permutations. Okay, here we go. Mighty Big TV has three Jersey girls covering the Sopranos waterfront, so watch this space for recaps by LuluBates and miss parker.
Fade up on Tony "Tony, Why Ya Buggin'?" Soprano in a waiting room, skeptically eyeing a sculpture of a nude that has really aggressive nipples. We cut back and forth between Tony, staring at the nude with his hands folded, and the nude, staring impassively back at Tony with her arms crossed behind her head. A door opens, and Dr. Jennifer "First Ray Liotta And Now This" Melfi smiles, "Mr. Soprano?" Tony snaps out of it, grunts "yeah," and follows her into her lair. Melfi closes the doors behind him; Tony doesn't know where to sit, he's awkward, uncomfortable with all that head-shrinkin' nonsense, blah blah blah fishcakes. Finally, he sort of shrugs himself into a chair and looks around, doing that digging-around-in-his-teeth-with-his-tongue thing that means he's not impressed. Melfi sits down and puts her glasses on. They sit there. Tony looks around. Melfi looks at Tony. Tony says nothing. Melfi says nothing. Finally, Melfi admits defeat in the say-nothing face-off and breaks the silence by saying that Tony's family physician told her that Tony "collapsed -- possibly a panic attack?" Tony holds up a not-so-fast hand as Melfi goes on, "You were unable to breathe?" and Tony interrupts, "They said it was a panic attack, 'cause all the, uh, blood work and the neurological work came back negative. And they sent me here." "You don't agree that you had a panic attack," Melfi says indulgently. Tony sighs heavily; Melfi asks how he's feeling now. "Fine. Back at work," Tony says, fidgeting. Melfi asks what he does. "Waste management consultant," he tells her, and I can't help thinking of the same actress asking Henry Hill what he did in Goodfellas and getting the "I'm in construction" response in the same rehearsed tone. More silence; then Tony bursts out, "Look, it's impossible for me to talk to a psychiatrist." Melfi glides over this with, "Any thoughts at all on why you blacked out?" Tony doesn't know: "Stress, maybe?" "About what?"
Tony rolls his eyes a few times and finally says in voice-over, as we cut to a shot of dawn coming up at his palatial house, "I dunno. The morning of the day I got sick, I'd been thinking, it's good to be in something from the ground floor." Tony's eye; Tony lying in bed and staring at the ceiling. "I came too late for that, I know. But lately I'm getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over." Tony going out for the paper in his bathrobe. Melfi says she thinks many Americans feel that way. Tony says he thinks about his father, who never reached "the heights like" Tony has, but who had it better in many ways -- "he had his people, they had their standards, they had pride. Today, what do we got?" Tony standing in the driveway reading The Star Ledger and shaking his head. My dad does the same thing -- that paper bites -- except my dad gets dressed first.
Melfi asks if Tony had "these feelings of loss more acutely" before he collapsed. Tony clearly thinks that's a stupid question and says he doesn't know. Tony walking with a spring in his step towards the deserted, placid pool, then looking dismayed. Enter a family of ducks from the underbrush, quacking, and Tony smiles all happily and picks up a handful of bread crumbs and offers them to the ducks as he tells Melfi in VO that a pair of ducks landed in his pool a few months ago and stayed for mating season. Tony gets into the pool, still wearing his bathrobe, to swim around with the ducks. Tony needs a hobby. ["I thought the ducks were his hobby!" -- Wing Chun]