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April 17, 2014

The Sopranos: Chasing It

by Tom Biro, posted Apr 29th 2007 11:21PM
Tony Soprano - Chasing It
(S06E16)
First off, I've gotta say that this was the weakest episode in this short half-season so far, in my opinion. A lot of commenters on this site were a little ticked off at the fact that Tony was now well in debt as far as his gambling problem went, even if he did have cash elsewhere, and how that just cropped up out of nowhere. While I wouldn't say it was out of nowhere, the heaviness of his losses piling up were definitely a big surprise.

On top of that, there were a few random bits of dialogue that didn't seem to go anywhere, kind of like how Bobby didn't really have much to say one way or another about the horse race. Some part of me wants to say that the boys are just becoming glorified yes-men to Tony, but I'm not sure that it's, and I think I might be trying too hard to get to that point. Out of everything that did happen this week, though, what might be most important - and maybe a huge plot point - was Tony's spotting of the guy that used to hang out at the Bada Bing, in front of what looked like a Muslim gathering place. Of course, Chase & Co. will catch hell from some group for that particular portrayal, but if you're going to take a page out of anyone's playbook, it might as well be 24's.

The reason I'd like to focus on the passing scene with the familiar guy walking across the street was that Tony has obviously been "warned" by the FBI to keep an eye out for those potentially involved with terrorists. Now I can see this spinning a few ways - one, that Christopher was somehow involved in working to take these guys down, so Tony could either help drive that stake home, or he could put himself at the wrong place at the wrong time, even if his intentions were "good," and get himself taken down with the "bad guys," if we can even say that. Outside of those options, I wonder if Tony can get some dirt on what's happening with the suspicious guy, and if he happens to get nabbed at or close to the show's end, maybe it's an out for him. Still, I can't see him turning rat as far as witness protection goes, can you? Then again, he seems so focused on making sure Carm knows she'll be taken care of that I could see him somehow trying to atone for everything he's put her through.

Howabout that blowout between Carm and Tony, though? I really thought he was going to hit her, and that was going to be the end of it, but somehow he stopped at grabbing her arm. As much as she was cringing at it all, she definitely stuck to her guns in his face, which was very impressive. I just don't know if she sat down and listened to him, tears welling up and all, because she really believed it or because she realized the situation that she was stuck in, on her own volition. As for AJ getting ditched, I'm sure that's not going to go over so well with his parents, and I can see Tony finding himself in a situation much like the one that Marie Spatafore is in with Vito Jr., although AJ probably won't get sent to Idaho.

I'm still seeing the rest of this season as a coin flip as to whether things end calmly or in an ugly fashion. Things in New York seem to have calmed down, even if Phil's attitude (smell the cognac, huh?) and ability to take time off to hang out with Nancy Sinatra are giving Tony a headache. Moving on to next week via the promos, though, we yet again have what looks to be at least one hit of someone, and Paulie and/or Christopher in some iffy situations. By now, I should have learned enough to know that it's just a tease, but you never do know, do you.

Overall, I'm going to give this week a 5. I wanted to drop a 4 on it, but I thought the Nancy Sinatra scene followed by Tony giving Hesh some cash after his love died was just so utterly appropriate for this series, so I couldn't leave that alone. Other than the possibility (again) of some trouble for one member of the crew, I'm not sure I have any wide-eyed predictions for next week, so I'll leave that to the rest of you

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John T

Do you think Bianca left AJ due to family pressures? It was ironic that she broke up with him at the Pueto Rican pride parade. Maybe her family does not want her marrying outside her race. What do you think?

June 05 2007 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
murl87

For the fifth time, Tony did NOT kill Hesh's girlfriend. First of all it says so on the episode synopsis that she died of a stroke, and it wouldnt make sense. Tony doesnt take revenge on innocent bystanders, he would kill hesh before he killed her.

May 23 2007 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Abigail

Tony was grinding his teeth and all but spitting lava over his debt to Hesh, and then that discussion in the car about offing Hesh to erase the debt? Tony's only response to it was it would make him look bad if the "boss couldn't pay his debts." Then, Tony gets into a rant with Melfi over Jews trying to steal money, even though Tony knew that he legitimately owed Hesh the debt. He was offended that Hesh wouldn't forgive the debt, out of honor to Tony's status--particularly at a time when Tony's ego is bruised all to hell. He wanted respect shown to him, and what does he get (in his own mind)? Being nickled and dimed to death by a loan shark, like he's trash. Hesh sensed it, knowing that Tony was capable of anything. He tells his son that he senses Tony will kill him. When Tony shows up later, he tells the girlfriend, "Go upstairs and lock the door." So, it seemed to me that Tony took his rage out on Hesh by finding a way to kill the girlfriend, to teach Hesh the ultimate lesson. Then, to drive home the point, Tony appears immediately after the death to give Hesh the remainder of the money, as if to say, "Was it worth it, Hesh? Was your girlfriend's life worth this paper bag of dough?" And Tony's comments felt edgy and insincere, full of layered meaning, not honest condolences for the death of a loved one of a friend. He was teaching Hess a lesson of what happens when you screw with the boss's ego.
Abbey

May 03 2007 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
b

To comments #19 and 22, check out the comment I put it in at #18. Not to play webmaster, you should read the posts before putting up comments so you're actually engaged.

Anyways, I noted that the HBO sites Sopranos recap for this episode specifically states that Hesh's girl Renata died of a stroke. #22, you may want to update your blog.

May 02 2007 at 9:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Still A. Fan

great insight into the episode. i've been doing one a week myself at http://steelcityslant.blogspot.com

i'd love it if some came over to read my 4 capsules and leave opinions. i originally didnt think tony had hesh's girl killed, but now i'm not so sure after reading all the comments.

May 02 2007 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Freddy

In my opinion, if David Chase ends the show with Tony being killed or arrested, it will come with many surprises or ironies. For example, I do not see the show ending with Tony being killed by Phil: Too predictible. There was a scene a few episodes ago that perhaps may reveal a possible ironic ending. The scene started when Geraldo Rivera had some experts discussing who will take over New York. At first , you do not see whose TV we are seeing. Then, surprisingly, it is revealed that it is Elliot's television. Even more surprisingly, he makes a comment that shows he is well versed in the mafia pecking order. Why does he know this? We know he is Melfi's therapist. Is Tony's final downfall brought on by Melfi intentionally or unintentionally giving to much info to Elliot, who then reveals info to Feds. Will it be ironic that Tony's demise will be brought on by the therapy that keeps him going? Just a thought. I have other "darkhorse" theories but this is one that I feel may have some merit. Thoughts?

May 02 2007 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

I'm in a minority here. I thought it was the best episode this season because 'things' finally happened. From Tony's gambling to his fall-out with Hesh and seeing that Muslim drug dealer a lot of balls were put in play. I also understood that Tony had Hesh's girl killed. I figured that's what he told his capos outside the pork store.

May 02 2007 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jlb33

Like most commenters, I found this episode a little dry (I hate admitting that), but I'm sure that was intentional.

The kid in the shower... wow... and how funny was it when Vito, Jr. and Phil were sitting outside and Vito had all the make-up on and was eating a huge sundae. Phil needs to step up and realize that he caused this situation, and he needs to make it right, but I'm sure this story line is over now.

I was happy that Hesh was in this episode. I always had a soft spot for Hesh, it seems that he is one of the most respected characters. Even for gangsters $200K is a lot of money, it never would have been a big deal if Tony wasn't on such a losing streak. It was kind of sweet how Hesh realized that something was wrong with Tony and could see all his debt when no one else could (or would address it).

#17, do you think Tony actually killed Hesh's lady friend, or do you mean symbolocily killed her? I'm guessing on the later.

May 01 2007 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LumpyG

Tony and the boys would be booking the bets, not giving the action to others. Also, no way would someone bet thousands on a harness race at Batavia Downs. Very small upstae NY track. A bet like that would turn a 2-1 shot into a 1-9 shot. Even a crazy man would not bet like that.

April 30 2007 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Abigail

Agree with most that last night's was not the most scintillating writing. My thought is that David Chase used this episode as an expository interlude to set up the groundwork for interesting tensions and explosions to come in the final showdown.

Tony is doubting himself in major ways now, increasingly troubled, and he is consistent in expressing that the cash-flow crunch tied is to Vito's absence. Vito may have been gay, but he heaved in those bales, and Tony's economic comfort zone seems to have shrunk since Vito got it in the motel room.

Melfi and Tony had earlier discussion about Vito being gay, and Tony seemed to acknowledge that Vito may be gay, but he was also a good man. He saw that Vito did his job, was absolutely loyal, and Tony trusted him. Not the case with those hovering about Tony now, so it's as if he made a leap in understanding that Vito's gayness wasn't all that defined him--much to the discomfort of the rest of the gang. Tony has made no bones about the fact that he's furious that Phil made the decision to whack Vito without consulting Tony. He just didn't believe that Vito deserved to die for being gay.

Look at the whole picture with Tony: you've got Tony getting shot by Uncle Junior, the slow recovery from the surgery, lots of backstabbing, his top earner Vito dead for a specious reason, a shrinking economic picture, his growing distrust of Christopher, this sense of disrespect toward him everywhere he loo9ks, and the feeling that he's being edged out, even by his own men, so Tony's not in a trusting mood these days. He sees betrayal everywhere he looks.

With such a contracted sense of self, Tony's temper and patience seem strained to the limit. He flares at Carm, and Chase gives us a subtle look at how thin-skinned Tony is, especially in the instance of his debt to Hesh.

Here Tony owes Hesh $200K, but chooses to "forget" it, and he'd like the debt erased as a gesture of his high status. When you're the boss, you don't want to feel you're under someone else's thumb, but Hesh unfortunately reminds Tony of the debt during this bad patch.

Hesh's instinct that this could bode very, very ill turns out to be right on the money. Tony is fuming that he has to cough up $3000 bucks a week toward the debt. His humiliation gets the better of him at the card table when he snidely offers Hesh nickles and quarters off the table. Hesh feels the rage pouring out of Tony. The discussion Tony has later in the car turns to offing Hesh altogether as a way to discharge the debt. Hesh's antennae pick up what a menace Tony has become under the burden of this debt and how much Tony despises him for it.

My take is that Hesh's instincts about Tony couldn't have been more accurate: suddenly Hesh's lady turns up dead as a doornail. Immediately following, Tony brings the remainder of the debt to Hesh's door with fake regrets . . . as if to say, "Humiliate me, schmuck, and pay the price." Here Hesh had thought all along that Tony would kill HIM, but Tony extracted much more for the embarrassment he felt from his debt to Hesh: he took his lover from him to let him feel the sting of his foolishness in not overlooking the debt to the "boss."

It was nice to see Tony and Carm in each other's faces, and she was awesome, the way she stood him down. AJ seems lost, and we don't know what ragged piece of earth Chase is going to have him land on. Vito Jr. is in some deep shit, and his forced removal to boot camp in Idaho seems like the mafia Discovery Zone version of "junior whacking," when needs to be whacked but is too young to take out.

April 30 2007 at 9:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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