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Eugoogly: Christopher Moltisanti

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 13, 2007

Spoiler Alert – Sopranos fans, time to tune out

Well, what Sopranos fans have waited five episodes for–17, really, if you count the relatively inactive first half of the season, which you probably should–has finally happened. Someone big has died. Not some minor lieutenant that no one actually cared about, not some previously secondary character whose increased presence in the latest episode suggests a disproportionate importance, and not even someone like Tony B or Jackie Jr. whose death was a long time coming. No, one of the show’s principal, core characters–one that we’ve been with since the beginning–has finally tapped out.

And if you’ve read this far, you should already know–as of tonight, Christopher Moltesanti sleeps with the asbestos.

It’s hard to actually find this terribly surprising–things have been going south for Christopher ever since Adriana was outed as a rat–or, if you want to really get to the source, ever since he was sworn in as a made guy. With his dissolution in the last episode, slipping off the wagon and peaceing his Law & Order scribe friend Tim Daly without anything really resembling provocation, it wasn’t hard to see Chrissy’s death as being too far off the horizon.

Still, props to David Chase and the Sops crew for handling Chris’s demise in such an unpredictable way. First off, unlike all the show’s other Big Deaths–Big Pussy, Ralphie Cifaretto, Tony B., Vito Spattafore–Chris tapped out barely five minutes into the episode, with virtually no build up. It starts with a now par-for-the-course tense car ride with Tony, soundtracked by the version of “Comfortably Numb” from the Departed soundtrack (which, superfans will remember, Tony was singing to himself last episode), after the two finish negotiating another hardass bargain with Phil Leotardo. Chris starts to struggle to breathe–likely a coke-related ailment–and the car begins to glide off the road, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision but causing the gar to swerve off the road and flip over about a dozen times.

Tony and Chris survive the accident, but Chris just barely–coughing up blood, he pleads with Tony to help him–not to get him medical help, but to help him avoid getting fingered as the driver, since as he tells Tony, he’d never pass a drug test. Tony, emotionally and physically battered by the incident, as well as harboring a long-standing grudge against Chris for the way he was portrayed in Cleaver, and now angered by Chris’s admission of his relapsing into drug use, makes a decision. He pinches Chris’s nose shut, forcing him to suffocate on his own blood.

It’s the start of what’s easily the most powerful episode of the entire season thusfar–such a good piece of television that it almost makes you forget what a huge, important, and for most of the series, beloved character has just left the Sopranoverse. Cnris represented the kind of everygangster that’s sadly lacking in most mob movies–the kind of guy that you feel you could just have easily seen selling used cars or working the docks as being a wiseguy. Christopher was always one of the show’s most relatable characters, since even after he was made, his character still felt like an outsider, one that was looked down upon by the old guard, and who harbored ambitions that stretched beyond the Mafia. This was never really the life for Chris, and that’s why he always got the best odds in Soprano Death Pools–one way or another, we knew Chris was eventually gonna get out.

But really, Chris was just generally a likeable guy. Sure, he did shit that in the real world would be unforgivable–killing a waiter who insulted him for tipping too low, shooting J.T. in the head for refusing to indulge his drunk ranting, and of course, feeding Adrianna to the wolves after she revealed to him that she had flipped, being some of the more despicable items on his rap sheet. But more than any other character on the show, Chris always seemed human–whether he was punching people out in his acting class after getting some unwanted emotions stirred up, or pouting like a wounded puppy after getting rejected by the wannabe sophisticate he had a brief fling with, Chrissy always acted like a person. Tony groomed him to inherit the throne at first, but that was never a good idea–Chris was too impulsively emotional to be a #1, something Tony didn’t realize until it was too late.

So what effect is his death going to have on the last three episodes of The Sopranos? Well, for one thing, any illusions any viewer could possibly have at this point in the show of Tony being at heart a good person have been demolished beyond a doubt. As he dreams a therapy session with Melfi where he’s actually honest for once, and tells her what a relief it is now that Chris is dead, we know the man has effectively sold away whatever parts of his soul he still might have had control over. Oddly Tone chooses this opportunity to take a spiritual vision quest with one of Chris’s old peyote-enthusiast goomahs in Vegas, causing him to announce “I DID IT!!” (some people heard this as “I GET IT!!” and maybe they’re right–not sure which is more interesting) to the Grand Canyon.

Whether this cold-blooded act will cause Tony’s career downfall as well as his spiritual downfall is yet to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine the consequences being good. Not to mention the fact that Tony’s son by birth, A.J., has started to follow (somewhat unwillingly) in his father’s footsteps, standing an idle witness while his new frat buddies beat the shit out of a black cyclist for no real reason. With one son in the ground and another starting along the same path, Tony’s loyalty to the mob is going to be weaker than ever. Some fans’ theories that the series will end with Tony flipping in an attempt to salvage whatever is left of his family and himself are starting to ring pretty true.

But lest we get ahead of ourselves, let’s have a moment of silence for Chris–one of the show’s best characters, and indeed, one of the greatest supporting characters in modern dramatic television.

R.I.P. Christopher Moltisanti, 1968-2007

2 Responses to “Eugoogly: Christopher Moltisanti”

  1. mwb said

    christopher was revived in the ambulance, and did not really die. look again at the double take carmella does when viewing the body at the funeral, chris nose is all wrong, his wife was wearing the jackie o glasses and knew at that point chris is still alive, and tonys going down just like the cleaver movie ending, sorta only at the hands of the fbi. christopher had already flipped and the fbi had the cleaver hat wired for sound it will make for a great ending

  2. Found your entry via Technorati and I must say you captured the episode real well.

    I see this episode as the most compelling hour of television I’ve seen in a long time and the most solid episode of the Sopranos yet. I could not turn away from these characters and their performance. Dr. Melfi expression in that dream when Tony goes completely honest. And then even better his cleaned up real explanation to Melfi. Phenomenal story telling.

    I think the main idea of this season, boring part 1 and the slow episodes leading up to now are laying the frame work for Tony’s complete isolation. He spoke so well of Hesh during his recovery from the gunshot and earlier episodes then completely turns on him over the gambling debt. Paulie talks to much, Sil cant handle the stress, Chris & Vito are dead, Carlo is useless and Phil is tired of back down. Tony has stated that one of his greatest fears is going down like Johnny Sack.

    Tony has no friends, only his real family. And A.J is going to pieces trying to avoid the life. Tony is either going to flip or go down some other way. I’ve also been speculating on the two recent murders coming back to bite Tony in the butt. The Canadian kid Bobby put down and the random shooting by Chris of the Cleaver writer. Perhaps the digging up of the bookie from the old basement and the gun from the meeting with Johnny Sack is some foreshadowing of Tony going down for one of those two, or maybe even Adriana’s death.

    I wouldn’t know how to feel about that ending mwb 🙂

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