S6 Episode 19: The Second Coming
"They are the bus. They're the vehicle that gets you here. They drop you off, then they go their own way, continue on their own journey. The problem is, we keep tryin' to get back on the bus when we should just be lettin' it go."
A stiff wind blows clouds of asbestos from a pile of construction debris, unceremoniously dumped in the New Jersey Meadowlands...
At breakfast after a fitful night, Tony watches Carmela opens a gift, a diamond watch, and Tony apologizes for having to go to Vegas to "settle Christopher's affairs."
AJ, who also had a bad night, has been sleeping a lot, and though Tony jokes that he's "his father's son," it's clear that his son is still in a bad way. In a session with his shrink, Dr. Vogel, AJ can't seem to shake the despair he feels over the beating of the kid from Somalia. Everything, from school to world affairs, seems to depress him. "I know kids on Lexapro who say it's great, but I still feel like shit," he complains. "Why can't I catch a break?"
At the Pork Store, Tony regales the crew with tales of drugs and sex in the desert, but the boys quickly glaze over when the boss gets philosophical. Handing over money from Stefano on the asbestos job, Silvio informs Tony that there has been no breakthrough in the negotiations with Phil, and suggests a meeting, "as unappealing as it is."
Later, Tony gets visit from Agents Harris and Goddard, and he identifies a couple of men in pictures as Ahmed and Mohammed.
Awash in depression, AJ finally finds something in school that interests him, the morbidly apocalyptic poem "The Second Coming" by Yeats. In bed at night, he reads it again: "What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"
Later, Meadow tries talking to him, and learns that he has dropped out. Her brother seems to be further and further out there, obsessing about world violence and watching Al Jazeera online. AJ rejects her suggestion that he find a job. He tells her, "In my condition? I can't hold a job. I'm ill, Meadow, I'm on medication."
At Phil Leotardo's social club, Tony's meeting doesn't go well. Phil won't budge, and coolly dismisses Tony's reference to their heart-to-heart talk after Phil's heart attack. Mentioning Phil's dead brother, Tony suggests that there is a limit to how much amends he can make, and asks for some compromise. But Leotardo feels he has compromised enough after 20 years in prison. He wants 25 percent of the asbestos abatement money, retroactive.
Phil's men Butch and Coco pay visit to collect from Edgar Ramirez, the foreman on their no-show jobs in New Jersey, but Ramirez tells them Silvio has cancelled the jobs. Coco beats Ramirez savagely and takes all of his money, saying "Tony Soprano owes you $320."
Outside his house in the cold, AJ sits on the diving board of his pool, with a plastic bag on his head and a cinderblock tied around his ankle. Crying, he pulls the bag over his face and dives in. But he soon realizes that the suicide is a bad idea and struggles to the surface. The rope on the block was too long to hold him under, but now he is treading water. Desperately cold and clinging to the diving board, he calls for help as his father arrives home. Tony jumps in and pulls him out, shouting at his son. "What's wrong with you," he yells, but seeing AJ sobbing and gasping hysterically, he cradles his head. "Come on baby," Tony says rocking him. "You're all right..."
With Anthony Jr. in an institution, Tony has trouble shaking his own depression. But Carmela is worn down and fed up with the Soprano family illness. "He didn't get it from my family, that's all I'm going to say," she says, and accuses Tony of "playing the depression card. And now you've got our son doing it." A nasty argument ensues and she ends up flinging her new watch at him.
Dr. Melfi suggests that AJ's attempt may have been a cry for help. Tony laments his family history and doesn't want to take the blame for AJ's problems. Suicide, people say, is a coward's way out. "I think whoever said that didn't understand depression," Melfi says. "But you do, don't you?"
On a date in the city with her new boyfriend, Patrick Parisi, Meadow is confronted by a drunk Coco, who makes a series of slightly threatening and vulgar remarks to her, before Albie finally pulls him away. Later, Carmela has a reluctant Meadow tell her father about the incident; Tony tries to play it cool to his wife and daughter, but he is clearly livid.
The episode has also blown the cover on Meadow's budding relationship with Patrick; while she's admitting it, she tells Carmela that she's decided not to go to med school.
At Coco's restaurant in Brooklyn, a seething Tony strides to the back and proceeds to pistol whip Coco. "My f**kin' daughter, huh," he says to the nearly unconscious man as he shoves the gun in his mouth. Butch tries to stop him, telling him he's making "a big f**king mistake," but Tony holds him off with the gun as he deliberately stomps on Coco's head, spraying teeth on the floor.
Melfi is in session with Kupferberg when he mentions a study suggesting that talk therapy actually validates sociopaths. Melfi is stunned: "What are you saying," she asks. "My whole work with Tony Soprano, all these years, it's all been a waste of time?"
In a session of their own with AJ and his doctor, Carmela and Tony listen to a laundry list of injustices their son feels they've committed, going back to a raincoat in the second grade. "It's all your mother's fault, isn't it," Tony says disgusted. "You're a momma's boy."
But AJ's memories of visiting grandmother Livia do resonate. "Grandma said it's all a big nothing," he remembers. "She said in the end, your friends and family let you down. That you die in your own arms."
Later at Satriale's, Patsy Parisi chats up a slightly strained Tony about their two kids ("I hear wedding bells are in the air"), when Little Carmine pays a visit. Coco's beating has angered Phil to the point where he's put a halt to the Hackensack mall project, jeopardizing all of their earnings. Carmine warns Tony that he's "at the precipice" and implores Tony to go to Phil, hat in hand. Tony eventually agrees that he made a mistake in the timing of his retribution.
At a session with Melfi Tony bemoans his failings as a father, but also defends himself, saying that for all the bad he has done, there is a balance. He also reveals that during his peyote trip out West, he saw things. "All I can say is... this? Is not all there is," he tells her. He realizes, too, that his mother had her own journey to contend with.
When Carmine and Tony arrive at Leotardo's house for the agree-upon meeting, Butch informs them that the sit-down is off. As a confused Carmine and angry Tony leave, Phil's voice drifts out from upstairs, "That's right, c**ksucker, go back to New Jersey!"
That night, a heavily medicated AJ watches TV at the Mountainside Hospital Psych Ward, and Tony arrives with a pizza. Told he can't bring food in, he leaves it and walks down the white hall to the locked doors. He's buzzed in, the doors open, and he walks inside, to his son.