Monday, May 14, 2007

Sopranos Rewind: Kennedy and Heidi

Due to some deadline issues, my latest "Sopranos" column is online-only, which means I can publish and link to the NJ.com version right away. Not even going to excerpt any of it here, because this one is a spoiler mine-field. There's lots to talk about, so get to it in the comments.

60 comments:

Carmichael Howard said...

Thank you for that great discussion of the episode, Alan.

The only thing I would add, is that I think Tony may have realized that Vegas = Hell, and that he may have finally embraced his own true (not heaven-bound) self. During the pre-Vegas portion of the episode, his Livia-ization became total; he openly resented/chose to punish, ignore, whine about others for their humanity.

His trip to Vegas seemed like a vision quest (complete with the desert, the solitude, and then the peyote), and he came out the back of it frolicking in hell and, at the very end, exhulting to the hot desert that he "gets it" (or "did it", still not 100% sure which).

This episode was, I think, the final rebuke to all of the years of trying, with Melfi, to reconcile his humanity with his vocation.
He cleaved (ahem)the guilt from his conscience.

Or, more likely, I totally misread this and Tony will spend next episode going about in pity for himself.

Edward Copeland said...

This was one of the most shocking turns the series has taken and it's great to know it's still capable of this sort of surprise. Given Tony's sudden turn toward gambling addiction and now his Vegas trip, it seems as some Persona-personality transfer has occurred between Tony and Christopher.

Robert said...

During the pre-Vegas portion of the episode, his Livia-ization became total; he openly resented/chose to punish, ignore, whine about others for their humanity. Not to mention the murder of a surrogate child.

Alan is so right on about Vegas being a perversion of his Cosa Mesa experience. Whatever insight Tony got from that experrience has b een pissed away. And the musical choice for this episode was just about perfect.

"When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb."

SJ said...

So last week we thought AJ was going down the path Tony took (remember, Tony's first kill was in his early 20s, about the same age AJ is), but this episode showed that they are different. While AJ's friends are very similar to their elder counterparts (down to the racism), AJ is somewhat more of a "modern man" if you could say that.

Funny how out of Tony's original gang (Ralphie, Pussy, Blundetto) Tony is the only one alive...it's probably a good thing AJ is not part of that similar group.

Little Carmine never disappoints though does he? Always inappropriate.

Withnail said...

One other note about the vegas experience. The opening of it started with a car driving through a tunnel, and into the city. Then making a right turn up a driveway towards a large building.

In other words, it mirrored the drive in the opening credits.

Tony could possibly contemplate staying there forever, losing himself in vice, absolving himself of responsibility.

Ted F. said...

NB also:

1) Tony stays at Caesar's Palace. Heh.

2) Tony's apparently been a bigger loser at gambling than we knew if he's a big enough known whale that the casino sends a plane for him.

3) This show really has it in for SUVs. Tony flipped one while driving with Adrianna.

Robert said...

I hadn't even thought about the SUV crash, but you're so right. What are they trying to say there.

Also, I notice that the great big beneficent trees that Tony loved to watch in the first half of this season turn into something quite a bit more threatening and dangerous in this episode - lethal, even.

Anonymous said...

One thing that hasn't been mentioned explicitly is the reference in the last episode to The Twilight Zone's 'A Nice Place to Visit', where hell was where you win every time and every whim is satisfied.

Tony is different though, he would never come to the realization that it was hell, this is his own personal heaven. He's strived all his life to get everything he desires with as little consideration for others as possible, and this kind of reality would suit him forever.

One thing I do hope though, is that it appears to have made Tony think that he is either invincible, or that nothing that happens down the line matters any more, leading to an all out war with Leotardo in the coming weeks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am wrong, but didn't the accident happen around 2 or 3 AM? When Kelly finds out, Letterman is playing in the background, which ends at 1. Now, she could have DVR-ed it - I just don't see her as a huge Late Show fan.

Anonymous said...

did anyone else catch what Chrissy said right before the crash? T and Chrissy were discussing the asbestos issue and Chrissy says "this system has no balls" seemingly referring to his SUV's audio system... but T knows that he was actually referring to him and the fact that he would probably cave in to Philly demands in the end. That may have been one more straw that pushed T over the edge.

M.A.Peel said...

A few small points:

The episode title is odd. Those two names are deeply charged. Besides the famous Jets/Heidi movie specific, "Would Heidi lie?" is an old catchphrase, not sure from where. She is the old icon for innocence. Kennedy, besides the reference to Chrissy's widow looking too glamorous like Jackie O, is associated with fate and tragedy. Very odd pairing of odd names.

The Katharine Hepburn/Dick Cavett show was on TCM this week. If planned, it's a nice verisimilitude to bring the show action to the present. (The worst was when we had the Christmas tableau last June). Might have just been timed to Kate's birthday.

Pandyora said...

Fantastic episode! A couple of things stand out to me:

- the black humor, especially Tony's comment about having to watch Christopher die "in his arms"

- the interesting contrast between the silent driving scenes outside of the casinos and the noisy interiors. (Nice catch about these scenes mirroring the credits, withnail)

- the return of the slow-motion. I'm not sure what links these scenes (aside from the presence of vice - be it murder, gambling, alcohol, and drugs). They have happened to three different characters (Sil, Tony and Chris), so its not exclusively a Tony thing. I like Todd's reading of it as the characters "slowing down...as they fall deeper and deeper into their ruts", but why slow down these particular moments?

Kristin said...

I may be totally off the mark, but, now that Tony has killed close family members..his cousin Tony and now nephew, Chris...could A.J. be his next victim before this is all over?

It would be just like a Shakepearian tragedy for the father to murder the son.

The last three episodes are going to keep me on the edge of my seat...

Toby said...

When Tony was out in the desert, still on peyote, he looked at the sun and it looked as though it pulsed for him.

Maybe he was seeing God?

If so, I think Tony was facing off with Him and proudly declaring that he "did it", almost as if to add "And what are you going to do about it?"

Glad someone else picked up on the connection to the earlier 'Twilight Zone' mention. All the Vegas scenes needed was a fat guy with a white beard and a white suit!

TL said...

The Katharine Hepburn/Dick Cavett show was on TCM this week. If planned, it's a nice verisimilitude to bring the show action to the present.

Isn't it late fall 2007 in Sopraonland? The pool is covered, leaves are falling, and Tony's betting on the Jets.

Anonymous said...

Just how much money do you have to sink in Vegas to have a private jet sent to bring your gambling whale ass back in for more?

DonBoy said...

I liked Ms. "3-5, 7-9" entering behind Tony and Paulie, while they discuss why nobody's at that wake.

rukrusher said...

Just how much money do you have to sink in Vegas to have a private jet sent to bring your gambling whale ass back in for more?

Normally, major amounts of money need to be gambled to have a Casino fly you out in a private plane. The shows I have seen on Travel channel and A&E talk about $500,000 to $1,000,000 wagered in a trip to get that kind of treatment. Now, I think with Tony it is both the amount gambled and the implied connection between the host and the mafia so Tony might not need to gamble as much to get the high roller treatment.

Edward Copeland said...

When I first read that the episode titled mentioned Kennedy, I wondered if it was going to have something to do with Junior who always had an obsession with JFK. Also, I wondered what the consensus was about what Tony shouted at the end. I thought he said "I did it" but I've read others who thought he said "I get it."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Captioning said "I get it," though the echo sounded more like "I did it," and "I did it" seems to fit more with my reading of the scene (that Tony's celebrating Chris' murder).

I talked at length about the "Twilight Zone" reference in my review of "Chasing It". I guess he's decided to embrace Hell, after all.

Ted F. said...

A funny coincidence that this week's Entourage's end scene paralleled that of the Sopranos.

M.A.Peel said...

Isn't it late fall 2007 in Sopraonland? The pool is covered, leaves are falling, and Tony's betting on the Jets.

Yes, that is true. The Sopranoland timeline has always been a little maddening.

John said...

He definitely said "I get it," not "I did it." Posters on other boards have noted that the closed captioning confirmed "get." It's nicely mysterious, at any rate, what exactly Tony thinks he gets.

Chase is building a great sense of devolution and entropy with these final episodes--everything is spinning out of control and grinding to a halt at once. Fascinating that AJ has internalized modern views on race more than his cohorts, and that he doesn't really have the stomach for anything like his father's life. He's starting to realize that you can't pick and choose--have a little bit of torturing deadbeats but skip out on attacking wayward blacks. The life is holistic and all-encompassing.

Tony, meanwhile, is simply becoming Livia, as we've noted. More explicitly than ever with his "poor you" in the preview.

Adam said...

In terms of time line, we do know that college basketball's being played (it was on the tv this episode), which pushes us back at least to December.

Could it be that Tony said "I get it," per the CC, but the echo was "I did it"?

rockovergraceland said...

May the last voice ya hear be Van Morrison….wooow what a show….
Chrissie paid tribute to his main man Marty Scorsese playing the Departed soundtrack before the accident. ("Kundun! I liked it! … was one of his best lines ever up there with quoting Bruce in front of Miami Steve ..’Highway was jammed,,,,”)
So did ya all think that Cleaver will become a big box office hit now that 2 of the principles behind the film have been tragically killed???



Comfortably Numb - Rogers Waters feat. Van Morrison & The Band
Listen
Listen

TL said...
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Dan said...

There was one other "beacon" in the episode, other than the one at the end in the desert. Either right before or right after (I can't remember which--I think before) Tony kills Christopher, a car drives past the ravine and its headlights create the same kind of light as the Costa Mesa beacon. Tony clearly sees it and considers it (a call from heaven? towards "the right thing"?) before deciding to run as far as he can in the opposite direction.

TL said...

I don't think the CC is authoritative. I could be wrong, but I thought captioners just watch the episode and transcribe it, so their calls are as subjective as ours.

I definitely heard "I did it." Tony spent the whole episode wanting to confess (to Melfi, to Carm, to the stripper), and he finally did.

TL said...

There was one other "beacon" in the episode....

Nice catch. I also thought Tony staring up at the bathroom lamp a callback to the helicopter/doctor's flashlight, when he said "Who am I? Where am I going?" Troubling questions now.

TuckPendleton said...

Put me in the "I did it" camp as what I heard...

But the revelations about the two beacons (the headlight and the sun) does make me think "I get it" is what was intended. Of course, Lord only knows what message Tony *thinks* he has understood by offing Chris...

Edward Copeland said...

There have been many callbacks to the past this season. The SUV accident mirrored the wreck with Adriana (after a drug binge with Tony) that made Chris think they slept together; the tunnel mirroring the opening credits; last week's scene in Melfi's office, looking at the artwork as in the pilot. In a way, when Tony collapses on the casino floor yelling, "He's dead" it seemed to echo the first season's Boca when he was drunk and rolling around the living room floor saying, "I didn't hurt nobody" after getting a different sort of revenge on the soccer coach.

dez said...

Does anyone remember which of the "Seven Souls" Chrissy represented (at least, I think he was in that sequence)?

Still gobsmacked by last night's ep. I also am afraid to find out what Tony thinks he "gets" (though I heard "did").

Alan Sepinwall said...

I've had it confirmed that Tony says "I get it!"

Dez, I'm not sure Chris was in the "Seven Souls" montage. As I recall off the top of my head, we saw, in some order, Janice nursing Nica, Vito showing off his new physique, Ray Curto on the treadmill, AJ taking a cell phone self-portrait in class, Meadow doing a striptease for Finn, and Carm dreaming of Adriana.

paul c. said...

I guess this means the teasing is finally over. First part of the episode was great. The remainder had some good moments, but it still felt a bit like the writers are wheel-spinning to make up for the extra episodes.

Before Alan confirmed it was "I get it," I was going to say that the episode summary on Directv said "Tony has a revelation."

I have to say I'm not a big fan of the Tony becoming Livia theory. It sounds like too much of a cop out, as if the blame for Tony's actions rests on Livia.

Homertojeebus said...

I heard "I did it" too, but I'm never right.
Still, a new prediction: I think Tony's downfall will mirror, at least metaphorically, the boss's fate in 'Cleaver', and that the mug that he threw into the woods will play a Poe-esque telltale role.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that Van Morrison songs (Comfortably Numb/Glad Tidings) backdroppped both Chris' death and Tony B's death?

My suggestion to A.J would be: Don't listen to any "Brown Eyed Girl"

Anonymous said...

Great Episode. I'm not even gonna guess anything that happens next because I'm always wrong w/ this show....which is one of the reasons I love it.

The ending song last night with a still peyote trippin' Tony in the desert, "Minas De Cobre (for better metal)" by one of my fave bands, Calexico, is one of the top two music placements ever. The other one would be Tim Buckley's gorgeous version of "Dolphins" which they played during Christopher's return to heroin @ the street carnival last season. I've never tried heroin but I felt like I was high on it during that scene. Last night they nailed Tony's first peyote experience and I think we all felt the high. This is beyond just great television. - Dr. Hund, Colorado

Mike Mac said...

Homertojeebus...

Interesting point... Now that Chris is dead, how much of his "Cleaver" script will ring true, life imitating art? Chris was murdered by the boss of the family, like his character. Tony is of course haunted by this, despite the fact that he thinks a weight has been lifted. Even the dump truck makes a cameo. When the dust settles, Christopher's murder will be the act which really, truly pushes T over the edge and eliminates any possibility of redemption.

In fact, Tony is already dead. Chase and Co. don't need to kill him off at the end, they dont need him incarcerated, and they can leave his prostate alone, to boot. He has poisoned every aspect of his life, and with it any ideals he may have been stringing on to. Each character's turn this season has been an opportunity for Tony to make sure he drags as many of his friends into the muck with him, and he finally resolved his downward spiral with the murder of his surrogate son.

This is Tony's death. The trip to Vegas, simply a reminder to us that he had a chance to change his course and instead fell back into old ways. All he can do now is watch the buildings crumble around him, whether they fall literally or figuratively.


I never liked the Cleaver plotline much, in fact I thought it was one of the few mis-steps we've seen from The Sopranos in the past few seasons. Still, that it sets itself up as a parallel for events yet to play out is enough to make it seem much more clever in retrospect.

Uday said...
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Uday said...

i recently went back to watch Funhouse. The contrast between Season 2 Tony and Season 6.2 Tony is really amazing. In that episode, T is so conflicted with killing his best friend turned snitch. Whereas here, he's happy to do kill his surrogate son who he has no proof of being guilty of snitching (remember how important it was to Tony to find proof of Big Pussy's guilt in season 1/2). I know that Chrissy and T are on the outs ever since the incident with Ade, but still .. whatever happened to "trust only blood".

If it was Paulie in Chrissy's place in the car accident, would the outcome have been the same? In other words, did T only resist killing him on the boat in "Remember When" only because what others would say if he did (see: Syl and associate discussing T's possible involvement in Ralphie's mysterious disappearance in Strong Silent Type).

ironheart said...

As per the idea of "Cleaver" mirroring "real life" on the show - while Chris won't likely come back from the dead, it is possible that something about him will come back to haunt Tony. Maybe Chris snitched to the feds and, this time, they have enough to build a case despite the rat's death.

stevie said...

Kennedy and Heidi were the names of the two girls who Chris almost hit before veering off the road.

The DirecTV description noted that "someone upstages Paulie" in this episode, which has to be the plot understatement of the year.

Good summary tonight, Alan. I am thrilled this show is as unpredictable as ever.

dez said...

I know that Chrissy and T are on the outs ever since the incident with Ade, but still .. whatever happened to "trust only blood".

The same "blood" who tried to shoot Tony? It's a miracle Chrissy lasted as long as he did. He'd been on borrowed time for ages.

barefootjim said...

I kinda love that some people heard "I did it!!" (me, Paul Brownfield in the LA Times, some of you), and other people heard "I get it!!"

Some might see that as a bit of an unintentional (or is it?) Rorschach test on how much we identify with what Tony did.

Also, how funny was it that even in death, Christopher was still in a rivalry with Paulie?

Anonymous said...

Kennedy and Heidi are the two girls at the accident scene. They too are comfortably numb.

Anonymous said...

Something that has not been brought up but still has me wondering….

There was a scene while Tony was in Las Vegas of someone driving in a car around town, and they seemed to be in a hurry. The driver is clearly wearing glasses so it was not Tony.

Who was this?

Shortly after this scene, the showed Tony wandering down the hotel hallway. The scene created a sense of foreboding and I was on the edge of my seat thinking Tony was in imminent danger as he approached Sonya's hotel room and the door was ajar…almost like he was walking into a setup.

dez said...

^ I thought it was someone chauffeuring Tony around town.

ironheart said...
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ironheart said...

You know, part of me feels that getting us to suddenly hate Tony by turning him into a different character is all a big cop-out. It would have been better if Tony remained the criminal with some positive traits that viewers liked and then was brought down at the end, likely by his own flaws. That would have packed more emotion compared to people wanting him to die for being an utter bastard.

Crewgrrl said...

I had a (bad) boyfriend in college who loved Pink Floyd. He'd get hammered and smoke pot and then listen to Comfortably Numb. I hate that song and everything it stands for. It is perfect to me that it was part of Tony's journey to hell.

dave said...

Seeing Tony win at roulette, his game of choice, reminds me of another kind of roulette that Tony is winning at.

What I can't figure out is why he was losing at roulette at the beginning of his stay - was it because he was holding on to guilt?

While I'm here, does all of Tony's crew seeing him in a weakened state twice this season (including the Junior storyline) mean anything?

Joe said...
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Joe said...

Who thinks Tony is already dead or in a coma on his way to his death?

dez said...

^ I entertained that idea briefly, but then thought Chase would never do that. Unless this season really is a big "FU" from the writers to the fans like one of my friends believes!

ironheart said...

Tony's time as Kevin Finnerty during his coma was a borng existence. I think Tony was actually in purgatory during his coma. He was being given an opportunity to turn things around, which he initially started to do when he came out of his coma. I think the flashing light he kept seeing during the coma represented Hell, waiting ominously in the distance if he went further down his current path. Tony eventually did go further down that path by killing Christopher and at the end of this week's episode, he was in a more hellish place (the desert) and the flashing light was a lot closer. He "got it;" he chose hell and he's okay with that. He's going to do what he needs to do to protect himself for now on and there will be no more feelings getting in the way. Granted, I suspect that something's going to happen to his wife and kids and he's going to have a turnaround in thought, although probably too late.

Joe said...

Tony is descending into heaven/hell or in a Coma

After the car accident, Chris was dead, but did Tony REALLY walk away from the accident with nothing but a few bruises on the face? After the vehicle flips 7 maybe 8 times maybe 1500 feet from the road, Tony really isn’t in critical condition? many people question Tony’s motive for killing Chris. Tony suspects something of Chris (drug use) as he stares at him in the car, blasting Pink Floyd’s comfortably numb “I cannot put my finger on it now./The child is grown, the dream is gone./I have become comfortably numb.” (The same song Tony is singing as he walks down the steps of his house in ‘Chasing it’. Chris admits he can’t pass a drug test as Tony gets up and sees his opportunity to dispose of Chris, the man who was apparently a tremendous drag on Tony’s emotions ... on his thoughts about the future, a weak, fucking sniveling, lying drug addict, the “biggest blunder” of Tony’s career. Tony goes so far to say that every morning Tony would wake up thinking, "Is today the day one of my best friends is gonna dime me to the FBI?" Tony’s grown colder than ever and reveals the paranoid, selfish monster he has become by making sure Christopher dies. Tony has plenty of time to call Carmella after the accident but doesn’t. By the time they reached the wreck, and Tony is in the hospital it must have been well over an hour he doesn’t inform Carm. Then the hospital calls the house for Tony (symbolic?). Later on at the wake Tony won’t go up to pray over his nephew, and twice says he’ll go up later, which, to our knowledge, he never does. At the wake Tony says to Carm. "I'll go up later, save my seat for someone else". I don’t think he’s talking about the wake. At little Anthony’s psychiatrist session the doctor asks how he’s handling it, not specifically mentioning what or whom. Just before Tony’s trip or journey to what we and Tony believe is Vegas, he is watching the family speak about how sad death is, from up above on his balcony, again I believe very symbolic. Tony makes a call to his Vegas connect asking for a suite, for him, coming solo, which Alan responds: “We’ll see what we can do about that.” When ever Tony goes away, there is packing and preparation for it before hand, which he’s packing or Carmella does some for him, or some good bye’s this isn’t done. Tony doesn’t say good bye to his Carmella, AJ, medow or anyone for that matter. He doesn’t inform Sil or any of the others he’s going to be away either about his journey to, what I believe is his after life, not Vegas. First it is extremely uncharacteristic of Tony to leave alone, he isn’t one to go by himself, but with that aside, does anybody notice what he is wearing on the plane? He’s wearing a considerable eloquent suit. Tony doesn’t travel dressed like that, he normally looks like a bum, with Hawaiian shirt and wife beaters on. I can’t come up with a good reason why he would leave the area at this time. He isn’t grieving over Chris and just lost the money Chris would be bringing in. What we are to believe is that he is upset with everyone because they are grieving which makes him feel like a hypocrite. Does Tony REALLY skip Chris’s funeral? Nucci’s as well? Doesn’t seem logical to me. Going out to Vegas, which he mention him self he rarely does, is not just dumb, but unsafe. If Phil, the only one happier than Tony that Chris is dead, was aware of Tony being away, especially alone, he would have done something major back home or had Tony killed out in Vegas. Tony simply would be making a mistake if he actually was in Vegas. Tony does occasional gambling but not before this season has he made big bets every week. Personally, I don’t believe that he has the pull to be sent out there on a private jet, shrimp cocktail, red wine etc. Symbolically there was no one else shown on the plane, not pilot, no waitress, not stewardess. Tony then looks out at the world from above. Tony then eats dinner there completely alone, and doesn’t say a word to anyone in Vegas until he finds Sonya. Once there, Tony indulges in all of Chris’s pleasures of drugs, and even one of his women. When Tony goes to see Sonya, to inform of Chris’s death, she asks how long he’ll be staying, which Tony replies with he isn’t sure we’ll see how it plays out (something along those lines. This response is eerily similar to that of when he is in the coma at the beginning of the season and is asked the same question. Also during the Cosa Messa trip Tony is near hell with all the brush fires. While taking the Peyote, he is surrounded by candles (fire). After taking peyote with the beautiful stripper, Sonya, he suddenly is vomiting (much like he would be in a coma) and then stares at the bathroom light (hospital light anyone? Maybe symbol of heaven?). The two make their way down to the casino, stoned, where Tony is fixated on an image of a smiling devil, (Hell?). When entering the casino the only readable slot machine reads "pompei" city of Italy that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius volcano, than begins gambling. Tony is winning every bet he makes, and winning big. Again looking back at “Chasing It”, Tony who is every upset with Carlo for not running the construction job as profitably as Vito was, cuts him off while talking about a twilight zone episode with a thug named valentine. Apparently referring to episode 28 of the twilight zone, “A Nice Place to Visit”. It is about a thug named Rocky Valentine who is shot and killed. He later awakes in an afterlife that he assumes is heaven, where he is granted every wish. He has every woman, everyone thinks he’s wonderful and every bet placed is a winner. Valentine becomes very bored of this and asks to be sent to the “other place” (referring to hell) only to be told “This is the other place.” Tony very similarly is winning every bet and has a beautiful girl with him. Lastly the Sun over the canyon must have significance as well. It shimmers just before Tony “Gets it”. Possibly heaven, possibly a light from a doctor over the coma-ridden boss.

ironheart said...

Good thoughts, Joe. However, I think I'll be disappointed if things turn out to be a dream or vision. Being at the end of the series as we are, I'd like the time to be spend detailing what happens in the real world of the series, even if it is jarring and unpleasant.

Joe said...

you right ironheart, I'll be very dissapointed too, but Vegas seemed to spooky for me to believe it was real, I think there has to be some sort of unexpectedness to the entire trip we'll understand next week.

Joe said...

"Isn't it late fall 2007 in Sopraonland? The pool is covered, leaves are falling, and Tony's betting on the Jets."

To my knowledge the Peurto Rican Pride parade, where AJ was dumped, is in July

amba said...

Anonymous said: "I'm always wrong w/ this show....which is one of the reasons I love it."

Me too!

A life for a life: Don't forget that Christopher has also re-chosen the gangster life and re-made his bones by shooting his substitute AA sponsor in the forehead for being cold and unsympathetic -- a scene as funny as it was horrifying.