The Blue Comet
|"The Blue Comet"|
|The Sopranos episode|
Bobby holds a model Blue Comet at a model train store in Lynbrook, New York.
|Episode no.||Season 6|
|Directed by||Alan Taylor|
|Produced by||David Chase|
|Cinematography by||Phil Abraham|
|Editing by||William B. Stich|
|Original air date||June 3, 2007|
|Running time||50 minutes|
"The Blue Comet" is the 85th and penultimate episode of the HBO television series The Sopranos, the eighth episode of the second half of the show's sixth season, and the 20th episode of the season overall. Written by series creator and showrunner David Chase and Matthew Weiner, and directed by Alan Taylor, it originally aired in the United States on June 3, 2007, two weeks after the preceding episode.
In the episode, a mob war erupts between the Lupertazzi and DiMeo crime families, which leads to the shooting of people close to DiMeo boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). In a parallel story, Tony's psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) gains some new insight on Tony and decides to drop him as a patient.
"The Blue Comet" was filmed at Silvercup Studios, Long Island City and on location in New Jersey and New York in January and February 2007. It was watched by eight million American viewers on its premiere date and received critical praise for its narrative and dramatic resolution of long narratives; many critics have named "The Blue Comet" a highlight of the series. Bracco received an Emmy Award nomination for supporting actress for her performance in the episode; it was also nominated for a Cinema Audio Society Award for sound mixing.
- 1 Starring
- 2 Plot
- 3 Deceased
- 4 Final appearances
- 5 Title reference
- 6 Production
- 7 References to prior episodes
- 8 Other cultural and historical references
- 9 Music
- 10 Reception
- 11 References
- 12 External links
- James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
- Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi
- Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano
- Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti *
- Dominic Chianese as Corrado Soprano, Jr. *
- Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante
- Tony Sirico as Paulie Gualtieri
- Robert Iler as Anthony Soprano, Jr.
- Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano
- Aida Turturro as Janice Soprano Baccalieri
- Steven R. Schirripa as Bobby Baccalieri
- Frank Vincent as Phil Leotardo
- John Ventimiglia as Artie Bucco
- Dan Grimaldi as Patsy Parisi
- Sharon Angela as Rosalie Aprile
- Katherine Narducci as Charmaine Bucco
* = credit only
- Gregory Antonacci as Butch DeConcini
- Arthur J. Nascarella as Carlo Gervasi
- Peter Bogdanovich as Dr. Elliot Kupferberg
- Matt Servitto as Agent Harris
- Carlo Giuliano as Italo
- John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia as Albie Cianflone
- Artie Pasquale as Burt Gervasi
- Edoardo Ballerini as Corky Caporale
- Matilda Downey as Yaryna
- Aleks Shaklin as Yaryna's Father
- Ricky Aiello as Raymond "Ray-Ray" D'Abaldo
- Emily Wickersham as Rhiannon Flammer
- Lenny Venito as James "Murmur" Zancone
- John Mainieri as Ira Shortz
- Mimi Lieber as Stacey Bellows
- Adam Heller as Arnold Bellows
- Connie Teng as Yaolin
- Anthony Ribustello as Dante Greco
- Miryam Coppersmith as Sophia Baccalieri
- Angelo Massagli as Bobby Baccalieri, Jr.
- Frank John Hughes as Walden Belfiore
- Joseph Perrino as Jason Gervasi
- Merissa Morin as Isabel
- Davide Borella as Roberto
- John Cenatiempo as Anthony Maffei
- Dominic Chianese, Jr. as Dominic
- Pete Bucossi as Petey B.
- Henry Glovinsky as Derek
- Jeff Talbott as Father
- Eric Mangini as Himself
- Julie Mangini as Herself
- Michael Drayer as Jason Parisi
Silvio garrotes Soprano soldier Burt Gervasi at his home. Later, in Brooklyn, Phil tells Albie and Butchie that he has decided to eliminate the Sopranos. Butchie and Albie set up an after-hours meeting with their own subordinates and set Phil's plan in motion by ordering the murders of Silvio, Tony, and Bobby within 24 hours. A.J. receives psychiatric treatment and is regularly visited by his parents. He starts a relationship with Rhiannon Flammer, an ex-girlfriend of his friend Hernan O'Brien, who has been hospitalized for dietary problems. A.J. is eventually discharged and sent back home, under the watchful but sympathetic eye of his family. Tony is once again visited at Satriale's by Agent Harris, who tells him that an informant in the Lupertazzis has tipped him off about Phil's planned move against the Sopranos.
Silvio informs Tony that he eliminated Burt after learning he was a double agent for the Lupertazzis. Tony, Silvio and Bobby convene at Nuovo Vesuvio, where Tony breaks the news to them about Phil's plans to kill them and of his decision to preemptively kill Phil first, using the Italian hitmen who performed the hit on Rusty Millio. Meanwhile, at a dinner party with colleagues, Dr. Melfi hears again of the study claiming sociopaths take advantage of talk therapy, leading to a confrontation with the other guests. Melfi's psychiatrist, Dr. Kupferberg, indifferently breaks the doctor–patient confidentiality by revealing that Tony is Melfi's patient, embarrassing her. Later at home, she thoroughly reads the study herself and is convinced of its findings.
Before his next session with Melfi, Tony rips out a page from a cooking magazine in the waiting room. Melfi exhibits hostility towards Tony throughout the session, sarcastically suggesting aggressiveness for his problems. Tony takes offense, which prompts Melfi to suggest referring him to a different therapist. Tony attempts to defuse the argument, but Melfi insists they are done and uses Tony's action of ripping out the magazine page as an example of his disrespect and lack of seriousness to therapy. Although he recently said he wanted to quit therapy himself, Tony is still aghast that Melfi would end their sessions not long after his son attempted suicide. Before leaving, Tony demonstratively puts the page back into the magazine and leaves. Melfi closes the door, symbolically ending her professional relationship with Tony.
The order to kill Phil is passed down to Corky Caporale, who contacts the Italian assassins. However, the hitmen stake out the home of Phil's Ukrainian comare and confuse her visiting father for Phil; both are shot dead. At the Bada Bing, Silvio and Paulie learn of the mistake when Murmur shows them a newspaper article on the murders. At Nuovo Vesuvio, Tony tells Carmela that he has quit therapy. The two put on a good face as they talk with Artie and Charmaine about their children.
Janice visits Tony and tries to persuade him to help Bobby pay for Junior's living arrangements at his mental institution. Junior has run out of money and will have to be moved to a state-run psychiatric facility. Tony angrily refuses and expresses disgust at Bobby for continuing to show empathy for Junior. He is informed by Silvio about the failed hit on Phil, who has been hiding and has already set his plans in motion. Tony immediately orders Silvio to inform everyone in the family to break their routines and to go into hiding themselves until Phil can be located. However, Bobby has gone to a hobby store in Lynbrook, New York, to buy a rare model Blue Comet train and leaves his ringing phone behind in his car. While Bobby is at the counter, two gunmen enter and shoot him dead.
Silvio and Patsy rush to pack up important items from the Bing. They are intercepted by two Lupertazzi hit men, Ray-Ray and Petey B, and fired upon. Silvio is hit multiple times while Patsy abandons the car and flees while returning fire. Silvio is left in a medically-induced coma, from which doctors do not think he will awaken. Tony arrives back home and, hearing about the hits, orders his family to go into hiding. Carmela and Meadow visit the Baccalieris, who are all in shock over Bobby's death. At nightfall, Tony, Paulie, Carlo, Walden Belfiore and Dante Greco drive to an old suburban safe house. Tony goes upstairs to get some sleep, clutching the AR-10 assault rifle that Bobby gave him for his birthday. 
- Burt Gervasi: garotted to death by Silvio Dante for betraying his crime family and working with the Lupertazzis.
- Alec Kastropovic (Ukrainian mistress's father): shot dead in the head by Italo, the Italian hitman, who mistook him for Phil Leotardo, who he was supposed to murder on orders from Tony Soprano to eliminate the Lupertazzi threat to his crime family.
- Yaryna Kastropovic (Phil Leotardo's Ukrainian mistress): shot in the abdomen and then shot dead in the head by Italo, murdered for being present at the failed Phil Leotardo hit.
- Bobby Baccalieri: riddled full of bullets and shot dead by two Lupertazzi hitmen on orders from Phil Leotardo, as part of Phil's move to quickly wipe out the DiMeo family's management after continued long arguments and fights between the two families.
"The Blue Comet" marks the final appearances in The Sopranos of these main or longtime recurring characters:
- Dr. Jennifer Melfi: Tony Soprano's on-and-off psychotherapist ever since 1999. Originally contacted to help treat his panic attacks, Tony has also used his talk therapy sessions to deal with stresses in his life and gain advice on how to act in his personal and criminal life. Also, Melfi was, at times, Tony's romantic interest, though his advances were rebuffed.
- Arthur "Artie" Bucco: a restaurateur, owner of Nuovo Vesuvio, a common mobster hangout, and Tony's old and close friend ever since their childhood. After the fall-out with Davey Scatino in 2000, essentially, Tony's only civilian friend left.
- Charmaine Bucco: the wife of Artie Bucco and a childhood friend of Carmela and Tony Soprano. Throughout the series, she would urge Artie not to deal with the mobsters in his career and life, but eventually started to seemingly tolerate their gatherings in their restaurant.
- Dr. Elliot Kupferberg: Dr. Melfi's own psychotherapist and mentor who would often urge her to drop Tony Soprano as a patient. Also, an enthusiast of the Mafia.
- The Blue Comet was a passenger train operated by the Central Railroad of New Jersey which ran between Atlantic City and Jersey City from 1929 to 1941. The train's locomotive and passenger cars, as well as its interior were stylized in blue color. Bobby is buying a Blue Comet train model right when he is murdered.
The episode's general plot outline was developed collectively by the writing staff of The Sopranos, which for the second part of the sixth season consisted of showrunner and head writer David Chase, executive producer and co-showrunner Terence Winter, executive producer Matthew Weiner and supervising producers and writing team Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider. After the main story had been outlined, the script for "The Blue Comet" was written by Chase and Weiner. It is Chase's 29th writing credit for the series (including story credits) and Weiner's 12th and final. The penultimate episode marks the fifth time Chase and Weiner have collaborated on a The Sopranos script, following "The Test Dream" of season five and "Kaisha" (also with Winter), "Soprano Home Movies" (also with Frolov and Schneider) and "Kennedy and Heidi" of season six.
The research study that Dr. Kupferberg introduces to Dr. Melfi, which she later carefully reads and which makes her decide to finally drop Tony Soprano as her patient, is an actual three-volume study called The Criminal Personality, written by Dr. Samuel Yochelson and Dr. Stanton Samenow, published between 1977 and 1986. David Chase discovered the study when he and some Sopranos writers attended a psychiatric conference. Chase further asked forensic psychologist Nancy Duggan to analyze Tony Soprano's mental state and the progress of his psychotherapy with Melfi; Dugan also opined that talk therapy was enabling Melfi's patient to commit crime and justify his actions for himself. The Criminal Personality greatly impressed Chase after he read it and he decided that its introduction in the show would spell the end of Tony and Melfi's psychotherapy story arc in the series. After the airing of the episode, psychotherapists reported an outpouring of questions and concern from their clientele about the ethics of dropping patients unilaterally. Chase also commented about the seeming lack of finality in Tony Soprano's therapy, stating that its depiction was most realistic as psychotherapy most often is marked with moments of progress but is essentially an endless process until one party decides he or she has had enough of it.
The cardboard cutout of the character Silvio Dante that appears near the end of the episode in the safehouse was added by the writers as a way to give the character some sort of presence in the scene. The writers created the safehouse as an unoccupied house the family keep for emergencies and where various items, such as the promotional cutout of Silvio for the Bada Bing!, are stored.
Peter Bucossi, the stunt coordinator for the show for all of its six seasons, ever since the pilot episode, plays the role of Petey B. in this episode (a character also named after him), one of the Lupertazzi crime family hoodlums. Petey is the driver of "Ray Ray" D'Abaldo's car that attacks Silvio and Patsy when they attempt to flee the Bada Bing!.
"The Blue Comet" was directed by Alan Taylor and photographed by Phil Abraham. Both had worked intermittently on the show in the same capacities since the first season. The penultimate episode marks Taylor's ninth credit as director and Abraham's 47th credit as director of photography; it is the final credit of the series for both. Before filming commenced, David Chase and Taylor held a pre-production director's meeting—called a "tone meeting" by the crew—in which Chase explained how he envisioned the filming of the episode's scenes in great detail and provided directions for Taylor to follow during principal photography.
"The Blue Comet" was filmed in January and February 2007, primarily at the show's usual filming locations: exterior and some interior scenes were filmed on location in New Jersey and New York while the majority of the interior scenes were shot at Silvercup Studios, New York City. The Soprano residence, meat market Satriale's, strip club Bada Bing! and Italian restaurant Nuovo Vesuvio—four of the most frequently recurring and recognizable backdrops of the series—are all featured prominently in the episode.
Some scenes were set in environments not typically featured in the series. The gunfire scene that takes place in a model railroading store was filmed on location at a store called Trainland in Lynbrook, New York. Scenes set at the Averna Social Club, a meeting place for the Lupertazzi family in the context of the series, were filmed at a bar on Manhattan's Mulberry Street, New York City. Janice and Bobby's residence, formerly owned by Johnny Sack, appears briefly in the episode; the scene was shot on location in North Caldwell, New Jersey.
The editing of "The Blue Comet" was done by William B. Stich in close consultation with Chase. During post-production, Chase selected the music for the episode, using previously recorded and released songs he saw fit for particular scenes and rearranged the filmed scenes into their final order. Some filmed scenes were cut during editing. One such involved the character Burt Gervasi telling Silvio Dante that he has begun cooperating with the Lupertazzi family, a scene that was meant as a setup for the murder that ended up as the episode's opening.
References to prior episodes
- When Phil Leotardo starts listing his grievances about the DiMeo family, they include the beating of "Coco" in "The Second Coming," "Fat Dom" Gamiello's disappearance (murder) in "Cold Stones" and his brother Billy's murder ("Long Term Parking").
- Tony quit psychotherapy by his own will two times before: In "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano," he did so after he told Melfi to go into hiding as he was at war with Junior and, in "Calling All Cars," he quit it after citing a lack of progress in curbing his impulses. Also, in "Walk Like a Man," he seriously considered quitting it yet again. However, Melfi herself never dropped him, as happened in this episode, although she did for a time refuse to accept him back in the beginning of Season 2, angry at Tony because her forced move out of town allowed a patient of hers to commit suicide.
- In the pilot episode, when Tony first comes to therapy, Dr. Melfi opens the door to her office and shows him in. In this episode, after dropping him, she opens the doors and shows him out.
- Tony tells Carmela he "quit therapy" at an Italian Restaurant (Nuovo Vesuvio) over red wine. She says it was actually a good idea. In the pilot episode, Tony also first tells Carmela he is starting therapy in an Italian restaurant over glasses of red wine and Carmela thinks it is a wonderful idea.
- A flashback scene from "Soprano Home Movies" where, in a boat on a lake, Bobby tells Tony that one probably does not even notice when one is killed is used at the end of the episode, before Tony goes to sleep. Additionally, Tony brings the assault rifle, which Bobby gave him as a birthday present in the same episode, to the hideout safehouse.
- Bobby's interest in model trains was first shown in the Season 6 premiere episode, "Members Only."
Other cultural and historical references
- In the mental-health ward, A.J. and other patients watch Metalocalypse.
- Also in the mental-health ward, A.J. can be heard playing the video game Halo 2.
- When Cavalleria rusticana starts playing on the radio during their meeting at Nuovo Vesuvio, Tony and Silvio begin mimicking boxing in slow motion. The intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana was used as the main theme of Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, a biographical film about the boxer Jake LaMotta.
- Tony's comment to Dr Melfi, "You don't need a gynaecologist to know the way the wind blows." references lyrics from Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues: "You don't need a weatherman to know the way the wind blows."
- Paulie's line, "I lived through the '70s by the skin of my nuts when the Colombos were going at it", alludes to a mob war in the 1970s that involved the Colombo crime family and in particular to the battles between Mafia factions led by Joseph Colombo and Crazy Joe Gallo.
- Tony calls Bobby an "Exile on Main Street" after Janice informs him he still cares about Junior.
- The Doors' "When the Music's Over" is playing in Bada Bing! when Bobby summons Paulie to the backroom to discuss the hit on Phil.
- When Patsy and Silvio are packing up to leave the Bada Bing, "Antisaint" by Chevelle can be heard muffled in the background.
- During the shootout at the Bada Bing's parking lot, Nat King Cole's "Ramblin' Rose" is playing on Patsy's car radio.
- The song played in the final scene and over the end credits is an extended instrumental version of Tindersticks' song "Running Wild." Another one of Tindersticks' songs, "Tiny Tears," was previously prominently featured in the Season 1 episode "Isabella" during scenes of Tony's lethargic state prior to his assassination attempt.
According to Nielsen ratings, "The Blue Comet" attracted an average of eight million American viewers when first broadcast in the United States on HBO on Sunday June 3, 2007. This was the show's second best ratings for the second part of the sixth season. Only the following week's series finale, which drew 11.9 million viewers, received higher numbers.
"The Blue Comet" received very positive critical reviews following its original broadcast and has since then frequently been named by critics as one of the best episodes of the series. Much praise was directed at the episode's pacing and efficient build-up of suspense as well as the execution of the gunfire scenes toward the end of the episode. The episode was also praised for story elements concerning the escalation of the conflict between the rivaling Mafia families of the show and for the conclusion it brought to the professional and personal relationship between the characters Tony Soprano and Jennifer Melfi.
Tom Biro of television webblog TV Squad was impressed with the episode because of "the way we're beginning to close the door on the lives of some people and get an idea on who will be around at the end and who won't" and because "we're treated to something thrilling not only in story, but visually as well." Biro awarded "The Blue Comet" the site's highest score of 7. Geoffrey Dunn of Metro Silicon Valley stated that "Chase orchestrated the tension to a full crescendo." Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote "In this penultimate episode (which David Chase co-wrote), you can see the veil of surprise, of artistic feints, red herrings, theory-bating and any other cool narrative device totally vanish. It's as if things snuck up on us. Time is not just running out, it's almost all gone. Action needed to step forth and be counted. And so, true to form historically, the second to last episode had more than it's [sic] fair share of Big Moments." Goodman also called Bobby's death scene "priceless" and "Really well done." Heather Havrilesky of Salon wrote "No sad music, no slow motion, no teary funeral, no time for condolences. When the blood-dimmed tide finally rolled in during last night's penultimate Sopranos episode, an eerie quiet settled in." Matt Roush of TV Guide gave the episode a favorable review, writing "TV's landmark family crime drama went on a bloody rampage this week, just as we expected might happen in the next-to-last episode. [...] It was a sensational way to get us primed for Sunday's series finale."
Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune wrote that "[The] second-to-last episode was certainly a classic" and praised it for its suspenseful storytelling. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly offered "The Blue Comet" a favorable estimation, writing "Every moment in this bloody, bullet-riddled penultimate episode is about regular, familiar old ways that have now gone terribly, irreversibly awry. [...] In the last hours of this epic drama, every detail glitters with bitter meaning". Matt Zoller Seitz of Slant Magazine described the episode as "the most atypically typical whack-fest the show has served up in quite some time" and "an orgy of Mafia mayhem". Zoller Seitz also praised the final therapy scene between Tony Soprano and Jennifer Melfi for its depth. Alan Sepinwall of The Star Ledger called the penultimate episode "one of the best—and certainly one of the busiest—episodes in the history of The Sopranos," further describing it as "a superb, scary, thrilling episode." He also characterized Bobby's death scene as "a little masterpiece of editing". Brian Tallerico of UGO called the episode "mind-blowing" and "intense", wrote that "[he] really didn't expect David Chase to take his show out with this much gunfire" and gave it an "A", the site's second-highest score. Brian Zoromski of IGN awarded the episode a score of 9.1 out of 10, writing "Overall, 'Blue Comet' was a very well done, sometimes shocking, build-up to next week's series finale."
In 2007, Lorraine Bracco was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in "The Blue Comet" but lost to Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. Bracco had previously been nominated three times in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for playing Dr. Melfi. In 2008, sound mixers Mathew Price, Kevin Burns and Todd Orr were nominated for a Cinema Audio Society Award in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing – Television.
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