I thought perhaps we might feel Christopher's death in this episode more than we did, but life presses on.
A.J.'s lengthy spiral into an attempted suicide has been well-executed his coming to terms with the bleakness of his existence has built effectively. Dr. Melfi dismissed the thought of suicide as the "coward's way out." I think we could see in A.J. that trying to commit suicide might have been one of the most courageous acts of his life, and in fact it was his fear of facing death that saved him .
I spent about a solid minute talking to the television: "Are they going to kill A..J.? They're going to kill A.J." Robert Iler's jag after being rescued from the pool by Tony was his finest moment as an actor on the series. Quite a scene.
Bold of Carmela to eschew all responsibility for A.J.'s problems. It seemed pretty clearly a defense mechanism, punctuated by frustration with the Sopranos men, but still, to completely disallow Tony's right to feel depressed over A.J.'s suicide attempt highlighted her own contribution to the family's dysfunction. Carmela turns on blinders like a car's left- and right-turn blinkers.
It was nice to see Meadow get some screen time. She's a supporting character through and through, but I've felt that she's been unfortunately marginalized for being perhaps the show's only true success story. At first, it appeared she would only be a sounding board for A.J.'s problems, but then she got a story of her own with the verbal abuse she took from Leotardo's stooge, the threateningly named Coco (no relation, one presumes, to Coco the Monkey).
I didn't think Tony's gruesome attack on Coco was unjustified within the moral code of the series, and was surprised that he had to be urged to go hat-in-hand to see Phil.
Despite his "Why me" lamentations, Tony Soprano is a detestable human being. He's not without love, but he's detestable. And yet week after week, I find myself rooting for him. It's amazing.
Phil Leotardo, on the other hand, is a piece of something unmentionable.