Two episodes in particular have caught my attention with their interesting religious themes. Episode 20, “D-Girl,” revolves around Anthony Jr’s introduction in school to existentialism, which provokes him to suddenly question life’s meaning and–most concerning to his parents–the existence of God. (As we all know, reading Nietzsche and Camus sometimes will have that effect.) Anthony Jr’s existential angst is juxtaposed with his Confirmation celebration and his family’s strained attempt to welcome him as a full member into the Catholic Church.
In Episode 21, “Full Leather Jacket,” a central family member and aspiring young mob boss has been shot, and the episode opens with everyone surrounding his bed and praying. The most interesting twist to this development is Carmela’s special petition to God. Carmela Soprano, Tony’s wife, is the moral compass of the series as well as the family’s religious center. Filled with grief, Carmela kneels in an empty hospital room and prays to Jesus, offering up her entire family’s sins to him (which, if you watch the show, is quite a hefty offering) if Jesus will let this beloved family member live. Lo and behold, Carmela’s hotline to heaven works (or so it seems), and the subject of her prayers not only wakes up, but wakes up and claims that he has been to hell and back–and that when all the mafiosos die, himself included, hell is where they are all destined to spend the afterlife.