Astute analysis of The Sopranos -- the whole thing, not just the last five minutes -- by New York's Emily Nussbaum.

And it was no wonder we, as an audience, identified with Melfi. She was—hard to remember, but it’s true—a perfectly decent therapist. She handled Tony’s transference gently; she gave him tools to cope with his mother and uncle (tools he used to consolidate power, but still). She even saved a life, that of Meadow’s child-molesting soccer coach. Instead of ordering the murder, Tony stumbles stoned into the family rec room, stunned with the effort of not killing, moaning to his wife, “Carmela, Carmela, I didn’t hurt nobody.”

Back then, this scene struck me as the show’s iconic moment—a bravura sequence in which the decision not to commit violence was as thrilling as any bloody hit. In a drama built on gore, it was thrilling. Though Tony continued to collect envelopes, order hits, screw goomars, it seemed like evidence that he could be a different man.

And then something in Chase's vision went black.