Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri [played by Tony Sirico]: “Hell is hot! That's never been disputed by anybody. You didn't go to Hell. You went to Purgatory, my friend.”
Christopher Moltisanti [played by Michael Imperioli]: “I forgot about Purgatory.”
Paulie: “Purgatory—a little detour on the way to Paradise.”
Christopher: “How long do you think we've got to stay there?”
Paulie: “That's different for everybody. You add up all your mortal sins and multiply that number by 50. Then you add up all your venial sins and multiply that by 25. You add that together and that's your sentence. I figure I'm gonna have to do 6,000 years before I get accepted into Heaven and 6,000 years is nothin' in eternity terms. I can do that standing on my head. It's like a couple of days here.”— The Sopranos, Season 2, Episode 9, “From Where to Eternity,” teleplay by David Chase and Michael Imperioli, directed by Henry Bronchtein
As I’ve written before here, The Sopranos had some of the most laugh-out-loud moments on television during its seven seasons on the air. This is one of them.
At the same time, of course, this darkly comic dialogue helps the viewer accept the most agonizing moral and theological debates. No matter what form Hell takes (Paulie is all too optimistic about his chances of making Purgatory, let alone Heaven), Tony Soprano and his crew will be there.
In all their cynicism, fear and paranoia, they’re arguably in Hell even as they speak.
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