The Sopranos/The Therapy Dream
From The TV IV
Tony is in therapy with Dr. Melfi. He gives her a long, lingering look up her legs to her body and face. "You gonna say somethin' or what?" he asks smiling. She smiles and gently replies, "It's your dime."
He suddenly hears an unsettling sound like a duck quack and turns to see his friend Hesh float past the window. Startled, Tony asks Melfi about Hesh's presence, but she says, "Heshie, he has a three o'clock."
Tony walks out into the waiting room of the office, where A.J. peers out at him from behind a door. In the waiting room, he finds Silvio having sex with a woman, Paulie Walnuts reading a newspaper and Big Pussy smoking a cigar and reading a tabloid. The whole time, Tony hears the sound of a heartbeat and Silvio's and his girlfriend's moans of pleasure.
Tony storms back into Melfi's office but her back is turned to him. He becomes aware of Jackie Aprile, who is much healthier than he actually is, although he is lying on his hospital bed in a corner of the office with a heart monitor beeping. Smoking a cigarette, Jackie seems not to notice as his heart monitor beeps faster and finally flatlines. Meanwhile, Tony turns "Dr. Melfi" around to find Livia's face.
The opening moments of the dream seem to presage The Melfi Erotic Dreams from episode 1x06 - Pax Soprana. There is no question but Tony's scan of her legs and the flirtatious way they speak to one another is intimate and sexual.
However, from the moment Hesh walks by the window, the dream takes a different turn. The duck's quack refers to The Duck Dream from episode 1x01 - The Sopranos, in which Tony had his penis stolen by a bird, which Melfi suggested referenced his fear of losing his family.
Tony finds the men in his life watching him, aware of his therapy sessions, where he tells his most intimate secrets to Melfi. His son A.J., his advisors Silvio, Paulie and Big Pussy and his best friend Jackie are all there. What's more, A.J. peers out at him from behind a door; Silvio's body is hidden by the woman's (and her face is not visible); Paulie is reading a newspaper in an Asian language Tony presumably cannot understand; and Big Pussy and Jackie's faces are partially obscured by their smoke. Even Melfi/Livia's back is to him. They all see him more clearly than he sees them. To him, something about them is mysterious. To them, he is exposed, vulnerable and naked.
The presence of the dying Jackie, his constantly beeping heart monitor and the sound of a heartbeat throughout most of the dream all imply mortality, as does the replacement of a younger woman (Dr. Melfi) with a much older one (Livia). Livia's spin in her chair also references the famously shocking scene from Psycho in which Norman Bates' berating, belittling mother is revealed to be a corpse, a phantom. Of course, in Tony's life, Livia is anything but a phantom.
Tony asks, "What the hell is goin' on?" Jackie answers, "A thunderstorm. ... Can you smell it? That's rain?" The Myths-Dreams-Symbols Dream Dictionary says thunder (or lightning) in a dream "may symbolize punishment, as in the 'wrath of the gods.'" Also, lightning and rain are illuminating, cleansing forces: They expose the world in brilliant flashes of light and wash away obscuring dirt and mud.
The DVD chapter for this dream is called "Paranoia," and indeed in the episode, Tony expresses fears of being caught going to therapy, which may endanger his life if his fellow mobsters find out about it. The dream's symbols of mortality, danger and vulnerability reinforce this paranoia.
The dream may also be somewhat precognitive.
In the dream, Tony sees A.J. peering out at him, while he ends it by finding Livia staring calmly at him. No other members of his blood family appear in the dream. In episode 1x07 - Down Neck, Tony's secret will be revealed when A.J. spills the beans to Livia. The fact that Tony replaces the object of desire Dr. Melfi with his mother Livia will also be referenced later in episode 1x06 - Pax Soprana when Melfi suggests Tony is using her as a generic, nurturing Italian woman to replace inadequacies he finds in the Italian women in his life, including his mother.