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Writing Scenes & the Power of Silence: Tony Soprano Goes to Therapy.

Updated: May 12

Watch the scene that introduced the world to Tony Soprano and note the use of silences and subtext!

Learn to use both in writing scenes that capture audience attention and curiosity.

The following points are noted in the video about this scene:

  • Tony Soprano waits for his first session with psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi.

  • Not comfortable with the idea of therapy, the statue in the waiting room seems to add to Tony's sense of unease. Is it because he can't work out the art work's purpose?

  • It's no accident that Dr. Melfi also has Italian heritage. At one point Tony will ask her where "her people" are from. This common heritage adds another layer of tension to their relationship.

  • Note the power of silence in this scene. There’s no rush into explanations.

  • Tony isn’t going to make things easy for the doctor. He’s not going to let his guard down. And Melfi isn’t going to be intimidated by her patient.

  • Tony’s not going to admit to any notion of “weakness”. How’s a mafia boss going to function effectively with panic attacks & blacking out?

  • Tony says, “They sent me here…” In other words, there's nothing wrong and everything’s back to normal.

  • He’s eager to sweep this under the carpet.

  • The question from Dr. Melfi: “What line of work are you in?” produces a beat between them.

  • Dr. Melfi is quickly figuring out what Tony really does. And Tony knows that Dr. Melfi knows. Great subtext at play.

  • Finally, Tony lays it out. He can’t tell her things. And not just because he doesn’t want to. He can’t tell her about the terrible things he sees and does. He can’t tell her about what really stresses him at work.

And we wonder: How will this play out?

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