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For those of us who watched the first episode of the new season of The Sopranos, we got a number of surprises to start off. After a rather strange but compelling opening montage accompanied by William Burroughs' 'Seven Souls', the storylines took into account the time gap between this season and the previous one. Uncle Junior has almost completely succumbed to dementia, Janice and Bobby had a baby, Johnny Sack sits in a prison going broke, and Vito Spatafore lost about a hundred pounds. Oddly enough, no one got whacked, although one character (Gene) committed suicide, Ray died of a heart attack in an FBI car, and Uncle Junior shot Tony at the end of the episode, thinking in his senility that Tony was an old nemesis from years back.
The New York Times editorial board notes the surprisingly low numbers for the episodes and wonders whether fans of the show want to avoid seeing Tony die:
This season's opener attracted 9.5 million viewers, down from the 12.1 million who watched the previous one. That may be due to the show's unusually long hiatus, and to competition from ABC's "Desperate Housewives." But some viewers are no doubt turning away because they suspect that Tony's life story is not going to end happily, and they may be reluctant to watch the narrative arc of a character they have come to care about start pointing relentlessly downward. Tony could still have breakthroughs, in therapy and in life. But starting the season lying in a pool of his own blood, not knowing if help will arrive, he is certainly off to a bad start.
I'd chalk it up to improved competition on Sunday evenings as well as the two-year gap between this season and last. Fans of The Sopranos understand that bad things happen to bad people (and good people) on the show, and that the last season means that no one is safe. In fact, we would be disappointed to have the boss of the family escape all the ruin and destruction he has brought to himself and both of his families. The undeniable thrust of this series has been that Tony would one day reap the harvest of evil that he has sown.
Last week I asked CQ readers to guess who would get rubbed out in Episode 1. All of us were wrong, but I doubt that all of the characters will avoid their fate in Episode 2. Who gets it? Last week Finn Di Trolio won the most guesses and we wound up only seeing him in the opening montage. I've adjusted the list a little from last week, so let me know who you think is the most likely target.
UPDATE & BUMP: Okay, so far it looks like a plurality says that someone not on this list will get the early exit. Maybe Janice, or perhaps Angie Bompansiero? We only have a couple of hours until we find out ...
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