CQ readers know that The Sopranos has been one of my must-see television series, perhaps one of the best episodic television series in history. The series is known for its violent and strong sexual connotations, but it handles these themes in a manner which most series and movies do not: it remonstrates the characters (and the audience) for the degrading nature of immorality in both areas. The show goes so far as to almost scold the viewers for their fascination with Mafia stories, as it shows how those involved in organized crime slowly get corroded by its effects.
Last night, I skipped the Democratic debate, because I knew I’d turn it off for the second-to-last episode in the series. I have TiVo, but the anticipation would have frustrated me, and I expected more resolution from the show than from the debate. On this point, I was not disappointed.
(SPOILERS — Click the link below to read the extended entry.)
Quite frankly, I got more resolution than I expected. Tony got tipped that he and his family were about to get attacked by the FBI, but he seemed slow to understand the implications. Rather than take precautions, the entire outfit seemed to live in denial until the button men actually showed up. Bobby got killed in a toy store, and Silvio got critically wounded outside the Bing — the refuges for both men, showing that they could not escape their violent world through mindless sexual gratification or through escapism.
Tony had a lot of closure in this episode, and none of it good. He lost his top two men, and possibly another who managed to run off alive. His therapist finally gave him the boot after realizing that she had done nothing but enable him, and possibly to enjoy the vicarious thrill. Her colleagues considered her patient “cool”, which obviously got under her skin, after having to feed her own therapist’s voyeuristic tendencies in that regard. That message also seems to be aimed at the viewing audience, and that final door slam has more meaning tham just abandonment of Tony.
In the end, all Tony has is his rifle. He’s lost his two best men, he’s killed his cousin, and now he’s cowering in a middle-class house in the dark. And there’s still one more episode left.
How does it end? I’m betting that Tony gets clipped. I think Phil wins in the end, and the Sopranos families — both of them — collapse under Tony’s poor management. I think AJ will try to do something brave and stupid, and that will force Tony out into the open.
But that’s just me. What do you think?