The Sopranos Heads To Its Conclusion

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?

35 thoughts on “The Sopranos Heads To Its Conclusion”

  1. He lost his top two men, and possibly another who managed to run off alive.
    I was under the impression that he was in the safe house at the end. I could be mistaken, though.
    Best line of the episode, and maybe the season:
    Tony walks into AJ’s room and kicks the girl out, AJ whines:
    So now you just storm into my room? We could have been doing anything!
    Tony: Yeah, but you weren’t.
    I think Tony survives. Just a guess. I’m also guessing there’ll be either a flashback or a dream sequence (possibly both). Come to think of it, since it ends with Tony going to sleep, it could start with a dream sequence.

  2. Attacked by the FBI?? That’s not how I remember it.
    The FBI tipped him off that the New York mob was gunning for him, which in fact happened, not the FBI.
    Minor correction.

  3. Ooooops, I guess I read it wrong.
    “tipped off….(about NY) by the FBI….”
    Never mind. Continue with what you’re doing.

  4. I’m sorry, Ed, I know there’s no rule anywhere that you have to talk only about events concerning the nation, and politics and so on, but I really have to ask: Why do you spend so much time writing about things like the Sopranos, which I take it is a TV show, and American Idol, which I have no idea at all about, but I gather it concerns music? What kind of audience are you going after here, anyway? Does that stuff sell ads or something?

    Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate the information and opinion on things that concern grown-ups, but sometimes it gets a little odd having to wade through all the gratuitous pop-culture fluff.

  5. Charles,
    I write about what interests me. And since I’ve never watched American Idol, I’ve never written about it.
    If the topic doesn’t interest you, move on to the next post.

  6. Note that Phil Leotardo prevented his hit squads from whacking Paulie Walnuts. Paulie has been disgruntled for some time. I predict that he has gone over to Phil and will be the one to whack Tony.

  7. “Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate the information and opinion on things that concern grown-ups, but sometimes it gets a little odd having to wade through all the gratuitous pop-culture fluff.”–Charles
    Well, EXCUSE ME !! **
    ** — Yet more ‘pop-culture fluff ‘ just to annoy.
    The Sopranos (which I take it is a TV show) is must-see TV. And since all it competed against was a Democratic Party ‘debate’, it seems clear that the Capt made the only choice possible.
    Now American Idol is another story altogether. But lots of people seem to enjoy the diversion so what’s it to me ?
    Or to you ?
    The solution here is even easier than switching TV channels. If you don’t ‘appreciate’ a particular posting —- don’t read it. It’s a free country as they say.
    And more importantly, I guess, it’s the Captain’s Blog.

  8. I predict that at the beginning of the last episode Tony will awake, hear the shower running in the bathroom and, upon ripping away the shower curtain will discover…BOBBY EWING.
    “It was all just a terrible dream….”

  9. I didn’t mean to offend. As a rule, I do move on to the next post quite easily. I just can’t figure out what the attraction is, that’s all.

    As to Idol, that must have been Hugh Hewitt, my other never-miss daily read; my apologies for conflating the 2. Unfortunately, he’s also huge on baseball, it seems. Some days, it’s all he seems to write about. As you suggest, it is indeed his business and his call. I just thought that if you’re going to ask for comments, I’m as entitled as anyone.

    Best wishes to you and the Mrs. I hope she’s doing well. We all pull for her out here.

  10. I’m usually a lurker, (don’t have time to post a lot), so Charles, don’t take this the wrong way, but you sound like absolute prat.
    Anyway, my wife agrees: Tony gets killed, probably because of AJ (inadvertently), some how messing up.
    I think he lives and takes over, myself

  11. don’t take this the wrong way, but you sound like absolute prat.

    No offense taken, man. Heck; you might even be right.

  12. We see in this that Phil has completely out fought Tony. Tony never thought that his captains could be targets when he heard he was the targeted. Self absorbed to the end. Remember the theme song how he’s the “chosen one”? Phil never heard that song. But why did that FBI agent tip off Tony? He said something cryptic that if the info was more certain, the NY office would have contacted Tony. I wonder if the Feds will do what Tony can’t. Find Phil and bust him and his goons before they get the chance to whack Tony?

  13. Editing note: I, too, read the post (after the spoiler warning) as saying the FBI was attacking the Sopranos, which seemed totally weird, but that is the way you wrote it. For clarity, it should be edited to read ” Tony got tipped by the FBI that he and his family were about to get attacked by [whomever it is who is attacking the Sopranos].”

  14. Tony killed his cousin and his nephew (Christopher). Who else in his family will he whack? I think he, Carmella, AJ, and Meadow end up in Witness Protection for giving up the Arabs. Then Tony will screw that up by doing something overt and public and end up getting the whole family killed. Or not.

  15. Tony will end up making a deal with Phil. After all making money is what matters and whacking each other makes good TV but in reality won’t keep the moula coming in. Tony will have to kiss Phil’s ass and will be weaker but he will survive. Or he might go over to the feds to save his own ass and turn everyone in for a deal.

  16. I think Tony will become a judge on American Idol.
    Or maybe American Idle.

  17. I don’t think peace is possible between Tony and Phil at this point. Not after Bobby and Sil have been hit.
    I’m hoping Phil gets it in a memorable way… completing the trifecta of getting his head bashed in by a cab door in Raging Bull (though he lived) and Pesci (again) killing him for telling him to get his shine box in Goodfellas.
    Kind of off topic, but my favorite sort of self-referential moment of the Sopranos was when Christopher shot a baker in the foot in season 1 or 2 then explained “It happens.”

  18. I think Tony is going to die next week. But I also predict AJ will track down and kill Phil, fulfilling his role as a Soprano and embarking on a career in the Jersey mob.

  19. they all go as they should. tony probably gets it trying to save that duck trapped in his empty pool……..that way maybe, maybe he still goes to heaven!
    next time we see carmela she’ll probably be working that “pole” we heard so much about………

  20. My prediction:
    Tony made the fatal mistake of becoming a ‘rat’ for the FBI (when he informed them about the’Arab terrorists’) and anyone who watches the show knows what happens to FBI informants when their roles are revealed. Tony will be whacked by someone from his own crew, possibly while he visits Dr. Melfi one last time, even though she has made it clear she wants nothing more to do with him. She will die with him.

  21. i think Tony survives, but loses his family and ends up completely alone. One of Aj/Meadow/Carmella get killed by mistake and the others end up in witness protection.
    One last hat tip to The Godfather.

  22. You had to be there in the early days to understand the fascination of looking back at a safe distance at the Jersey mob.
    I grew up there, Atlantic City. Our family history there runs from ’47 to ’74. From the days when Angelo Bruno ran things to the height of Little Nicky Scarfo’s insanity, and his downfall. I could sit here and type out stories ’til the sun comes up.
    But maybe I’ll save those and do another book. I’ve already committed two books successfully on other mundane subjects, maybe I can do a third on growing up a straight (read that ‘target’) kid in a mob town. If I can find a venue.
    In the meantime, my Mom and I (especially my Mom, who passed away last month at just short of 99) were stuck fast to every episode of The Sopranos. We’re about as far away as we can get, western Washington state, and have been for many years. That’s not an accident .
    Pity she never got to see the final episode.

  23. How about that episode where they were trying to get rid of that Russian in the Pine Barrens of NJ? That had me on pins and needles. That was one of the best TV episodes of all time (however, you probably had to be watching the whole season to get the full effect).
    The Sopranos is one of the very few shows or movies where I consider the adult language appropriate. In almost every other feature, it seems forced and/or unnecessary. On The Sopranos, it seems totally natural.

  24. I’m not sure how it ends, though quite a few of the predictions above fit a cliched hollywood ending, and I doubt very seriously that Chase will go for the cliche ending.
    There’s just the one episode left, so only so much can happen, but there were a couple of moments on Sunday that seemed odd to me that could play into the finale. One is the very public way that Silvio got it. Once an innocent civilian was involved, all I can see is a CSI-esque police investigation. Generally the cops don’t seem to care when one mafia family takes out another, but when it spills over into the streets in broad daylight and a civilian dies – different story.
    How ironic would it be for the police to end up taking down Phil because of the hit he ordered on Tony and the way it goes down. There is also some amount of hollywood cynicism that suggests they can’t kill of Tony because of the future possibility of the Sopranos movie franchise.
    Paulie Walnuts is not with Phil. In fact, Bobby wasn’t even a capo IIRC, and Phil skips over a real captain – Paulie – to take out a guy that is high up because of family ties and nothing more. I think Paulie ultimately proves his loyaly to Tony and repays Tony’s restraint on the fishing boat in Miami.
    Funny thing about Melfi dumping Tony is that I don’t believe there was ever any foreshadowing that Tony was using Melfi to hone his craft, as it were. To boot, the show treated his therapy very seriously. I can only assume that storyline has a profound impact on the finale as a result. I find it hard to believe that Tony and Melfi are finished from a story perspective. That would be a cheap hollywood “clean break” kind of ending. Not Chase’ style.
    Another piece of the story that seems gratuitous if it doesn’t impact the finale is Meadow’s newfound romance with an actual member – as peripheral as it may be – of Tony’s crew. At least that’s the understanding I’m getting from this storyline.

  25. Another piece of the story that seems gratuitous if it doesn’t impact the finale is Meadow’s newfound romance with an actual member – as peripheral as it may be – of Tony’s crew.
    Tony killed Paty’s twin brother in season 2 or 3, and he actually went to the Soprano house drunk with a gun, only to end up pissing in their pool.
    It’s possible he’s working with Phil as he did escape unharmed from the car when Silvio got it. And there was previous talk of him getting close to NYC.
    But Chase often times puts stuff like Meadow dating Paty’s son in there seemingly with out a payoff (see the Melfi rape storyline).

  26. Well, I think the highlight (well, one of many at least) for me in last Sunday’s episode was Tony dragging AJ out of his bed (and funk) and tossing him in the closet to get his stuff together.
    It was a kind of “OK, enough of this crap, pull it together and get moving”.
    Very gratifying.

  27. I think it will end with Tony heading for a sitdown with Phil. There will be a hint that Phil will use the sitdown to kill Tony or perhaps the other way around. We will never know what happens.
    My favorite scene was when Uncle Jun was telling Tony about his retarded brother, Tony’s Uncle. One Tony didn’t know about. Tony says he remembers his Mom and Dad talking about a retarded Uncle, or words to that effect, but he always thought they were talking about Junior. The look on Junior’s face was priceless.
    Another good one was when Janice was asking Tony what he did with Richie’s body. Tony tells her they buried on a hillside under a pine tree over looking a river. Janice sucks it in hook, line, and sinker. The look on her face is also priceless. Tony finally has to let her know he is bullshitting her.

  28. Overriding concern for me is to leave enough on the table for a follow-on movie (or movie series). For that, we probably need Tony to go to prison (with some time off for helping the FBI) and Phil to remain kingpin of NYC and NJ. Tony gets out on parole, or off on a technicality, and embarks on an anti-hero’s Quest to exact revenge.
    We could call the movie “Kill Phil”.
    I was also hoping Meadow would end up marrying Carmine Jr., and the two of them becoming The Next Generation. AJ, ever the nihilist, would make a perfect hatchet man a la John Cusack/Grosse Pointe Blank.

  29. The episode made no sense. No boss when attacked is then left to have only two guys protecting him. No boss, when his two top guys are attacked, then does nothing but hide in a house. Usually, a whole bunch of guys on the other side then die in a blaze of gunfire. SO to me, the whole thing was done just to give an end to the franchise but not to give any realism to it.

  30. Can’t believe it’s almost over. It’s like being resigned to the knowledge of an old friend who’ll be passing away this Sunday evening.
    Chase has many options here, but this is the (sickening) one I had in my gut from the last episode:
    If Tony is going to go, it’s going to be from Paulie Walnuts. Weaved throughout the series has been Paulie’s dissatisfaction with his position on Tony’s crew, his affiliation with Johnny S, and the botched hit on Phil, which was given to Paulie to handle. (My thinking is that Paulie tipped Phil off, and will tip him off on where they’ve gone to the mattresses.) Factor that with Tony’s increasing paranoia over his vulnerabilities which caused him to kill Christopher and now he’ll end up regretting that he didn’t do the same to Paulie, especially since he had his chance in Miami.
    Also, if Tony does go, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chase insert another “after life” experience to include all those Tony dispatched to the other side… greeting him as he enters into…? How all of this is going to be squeezed into just 60 minutes… you’ve got me!!
    My two cents….

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