“The Sopranos'” Second-to-Last Swan Song
Heads better roll on Sunday night.
Since the approach of The Sopranos’ season finale once again means that the series is signing off for the rest of the calendar year, we can only hope that our hour-long visit with New Jersey’s finest this weekend packs enough in to tide us over until January.
Luckily creator David Chase isn’t much one for season-ending cliffhangers, as in “who got shot?” or “I’m pregnant.” No, Chase usually lets us look the person who’s about to die right in the eye before he or she gets it, as when Tony pulled the trigger in Tony B.’s face at the close of season five.
While critics’ opinions of this penultimate season have varied, with some thinking that the award-winning show is losing its edge and others not caring what the characters say and do so long as it’s new, Chase has put together enough sizzling moments to give us plenty to work with this weekend.
Let’s see, what’s likely to be touched upon, tackled or otherwise clobbered Sunday?
Per previews, we’ve got Tony meeting up with real estate agent Julianna Skiff (so obviously the image of Carmela lovingly buttoning his shirt was a fleeting one), a “Why did you lie to me?” confrontation between Tony and Christopher, heightened conflict between the New York and New Jersey families, and Carmela saying that they should hire a professional (a professional what?) to look for Adrianna. Good luck to Tony as he tries to tap-dance out of that one. And, as always, someone tells somebody over the phone that something is “done.”
Plus, there’s A.J. and his new mob-tinged construction job, Meadow and her relationship troubles (as of now she’s moving out west to follow the boyfriend who’s been pulling away from her for a season and a half), and Junior and his dementia.
(In a bit of off-screen drama, Joseph Gannascoli, whose ill-fated Vito lost a bunch of weight and took a “Look, my pants are too big!” picture to prove it, has been sued by diet supplement manufacturer NVE Pharmaceuticals for allegedly not doing enough to promote its products after the company paid him about $316,000 to do so. Gannascoli, who signed with another diet pill company last month, told the Associated Press that this legal issue arose after The Sopranos focused on his character’s homosexuality. “They didn’t like I was doing the gay thing,” he said. NVE has said that the actor was “difficult to work with.”)
Now that the onscreen Vito problem has been sickeningly resolved, he’s no longer a member of the maybe-getting-whacked pack, meaning someone else will be getting the signature Sopranos sendoff this time around.
Will it be Phil, who stepped really hard on Tony’s toes by offing Vito himself? Does Christopher go too far this time doing whatever it is that he does? Does Paulie finding out that he has cancer make him even nastier? Will Bobby get run over by his model trains?
(IDLE GOSSIP/SPOILER ALERT: Word on the street: Christopher and Julianna, some sort of hookup. And as we all know, people do tend to get killed on this show for decidedly un-businesslike reasons. Ralph’s head in a bag, anyone?)
Well, whatever happens, Chase has promised to provide a definitive ending to his groundbreaking (remember, he doesn’t make TV, it’s HBO) saga of the mob boss with issues, and after Sunday he only has eight more episodes to further cement this show’s place in history.
Contrary to speculation/fans’ wildest dreams, The Sopranos will sleep with the fishes after next year. Production on the final season is expected to begin this month.
“It’s over, it’s done, put a fork in it,” an HBO exec told the Los Angeles Times.
But what’s with the mega-hiatus again?
“I look at it as, there was a story, and we’re telling that story over this amount of time,” Chase told reporters in January. “And you know, it takes time to produce them, and that’s the way they’ll sort of roll out.”
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We still have another hour to go in 2006. So although this season has dropped the ball at times with the Vito subplot (laden with social significance, yet very time-consuming), the loooong dream sequences and Christopher’s pathetic foray into the movie biz, there were plenty of great moments to go around.
The shock we felt when Tony got shot. The so-creepy-it-makes-your-eyes-bug-out scene when Christopher spitefully tells his pregnant girlfriend about Adrianna “running out” on him. The sheer absurdity of living legend Lauren Bacall getting clocked in the face. Oh, and there was Sil’s piggyback ride on the murder victim.
That edge still feels pretty sharp to us.
“The Sopranos'” Second-to-Last Swan Song