Dear Jeff and Dana,
I'm having a difficult time figuring out where to begin. After all the hype and expectations, I knew going in that the season's finale could never turn out to be a fully satisfying experience. You know, like that first trip to the spectacular new restaurant everyone's raving about. About that, I was right.
Perhaps it's "strangely deflating," like you say, Jeff, or "a disappointingly slow-paced show," like our occasional colleague in these Monday morning commentaries, attorney Jerry Shargel, chimed in following the show last night. He couldn't take part today but couldn't resist the urge to send in his comments, which will appear in their entirety after my blather—er, remarks. (One good thing about including Shargel's words is that he's got no chance to retort until 2006, when The Sopranos are due back for their final season.)
The writers sure drove this point home last night: It ain't easy being the boss, as Johnny Sack and Tony Soprano lamented before the FBI came on like gangbusters, precipitating Tony's Apalachin-like run through the snowy woods. And with the help of Dr. Melfi, Paulie Walnuts—I laughed when he told Tony that the stupid painting of Tony with his dead horse portrayed him not as a lawn jockey, but as a general—the TV war movies, and consigliere Silvio Dante, Tony finally came around to the idea that he had to kill cousin Tony B.
With all due respect to Silvio, after last night's show, I felt much the same way I did on Feb. 24, 2000. That day, I wrote a column about the expected return to New York of turncoat underboss and superstar prosecution witness, Sammy Bull Gravano, to testify one more time at an upcoming trial. That same morning, it was almost as if cops in Arizona were hell-bent on embarrassing me and making me look bad. They went out and nailed Gravano, and his entire family, on drug trafficking charges that landed him 20 years in prison.
In this case it seemed that The Sopranos writers were out to get me. (What's that line about not being paranoid because it's true?) No sooner do I opine that Silvio is useless, never helping Tony in deed or words, and here comes Silvio. Last week he whacks the lovely Adriana for Tony, and then last night, he utters more sanguineous and encouraging words to Tony in one show than he has in five years (making sure, of course, to preface all his advice with, "all due respect"), helping Tony make the correct gangster decision and whack cousin Tony B. First, he pointed out that Tony had been ready to kill Tony B. but had changed his mind only because he didn't "want to bow down" to Johnny Sack. Then, after reminding Tony that he had known him since he was a kid, he played Dr. Mefli: "Frankly, you got a problem with authority. This attitude of yours, it's a lot of what's made you an effective leader, but we all got flaws, even you," ending with, "Seven deadly sins, and yours is pride."
Looking forward to a fresh perspective, Dana.