Jeff, Jerry, Dana,
Everything in life is timing. If the FBI had been more fast-paced, Tony B. would be alive today. As it is, Tony Soprano is a very lucky mob boss. Even the shotgun slaying of his cousin, Tony Blundetto, was not good enough for Johnny Sack, and it seemed that Tony himself was in jeopardy. In the end, fast-paced or not, it was the FBI that saved him, restoring the confidence of his own restless crew and providing a segue into next season—also allowing Tony essentially to shed the skin of his seemingly impossible predicaments in the interest of all new plots next season.
I know that you and Jeff will wax eloquent about the twists and turns of the plot, but once again, I see Mafia as metaphor. When Tony turns to Silvio Dante and says, "You don't know what it's like to be No. 1," later telling Dr. Melfi that "all my choices were wrong," I couldn't help but think of Bush bursting into Iraq without an endgame, finding himself in an impossible mess. Tony knocks off his cousin Tony B.; Bush is forced to knock off George Tenet. Isn't this the way of all failed leaders? Hubris and arrogance play rough.
Now, look guys, I don't want to be a kvetch. But, wasn't this, like so many others, a disappointingly slow-paced show? I was truly looking forward to the season finale—but I had the same feeling at 10 p.m. that I had on Saturday after betting that Smarty Jones would win the Triple Crown: I was expecting greatness, and the show failed my expectations. I think I've said this before, but I think the show is character-driven and not story-driven. The characters are great, but the story always seems to lag behind. As a viewer, you are left to read more into the story than actually is there. Now, with plenty of time for my mind to drift as the show wore on, here's a thought I had: The men in this fictional Mafia only love other men. I'm not speaking of sexual relationships (although we've had that, too, this season) or emotional bosh, but rather deep, intimate relationships that no man in this show has with a woman. With all respect to Carmela, no woman has touched Tony Soprano as he is touched by Christopher, or even by his cousin Tony, whom he killed for the good of his "men." The real Mafia oath of membership requires allegiance to the "Family" above all else, including the member's own family. Loving relationships with women never take precedence. Maybe the real message here is: "Be thankful that you don't really know these people."