Sopranos Final Season

Week 3: So, How's Tony Going To Die?
Talking television.
April 23 2007 1:35 PM

Sopranos Final Season

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The Sopranos. Click image to expand.
Tony with a tomato

Dear Tim,

So we have the first concrete sign that The Sopranos is really, truly coming to an end—no more HBO shenanigans allowed (which is to say, no "Season 6, Part 3;" no Bobby Bacala sitcom). The sign: Tony stops to smell the tomatoes. You recall, of course, Vito Corleone's demise, while trailing his grandson in a tomato patch. Tomatoes + Mafia = Death. (This is Einstein's formula, not mine.) If Terry Winter, who wrote last night's script (and who is responsible for a disproportionate number of the best episodes and who, by the way, I'm hoping joins our dialogue again), wasn't foreshadowing Tony's death, I'll burn my Fila tracksuit.

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This wasn't the only Godfather reference in last night's episode: Doc Santoro, the obnoxious, newly minted Brooklyn boss, gets the Moe Greene special, courtesy of Phil Leotardo, who is solidifying control of his family, in order, it seems, to take final revenge on Tony Soprano for the death of his brother.

But the scene most consequential to the advancement of the plot, I think, came at us fast, then quickly disappeared. This was Tony's request to Hesh for a "bridge loan" of $200,000. I might be wrong, but I doubt we've heard the last of Tony's money problems, and money problems, for a mob boss, can be fatal. There is no loyalty, of course, in the mob—that was a Puzo fiction. A boss who cannot protect and provide for his captains and soldiers is no boss. Of course, a boss doesn't blame himself for these sorts of financial problems; he blames his subordinates. If Paulie had been earning, Tony would not have contemplated throwing him overboard last night.

It's clear now that everything is closing in on Tony. Money is tight, bodies are turning up in basements, his captains are exhibiting varying degrees of disloyalty, Phil Leotardo is making very angry faces, and even Tony's killer uncle is showing signs of life. (I was glad to have Junior back, weren't you?)

Which brings us to a question: How do you think Tony will go? As we continue in this dialogue, let's try to dope this out, shall we? It's possible to contemplate any number of unpleasant denouements for Tony. I happen to be partial to my Furio scenario, only because I think Carmela, materialist minx though she is, deserves a little happiness, but I don't think Furio is suddenly going to wash ashore in Episode 7. I tend to think now that Tony's betrayal will come at the hands of his sister. It would certainly be poetic to have Janice achieve what her mother couldn't. And this show is ultimately about destructive relatives, not about the dysfunctional relationships between crime families.

Do you think there's anything to this? Let me down gently, please.

Best,
Jeff

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.