Pearls before swine? Au contraire, my friend; I do so enjoy your Creem-like exegetical stylings.
I have to agree with you on one thing: Brian Williams is terrifically off-base to argue that Van Morrison's version of "Comfortably Numb" counts as one of his three greatest recordings. "Comfortably Myopic," I'd say. This is something I'd expect from Katie Couric, but from our Brian?
You may be on the right track re: A.J.: For the first time since he complained, "So what? No uckin' ziti now?," I'm feeling warm feelings for him. Well, not quite warm: He's still a coward, lacking the courage to intervene in the beating of the black bicyclist. But at least he expressed remorse. There's an interesting contradiction brewing here: Just as Tony slips into the abyss of pure selfishness, Anthony Junior is developing a conscience. My hope is that his conscience motivates him to do terrible things to Jason Gervase, who is truly a despicable character, and one very much grounded in Mafia reality. I've met kids like him, in Canarsie and in the mob-infested suburbs of Long Island: The third generation is when the rot truly sets in, and I say this as someone who doesn't generally believe in any of the romanticism attached to the Carlo Gambino period of Mafia history, or even to the Paul Castellano period. These kids are bad.
I love your theory about an A.J.-related ending, and I won't even point out that you yourself warned me about trying to dope out a conclusion. I think we've switched places: Christopher's sudden death, just like Richie Aprile's sudden death (though not Ralphie's—I saw that one coming), has taught me not to second-guess David Chase's intentions. He's just too smart for that.
Your delicate introduction of the Chris Albrecht saga leads me to note the uncanny way in which The Sopranos is, in some mystical way, presaging actual events. Christopher goes off the wagon and shoots J.T.; Chris Albrecht, the man who oversaw the success of The Sopranos, goes off the wagon and allegedly chokes his girlfriend; Tony and Christopher have a terrible SUV crash in an episode filmed months ago; the governor of New Jersey has a terrible SUV crash, albeit one that didn't end with the deadly Soprano Nose Pinch; an angry, bullied, and alienated Asian-American turns on Uncle Junior in an episode filmed well before the Virginia Tech massacre; Tony Soprano becomes suspicious of a group of New Jersey "Arabians"; shortly after, the FBI arrests a bunch of Albanians for plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, which is in, yes, New Jersey.
It's a trope to call The Sopranos "powerful television," but it might actually be more powerful than we thought. Perhaps, as a final gift not only to HBO subscribers but to all humanity, David Chase could write an episode that predicts the onset of Middle East peace.
Shalom, and Salaam,