"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Sopranos: Sixth of Nine - Stunner!

Well, after five relatively quiet episodes, The Sopranos finally got down to serious, finale business. It was thoroughly expected, certainly warranted, but what a kick in the stomach it was.

Tony had problems with Christopher from Day One. But the killing of Adriana put their relationship in a new, far more drastic and merciless light. Christopher felt he made the ultimate sacrifice for Tony - giving up, to murder, the woman he loved. And Tony knew that Christopher held something over him - the murder of Adriana - that no one other than Silvio knew about. But since Silvio not only knew about it, but pulled the trigger, there was no way he could ever talk about it. Not so Christopher.

But Christopher never really did talk about it, except in oblique references, to Tony. And that's what made tonight so difficult. For Tony Soprano, and the viewers.

Christopher did do plenty wrong. Just last week he blew away the scriptwriter of his movie (leave it to the writers of The Sopranos to have the writer killed - their commentary, no doubt, on the way writers are treated in show business). It made Tony uncomfortable, understandably, to see any part of his story on the screen. And tonight Christopher was driving, drugged, and the car carrying him and Tony went off the road...

I doubt that Tony could ever have brought himself to gun down Christopher or order one of his guys to do it. Tonight, Tony took advantage of the situation. Spurred by the realization that Christopher's drugs could have led not only to Tony's death in the car, but Christopher's baby - whose car seat was impaled by a branch - Tony takes fate in his hands and suffocates Christopher, who was hurt so badly, he might have died, anyway.

But Tony knows full well that Christopher might not have died, either.

The rest of the show was a haze - for Tony and I bet most viewers. The death of Paulie's Ma provided some comic relief - sorry for the disrespect, Paulie - as almost no one except Tony and Carm show up at her funeral. Daniel Baldwin's appearance of Christopher's funeral reminds us of the importance of that movie to Tony.

After the funerals, Tony takes a trip and has some good sex and trips out with one of Christopher's women. A. J. continues his sorry, petty-criminal ways. And tensions rise between Tony and Phil.

R.I.P, Christopher Moltisanti. Your actor, Michael Imperioli, put in an unforgettable performance of a lifetime.

Useful links:

Naked Bodies, Three Showings a Week, No Commercials:
The Sopranos as a Nuts-and-Bolts Triumph of Non-Network TV
my 2002 article, published in David Lavery's This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos

reviews of other episodes this final season: The Sopranos: First of Nine, Second of Nine, Third of Nine, Fourth of Nine, Fifth of Nine, Seventh of Nine, Eighth of Nine, Ninth of Nine

listen to free podcast of this review, and reviews of all the other final nine episodes


dawn said...

Good Review, People think AJ's going to die I don't think so. I think he'll probably take over the family with Janice getting pissed that it's not Bobby. Any ideas

Paul Levinson said...

Thanks, dawn!

Meadow's a possibility for getting killed - it would come pretty much out of left field this season, and so would have the element of surprise. But it would have the drawback of echoing the end of Godfather III. I'd say there's about a 25% chance of that, whatever that means...

AJ's more likely, but also more obvious. They're certainly leading up to some kind of hurt with A.J...

So that leaves Carmella and Tony...

I dunno ... killing Carmella would also be almost totally unexpected...

Tough calls ... Christopher's death was expected, but it was still shocking to see ...

Testament to what a powerful story we're seeing...

Anonymous said...

Paul: so many things to comment on. I am still thinking about the episode ...

At the time Tony kills Christopher, it is unclear whether he's being opportunistic or if he views it as a mercy killing. Later, we see that it was the former. The ambiguity of it was well-done, but I'm still shocked.

We first met Christopher in a car, driving Tony. Maybe it's appropriate that's where he dies, too. The bit about the "Departed" soundtrack was nice too -- another gangster reference, and of course, ironic as it is Christopher that is soon departed himself.

This episode was, for me, the final realization that Tony has no conscience whatsoever and acts completely from his own self-interest. His downslide into an increasingly masturbatory existence (gambling, sex, the peyote, killing anyone that gets in his way) tells me that Tony is on a downward spiral and going to die, probably taking a lot of people with him -- maybe not as violently as in Scarface, for instance, but possibly with the same results.

The whole series has been fatalistic from the first episode. Tony has mentioned that most mobsters die violently or in prison. I wouldn't be surprised if we have a Hamlet-like ending, where nearly everyone dies.

And frankly, after this episode, that's what I want. Tony is no longer, for me, the lovable lug from Jersey. He's a rabid dog that needs to be put down, and I wonder whether these last few episodes have been meant to prepare the viewer to expect, and WANT, his death.