Monday, June 11, 2007

Addio, Tony ...


It's probably a little too early to have even processed my thoughts from tonight's episode, but I'll give it a shot:

As in previous seasons, the major action took place in the penultimate episode. After the chaotic gangland violence last week, this one took the "life goes on" approach that some had predicted. After a suspenseful opening, it totally undercut the tension 20 minutes in with Tony having a sitdown with representatives of the N.Y. crew and settling their major differences. From there it was on to non-Family family matters (except for the killing of Phil Leotardo, popped at an Oyster Bay filling station), and, as in the past, a season-ending tableau of the four Sopranos gathering for dinner. No earthshaking events, no major conclusions, except for the curveball thrown at the end, when some nervewracking cutting (Is it a hit? Who is this guy eyeing Tony?) led only to a fade-to-black - long enough to make you think there was something wrong with your TV - and then silent credits. Life does go on, creator David Chase (who wrote and directed tonight's episode) seemed to be saying, and if this guy who just walked in the restaurant isn't there to whack Tony, maybe the next one will be.

Other thoughts:

+ I had a hard time buying Agent Harris' decision to tell Tony where Phil Leotardo was hiding out, or his seeming joy ("Maybe we'll win this thing!") when he heard about the murder. It seemed uncharacteristic, based on what we've seen of Harris over the years. To give mobsters information that would directly lead to a murder - and to know that beforehand - just seems like too large a moral and professional transgression for Harris to make. That Chase showed him in bed with a female fellow FBI agent - after an angry cell call from his wife earlier in the show - didn't help much. It felt like a necessary plot device to give Tony's crew enough info that they could locate and murder Phil, in order to resolve that storyline.

+ Chase's daughter, Michele DeCesare, made a return appearance as Meadow's friend, Hunter Scangarelo, for the first time since 2001.

+ Livia's spector loomed larger than ever in these last few episodes, with several dialogue exchanges directly recalling her ("Oh, poor you" and "Always with the drama" especially).

+ The seashore safehouse scenes were shot in Long Branch, N.J., blocks from the house where I grew up.

+ Though Chase's fade-to-black ending made perfect sense dramatically (like the final shot in John Sayles' underrated 1999 film LIMBO), I can imagine it made a lot of people *very* angry.

For much more coherant thoughts on all this (written, amazingly, within 15 minutes of when the episode ended), read Star-Ledger TV critic Alan Sepinwall's story here. Alan will also be talking over the finale with David Chase tomorrow (June 11) and will be posting that interview afterward. And for additional vigorous analysis and discussion, drop by The House Next Door as well.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I really thought the episode was totally in keeping with what came before it. Like AJ, we were seduced by Tony and Carm and will remain at his dinner table, wondering if and when the bullets will fly forevermore.

wstroby said...

I agree. But I think another factor out of this will be HBO taking a major subscription hit from those who kept the service only for THE SOPRANOS. I've seen the first three episodes of JOHN FROM CINCINATTI, and though I found it intriguing, mass appeal it has not. Though I am very much looking forward to mid-September and the fifth (and sadly last) season of THE WIRE.

JMags said...

Look - the SOPRANOS consisted of moments that will never be seen again and that were moments of brilliance - moments NOT mentioned elsewhere. e.g. - 2nd to last episode when the gang goes into hiding and Carlo picks up the phone and looks at Tony and says, "T..ah peez?" and Tony signals, ya go ahead order the pizza. Followed by Paulie making sure they get paper plates was PERFECT. Get a pizza, nobody works on an empty stomach!