It’s nearing the end. There are only two episodes left to tell this tale, and things are getting ugly. If you haven’t watched any of this final season, or are behind a few episodes, you might not want to read any further.
It seems obvious now that Tony (James Gandolfini) will die at the end of the series, which is a befitting way for the big man to go out, especially since nothing in his life has worked according to plan. His plan was a lie anyway, wasn’t it? It was all a pretend life – pretend success, pretend fatherhood, pretend marriage. In reality, he is a mob boss, a killer, a criminal and a cheater. Whatever good his angel Carmela (Edie Falco) brought him has been all but snuffed out as he makes his final dip into the darkest depths of his pretend humanity.
For a while there, it looked like Tony might turn out to be a good person stuck in a bad life – a narcissistic mother, no real prospect of anything other than being a Mafioso. The people he’s had faith in have failed him, especially Christopher (Michael Imperioli), whom Tony murdered two episodes back. He murdered Christopher and all of his hope was gone, just like that.
Christopher had tried a life of sobriety, but was eventually pressured into returning to the drink and drugs because as a sober man he was a joke with his fellow mobsters. In that world, there are no addicts, only denial of there being a problem. Christopher was never cut out for that kind of life and Tony knew it.
Tony’s son, AJ (Robert Iler), who dabbled in this or that but never really found himself, has reached manhood with no prospects in any direction. His one big relationship ended in disaster when his girlfriend dumped him, sending him into a downward spiral he has yet to recover from, up to and including his most recent suicide attempt.
AJ has inherited his father’s chronic depression and hopelessness, but unlike Tony, he can’t become a killer, though the opportunity was there. He has too much of his mother in him, though his fate has not yet been decided. He may, in fact, rise to the occasion and take his father’s place by the end.
Carmela is back to fighting with Tony after a brief and fairly passionate rekindling of their marriage. Tony is simmering with rage against her for her “coddling” of AJ. Even Meadow has been touched by “the life” when, in last week’s episode, a mob guy made lewd remarks to her while she was out on a date. Incredulous and defending the only decent thing in his life, Tony went ballistic, in a, shall we say, jaw-dropping display of might. He’s been warned that he’s just made a huge mistake. We’ll find out how huge when The Sopranos returns after Memorial Day weekend.
Clues as to Tony’s inner world are being dropped right and left. His sessions with Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) reveal his ever-shrinking humanity. He has written it all off as a waste of time. Her own therapist reveals to her that sociopaths only escalate their bad behavior when they enter “talk therapy.” Dr. Melfi doesn’t seem ready to give up on Tony just yet. But who knows what’s in store for them.
From the looks of it so far, the best thing ever to grace television screens will go out much darker than it came in. It was always dark, sure, but there was hope. Hope, the thing with feathers, appears to have finally flown the coop.
The last two episodes of The Sopranos air on June 3 and June 10.