The Sopranos: The End of An Era

(This post will contain spoilers. If you haven’t ever watched the show, don’t read. Instead, go pick up Season 1 on DVD and try not to keep picking up the rest of the seasons until you’re at the point where the rest of us are….. one episode to go. Ever.)

OK…..with that said….

I was going to title this post, “In a World Where Bacala’s Aren’t Safe”, but as vague as that might seem to one who doesn’t watch the show, it would still be criminal (pardon the pun) to rob someone of the experience of watching this incredible fictional story unfold.

I recall seeing commercial after commercial one year during the Super Bowl about this new HBO series called, “The Sopranos“. I remember seeing the shots of James Gandolfini thinking, “this guy’s gonna be a wimp”. (Boy, would I learn!) With a name as strange as “The Sopranos” and knowing that the show would feature “organized crime”, I somehow concluded that this would be a show about a guy who was in the witness protection program because he “sang like a soprano”. Well, of course we know by now that the Soprano family has nothing to do with the witness protection plan (although they’ve stopped a few folks from partaking in it.)

I wasn’t an instant fan. When the DVD box set came out, I took a strange interest in the packaging. That coupled with all of the buzz about this show led me to buy Season 1 on DVD. Like everyone else, you’re immediately taken by the way that it’s shot. Every episode is more closely aligned to being a movie than a television show. And then after a few shows, you realize that either the casting was so well done that either one of two things is going on: 1) the actors are basically playing extensions of their own personality or 2) these folks have some serious acting chops. After having watched all but the final episode, it’s clear that there is truth in both of those conclusions. These actors have played their characters so well that it carried us through some of the show’s less eventful episodes. Whether it’s the acting, she storylines, the directing or the incredibly filmwork, this show deserves all of the acclaim that it has received.

More than any other show, the Sopranos was intriguing for so many reasons. One of the most intriguing aspects was the use of dreams. From Season 1, we see some of the wildest and most obscure dreams shot in some of the strangest places. And they never quite seem to make complete sense, no matter how many times you sit and debate them. I’m sure they’re candy for any psych-based doctors or students, but for me they’re just plain trippy.

And so we know that all good things must come to an end (or so we’ve been told). And with that, the institution that has been known to capture our minds on Sunday nights and serve as water cooler discussion for Monday mornings is coming to an end with next Sunday’s episode titled, “Made in America”. Personally I feel as if the show could have survived at least three more seasons (if they could only get the actors to agree on a fair salary). While I’m not quite as crass as the people who say that the writers “lost them” somewhere after Season 3, I do agree that this show left more loose ends dangling than my neighbor on her way to the beauty parlor. There’s so much that has been left unresolved. Why hasn’t Furio appeared again? And forgetting all of the other storylines and characters who we were waiting to see again, the one that sticks out in my mind was the ‘Pine Barrens’ episode. Did that Russian get away? I guess we’ll never know.

Somehow I do feel that the show went from a very paced one-hour journey over the first three seasons into this slow moving beast through Seasons 4 and 5. Season 6 feels as if it is trying to make up for lost time — like a person giving a speech who has dragged on for the past hour and now, given the word that they have five minutes to summarize, is throwing all of this information our way. I’m still digesting the fact that Christopher Moltisanti is dead. Season 6 makes me feel as if David Chase wants to make absolutely certain that the show never has a chance of reviving again.

Tonight was certainly one of those TV moments that makes you sit up and take attention. It’s strange when we grow so close to TV characters that you start referring to them on a first name basis — but that’s a reflection of just how well these actors played their roles. And such was the case for Steven Schirripa. Over the years we grew to love the weird dichotomy that was Bobby Bacala. He wears hunting outfits that make him look like a dork. He collects model trains. He falls in love with a woman who doesn’t deserve him. But Bobby was a special guy. He took care of his children and actually interacted with them on a very healthy level. He cared for Tony’s uncle Junior. And he was loyal to his crew. But of course, when the time came, like any other, Bobby knew how to ‘get down for his.’ Just say the word and he’d pull the drop on a guy. Strangely, tonight the fateful hit that dropped in the reverse direction felt as if it came a bit too soon.

When Christopher Moltisanti was rubbed out, it was understandable — his drug use made him a huge liability and losing Adrianna had more of an effect on him than even he realized. And with his eyes set on Hollywood and no more Adrianna, it was almost a sure thing that he’d give up his crew to the Feds. Same goes for Big Pussy. Same goes for just about every other character on the show who died. More often than not, as people on the show often say, “well, they had it coming.” But somehow this was different. Seeing Bobby die on those model trains did something to me. Yeah, I know he had rubbed out at least one character during the show’s reign. And yeah, I realize that if you play in this game that you’re risking your life with every breath that you take. But Bobby? Bobby seemed like the type of guy who could have left town (minus Janice) and made alright for himself in any line of work. But I guess that’s all done now.

And let’s not talk about Silvio. For me, Silvio represented the stability that was present in a world full of crisis. As Tony’s consigliere, Silvio Dante was a trustworthy, responsible guy who cared so much about Tony that he’d be willing to tell him when he was about to make a wrong decision. (“T, I think you’re makin’ a mistake.”) But who knows whether his wounds were fatal or not. By attacking these characters, David Chase and company are letting us know one thing: All bets are off. Previous hopes for a “Sopranos Movie” are a wash. Next week is it. By taking down Silvio and Bobby, all of our comfort zones have been removed.

The trailer for next week scares me. It’s funny — I was among those complaining that the show needed a hint of the unexpected (like when Tony took down Ralph Cifaretto over an argument about something petty.) But now I have to spend the next seven days wondering and worrying about the worst. Part of me feels that I’d just like to walk away with the happy, corny ending. Show Silvio patched up at ‘The ‘Bing’ doing the books while Tony sits across eating a biali and then roll credits. But looking at the trailer, you can tell that this isn’t how it will end. Somebody will die. Will it be Tony? Phil Leotardo? Carm? AJ? Meadow? Watching Tony hold an M16 by his side (presumably the same M16 that Carm went and pulled out of a china closet in Season 1) reminded us that this thing is coming to a close and somebody is going for the big sleep.

If Tony dies, it’s going to really break me up. While it’s shameful to watch these characters at their worst and horrifying to see just how little regard they have for human life, this is a guy who basically has served as our eyes from the first shot of the show. It was us, Tony and the waiting couch in Dr. Melfi’s office. (And now even that relationship is seemingly no more).

Regardless of how this ride ends, I certainly can’t wait until next week. The suspense is eating at me even now.

OK, forget this — I’m going to check out some spoiler sites. 🙂


4 Responses to “The Sopranos: The End of An Era”

  1. 1 ramblingjenn
    June 4, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    You are right it has been really slow! But finally got some good stuff! I hope Tony doesnt die! I hate Phil! and poor Bobby I wish it where Janice instead I cannot stand her!
    Rambling Jenn

  2. 2 Dave
    June 6, 2007 at 1:14 am

    The gun tony had with him was a birthday gift from bobby (remember the flashback) the gun carm pulled out of the closet in season 5 was an AK 47.

  3. 3 Dave
    June 6, 2007 at 1:15 am

    Sorry I meant season 1 and 5

  4. 4 SouthernSopranoFan
    March 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I know this article was written YEARS ago, but I hate it when someone who professes so much knowledge of a show misses something so blatant.

    Devon, the weapon that Tony totes to bed while hiding out from New York’s hit squad, is the M4 assault rifle that Bobby gave to him as a birthday gift while their families were vacationing together at Bobby’s cabin in the Adirondack Mountains (“Soprano Home Videos” Season 6; Episode 13).

    Besides that, great article.

    Too bad the Soprano ride had to end. Despite owning two different box sets, I still DVR each episode, wether its on A&E or HBO.

    David Chase, please bring back our “Family,” if only for a short encore!

    Warmest Regards,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: