The Sopranos: Banga Banga Bing
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
By: Charles Giuliano - Jun 06, 2007
The suspense is killing. Just one to go. Sunday night, that's it after six great seasons for HBO's keystone, The Sopranos. It comes down to moidah in joisey. The series is devolving into a bloodbath with few of the nuances and cliffhangers that have sustained it over the past. Cast members are dropping like flies and seemingly more to come in one last shootout. We wonder just who will be left standing.
The moral of the epic tale of a mafia family and their rule is that crime does not pay. The redeeming element of Tony's character, a certain moral ambivalence, is no longer there. There is no salvation for the hood with a heart of gold. Evcn his patient and long agonizing therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Branco) has been convinced by colleagues that there is no "talking cure" for a sociopathic killer. Instead of the usual banter in a therapy session she has a cold heart in tossing him summarily out of her office. One last time Tony sticks a menacing finger into her face stating that this is particularly cruel at the very moment then he is dealing with the attempted suicide of his son who may indeed have inherited the family curse of depression and madness.
Two weeks ago we were riveted when the pathetic A.J. (Robert Iler) attempted suicide in the family pool. The very place, back in the first season, where Tony's psychological issues surfaced when he passed out after a family of visiting ducks departed. But in the final meltdown Tony hasn't a shred of compassion as he ordered A.J. to get out of bed, dressed and rush to join the family in hiding. There is no time for psychology or pampering the weak and depressed son who is a whimpering mess on the floor.
The wheels of utter destruction have been set in motion by New York boss Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) a one dimensional thug of the old school who has ordered a hit on the New Jersey family starting at the top with its three leaders, Tony (James Gandolfini), his big lug of a brother in law, Bobby Bacala (Steve B Schirripa), and the shrewd and loyal Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt). Tipped of the impending war the hot headed and inept Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) imported assassins from Italy to whack Phil on his regular night out with his goomah. Trouble is they got the wrong man and address and Phil is in deep cover until after the war. Tony's other member of the inner circle, a nephew, Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) had recently self destructed by being goaded into drinking and using by Paulie. Seeking out his AA sponsor, in a rage, Christopher ended up murdering him. Christopher slid down the slippery slope of ultimate doom. Tony had been eyeing him with suspicion all along and seized the moment to snuff him when Christopher lay dying of internal injuries when he flipped the SUV while driving high on coke.
Of the three leaders Bobby is the first to go in a typically brilliant bit of writing. His character is the meek and long suffering inner child brutalized by Tony's sister from hell, Janis (Aida Turturro). Other than Tony's deceased mother Livia (Nancy Marchand) there was no more annoying and mean spirited character in the series. Janis had many of her mother's qualities, but, for Italians like Tony, family is family. Janis showed up one last time to hit up Tony for money for Uncle Junior, the now broke, senile, former boss about to be moved to a state facility which Janis describes as a 'snake pit.' Some time back Junior and Livia conspired to put a hit on Tony so there is no pity or love lost on his uncle. He tosses a C note to Janis. Bobby, instead of contributing some of his considerable earnings to help Uncle Junior is instead in a hobby shop bartering to buy a set of vintage Lionel trains for several thousand dollars. Bobby, after all, is just a big kid who happens to be a Mafia made man. Bobby is gunned down in the toy store. Silvio gets hit while exiting the Bing with a box of files. We later learn that he is unlikely to recover.
Which leaves Tony like a cornered rat racing home to get his family under cover "until this blows over." Which, of course, is not likely to happen. The only one still standing of Tony's crew is Paulie Walnuts, who, as the name implies, is a useless nut case. Tony, until now, has wanted to whack Paulie but, ironically, there is nobody left.
What of Carmela? When Tony comes home to hastily push her into deep cover, she is having a little tea and sympathy session with Rosalie (Sharon Angela) who is herself no stranger to tragedy as Tony had previously whacked her son. All those years of denial and greed come crashing down in a moment of impending oblivion. But Tony obliquely and unconvincingly conveys that in these Mafia wars "They never go after the families." For years Tony has been stashing away assets telling her "just in case something happens to me."
So this is it. The time has come. In the closing moments of last week's next to final episode we saw Tony and the remnants of his crew retreating to a safe house. Tony went to bed staring at the door, sitting up with an AK 47. The credits rolled. Now we know for sure something terrible is going to happen. There will be no witness protection. Carmela's little delusion is shattered. Meadow will struggle in law school. Perhaps. There will be nobody there to prop up the pathetic A.J. After six glorious seasons it will all come down to this terrible end. Like millions of other Soprano's fans, I can't wait. But then what? HBO will never be the same.