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Another Sopranos Post (Various Spoilers)

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I’ll refrain from guessing how the Soprano’s will end; we’ll find out soon enough. Spoilers ahead:

The return to relevance of Melfi might be the greatest accomplishment of the second half of the sixth season. I had come, like many others, to dread the Melfi appointments, as they stopped adding anything past about season three. This year they’ve become interesting again, first in the Moltisanti episode and later in response to the “sociopath” article. Tony’s conversations with Melfi in that episode (both real and imagined) gave some real insight into what Tony was thinking, and how he felt about Christopher’s wake. The “sociopath” comment also paid off quite nicely; I had initially thought that there was something not quite right about it, because Tony had clearly, over the years, seen some benefit from his therapy. During the last episode, though, I had to wonder if that was true. If maybe he’s been fooling Melfi such that she can’t trust her own appraisal, then maybe he’s been fooling the audience, too. Watching her lose trust in Tony, and become angry at herself for coming to grips with her voyeurism, was really wonderful television.

Last year Matt told me that he thought Tony had made a terrible mistake by not strongly backing Little Carmine in the power struggle with Johnny Sac. I disagreed, pointing out that the Mafia isn’t a zero-sum game; Johnny clearly seemed to be the more capable of the two, and it doesn’t necessarily do the Jersey crew any favors to have an inept partner in their many collaborative projects with New York. Now, I think I was wrong on the basic point and wrong on the logic. On the one hand, backing Little Carmine might have forestalled the rise of Phil Leotardo. On the other, I think that I may have mildly underestimated Little Carmine’s capabilities. He’s managed to stay alive in the bloodbath that New York has become, and to retain some influence within the family and with New Jersey. Malaprops aside, I think he’s acquitted himself well this season, suggesting that maybe he wouldn’t have been the complete, Fredo-esque disaster that I expected. The scene in which he described to Tony why he didn’t want to be Boss was priceless; his endless, tendentious, and boring interpretation of his dream was something that Tony, because of his own relationship with the dream world, had to respect.

As for Phil, well, he’s the revenge of Sonny Corleone. He doesn’t have Sonny’s style or sophistication, but he certainly has Sonny’s rage, brutality, and instinct for revenge. The Godfather taught us that Sonny’s day had passed, and that future crime bosses would have to be of the same ilk as Michael or Hyman Roth. Tony, being from Jersey, doesn’t really count, but Johnny Sack filled the bill quite nicely. Phil, though, shows us that murderous, almost indiscriminate brutality still counts for something.

Anyway, in preparation for the last episode, tonight we’ll be watching the first.

It’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that, I know. But lately I’m gettin’ the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.

…this shall serve as a Sopranos’ finale open thread.

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