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"Sopranos": One Left

By admin Published: June 4, 2007

Episodes, I mean. Although it's beginning to feel as if there's no need for a reunion movie ...

Bobby's dead, Silvio is apparently close, Tony's family has gone into hiding (and, in the middle of the crisis, AJ could think only of managing his own depression), Carmela worries too much about where she might have to stay, Melfi has dropped him as a patient -- and Tony is curled up in a safe house, on an uncovered mattress, his hands around his weapon, and the last best defense -- if he has one -- is Paulie. And Paulie's loyalty has always been open to question. (I did for a moment imagine Tony waking on his mattress to see Paulie and the guys standing around him, just before they shot him dead.) What a good episode.

Anyway, there have been signs, mentioned here before, that the show was heading toward a moment where Tony had no one around him. But good heavens, the way that we got there on Sunday! The chance of Tony ending up dead at series' end became ever more real, although I still don't accept it.

I think we're still headed more toward "The Godfather, Part II," with Tony alive but with no one still close to him. Of course, survival will depend on taking out Phil Leotardo -- who had a superb moment Sunday, trying to base his vendetta against Tony on tradition and honor, and who was allowed, at least for this week, to show that Tony and his guys were never as smart or able as they thought they were.

But apres Leotardo, quel deluge? My buddy Alan Sepinwall insists that Tony would never be allowed to run a New York family, so he can't assume ultimate power. How's this for bitter irony then? Tony kills Phil, ensuring his own survival but at a double price: the loss of so many of his people (leaving him with no one he can trust), and the ascension of Little Carmine, who finally becomes the New York boss but has neither risked nor lost anything to get there. A lovely form of hell, isn't it?

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