Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Sopranos: It's going down

Episode 86: "The Blue Comet"

This expression on the train store figure best represented the whole episode

It's taken me a while to post about this episode, perhaps because I have such mixed feelings about it and what it represents.

As the second-to-last episode of one of the best television shows in history, it was a taut, emotional, nail biting affair on par with some of the best eps in the show's history.

But as a reminder that all things are not going to end well in Sopranoland, and that the end is coming sooner, not later, the show left me with a hollow feeling inside instead of being pumped up to find out how it all will ultimately conclude.

These feelings (could it be, depression?) started with the cop-out killing of Christopher. His death was not unexpected, but the manner in which he departed-with Tony's clammy paw squeezing the final breath out of Chrissy's wrecked body-was such a cheap & easy demise for such a beloved cast member that it left many diehard fans wondering what kind of cockamamie calamities were in store for the rest of the family.

Many of those questions were sadly answered this week when not one but two more key soldiers in the Soprano army bit the dust: Tony's kind-hearted brother-in-law Bobby Bacala, and everybody's favorite second banana, T's quiet & loyal captain, Silvio Dante.

Once again, no real surprises here, especially when early on we witness Phil & his henchmen meeting to discuss the destruction of the Jersey family once & for all.

Stating his utter contempt for that "pygmy thing over there", in his icy calm monotone Phil declares that he's "made a decision" regarding the situation, and that decision is to "decapitate and do business with whatever's left".

And just like that, it's on.

Tony gets tipped off to the contract taken out on him & his crew from Agent Harris after a testy conversation between the two at Satriale's. Harris reveals that Tony's "problem with Brooklyn" could be ready to flare up again, and while Tony brushes off the notion, Harris ensures him the threat is real.

T. realizes that Harris' info is legit after Sil informs him that he had to take out one of the guys in their crew, Gene Pontecorvo, because he was "playing both sides of the fence" with Brooklyn and wanted Sil to join him. Sil gave him his answer in one of his best scenes since he clipped Adrianna, choking the rat with a garrote wire in a terrific & tense intro, yet another Godfather homage.

The buddies enjoy a final moment of camaraderie before the walls come tumbling down

Tony tells Sil & Bobby that they need to hit Phil first, and orders a couple of contract killers be flown over from the mother land (no, it wasn't Furio) to carry out the hit. Paulie is given the word that's he's to run the show, but for some sneaky reason he passes off the assignment to Patsy Parisi. Hmmm...

Unfortunately Phil sniffed out the potential hit and went into hiding, and instead the zip guys offed a Ukrainian Phil look-alike and his daughter, a profound error that will come back to haunt at least one if not all of the Jersey boys.

In the meantime Tony's world is crumbling around him. Upon reading the thesis her shrink told her about regarding treating sociopaths, Melfi decides she's had enough of Tony's crocodile tears and narcissistic behavior and dumps him as a patient.

"You're cutting me loose after my son gets out of the hospital for trying to kill himself?! As a doctor I want to say that I think what you are doing is immoral," he tells her as he exits her office for the last time. Pot kettle, kettle black.

On top of that rejection, Carm & T. are unhappy with Meadow's decision to drop out of med school, and although AJ has left the $2200/day psych ward, he still displays signs of depression (like watching war footage on CNN at full volume).

All of this adds up to the stunning conclusion, as Phil's plan gets put into motion to take out the top three guys in the Jersey crew: Bobby, Sil and the don himself.

In another of the series' long line of heart-wrenching scenes, Bobby is the first to go when he is cornered at the train store buying an $8K 'Blue Comet' set for him and his son. Perhaps it was the fact that Bobby was so damn likable, or that at the time of his demise he wasn't plying hookers or doing blow, he was acting like the caring family man he is, or maybe simply that his killing was so harsh (did they really need to shoot him 21 times? message sent, Phil), but for me the death of Bobby Bacala was one of the sadder moments in series history.

As if that weren't bad enough, the next to go is the ever-likable Sil. Leaving the Bing with Patsy, the two are met by another one of Phil's hit squads in the parking lot, and although Patsy gets away and Sil is shot to within an inch of his life, the scene itself really signified more than any other that this whole thing is really about to end.

For good.

As Tony receives word that his mean are all dropping like flies, he informs Carm to take the kids to a safe place as he and Paulie head to one of their safe houses to ride out the storm. "Families don't get touched, you know that," he tells her, and if that is a whopper from the 'small consolation' department, I don't know what is.

After T. drags a regressing AJ out of bed by his head and screams at him to pack up and help his mother through this, Tony & Paulie head to the safe house where they meet Patsy & Benny. The boys order a piazza while Tony heads to an upstairs bedroom, locks the door, and lies on the bed in the dark, fully clothed, with the assault rifle Bobby gave him for his birthday across his lap, finger on the trigger, ready to shred anything that comes through that door.

And so we wait with him for the finale on Sunday, when we will get to see how this saga all plays out. Theories abound on how it will end on the internets, including Paulie the rat telling Phil where to find Tony, AJ knocking off his father for being the source of all his sadness, to a distraught Janice icing her brother just as she had coolly killed Richie Aprile because she feels Tony is responsible for Bobby's death.

The way Chase has thrown curve balls all these years, I'm not even going to speculate how it all goes down. I don't believe that Tony will be alive when the dust settles, but I do know one thing... matter how it all ends, who lives & who dies, the hardest part of all is going to be hearing that theme song for the final time and realizing that at 10:00 pm EST tonight, one of the greatest cultural phenomenons in entertainment history will leave our Sunday viewing schedule forever.

And you can guarantee that it will go out with a badda bang.

No comments: