Ten Burning Questions
Somewhere, we knew, "The Sopranos's" big boss was hiding out, clutching a lethal gift close to his heart and awaiting the final barrage. It was High Noon in New Jersey, and one man now wore the largest target on his back.
The wanted man in question? We refer not to Tony Soprano but rather to the boss: David Chase. Somewhere, the series creator was holed up, having gone mum and underground, brandishing the finale's hush-hush script at an undisclosed location.
Fortunately, we had our best man on the case. Tom Shales tracked down Chase at his safe house this week in France -- far from Hollywood, New York or Newark and somewhat out of the line of hype. Chase talked, but did he give up the goods? We'll have to wait till Shales files his report to the home office (look for it in Style this week).
In the meantime, though, we pose our top-10 list of pressing questions to Chase, if he were filled to the gills with the "truthiness" of sodium pentothal. They are:
1. Has Paulie turned traitor? Is Paulie "Pepe Le Pew" Walnuts working both sides of the asbestos-laden river, Mr. Chase, or were you just serving up cinematic red herrings in the previous episode?
2. Have we really seen the last of Melfi? Sure, the doc endured a ripped-out rib eye recipe -- and more profoundly, of course, the mockery of her professional peers -- but is that really enough to prompt her to go cold turkey on Tony? "Departures," indeed.
3. Have we seen the last of Agent Harris? Was Harris's tipping-off to Tony his final plot relevance, or will the feds prove integral in the finale?
4. Must a child die for the sins of the (god-)father? Given so many nods to both William Shakespeare and Mario Puzo, must AJ or Meadow really be sacrificed in the finale?
5. What will be the show's last big water moment? The pool's been drained, the ducks have flown. Bobby, AJ and Paulie (unlike Big Pussy) all escaped potential watery graves this season, but mustn't someone yet sleep with the fishes, if not the mallards?
6. Will we get a cinematic showdown a la "High Noon"? In the penultimate episode, the Tony/Melfi showdown scene opened with the classic Western long-shot -- two lone figures facing off, armed only with verbal darts and unresolved tension. But what spur-chinging Gary Cooper moment will the finale hold?
7. Will Parisi live up to his name and really end up the patsy?
8. Will we see the sudden return of a long-lost character? Wherefore art thou Furio, say, or the "Pine Barrens" fugitive?
9. Would whacking Tony be too, well, cliched?
10. And what will be your last classic-rock track? The Stones? Floyd? Doors? Mott the Hoople? In its own way, this is almost as tantalizing a question as finding out who'll be rubbed out next.
TOMORROW, we offer our thoughts on each of these questions. For now, we leave it to you so that the minds of cooler, wiser "Sopranos" addicts might prevail. What are your thoughts and theories?
-- Michael Cavna,
TV Editor, Style
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