Posted at 09:25 AM ET, 06/17/2007

Eureka! Solving 'The Sopranos'

I get it!

Or, to quote the jubilant Tony Soprano in the desert dawn, after waking next to his own Little Miss Sunshine: "I GET IT!" I've heard the Word, and the message is: Tony dies.

How do I know? Because one single image from last week's finale of "The Sopranos" had dogged me, pestered me, miffled me for days: The shot from the final scene immediately after Tony enters the eatery -- as the jump-cut allows us to view this father at a table, surrounded by a dozen or so diners.

That extreme horizontal framing. That central figure bathed in light. Those four framed rectangles in the background, with people all around.

Finally, it hit me like a bolt from the black. (As capo Bobby Bacala said on the boat this season: You probably won't even see/hear it coming.) Series creator David Chase, like Coppola and Scorsese and other great religion-steeped directors, was invoking a centuries-old painting that depicts a biblical scene.

That's right. His Last Scene is . . . The Last Supper.

Doubting my own eyes for a minute (hel-lo, Paulie Walnuts), I asked two other people to compare the painting and the screen image, and they -- eerily -- saw it, too. Eureka.

The Chasean catch: His shot looks less like da Vinci's depiction and much more like the 15th-century "Last Supper" painting by Andrea del Castagno, right down to the red-frocked person immediately flanking the central figure.

Once the viewer makes that connection, all the religious references, like tumblers, click into place. Of course, we must be mindful of Chase's earlier caveat that everything is upside-down in the dark and dying world -- or rather, Underworld -- of "The Sopranos." Tony Soprano, the God/Father, has lorded over a crew of disciples, he's just endured a betrayer (Carlo), and now he sits at the table of corruption, having converted his children for good.

Rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem, indeed. Herewith, the show's Twelve Cinematic Clues:

1. In a previous scene, Tony mocks Paulie Walnuts for seeing the Virgin Mary at the Bing. (Fun unrelated touch, btw: "Italian Sausage" sign is partially obscured to read: "Italian USA" -- a whole other show-theme.)

2. In another walk-up scene, the wife of Silvio lovingly tends and tidies her comatose husband's feet (nice Mary Magdalene moment).

3. Immediately before entering the diner, Tony's identity is denied by his Uncle Junior. (Tony: "You don't know who I am, do you?")

4. Tony then enters Holsten's diner (swell allusion to famed Swedish theologian Holsten Fagerberg, he of the Lutheran confessions).

5. To start the family's literal last supper, Tony orders a bread-and-wine Eucharist "for the whole table" (though the "made in the USA" version: onion rings and soda).

6. After looking at such song titles as "Magic Man (Live)" -- twice -- on the tabletop jukebox, Tony selects "Don't Stop Believing."

7. Wife Carmela (perfect name) enters and asks him: See anything that looks good? (Sound the trumpets of Genesis.)

8. Tony tells Carmela that his betrayer, Carlo (the one earlier seen eyeing the roast pork at the wake), is "going to testify."

9. Over Tony's shoulder, we clearly see a name on the wall: Phillip (name-checking one of Christ's disciples, naturally -- make whatever you will out of "Super Dave.").

10. The menacing Mystery Man in the Members Only jacket walks in after we've heard the third bell; Chase has acknowledged that his Members Only reference (also an episode title this season) is symbolic of being a member of the mob -- that is, one of the Godfather's disciples.

11. Each of Tony's children are "finally" career-corrupted in this episode: the parking-challenged Meadow, after many moral stops and starts (switching from healer to future defender of mob-connected folk); A.J. after agreeing to produce the would-be Antichrist's script, "Anti-Virus." And, significantly, they arrive at the table separately, of their own volition. (Carmela the Realtor -- she was once tempted by a priest -- of course earlier cashed her last moral chips by selling her not-built-to-spec house with help from Tony; minutes earlier, we'd seen her looking over a home brochure.)

12. And Chase -- as HBO confirms -- originally wanted to conclude the series with a full three minutes of cut-to-black screen. As in, the three minutes of silence commonly observed to mourn a victim -- and perhaps representing the three days before Christ's rising as the Bible describes.

So textured. So layered. So Coppola. And (if one pathetically can't recall his art history for days), perhaps so damned subtle.

So render unto David DeCesare Chase what is his: A delicious last meal of a scene stuffed and battered with religious imagery. Only here, at the center of the table of underworld conversion, Chase has cast a rough, end-times beast who fatally pinched Christopher (again, perfect name).

So to connect the dots: If the Last Supper was on the eve of Christ's arrest and imminent death, then Chase is indicating that Tony Soprano's death is imminent, too.

So there you have it. For those who cared most about that ultimate plot point, we have rendered sure cinematic judgment: Tony dies. (Do you care to deny us, Mr. Chase?) Now, the only remaining question: Will Tony be risen on the big screen?

Now, it's your turn. As we wash our hands of our ruling, we ask you: What are your thoughts, theories and verdicts? . . .

-- Michael Cavna, TV Editor, Style

UPDATE: Since many blog-posters have not only (1) acknowledged the Post's theory that David Chase enacts his version of "The Last Supper" in the finale, but also (2) have admitted my crackpot theory that Chase sprinkles clues from the actual "da Vinci Code Board Game" into the show -- bells to shells, cats to chalices, dolphins and da Vinci himself -- we offer our favorite "Made in America" series-relevant anagrams in true Dan Brown style:
5. I Am A Nice Dream; 4. Am a Dire "Ice" Man; 3. I, Made Man, I Care; 2. I Dream I Name A.C.; and 1. Care? Man, I Die, Ma." (And of course, our favorite anagram for David Chase remains: "Diva Chased.") -- MC

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Posted at 03:45 PM ET, 06/14/2007

Exhumed! The Alternate "Sopranos" Ending

Every time I think I'm done with "The Sopranos," I get a killer tip and -- yes -- "They pull me back in."
So, here goes -- once more into the breach...

This just in: David Chase wanted a different ending for "The Sopranos."

This just presumed: My-oh-my, the cable companies would have taken a whacking.

As theories continue to rage about the finale -- like a wildfire uncontained, thanks to the winds of the blogosphere -- HBO is now telling The Washington Post that series creator Chase originally sought something radically different:

He wanted to end the show with three minutes of blackout.

You read that right: Three minutes. As in "Three minutes of silence." As in, a self-contained eulogy for the show. As in, the phone lines at the Comcasts of the world would have been jammed by baffled, outraged, "miffled" viewers.

An HBO exec tells our Tom Shales that Chase, fortunately, was talked out of the extended blackout. But one can imagine how that might have been received.

As it is, the Web is ablaze with supposed finale clues, from the harebrained to the furballed. We've got reincarnated cats, allegedly meaningful song titles, even bogus claims that character Nikki Leotardo gets an end-credit in the finale.

Yes, in terms of conspiracy theories, the finale has become this decade's Zapruder film, except that: Lee Harvey Oswald may or may not be wearing a Member's Only jacket; there may or may not have been a second-shooter trucker on the grassy knoll; and instead of "Camelot's" Richard Harris, we were serenaded by Steve Perry.

Oh, the speculation, it goes on and on and on ....

We always knew David Chase had stones, but who knew they'd turn out to be quite so Rosetta. (In fact, speaking of Stones, someone get Oliver on the speakphone, so we can put all these theories to rest.)

The thing to remember, of course, is that there always were two shows: There was "The Sopranos," the rich, twisted, grisly narrative for the larger group of viewers; and then there was the meta-"Sopranos" containing a latticework of symbolism -- the "Mezzo-Sopranos," if you will -- for the rabid, clue-seeking fans.

Ourselves, we might well be blogging about another show that has a Rabid Fanbase Task Force -- perhaps we'll be transferred to "Jericho" Division. So before the "Sopranos" trail goes completely cold, we turn our files over to you, the die-hard fan.
Here are all the still-hot tips and dead-end leads we've received and collected from all you e-mailers, as well as colleagues and link-alerts -- draw your own conclusions. This last go-round before we cut-to-black is for you Mezzo-Soprano fans who like to wade deep.

Go to it, Agent -- It's your Journey now.

OUR SEVEN BURNING LEADS:
(aka THE ANNOTATED SOPRANOS 101)

1. What did the onion rings mean? They can symbolize coming full circle and unity and such, but our tastiest lead comes via thefaceknife.org, writing about "Sopranos" characters like Tony having an unchangeable nature in this tragedy.
Hot Tip 1: This school of writing (which Chase apparently subscribes to) metaphorically says: "You can't unfry things."
Hot Link: This dialogue from "Strangers With Candy": Chuck Noblett (Stephen Colbert) says to Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris): "Sorry won't make these onion rings golden brown. You can't unfry things! You can't change who you are!"

2. What's with that cat? Theories of Adriana la Cerva reincarnated as a cat abound.
Hot Tip 1: Chase's "Members Only" episode started with ancient Egyptian death beliefs -- a culture that spiritually worshiped the cat.
Hot Tip No. 2: Chase concluded the finale with a "Lady or a Tiger?" ending; Ade would embody both the lady and the "tiger."
Hot Tip No. 3: When the cat appears, the song played is "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" -- not only is "angel" significant, but the song is by Phil Spector -- someone whose female friend ended up shot dead, just like Christopher's Adriana (yes, mighty dark).

3. Is the diner real? The setting and people may be real, but suggestions are strong that Tony is perceiving "thought-dreams" during this scene.
Hot Tip 1: Earlier in the episode we hear Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma," which includes the lyric: "And if my thought-dreams could be seen / They'd probably put my head in a guillotine."
Tip No. 2: When Tony enters the diner, we hear Little Feat's "All That You Dream"; earlier in the episode, we also heard Sonic Youth's "I Dreamed, I Dream."
Tip No. 3: When David Chase exec-produced "Northern Exposure," the protagonist doctor (Fleischman's last episode) took off into the wilderness to find a mythical city.
Tip No. 4: Earlier in the episode, we are shown a clip of "The Twilight Zone."
Top No. 5: In the song we hear, "Don't Stop Believing," we hear the lyric "Born and raised in South Detroit"-- there is no "South Detroit," it does not exist but rather is a made-up place. (Some e-mailers also choose to hear: "Working hard to get my Phil.")

4. Is the guy in the Member's Only jacket real or otherworldly?
While it seems the guy is real, the coat is exactly the same type and color of Member's Only jacket that the character Eugene wore in the season opener -- when Tony wouldn't let him out of his mob "contract" -- suggesting that in Tony's thought-dream, the guy reminds him at least vaguely of Eugene, who committed suicide.
Hot Tip 1: In the Season 6 opener, Eugene is pictured when we hear William Burroughs's description of ancient Egyptian souls and death ("The Western Lands").
Hot Tip No. 2: Carmela asks Tony whether he "Sees anything good?" In their previous scene together, he had said: "I've got some people to see."
Hot Tip No. 3: On the tabletop jukebox, "Magic Man (Live)" appears twice.
Hot Tip No. 4: After Eugene kills someone in the season-opener, he hears the song "Dreamin' ."

5. Does Chase mean for the ending to be a true cliffhanger?
Tip: The Vanilla Fudge song "Keep You Hangin' On" is heard throughout the finale.
Tip: The "Don't Stop Believing" song lyric: "This movie never ends / It goes on and on and on."
Tip: The "I Dreamed I Dream" song lyric: "The days we spent go on and on."
Tip: Dialogue between Janice and Tony Soprano evoke John Sayles's cut-to-black film "Limbo."

6. Is Chase indicting America?
Only Tip We Need: First line of the season opener, an FBI agent quotes H.L. Mencken: "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

7. Was Chase eager to whack this show?
Hot Tip 1: AJ says he enjoys the thrill of simply seeing his SUV blow up.
Hot Tip No. 2: As Tony enters the last-scene diner, we hear the Little Feat song with the lyric: "Can't be round this show no more."

That's it. Our files are empty. Thanks to all you seriously devoted and sleuth-happy "Sopranos" fans.
On DVD and in reruns, it's your case now...

-- Michael Cavna,
Style, TV Editor

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Posted at 05:24 PM ET, 06/11/2007

The Finale

Don't tell me. Let me guess:

You hated -- no, despised; nay, felt utterly and completely *betrayed* by -- last night's "Sopranos" finale. If so, let me just say: "I feel your pain, paisan."

What's that -- no? You were among those who actually loved and relished how artful David Chase was with his cut-to-black sendoff?

If so, let me chime in: Amen to that, my fellow show-worshiper.

I'm conflicted, you say? No, not anymore. Unlike Tony Soprano's treatment plan, a single night of Talk Therapy did the trick. I'm "cured," I'm healed, I've had my Road to Damascus moment.

In the valley of bitter darkness of what's become the insta-immortal Cut to Black episode, I have seen the light. And lo, it is brilliant.

Nearly as brilliant as David Chase.

Hello, Fandango? Two tix to the "Sopranos" feature film, please -- whenever it may be. For surely it is coming (dare we call it a "Second Coming"?).

The cure? Call me slow, but I finally understand the Last Scene. And I am at peace.

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Posted at 02:57 PM ET, 06/ 8/2007

Murders, You Quote

Call all da guys. Put out the word. Fly in the "cousins from Italy." It's time.

Yes, bring all your envelopes to the Bing, "Sopranos" fans, because with the show about to fade-to-black, we need to know from youse wiseguys: What is your favorite "Sopranos" line ever? And, if youse care to elaborate: What is your favorite "Sopranos" scene ever?

With the "Made in America" finale airing Sunday, we open our e-borders: Bring us your favorite crackling dialogue, yearning to breathe free (okay, in some R-rated cases, perhaps semi-expurgated). Air your huddled opinions of best scenes, be it by land (Ade or Valery in the woods, Tony crunching through the snow), by air (Tony flying to Vegas or the Old World) or by sea (Big Pussy sleeping with the fishes, or Tony wading with the ducks).

Ellis Island may have mangled Phil Leotardo's original family name (Leonardo), but we'll more wisely hand you the stylus. The five families have gathered, and you've got the floor. Rock out ...

Meantime, to refresh six seasons of memories, we open our video vault and share our Top 10 passages (at least the ones we can print in a family blog):

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Posted at 06:21 PM ET, 06/ 7/2007

Sounds of 'The Sopranos'

David Chase has sleepy eyes, cool and heavy-lidded, as if he's seen most everything that life -- real or dramatized -- has to unspool. But ask him about music, particularly classic rock, and boy, do those peepers dance to a 4/4 beat.

Obscure songs by big-name artists. Big songs by otherwise-obscure groups. Everything from Rome-set opera to that lost John Cooper Clarke nugget, the expletive-laden "Evidently Chicken Town." Django to Wyclef Jean. Vivaldi to Van Morrison. From "Cake" to Cream to, well, Chicken, the show features one heckuva sonic smorgasbord.

With the finale at hand, we pause to acknowledge: The man is a walking Wikipedia of sound, complete with audio clips.

Directors from Coppola to Scorsese and Tarantino are often celebrated for their musical choices, but Chase certainly belongs in that soundtrack-sensitive pantheon. He, with one producer, reportedly picks all the music that fills the "Sopranos" jukebox, which at times can feel like "I, Claudius" meets "iTunes." And picking up on his attention to musical detail, many die-hard fans of the show delight in guessing which tune DJ David will spin next.

So among the most-debated questions for the finale -- somewhere after "Will Tony live or die?" but long before "Will the Smithsonian get Silvio's hairpiece for posterity?" -- is: What songs will Chase choose to go out on?

Herewith, then, our top-10 picks for the show's last waltz -- the acts, and songs, we'd put on Tony's final mixtape:

10. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND -- An obvious pick, what with the band's Van Zandt still (barely) breathing as Tony's consigliere Sil -- and thus a sentimental pick, as well. The real challenge is what to pluck from the massive catalogue of THE Boss. We're mighty tempted to choose "Meeting Across the River," the track from 1975's "Born to Run" (dealing with the desperate criminal), but ultimately we go with "Jungleland," its companion tune that has helped end so many Springsteen concerts. (Lyrical needle-drops: "The rat's own dream guns him down as shots echo down them hallways in the Night"; and: "And try to make an honest stand but they wind up wounded, not even dead.")

9. THE ROLLING STONES -- Another natural pick, given Chase's track record. And judging by blog postings, the go-to track would be "Sympathy for the Devil" (which another HBO show, "Entourage," has used as apparent jokey-homage to superagent Ari). But we're gonna go with "Moonlight Mile." From fading dreams to weather-as-psychological-state metaphor, it's chock full of the stuff of Chase loves. Plus it's got the lyric "coming home," which was rumored to be Chase's original title for the series pilot. (Lyrical needle-drop: I am just living to be lying by your side.")

8. THE BAND -- They're got everything to recommend them here: They were Dylan's backing band. They worked with Scorsese. Robbie Robertson appears on the "Raging Bull" soundtrack. And Marty's concert documentary about them was so fittingly called "The Last Waltz." So we'll pick a tune from that film's soundtrack. "Ophelia?" Shakespearean overtones, but really, notsomuch. "I Shall Be Released"? misses somehow. No, we'll go with "The Weight" -- if only for the lyric that echoes Chase's use of Yeats's slouching-toward-Bethlehem poem "Second Coming": "I pulled into Nazareth, I was feeling about half-past dead / I just needed some place where I can lay my head... "

7. DJANGO REINHARDT -- Chase, a man who likes to spend some time nearer to Paris, surely must appreciate the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. And for the finale, we venture that he'll pick "Avalon." (Soundtrack footnote: In Scorsese's "The Aviator," Scorsese chose Benny Goodman's "Avalon.")

6. THE DOORS -- The penultimate episode kept up the drumbeat of references to terror and war, so we'll pine for the eerie, evocative "The End" because, well -- if it was good and great enough for Coppola amid the terror and war of "Apocalypse Now." But that pick's too on the nose for Chase. "Moonlight Drive"? "Strange Days"? Nah, we'll go with the novelty of Kurt Weill's "Alabama Song / Whiskey Bar." (Lyrical needle-drops: "We've lost our good old mama" (possible plot turn?) and "I tell you we must die.")

5. FRANK SINATRA -- How can an epic about Jersey -- and the Mob -- not include Ol' Blue Eyes? But talk about your king-sized catalogues. While Tony has often insisted on doing it "My Way," we lean toward something off of "In the Wee Small Hours": In a toss-up, we pick "Mood Indigo" over "Deep in a Dream."

4. BERNSTEIN, LAURENTS AND SONDHEIM / "WEST SIDE STORY" -- Again, judging by Chase's track record, the smart money might better be placed on Ella Fitzgerald or R.L. Burnside or Led Zeppelin ("Gallows Pole," anyone?). Or perhaps, as a side bet, another cut from Scorsese's "Raging Bull": Say, Guglielmo Ratcliff's Intermezzo. But with an episode title like "Made in America," we'd love to see Chase quick-dip into the soundtrack of "West Side Story", what with the New York gang fight AND Shakespearean contexts -- not to mention a lead named Tony.

3. PINK FLOYD -- "Comfortably Numb" (the version off Scorsese's "The Departed") figured prominently this season. So Chase could go back to this well, if not "The Wall." But we're convinced he'll tap "Hey, You" because of: (a) its creepy sound capturing a mind off-kilter; (b) the lyric "Well, we've only got an hour of daylight left / better get started " (to the on-click of TV); and (c) again with the lyric "I'm coming home" (for full Chasean relevance, see "Stones, Moonlight Mile" above).

2. VAN MORRISON -- Based on past episodes, Chase quite likes Van the Man, from "Mystic Eyes" (with Them) to his newer duet-work on "Comfortably Numb" (see FLOYD, PINK above). So while we're again dealing with one enormo discography, we'll single out "Rough God Goes Riding." So Apocalyptic. So End Times. So, well, Yeatsian (Chase again favoring those Irishmen). (Lyrical needle-drops: "And it's a matter of survival / When you're born with your back against the wall" and "There'll be nobody hiding / When that rough god goes riding on in.")

1. BOB DYLAN -- In the top spot, it's gotta be Zimmy. But where-oh-where to begin from a man who's written and wailed it all. There's always "Joey," the gangster tale with the shootout in the clam bar (shades of "The Godfather"). But we'll go with (drumroll, please)... "Desolation Row". It lulls us, droning stanza after stanza, into some sort of quixotic dream-state, punctured by the killer chorus -- much like the show itself. Need proof, check the song's references. It's got the Bible (brother-to-brother murder and Noah's great rainbow), it's got Shakespeare (Meadow as Ophelia? And her moaning Romeo, Parisi?). It's got religion (the priest and the monk). Plus, it name-checks "all the agents" and "the superhuman crew." And it's got Chase's beloved "moon" references (the satellite nearly hidden). David Chase, you're far, far more skilled at filling the cinematic jukebox than us, obviously, but we beseech you: Let Tony's final walk be along desolation row.

Now it's your turn. Give us your verbal mixtapes. You spin, we'll listen. What songs should fill the finale? ...

-- Michael Cavna,
TV Editor, Style

Note: SPOILER ALERT: In today's TV Column, Lisa de Moraes discusses rumored endings for the series finale: Hey Don't Whack the Messenger

And, David Chase has given almost no interviews in recent weeks, but he made time for our Tom Shales. Be sure to check out Shales's story in Saturday's Washington Post. Plus, several staff writers script their dream finales for the show.

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Posted at 02:20 PM ET, 06/ 6/2007

Safe House of Cards

In David Chase's world -- where the cruelest, most lethal relationships often lurk beneath one's own roof -- perhaps no single term is quite as oxymoronic as "safe house."

For six riveting seasons, we've borne witness: In one's castle looms attempted hits (beware even your own mother and uncle), successful hits, suicide attempts, even Monopoly throw-downs. A well-informed mobster isn't even safe venturing to the end of the driveway for the newspaper (this season, it's been particularly dicey picking up the newsprint, it being a bad-news bellwether of getting 'cuffed or fatally cuffed; in a mobbed-up household, does no one close to Newark but AJ think to click on starledger.com?)

Yes, inside the David Chase model home -- the one fronted by the fall-of-Roman columns -- you're lucky to get off with just a character assassination.

Yet it's precisely in a safe house where Tony Soprano now lies alone in a room, save for his semiautomatic and a host of personal demons (from which there's no hideout). Downstairs is a ragtag crew, perhaps harboring a Brutus or two. And for safety's sake, there's no Carmela, Meadow or AJ inside this safe house. On Sunday, Agent Harris said the anti-terrorism beat means not sleeping and not seeing one's family. That apparently holds true, too, when one leads a life of domestic terror; as Tony sits awake in the moonlight, we hears the strains of the Tindersticks: "Running wild through my mind that I can't sleep tonight..."

The lion may yet sleep tonight, but what will happen come morn, in the cold light of the finale? For that, we turn to addressing yesterday's "Ten Burning Questions"...

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Posted at 01:12 PM ET, 06/ 5/2007

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.


Is Paulie firmly behind Tony or is he behind what may happen to Tony in the finale? (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

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:

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Posted at 10:54 AM ET, 06/ 4/2007

Slouching Toward the Showdown

With seven days till showdown, Tony Soprano quite literally is on a fast-car to End Times.

And show creator David Chase -- who at the end of the day loves him some Rolling Stones as much as any group -- all but played "Sympathy for the Devil" over the end credits.

T., visiting son A.J. prior to his release, punched the sixth-floor button last night while on the elevator car. Cut to close-up: Tony's pudgy digit is pressing the lighted "6" next to the raised-symbol "6" and -- apparently -- a Braille "6." (Did you see it differently?) Mark of the rough beast, indeed.

Not much later, Bobby Bacala -- the former chauffeur who in his own play-world wears the conductor's hat -- gets his train ticket punched. (Confirming widespread rumors given the show's "The Blue Comet" title -- about as obvious a tip-off as Chase would ever allow.) This not long after Tony, in regards to Bobby, references the Stones's "Exile on Main Street."

Little did we know the Main Street in question would be populated with tiny little train people, hands over their mouths in comic horror.

And of course, the episode ends with Tony "Moonlight Mile" Soprano alone in his room, awaiting his O.K. Corral moment, bathed in the moonlight. (Although he's sharing the safehouse with the way-too-cool Paulie, who seems conspicuously two-faced at this point.)

Now, with one episode to go (reportedly titled "Made in America"), cue Stones music:

"Please allow T. to introduce himself...."

And now cue to your responses: What did you think of last night's episode, and where is the finale headed?

-- Michael Cavna,
TV Editor, Style

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Posted at 02:57 PM ET, 06/ 1/2007

Waking Bob Newhart

Our streetside espresso cuts the brain-fog nicely, and this morning's chilled cannoli isn't half-bad, but easily the tastiest thing on our al fresco table today is all this blog-post feedback from "Sopranos" addicts. Theorizing about the finale is proving to be one provocative parlor game. Will the feds flip T.? Will Carm put her hubby in harm's way? And can the show really whack Tony when there's so much rabid fan hope for a feature film (Czech Interior Decorator on May 31, 2007 at 5:41 PM and Mark on May 31, 2007 at 3:02 PM)? Oh, we're deep into Geekville now. And it's delicious.

Under an awning that almost says Satriale's if we squint just right, we pore over your hundred or so e-replies, which in turn spur us to riffle through our reporter's notebook for clues. Agent Harris, eat your heart out.

One blog-poster mentions the Suzanne Pleshette plot twist from the "Newhart" finale, which gets us to thinking: Maybe our best leads lie in TV's other big finales. Lessee here...

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Posted at 11:12 AM ET, 05/31/2007

The Beginning of the End

Suddenly, we empathize with the FBI.

As "The Sopranos" -- HBO's landmark mob hit about both family and the Family -- nears its series finale June 10, our speculation grows about what will happen in the show's big finish. Unfortunately, there's not a reliable informant to be found.


Tony, like all of the show's fans, await the final June 10 verdict. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

Like the G-men on the show, we find ourselves on the outside looking in, and no one affiliated with the series is "dropping dime" about major plot twists. (Will Tony Soprano be whacked? Will rival Phil Leotardo get vengeance?
And will wife Carmela sell both homes and soul?) We seek tips. We need leads. We want names. But there's not a "canary" to be found in the crew; heck, not even Tony's beloved ducks are squawking to the press.

We even looked show creator David Chase dead in the eye this season, in hopes it would be a window to a sole story-line. We shook his hand, smiled, then grilled him in the hopes he'd tip his hand. The man, alas, is as cool as calamari on ice. Makes Paulie Walnuts look like Barney Fife, in fact.

So in our desperation, we're turning to the next best authority: "Sopranos" addicts. We're giving youse wise guys the same job to pull as we've given several of our Style writers: Tell us by blog-post how you see the finale playing out.

Who might sleep with the Hudson River fishes? Should there be a bang-bang showdown at the Bada-Bing? Could someone in Tony's crew or family turn on him -- or might Melfi have to break doctor/mob boss confidentiality and rat him out? And might Tony, locked in a battle with the New York mafia, turn tipster to federal agents?

If the FBI won't help Tony, we'd be happy to offer journalistic protection. But first, he -- like you -- has got to give us something . . .

--- Michael Cavna,
TV Editor, Style

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