That leaves the question of who ends up with the power. Here's where I think something truly surprising is going to happen. A.J.? C'mon. Carmela? Nah. My vote is Janice. We've seen what she's capable of, and for all her crocodile tears, the woman may actually be tougher at heart than Tony. She could run New Jersey, easy....
Tony will run to his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, having nowhere else to go.
And they will finally make love. The transference will be complete. There'll be a shot of Tony on top of her, his frightening and enormous back covering her. Then a masked hit man will come into her bedroom and shoot Tony, killing him, and he'll die on and in Dr. Melfi.
The gunman will look at her, decide to spare her, and leave. There will be a final shot of her trying, futilely, to get out from under Tony, as his lifeless eyes stare ahead darkly, seeing nothing.
The central question is to what extent Chase wants to force us viewers to recognize the depth of our own complicity in deifying Sopranos culture: the ways in which we, too, have been seduced by a psychopath, drawn into a world of garish, secondhand violence that allows us to indulge in vicarious aggression while feeling superior. Tony Soprano shouldn't just get whacked. He should be humiliated, unmanned, made to simper and beg first. His infantile omnipotence (and our own) needs puncturing once and for all.
A.J. puts himself in harm's way out of a misguided attempt to right the world's wrongs and gets killed, Sil dies, and Tony decides to rat out New York, sending Phil Leotardo to jail forever and ever, which he so richly deserves. Tony, meanwhile, lands in his personal version of hell: a mediocre suburban existence, somewhere in the Midwest, under an assumed name. Carmela, lost without a steady flow of luxury gifts, drives her Porsche Cayenne into the side of the local Chili's, then takes to hanging out at the mall in a drunken stupor. Meadow stays behind and marries Parisi Jr., becoming the old Carmela. Last shot: Dr. Melfi, being served roasted duck while learning from Elliot that Tony has disappeared. Her face tells us that she blames herself, but we all know that she'll double-up on therapy until those irrational feelings of blame subside. We'll always blame her, though.
In the middle of the meal, Anthony excuses himself to take a pee, and Jr. always took a long pee, and quickly locates the gun Paulie has taped behind the old-style flush basin -- you know, the kind where the metal chain hangs down? The boy comes out blasting, wastes Phil, wastes the crooked cop, lets the gun drop out of his hand to the floor and does not stop walking until he gets to Sicily. Does Anthony fall in love in the old country? Of course he does! (The girl, played by Lindsey Lohan, is a Jewish Sicilian, and speaks in Sicilian dialect with subtitles.) Anthony brings her home to Jersey and, to make her family happy before the wedding, converts to Judaism.
In the scene in which we see him being circumcised, with blood flung across the Torah, we also see, inter-cut, enemies being whacked all over town. Anthony consolidating power like Michael in TWO, but also like Solomon in ONE. In the end, as he comes out of the schul, we see a great sense of power in his eyes -- but only for a moment, for then the entire tri-state area is swallowed by a mushroom cloud, as those Arabs who hung out at the Bing have finally accomplished their plan.
Let's face it: The show, the character of Tony himself, was built on the foundation of Livia's evil, pathological emotional greed, envy and hatred of men. 'The Sopranos' is, finally, a discourse on the crisis of masculinity in America. Abandoned by his mother, his shrink, his whores, his family, Tony will end as the last of the men -- like the last of the Mohicans, but without feathers (see Woody Allen and Emily Dickinson). His son is useless. His daughter is the new Michael Corleone, the Ivy League grad who takes the family into the new generation. Unlike Puzo, Chase insists on placing female characters at the center -- as they have always been in Italian American life; Puzo based the character of the Godfather on his mother, not on any man he ever knew. For 'Sopranos' fans, this is not a surprise.
And a letter:
Furio Giunta will return, kill Tony, and take up with Carmella. AJ will become Furio's button man after Furio tells him that the only thing that you can control is yourself. Dr. Melfi will kill Dr. Elliot Kupferberg and become Furio's comàre. Kupferberg's daughter, Saskia, will become lovers with Meadow. Paulie will hook up with, then kill Janice. Hesh will be offed by the great-grandson of some R&B one-hit-wonder that Hesh ripped off in the 50's. Artie Bucco will finally tire of his Charmaine's contant verbal castration and cut off her head and use it to make a light summer soup.