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March 31, 2006

Sopranos sixth season predictions

Antonin Scalia says that his critics have seen too many episodes of The Sopranos. No doubt he's right. After three episodes of  The Sopranos I'm going to make a few predictions for the sixth and final season.

Tony Soprano will survive Season 6 and he will probably stay out of jail. He will live to see his empire unravel. 

The decline of the mafia is a long-running theme in The Sopranos. At some level, all the characters understand that the glory days mob are over. At this point, Tony looks like the last don. The old traditions are crumbling and there's no clear line of succession. His son AJ is weak and  ineffectual and his nephew Christopher is distracted and embittered. So far, Tony has held the family together through cunning and charisma. However, now that Tony has been shot and severely incapacitated, he will be hard pressed to hold on to power.

I expect captains Vito and Paulie to challenge Tony's leadership very soon. They've already been set up as the disloyal schemers who didn't want to kick in their share the Colombian heist to Carmela when Tony was in the hospital.

In the last episode, Vito had Phil Leotardo over for dinner. Phil is the acting boss of New York now that Johnny Sac is in jail. Last season, Tony Soprano thwarted Jimmy's desire to torture Tony's cousin to death. Tony's cousin killed Phil's brother in a clear violation of protocol. Technically Phil was entitled to deal with his brother's killer as he saw fit. However, Tony killed his cousin before Phil could get to him. Phil didn't get closure. So, he's still nursing a vicious grudge against Tony.

Ann Althouse expects Vito to get whacked soon because he's too fat and boring to be a main character. I'm not so sure. Vito is getting a new lease on life in the sixth season. Previously, he was just a fat perv. Now, he's slimmed down and talking himself up as the young healthy man who's ready to lead the Jersey mob. He's clearly sizing up the vengeful Phil as an ally. Vito may get whacked eventually, either by Tony's people or by New York, but not before he makes a major move against Tony.

I predict that Silvio will be the next major character to get killed. Episodes 2 and 3 remind us that Sil is old school and loyal to Tony. As acting boss, Sil safeguards Tony's interests and insists that the other captains chip in for Carmela.

Sil's key decision as acting boss is to come down on Paulie and Vito when they try to hold out on Carmela. The conflict between Sil the two recalcitrant captains establishes Sil as a traditionalist holding the line against the unscrupulous upstarts. Paulie and Vito don't follow the Mafia's moral code. If they did, they would feel an obligation to take care of Carmela and the kids the way Tony took care of Big Pussy's widow Angie.

In an important conversation just before Tony wakes up, Vito and Paulie agree that paying Carm is waste of money if Tony is on the way out. As far as they are concerned, they don't owe Carm a thing once Tony's dead. They only pay up when they realize that Tony is going to wake up after all.

When Vito and Paulie hand over the cash to Carmela at the hospital they put on a dutiful show, but Carm catches the expressions on their faces before the elevator door slides shut. She realizes that these guys aren't loyal to her or her husband.  Now Carm realizes the awful truth: Tony can't command the loyalty of his entourage. She now knows that the code is dead. Tony always told Carm that "the family" would look after her if anything happened to him.  Now she's starting to realize that Tony's captains don't care about their traditional responsibilities. If he falters, they will cut her loose.

Sil appears to be sidelined in Episode 3 when he is hospitalized for a stress-induced asthma attack. This is an important development because it shows that Tony's staunchest ally is nearly as weak as Tony.

Nor can Tony expect much help from his nephew Christopher who who's busy making a mobster horror move. In this season, Chris takes advantage of Tony's infirmity to go back on his promise to his uncle to give up the movie business and dedicate his life to the mob. Chris tells the stuporous Tony that he's entitled to do the movie project because he sacrificed his girlfriend Adrianna. (Chris turned over Adrianna in season five when he found out that she was snitching to the FBI.)

When Tony emerges from the coma at the end of Episode 3, a lot of staring and drooling ensues. We are to conclude that the doctors' dire predictions have come true and that Tony is severely brain damaged. No doubt he will recover considerably, but it's going to be a long road back. (We can only hope that Tony's recovery will mean an end to the pretentious "Kev Infinity" dream sequence.)

The writers have been fascinated by the intersection dementia and criminality since the first season. They've already explored this theme twice before: Tony's mother and Uncle Junior. Mafia dramas are about nested propositional attitudes: "He knows that I know that I she knows..." Dementia adds a new dimension. Sometimes it's advantageous to let people think that you don't know what's going on, even if you do. On the other hand, if you are losing your faculties, you've got to hide your weakness from people who might want to take advantage.

A lot of people expect Tony's loser son  AJ to die soon. Tony and Carmela always worried that AJ would find his way into the mob. The kid is clearly too soft and stupid to survive for long in the underworld. However, he just flunked out of college and recently set himself the task of executing Uncle Junior for shooting his dad. Tony's associates talked AJ out of it this time. The writers are clearly hinting that Tony's spoiled son is on his way out. I'm sure AJ's character is ultimately doomed, but I'm not sure whether he's in imminent danger.

In a key sequence in Episode 3, Carmela exploded at AJ and told him that he was nothing more than a cross for his family to bear. I suspect that the writers won't kill off AJ any time soon because he's a well-developed character who's poised to get into interesting trouble.

Tony's brother-in-law Bobby is another wildcard. Bobby is one of Tony's captains, but he's also a loyal henchman of Uncle Junior, the former titular head of the Soprano family. Now that Junior is in jail for shooting Tony, Bobby is fighting Tony's other captains for his share of Junior's old turf. Bobby is angry at Paulie and Vito for cheating him out collections in Junior's neighborhood. (I think that the big Colombian heist also took place in a disputed zone. Bobby doesn't know that yet, but it's safe to assume that he'll find out soon.) I'm going to take a flier and suggest that Bobby will side with Tony in the upcoming power struggle with Vito and his allies. By the end of the show, Bobby could easily end up running the Soprano family.  

Okay. Those are my predictions. I'm dying to know what uber-Sopranophile Scott Lemieux thinks as we approach Episode 4.


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Excellent rundown, and by and large I think the predictions are good ones. I really, really doubt that Tony will survive to the end, though. I agree with Tim Goodman (Chronicle critic), who expects Tony to get whacked (or die from natural causes--hey, who knows?) no later than 4 episodes from the David Chase can explore the aftermath.

I am damn glad that coma sequence is (apparently) over. One episode of that was plenty for me.

If Tony dies, I expect it to be very late in the 6th season. They've still got those coda episodes to do before the show ends. It would be asking a lot of the fans to go through six episodes of season six and the coda without James Gandolfini.

No, no, no. There will be no decline of the mob. This season is and will be about Carmella becoming a Soprano, admitting (as she just did) that she secretly liked the mob power/money/etc., and ultimately running the family business with, and, while Tony is recuperating, for Tony. She will order a hit on Uncle Junior, whom she never liked and who is responsible (along with Tony's mom) for trying to have Tony killed in season one. She might even kill him herself. Tony will fall in love with Carmella all over again, the family will be stronger and his therapy issues will be resolved (finally (re-)admitting that his mother and Junior tried to kill him, etc.). If there is going to be a surprise death, I would expect it to be Meadow (a la Godfather III), but I think it's just as likely the core family will survive intact. Also, I predict a Godfather I style blood-letting of all those who fail their loyalty tests this season.

Also, previously fat guy will kill Meadow's boyfriend, and this will push Meadow into a Connie Corliogne-esque conversion. And AJ will perform key acts of violence to save familty members, earning his mother's love.

I don't know. I like quisp's theory. I just don't see how they could tell that story plausibly.

Carm wouldn't command the loyalty of any of Tony's captains even if Tony endorsed her as the interim leader. She has studiously ignored the business for too many years to take control now.

If Tony dies, I expect it to be very late in the 6th season. They've still got those coda episodes to do before the show ends. It would be asking a lot of the fans to go through six episodes of season six and the coda without James Gandolfini.

Oh, definitely. That's why I figured he couldn't die right now. But I do think he will die eventually.

Interesting stuff ... My ultimate prediction is that, like Tony's Italian cousin, Carmela will rise to the leadership while keeping vegetable Tony around for appearances .. that would be a great ending to me

But now that everyone thinks Tony dying is the obvious thing, how will they find a satisfying and novel way to do it? Six Feet Under had a similar problem in its last season, when nearly everyone expected Nate Jr. to die. They solved it by making it look like he was certainly going to die, then playing it as a complete fake-out, then killing him abruptly. Is Sopranos doing the same thing by having Tony get shot, then recover?

yeah, some of the captains will have to go. but i think the answer is that carmella will command respect as tony's mother did, from behind the scenes. it makes good psychological sense that tony would have and would be working out his problems with his mother through his choice in spouse, i.e. unconsciously choosing someone as a spouse who could help him resolve his unresolved feelings re mom. anyway, i don't think carmella would need to command anything directly. it would be enough that they work as a team. that is, finally dovetailing the love story and the mob story and the family story into one and the same story.

tony will not die. tony will not die.

Carm might be able to take over some quasi-legitimate side of the business and leverage influence from there. However, in order to really wield power behind the scenes, she needs to be operating from a position of strength.

Tony's mom started exerting her influence while she was married to a successful mobster. When he died she developed some unspecified relationship with Junior Soprano while he was powerful. Note that Tony's mom manipulated the mobsters to settle her own emotional scores. There's no evidence that she was involved in the day-to-day operations of the family (e.g., carting, the strip clubs, cigarette heists, unions, etc.).

The fundamental problem for women in the mob as it is represented in The Sopranos is that the entire culture is built on a combination of homophilia and physical violence. Guys who were loyal to Tony won't transfer their allegiance to his wife. It just wouldn't occur to them.

The problem with Carm really running the business from behind the scenes is that she would need someone to explain the ins and outs of the operation to her. So far, she's led a studiously sheltered life. She avoided learning any of the details of her husband's work.

Tony probably can't explain it to her. If he's well enough to explain the minutiae of the sports books and the strip club, and so on, he doesn't need her help. On the other hand, if Tony's really a vegetable and Carm wants to run things behind the scenes, she'll need somebody else to fill her in and back up all the physical threats that keep a mob boss in power.

Lindsey, did you really just write, "Phil didn't get closure"? In the context of someone seeking the death of the person responsible for a loved one?

Yes. Forgive my strange sense of humor. It's been a very long week.

The ambiguous title of the Sopranos, referring both to Tony's personal family and his crime family, has always seemed the key to me. Every time Tony does something normal and human, it hurts him as the boss. I don't want Tony dead. I want him to lose it all by his own hand.

Maybe AJ whacks Uncle Junior after all and is immediately caught by the police. (Actually, I think AJ's swearing eternal vengeance against Uncle Jun' is just a joke, to show how ineffectual he is, so maybe he does something stupid and catches a hefty mandatory minimum.)

The feds then pit Tony's two families against each other, and to save his offspring, Tony turns states evidence and has to testify against everyone in the NJ mob. Meadow and Carm get to hear, direct from Tony, all the terrible things he's done. Thus, both his families abandon him.

i swear to god, there will be no cumeuppance for tony. it'll be one big happy family and all the outsiders will be dead.

I don't mean that carmella will become some kind of mob boss. what i mean is, carmella will fully embrace tony's full toniness, including getting her hands actually bloody (at least metaphorically, but i'm betting literally). the family that kills together, etc.

"Technically Phil was entitled to deal with his brother's killer as he saw fit." LOL. Is there some sort of Mob etiquette manual I can review. Anyways, I enjoy the show but lack a deeper understanding of events. Your comments add a whole new dimension for this spectator. Thanks!

No, no, no! Carmela's greed will put Tony in danger. Vito will make a move on AJ (who is gay, in case you didn't catch it). Tony will have Vito killed, but some of the disloyal henchmen will brood over possible payback. As Tony's therapy "progresses," he will lose his edge and get taken out by when his evolving decency makes him vulnerable. (Dr. Melfi will put two and two together and hit the sauce in her guilt over Tony's death.) Meadow will take over the mob, take out the people who killed her father, and, eventually, kill Carmela herself for her role in it.

It will be revealed in the final episode that the entire series has been the Alzheimer's delusional hallucination of Kevin Finnerty, if indeed that is his real name.

Here is my prediction:

The Feds who have been eavesdropping on Christopher find out that he is importing 20 million dollars worth of heroin to finance his movie. They arrest him as he is importing it and give him a deal: Flip on Tony and go into witness protection or go to jail for the rest of his life.

Christopher is loyal to Tony but also spineless. He will flip and Tony gets the rest of his life in prison. Christopher is relocated to a town in Minnesota under the name "David Anderson" and thinks all is well. Tony still runs the family from his cell.

Tony hires Furio from Italy(to make it look inconspicuous) to whack Christopher. Furio finds Christopher and as Christopher opens the door..Furio is standing there and kills him.

Furio then pays Carmella a visit and persuades her to start a new life w/ him in Italy.

Paulie and Silvio both end up killing eachother for control of the family. End of series.

We are at the halfway point of the sixth season and we have uncovered a lot of major plot points thus far. Tony was shot by his uncle and is now recovered, Paulie found out his aunt was his biological mother, Silvio doesnt want to and cant run the family due to health reasons, Junior is completely out of the loop and Vito is gay and everyone knows about it. With all of that here are my predictions:

Vito Spadafore: Vito's is about to get whacked. I think it is safe to say that he will not be around at the end of the sixth season. The question that lies here is if Tony Soprano will have him killed or if Phil Leotardo will have him whacked. Remember Phil's first cousin is Vito's wife, Phil will take the news as an embrassment and disgrace to his family. My prediction is that Phil Leotardo will have Vito Spadafore killed for Tony Soprano.

Johnny Sack: Johnny Sack's grip is slipping on the New York Crime Family. Phil Leotardo is openly questioning his toughness and resolve. Johnny will begin to push business plans back and hold Phil and the rest of New York and New Jersey from making major dollars. Phil is no stranger to prison after being released in season five after serving a twenty year stint. Phil will have Johnny Sack hung in his prison cell before the seasons end. I would be surprised to see him spare Anthony Infante, Johnny's brother in law either. Phil will assume the Title as Offical Boss of New York.

Uncle Junior: Junior is out of the family business and he will either die due to his health issues, spend the rest of his life in prison or if he is shockingly released Tony will have him killed five minutes after his release. Although my prediction is that AJ takes out Junior in the last episode of the season for his induction into the Mafia.

Christopher Moltisanti: Chris is creating a new movie which is againist Tony's wishes and is working with Little Carmine which will bother Phil Leotardo. It also seems that he is dealing with Arms dealers from the Mid East and still having issues kicking his drug problem. I can see a major issue arising with Christophers involvement with Little Carmine and this movie. In the end I see Christopher getting indicted on major Federal charges and him choosing between spending a long time in prison, where when he gets out Tony may be gone or ratting everyone out and beggining a low budget movie career. I believe he will do the latter.

Tony Soprano: Tony will live the entire season and stay out of prison. This season is all about Tony revaluating his life and wondering if this is what he really still wants to do. He will begin to see that his decisions have effected his marriage and the lives of his kids, by ruining Meadow's engagement and having AJ enter the life that he never wanted for his son. At the end of the series Tony will either die or spend the rest of his life in prison. There is a chance he could roll on the life with Christopher by testifying in a case against Phil Leotardo and Company in New York. The Seventh Season will focus on the deaths of people close to Tony: ie his son AJ and top counselor Silvio and the defection of Christopher.

Uh there will be no 7th season. I think this sums up what I wanted to say

The feds then pit Tony's two families against each other, and to save his offspring, Tony turns states evidence and has to testify against everyone in the NJ mob. Meadow and Carm get to hear, direct from Tony, all the terrible things he's done. Thus, both his families abandon him.

sopranos...... they sing...... done deal......

The important thing to remember in predicting how the Sopranos will unravel is the creator's fascination, even reverence, for the show's cinematic predecesor, The Godfather trilogy. The final series will involve then a plot of Shakespearian complexity to mirror that of Hymen Roth's conspiracy against Michael Corleone in G2.

More on the actual plot later.

Consider the links to the Godfather trilogy in this series alone. Episode 7 gave us the twin stories of Vito and Tony (just as G2 gave us the twin stories of Vito and Michael), cutting between the two in a way that suggests the similarity of their psychological strain and mid-life crises and extra-marital dalliances. This editing device was foreshadowed in an earlier episode when Vito goes on the run and is stalled by a faulty engine, just as Tony's attempt to find peace and solitude in his backyard recuperation is upset by rattling old machinery.

Note too how Anthony's nightclub antics and inane observations of the family business is strangely reminiscent of Freido's Vegas and Cuban embarassments. The cinematography of this series is also increasingly taking on the typical Coppola 'slow burn'; best characterised in print as a yellowish tinge mixed with heavy shadows. The opening crane shot in Episode 7 of Tony atop Carmella is a replica of the lighting and tones of Bonsera's opening scene in G1.

Where is the season going? To outline my predictions then - Vito is entangled in a conspiracy with Silvio and Leotardo to assassinate Tony. Vito's 'coming out' was far too dangerous a move for a captain to have not been purposeful, devious and strategic. Vito is in hiding awaiting Tony's order for his execution. Sil will eventually be granted that role as, in Tony's eyes, he is the only member of the family not driven by a homophobic rage to kill, but rather views Vito's elimination as a business decision.

It is in Leotardo's interests that both Tony and Johnny Sacks make way for his ascension in New York - Phil also holds a grudge of course over Tony's reluctance to properly avenge his brother's death.
Sil is regarded as a trustworthy ally by Leotardo, or at least an innocuous one. Leotardo is the Hymen Roth then of the final series.

Plainly, Vito will not be whacked as the audience is lead to believe around Episode 10/11, but will lay dormant awaiting his opportunity to slay Tony.

The series will come to a head when Christopher, ensconed in Los Angeles (with Tony's permission), will give up Tony to the feds who have the Arab connections to pin him on - threatening a jail sentence in Guantanemo that would make his mafia crimes look like shoplifting offenses. Just as Tony is about to be given up by his nephew, Leotardo will ironically intervene (being unaware of Christopher's predicament) and have CM slain in dramatic style. This will get Tony off the hook - at least from federal agents.

The biggest twist is to come. With Tony down and out after Vito's misguided and over-emotional attempt to whack him, accidently resulting in AJ's death, Finn will step up to the plate in the role of consiglieri - offering an ingenious strategy to lure Vito out of hiding so he can personally execute him (ala Michael and Solozzo in G1).

As Tony faces his multiple crisis, Bobby and Finn convince him that only Sil had the brains to carry out such a plan (Sil as Tessio, Paulie as Clemenza - Clemenza was never smart enough). Bobby and Paulie will take out Sil; Leotardo will be garrotted in the old style; Sacks poisoned in prison.

By the end of the series, Tony and Junior will have reconciled, leaving Bobby in charge of the family with Tony as an advisor and Finn behind the family's attempt to become legitimate. As for Meadow? She will want to break apart from Finn towards Episode 9/10 but will be sucked into the votex of the family business in a way that she never expected, ala Kay Adams.

How in God's name could you ever predict whats gonna happen in the Sopranos?
It's like the best fucking show ever made, how the fuck are able to tell me whats gonna happen on the next episode??
You work for HBO?
I dont care, but i'll be back, youre one hot lookinnnn chick..
like you site tooo...

Turn's out my critic (Mr. Butthead) was right. When a fifteen year old can predict that Vito will get whacked David Chase has nothing to be proud of. I'm embarassed that I overestimated the genius of the creator.

I was right.... I am always right.

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