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Who will whack Tony Soprano?

Published June 8, 2007


It's time for Tony Soprano to die.

The greatest mobsters do, and Tony's path of the past 81/2 years has been too self-destructive for any other ending.

But Tony won't die in The Sopranos series finale Sunday because his enemies are stronger or smarter or more shrewd. Tony will die because the Phil Leotardos of his Mafia world want to win more than he does.

He will die because he knows the mobster-ized "American dream" he has tried to hold together for so long is crumbling. And he's too tired to fix it.

Tony Soprano, once ambitious and cunning enough to wrestle the top spot from his Uncle Junior, is weary of what it takes to stay there. Once driven enough to survive Junior's near-fatal bullet, Tony is sick of running. You can see it in his walk, a bear-like lumber, shoulders slumped.

"Is this all there is?" Carmela asked him not long ago.

Yes, Tony realizes. This is all there is: Fancy things bought with blood money; guilt and depression; two spoiled kids who turned out nothing like he hoped.

Leotardo, New York crime boss, sees how vulnerable Tony is and is ready to move in.

"We decapitate, and we do business with whatever's left, " he told his crew, ordering the hit on Tony in the second-to-last Sopranos episode that aired last Sunday. "There's no scraps in my scrapbook. Make it happen."

In the end, Leotardo might not be the one who offs Tony. That would be too predictable for a show that loves to shock us.

Besides, The Sopranos has always seemed to be more about family than about the business. It is about Tony's relationship with his wife, his mother, his sister, his children. About his relationship with himself, and the violence and depression that he cannot control.

So Tony's end should come at the hands of famiglia. Sure, his hateful mother and nephew Christopher are gone. But there's still his widowed sister Janice and his Uncle Junior. Even depressed son A.J. seems unstable and angry enough to do the unthinkable.

And what would Carmela do if she were to find out the truth about Adriana and Christopher and Tony's latest goomah in Las Vegas?

She loves Tony, but he has hurt her more than anyone. Just look at all that jewelry she wears - each one his mea culpa for another affair or lie.

In last Sunday's episode, Tony lost his two top men, Silvio and brother-in-law Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri. He even lost his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi. After seven-plus years of weekly sessions, Melfi gave up on trying to save Tony.

Carmela, once so adamant that he attend therapy, reacted with indifference. It never helped much anyway, she said, with a wave of her manicured hand.

Translation: There's no hope for you, Tony. You are what you are. This is the life you have created.

But does Tony want that life any more?

When Tony rescued A.J. from the family pool earlier this season, it wasn't a stretch to imagine that Tony would have liked to be the one drowning.

I don't think Tony's end will come at his own hands. The one who sends him to sleep with the fishes will be someone from his own famiglia.

[Last modified June 7, 2007, 20:51:13]

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