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The Sopranos: Season Six, Part II(TV) (2007)
Tony Soprano tries to be a good family man on two fronts - to his wife, kids and widowed mother - and as a capo in the New Jersey Mob. The pressure of work and family life give him anxiety attacks, so Tony starts seeing a psychiatrist, which is not the kind of thing a guy advertises in the circles Tony moves in - it could get him killed.
For more about The Sopranos: Season Six, Part II and the The Sopranos: Season Six, Part II Blu-ray release, see the The Sopranos: Season Six, Part II Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on December 10, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Dominic Chianese
Directors: Timothy Van Patten, Lee Tamahori, Steve Buscemi, Mike Figgis, David Nutter, Rodrigo Garcia
» See full cast & crew
The Sopranos: Season Six, Part II Blu-ray Review
Catapulted into pop culture hallowed ground, the final nine episodes of The Sopranos are produced impeccably in high resolution.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, December 10, 2007
The voice of Journey's Steve Perry wails, "Don't stop..." Then abrupt silence. The screen cuts suddenly to black. The credits roll. Thus ends the epic HBO series, The Sopranos. Where Season 6, Part I shows Tony (James Gandolfini) at his most vulnerable and existential, coming out of a coma to appreciate life and take it as it comes, Season 6, Part II shows him shedding the zen-like mentality and flexing his mob boss muscles in strategic ways. He becomes increasingly distrusting and resentful of his inner circle: Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), Paulie Gualtieri (Tony Sirico), Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt) and Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa). The internal problems fester as Tony faces a new level of hostility from New York boss Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent). Another threat looms in signs that federal agents are building a case against Tony, and may indict him under Rico statutes. Even Tony's personal life threatens to unravel, as his son AJ (Robert Iler) becomes suicidal and the ever-reliable therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), finally closes her door to Tony. Yet, in the end, Tony conquers all, and ends up on top. Or does he?
When the diner scene showing the last moments of the series cuts to black, it raised questions and disappointed many fans. "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?" says Bobby in the first episode of Season 6, Part II. That line, delivered during a fishing outing when Bobby and Tony were talking about how to protect against an assassination attempt, is repeated again in a later episode. It suggests the cut to black was a hit on Tony. If so, the silence and blackness is far preferable to a loud, graphic bloodbath showing the murder of characters closely embraced by viewers for the past eight years. But it is by no means a certainty that the murder attempt was successful, or that the cut to silence and black necessarily equated to a hit. The genius of the ending is that it allows The Sopranos to live on, if not literally then figuratively. Don't stop believing, indeed.
Season 6, Part II gets off to a rocky start when Tony is arrested at his home and booked on gun charges. He is released and the charges are quickly dropped, but his lawyer emphasizes the likelihood that the gun charges may come back to haunt Tony as part of a federal case. To forget his legal problems and celebrate his birthday, Tony takes Carmela to Bobby's lakeside cabin. But what begins as a relaxing weekend getaway quickly disintegrates into violence. While drinking heavily, Tony pushes Bobby too far with insults. The two face off in a fist fight. Tony takes a beating, but comes out ahead when he forces Bobby to do a hit that will cement a new business arrangement. It's the first time Bobby "gets dirty" in the ultimate subservience, even though he has shown he will challenge Tony's authority on a physical level.
Meanwhile, Johnny Sacrimoni (Vincent Curatola) is dying of lung cancer in a hospital penitentiary. His successor in New York, Phil, having recovered from his own health crisis in part one of the season, loathes Tony and looks for any excuse to cause problems. Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) is rapidly losing what little mental function remained after dementia started setting in several years ago. After running a card game to control sodas and candy bars in the asylum, he gets into trouble with the staff and inmates and is ultimately sent to a state facility. In the last episode, Tony finally visits him and confronts him about the shooting that nearly left Tony dead in Season 6, Part I. But Uncle Junior doesn't seem to recognize Tony and if the older gangster is merely feigning senility, it's a very convincing act.
One of the greatest comedic subplots in the series is Christopher's interest in writing screenplays and producing movies about the mafia. Finally, we see the release of his film Cleaver, about a murdered gangster who comes back from the grave to get revenge on the mob boss who had him whacked. (For a hilarious spoof of a "making of", check out the featurette on Cleaver, included on the BD.) Carmela and others immediately see the film as little more than Christopher's martyr complex and revenge fantasies aimed at Tony. Once the movie's ulterior motive is pointed out to him, Tony begins to realize what a liability Christopher has become. Serious problems with drugs and alcohol, episodes of rage that result in random acts of violence and even the new house, wife and daughter have left Christopher a foreigner in Tony's crew. No one can relate to him and he spends most of his time whining about Tony to anyone who will listen. One of Tony's biggest fears is that Christopher will start talking to the feds.
Indeed, the feds are tipped off to a body representing Tony's first murder victim and begin digging under the house where the body was buried. To escape any possible indictments, Tony and Paulie, who was also involved in that hit, decide to head down to Florida. On the way, Tony realizes that Paulie's mouth is even bigger than Christopher's. Paulie blurts out sensitive information to complete strangers without thinking twice. Worse, he will not come clean with Tony about a sensitive bit of information that got out to Johnny Sac, even after Tony questions him about the issue. The upshot of the Florida trip is the continuing saga of Tony's view of his cohorts as untrustworthy liabilities. He is obviously considering feeding Paulie to the fishes, as on the last day of the trip he takes Paulie fishing on a rental boat and looks pensively at a big knife after again confronting Paulie about Johnny Sac. Tony cannot bring himself to do the deed, but he spooks Paulie, who is so deeply affected that he has a dream about being in danger from Tony. As the episode ends, it seems predictable that Paulie may not be around for the finale.
What comes next, however, is unpredictable. Tony and Christopher are heading back from a fruitless meeting with Phil when Christopher loses control of the vehicle. Barely avoiding a head-on collision, he veers off the road and rolls the SUV about a half-dozen times before it comes to a rest in an embankment. Without going into details, Christopher dies and Tony walks away with only a few bruises. Tony confides in Melfi that he actually feels relief that Christopher is gone, despite their history together. In previous seasons, Tony was grooming Christopher to be the most powerful captain in the Soprano organization. But drugs and distrust eroded their relationship.
As Tony navigates these problems with his associates, AJ succumbs to feelings of depression and worthlessness. He ties a cinderblock to his leg, puts a plastic bag over his head, and jumps in the pool when no one is home. AJ's attempt to tie himself to the depths of the pool in the back yard stands in stark contrast to the symbolic images of the ducklings flying from the pool in the first season. The juxtoposition shows how the Sopranos comes full circle and remains rich in visual imagery. Indeed, animals play a big role in Sopranos symbolism and, after Christopher's death, a cat religiously plants itself in front of Christopher's photo on the wall, further spooking Paulie, who is superstitious to a fault. It harkens back to the ceremony when Christopher became a "made man" and got his gangster stripes. During the ceremony, Chris observes a black bird perched itself outside a window.
Season Six, Part II, covers an extraordinary amount of ground, considering it has the fewest episodes of any Sopranos box. From the sardonic wit of Cleaver to the stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of Johnny Sac, the season tackles the full range of emotions, characters and subplots. The saga culminates in a face off between Tony and Phil, as each boss has ordered a hit on the other. Their captains' reactions to the situation will be the difference between life and death. Many viewers were expecting the final episode to show the assassination of Tony. But producer David Chase refuses to cater to public expectations and rarely uses neat conclusions to tie together loose ends. Instead, he opts for a scene in which menacing characters enter the diner, but do not make a move. Instead, the picture cuts to black. As for what happens, and who makes it happen, only a future Sopranos movie may offer an explanation.
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