Tony Soprano tries to be a good family man on two fronts - to his wife, kids and
mother - and as a capo in the New Jersey Mob. The pressure of work and family life
anxiety attacks, so Tony starts seeing a psychiatrist, which is not the kind of thing a
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.
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
Gandolfini) at his most vulnerable and existential, coming out of a coma to appreciate life and
as it comes, Season 6, Part II shows him shedding the zen-like mentality and flexing his mob
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
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
Tony. Yet, in the end, Tony conquers all, and ends up on top. Or does he?
Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) sits in a diner with his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and son AJ
(Robert Iler) in the final episode of The Sopranos.
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
the murder attempt was successful, or that the cut to silence and black necessarily equated to a
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
doesn't seem to recognize Tony and if the older gangster is merely feigning senility, it's a very
One of the greatest comedic subplots in the series is Christopher's interest in writing screenplays
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
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
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.
Like Season 6, Part I, Part II is
gorgeous in 1080p, delivering visible advantages over the HBO HD broadcast. Even the menu
screen shows a phenomenal level of detail. The depth of the picture is staggering. In the set's first
episode, watch the vistas of
the lake by Bobby's cabin as Tony sits pensively on the shore. The screen is alive. It looks like an
open window that one could simply step through into the world of Sopranos.
light, shadow--all are filmed impeccably and resolved with tremendous realism and
clarity. Productions like this demonstrate why Blu-ray adopters are reluctant to return to watching
NTSC content. In fact, after watching this set, it's difficult to believe that The Sopranos was made-
for-TV. Each episode on Blu-ray has the look of a gorgeously produced film. Simply put, the 1.78:1
picture is a visual masterpiece owing as much to Chase's high standards of production as to the
1080p resolution on Blu-ray.
With ample use of the surrounds and copious deep bass, Season 6, Part II continues the
tradition of serving up engaging pop and classic rock songs that conjure relevant lyrics or powerful
emotions. When Christopher, while driving, slips in a CD soundtrack of "The Departed", the
apropos "Comfortably Numb" is cued up. The song covers not only the emotional state of
Christopher, but of Tony. Christopher is deep in the throes of addiction, while Tony appears to
have lost some element of his soul that once made him care about those around him. More
germane to the sound quality, the engineering of the Blu-ray set is such that the song retains its
tonal accuracy even through Christopher's swerving, with tires squealing and the subsequent car
wreck. Each flip of the SUV is accompanied by the hair-raising sounds of crushing metal,
shattering glass and the overall impact of the car's frame striking the ground.
A scene in a later episode shows off the audio engineering in a similar way. AJ, recovering from
depression in the aftermath of his suicide attempt, sits in his Xterra with his new girlfriend. They
evaluate "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan. Not only is the sound of Dylan's voice and guitar solid,
with accurate timbre and tone, but the voices of AJ and the girl have fantastic presence. It turns
out, of course, that AJ parked in a pile of leaves. As the couple begins to kiss, the car's engine
catches fire. The sounds of the growing flames, the failing car stereo and subsequent explosion
are all rendered with good resolution. The combination of sounds is never constricted. Every detail
is ripe for the ears to pick out.
As in previous Sopranos sets, several of the episodes include an audio commentary track. Arthur
J. Nascarella and Van Zandt deliver amusing and often hilarious anecdotes as they provide
commentary on the episode "The Blue Comet." The commentary tracks of three other episodes
are not as entertaining. Another worthwhile supplement, "The Music of The Sopranos" serves up
memorable moments from the series and ties them in with and interview with producer David
Chase, Van Zandt and Dominic Chianese, who is actually a virtuoso vocalist. One really gets a
sense of how important music is, not just for the series but for the show's creator and cast. It is
little wonder that much of the music is powerful and ties in to the spirit and intensity of
the scenes and characters.
As alluded to earlier, the Cleaver film offers a unique opportunity for comic relief. Christopher
takes his writing skills very seriously, which makes Cleaver all the more funny. And New York
figure Carmine Lupertazzi Jr. (Ray Abruzzo), who collaborated with Chrostopher to produce the
film, is a mental midget who cannot properly use big words. Together, they give a comedic
performance that ranks as funnier than any Monty Python skit, showing their pride in Cleaver.
Imperioli shows great humor in his portrayal of Christopher celebrating the film with pride and an
inflated sense of ego and accomplishment. The funniest eight minutes in the set.
Sadly, The Sopranos saga comes to an end. Nothing currently on TV comes close to this show in
terms of the actors' strengths and the quality of the writing, directing, cinematography and
production. Take Bobby's final moments, for example. The scene where Phil's hit men hunt Bobby
down in the model train store was choreographed to perfection. Bobby's passion was always train
sets. The murder scene strobes between him being shot multiple times by the two assailants and
the model train choo-chooing along the tracks. From the blood erupting, to the long, microshots
in the model set, the imagery was impeccable. You just don't find cinematic art like that in your
average TV show.
with characters that--rightly or wrongly--became cultural icons, The Sopranos consistently
tackled family affairs
that rivaled the seediest soap opera; politics that would make a mayor's head spin; violence
that exceeded the average horror flick; and humor more infectious than the current crop of
sitcoms. But more than these elements, it
had the multiple-award-winning team of James Gandolfini and Edie Falco who honed their skills
and became Tony and Carmela Soprano.
Their vocal inflections were perfectly suited for their roles, but their art went beyond the spoken
word. Each could communicate volumes about their character's mindset and emotions in a
fleeting facial expression, a sigh or shrug, or fidget of
the hands or fingers. And that ability to tap into the essence of their characters gave the show
strong legs to go six seasons without running out of steam.
The Sopranos is about the mafia and about family, but it is also about America. The final episode,
"Made in America" is a homage to that. Amidst the images of cigar smoke, a tollbooth on the
turnpike and the hair sprouting from Tony's fingers, the trademak opening segment showed the
Statue of Liberty in the distance. Seeing it at the start of each episode is like a rite of passage for
all Tony's transgressions. And that is one more reason the final scene is so brilliant. The Sopranos
assemble in a diner that looks like it could be anywhere in the US. Tony shows up first. He sits at
a booth and flips through the selections on the tabletop jukebox. As Carmela and AJ join him, the
Steve Perry lyrics ring out, "Just a small town girl...Just a city boy..." An order of onion rings is
served. Outside, Medow has trouble parallel parking. These are all everyday common bonds we
share with the show's characters. "Oh, the movie never ends, It goes on and on and on and
on..." How I wish it would.