The Sopranos: Christmas in June, and Other Delusions

Everyone is now so intoxicated with The Sopranos (including me) that the producers think they can do anything they want with us. It’s not a good spot, for us or them.

Last night’s season finale (which precedes a final season) offered one benediction after another, and just about every one felt unearned. The show played with the viewer. It hinted two or three times at climactic violence and each time delivered hugs-and-kisses instead. Notably, in the subplot where Christopher begins boinking the real estate agent whom his boss Tony Soprano had declared his interest in—then Christopher confesses the betrayal and his earlier lies about it to Tony without consequences. Or Tony squeezing his rival boss’s hand in the hospital. On it went. The last scene was a happy united family at Christmas. In June.

I guess a drama is allowed to go on lofty jet-stream tangents when it has established the kind of success Sopranos has. (Seinfeld did it, and suffered.) Sopranos seems utterly removed from the reality that gave it life. Take the theme song of last night’s show, the Stones’ Moonlight Mile, a narcotic-delusion ballad. What’s the connection? Maybe the producers used to get high on that, in college. But who can forgive them the greatest misrepresentation in the show: when a member of the federal organized crime task force in the US Attorney’s office shows up at Tony’s club to inform him that the Brooklyn family plans to knock off someone close to him, thus spurring Tony to reach out. Does that kind of thing happen? I doubt it. This feels like story heaven, the place stories go when they die.

Or maybe it’s a dream sequence, with the producers (and writers, and actors) all snoozing on their laurels, resting up for what by every indication will be a bloodbath in the last real season. Then how will we feel about this false winter?