Down To His Last Shot

‘The So­pra­nos’ Is Back But the End Is in Sight. So, Too, for Tony?

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sunday Source - By Tom Shales

Tony So­prano al­most cel­e­brates his 47th birth­day in the slammer, and all be­cause of a gun he dropped in the snow three years ear­lier. For­tu­nately for him, fate – and se­ries cre­ator David Chase – in­ter­vene. For eight years, which by a quixotic way of count­ing only amounts to six sea­sons, faith­ful view­ers of “The So­pra­nos” have seen Tony sur­vive threats, close calls and catas­tro­phes; now comes the most fate­ful ques­tion of all: Will he sur­vive the se­ries it­self? Or will he be killed off in the ninth and fi­nal episode, air­ing June 10?

Chase has said that the fi­nal nine episodes — the first of which airs tonight on HBO — will ab­so­lutely pos­i­tively be the last for this pow­er­ful, sem­i­nal epic, a mas­ter­work for television that be­longs in the same se­lect league as “Roots,” “Holo­caust,” “Lone­some Dove” and a few other TV turn­ing points. The au­di­ence, hav­ing in­vested time and stress, un­der­stand­ably wants to know: Will Tony live or die?

And yet you prob­a­bly wouldn’t want to be told even if we knew, which we don’t. If a death scene has been filmed — pre­sum­ably it would be for the ninth episode, which, with Chase di­rect­ing, is still be­ing worked on — no one has blabbed about it so far. The most loyal view­ers are prob­a­bly of two minds: They want ret­ri­bu­tion forced on Tony for all the deaths and blood­shed he has caused, and some­how they also want to see him sur­vive, a con­quer­ing an­ti­hero, a gi­ant of a man who en­dures de­spite nu­mer­ous at­tempts by lit­tle men to pull him down.

BY CLAUDETTE BARIUS BY CRAIG BLANKEN­HORN

Adrian Gre­nier, left, as a ris­ing Hol­ly­wood star “aided” by his buds on the HBO se­ries.

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