The Case That Tony Soprano Got Whacked in the ‘Sopranos’ Finale
[SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRETY OF HBO’S ‘THE SOPRANOS’ AHEAD]
At the end of the classic HBO series The Sopranos, viewers get a jolt. Or, rather, they get a puzzle. As Tony (James Gandolfini), Carmela (Edie Falco), and A.J. Soprano (Robert Iler) wait for Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) at a New Jersey diner (Holstein’s), Tony seems agitated.
If you paid attention to that point, you aren’t surprised Tony is tense. He’s got members of his crime family chatting with the FBI; a war with New York is just wrapping up; and about half his crew (including Bobby Baccala) is already in the ground.
Meanwhile, Tony himself has been breaking the oldest rule in the mafia handbook — he’s talking to the feds left and right. So he’s got every reason to think someone could be around any corner — or behind any door — waiting for him with a loaded gun.
As we see Meadow parking her car and a possible assassin in a Members Only jacket going into the bathroom, we hear the bells of the diner’s door. Are Tony’s brains all over the table? We can’t tell because David Chase cut to black. But we can make the case Tony met his end at Holstein’s.
Tony is a prime candidate for a takeover.
Tony seems wary of everyone in the final Sopranos episodes because he’s seen how these runs play out. If you don’t go to jail like Johnny Sac or get sick like Jackie Aprile, you get a bullet in the head like Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent).
Actually, Tony’s plight most closely resembles that of the recently deceased Leotardo. Both acted in a way that put business on hold and ended in bloodshed. By the end of the brief war between Jersey and New York, collections were thinner than the hair on Paulie Walnuts’s head.
Meanwhile, Tony knows he’s living on borrowed time. He convinces himself it’s OK to talk turkey with an FBI man because of the Middle East/terrorism angle. (Also, the agent in his confidence gives up Leotardo’s location.)
Anyone who got wind of those conversations with the FBI would have every right to move on Tony, per the code. And they’d want to kill him even without that intel.
The ‘Godfather’ reference speaks volumes.
In the Sopranos finale, Chase (that episode’s director) goes heavyhanded on several fronts. We see A.J. drenched in sweat on a jog despite the fall weather; a cat stares at a photograph of Christopher (Michael Imperioli); and there’s that absurd moment when A.J.’s SUV spontaneously combusts.
That approach continues into the final scene. Tony seems like himself (if more anxious), but the Members Only character takes some none-too-subtle looks in Tony’s direction. When he slowly heads into the bathroom, it’s impossible for mob movie fans not to think about The Godfather.
In the classic Francis Ford Coppola film, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) pulls the gun out of the old-fashioned toilet tank and takes care of family business by murdering his dinner companions (one of whom is a cop).
Back in the Sopranos finale, we can picture the clang of the bells on Holstein’s door lining up perfectly with the assassin stepping out of the bathroom and whacking Tony (to the horror of Meadow).
In the words of David Chase, “If he didn’t die that night he’s going to die very soon.” You could easily convince us it happened that night.
Also see: When Did ‘Sopranos’ Star James Gandolfini Die and How Did He Pass Away?