Tim Van Patten, Alan Taylor, Phil Abraham, Terence Winter, David Chase
Season Six began in March of 2006 after a nearly two year hiatus since Van Morrison’s ‘Glad Tidings’ bellowed through HBO subscriber’s speakers following Tony Blundetto’s murder. It was only Part I, a run of 12 episodes, mostly all of which centered on Uncle Junior’s inadvertent shooting of his nephew (and resulting hospital stay/hallucinations) and the coming out (and subsequent disappearance) of Capo Vito Spatafore. It was, no doubt, the Achilles’ heel of David Chase’s work. Part II of Season Six started just over ten months after Part I, and it would be one of the most explosive and controversial seasons…
“Is this it?” a worried Carmela asks in the opening episode, Soprano Home Movies. It’s not—at least not yet. It’s a quiet premiere, the proverbial calm before the storm—one not of bloodshed (though Bobby “Bacala” chalks his first kill), but one that underlines the family’s importance, similar to Part I’s culmination to the Rolling Stone’s Sticky Fingers ballad ‘Moonlight Mile.’ It’s a theme prevalent throughout these nine episodes.
Legacy and Tony’s trust in the Family (note the capitalization) are also fluent, as in Stage 5 (a jumpstart to the ceaseless tension), when his nephew Christopher’s admiration for T, greatly deteriorated, is screened at the Cleaver premiere in an allusion to Season Four’s Irregular Around the Margins. Tony’s subsequent distrust (finally confronted in Kennedy and Heidi) carries over in the Family, placing Paulie in danger on an impromptu trip to Miami (Remember When) and Hesh on the shitlist after pestering T for a lent $200,000 (Chasing It). No one is safe—not on either side of the river.
On the New York end, a savage power struggle explodes following Johnny Sack’s passing to cancer, leading to the most significant bloodshed (most acted upon by Phil Leotardo in a quest for the throne) David Chase has laid on his audience--Moe Greene Special included.
Back in Jersey, AJ’s at the end of his rope after inheriting his father’s depression (The Second Coming), Carmela’s spec house sells, and Meadow takes up law and a new beau. Dating back to January 10th of 1999, the family’s role in a man’s life is the key to The Sopranos. It’s a show about a father just as much as it is a godfather, a point Chase hasn’t been shy about throughout the series’ run.
The present rests on eggshells, the future is grim for the Families, and somehow, the past is just as important. Vito Spatafore’s death hangs over the crew and his son (Chasing It), Carmela believes Christopher had a role in Adriana’s disappearance, both sides of the river reflect on past murders, etc. Previous season issues like the ongoing feud between Christopher and Paulie (Walk Like a Man), NJ vs. NY (which weighs heavy over the final three episodes), Ahmed and Muhammad’s potential Al-Qaeda ties, Dr. Melfi’s impatience for her least reliable patient (confronted in The Blue Comet), and others are all fleshed upon by creator David Chase.
Chase aims to resolve most issues (don’t even think about the Russian or Furio), a decision to appease his loyal audience. We’re thrown bones in expected ways, like primary deaths and a cliffhanging penultimate episode (the tragic The Blue Comet).
But it’s Made in America, the “non-resolute” Sopranos Series Finale (which won Chase a writing Emmy), that stole the show, pitting fan vs. fan, critic vs. critic. We dug through the landfill of clues, searching for the answer that either didn’t exist or was right in front of us.
We think back to Bobby’s pondering in Soprano Home Movies: “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, right?” Is that why the scene (and Steve Perry’s vocals) abruptly cut to a silent black? “Eighty percent of the time it ends up in the can like Johnny Sack. Or on the embalming table at Cozarelli’s,” Tony replies. How did it end for NJ’s boss? Did he take one in the head from that mysterious trucker who slipped into the men’s room? Did he finish his onion rings? Was he persecuted through the RICO case? Or maybe h—
Soprano Home Movies w/ Steven R. Schirripa: Schirripa (Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri) discusses shooting in Putnam Valley, the brawl that Bruce Springsteen gave the thumbs up, and his utter graciousness of being apart of The Sopranos, coming off as a very humble guy throughout.
Remember When w/ Dominic Chianese: Chianese (Corrado “Uncle Junior” Soprano) dishes out a so-so commentary, but the insight is too sporadic, considering how much Chianese must have.
The Second Coming w/ Robert Iler: Iler (AJ Soprano) quickly admits to having never seen a single episode of The Sopranos (except at premieres). He expresses disappointment in not working much with much of the cast, as well as pointing out how fake the Sopranos’ family home set is, also dishing up a couple laughs as well as a brief reflection on the late Nancy Marchand.
The Blue Comet w/ Steven Van Zandt and Arthur Nascarello: E-Streeter Van Zandt (Silvio Dante) & Nascarello (Carlo Gervasi) play off one another well, swapping stories on the controversial finale, guest stars, music, and David Chase. The best of the four commentaries.
Making Cleaver (8:22): In this mock-Making of…, Christopher Moltisanti, Carmine Lupertazzi, Jr., Daniel Baldwin, Jonathan Lapaglia, and Morgan Yam sit down to discuss the evolution of Cleaver (a Saw-Godfather II hybrid), intertwined with production footage. The shtick works brilliantly until clips from The Sopranos are shown.
The Music of The Sopranos (16:29): Managing editor of Rolling Stone magazine Will Dana sits down with Sopranos creator David Chase to discuss one of the series most important elements: the music. Chase, amongst others, discuss the selection process, including stories of first hearing the tunes, who picks the songs, and why specific songs are chosen, with brief focus on tracks by A3, E-Streeter Nils Lofgren, and Otis Redding, amongst others.