NEW YORK – Sunday night's season finale of "The Sopranos" served mainly to drop a few hints of what might (or, then again, might not) happen in the series' final eight installments, airing next year (spoiler alert).
Two potential biggies:
• An FBI agent warned New Jersey boss Tony Soprano that his riled-up New York rivals may have something unpleasant in store.
"Someone close to you may be in danger," Agent Harris told Tony (series star James Gandolfini) between bites of a hero sandwich at the pork store.
His intel was sound. In an earlier scene, viewers saw acting New York boss Phil Leotardo being urged by an associate to "pick somebody over there" to whack.
Tony's consigliere Silvio Dante? Christopher Moltisanti? No candidate was specified.
But later in the hour, Leotardo suffered a serious heart attack. Tony went to his Brooklyn hospital room to wish him well and try to make peace.
"We can have it all, Phil," said Tony at his bedside, taking his hand — "plenty for everybody."
• Tony's wife Carmela (Edie Falco) was still haunted by the disappearance of Adriana, Christopher's fiancee, who hasn't been heard from (except in Carmela's feverish dreams) since last season. Carmela seemed bent on hiring a detective to track her down, little suspecting that Silvio shot Adriana at Tony's orders and with Christopher's support after she had told him the Feds forced her to inform on Tony's operations.
What if Carmela discovered the truth? Except, late in the episode, she tossed aside the detective's business card. She seemed to lose interest.
A surprise: Ne'er-do-well teenage son A.J., forced by Tony to get a job in construction, met a sexy single mom at the work site, and instantly grew up. He became an attentive boyfriend and a loving surrogate dad to his girlfriend's 3-year-old son.
But what of perpetual screwup Christopher (Michael Imperioli), a captain in Tony's crew as well as his nephew?
After a quickie marriage to pregnant girlfriend Kelli a few episodes back, he seemed on the verge of a dicey clash in the finale. At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, he hooked up with Julianna Skiff, a lovely real-estate agent who, by chance, Tony had done business with — and still had unfinished business with.
With his new wife expecting, "the playground's closed" (as Christopher explained to his cronies), so he launched into a torrid affair with Julianna (played by Julianna Margulies), while keeping Tony in the dark that they were an item.
Would Tony go ballistic when he found out? Not quite. Christopher eventually got around to fessing up and Tony's response seemed little more than routine peevishness.
"This is my reward," he grumbled later to Dr. Melfi in their psychiatric session, self-pityingly noting that he could have bedded Julianna when they first met but had yielded to an odd urge to be loyal to his wife.
Even so, Christopher wasn't out of the woods. While Kelli waited, unsuspecting, in the new house he bought for her, he and Julianna were finding they had more in common than sexual heat. They jointly relapsed into booze and drug abuse.
"You know what's interesting," Christopher told her one night as they lay around her living room in a narcotized stupor: "Us being able to use again, but integrating it into our lives."
"Yeah," she agreed, proudly adding, "We don't use needles."
As "Sopranos" viewers know well, this wasn't Christopher's first brush with substance abuse, and sooner or later his luck bouncing back could run out.
But not sooner. The episode, and the season, ended with a big Christmas Eve gathering at the Sopranos' home, with Christopher and Kelli among those on hand.