Published January 14, 2015
Christopher is still alive.
His fiancee Adriana is for sure dead.
So is Tony Blundetto, who took a shotgun blast to the head from Tony Soprano, despite numerous pledges of loyalty to his wayward cousin.
But Tony Soprano has a new lease on life. And just in time. His New Jersey gang seemed close to an uprising over his perceived weak leadership. Then his biggest adversary — New York mob boss Johnny Sack — was busted by the Feds right before Tony's eyes.
Those were the highlights from the somber fifth-season finale of "The Sopranos" (search), which aired Sunday night on HBO.
Titled "All Due Respect," it repeats Monday at 10 p.m. EDT on HBO2, then will leave fans hanging for at least 18 months until the series returns for its last 10 episodes. But for now, surprise! Tony is sitting pretty — with the emphasis on "surprise."
He had stuck his neck out too far for his cousin Tony B. (Steve Buscemi (search)), whose grudge execution of a Sack family member brought that gang's wrath crashing down on the Soprano mob.
Tony's men were growing restless at his failure to take care of the problem by serving up his cousin.
"You got some unhappy people out there," consigliere Silvio (Steve Van Zandt) informed Tony.
Meanwhile, Christopher (Michael Imperioli (search)) was mourning the loss of Adriana, whom he had previously conspired with Tony and Silvio to kill after she confessed that she had been forced to serve as an FBI informant.
"She was willing to rat me out because she couldn't do five (doggone) years," Christopher lamented in his usual sniveling style. "I thought she loved me!"
Thus it was in vain that viewers, who never actually saw Adriana felled by Silvio's bullets, had hoped that a plot twist might reveal her still alive.
Almost as remote was the prospect that Tony's like-a-son nephew Christopher might get whacked, a rumor nurtured by Imperioli in a recent interview. Christopher lives to whine another season.
Not so lucky is Tony B., plugged unceremoniously by Tony S. in an extreme gesture to appease Johnny Sack (Vince Curatola).
"Didn't solve a thing," Sack growled when he got the news. He wanted his men to do the honors.
As the hour wound down, Tony, knowing his cousin had to die either quick or slow, seemed near a breakdown. Never had he felt so keenly the loneliness of leadership — or been so willing to express it.
"I've painted myself into a corner here, and I don't see a way out," he told Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese), himself too addled from Alzheimer's disease to give Tony any counsel.
And he confided to his shrink, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), "I'm very confused. All my choices were wrong."
A man brought low this season, Tony seemed pathetic even as he scored his last-minute reprieve. In Johnny Sack's snow-covered yard, where he had come to negotiate a peace, their meeting was cut short by an FBI raid. Off Tony bolted, a fat man in an overcoat slipping and puffing across the icy terrain, frantic to escape the agents.
But he needn't have worried. Only Sack's mob was named in the indictment. Not only had the Feds ignored the Soprano family, but also whisked away a major threat to the Sopranos — at taxpayers' expense.
Blessed by this somewhat-too-pat plot resolution, Tony at the fade-out was back in his home with his wife Carmela (Edie Falco), with whom he recently reconciled. That warm domestic scene struck quite a contrast to the fourth-season finale, when, after a pitched battle, Carmela threw Tony out of the house.
So during the coming "Sopranos" dry spell, fans can cling to the finale's parting message — Tony always bounces back! — and take comfort from it.
In Season Six, fate will surely prove otherwise.