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'The Sopranos': You'd need a crystal ball to bet on this ending

April 30, 2007 |  3:08 pm

Sopranostony300 Of all of Tony Soprano’s uncontrolled appetites, gambling has tended to take a back seat to food and sex. But last night’s episode of “The Sopranos” was about Tony the degenerate gambler.

Pro football, harness racing, roulette; in the episode, the impulse bets, and losses, accrue to something like 200 grand, or roughly his debt to old Jewish pal Hesh Rabkin (Jerry Adler), whose attempts to collect turn Tony cranky and Hesh to wondering whether the boss is just riding him or going to have him clipped to get rid of a nuisance debt.

“Bad” Tony was out in force in other ways — getting into an ugly, shades-of-Season-4 fight with wife Carmella over his cut of the sale of her spec house. Meanwhile, the widow of his best earner, the outed gay mobster Vito, comes to Tony asking for a hundred grand to relocate her family to Maine. Son Vito Jr., it seems, is going through a Goth phase, and cousin Phil Leotardo, the man who had Vito killed, isn’t apt to help out financially (What did the mobster say to the Goth kid? “You look like a Puerto Rican hoore.”)

But Vito’s widow has picked a bad week to ask; Tony’s on a losing streak. So he has the kid sent to an Outward Bound place in Idaho. Too bad Tony didn’t put down more on the Jets.

Tony’s own son, A.J., only thinks he’s found a direction, proposing marriage to girlfriend Blanca, who accepts, then says no, breaking up with him at the Puerto Rican Day parade.

On the sidelines of this episode were most of the supporting players; with the end of the show in sight it’s hard to know what, exactly, is building. Five hours left and all we have so far is foreshadowing.
“Tragedy. Like a pebble in a lake. Even the fish feel it,” Christopher says. He’s talking about Vito Jr.’s kid sister, but in the same hour Tony, stopped at a light, gazes upon a crowd outside a neighborhood mosque. “Hey, Tony,” his driver says, “isn’t that, what’s their names? Used to hang out at the Bing.”

It’s a small, but unsubtle moment.

Is an Islamist cell and Tony’s cell going to intersect? Is that why Hesh told the joke: “Did you hear the one about the Jewish terrorist? He was going to hijack a plane but he didn’t want to use his miles.”

(Photo courtesy HBO)