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'The Sopranos': The sons of Tony Soprano

May 7, 2007 |  1:10 pm

Ajsoprano Seemed like old times last night on “The Sopranos.” 

Bullet to the head, check (Hey, Tim Daly, sayonara and God speed on your “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off).

Mob pals engaged in conflict-resolution, check (Christopher throws Paulie’s cousin out a window, so Paulie does doughnuts on Christopher’s front yard. Call it a push).

Tony and Carmela wondering what to do about morose A.J., check (what percentage of the kid’s scenes, over the years, have featured him spaced out in front of the TV?).

There have been rumblings that “The Sopranos” isn’t so much hurtling toward a conclusion as jogging there, at its own pace, with coffee breaks. But a major thing happened Sunday night — A.J. Soprano went on Lexapro.

OK, so he isn’t going to inherit his father’s business. But a son going on Lexapro where his father takes Prozac is a modern-day pharmaceutical equivalent of a father-son picnic.

Series creator David Chase (though the episode was written and directed by Terence Winter) made sure we understood how Tony’s lieutenants have all produced junior scumbags and thugs, whereas A.J. will just get blown into the life while going about in pity for himself.

Tony’s other, less official son, Christopher, finally returned with a vengeance, though I feel a little deprived that his story has apparently moved beyond last year’s affair with fellow user Julianna Margulies. AA meetings are Christopher’s chosen mode of therapy  (favorite scene of the night: Christopher bonding on a stairwell with a fellow alcoholic whose experiences at Unicorp mirror his own).

Subverting audience expectation, Chase has made it clear he doesn’t see these final nine hours of “The Sopranos” as an exercise in good housekeeping. He’ll do an entire episode on a lake, and you’ll like it. Sunday night’s episode had much more of what established “The Sopranos” in the first place as a jazzy riff, a show about the mob in which the same brutish man who commits acts of wanton, old-school violence buys into empathic New-Age approaches to stress.

A.J. was the only member of the Soprano nuclear family who had yet to consult a therapist. Last night, distraught over a breakup, he finally arrived at his destiny. Is it just me, or did he look like a total natural, engaged and focused, sitting opposite a shrink in a roomful of minimalist furniture?

The scene cut away quickly to the Bada Bing, as if to say: Our circle is complete.

(Photo courtesy HBO)