The thing that is absolutely riveting for me about this final season of The Sopranos is the way the series carefully reinforces the idea that the characters who we have grown to love, and fear and puzzle over, are all remaining entirely true to their natures. These men (and they are primarily men) are murderers, extortionists, adulterers, bullies, thieves. In short, gangsters. Each episode this season, which I literally view with trepidation and a feeling of being physically ill, drives home this point.
With son AJ's attempted suicide, cousin Christopher's untimely accident and death (at Tony's own hands), Dr. Melfi's sudden and humiliating abandonment of Tony, brother-in-law Bobby's assassination, his enemy Phil Leotardo's murderous plot to eliminate the Soprano family and Silvio's near murder, Uncle Junior's lack of funds to support his stay at the asylum and sister Janice's pleas to help out financially, Paulie's increasing unsuitability as a family member, wife Carmela's alternating bouts of maternal anxiety, binge shopping and icy disdain, daughter Meadow's dropping out of med school ... who wouldn't feel compassion for the guy? It seems everything is conspiring to destroy Tony.