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The second era of The Sopranos has come to a close. Talking Sopranos, the popular podcast started by show alumni Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa as a project to help ease fans’ stress during the pandemic, concluded Monday. It premiered in April 2020.
The duo thanked fans from the bottom of their hearts for the huge amount of support for the project, which resulted in 91 episodes and one best-selling book, Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos.
The hosts did not get into specifics as to why they were winding down, but it seems pretty clear they have addressed nearly all they could with essentially every single actor and some crew who were involved with the series. Plus, both actors are juggling other projects.
Their final guest was none other than the series creator himself: David Chase. The writer-director had visited the podcast in the past, but he was in rare form for the finale, straight-up spilling the beans on lingering series questions. His comments follow a recent headline-making confirmation, made in a Hollywood Reporter interview, about Tony’s series finale fate.
To get the ball rolling, Schirripa asked Chase asked if there was a character who he regretted killing. After a moment’s thought, Chase gave his answer: Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero, who was played by Vincent Pastore.
“It was too soon because we all loved that guy, and we loved the actor also,” Chase said. “But, it made for a great story. What can I say?” Bonpensiero was killed by the gang at the end of season two after Tony (James Gandolfini) deduced (and then confirmed) he was an FBI informant (“Funhouse,” the 13th episode of season two.)
Chase then finally confirmed that yes, Ralph (Joe Pantoliano) did in fact kill his racehorse, Pie-o-My; an animal that Tony was greatly fond of and making great money on at the track. Tony would later strangle Ralph to death for being cagey about whether the fire that killed the horse was accidental (“Whoever Did This,” the ninth episode of season four).
“Tony had it right,” Chase said of the suspicion. “But the thing is, when he was beating up on Ralphie for killing Pie-o-My, it was really about that girl who he killed, Tracee (Ariel Kiley).” Tracee was a young dancer at the Bada Bing! who was involved with Ralph and shows affection toward Tony in the way of a friend or daughter, much to Tony’s rebuffing. Still, when Ralph beats Tracee to death in “University,” the sixth episode of season three, Tony flies into a rage and assaults Ralph over the cold-blooded killing.
Chase also agreed with Schirripa when he said that, in his opinion, Janice (Aida Turturro) was more evil than Livia (Nancy Marchand), her and Tony’s mother. “Livia came from a time and a place in New Jersey that wasn’t very enlightened. There wasn’t a lot of money, but they were working-class people. So there was a lot Livia didn’t know. Janice had every opportunity. She was Hindu, she had been all around the world. And she still was very corrupt. Livia had a criminal mind, in a way.”
Schirripa also asked about the significance of the canned ham that Tony is carrying when he returns home from the safe house in the series finale, “Made in America.” Chase admitted it meant something, but it was not that deep. “They were in that other house and there was a canned ham, and, ‘We can’t leave that! We have got to take the ham. Let it go to waste?'”
Chase concluded his time with, “I am so appreciative that people want to ask me about the ending; that there is still that interest in it. It is hard to feel appreciative, like when you’re talking to a reporter, but just the whole thing. Me, personally, I was just a really lucky person, mainly because I got to work with so many talented people. It was a phenomenon. How often does that happen? There are millions of them [fans], and I thank them for their interest.”
There were a number of other topics addressed in the final Talking Sopranos episode, which can be found below.
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Robert De Niro