”Someone has to pay. ‘Cause she was a good girl.” Chilling line. And it’s not from The Sopranos. It’s Emmy winner Drea de Matteo on The Sopranos: The Complete Fifth Season’s commentary track for ”Long Term Parking,” the episode where her character, Adriana La Cerva, enters (consider this your spoiler alert, cave dwellers) that great witness protection program in the sky.
It’s a place all members of the extended Soprano family are heading, at various speeds. That’s what we feel in the fifth season of the suburban gangster drama, which was so conspicuously lacking in the fourth: that hurtling mortal velocity. You can feel it in the moral seesaw of cousin Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi, an actor who seemed too ready-made for the show at first). You can feel it in the long plummet of ”recovering” junkie Christopher (Michael Imperioli) and his engagement to Adriana, whose covert and halfhearted cooperation with the FBI has been tick-tick-ticking toward disaster since season 4. And you can feel it in Tony and Carmela (James Gandolfini and Edie Falco), two massive characters restored to their full wide-screen monstrosity, two massively talented actors about as car-crash magnetic as they’ve ever been.
On the other commentaries, guest directors Buscemi, Peter Bogdanovich, and Mike Figgis reveal how a sense of dread is built, block by block. (Bogdanovich, with his Hawks ‘n’ Hitchcock anecdotes, has an especially good time demonstrating how a judicious cut can govern mood.) The grave gapes in every chapter of The Sopranos, but now, blessedly, the moral heat has returned after a season on simmer. Someone, and likely everyone, will certainly have to pay. But as far as penance goes, death ain’t got nothing on life.