Who killed Tony Soprano?
In a previous article, we explained why Tony Soprano died in the series finale. However, that conclusion raises another far more important question.
Who did it?
To make a long story short, I believe that Paulie Gualtieri, Patsy Parisi and the Lupertazzi family orchestrated the hit.
Over the years, Tony did a number of things that ultimately came back to bite him in the end. I believe that some of these actions made his position untenable. I also believe that there was a major appetite for change among the big players.
After the “War of 2007”, it was time to wipe the slate clean and start a fresh new relationship between the two families. And for that to happen, Tony had to go.
The lay of the land.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the lay of the land. By the end of the show, the landscape had completely changed.
- Tony’s consigliere, Silvio Dante, is critically ill and in a coma. According to doctors, he is unlikely to regain consciousness.
- Lupertazzi boss Phil Leotardo is dead. We presume that he has been replaced by underboss Butch DeConcini, who is certainly no fan of Tony’s.
- Junior Soprano is an elderly man with dementia.
- One of Tony’s most loyal capos, Bobby Baccalieri, was gunned down by the Lupertazzi family.
- Tony’s nephew, Christopher Moltisanti, is dead. His cousin, Tony Blundetto, is also dead. These are two men who might have had Tony’s back if they were still alive.
- Tony’s capo, Vito Spatafore, was murdered by Phil Leotardo.
- Larry Barese is in prison.
- Little Carmine decided to retire and is no longer a big player in the Lupertazzi family.
- In the final scene, we learn that Tony’s capo, Carlo Gervasi, has become an informant.
All in all, the landscape has changed significantly, and many of Tony’s original inner-circle are now gone. Furthermore, the New York family is now being led by a man who doesn’t like Tony.
Over on Tony’s side, you have two key players left.
Paulie Gualtieri and Patsy Parisi.
Patsy is aware that Tony ordered the hit on his twin brother back in Season One.
Paulie, on the other hand, recently feared that Tony was going to kill him because he leaked a joke about Johnny Sack’s wife. In previous seasons, Paulie has also shown us that he is open to a “change in leadership”.
As you can see, these are not two men that Tony can bet his life on.
The Lupertazzi family wanted Tony dead.
Although Tony Soprano and the leading members of the Lupertazzi family did sit down and broker a peace deal together, the relationship between the two of them was far from perfect.
In fact, it was sour.
There are a number of reasons why the New York family might have wanted to kill Tony.
- Tony severely beat Lupertazzi soldier Coco Cogliano in Season Six. He also pointed a gun at Butch DeConcini, who is now presumed to be the new leader of the family. Whether Tony was wrong or right, it doesn’t matter. He put his hands on a made guy without it being sanctioned.
- Butch DeConcini and Tony do not particularly like each other. This is made clear in a number of scenes.
- The hit on Phil Leotardo was brutal and it happened in plain sight of his family. This may have angered members of the New York family.
- Tony refused to give his cousin Tony Blundetto up after he murdered Joey Peeps and Billy Leotardo.
- Tony’s ability to find Phil Leotardo’s location might have sent alarm bells ringing. Did the Lupertazzi family receive information that Tony was speaking to an FBI agent?
- Tony’s “stubbornness” in regards to certain projects was also a source of annoyance for New York.
- Finally, it was becoming more and more likely that Tony would be brought down by a federal RICO trial. Especially now that his capo, Carlo Gervasi, has agreed to testify before a grand jury. This made any future business dealings with Tony Soprano a risky prospect. There may have also been fears that Tony would eventually flip and shine a light on his dealings with New York.
To sum it up, the New York family had more than enough reasons to want Tony gone.
Little Italy is shrinking.
In the final episode, it is made clear to the viewer that Little Italy in New York is shrinking.
In one scene, a tour bus drives by.
As this bus is driving by, we can hear the tour operator speaking over the microphone.
“This is New York’s famous Little Italy. It once covered over 40 square blocks, but has now been reduced to one row of shops and cafes.”
Immediately afterwards, Butch steps out onto the street and his phone rings. The call is from his boss, Phil Leotardo, who is still in hiding.
While Butch is on the phone, he decides to walk and talk.
After less than a minute, the call ends and Butch looks up, only to realize that he is now in Chinatown.
Butch looks puzzled for a moment. He clearly wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings while he was speaking on the phone.
This scene drives home the fact that Butch’s world is shrinking, just like his way of life.
Therefore, it is easy to understand why the Lupertazzi family might feel eager to expand its territory.
Not out of want or greed, but out of necessity.
“We decapitate and do business with whatever’s left.”
As the war was beginning to heat up between Phil and Tony, one of the goals of the Lupertazzi family was to “decapitate” the New Jersey mob and “do business with whatever’s left.”
Furthermore, Butch DeConcini was one of the first people to suggest killing Tony.
When Phil Leotardo shook his head and stated that he would not “whack a boss”, Butch scoffed and said, “It’s been done before.”
Clearly, Butch has no personal qualms about taking out the head of another family.
In the second last episode of the series, Butch explains why taking over the Soprano family would be good for business.
“They got redundant upper management, bleeds off half the kick. We take ’em out, absorb the whole f*ckin’ thing.”
In other words, Butch does not believe that New Jersey needs its own boss, underboss or consigliere. Therefore, they should just remove the top guys and turn it into a crew that is subservient to the Lupertazzi family.
The Lupertazzi family couldn’t let Tony off the hook without appearing weak.
Ultimately, the Lupertazzi family would have had to overlook too many things that Tony did in order to continue doing business with him.
For many people in New York, that pill might have been too bitter to swallow.
From their perspective, it made sense to get rid of Tony and start afresh with someone like Paulie Gualtieri in charge.
At least Paulie would be far less stubborn and easier to control.
“Five f*ckin’ families and we got this other pygmy thing over in Jersey.”
You also have to think about the optics of the situation.
The New York family could not let Tony off the hook without appearing weak.
The New Jersey mob is only a fraction of the size of the Lupertazzi family. It is seen as a “glorified crew”. Or a “pygmy thing”, as Phil calls it.
New York should have been able to steamroll Tony and his entire crew with ease.
Allowing the brutal murder of Phil Leotardo in front of his family to be the “final act” would have been bad for business. It would send out the message that the powerful Lupertazzi family had been driven into a stalemate by a much smaller outfit of “farmers” from New Jersey.
Senior members from Tony’s crew were most likely in on it.
Although it is possible that New York killed Tony Soprano without the help of someone in his crew, I seriously doubt it.
The two families had just agreed to a peace deal. The cash was drying up and both parties were eager to get back to business and start making money again.
Killing Tony Soprano without the “blessing” of senior members such as Paulie and Pasty could have reignited the conflict and set everything back to square one again.
It would also send out a message that the word of the Lupertazzi family does not mean anything.
If Paulie and Patsy were to spearhead the hit, then New York could simply shrug their shoulders and brush the killing off as an internal power struggle.
In the final scene, the man in the Members Only jacket walks into the restroom.
Most people presume that this man is Tony’s killer and that he walked into the restroom in order to retrieve a weapon, much like Michael Corleone did in The Godfather. A film that is constantly referenced throughout the series.
If this was the case, then it is plausible that the gun was in the toilet tank before Tony arrived. In other words, someone close to Tony knew that he and his family were planning on eating there that night.
You have to remember that Tony was pretty good at evading attempts on his life. He was also a high profile target. Therefore, it is extremely likely that a lot of planning went into this hit.
This was not a random killing. Someone, somewhere, set the murder of Tony Soprano into motion.
“Holsten’s is the consensus.”
At the end of the series finale, Tony is raking leaves out back. At this stage, Phil Leotardo is dead, the war is over and the tension has been lifted.
Inside the house, Carmella tells A.J. that they will be eating at Holsten’s diner.
Originally, the plan was to eat manicotti (pasta) at home. However, Carmella does not have the time to cook. She explains to A.J. that she has to meet with the carpenters in order to go over plans for the beach house.
In the next scene, Carmella goes out to Tony and informs him that “Holsten’s is the consensus.”
In response, Tony looks at his watch and tells her that he has to “see some people”.
“Alright, I gotta see some people. I’ll meet you there.”
Afterwards, he visits Uncle Junior, who is suffering from dementia and wasting away in a state facility.
We never find out if Tony actually meets anyone else. It is highly likely that he never met “some people”. In other words, Tony was being vague because he did not want Carmella to know that he was going to visit the man who nearly killed him.
A man who Carmella wants nothing to do with anymore.
It is also important to note that Tony never mentions Holsten’s to Uncle June. Their conversation was far too serious for any small talk about eating out.
However, these scenes do highlight something extremely important.
Holsten’s was not planned well in advance.
Tony’s glance at his watch tells us that there wasn’t a lot of time between the decision to go to Holsten’s and his death.
Therefore, it is likely that only a select few people knew where he was going to be that night. There was not enough time for this information to “spread out” far enough.
As a result, it had to reach the ears of someone who was relatively close to him.
Who knew that Tony would be eating at Holsten’s?
- A.J.’s girlfriend knew about Holsten’s because she was there when Carmella said it. However, it is extremely unlikely that she said it to anyone. Let alone anyone important.
- Carmella obviously told Meadow.
- It is possible that Carmella said it in passing to one of her friends. However, most of her friends are now lonely widows who are no longer close to anyone of note.
- Tony may have told someone in his crew. However, he was a seasoned mob boss who was always cautious about the possibility of being whacked. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that he actually spoke to anyone besides Junior during this time frame.
Whoever killed Tony Soprano had to act quickly.
Between the decision to go to Holsten’s and Tony’s arrival at the diner, they had to:
- Receive the information.
- Potentially plant a weapon in a toilet in the rest room.
- Get a shooter in place.
The likelihood is that Tony’s killers were planning his death in advance. However, they needed to wait for the right opportunity to strike.
In the end, it seems as though the dinner at Holsten’s was that opportunity.
Paulie Gualtieri was involved in Tony Soprano’s death.
At the time of Tony’s death, Paulie was the second-most senior member in the family.
The other senior members were either dead, in prison or after turning state’s witness. Furthermore, Tony’s consigliere, Silvio Dante, was critically ill in the hospital and unlikely to recover from his injuries.
If New York needed someone from New Jersey to conspire with them against Tony, the most obvious choice would be Paulie Gualtieri.
Who else could step up and fill Tony’s shoes? Who else could command enough respect in the family?
But Paulie was Tony’s friend? Didn’t they go way back?
Paulie is not as loyal as he seems. Although I have no doubt that he had a soft spot for Tony, there is no getting around the fact that “Uncle Paulie” is a seasoned mob member who murders people for a living.
He is also a “survivor” who “made it through the seventies” by the “skin of his balls”.
Throughout the show, we are repeatedly shown that Paulie is a selfish person who will gladly put himself before anybody else.
Paulie and Johnny Sacrimoni.
Earlier in the series, Paulie had a number of secret talks with New York underboss Johnny Sacrimoni.
During one scene, he states the following:
“I’m only trying to bring good relations between the families. As I always do, and always will. No matter what happens or who’s in charge. If it’s me, God forbid. Or whoever.“
Here, we can see that Paulie is clearly floating the idea that he could become the boss of New Jersey. Even his “God forbid” comes across as insincere.
At the time, Johnny Sack was filling Paulie full of crap about how Carmine Lupertazzi, Sr. held him in high regard. And Paulie was gobbling up every single bit of it.
However, Paulie soon finds out that Carmine doesn’t even know who he is.
After realizing that it was all a ploy by Johnny to get information out of him, Paulie quickly reassesses the situation and re-diverts his loyalty back to Tony.
While Tony was dying in hospital, Paulie was extremely reluctant to “kick up” to Carmela.
As Tony is lying on his deathbed, Paulie refuses to “kick up” a piece of his share of the Colombian heist to Carmela.
Paulie only changes his mind after it becomes apparent that Tony will survive.
During a conversation with his cousin Little Paulie, he bemoans the fact that he has to pay “the princess of Little Italy”.
- Paulie: Certain people… let me tell you.
- Little Paulie: Look, c’mon. Not Sil again.
- Paulie: Carmela! T’s a f*cking vegetable. But I still gotta pay tribute to the princess of Little Italy.
- Little Paulie: She’s the boss’s wife, what you gonna do?
- Paulie: F*ck her.
This is not the behavior of a loyal friend.
Paulie feared that Tony would kill him.
Tony rightfully believed that it was Paulie who leaked the joke about Johnny Sack’s wife back in Season Four.
In Season Six, Tony and Paulie are forced to go on the run together after the body of a man they murdered back in 1982 is found.
During their “trip”, Paulie’s presence begins to grate on Tony.
In a number of scenes, Tony gets “that look” that we have all come to know. A mean look that seems to appear whenever bad thoughts are swirling through his head.
The boat trip.
Before they are due to go back to New Jersey, Tony recommends that they rent a boat and go fishing together. Although Paulie agrees to it, we can see from his facial expression that he is extremely uneasy about the idea.
As the boat is pulling out, Paulie stands there motionless, looking back at the shore. A flashback of the time they murdered their friend “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero on a boat plays in his head.
It is clear that he is wondering whether or not he will make it back alive.
While they are out at sea, Tony begins to press Paulie about who leaked the joke about Johnny Sack’s wife. He “jokingly” accuses Paulie of being the person who did it – although Paulie holds strong and refuses to admit anything.
Although Tony was definitely thinking about murdering Paulie (there is one scene on the boat where he stares intently at a large knife for a few seconds), he eventually decides not to go through with it in the end.
This boat trip was a big mistake on Tony’s part.
He had accused Paulie of leaking information and made him fear for his life.
This was not something that Paulie was going to forget about so easily.
Paulie had a dream that he might meet the same fate as Bonpensiero.
Later on, Paulie has a dream where he walks into his kitchen and sees his deceased friend “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero cooking something.
Paulie then asks:
“When my time comes, tell me… Will I stand up?”
This is most likely a reference to Bonpensiero’s murder. If you remember, “Pussy” asked Tony if he could sit down just before he was shot multiple times for being an FBI informant.
This dream bothers Paulie so much that he gets up and starts lifting dumbbells in the middle of the night. He is clearly worried about the possibility that one day, he might meet the same fate as Bonpensiero.
After the boat trip, we cannot fault Paulie for feeling this way.
- Tony rightfully suspects Paulie of leaking the joke about Ginny Sack.
- He knows that Tony is an impulsive creature who has mood swings and is liable to turn on him at any moment.
- Finally, the “disappearance” of Ralph Cifaretto proved that Tony was willing to stray over the line. It didn’t matter if you were a Capo or a high earner. If you got on his bad side, you were in dangerous territory.
It is possible that Paulie was in contact with New York before the war even kicked off.
In the episode “The Blue Comet”, members of the Lupertazzi family are planning their hit on Tony and his crew.
The conversation goes like this:
- Butch: Three pops within a tight time frame. 24 hours, so there’s no chance for them to hit back. Top three guys.
- Capo: Paulie Gualtieri?
- Butch: No, management. Tony Soprano, obviously. Plus, Silvio Dante. And we think Bobby Baccalieri.
There are three possible reasons for Paulie’s exclusion from this list.
- They genuinely did not believe that Paulie was in the “top three”. I personally find this strange, as Paulie is clearly a senior member of the New Jersey crew. Only recently, he was the underboss of the family.
- New York believes that Paulie is someone who they can do business with once they have “decapitated” the head of the family.
- Paulie has already been in contact with Butch and is possibly feeding them information.
Either way, it is interesting that the writers purposely drew our attention to Paulie’s exclusion.
Paulie knew about Tony’s meeting with FBI agent Dwight Harris.
When Tony needed to discover the whereabouts of Phil Leotardo, he called on FBI agent Dwight Harris for help.
Paulie was one of the few people who knew about this meeting.
This begs the question: If Paulie was speaking to New York, did he tell them that Tony had been speaking to an FBI agent?
I’m almost certain that the New York leadership would have been interested in finding out how Phil’s location was discovered.
A boss of a family having a secret meeting with an FBI agent? This alone would have been enough to seal Tony’s fate.
Paulie refuses to take over the Cifaretto crew.
In the very last episode, “Made in America”, Tony offers Paulie the chance to take over the Cifaretto crew.
However, Paulie does not seem enthusiastic about the offer, much to Tony’s surprise.
“With all due respect, I’d just like to mellow it a little.”
Although Paulie’s refusal to take over such a profitable crew surprises Tony, he reluctantly agrees to give him time to think about it.
Paulie then thanks Tony before leaving. He sounds emotional and sincere.
“Thanks T. This means everything… your faith in me.”
A few seconds later, as Paulie is standing outside, the following expression appears on his face.
Is this a flash of guilt? Does he know that a hit on Tony is already in the works?
Others have said that Paulie’s reaction could be down to the fact that he believes the Cifaretto job is cursed.
However, we know at this stage that Tony isn’t forcing him to take the position.
So why the long face?
Patsy Parisi’s involvement.
It isn’t difficult to imagine why Patsy Parisi would willingly take part in a hit against Tony Soprano.
In Season Two, Tony had Patsy’s twin brother Philly whacked. We also know that Patsy is fully aware of who ordered the hit, as he shows up drunk at Tony’s home brandishing a gun in Season Three.
He then proceeds to urinate in Tony’s pool.
Furthermore, when Patsy’s capo, Paulie Gualtieri, went to prison in 2002, Tony overlooked Patsy’s seniority and promoted his nephew, Christopher, to the job instead.
This annoyed Patsy and caused a rift between him and Christopher.
Although Patsy’s son is engaged to Tony’s daughter Meadow in Season Six, I doubt that this relationship is enough to secure his loyalty.
Following Paulie’s lead against Tony would have benefited Patsy in two ways.
- He would be getting revenge against the man who murdered his twin brother.
- Being a part of Paulie’s coup would be beneficial to his career. As the character Littlefinger said in the TV show Game of Thrones, “chaos is a ladder.”
By the end of the series, Tony’s position is extremely vulnerable. Bobby is dead, and Sil will never wake up from his coma.
As a result, the leadership of the family is there for the taking.
New York were actively trying to turn Tony’s crew against him.
We also know that New York was actively trying to turn members of Tony’s crew against him.
In the second-last episode, “The Blue Comet”, Burt Gervasi comes to Silvio Dante to float the idea of staging a coup against Tony.
In response, Sil strangles him from behind.
Afterwards, Sil informs Tony about the situation:
“Burt wasn’t speaking for just himself. Guys are getting squeezed hard to sway them towards new management.”
This tells us that Burt was most likely an envoy of sorts. He was approaching Sil on behalf of others.
Who are “the others”?
One of the problems with Burt Gervasi is that we do not know a lot about him. This is because he is a minor character who only appears in five episodes.
However, we do know that in Season Six, he was working alongside a certain person.
This, coupled with the fact that Burt attended Christopher Moltisanti’s bachelor party, means that he was most likely a part of Paulie’s old crew.
If Burt was brave enough to try and sway Tony’s right-hand man, I find it difficult to believe that he didn’t at least mention it to Patsy. Especially seeing as it was an open secret that Tony had Patsy’s brother killed.
This raises a number of questions.
- If he did approach Patsy, why didn’t Patsy say anything?
- Is it possible that Burt was actually acting on behalf of Paulie and Pasty? In other words, did they direct Burt to approach Sil? Sil specifically tells Tony that Burt “wasn’t speaking for just himself.”
- Why did Burt, a newly “Made Man”, who wasn’t a part of the core group, feel brave enough to approach Sil in the first place? Did someone convince him that Sil would be willing to turn?
“It’s all yours.”
Later on, in the exact same episode, Paulie and Patsy are sitting in the Bada Bing together.
The show’s writers purposefully obscure the conversation they are having by only allowing us to hear the end of it.
In a lowered voice, Paulie tells Patsy “You’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.”
Although some viewers might presume that they are talking about the planned hit on Phil Leotardo, this does not make sense to me.
Why would Patsy worry about the hit on Phil when he is not directly involved in it? From their perspective, all they have to do is arm the shooters.
Instead, I believe that they were talking about the hit on Tony. Or more specifically, the recent death of Burt Gervasi.
Perhaps Patsy’s real worry was that Burt had spilled the beans and named him as a co-conspirator? Or perhaps Burt’s death was a reminder of what can happen when a coup fails.
At the end of the scene, Paulie and Patsy go into the restroom together. While they are both standing at the urinals, Paulie turns to Patsy and says, “It’s all yours.”
What did Paulie mean by this and why did this mysterious conversation happen in the restroom?
- Were they legitimately talking about the hit on Phil?
- Was this Paulie’s way of telling Patsy that he was to proceed with the hit on Tony?
- Or was Paulie offering Patsy a lucrative position in exchange for him keeping his nerve and sticking with the coup?
It is highly possible that Patsy found out about Holsten’s.
Earlier in this article, we pointed out that the plan to eat at Holsten’s was not common knowledge.
The decision to eat there was made in the last few moments of the show. Only Tony, Carmela, A.J., A.J.’s girlfriend and Meadow knew about it.
However, in Season Six, we know that Patsy’s son Patrick is engaged to Meadow Soprano.
Therefore, it is highly possible that Patrick may have mentioned Holsten’s to his father. It is also possible that Meadow said it to Patsy herself.
A casual remark about Meadow’s whereabouts or her plans for the night would have been enough.
Personally speaking, I have always felt that Meadow’s and Patrick’s engagement came out of nowhere. Their relationship always felt “off” to me. And judging from some of the conversations that I have seen online, I am not the only one who feels this way.
This begs the question:
Did the writers insert this subplot into the show in order to push Patsy closer into Tony’s inner sphere? Did their engagement exist in order to explain the events leading up to Holsten’s?
The awkwardness between Tony and Patsy.
There is an awkward tension between Tony and Patsy in the series finale.
Although this tension is extremely noticeable, it is difficult for the viewer to put their finger on what is off or why it is off.
Patsy and his wife are at Tony’s house celebrating the news of Meadow’s and Patrick’s engagement. During the scene, Carmela orders Tony to refill Patsy’s drink.
Although Tony obliges, it is clear to the viewer that he isn’t happy doing so. Furthermore, Patsy’s face after Tony hands him the drink and turns his back to him is rather telling.
In my opinion, this looks like the face of a man who knows that Tony’s death is already in the works. His contempt for Tony is clearly showing and he knows that he will not have to be subservient to him for much longer.
“Anybody need some barber’s scissors?”
When the Lupertazzi family is discussing their business, its members sometimes meet in a beauty salon.
It was at this beauty salon that Butch specifically ruled out a hit against Paulie Gualtieri.
At the very end of that scene, Butch is standing at a counter putting items away. This shows us that he is familiar with the salon.
In other words, he is probably the owner.
In the series finale, “Made in America”, Paulie enters the Bada Bing with a box and shouts, “Anybody need some barber’s scissors?”
Was this a coincidence? Or was this a sneaky hint from the show’s writers that Paulie had met Butch?
“Our true enemy has yet to reveal himself.”
When Tony Soprano is having one of his fever dreams, he comes across Silvio Dante on the boardwalk.
Sil does his Godfather impression and says:
“Our true enemy has yet to reveal himself.”
This is a paraphrase of what Michael Corleone said in The Godfather Part III:
“Our true enemy has not yet shown his face.”
It is also worth pointing out that Sil’s outfit is a copy of what Michael Corleone was wearing when he delivered the line in question.
Afterwards, Tony continues to walk along the boardwalk until he comes across a tower viewer.
After Tony puts money into the tower viewer, he looks through it and sees himself playing cards with Paulie Gualtieri in the distance.
Then, suddenly, without warning, Tony lifts up his gun and shoots Paulie from across the table.
There are two interesting things about this scene.
- It happens directly after Sil warned Tony that their true enemy has “yet to reveal himself”.
- The action is taking place in the distance. In other words, this could be Tony’s subconscious looking into the future.
At the time, we had no reason to believe that Paulie was the enemy. Tony has no issues with him, and Paulie’s secret conversations with Johnny Sack have yet to happen.
“What the f*ck would I do that for?”
Furthermore, the show’s writers actually go out of their way to make us question why Tony would murder Paulie.
This is done in another segment of the dream. “A dream inside a dream”, so to speak.
In the scene, Tony talks to Dr. Melfi about the shooting. Tony explains that although Paulie can be annoying on a personal level, that would be no reason to murder him.
“He is one of my best guys”, states Tony, who is clearly distressed.
Paulie Gatto and Paulie Gualtieri.
The Sopranos contains a number of references to The Godfather trilogy.
In fact, the films are referenced over 50 times throughout the series.
As a result, one fact that I find interesting is this:
- The character Paulie Gatto in The Godfather betrays his boss Don Corleone, which almost leads to his assassination.
- Paulie Gatto and Paulie Gualtieri share the same first name.
- They also have the exact same initials: PG.
Coincidental? Or is this another nudge from the writers?
3 ‘o clock.
When Christopher Moltisanti wakes up in the hospital after being shot in Season Two, he tells Tony and Paulie that he died and went to hell. He also says that Mikey Palmice gave him a message to give to the both of them.
“Tell Tony and Paulie… 3 ‘o clock.”
In the final scene of the show, when Tony Soprano dies, it is presumed that the shooter exits the restroom on his right before shooting him dead.
If this is the case, then it means that the shooter came at Tony from his 3 o’clock direction.
As the show is coming to an end, Tony’s crew finds a stray cat and decides to keep it.
Paulie is the only member of the crew who has an issue with the cat. And Tony overrules him when he demands that they get rid of it.
Interestingly enough, all of this takes place during the scene where Paulie arrives back with the box full of barber scissors. In fact, Paulie only notices the cat after it runs across the table towards the box and lets out a loud cry.
This raises an interesting question. When the cat runs across the table and cries at Paulie, is it trying to warn the others?
It is worth noting that this is not the only confrontation that Paulie has with the cat. Later on, he walks into the Bada Bing and notices that the cat is staring at a picture of Christopher Moltisanti.
Once again, Paulie voices his opposition to the cat. He is about to hit it with a broomstick when Tony arrives and interrupts him.
Paulie changes his mind on the Cifaretto crew offer.
In Paulie’s last ever scene, he tells Tony that he is going to “pass” on the offer to take over the Cifaretto crew. He explains that everyone who ran the crew in question died prematurely.
In response, Tony berates him for being so superstitious. He brings up Paulie’s issue with the cat and explains to him that the cat isn’t staring at the photograph of Chrissy. Instead, it is probably staring at a dead rat behind the wall.
After a bit of back-and-forth, Tony gives up trying to reason with Paulie and says:
“If you don’t want the job, you don’t want the job. I can put Patsy in there.”
Immediately, what looks to be a wave of shock and terror washes over Paulie’s face.
After hearing that Tony plans on giving the job to Patsy, he immediately changes his mind and accepts the job offer.
Why did Paulie react this way?
Why did the mention of Patsy’s name change Paulie’s mind so quickly?
And why did he suddenly set aside all of his superstitious worries about the Cifaretto crew being jinxed?
In my opinion, Paulie knew that such a job offer might force Patsy to rethink the coup against Tony.
In the Bada Bing, we saw Patsy voicing his worries to Paulie about something. And that scene ended with Paulie telling Patsy “It’s all yours.”
Did Paulie offer the Cifaretto crew to Patsy in exchange for his loyalty?
Or is Paulie simply worried that the offer of such a profitable position might convince Patsy to back out?
Although Patsy most likely hates Tony for killing his brother, he isn’t stupid. He knows that organizing a hit against Tony is risky.
He also knows that Tony Soprano has a habit of dodging death.
Taking out a boss is a serious act. An act that Patsy might no longer have the stomach for if he finds out that Tony is willing to put him in charge of the biggest moneymaking crew in the family.
The cat returns.
After Paulie accepts the job offer, Tony gets up and walks away.
Paulie’s face as Tony is walking off shows us that he is a man who has a lot on his mind.
Is it guilt? Is it worry? Or maybe it’s both?
As Paulie sits outside of Satriale’s, cutting a lonely figure, the cat returns.
It walks up to the right of Paulie and stares at him before lying down.
In this case, I believe that the cat is marking Paulie Gualtieri as the rat.
Who killed Tony Soprano?
Paulie Gualtieri and Patsy Parisi conspired with New York to kill Tony Soprano.
If you look closely, you will see that the signs are all there.
Viewers miss these “signs” because of two reasons.
- The signs are not that obvious. David Chase, the show’s main writer and producer, does not like to gift wrap answers for the viewer. The Sopranos, unlike other TV shows, does not shove the conclusions directly into your face. Hence the reason the series finale ended with a black screen and an extended silence.
- A lot of these signs are shown in the final episodes, when the viewer is focused on the dramatic events that are unfolding.
However, if you pay attention to what the show is trying to tell you, then it is difficult to look past the likelihood that it was Paulie and Patsy who killed Tony Soprano.
If there is one thing that this show makes clear, time and time again, it’s that “family” and “loyalty” are just words to these guys.
Because when push comes to shove, they only care about themselves.
Related: What happened to the Soprano family after Tony died?