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Fans of HBO’s “The Sopranos“–the award-winning mafia family-crime drama that many claim is the best show on television–will finally satisfy their long-awaited desire for a new season this Sunday, March 12th, at 9 p.m. It’s been almost two years since the controversial and shocking season finale of Season Five. I won’t give away that ending here, just in case people are still frantically trying to catch up before Sunday. But–SPOILER ALERT–stop reading now if you’re one of those people and don’t want the surprise ruined.

One of the most interesting developments in the show has been within Tony and Carmela’s marriage. In early seasons, Carmela Soprano was determined to stay in her marriage despite the extreme emotional cost she experiences living with a criminal who also enjoys extra-marital affairs with just about any woman (or gumar, as they refer to these mistresses on the show) to whom he finds himself attracted. For Tony, especially given what we see in Season Five, no woman is off limits, even if it’s the fiance of one of his most trusted men.

Why did Carmela stay so long? Because to Catholics, marriage is sacred, a bond formed in the eyes of God that cannot be broken.

Despite this view of marriage as eternal and unbreakable, one of the major themes of Season Five is Carmela’s decision to leave Tony and ulimately pursue a divorce, much to his great anger and dismay. Regardless of her parish priest’s advice to go back to the marriage, Carmela seems determined to end her bond with Tony and find a way to live independently. (A theme very consistent on the show is priestly advice that women should stay in marriages regardless of having husbands who are criminals and unfaithful, and who even may abuse them physcially.)

Without Carmela as the mitigating moral force in his life, we have seen Tony degenerate even further as a person, making him significantly less sympathetic as a character than he was in previous seasons. I am curious to see what happens in their family life, and how Carmela’s and Tony’s characters (and their relationship) develop as Season Six begins.

Will Tony ever be redeemed?

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