WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
“The Blue Comet” is an interesting episode because it’s simultaneously exactly what you’d expect and totally unexpected. After Tony was shot I concluded that the show was not likely to go out with a bang; more likely we’d see Tony fade away, life go on. After the slow fade of last season’s finale, and even through the first couple of episodes of this season, I still felt that way. But starting with “Walk Like a Man,” everything changed and since that episode, we’ve been on a march to this point, with everything falling apart, to the point that this episode leaves Tony alone in a safehouse, all his close friends dead, separated from his family. It’s an apocalyptic episode and another masterpiece from Chase and his team.
The show has teased a New York/New Jersey war for a long time, from Tony’s betrayal of Johnny Sack in “Whitecaps,” to the near war in last season’s “Kaisha,” and after the buildup last week, I was hoping that he wouldn’t stop things before they started again. This entire season has had a feeling of dread, and this episode took it to almost unbearable levels. The opening scene, with Silvio murdering Burt Gervasi, set up that this was going to be a big episode, though I was a bit unclear who he was murdering.
Being near the end of a series makes every threat a bit more real. Last season, you’d never have thought that Phil really might take out the top guys in Tony’s crew; now it was a real possibility, and as Bobby walked into that train store, he was already dead - it was just about waiting for it to happen. Things were so bad after Silvio died I legitimately thought Tony might go.
On a thematic level, the episode integrates a lot of things that have been going on under the surface for a while. Phil says that he needs to take out Tony Soprano’s “glorified crew” because they don’t really believe in the mythology of the mafia. It is the ritual that makes them more than gangsters; the ritual is the reason Phil spent time in prison, and if that’s meaningless, then so is his time in prison. That’s also why Tony isn’t a “real” gangster: Phil mentions his lack of jail time here and shut Tony down with it last episode with his already classic speech about compromising.