I am currently making my way through the Sopranos for the first time and at the same time reviewing each season. This isn't a season review, instead its just a brief aside about how fantastic this show is while seemingly doing nothing.
Today I began my trip through the shows fourth's season, by watching the season premiere. This episode and season debuted over 15 months after the previous season had finished airing and was the first episode to air after the events of September 11th. The shadow and repercussions of that devastating event hang over this episode heavily. This is a somber and more moody episode, Carmela herself delivers a piercing line early on in the episode, when she pointedly says to Tony to turn on the TV and see that "nothing lasts forever".
It is an episode all about decline and the ways that the past is truly coming to an end and that the light is going out on the present as well. The Sopranos has always been a series about the demise of the good ol glory days, of a time that has come and gone. Nostalgia runs deep on the Sopranos and its ability to use it as a powerful theme and study of its characters and the world they inhabit has always been masterful. But in this episode, as one of the most devastating and consequential events of the past half-century occurred, those remembrances and nods to the past become that much more powerful.
The season four premiere of the Sopranos unblinkingly and full-frontedly took on the aftermath of 9/11 and placed it in the background to serve as a stunning example of the looming destruction and ill-fate that awaits its cast of characters. Tony himself was continuously forced to think about how he thinks this is all going to end, of what the endgame for his way of life is and also about the fact that the best days may have already passed. Subtle, dark, sad, and packed to the gills with tragedy even when it tried to show a happy moment, All Debts Public and Private dealt a stunning portrait into this show and everything it represents and did so well. Never showy or action-packed it will never be an episode you discuss among the shows best or show to somebody new trying to get into the show, yet it is perhaps the finest example of something being greater then the sum of its parts and a wonderful remainder of just how well this show handled the little tiny moments that make up life.