This season has been pure Dante. Each episode loosely based on the 9 circles of Hell. The punished included the innocent, the slothful, the greedy, the violent, the fraudulent, the suicides (AJ?), and blasphemers. The 9th circle is where the traitors reside, so the possibilities for next week (the finale) are fantastic.
Check out the similarities (numbering the 9 episodes of the current half-season as 1 to 9):
I can't take credit for this, but sure wish I could.Episode 1 - Soprano Home Movies - Dante's 1st level of hell is purgatory, or limbo. no punishment meted out here. people are peaceful, yet sad. that episode involved no deaths (aside from a bit character in the laundromat), but an idyllic (and some say slow-paced) episode by a lake in upstate NY.
Episode 2 - Stage 5 - the premiere of Cleaver. Level 2 of Dante's hell is where the "lustful" spend eternity, those who betrayed reason at the behest of their appetites for pleasure. this episode sealed Christopher's fate, when Tony embraced him at the baptism, and told Melfi about how Chrissy hated him. you knew then that Christopher was not going to survive.
Episode 3 - Remember When - This episode saw the fractured relationship between Tony and Paulie, and almost saw Tony kill Paulie on the boat in Florida. It also showed the end for Junior. Level 3 of Dante's hell is for the gluttons, consumed in excess, and is filled with putrid water and stinking mud. Like the water around the boat, perhaps?
Episode 4 - Chasing It - This episode saw Tony's gambling losses escalate and his relationship with Hesh crumble. Dante's level 4 of hell was for those who lived greedily, those who stockpiled their fortunes, hoarding everything. Sound like Hesh?
Episode 5 - Walk Like A Man - this was a hateful episode, showing AJ taking joy in other's pain in order to heal from depression, and Christopher bearing the brunt of ostracization, and the feud between him and Paulie. Dante's 5th level of hell is reserved for the wrathful and the gloomy, punishing the cruel, vindictive, and hateful.
Episode 6 - Kennedy & Heidi - We see Christopher's death at Tony's hands, Tony's Vegas trip, and him screaming "I get it!" at the blinking sun. Level 6 of Dante's hell is for the heretics who fail to believe in God and the afterlife. Some have commented that this episode saw Tony reconcile with the fact that he's happy he's an evil guy, and that killing his cousin made him content, so therefore he turned from God and didn't mind heading toward hell. Maybe "I get it!" was Tony yelling to the universe that he understood there was no God, and that the ends justify the means, allowing him to revel in his evil without fear of divine retribution? That's something a heretic might do.
Episode 7 - The Second Coming - AJ's attempted suicide - the savage beating of Coco - the start of the NY/NJ war. Dante's 7th level of hell is reserved for the violent, the assasins, the war-mongers; and also those who commit suicide. Enough said.
Episode 8 - The Blue Comet - the end of Tony's therapy with Melfi - the full blown war - the killing of Bobby - maybe of Sil? Level 8 of hell involves "many and varied sinners," such as the seducers and the pimps (Sil runs the Bing), the barraters (those who commit an "unlawful breach of duty on the part of a ship's master or crew resulting in injury to the ship's owner" - which could be just about anyone in the NJ crew after Phil's bungling whacking), the thieves (which Bobby essentially was, not a true killer), and the hypocrites (Melfi).
Episode 9 - Made in America - The End. Level 9 of Dante's hell is the deepest level, where Satan himself resides (maybe Tony will die and see for himself what that sun was saying to him when flashing...his peyote experince might have been wrong, and instead of "there is no God," the Sun was saying, "this is hell, you're heading the right way!"). The traitors live here, Judas and Brutus included.