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the take

Was Tony Soprano Killed by Vitamin C?

The fatal fruit?Courtesy of HBO, more or less

We always knew it would come down to the food.

The Tony is Dead contingent has reason to rejoice, because it seems the answer to The Sopranos finale lies in the mob boss's diet — and it has nothing to do with those onion rings. The (our?) theory, which is also bouncing around the comments sections of TV gossip sites, goes something like this:

1) The Sopranos loves the classics. The series is littered with references to classic gangster films like so many whacked goombahs — from James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson to Goodfellas (Michael Imperioli, who played the young gangster that Joe Pesci shoots in the foot in the Scorsese classic, exacts his revenge years later when Christopher shoots a disrespectful baker in the heel). And whether it be shot-by-shot homages, Silvio's Pacino impression, or intense conversations about events in "One" or "Two," the show's writers have always had a soft spot for the Godfather trilogy. (Or at least the first two, as writer Terence Winter pointed out in Slate the other week: "Godfather III does not exist for me.")

2) The Godfather loves the citrus. The reoccurring appearance of oranges is a staple of all three Godfather films. If you've never played the Drink When You See An Orange In The Godfather Game, then you've probably never thrown up while watching The Godfather.

As many a film professor has noted, the presence of these oranges foreshadows violence for the Corleone family: Vito is shopping for oranges during an assassination attempt; Sonny drives past a billboard for oranges right before he is gunned down; Michael dies with an orange in his hand; and Vito finally succumbs with that orange peel in his mouth.

3) Tony Soprano doesn't love fruit. Tony intakes a copious amount of food throughout the series, and despite some pasta and a memorable bout with sushi, almost all of it involves dead animals. He's constantly seen picking through the cold cuts in his refrigerator or slaving over his barbecue (both causes of his panic attacks). In the penultimate episode he even rips out a particularly delicious-looking Basque pepper-steak recipe from Dr. Melfi's treasured Departures magazine. However, one thing we do not see Tony eat much of is fruit.

In the beginning of the final episode, while holed up with Carmela, Tony slowly peels and takes a bite from … an orange.

On the other hand, Tony does enjoy a good glass of orange juice, so maybe we're reading too much into this. In fact, he likes orange juice so much that he went and bought a bottle of it in Season One. Right before he was shot. —Adam Leon

Elsewhere: The Long Con [NYM]