Bit late on this forum as S5 only finished here a couple of weeks ago. Personally, I never find the show anything less than excellent and I don't understand the lack of enthusiasm for S4. THE SOPRANOS often frustrates my expectations but I've come to love that about it. It's the way life is. I can't figure out whether they've got a game plan going on across the whole series or whether it's more spontaneous than that. Even the "dream" episode - which wasn't that enjoyable - still felt well-timed ; I'd just been beginning to feel that the show had lost some of its surreal quality and was in danger of becoming just another mob drama. Either way, I don't think we can complain that it takes eighteen months to write and produce twelve hours of quality television ( that's SIX Spider-Man 2s by the way !) In fact, I heard that maybe the last series was going to be longer than usual. The wait'll be agonising, for sure, but I'd rather good than soon. On the last moments of the series - Carmela telling him his shoes were muddy (or whatever) - it was the kind of thing a mother says to her child. My personal impression was that the whole season had been quite melancholic. Most of the life and death squabbles that go on are essentially trivial, and no more than childish (albeit lethal) games. The fact that Tony S had to kill his childhood friend seemed to confirm this. Carmela, more than ever before,is Tony's madonna amongst whores - his mother reborn - unaware of the mischief he's been up to.