Hence the tragedy of Richie Aprile, something I never would have imagined myself saying.
I now see that Irina will also end badly.
The argument that Chase makes more and more stridently throughout the series is that by enabling the show, we're enabling Tony.
Richie knows Junior can't be too happy with the current situation either and pesters him for permission to get rid of his nephew.
Indeed, Melfi's final break with Tony will come when she realizes that he's likely a sociopath, an idea that is first raised by Kupferberg here.
Deadwood had a few moments like this, and Mad Men has found a way to turn out some of them, as well, but most serialized dramas operate within a certain range of possibilities.