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The Silvio Theory That Would Connect The Sopranos To Lilyhammer

Steve Van Zandt, who portrays Silvio Dante on "The Sopranos," began his entertainment career not as an actor but as a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. In fact, his filmography to this day, save for a few cameos and other limited appearances, is comprised largely of Springsteen-related gigs, "The Sopranos," and one other notable role: Frank Tagliano in "Lilyhammer."

In "The Sopranos," Van Zandt's Silvio acts as consigliere, or second-in-command, in Tony Soprano's (James Gandolfini) DiMeo family. While Silvio typically plays a relatively passive role — in the first few episodes of Season 6, Silvio acts as a behind-the-scenes mediator in a series of inter-family conflicts — he can behave ruthlessly when he feels it's necessary. For example, in the Season 3 episode "University," he violently attacks Tracee (Ariel Kiley), who works at the Bada Bing! strip club he manages, as punishment for her missing work.

In "Lilyhammer," Van Zandt's Frank, while also a mobster, is done working as a made man. After testifying against his one-time boss, Frank flees to Norway through the US government's Witness Protection Program. Though he lives in his new home under an assumed identity, the ways of his past inevitably resurface in his day-to-day life.

Given Van Zandt's trajectory from active mobster in "The Sopranos" to lapsed gangster in "Lilyhammer," some fans have attempted to link his characters in both series, predominately through a fan theory that posits "Lilyhammer" as a canonical sequel to Silvio's character arc in "The Sopranos."

Yet another coma fan theory

A theory shared to the "Sopranos" subreddit by u/anubis2051 in 2014, which has also been shared among fans of both shows since "Lilyhammer" premiered, proposes that Frank Tagliano is a functionally Silvio dreaming. Proponents of this possibility cite both precedent in "The Sopranos" and what can be interpreted as confirmation in "Lilyhammer."

In a post about the connection between the two shows shared to the Fan Theories subreddit in 2014, u/gunslingrburrito likens Frank to Kevin Finnerty, a character Tony imagines himself to be in an extended coma dream sequence following a gunshot wound in "The Sopranos" Season 6. In the "Sopranos" series finale, Silvio similarly ends up in a coma as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. It's at least plausible, then, that he might dream up an alternate persona like Tony did when imagining himself to be Kevin Finnerty.

Furthermore, in their post to the "Sopranos" subreddit, u/anubis2051 mentions that in "Lilyhammer" Season 3, an old man says the words "it's all a dream Silvio." While many commenters in the post's reply section believe this is simply a reference on the writers' part to "The Sopranos," assuming the coma fan theory to be true, this could be Silvio's subconscious acknowledging the nature of his extended Frank Tagliano dream.

For what it's worth, Steve Van Zandt discussed the theory in an interview with Maxim magazine. "Those of us who've done more research into the mob know how different the two characters are, but if someone thinks it's that, that's fine – I don't mind that at all. Whatever allows people to be comfortable watching the show is great," he said, authoritatively confirming the theory as non-canonical while still allowing room for its proponents to have fun with it.