Last night I watched the eagerly awaited conclusion to the Sopranos. This series needs little introduction from me, its been heralded in some quarters as the next great American novel, by others still, the series that reinvented the TV genre. Whatever people say about it there is no doubt that it will have a lasting legacy in TV Heaven and it'll be unlikely that the series will ever end up in the bargain basement DVD section on Amazon. Just checked - for six seasons worth of Marrone! will set you back nearly 500 bucks, not a small investment.
Anyway - the last episode, a turd or a winner? Well, really neither, as others had suspected all the drama and fun that we all guiltily enjoy happened in the previous two episodes, namely AJ's attempted suicide ,Phil's crew wacking Bobby and Sil in true Goodfellas style,and of course Tony performning his brand of Euthanasia on Chis-tu-fur a few weeks before. What everyone wanted to know was how on earth was David Chase (show-runner) going to finish his magnum opus? Would Tony get wacked, go to prison, or something else? Friends of mine had speculated for months about how things were going to play out. We all had our theories - Pat over at Lost in Translation reckoned it would be prison or death for Tony, possiby witness protection, simply because those are the three certainties for a mafioso. My own theory had been at one point that Carmela would have pulled the trigger after learning the truth about what happened to Adriana. Others thought we'd see Tony make a return trip to purgatory and meet all the dead people he was responsible for. Some speculated that he'd lose AJ or Meadow. Yet all of these especially the last two were just too obvious, too conventional for Chase. It goes against the whole ethos of the show. This is not supposed to The Godfather, or even Goodfellas. Chase has been quoted saying that he doesn't do messages, and the idea of Tony going over to the FBI goes against Chase's dislike/distrust of the Bureau. No, he had something much more dramatic up his sleeve. He was going to give somthing we'd never seen before . . .
So what did we get? Well not much really - life as usual- life goes on, there is no redemption and there certainly isn't much in the way of retribution, well apart from Phil who was thanked for his attempted decapitation of the New Jersey family by being shot in the head in front of his grand daughters and then having said head crushed like a mashed jelly doughnut all over a gas station tarmac - nice! For all the blood tirsty viewers out there, that was pretty much all the gore Chase would allow us.
We did get some fun with Paulie Walnuts fretting over a sinister ginger cat staring at a poster of Chris. We did nearly get to see AJ bone the hot model he met in the nut house. We did get to learn how much Meadow would make as a lawyer. We did get to learn that Tony might have to do a spell in the joint, but really nothing that would have looked out of place in season one, two or three or four. In fact its quite apparent that Chase wants us to know that this family would continue going on living. They'd grow older and change but as someone once said, the more things change the more they stay the same.
Now on to the episode's controversial bit.
The final scene. Some Diner.
It was packed with tension thanks to Chase's deft slight of hand, as the cameras rolled over the final Soprano family scene, its the audience not the creators who drive the tension in the scene, we're all expecting another does of ketchup and all we get is our own paranoia staring back at us through an empty blank screen. That's all folks. Nothing. After months of waiting that's it. Meadow walks in the screen goes blank. Tons of speculation of course, one popular ideas is that Tony got wacked and when you get wacked the lights go out, plain and simple. Ambigious? Yeah fairly, but really I've a better idea.The creators couldn't end it. They don't want to end it because you only have one ending in life - and thats death, and well death, its kind of old hat in literature, everyone always dies at some point if you continue living with them long enough. Much more original to leave the story in the middle - right? After all all great post modern literary fare talks about media-res - that is all we really perceive is the middel parts of our lives. There is no beginning or end. We come in to this world with no long term memory, and certainly when we leave it none of us will ever remember the end, just ask Junior.