The Sopranos Ends With a Final Episode

Dear Internet,

We finished watching The Sopranos last night. Thanks for not spoiling us! So who’s ready to discuss the final episode now?

Anyone? Anyone?

Sigh.

ETA: Caution! Amy came to play, so we’re talking in full-bore spoilers in the comments.

8 thoughts on “The Sopranos Ends With a Final Episode

  1. Awesome, awesome, awesome, and again I say, awesome.

    Right, where to begin.

    I’ve read a number of other reactions on the net now, and I can certainly understand people being disappointed with it. It’s a very ambiguous ending, despite the number of people saying, “It’s obvious Tony dies.” The finale gave the series a thematic conclusion but not a narrative one.

    Thematically, we’ve reached the end of this story. The most telling point for me is that melancholic shot of Paulie sitting outside the store, sunning the underside of his neck. It’s something we’ve seen him do countless times, but now the table around him is empty. Other than Tony, the old crew is dead and gone.

    We see the next generation of Soprano problems taking root. A.J. isn’t in the mafia, but he’s staying in his dad’s sphere of influence. His dabbling in Hollywood is reminiscent of Christopher’s. Will he end up like Chris, minus the semi-benefit of being a made man? And Meadow is echoing her mom’s denial of Tony’s criminality. She’s becoming a lawyer in part because of “how Italian Americans are treated” and because of her dad being dragged off in handcuffs before her. “We’re persecuted,” she says, sounding just like Carmela.

    The last ten or so minutes are incredibly tense. They focus on random other people in the diner, and we think, are they the ones who will kill Tony? It’s a sobering glimpse of how Tony must live, even more so after the war with Phil. We even get what I suspect is a nod to The Godfather, with the guy sitting at the bar who then goes to the bathroom, the camera tracking his every move even as Tony watches on. Is there a gun taped to the back of the commode, filled with bullets meant for Tony?

    And Tony looks up and we slam to black as the song stops. “Don’t stop–” It’s probably Meadow, but we don’t know. Tony doesn’t know. It may be the person who is going to kill him. And we’re left in the ambiguity of Tony’s whole life, wondering if he’ll hear the one that gets him. Chase and crew didn’t answer the question everyone wanted answered: “Will Tony die?” Maybe so, they answer, but like Tony, you’re not going to know.

    Man, I can’t believe they let them get away with that ending. Seriously brilliant.

  2. Well, here’s the thing. It is very possibly not as ambiguous as it originally appears. David Chase gave one interview about the ending of the series, and pointed out one thing that just made my mouth flop open.

    There was one clue. 🙂

    Do you remember a few episodes back when Tony and his brother-in-law were talking (I think it was when they were at the lake house) and they started talking idly about what it might be like to die.

    To quote Bobby (and the MSN article): “At the end, you probably don’t hear anything, everything just goes black…”

    (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19236576/)

    Patrick and I ended up talking about this while I was in Orlando. When I watched the final episode and the final moments rolled, I was pissed. Livid. I couldn’t believe David Chase had done that. Felt cheated.

    For about a day.

    Then I remembered something. The series was an anti-morality play. Bad people did bad things and got away with it. David Chase had no requirement that said he had to give the audience what it was screaming for. So what if everyone thought Tony could end up dead or an informant? His job was to entertain us.

    When I realized that, I forgave him much of the meandering of the final two seasons. 🙂

    Blather done, time to go to work!

  3. I never watched The Sopranos, but I’ve heard enough buzz that I basically know how the series ended. I recently read a quote from a Newsarama interview with Joe Quesada that might interest you:

    NRAMA:… what did you think of the ending of The Sopranos?

    Joe Quesada: I absolutely loved it and thought it was perfect and the more I got away from it the more perfect it became. It also took nads of steel to end the show that way as well. There have been many classic last episodes of shows over the decades (Newhart) and many tragic (Seinfeld), but this to me was the most remarkable and memorable.

    NRAMA: What’s your theory what the final moment(s) meant (if you have one)…?

    JQ: Over dinner last night right here in Philly, Bendis made an observation. I don’t know if this is his observation or if he was quoting someone else, but he said that it was the audience that got whacked at the end. That to me describes it perfectly because as they’ve said on the show in the past, you never see it coming.

  4. Amy: I’ve read more online speculation about that, and Bobby’s quote about you not hearing the one that gets you certainly points to Tony’s death. The bit about the guy in the Members Only jacket redoing the famous scene from The Godfather points to it as well, plus Tony has evidently cited that scene as his favorite from the movie. To add to it, note that “Members Only” was the episode in which Junior shoots Tony.

    There’s a lengthy article that goes into the “Tony’s clearly dead” theory in tremendous detail. I find his Last Supper imagery interesting, though that fits with him dying, with him being carted off by the police, or with him realizing that this is the end of his fantasy of having a normal family life.

    Paul: interesting quote.

  5. I too was upset following my first viewing of the episode. My mouth was agape and my jaw literally dropped at the audacity of ending it with a cut to black and silence. I think the first thing I said was, “People are going to be pissed off.”

    The next morning I realized that is what I loved about the show — the jaw-dropping moments — and that to have ended it any other way (either with an onscreen killing or incarceration) would have paled in comparison because it would have been the conventional and expected route.

    By the afternoon of “the day after” I LOVED the ending and have come to appreciate it even more after reading various theories online. By far the most in-depth being the link you posted Stephen – that was amazing! I think my favorite though is the idea that the audience got whacked. That we didn’t hear it coming and that while the Soprano’s world continues we won’t be a part of it — like Bobby, or Christopher, or Phil. But I’ll also accept Tony getting knocked off.

    No matter what the episode and specifically the ending does what I believe all great art does — invites discussion and interpretation on the part of the viewer. As far as I’m concerned it’s a classic finale.

  6. I think I’m particularly enamored of the audience getting whacked theory. It just makes me happy that I (as a viewer) was a Soprano all this time and that’s how I was privy to all this info. So because I knew too much it was then necessary to knock me off.

    I’m going to be smiling about that for the rest of the day.

  7. I thought the ending fit the show: rather than “The Sopranos,” it could have been called “Ambiguity.” Tony loses his therapist because she realizes that he’s not gonna change. NOTHING is gonna change! Their lives, as long as they continue, will be the same, and more of it. What could be more fitting than a show about moral ambiguity ending……..amgibuously?!

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