Almost 24 hours have passed since the finale episode of The Sopranos aired. Orginally, I wrote a blog stating how much I hated the episode (see below).
Since then, I have realized two things:
1) I am an idiot;
2) It was an amazingly great ending to the Best Show Ever.
First up, I have to admit that I hate Journey, and I hate “Don’t Stop Believing” even more, so that immediately put a knock against the finale, since the final scene uses it (although I had to admit last night that it was, indeed, used to perfection). Now, though, I’m singing the song every chance I get, much to the chagrin of my co-workers, must of whom weren’t even aware they had any chagrin.
As much as I hated the ambiguity of last night’s final moment, I now realize (aided by repeated viewings and the explanations of those far smarter than I could dream of being), the show ended in the only way possible. Creator David Chase, who wrote and directed the finale, had no way of meeting the hopes/desires/expectations of viewers who wanted Tony Soprano to end up in jail, dead or taking over a New York family, so, ultimately, Chase just settled on the ending he wanted.
Keep in mind that Chase wrote this episode many months ago and had a major hand in shaping the scripts leading up to the finale. All along, the season has been building toward what we thought was the inevitable, but the only reason we thought that in the first place was because Chase led us there.
And that, my friends, is brilliant writing.
All along, Chase has teased us, throwing us tantalizing possibility after tantalizing possibility, only in the end to give us none of the above.
Again, I say brilliant.
So what happened? Some have speculated that the abrupt ending, the shot of blackness, referenced a conversation from the return of this season in which Tony and Bobby were discussing death and how you never see it coming, how everything just goes black. This has many people (myself, momentarily, included) believing that Tony died when the music stopped.
Now, though, I see that I’m wrong. The scene wasn’t from Tony’s viewpoint, so it wouldn’t make storytelling sense to end his thoughts from another’s point of view.
Instead, I think it just shows that a) even though one chapter of your life comes to an end, others begin and life goes on; and b) for the rest of his life, Tony will be forced to look over his shoulder, always wondering if this is the day he dies.
As for that conversation about the world going black and not seeing the ending coming, well, David Chase employed a clever bit of foreshadowing. It seems that viewers, despite weeks of speculation, were thrown the one ending they never saw coming.