OK, so The Sopranos finally ended, after eight years, on my telly. If you haven’t seen the final episode, Made In America yet, look away now. I don’t even know how I managed to avoid reading about the ending for five months, but I did, and other than the scare we all got when the Guardian printed that grab of Tony asleep on a pillow, which looked like he was in a coffin, on the day after the US aired it, I’ve remained blissfully oblivious. So, how was David Chase going to wrap up the second greatest TV drama ever made? Well, by writing and directing the final episode (he hasn’t directed since the very beginning), and by not wrapping everything up. Apart from Phil’s assassination, which had to happen – and gruesome it was too – and Tony’s crew leaving behind “the mattresses” to return to normal life (the kind of normal life where you could be dead at any second, as Tony discussed with Bobby in the first episode of the final run), there was no sense of everything being tied up. Certainly, AJ seemed to pull himself together, but that was very messy, and anyway, he’s pulled himself together before and it hasn’t lasted. Quite what Meadow was doing having all that trouble parking her Lexus, I don’t know (you might look for symbolism in the fact that AJ’s SUV blew up, but then again, he seemed to have merely downgraded to a BMW in its place, so not exacly the cleansing rebirth it at first seemed). Chase has warned people off reading too much into it, but the music has always been so carefully chosen on The Sopranos it’s hard not to seek enlightenment in Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, the final tune, with its talk of “strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard, their shadows searching in the night”. Also, check out this verse:
Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
Whether Chase likes it or not, this song seems to hint that Tony is not dead. Born to sing the blues, perhaps, but the movie never ends. (I actually don’t care if it means anything or not, I lap this stuff up.) I haven’t really investigated the message boards yet, but with Phil dead, why would somebody shoot Tony? Aren’t the two families square, after the meeting in that hellish barn? The closest Tony came to death in the series was when his own uncle shot him, suggesting that family will be the death of him in the end.
It’s been a glorious run. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the final season. Possibly some of the best episodes of the the lot. The final episode sort of ducked out of competing for being anyone’s favourite. It just rolled on, and ended. I was as frustrated as anybody when it did this, the sudden cut, the blank screen, but the more I think about it (and there’s a novelty, television you think about afterwards), the more apt it becomes. What did we expect? A Mexican stand-off? A musical number? A wedding? A speech to camera? The sound of Chase yelling, “Cut!” and the actors returning to being themselves? No, a blank screen will do for me.
Thank heavens for all the other American shows I’ve previously mentioned to tide me over until The Wire Season Five finally gets here in 2008.