Don’t stop believing

Sopranos end

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.

32 thoughts on “Don’t stop believing

  1. Chase this week has come out to strongly suggest that he wasn’t whacked by the ‘Guy In Members Only Jacket’ (Back in June rumours were going round that the guy was a relative of Phill Leotardo as wellas the two black guys that entered being the two that were put on to hit Tony towards the end of season one, nice idea but one of them died in that botched attempt.) Personally, like the b-side to the Journey song, you can have the ending “Anyway You Want It” There is plenty of dropped hints to suggest that the fade to black is to spare us the violence of a possible blood bath and that you don’t even hear it. For me it’s more of the life goes on circle motion of those onion rings, Tony is worried about someone flipping, a gun charge, Janice chasing after money, his kids etc. It goes on and on and on. Like Andrew said what did we want to see? Tony being shot to bits? Chase has called out people who’d been cheering Tony through one immoral act after the other and now want his blood as hypocrites and quite rightly so. Tony will always do something unspeakably evil and then pull away from the abyss, just when you think that he is improving he regressed again.I think that last scene gave us a window of what it must have been like for Tony these past 8 years, consistently looking up, over his shoulder wondering if the next person through the door was going to be the one who killed him, or a cop to take him away from his family. In the first episode Tony said he was worried about losing his family like he lost the ducks. 86 episodes later and all four of them sat down to dinner in a dinner (an American one too, not Italian.) I salute Chase for a brave ending that has made people ponder and I will put large money on the ending of Lost being nowhere near as good as this.

  2. Chase this week has come out to strongly suggest that he wasn’t whacked by the ‘Guy In Members Only Jacket’ (Back in June rumours were going round that the guy was a relative of Phill Leotardo as wellas the two black guys that entered being the two that were put on to hit Tony towards the end of season one, nice idea but one of them died in that botched attempt.) Personally, like the b-side to the Journey song, you can have the ending “Anyway You Want It” There is plenty of dropped hints to suggest that the fade to black is to spare us the violence of a possible blood bath and that you don’t even hear it. For me it’s more of the life goes on circle motion of those onion rings, Tony is worried about someone flipping, a gun charge, Janice chasing after money, his kids etc. It goes on and on and on. Like Andrew said what did we want to see? Tony being shot to bits? Chase has called out people who’d been cheering Tony through one immoral act after the other and now want his blood as hypocrites and quite rightly so. Tony will always do something unspeakably evil and then pull away from the abyss, just when you think that he is improving he regressed again.I think that last scene gave us a window of what it must have been like for Tony these past 8 years, consistently looking up, over his shoulder wondering if the next person through the door was going to be the one who killed him, or a cop to take him away from his family. In the first episode Tony said he was worried about losing his family like he lost the ducks. 86 episodes later and all four of them sat down to dinner in a dinner (an American one too, not Italian.) I salute Chase for a brave ending that has made people ponder and I will put large money on the ending of Lost being nowhere near as good as this.

  3. I thought the final episode was brilliant. My take on the ending (especially when you take into account the lyrics that you’ve supplied us with Andrew) is that everything carries on as normal without us watching – Tony goes to Trial and does/doesn’t get sent down and the family (or ‘families’) just carry on as they would normally. The black screen it cut to at the end reminded me of a meter running out, if you will, meaning that we’ve been allowed to view these characters for the past decade but now our time’s run out and we’re not allowed to see any more, even though it does carry on without us. Or maybe I’m just thinking about it too much and need to have a lie down.Zoe

  4. I thought the final episode was brilliant. My take on the ending (especially when you take into account the lyrics that you’ve supplied us with Andrew) is that everything carries on as normal without us watching – Tony goes to Trial and does/doesn’t get sent down and the family (or ‘families’) just carry on as they would normally. The black screen it cut to at the end reminded me of a meter running out, if you will, meaning that we’ve been allowed to view these characters for the past decade but now our time’s run out and we’re not allowed to see any more, even though it does carry on without us. Or maybe I’m just thinking about it too much and need to have a lie down.Zoe

  5. I’m with Mitchell – I’ve never seen an episode of a drama that’s made me feel so involved, and the last scene in the diner was absolutely spine-chilling and thrilling in equal parts. PS My word verification is ‘fishy’. Spooky.

  6. I’m with Mitchell – I’ve never seen an episode of a drama that’s made me feel so involved, and the last scene in the diner was absolutely spine-chilling and thrilling in equal parts. PS My word verification is ‘fishy’. Spooky.

  7. I thought the fade to black was a reference to what Tony and Bobby talked about in the scene you mentioned on the boat. Didn’t they speculate that when you die it would just fade to black?I liked that it was ambiguous though, and thought the final set of episodes were strong.I’m only on season two of The Wire. Great stuff!

  8. I thought the fade to black was a reference to what Tony and Bobby talked about in the scene you mentioned on the boat. Didn’t they speculate that when you die it would just fade to black?I liked that it was ambiguous though, and thought the final set of episodes were strong.I’m only on season two of The Wire. Great stuff!

  9. I didnt read anything into the final scenes, other than maybe Mr Chase having some fun at the viewers expense. This I though he achieved masterfully. I was squirming for the ten minutes leading up to the ‘extended black screen’. Then I screamed ‘WHAT?’ at the TV. Then laughed.Best TV show ever.

  10. I didnt read anything into the final scenes, other than maybe Mr Chase having some fun at the viewers expense. This I though he achieved masterfully. I was squirming for the ten minutes leading up to the ‘extended black screen’. Then I screamed ‘WHAT?’ at the TV. Then laughed.Best TV show ever.

  11. Some are suggesting that the only person that dies in that final scene is you the viewer. Chase kills you off by the cut to black. In the US, plenty of folk thought their cable had broken down! Whatever he meant by the ending, it seems clear that all will one day be resolved when the inevitable movie is released.Meanwhile, didn’t anyone else think that the best part of the episode was the cat staring at Christopher (Adriana reincarnated?) and freaking Paulie out in the process?!?

  12. Some are suggesting that the only person that dies in that final scene is you the viewer. Chase kills you off by the cut to black. In the US, plenty of folk thought their cable had broken down! Whatever he meant by the ending, it seems clear that all will one day be resolved when the inevitable movie is released.Meanwhile, didn’t anyone else think that the best part of the episode was the cat staring at Christopher (Adriana reincarnated?) and freaking Paulie out in the process?!?

  13. Reliving the experiences of mid-June again last night and throughout the day I’ve gone back to some places that I’ve not read since I found this http://www.bobharris.com/content/view/1406/1/ to be very interesting reading. The one thing that stuck me on second viewing was that Tony is sitting at the counter waiting for the other members of his family, once they come in he’ll stop taking as much interest in the bell being rung as the door open (although if that scene teaches us anything it’s that he always looks out for people entering a room or at least should do.) throughout 6B I’ve been wating for the third verse of the song “Three Bells” by Jim Ed Brown as heard in 6A before Paulie gives Jason Barone a sharp tap on the back of the knee before he went sculling and the second verse before we see Vito Spatafore contemplate suicide in the motel after being discovered in the leather bar. I’d been waiting for that third bell all season and by the end of it Tony had as well.

  14. Reliving the experiences of mid-June again last night and throughout the day I’ve gone back to some places that I’ve not read since I found this http://www.bobharris.com/content/view/1406/1/ to be very interesting reading. The one thing that stuck me on second viewing was that Tony is sitting at the counter waiting for the other members of his family, once they come in he’ll stop taking as much interest in the bell being rung as the door open (although if that scene teaches us anything it’s that he always looks out for people entering a room or at least should do.) throughout 6B I’ve been wating for the third verse of the song “Three Bells” by Jim Ed Brown as heard in 6A before Paulie gives Jason Barone a sharp tap on the back of the knee before he went sculling and the second verse before we see Vito Spatafore contemplate suicide in the motel after being discovered in the leather bar. I’d been waiting for that third bell all season and by the end of it Tony had as well.

  15. You managed to go all that time without reading about it? What did you do, donate your your eyes in a medical experiment?I thought the ending was terrific. Mr Chase has recently gone on record being a bit of a grumpy pants about people reading too much into the end. I guess the important thing was that the actual family was sorted.And the dangers of SUVs! If they don’t catch fire they’ll squish you like a bug.But… with The Sopranos done with, that means one last season of The Wire, one last season of Battlestar Galactica, the possibility of the two Deadwood TV movies to wrap that show up, and then… Then what?

  16. You managed to go all that time without reading about it? What did you do, donate your your eyes in a medical experiment?I thought the ending was terrific. Mr Chase has recently gone on record being a bit of a grumpy pants about people reading too much into the end. I guess the important thing was that the actual family was sorted.And the dangers of SUVs! If they don’t catch fire they’ll squish you like a bug.But… with The Sopranos done with, that means one last season of The Wire, one last season of Battlestar Galactica, the possibility of the two Deadwood TV movies to wrap that show up, and then… Then what?

  17. My view is that Chase leaves us able to make our own minds up about the fate of Tony and the family/”family”, much like the end of Life on Mars only better (although that was still a good ending).I like to think that he’s still carrying on, arguing with Carmela, frustrated by AJ, wanting Meadow to end up as far away from this thing of his as possible, blaming his mother for all his problems, etc.Best American drama ever – West Wing (or prossibly Dallas).

  18. My view is that Chase leaves us able to make our own minds up about the fate of Tony and the family/”family”, much like the end of Life on Mars only better (although that was still a good ending).I like to think that he’s still carrying on, arguing with Carmela, frustrated by AJ, wanting Meadow to end up as far away from this thing of his as possible, blaming his mother for all his problems, etc.Best American drama ever – West Wing (or prossibly Dallas).

  19. I thought the ending was perfect, as people have said, it allows you to think about what you think happens rather than everything being neatly wrapped up for the viewer. I’ll miss Paulie and its constant inane chatter, that man tells some stories!.TV at its best.

  20. I thought the ending was perfect, as people have said, it allows you to think about what you think happens rather than everything being neatly wrapped up for the viewer. I’ll miss Paulie and its constant inane chatter, that man tells some stories!.TV at its best.

  21. Thanks for the link, Mitchell Stirling, that page and the associated links made for fascinating reading. Love the Last Supper imagery now that I know that it’s there, I hadn’t noticed when watching it on Sunday.Zoe

  22. Thanks for the link, Mitchell Stirling, that page and the associated links made for fascinating reading. Love the Last Supper imagery now that I know that it’s there, I hadn’t noticed when watching it on Sunday.Zoe

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