"T" is Dead!
Although David Chase has written: "The Sopranos: The Complete Book," and in it he discusses the future of the family, I am going to blog my thoughts on the series finale as they were before part of the book's contents were revealed.
I rewatched "Made in America" on HBO On Demand... which was the controversial and confusing last episode to the phenomenal series "The Sopranos." Many fans were disappointed and even angry that the series did not come to a more satisfying conclusion with more clear closure. It was so layered with different innuendos and possibilities that some diehards referred to the last episode of "The Sopranos" as the Zapruder film of TV finales. But, now I am even more convinced than ever that my initial impressions and interpretations are valid.
The textured theme for the entire run of this series has been the meaning of life and the afterlife. "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right," Bobby asks Tony in "Soprano Home Movies" when they are out in his little boat on the lake. That one line was a nuanced foreshadowing in terms of the final scene of "Made in America" which opens with the soundtrack of a funeral dirge and then moves along to the family dinner at Holsten's. A suspicious guy in a Members Only jacket enters the restaurant and he nervously looks around. We are thinking he could be dangerous. When he gets up to go to the bathroom, the tension that has been building is unbearable. And all of this is happening while Meadow unsuccessfully attempts several times to park her car. Just as she runs across the street, Tony hears the bells as the restaurant door opens and he looks up and seems startled. Then, the infamous quick and unexpected cut to a dark and silent screen that lasts for about 20 seconds before the credits roll. "What the fuck?" we all initially thought. And all across America customers were calling their cable companies.
After I calmed down, I realized Tony Soprano got whacked by the guy in the Members Only jacket! In his death there was no lighted "Inn at the Oaks" filled with deceased family members, no big answer to "where am I going," and no insight into his desert revelation, "I get it." There was no validation to Paulie's spiritual hallucinations and no parallel experience to Christopher's vision of hell when he was in a coma. Carmela was wrong... Tony did not go to hell. And even Bill Burroughs got it wrong. The blank and silent screen at the very end implies Mama Livia was right all along! "It's all a big nothing," she told AJ. How funny is that? In my book, that's surreal, mind-boggling, and ultimately amazing. The series ended in great irony and dark comedy.
My jaw drops open at that final 20 second blank screen each time I see it. David Chase has to be disappointed that people reacted so negatively at first to his masterpiece. They did not "get it," so maybe it was a bit too esoteric. But it remains a twist so bizarre, so richly funny, so blended with the theme of the entire series, that "I just can't shake it." In the end, Mama was right and "it's all a big nothing!"
Last June, I sat shiva for Tony Soprano.