Thursday, June 14, 2007
I've been pondering that last deceptive episode of "The Sopranos." Like everyone else, I was stunned when the screen went black, and started looking around breathlessly and frantically to see if the cable was unplugged, then cursing David Chase and yelling, "It's all a big nothing!" Then I had Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" in my head for days.
I'm not buying all the conspiracy theories about the episode (that everyone who walked in the restaurant was someone who Tony had wronged earlier - those have mostly been disproven anyhow - see Rebecca Traister's excellent column here). CNN reported this morning that Chase filmed three different endings, and we've seen the one they chose. Actor Matt Servitto (Agent Harris) allegedly revealed that one ending showed the guy coming out of the bathroom and towards Tony. People are debating wildly over whether we are supposed to believe Tony got whacked, analyzing every detail of the last episode, hearkening back to Tony and Bobby in the boat, talking about never seeing death coming.
Me, I think Tony abides. In the last episode, everything had come full circle. Tony and Carmela were back on semi-civil terms. Both kids were back in the house and back in their grooves - Meadow, the achiever, on her way to law school; AJ, the slacker, back to being spoon-fed money and motivation by his parents, and laughing brainlessly at the television. Tony, escaping death by a hair, but under the ever-looming dark shadows of an indictment, of being whacked. And he's eating, as always. The tension kills you in those last few scenes: What's going on? Who's that guy? Why can't Meadow park her f-ing car? But it's been this way all along - it's always possible that Tony will be indicted or killed - that's what he's lived with every day. Chase just heightens it in those last scenes.
Do I wish Chase had just spared us the wondering, and explicitly shown Tony getting whacked? Yes and no. Yes, because it would have been absolute closure, and a knockout punch to end the series. But despite Tony's increasing ruthlessness, I still find myself attached to the guy. I want the ducks to come back. I want to see Tony, (with no visible legal means of support), to wander down to the end of the driveway to get the paper in his bathrobe. If only on DVD and reruns, Tony abides. Tony abides.