“Ooh-fa”, Sopranos

The Sopranos is the greatest TV show ever made. Period. I have lost count of the number of heated exchanges I have had regarding this subject, including with members of my own family (“family” in the literal sense, not in the ‘Sopranos’ sense). The Wire was superb. So was Breaking Bad. I’m a big fan of House of Cards (the original BBC version is slightly better in my opinion). But I have never seen a show with such remarkable depth to such a large number of characters before. Nor have I ever seen a show that combines characters and moments of genuine hilarity with such dark and often gruesome subject matter.

I was a late bloomer and only got into it after Season 3. But from that moment on, I was hooked. I still watch the whole thing from start to finish once a year starting in January (while doing my stuff around the house, of course – I wish I had that kind of time).

It’s at this point that you need to stop reading if you haven’t seen it but intend to.

The show’s finale has to be one of the most hotly debated topics in recent TV history. What was going to happen to Tony and his ‘family’? Would they all live happily ever after, or would they collectively meet their maker at the hands of the psychotic Phil Leotardo and his crew? The anticipation reached fever pitch before the final episode aired.

Then it aired – and, according to many, nothing happened. The unforgettable finale song “Don’t Stop Believing” just stops dead, just like everything else. The screen goes black. A few seconds later, the credits start. Really? Did they just do that? There had to have been some mistake. Most people I know were outraged. Responses ranged from “there’s something wrong with my TV” to “what the…?” to “I watched it for 6 f***ing seasons and they do THAT?!” and so on. I was one of the disappointed at first.


“Some balls”

Okay, here goes… Having had more than plenty of time to think about it, I like it. Everyone was expecting a massive gunfight, Carmela to walk out, Dr. Melfi to get caught up in the violence, or something equally shocking to happen. But wasn’t this the most shocking ending of all? I think that ending it like this was David Chase sticking two fingers up at predictable Hollywood endings. I think that finishing it like this showed “some balls”, as Christopher Moltisanti would say.

Also, and I am by no means the first person to put this out there, I don’t believe that nothing happened. Tony got whacked. The sequence goes roughly as follows: we see people entering the restaurant. We then cut to tony’s point of view (POV). Restaurant view. Cut to Tony’s POV, and so on. Shortly before the very end, from Tony’s POV, we see a guy enter the restaurant. We then see Tony look up. We see the guy enter the bathroom. The sequence continues until Meadow is about to run through the front door. We hear a bell ring and Tony looks up. Cut to what many people (including myself) consider to be Tony’s POV, which is now completely black. The end.


Final shot of The Sopranos


“Not for nothing, T”

One last reason why I find the ending intriguing, is that I believe there is a significant existential undertone at play. If the above is correct, I think it speaks volumes about David Chase’s beliefs surrounding death and the afterlife. There are no schmaltzy dream-like sequences where Tony still maintains some level of consciousness without realising he’s dead. No heavenly scenes where he is reunited with his father (or hellish encounters with his ma, for that matter). No drawn-out monologues on a hospital stretcher à la Carlito’s Way. Tony get’s whacked and that is it. Blackness. Nothing.

Would it be a safe bet, based on this, that David Chase doesn’t believe in a life after death? Quite possibly. Certainly, in the world of The Sopranos, everything stopped once that (assumed) bullet hit Tony’s skull. One of two good reasons (the other being the tragic and untimely passing of James Gandolfini) why we will never see another scene featuring Tony Soprano. I’m sure that those of us who believe in an afterlife will hope the man who played him so brilliantly is doing well.