Do We Really Want Answers?
Yes, The Sopranos series finale ended with a stunner. Journey blasting on the jukebox, a greasy onion ring disappearing into Tony's fat mouth, a jingle of bells and then... silence. Millions of people calling up their cable providers. Millions more wondering why Meadow can't paralell park her car. This was the big payoff? After six seasons of whackings, therapy sessions, and Carmela's whining, we get blackness? What the h-
Brilliance. That's what it is. The Sopranos couldn't have ended any other way.
What did you want to see? Tony's bleeding skull on the table, while his family watched in horror? The Russian from the Pine Barrens episode, now married to a very-much-alive Adriana, showing up with a cleaver to decapitate AJ? Paulie striding through the door, dressed in blue with a badge, reading Tony his rights? None of those endings or any others people have proposed, would have made sense, much less had the impact that Chase's final whacking did.
Yes. Chase's whacking. Not of Tony. But of the series. Like Tony, Sil, Paulie and all the others did so many times throughout the years, Chase pulled the trigger. And we're the better for it.
If you're the most optomistic, shiny happy person in the whole wide world, you think that Tony and his family are going to be ok, because you didn't see anything happen to them on screen. But Chase doesn't allow us to reach that conclusion. This is a family surrounded by the ever tightening noose of dread, exemplified by the creepy characters in that diner-- from the shady guy who ducks into the bathroom to the mischeivous cub scout at the table across the way. We know Tony is going to be indicted, ratted out by Carlo. We know Carmela will continue to live in denial. We know AJ will continue to be a shiftless loser (albiet, with a very hot girlfriend). We know that Meadow will be married and pregnant before long.
In the beginning of the series, we saw a man in a huge mansion, with a beautiful family and tons of power, who's biggest problem was panic attacks... which could have been attacks of conscience. The question posed was... will this man change his ways before he's lost everything?
In the season finale, we found out, definitively, the answer to that question. No. This is a man who is headed down the same road as Uncle Junior, destined to die alone in a prison hospital, without even his memories to keep him warm. The post-gunshot redemption-minded Tony soon gave way to the dark side, and Tony, in the season finale, is left to wonder whether those bells are the sound of his daughter coming to dinner, or his final reckoning.
What more do you need? Do you want to see a trial? Boring. You want a couple long superimposed sentences saying how each character ended up? Hint: Jail or Dead. You want a montage? What is this, The OC? You want to see an old, gray Tony, sitting pensively in a chair in Sicily, tipping over dead while his dog looks on? Consider yourself lucky Chase isn't a moron. The way the Sopranos finale was analyzed beforehand, no ending could have shocked us... except for the one that did.
Of course, if you can't be consoled, I've managed to convince David Chase to redo the final scene so it definitively shows what happens to all the characters. Enjoy:
See, that's what happens when you get "all the answers."
Now, the creators of the TV show "LOST" are vowing not to end the same way The Sopranos did. Which is good, because, frankly, Lost, at its heart, is a mystery show, and mysteries need to be solved. But I hope audience demand for more answers doesn't force the creators to spoon feed them to us. One of the best parts of Lost, I've always thought, is the mystery. Otherwise, it's just Gilligan's Island with a buffer, balder, older Gilligan (Locke).
Just look at how much Sopranos and Lost discussion is out there on the web. You just don't get that with NYPD Blue or Friends. The mystery, the doubt, the uncertainty is part of what keeps us so entertained, even if we won't admit it. Once we know it all, we really don't care anymore. So don't stop imagining who it was that Tony saw come through that ice cream parlor door. And most importantly, above all, don't stop-