Sopranos: the last ever episode

David Chase's final episode of the epic television series The Sopranos has been, one day later, the most discussed event possibly in the history of the universe...


As I flipped through the channels this morning, every news or news-like program was breathlessly discussing just what it meant, even though I’m sure there were more important things going on in the world at large this morning. After all, Paris Hilton is still at large, knocking over liquor stores and burning down convents (or whatever it is she’s doing).

CNN? There’s Tony Soprano. Fox News? There’s Paulie Walnuts. ESPN? More talk about The Sopranos (and that’s a bloody sports news channel!). This is the most publicity the band Journey has gotten in 20 years, and it’s all thanks to peoples’ desire to analyze the hell out of the final scene of The Sopranos. Everyone, from news anchors to supposed experts, has decided to throw their two cents’ worth of opinion into the morass.

As I look down into the scrum, I cast aside my shield and shout, “Me too!”

If you’re trying to avoid spoilers and have somehow managed to do it thus far, then apparently you live in a cave and probably aren’t reading this article on the internet. If you do live in a cave and can get online, then email me the name of your wireless card, because it’s quite possibly the most impressive piece of technology in history.

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To set the scene: Tony and his family are eating at a diner. Meadow (being a woman) cannot parallel park despite having a bloody mile in which to position her car. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” is playing on the jukebox. Meadow comes through the door, rushing in. Tony looks up. Fade to black. Cue the massive outcry of insults from stupid people who don’t understand good writing and who haven’t paid attention to the show at all over the course of its 6-season run.

Nothing changed for Tony Soprano and his family. They are stuck in an endless cycle of repetition. Meadow went from wanting to be a lawyer to wanting to be a doctor, back to wanting to be a lawyer. She went from dating mobster son Jackie Aprile, Jr. to dating mobster son Patrick Parisi. AJ is still directionless. Tony is starting therapy all over again. Carmela is still in denial. The family is in disarray again, like they were after the death of Jackie Aprile, Sr. and the resulting power struggle between Junior and Tony. Tony is still being tailed by the FBI and has the federal gun case hanging over his head.

Tony Soprano’s past is always going to follow him. The final scene in the diner of Tony and his family eating onion rings had me literally on the edge of my seat, as David Chase referenced every single possible ‘might be whacked’ set-up he could, from the guy in the baseball cap who gets up and goes to the bathroom, the guy at the counter who keeps eyeballing Tony and AJ, and the two black guys who come in that look suspiciously like the guys who tried to kill Tony after a botched carjacking. Every time the bell on the door rang, Tony looked up and got nervous, and I got nervous right along with him.

For that five minutes, the viewer was inside Soprano’s head and felt, if only for a few minutes, the constant fear and paranoia that drove Soprano’s actions over the past 8 years. Every single day since taking over leadership of the DiMeo crime family of north Jersey, Anthony Soprano has had a target on his back, and until he’s either dead or in prison, he will continue to have a target on his back. No matter where he goes or what he does, Tony Soprano lives in constant fear; there are enemies all around him. Everyone wants him dead or in jail (including most of the viewers, given how much they complained about the ambiguous ending).

People wanted some sort of Scorsese-style bloodbath to end the series. I understand that; that’s what the second-to-last episode (and the brutal death of Phil Leotardo) were for. Certain talking heads make the argument that series creator David Chase’s finale was written solely to taunt the audience, but I don’t think it was meant to be insulting so much as it was meant to remind us, once again, that life doesn’t always offer us a neat ending. Evil doesn’t always go punished. Humans generally don’t learn our lesson, and the powers that be don’t smack us down for our impudence. We exist, we live on, our lives continue.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

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