Friday, June 15, 2007

The Sopranos Ending

I finally got around to a repeat viewing of the final episode of the second greatest television show of all time. I have many thoughts on the subject. Some of these thoughts are silly, stupid, vapid, and rife with cliche, so I took the liberty of filtering out those inferior thoughts for the sake of you, the reader. That leaves only the following thoughts:

* I thoroughly enjoyed the scene in which Phil Leotardo was "popped," especially when one of the kids threw up. Great pretend violence.

* I enjoyed the FBI agent's reaction to Phil's hit, but I don't know if I understand it. What does he mean by "We're going to win this thing!"? Is he siding with Tony and New Jersey against Phil and New York? I suppose it makes sense, especially since the FBI agent was angry with Phil for doing something bad to a female FBI agent, but it still seemed like an odd reaction. I wondered if it somehow gives him a stronger case against Tony.

* I didn't like the way it ended -- like millions of other people, I thought the cable went out -- but that doesn't mean I don't respect the ending.

* One of the reasons I both hated and loved the final scene was that it was filmed so well. The best storytellers are able to (1) set up expectations and (2) fulfill those expectations in a satisfying way without being overly predictable or formulaic. Dispute this assertion, if you dare! On the first count, David Chase certainly set up the expectations. We viewers knew that we were watching the last five minutes of the last episode in the last season of the show. There was serious tension with every glance from a customer, with every ding of the bell whenever anyone entered the diner, with every failed attempt by Meadow at parallel parking. As to the fulfillment of those expectations, that's obviously up for debate. In the short term, it wasn't satisfying. But in the long term, well, I'm going to need another bullet point for that.

* In the long term, I think the idiotic black screen serves five main purposes, only four of which has been asserted. Yes, you're about to read something you've never read elsewhere, but don't just skip the first four, because they're important: (1) The controversy keeps people talking. (2) It's an emphatic reminder that Tony's lifestyle forces him and his family to be on edge at all times. (3) It leaves an opening for a movie called The Sopranos. Maybe the Russian from the woods does come back! (4) It doesn't diminish the rewatchability factor. Let's face it. If you know that Tony dies, that would alter the perception of the previous episodes significantly. The ambiguous ending prevents many pivotal scenes in previous episodes from losing their ambiguity. If Tony dies, the whole series would be skewed in a way that makes Tony too sympathetic. (5)