Did your power go out at 10:03 last night, just at the end of the last episode of The Sopranos? Well, it actually didn’t but millions of Americans thought so at the time. As it has for so long, the David Chase series had viewers talking. But seriously, what was that?
Sitting in a quiet diner, a nervous Tony waits to meet his family and flips through the counter jukebox in his booth. He chooses the classic Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. As the song plays,each of his family members arrives separately. The tension rises each time the front door opens and closes. Who is that? A Fed? Carmela arrives. Wait, was that Janice? Son A.J. comes in. Is that a hitman behind him? Daughter Meadow arrives has a parking problem out front, mounting the tension of the scene. When she finally enters, will she have just missed the massacre? Meadow finally parks and begins to walk across the street. Tony continues to eat his meal. He hears the door open (we assume it’s his daughter), looks up, puts his hand on the top of the jukebox. The song says, “Don’t stop…” and everything goes black. Nothing — no sound or picture. America freaks out and the credits roll.
Of all the possible scenarios — Tony dying in an all-out assault on his safe house, going to jail, having a heart attack — nobody expected this. And that’s the point. In so many ways, it fits with creator David Chase’s modus operandi for the entire series. The Sopranos consistently marched to the beat of its own drummer and broke the rules. How many series intentionally leave on a cliffhanger — or stranger still, with five seconds of nothing?
One could infer that Tony was whacked without warning (like rival Phil, earlier in the episode) and so, the series abruptly ended. Or perhaps, life just went on. Will we ever know for sure? Chase is reportedly in France at the moment and unreachable for comment. Unless he decides to come clean in the future, we may never know.
Cynics believe that this leaves a perfect opening for a sequel movie. As the old showbiz axiom says, “always leave them wanting more.” A movie may happen at some point but it’s doubtfully Chase’s reason for leaving the series as he did. Remember, Chase actually wanted to conclude The Sopranos story some time ago.
What did the cast think? Many of them gathered at Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to watch the final episode. Many didn’t had a clue about the series ending prior to seeing it — or if they did, they weren’t squealing.
Michael Imperioli (Tony’s nephew Christopher) said, “I think it’s a great ending. It’s a good way to go out.” Tony Sirico (Paulie) didn’t want the show to end, saying “We’re all heartbroken. We could go on forever. Me and Edie Falco (Carmela) wanna die on the set.”
Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Melfi), didn’t appear in the last episode but was pleased with her character’s choice to stop her sessions with Tony, “She ended a strong confident woman and I loved that.”
Like many in the audience, some of the castmembers aren’t sure that the show is over. Steven Van Zandt (Sil) said, “We’re not sure it’s ending.” Arthur Nascarella (Carlo) would merely say, “Wait three years and get back to me.”
You can read Ed Martin’s take on the finale here.