Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Bada-Boom, Bada-Bing . . . It's Over
The Sopranos is over, and it sort of ended with a whimper, not a bang. Not that that was necessarily a bad thing, though some fans might think Chase took a bit of a copout in his ending. For weeks, fans have speculated on whether Tony would bite it, if Paulie would be a turncoat, if Phil would triumph, would Janice kill herself, would AJ kill himself, would Meadow or Carmela be killed in the crossfire and lead Tony on a fiery rampage, etc. But in the end, Chase refused to answer any of these questions. He's decided to leave the ending open, and let us figure out what WE think the future of these characters will be. The most similar ending I can think of is that of Angel, where the series ended with everyone running into battle. However, the writers managed to tie up all of the loose ends before that battle scene, and rather than it coming off as a copout, fans will forever remember them running into battle, swords raised and ready for the big fight, and that's all that matters.
So was the ending of The Sopranos really a weak ending, or did Chase insert enough clues in there to make it pretty obvious where things are going?
Tony is talking to the FBI, so there's a chance he might eventually go into the witness protection program. I don't see that as likely, since we saw way back in season 1 what he thinks of THOSE people, and he's someone who longs for a time when mobsters were mobsters, and not looking for the easy way out. He tries using the FBI — I give you info about "terrorists," you give me info about where Phil Leotardo is — but when they don't give him the goods, he turns his back on them. (Eventually, the agent DOES talk, which is a surprising turn of events, but we see he seems to have been rooting for Jersey all along.)
Sil is in the hospital, and looks like death. I don't think he's waking up.
Meadow will find her calling as a lawyer, and it was hilarious to see Carm's face light up with genuine pride, rather than the, "Sigh... why can't MY daughter be in med school like that loser drop-out friend of hers?" that we always get. AJ has taken a crap job in the film industry, financed by his dad, and it will end badly, and he'll go back to being the morose little useless prick he's always been.
Tony and Carmela go to see AJ's therapist, and Tony begins unleashing all his family secrets, the ones that Melfi took SO long to get out of him, in less than a minute. His mother never loved him, there was no love in that family period, he never felt love growing up, he's had a very difficult childhood. The look on Carmela's face is brilliant. We know that even if Melfi has said goodbye, Tony's getting a new psychiatrist any day now.
Janice is her mother. Plain and simple. The scene where she insists to Tony that she's nothing like her mother and has tried so hard to put that evil fiend behind her, then says, "But does anyone thank me for it? NOOOO!" was hilarious. She undermines the first part of her argument by being EXACTLY like Livia in the second.
Uncle June is gone. Tony realizes once and for all that where Junior is concerned, he's got nothing to fear. Will he keep him in the state institution, or will he pay for a better place for him?
NY and NJ have come to terms with things, and have gotten rid of Phil in yet another over-the-top grisly killing that Sopranos fans love to cringe at. I mean, his twin grandkids are sitting in the back of the SUV when it crushes his head like a melon. It doesn't get any sicker than that.
The episode ended with Tony sitting in a diner, waiting to have dinner with his family. He waits, finds a song by Journey, and pops it on. Carmela comes in, sits, they make small talk, and then AJ shows up, sullen as usual, but hopeful. When AJ enters the restaurant, there's another guy with him who sits at the counter, and keeps looking at Tony over his shoulder. Is he there to kill him or is he just realizing that's THE Tony Soprano sitting over there, the guy he no doubt had seen on the television earlier that week when Phil Leotardo's death made headlines? The guy gets up to go to the bathroom, Meadow arrives outside but parallel parks worse than I do (which is saying a LOT) and has to try 3 times to get that expensive car into the spot. She gets out of the car, runs to the door, the scene cuts to Tony and... dark. I, like I'm sure every other Soprano fan watching, thought, "Oh COME ON, the cable company chooses this very moment to cut the power??" There's about five solid seconds of blackness and silence, and then the credits begin to roll.
Tony will forever be looking over his shoulder, Carmela will always be trying to maintain some sense of normalcy with her family. AJ will forever be lecturing everyone on their lives while ruining his own, and Meadow will always be showing up late to fulfill the family obligations and maintain that same sense her mother wants. The loyalties in the family will ebb and flow, and Tony will be nostalgic for a time when it wasn't like this. He's said goodbye to the old guard with his farewell to Uncle June, and he's looking around him to see what still remains. There's very little young blood in his group, so this could be the last generation of the Mob, before the new generation — no doubt containing AJ — steps forward.
The key to the ending of the episode was the song that Tony puts on the jukebox. "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey seemed to be a strange choice, since the soundtrack of this show is usually old blues or jazz numbers, or Frank and Dino, or anything from a Scorsese sountrack. But if you look at the lyrics, it tells us everything Chase was trying to get across.
Tony and his posse and his family will go on and on and on, in some form or another, for a very long time. The NY section of Little Italy might be nothing more than a tiny strip, but these Italians will find their way into new areas, will adjust to the way society has changed, and will move on. I wasn't sure what I thought of the end of this series when it happened, but after thinking about it, it was probably the best way Chase could have ended it. If he can stay away from the movies (which will then make this ending look contrived), I'll be happy.
My all-time fave series finale is Six Feet Under (tears well up just thinking about it) followed by Angel. I'm hoping to add Lost to that list some day. What are your favourite series finales?