Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Overthinking a plate of cannoli?
January 31, 2011 4:56 PM   Subscribe

The Sopranos: Definitive Explanation of "The END." (via) [SPOILERS, obviously]

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
posted by The Card Cheat (71 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think he had a massive stroke or an asteroid hit the Earth.
posted by zzazazz at 5:00 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've stopped believin'.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:01 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is one hell of a plate of beans right there.
posted by briank at 5:01 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was pretty sure he was going to get to the illuminati by the mid-point, but it's actually pretty compelling.
posted by bicyclefish at 5:03 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is interesting and all, and I think it is a very clever piece of interpretation, and in fact I agree with a lot of it in principle, but to say this is the "definitive" answer to what "really" happened after the end of a fictional story (that is, something that can never be seen because it didn't actually happen) is kind of like arguing about Hamlet's childhood. It's interesting as an intellectual exercise, but it isn't "the right answer."
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:04 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hope this guy doesn't watch the ending to Neon Genesis Evangelion. He'd probably write a whole book about that.


Congratulations!
posted by hellojed at 5:09 PM on January 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


I gotchya "definitive" right here!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:20 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Works for me. Like the mirror theory of The Shining, it just makes sense - once you know about it, you can see it clearly throughout.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought that the fade to black represented Tommy Westphall, just before he woke up next to Suzanne Pleshette.
posted by machaus at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


"the New York Times called the show “The greatest work of popular culture of the past quarter century” back in 1999."

And then they started watching The Wire, and forgot about it.
posted by inigo2 at 5:33 PM on January 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's interesting as an intellectual exercise, but it isn't "the right answer."
I was taught that when it comes to this kind of thing, if you can make the case, then you've made the case, it's good. If someone else can make a totally different case, fine, that's just as good. If the case you make is not particularly convincing or compelling (you pulled it out of your butt, there's nothing really to support it in the text) it's no good. Which is fine. It all comes down to an entertaining intellectual exercise anyway. It's just for fun.
posted by amethysts at 5:36 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was a deliberately ambiguous ending to send people off talking about the show, even when it was over. Same with the top at the end of Inception.
posted by flatluigi at 5:39 PM on January 31, 2011


Works for me. Like the mirror theory of The Shining, it just makes sense - once you know about it, you can see it clearly throughout.

What is the mirror theory of The Shining?
posted by Ad hominem at 5:39 PM on January 31, 2011


The mirror theory is that there are always mirrors whenever you see a ghost in the movie of The Shining and that this is Kubrick telling you that the ghosts aren't real. Problem with that theory is that a) isn't accurate, and Kubrick said that as far as he was concerned, the ghosts were real in that story.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:45 PM on January 31, 2011


It was a deliberately ambiguous ending to send people off talking about the show, even when it was over.

I don't think so. I think Chase put all the pieces in play for a definite ending, and I don't see how one can make any reasonable case that Tony isn't dead at the end of the last episode.

I read a shorter version of this guy's theory a few years back. I thought he made a good case then, and I think so now. At any rate, it's enormously amusing.
posted by steambadger at 5:45 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was pretty much convinced that Tony was killed (because that's what death is), but I couldn't figure out why it wasn't fomr his POV. But this gives a pretty good explanation of it I think.
posted by carter at 5:49 PM on January 31, 2011


What is the mirror theory of The Shining?

I was looking for a link to the great essay I read a while back. It might be this one.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:49 PM on January 31, 2011


The mirror theory is that there are always mirrors whenever you see a ghost in the movie of The Shining and that this is Kubrick telling you that the ghosts aren't real.

Doferent mirror theory. The one I read is that the movie is about duality - that there is our world, the real world, and the mirrored world that is a reflection of ours and slightly off. For example, the scene where Danny is playing with his cars and the door to room 237 is closed - then we go back to Danny and the pattern on the carpet in front of him is reversed, and voila room 237 is open - the implication is that the pattern reversal shows us that Danny has flipped over to the mirror side. It's considered deliberate because the placement of the toy cars changes to emphasize the difference, and Kubrick doesn't slip on continuity like that. A bunch of "goofs" with mirrors are noted on IMDB, most of which seem to reinforce a deliberate difference between mirror world and real world.
I found it pretty cool, and every time I watch the movie it works and makes the movie deeper and scarier - for me at least.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:54 PM on January 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Having experienced 2 separate incidences of trauma to the head my only quibble would be that everything goes white. My caveat would be that these where blunt objects hitting me not penetrating bullets.

But in one of the unexpected encounters after the white out it all goes black, forgiving black nothing.

In the other I reacted because someone was yelling, as I realized what was happening I realized it was me.

Tony was wacked.
posted by Max Power at 5:54 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Doferent > different. jeez.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:54 PM on January 31, 2011


Max, I think it goes black because Tony is killed instantly. Or, maybe, because Chase has never suffered a head trauma, and didn't think of cutting to white. Or because a cold cut to black is more dramatic. Or something.
posted by steambadger at 5:58 PM on January 31, 2011


I'm sold. Now I need to go watch this show again.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:59 PM on January 31, 2011


"the New York Times called the show “The greatest work of popular culture of the past quarter century” back in 1999.


And then they started watching The Wire, and forgot about it.


The Sopranos episodes made in 1999, taken on their own, stand up against The Wire (and are certainly better than the first year of The Wire). It's just that The Sopranos got worse year by year, more or less, while The Wire only had one not-great season at the end, the Sopranos had two or three.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:00 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're all wrong, it was a plate of onion rings.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:14 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Needs a threadwillremindyouaboutthatroomsceneintheshining tag. There's no way I'm sleeping tonight.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:17 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually just watched the entire series, start to finish, over a period of about 3 months. I had carefully avoided any information about the ending over the past few years. All I knew about it before watching the final episode was that it was controversial. I've since read far more about the ending than I'd care to admit. I have a couple of thoughts about it that no one but my poor wife has been subjected to so far, so I'd be curious to see what other MeFites think.

First, it's important to distinguish between David Chase's intentions and one's own reading of the final scene. This is a crucial distinction that is often ignored in online discussion.

When I watched the episode, and then re-watched the final scene several times, I took away that Tony Soprano's experience will always be awash in danger and paranoia. Even after the resolution of one of his most deadly conflicts, peace is only provisional, such that he can barely enjoy dinner with his wife and children. So the over-arching conflict of the series, which is between his family and The Family, will never be resolved.

I liked this ending, because I thought it nicely reinforced the existential worry that the series returned to again and again. We are always, potentially, one moment away from our final moment. And for many of us, we will never see it coming.

But that's just my reading. David Chase's intention, in my opinion, was a little more complicated. Or I should say, his process was a little more complicated. I believe that the analysis linked above is correct - David Chase designed the scene to lead to Tony's assassination. However, I think he changed his mind in editing, or possibly even after the episode aired, and decided he wanted to end with a question mark instead of a period.

According to comments in this interview with Matt Servitto (Agent Harris in the series), Chase originally wrote the scene to clearly indicate that Tony was about to be killed. Chase himself alluded in post-finale interviews to a previous episode in which Tony and Bobby discussed how death would come so quickly they wouldn't even notice, as well as an episode in which Silvio is momentarily stunned when an assassin opens fire on his dinner companion. All of this suggests that Chase had Tony's death on his mind.

However, in later interviews, Chase is careful to reinforce the ending's ambiguity. He has often lamented the way that American television series spell everything out in clear terms before wrapping themselves up with a bow.

And the fact is, Tony doesn't die in the episode. We have not seen a gun on the screen, and he is very much alive when the picture goes to black. We have merely been made to feel paranoid, just like Tony. The series showed plenty of people dying in all sorts of ways. There was no reason not to show Tony's death, or clearly imminent death, other than to leave some kind of a question mark.

I happen to know people who worked on the show, and while I don't know anything special about Chase's intentions in the final episode, I do know that he was quite willing and able to change his mind. It seems clear to me that he originally wanted to make Tony's death very clear without showing it, but he subsequently decided to pull back in order to obscure the moment and leave the audience guessing. More to the point, he wanted the audience to feel uncomfortable about the inevitable shock of their own mortality. That ending is much more his style. I'm not sure if he specifically made that adjustment in editing or later in his own mind.

I can't help but notice that my own reading of the ending, and what I firmly believe to be David Chase's intention, intersect. Imagine that.
posted by ivanosky at 6:18 PM on January 31, 2011 [19 favorites]


See, I interpreted the ending not by shot selection, but the theme of the episode. What's the ending that fits with the show and the overarching theme of the series? Tony's murder?

No, not really.

You can see the core of the series in the opening credits of each episode. Tony Soprano drives around, first through working class neighborhoods that imply his mafia job, then ending up in a wealthy suburban house. The series was not about mob life per se, but about mob life in tension with modern American life. The Soprano family's story held one great mystery: would they ever make it out? Would A.J. ever get his head out of his ass? Would Meadow fulfill the potential everyone said she had? Would Tony get over himself? Would Carmela walk away? Would Tony have a breakthrough in therapy and repent?

The last season, and particularly the last episode, answered the great mystery. The answer was "no."

Carmela had been bought off early in the season, and so she was in for the long haul of mob life.

The last episode saw A.J. get bought off by his parents once and for all, submerged in a world of money and girls. His weak and scattered stabs at independence and any kind of larger awareness gets swamped easily with a nice car and a flashy job.

Meadow's "potential" was shown to be a mirage. A long-forgotten goofball friend showed up. She had gone off and completed graduate school (or law school, or medical school, I forget) and started a career in the time that Meadow spent screwing around with boys and dithering over her future ("med school, law school, something else?"). Her final choice: a young mafia thug in her father's organization. Oh, and she also reveals that she refused to see what Tony really was. She knew but refused to know.

Melfi has the one and only moment of morality in the episode, as pathetic and compromised as it was. She booted Tony out of her practice on a ludicrous pretext (ripping the recipe out of a magazine in the waiting room) after she'd been embarrassed and shamed by her friends for treating such a violent and unrepentant criminal. It was weak, it was lame, but it was the only time at the end of the series that someone took the bigger view and walked away from the seductions of the mob life.

But what about Tony? Ah, yes. We see all we need to know about Tony when he starts talking to A.J.'s therapist. He hasn't changed a bit. He's still chewing over the same issues, still framing everything through the lens of narcissism and self-pity.

So when the screen cuts to black, is Tony dead?

It doesn't matter. Tony's story is over, regardless of whether or not some knob in a Members Only jacket shoots him in the head or not. The end of Tony's story is that he and his family will keep on doing what they're doing until they die. If Tony died in the restaurant that night or not, it's all the same. The Soprano family all had chances in the last two seasons to walk away and start new lives, and not one of them took those chances. That's the end of the show. That's the part that matters.

In that final scene, we saw that Tony was finished, bullet in the head or no.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:20 PM on January 31, 2011 [70 favorites]


When I heard "mirror theory of The Shining" I thought of this masterpiece of frenzied and hallucinatory beanplating: Physical Cosmologies: The Shining
posted by treepour at 6:39 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah! It was this essay on The Shining. And apologies to all with trauma; please accept these links as compensation.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:41 PM on January 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Curse you treepour!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:42 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. I've never seen anyone belabor like that.
posted by IAmHumblerThanYou at 6:48 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The title of that episode is the most blatant case of false advertising since "The Never-Ending Story"
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:59 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Harvey has the right of it.

I mean - so? He's shot? What difference does that actually make?
posted by Sebmojo at 7:00 PM on January 31, 2011


I don't see how one can make any reasonable case that Tony isn't dead at the end of the last episode.

I was going to answer that, but ivanosky and Harvey already did it for me. Quoting for emphasis:

And the fact is, Tony doesn't die in the episode. We have not seen a gun on the screen, and he is very much alive when the picture goes to black.

Yes. And it's not like we get another scene after where someone says, "Hey, Tony just got killed!" The end is the end, and Tony does not die within the confines of the story. Yes, a case can be made that "all the clues when put together strongly imply that Tony has been whacked." But that literalism ignores Harvey's excellent point:

It doesn't matter. Tony's story is over, regardless of whether or not some knob in a Members Only jacket shoots him in the head or not. The end of Tony's story is that he and his family will keep on doing what they're doing until they die.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:16 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. As soon as there is the computational capacity, I guess this guy will write his analysis on the final episode of Lost.
posted by notion at 7:21 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. I've never seen anyone belabor like that.

Oh, man, you should come hang out with me for a couple of days. I can belabor absolute trivialities until this Sopranos analysis seems offhand, or even by-the-by. I can belabor for days, without quit or respite. I can belabor things that Culture Studies professors would let go with a flip remark and a smirky grin. I can belabor Celebrity Boxing. I can belabor Wheat Chex. I can belabor jarts.

Do not look at me with the naked eye; smoked glass for all.
posted by steambadger at 7:22 PM on January 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


The best part of the blog is his contention that Chase means the Sopranos to be a stand-in for all Americans and our position in the world as a morally compromised Superpower. Pretty stirring idea, and makes a lot of sense of the name and terrorism themes of the last episode.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:26 PM on January 31, 2011


I loved this series. I think Tony's dissolution is laid out from the first episode of the last season, which begins with Tony digging through Junior's back yard. The voiceover gives us the "Ancient Egyptian" meditation on the various parts of the soul. The series then disassembles the whole cast, beginning with the wound in Tony's body, his trip to the underworld, where Adri is his wife's voice, he has lost his identity, he ends up on the West Coast as a metaphor for his soul almost walking into the house where we can see the shadow of his mother. Meadow calls him back; Melfi is his Horus guide.

At the close of the series, he joins his biological family, but the rest of his "Family" connections are gone, with only pathetic Pauli as "The Remains" mentioned at the close of the Egyptian narrative. Meadow is beside him; Melfi has abandoned him. The "Members Only" guy is a metaphor for his father, who he joins in the underworld.

I think the author of this article is overanalyzing the camera shots and missing out on Chase's Egyptian underworld metaphor.
posted by effluvia at 7:29 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was going to answer that, but ivanosky and Harvey already did it for me.

Thematically, you're right. But semantically, I think Chase makes it perfectly clear that Tony is dead at the end of the last episode.
posted by steambadger at 7:40 PM on January 31, 2011


But he fails to connect it at all to how the moon landing was faked.
posted by nanojath at 7:42 PM on January 31, 2011


I think the author of this article is overanalyzing the camera shots and missing out on Chase's Egyptian underworld metaphor.

Agreed, but only if you'll acknowledge that the Egyptian underworld metaphor itself only beckons us to look closer, and discover that through various subtle cues (mainly wardrobe choices, apparently random street signs, and soundtrack), the episodes of the show actually predict with frightening accuracy the events in Egypt over the past week. I have a marvellous point-by-point proof of this interpretation, but the margin of this blog is too narrow to contain it.
posted by uosuaq at 7:46 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


My favorite part of the episode was when Osiris weighed Tony's heart and found it as light as a feather, letting him join Livia and Adriana as stars in the heavens.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:47 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Cameron created Tony, I mean, Ferris and that he's really the same person as him...and that by killing Tony, he's killing himself?
posted by inturnaround at 8:07 PM on January 31, 2011


I thought it meant he got whacked from the clear POV stuff. So what this guy said, except shorter.
posted by juiceCake at 8:11 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


When a screen cuts to black suddenly, it means the character has died. It's a pretty well-worn cinematic trope, and I'm surprised people were confused about it.

Besides, all the suspicious looks the Members Only Jacket guy was throwing Tony cinched it. Those didn't exist for no reason. He went into the bathroom like Michael Corleone and came out with a gun.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:20 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Dissecting a mystery is akin to violating a child."
(Luis Bunuel)
posted by philip-random at 8:24 PM on January 31, 2011


Mantissa: The Sopranos and Shades of Dr. Delfie.
posted by clavdivs at 8:51 PM on January 31, 2011


the episodes of the show actually predict with frightening accuracy the events in Egypt over the past week

This explains Uncle Junior.
posted by clavdivs at 8:59 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not the biggest booster of The Sopranos, and I believe that the series, as a whole, ended rather poorly, and Chase's contempt for his audience's reaction to Tony led him to turn Tony into a monster. Nevertheless, I disagree with those of you who say he's overthinking it. I think his analysis of the final scene and its various shots make a very strong case for what he's saying, and why the scene, at least, was brilliantly composed.
posted by Edgewise at 9:05 PM on January 31, 2011


I was sufficiently impressed with - and obsessed by - The Sopranos finale that I may eventually slog my way through all of this thing. But in the meantime I'll self-link to my own riff on it here on the blue in the immediate aftermath, which is basically just a sort of variation on what Harvey notes above.

The point of leaving some (very slight) ambiguity as to the ending was not narrative but thematic. It's not Is he or isn't he? It's Who even cares? It doesn't matter. Tony doesn't matter. Bullet or no, this guy's finished, existentially speaking.
posted by gompa at 9:20 PM on January 31, 2011


tl;dr

However, in later interviews, Chase is careful to reinforce the ending's ambiguity.

Probably because for a while, hard core fans were calling for a Sopranos movie to provide a more satisfactory wrap up. Not much call for that anymore.

If anyone's feeling nostalgic, here's a fairly in depth Vanity Fair article from April 2007 about David Chase and the show.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:26 PM on January 31, 2011


It's not Is he or isn't he? It's Who even cares? It doesn't matter.

Exactly. The final scene of The Sopranos is not like the final scene of (say) Inception. In that film, the interpretation of the last scene changes the meaning of the rest of the work, and therefore can/should be debated and discussed forever but ultimately must wind up in a "satisfying ambiguity", two-equally-valid-states kind of situation, otherwise all that we have is a riddle or an on-screen mystery, like Memento (if i remember the ending correctly), where it is harder to retain as much depth of meaning.

None of these factors are at play in The Sopranos. Whether or not Tony is killed doesn't change anything--or even say anything--about the kind of life we saw him living; the fact that he is sitting in a diner with his family, worried about being gunned down says plenty.

I think we focus on his death only as an artifact of our connection with the character: we want to know what happens. But this story doesn't have a what happens like that. It's still Tony's story, it just wasn't about him being shot.
posted by milestogo at 9:42 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found his exposition of Phil and Tony's downfall the most persuasive evidence; they can't stay away, and die in much the same way; the mob boss who really does take a step backm refusing to be boss, does better.
posted by rodgerd at 9:44 PM on January 31, 2011


I think this fellow's theory is plausible, mostly because the scene is pretty much exactly how I imagine death: sudden blackness followed by a bewildered, alien consciousness wondering for all eternity where that one fat guy went.
posted by flechsig at 11:17 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I didn't see the ending that way originally, but he convinced me. And then posted about a million more unnecessary words.

HBO shows seem to like that (big wire spoiler) shot from behind where you don't see it coming motif.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:27 PM on January 31, 2011


HBO shows seem to like that (big wire spoiler) shot from behind where you don't see it coming motif.

Not unlike reality from what I hear. A pro killer is not interested in you knowing he's even there. Makes things more difficult in all kinds of ways. So if he (or she) has any choice in the matter, you're going to get it in the back of the head

As for the Sopranos. I've seen maybe five episodes, sporadic, in no particular order. It's a great show from what I've seen and I look forward to eventually finding the time to do it all in proper order.

But I did pay a lot of attention to the final scene, even watched it once or twice back when it was getting dissected by half the sentient universe. For me, there's no particular point in solving the mystery, because it's not about, does Tony Soprano die in the next instant, or not? It's about the instant he's in, a special hell that will not end. Because given his past (his karma, if you will) he will always be a target as long as he lives, as will his family. No situation will ever be safe. Nobody can be trusted. Death will always be an instant away.

Brilliant stuff.
posted by philip-random at 12:08 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


...what all the smart people said...

Though at the time I saw the final episode as a gesture of contempt, "You want a nice, neat ending? Yeah well, "Don't Stop Believing" suckers!" The death of Tony by assassin was a fore-gone conclusion, it's who he was. It was also not really the most interesting thing about him - that was how I kept thinking 'oh, he's gonna turn out to not be a psychopath... no, he's a psychopath.' That tension of his character was what I kept watching.

Nice 'article' about the scene though.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:53 AM on February 1, 2011


I distinctly remember watching the final episode with my friend and the instant it blacked out, we were all, "Hell yeah, that was it!" Not that we thought Tony was dead... just that we were glad the episode had an ambiguous ending. But I also remember thinking once the credits rolled that the fucking fanboys were going to have a field day with this one. Like the ending of 2001 or many other ambiguous movies/shows, what appears on screen should ALWAYS be the end of the argument. Believe what you want but there is no fact, and it doesn't matter at all what anyone writes or says about it! Let a piece of art be a piece of art. Talk about it, offer opinions, but don't be such a loser as to proclaim to be definitive. What a pompous nitwit! The worst kind of over-analyzation. Oh, and The Wire was a way better show. Not as cartoony and up its own ass pretentious.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:08 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


When a screen cuts to black suddenly, it means the character has died.

It's not guaranteed to mean that. Screens go black for other reasons as well. Screens go black when the show is over, for example. And the suspicious shots of the Members' Only guy could mean that he's going to kill Tony, or could be referencing Tony's paranoia, or could just be giving us paranoia. We're given symbols of the possibility of his death, not of his death necessarily. The message is that Tony's life goes on the way it always has: that he could get shot any minute. The mundaneity of his life is that some guy in a diner might shoot him in the back of the head or might not.

In other words, the symbols in that final scene are not symbolizing Tony's death; they're symbolizing that they might easily mean his death.
posted by creasy boy at 1:43 AM on February 1, 2011


I want to say something else about this -- all the author's textual evidence is quite on-point. A great number of things in the last scene do strongly suggest that Tony gets killed. But people who see the last scene as ambiguous agree that a great number of things strongly suggest that Tony gets killed. That's precisely what makes the ending ambiguous! His death is strongly suggested but now shown; and the fact that it isn't shown also means something.
posted by creasy boy at 1:52 AM on February 1, 2011


L'Estrange Fruit: "Works for me. Like the mirror theory of The Shining, it just makes sense - once you know about it, you can see it clearly throughout."

Oh, like how once you've seen The Sixth Sense once, it makes sense all along the second time?

I never watched the Sopranos but I remember seeing the news about the ending. I read most of the link and man, all I can say is it took this long to prove that he died at the end?

Also, apparently I saw the logo enough that when I type Sopranos I can see the gun in the text. Like how the word bed looks like a bed.

Now, if you want to talk about a sucky series finale, let's talk about Medium, amirite?

posted by IndigoRain at 2:05 AM on February 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter. Tony's story is over, regardless of whether or not some knob in a Members Only jacket shoots him in the head or not. The end of Tony's story is that he and his family will keep on doing what they're doing until they die.

As the song on the jukebox in the diner says:

Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

posted by KokuRyu at 6:03 AM on February 1, 2011


I go to thrift stores all the time, but I never see Members Only jackets. The dudes that own those are hanging on to them.
posted by box at 6:48 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Screens go black when the show is over, for example.

Not like this. Not mid song, with song suddenly cutting out, and with the final image shown for a few seconds less that the scene has established as the rhythm.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:26 AM on February 1, 2011


I just wanna know that Jimmy McNulty made it back to Baltimore OK
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:47 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


While we're on Cameron and mirrors and alternate interpretations, here's one to spend some time with:

The characters in Observe and Report are in fact all dead and in hell. Each has their own fatal flaw which sent them there; the person who missed heaven by the smallest distance was Nell, but she is in hell because she believes she deserves to be.

At the end, Ronnie has established that he is the worst person around and he is made king.

Discuss.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:11 AM on February 1, 2011


Having plowed through a lot of this, I have to say it was more convincing when it was more concise. The language of the cuts in the final scene, the "you never see it coming" flashbacks, and the basic plot argument that the New York family would have to kill Tony after Phil's death are the strongest arguments (with the syntax of the cuts being the strongest argument).

I'd also argue this: if Chase wanted Tony's death to end the show, there's a limited number of ways of doing it. And, as someone who works on a show without a tenth of the Internet interest that the Sopranos had, I can say there was almost no way of filming Tony's explicit death that would not have resulted in Internet leaks. Even putting a pistol in the hand of MOG would have made it difficult to keep a lid on things. (Yes, there are ways around that ... false scripts that describe an attempted hit in the middle of the show, etc.) Sure, you could cut to the outside of the restaurant and hear gunshots and see flashes, as some Internet wag did, but it wouldn't be satisfying.

And I agree with the essay's argument that showing anything past the moment of his death (Meadow screaming, AJ covered in brains) would be excessive and unneeded. If we'd seen MOG with a gun, but not pulling the trigger, and then a cut to black it would be a little less ambiguous, but would undercut the "you never see it coming" theme.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:33 AM on February 1, 2011


Oh, like how once you've seen The Sixth Sense once, it makes sense all along the second time? you decide to never see an M. Night movie ever again?
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:56 PM on February 1, 2011


I realize the Egyptian metaphor theory got snarked on a bit upthread, so I would like to offer a sort of further set of references taken from the imagery in the series to suggest that the theory perhaps has some merit.

It seems to me that the cinematographer’s series of shots could also reference the famous “pull focus” window shot from Goodfellas from the POV of the viewer rather than protagonist. Soprano immediate family is inside the pool/picture window/narrative frame. The biological family is grown, the underworld family has been dismembered by the disclosure of secrets in the series. The Members Only man approaches as a suffocating archetype. Tony begins and ends with a blackout of consciousness.

The series begins at the Soprano family pool surface. Tony has blackouts; so begins his “Opening of the Mouth” with his sessions with Melfi. He begins to disclose limited secrets; his mother suggests to Junior that Tony should be killed. Both of Tony’s parents are destructive archetypes.

As the series closes, Tony seizes the opportunity to secretly suffocate Chris, his most trusted Cappo, for not being a responsible biological father. Chris and Adri contribute to the dismemberment of the Cosa Nostra by disclosing secrets. Chris to Hollywood, and Adri to the FBI. As Tony enters his underworld during his wounding, he ends up in Costa Mesa,(Los Angeles) as opposed to Cosa Nostra.

Two future adult Tony Sopranos: his biological son, and Jackie Aprille Jr.
Jackie Aprille steals Meadow’s heart. Tony has him killed because he does not want Meadow to become Carmela. It’s interesting to note that most of the lovers Tony deeply bonds more closely resemble Meadow than Carmela.

At Jackie’s funeral, Junior sings, “My Ungrateful Heart” in Italian. Meadow has an angry, irrational outburst.

The Soprano children are significantly different from their parents. Meadow is a college graduate, Anthony is a more consciously wounded, compassionate person than his father. Anthony is much more aware of his depression to the point of attempting suicide in the pool, his father chooses to save his life. Tony also saves his son’s life by not requiring him to follow in his footsteps, destroying the lineage of the mob boss in his own biological line.
posted by effluvia at 9:05 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Addenda: Chris' Hollywood movie is titled "Cleaver" --- great Janus double entendre there, and features Tony's metaphorical dismemberment.
posted by effluvia at 9:18 AM on February 3, 2011


I'll really be impressed if the author figures out why he was killed....
posted by onesidys at 3:58 PM on February 3, 2011


« Older Contrary to a lot of idle criticism, Bungie's Halo...  |  Stronger people are harder to ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments