The fate of Jersey Mob boss Anthony Soprano was nearly a foregone conclusion. Either he gets whacked, or he enters Witness Protection. At least, those were the conclusions the vast majority of fans saw coming as the weeks led to tonight’s finale. Last week saw the death of brother Bobby Bacala, and the como inducing hit on Silvio. With the biggest players in the Soprano family getting the cement feet treatment it seemed that the only way to go would be Tony finally face to face with his mobster ways, and the repercussions that comes with them. Instead David Chase kept true to the ‘Soprano’ tone that made the first season so good. The ending wasn’t about mass exterminations or hit squads. ‘Sopranos’ finished its run right where it belongs, with a long goodbye to the family.
Chase, the show’s creator, wrote and directed the finale. There were goodbyes and starting over. Tony paid a last visit to Uncle Junior, A.J. is still messed up but seems to have found something substantial to keep him grounded, and Meadow finally got her shit together and parked the car. Every moment of the episode was rife with tension on who would get hit and how. Chase never once let up on that tension, causing us to fear for every single character left alive. There were moments when I swear Paulie was about to eat a bullet, and just as many where it looked like he’d be the one to betray Tony. You never knew what was going to happen.
One thing is clear; Phil Leotardo got his head crunched. In a seriously brilliant death scene Phil is shot and then his head gets run over. That actually happened, and it was the only violent event in what we expected to be a bloodbath of an episode.
This episode was truly about the final moments. Chase summed up the entire series in less than 10 minutes. Waiting in a diner Tony puts “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey on – a brilliant song selection – as his wife walks in. Suspicious individuals enter as we witness the Soprano family coming together in love and friendship, all while death looms in the shadows. AJ shows up, followed by Meadow having major issues with a simple parallel parking job. Moment by moment the foreboding sense of death weighs down on the viewer, and still the family goes on eating onion rings. Meadow runs toward the diner, the chime of the door opening rings out, Tony looks up into the future and…black.
It’s possible that Tony, or even the whole family, was killed in those black out moments that followed our last glimpse of the mob boss. That’s a mystery for the viewer to decide. Aside from causing a mass wave of calls by disgruntled customers to their cable company, David Chase also gave viewers the perfect ending to the formally phenomenal ‘Sopranos.’ The show was never about the deaths or violence. At its heart was a story about a man and his family; it just so happened that many of those family members killed people on occasion. We’ve seen some horrible truths about Tony and his crew lately. Maybe some things that Tony tried forcing from his mind. Christopher’s death sealed his fate as an evil man. The viewer was clear on where these people stood, and then that brilliant ending came. Rather than the death of Tony Soprano, we got a mob boss on the verge of a violent death enjoy dinner with a family he loves more than anything in the world.
Whether these were the final moments of his life or just another night out with the family, this is the life of Tony Soprano. I wouldn’t have it any other way. How about you? What did you think of the series finale? Was Tony killed? Was the whole family whacked?