Monday, June 11, 2007

The Beatdown: The Sopranos Series Finale

So, "The Sopranos" ended with a Journey song and a close-up of Tony Soprano getting... whacked? content? hungry?

(Spoiler alert, if you do not want to know how the finale ended, stop reading here)

Sunday night's grand finale to the greatest television show of all-time (yeah, I said it) proved anti-climatic to some, outright maddening to others. I was in the minority — I really liked it.

In it's series finale, series creator David Chase managed to pack in a little of everything that the show has been known for. There was ultra-violence (Brooklyn boss Phil Leotardo got whacked and beheaded by SUV), hilarity (Paulie Wallnuts sitting at a table with the youngsters and unzipping his pants), pathos (Tony telling a shrink his mother didn't love him; Paulie sharing a vision of the Virgin Mary), and food (Bobby Bacala's wake had a fat spread; the final scene of the family being served onion rings at Holsten's restaurant).

In the end, Tony sat with his wife Carmela and son A.J., while daughter Meadow showed up late after some miserable parralel parking. The camera cut to a quick shot of Tony's eyes, while the chorus was cut mid breath. Then, it all turned to black, as the world was left to ponder whether it was truly over, maybe they forgot to pay their cable bill.
Chase defended himself against any criticism for the show's final scene.

"I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding towhat is there," he says of the final scene.

"No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God," he added. "We did what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people's minds, or thinking 'Wow, this'll (tick) them off.' People get the impression that you're trying to (mess) with them and it's not true. You're trying to entertain them."

My take: How else are you going to end it? Chase has proven in the past he is not bound to any traditional rules of story telling. Loose ends remain loose ends, as in life. The Sopranos are no different.

Which is the reason I enjoyed Sunday's ending. In some alternate gangster universe, The Sopranos live on. There's no definite closure, just the end of another chapter.

You can go on about what didn't get solved with the series finale, but I'd rather take a moment to point out some of my favorite images from the final season:

- The sight of Tony cradling AJ after a failed suicide attempt
- Bobby Bacala dripping with blood, laid out on a train set, after getting hit in a hobby shop
- Tony and Bobby doing their best sumo wrestling impression in the woods
- Chrissy Moltisanti killing his movie producer
- Every scene in "Cleaver"

Those images (most of them violent, although that's not the only reason I watch the show) stand out for me in memorable season that will continue, if only in our most ilicit imaginations. Yes, the finale left us hungry for more. That was the point.

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