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The Sopranos

After zealously shielding myself from spoilers for seven straight months, I finally watched the final episode of The Sopranos, knowing absolutely nothing about what would happen or how it would end.

Thoughts in the comments.

Posted on February 15, 2008 to TV On DVD



As the closing credits rolled, my feelings towards the final scene skewed toward unmitigated disgust and hatred.

But then I thought about it for, oh, 10 straight minutes, and decided that it was the best TV series ending ever. (Excepting, of course, the ending of Newhart, which resides in a category of its own.)

Reading the messageboards afterwards, I was surprised at how many people railed against its supposed ambiguity, denouncing such "write your own ending" endings as utter cop-outs. Frankly, I though the meaning was clear: Tony was shot in the head and died (either immediately or after 10 seconds of blackness). The show was about Tony Soprano, and when he ended, so did the series, immediately. For me, the confirming piece of data for this hypothesis is the lack of music over the end credits. Every installment of The Sopranos featured a song at the end; the last episode does not, because the series has already ended. QED MOFOS!

As for my thoughts on the sixth season as a whole, I though it was one of the better runs but as uneven as ever. Strange how creator David Chase insisted on nine additional episodes so that he could tie up loose ends at his own pace, and yet everything wound up rushed anyhow. Tony's severance from Melfi (who, don't forget, was the primary supporting character in the first few seasons) was entirely too abrupt, with the catalytic study on sociopatholgy an obvious deus ex machina. Junior was all but forgotten until the last 15 minutes of the last episode. And the ducks! Where the hell were the ducks?! I was absolutely certain they would make a reappearance before the closing curtain.

Still, I quite liked the AJ arc--nice to see some actual character development for that kid. And although Christopher's end was ignominious and a bit hard to swallow, I recognize that they at least attempted to set it up for a few episodes (starting with Cleaver) rather than just drop it on us like a piano.

I hope Chace doesn't make a Sopranos movie--and not only because it would probably invalidate my interpretation of the finale. Much as I loved the show, it was getting a bit long in the tooth, and I appreciate that they chose to go out on top rather than trudge into X-Files Season Nine territory. Better to shoot the series a few times in the chest and throw it over the side of the boat.

Posted by: Matthew on February 20, 2008 10:45 AM

When watching the final I thought my TiVo had crashed again.Then the total WTF moment of that was the ending.

Looking back and hearing other people's dissections of the episode, I find myself enjoying that the creators didn't show Tony getting wacked. Leaving it open like that was inspired. But also quietly sneaking in to the last scene all of those episode characters like the boy scouts and such tied in things nicely.

Posted by: HDC on February 20, 2008 10:54 AM

Excepting, of course, the ending of Newhart...

I am glad we agree on that.

I think the Sopranos ending was pretty cut and dried. It offered a mirror back on the viewer: How you interpret this is what you take away from the series as a viewer. It should have been a bit of a clue that in nearly any possible interpretation there was either nothing good or nothing material to take away.

Posted by: Ashley on February 20, 2008 11:09 AM

Remember when Tony was on the boat with Bobby Baccalieri, opining on what it must be like to be whacked? He said: “At the end, you probably don’t hear anything, everything just goes black.”

Kinda exactly like the final scene.

Posted by: Rob G on February 20, 2008 12:39 PM

"(Excepting, of course, the ending of Newhart, which resides in a category of its own.)"

I am of the firm opinion that *every* show should end with Bob Newhart waking up next to Suzanne Pleshette say he had the weirdest dream.

Posted by: John Eddy on February 20, 2008 12:42 PM

but the whole point of a television show is to take the viewers on a story. a story has a beginning, middle, and end. There was no end. Leaving it open for interpretation makes it seem to me that the writers couldn't decide on an ending and took the cheap road out. maybe the dvd will have some comentary which will explain what the heck they were smoking when they came up with it.

of course, it did help to keep the ending a secret. they didn't use anything that they filmed.

Posted by: Anonymous on February 20, 2008 12:43 PM

The write-your-own-ending has distinguished literary ancestors. Perhaps the most famous example is "The Lady or the Tiger." But, heck, nearly all of Samuel Coleridge's stuff is "unfinished." Jack Kerouac never told readers what happened to old Dean Moriarty. Buttercup and Westly are still being chased by Humperdinck's men when you reach the last page.

Tying up all the loose ends is more typical of genre fiction than literature, which tends to like it messy.

Posted by: Carny Asada on February 20, 2008 12:56 PM

I totally disagree. I dont think he was shot. That scene did a great job of summing up what the rest of Tony's life will be like, paranoid. Great stuff, and Tony lives!!

Posted by: chris on February 20, 2008 1:15 PM

While I agree that Tony was shot and killed, I disliked the ending. Actually, I disliked the entire season. It was rushed and not true to its heart. However my husband who adores everything mafia is completely convinced that this is the best TV show ever.

Posted by: Agent Scully on February 20, 2008 2:46 PM

Here's the thing about the "write-your-own-ending" critics: this was NOT a "write-your-own-ending" ending. Tony was killed. That is crystal clear to me. I was 99% sure of it, and then someone reminded me of the Bobby Bacala quote about not hearing your own whacking, which completely sealed the deal. You can criticize the Tony-gets-whacked ending if you want, but I really don't think the ambiguity that some people see was even slightly intended.

Posted by: Dave P on February 20, 2008 8:23 PM

what kind of hack would put the end smack in the middle of

Posted by: craig on February 20, 2008 10:56 PM

Bret Easton Ellis - Rules of Attraction

Posted by: Anonymous on February 21, 2008 9:23 AM

Bret Easton Ellis - Rules of Attraction

Posted by: Anonymous on February 21, 2008 9:23 AM

I agree with your overall conclusions about everything except Tony's fate.

I think the show just goes on, that Tony is doomed to live with himself. A dull and joyless life is Tony's fate. He's stuck in his own personal hell.

That's probably becasue I don't want the big fat bastard to die.

Posted by: Jorge on February 21, 2008 10:14 AM

The best argument of the "Tony Gets Whacked" theory can be found at:


It's quite detailed and cleverly elucidated. It made me a believer.

The ducks, by the way, can be seen on the cover of the final DVD box set. They're flying near the Statue of Liberty.

Posted by: Mike Berry on February 21, 2008 12:20 PM


Unfortunately Tony did not die. The creator came out recently and said that he didn't die and that it just meant that everything just kept going the same way as before. Chase says, “There are no esoteric clues in there. No `Da Vinci Code,”.

In other words, screw you, Soprano fans. And screw me too because I was ten kinds of pissed off at this ending.

Posted by: Jenny, Bloggess on February 22, 2008 7:10 AM

I'm so glad someone else was as behind the times as I was - I had my entire family sworn to silence on all things Soprano in my presence because I hadn't seen the final episode. I think they were on the verge of whacking me.

I think he died, too. It was like a little curtain call, bringing his family in one by one before they killed him.

And David Chase has to say that - he's gotta leave the movie option open.

Posted by: thptpth on February 22, 2008 6:08 PM

Actually Chase implied that Tony died in that interview. The "Da Vinci Code" quote is incomplete and taken out of context. The idiots at the Associated Press read the interview wrong. Tony is as dead as disco. Here is the dead give away:

Question: Are they wasting their time? Is there a puzzle to be solved?
Chase: There are no esoteric clues in there. No Davinci Code. Everything that pertains to that episode was in that episode. And it was in the episode before that and the one before that and seasons before this one and so on. There had been indications of what the end is like. Remember when Jerry Torciano was killed? Silvio was not aware that the gun had been fired until after Jerry was on his way down to the floor. That's the way things happen: It's already going on by the time you even notice it.
Question: Are you saying.....?
Chase: I'm not saying anything. I'm not trying to be coy. Its just that I think that to explain it would diminish it.

Here is the link to the whole interview:

Here is the link to an amazing analysis. Notice the Toriciano killing is the second biggest clue and this came out months before the new interview.

Posted by: Yodel on February 23, 2008 6:13 PM

I loved the ending, but I'm a big David Lynch fan and I don't care if things are wrapped up tidily. I don't think an ambiguous ending means it isn't a story - it's a slice of a life, or a bunch of lives, we stepped in at one moment in time, and stepped out at another. I enjoyed the ride.

Posted by: Patti on February 27, 2008 8:56 AM

The end was a fade because there was nothing left.

We had already seen all the possible ways Tony could go -- drifting off into madness (like his mom & uncle), dying in jail, in a hail of bullets, etc., etc. It doesn't matter which way Tony goes, because inevitably it would not be a "good" death. He would reap what he'd sown -- it was only a matter of time. The ambiguity in the final scenes underscored that.

That ending was also perfectly logical and one of the most chilling in TV history. By the end of the season, Tony had finally and thoroughly corrupted absolutely everyone around him (those who weren't killed or that he didn't kill himself), finally including those closest to him: his wife, his son, and his daughter. That happy family scene was Tony's most appalling and damning accomplishment.

It was, in fact, a perfect ending (second only to Newhart).

Posted by: wretch on March 5, 2008 8:11 AM