The Sopranos finale – why it was perfect

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It is series ending time, and I am a little sad.  Dex just ended, and Breaking Bad ends next week.  Inevitably, we are always disappointed with the series endings.  They rarely match what we had in mind for the characters.  Seinfeld’s finale was clever, but not satisfying.  Dexter’s was ok, and I enjoyed how Weeds ended.

The writers of Breaking Bad promise a terrific ending.  A week from now, every ahole in America will be debating that.  So, while we have time, lets go back to the last truly great and controversial ending – the Sopranos. It’s all the more poignant now the James Gandolfini has passed away.  It means no more forever.

I feel everyone missed the whole point of the ending, and here is why.  There was grand discussion as to whether or not Tony gets killed in the next scene – after the credits roll.  Every character and camera shot and song choice and foley cue seemed to imply that evening at the diner would be Tony’s last.  The director, (and mind behind the show), David Chase, was so beseiged with the question that he finally gave in and answered.  I’ll not include that here, because its against my point.

What made that ending great is that you didn’t know if he got shot.  Why?  Because we don’t get that closure.  See, sitting at a restuarant with his family knowing he is a target is every day of Tony Soprano’s life.  For the last 20 years, every time he left his house he had to wonder if today would be the day.  Tony knows this game only ends in his death or imprisonment.  You don’t retire from the mob  So, maybe Tony gets killed in that diner.  Maybe he lives, and gets killed on the way home.  Or maybe it doesn’t happen for another 20 years. You don’t get to know when it comes, because Tony doesn’t get to know when it comes.

I do have to say, I think the finale should have been the episode before that… the second to last one.  He is lying in a bed all by himself clutching a shotgun in a safehouse.  he is just waiting for someone to gun him down.  The uncertainty of that scene is its brilliance, which is why I love how the ended the show.

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