Golden Moldy oldie from MAD circa 2002
Sunday night The Lovely Anna and I are sitting in our home theater, ready to watch the series finale of “The Sopranos“. Since we never seem to sit down together to watch a TV show (she couldn’t care less for “Lost” or “Heroes”, and I can’t stand “Desperate Housewives” or “Ugly Betty”), the fact that we are both there and looking forward to the final episode means it’s a bona-fide event.
We enjoy the fantastic dialog and the wit (the cat staring at Chrissy’s picture and Paulie’s reactions were hilarious) combined with sudden and shocking violence (Phil’s death and gruesome bodily disfigurement) that has long made this show so engaging. It all builds up to the big final scene: Tony, Carmela and AJ in the diner… the tension mounting as people keep entering and Tony eyes them suspiciously… Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is swelling int he background… the guy at the counter paying a little too much attention to them and looking nervous heads for the bathroom ala “The Godfather”… Meadow having trouble parallel parking her car (she need lessons from me, I am the master) that seems to indicate she will just miss some momentous event… the door bells ring and Tony looks up…
Then the screen goes black.
Anna and I blinked in disbelief. Like millions of viewers across the country, we thought our TVs had gone out at an insanely inopportune time. I mean… what are the chances the TV would go out in the last 60 seconds of the final episode of one of the best TV shows to ever air? I actually cried out and started to get up to see if it was storming outside and our satellite dish was getting blocked. I looked at the remote. I looked at the projector and the home theater equipment to see it was all on.
Then the credits rolled. The end.
I have to admit I was momentarily pissed off. That was it??? No closure whatsoever? Feds on the verge of indictments, Silvo in a coma, Phil dead and a shakey truth with New York… and we never found out what happened with that Russian guy from the “Pine Barrens” episode!!
Then I caught my breath and after thinking it out I was okay with the ending. If “The Sopranos” was ever anything, it was unpredictable. It was unapologetic about it’s plots and went where and when it dared. Creator David Chase didn’t care if he made us wait nearly two years between seasons, went weeks without any major action and never catered to the expectations or demands of anybody. Not the viewers, not HBO, not even the actors.
“The Sopranos” was brilliant TV that was all about taking the journey and never about reaching a destination. It’s odd how the human race seems to require the ending of a story to have a neat little bow on it. So many people are put out by having no closure at the end of a movie, book or TV show. Stephen King examines this phenomenon in his excellent short story “The Colorado Kid“, which presents a mystery with no conclusion and consequently demonstrates how this lack of fulfillment affects those engaged in a tale.
I can only hope Chase and the actors in the series stick to their guns and do not do any films or further storyline. This is a series that deserves to wrap up in the same way it told it’s story… with no apologies and on it’s own terms.
753 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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