Since everyone and their Mother is giving their two cents on the series finale, I might as well join in.

At first, when the screen just cut to black, I looked at Molly and asked, "What the fuck?!" Did our cable go out? Did our DVR mess up?! Is that how they decided to end the entire series?! Up come the credits and then came the phone calls.

I tell him, "Yeah, I don't know how I feel about it. David Chase has pretty big balls to pull off an ending like that."
"FUCK THAT! I was hoping our satellite TV went out for a second..." He's seriously angry. "If we didn't have another season of The Wire, I'd cancel HBO right now!"

And you know, he has a point. Not that I'd ever actually cancel HBO, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that the ending of The Sopranos was a cop out. They knew for quite a while that this was going to be the last season. In fact they spread it out over two mini-seasons! What they left us with was a fucking "Choose Your Own Adventure."

I've read through the various posts on the usual message boards and how the major Hollywood reporters are responding and I guess I'm just in the "What a bunch of bullshit" camp.

You can over-analyze the final scene all you want. It's still incredibly tense and ultimately a let down. People have thrown out the comparison to John Sayles' LIMBO in that the screen just goes black at the most intense moment to let you make up your own mind. While that was a neat device for a somewhat okay movie, I don't want to make up my own mind when it comes to The Sopranos. It's not that type of show and the writers have been jerking us around for far too long to just end it with a "What happens next? You decide!"

Take the next-to-finale episode for example. The end shot was Tony falling asleep clutching an automatic weapon...leading you to believe a huge showdown was about to happen. I almost wish they would have just ended it then and there. Instead we get some lousy truce, too much time spent on AJ, and one dead body. Well, at least that's all they gave us, in my "ending" the guy walks out of the restroom with a bazooka and blew them all to Kingdom Come...Boy Scouts and all...

It at least would've been better than


Jason Arnett said...

I thought you might feel that way, Travis. I think it's brilliant in leaving me to wonder why it went the way it did, and what happened next. Sopranos has never been tidy. (Remember Valery from the Pine Barrens episode in Season Three?)

Yeah, closure would've been nice, but the series has always been about The Story. Anything else would've been the beginning of another story, and this was the end. Last week we got the end of Melfi and Bobby and Sil. This week we get the end of Junior and Phil. Meadow and AJ have their lives ahead of them, Tony has the same shit he's always had ahead of him and Carmella will put up with it, as she always has.

It's not nice, don't get me wrong, but it's real to how the rest of the series was handled. It was also foreshadowed almost from the beginning. What's the line Tony uses early on...? "You ever feel like you're coming in on the end of something?" That's the one line that's really a decoy, given how it ended last night.

Sorry to go on so long.

Travis said...

Yeah, but I still feel like it was a cop out. It's about the same as having Tony wake up at the end, only to discover that he had still been in the coma this whole time. It's lazy writing, no? (You're the writer, I'm just the guy who draws and puts words together in bubbles.) I doubt they could have had an ending that would have pleased everyone or tidied up every loose end, but dammit, they could have actually gave it an ending.

If it had just been a final scene of the Sopranos eating dinner at the diner, that would have been one thing. But to keep cutting away to people looking over their shoulder and just teasing us like that, was almost a "screw you" to the fans.

Ryanetics said...

I am with you Travis - that was a big old steaming pile of lazy writing. A bullshit cop-out from a show that taught us to expect more from small screen entertainment.

I also did the whole "what the fuck, did the DVR just fuck me out of the ending?!" until the credits rolled.

Bullshit man, bullshit.

Jason Arnett said...

I don't think it's lazy writing, just an ambiguous ending. I like that kind of stuff, though, and realize I'm in the minority.

All along, Chase and Co. challenged us to think of Tony as a father (or son or brother or nephew) whose job just HAPPENED to be the Jersey Mafia. We were challenged to think that his monstrous behaviors (the way he treated his mother and uncle while revering his father, the way Annabella Sciorra's character was handled at the end of her arc, his killing of 'rats' and key characters, the destruction of other people's lives) were acceptable, even likeable.

That some felt 'cheated' of a 'proper' ending is testament to how well executed (if you'll pardon the unintentional pun) the series was. We believed in him enough to CARE one way or another what happened to him. Whether he was redeemed or damned is for us to decide, and that might even reflect on us personally, don't you think?

Good writing makes you think and isn't always what you want or expect. The Sopranos, from start to finish, was good writing.

(Oh, and yeah, I thought my cable had gone out, too, at the end.)

Ryanetics said...

Well I respect where you are coming from and I agree with everything you say up to the finale... that is where we part ways. I just think Chase copped out. But it was his right to cop out and even though it pissed me (and half the known world) off, at the end of the day it was his show.

However I do find the following post-finale dust-up quote from Chase to be quite telling (and defensive):

"I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there," he told the The Star-Ledger 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."

What I want to know is this - Why? Why were you not trying to blow my mind? I think that was the problem. It just didn't seem like he cared.

Then again you can argue that he doesn't have to care about the viewer and it is his right to care only about the story as he sees it - fine, but then why did I bother watching.

But yeah, agree or disagree, I was pissed.

Travis said...

Yeah, Jason, you'll be happy to know that Jamie is in your corner and that we've butted heads over the damn finale for a couple of days straight. So, even though you're in the minority in praising the finale, you're not alone.

Ryan pretty much made all the points I was going to address (which goes to prove the theory that we're the exact same person) but I'd like to add a few comments, since this is my blog and all.

I'm all for "reading in between the lines" and "not being force fed." I enjoy the fuck out of LOST because there's so many different storylines and questions and clues that you'll only catch by either reeeeeeeeeeally paying attention or going to various message boards and getting filled in. So the idea that I was simply let down because The Sopranos ended in a "Eh? Make up your own mind" isn't what got me so angry. (sure it was a big factor though.)

What bothered me the most is that there didn't seem to be any drive towards any resolution WHATSOEVER. Which is fine, because many of the loyal followers just chalk that up to, "That's how real life is! David Chase is fucking brilliant!"

But in reality, he's a cocktease. He led us down a path of "Ooooooh, isn't this going to be exciting" right up to the final hour. The episode BEFORE the Season Finale might have been in the top 3 episodes ever. And it wasn't simply because there was a lot of killing (which is one of the reasons Jamie thinks I was let down with the finale.) I'm not interested in a bloodbath...but if David Chase is going to leave us with the image of Tony Soprano going to bed clutching an automatic weapon and then feed us A.J. burning his SUV and the NY vs NJ mobsters shaking hands and calling a "truce" well...that's just a pill I refuse to swallow.

And so so so so so so so many people have tried "explaining" the final scene to me...as if I simply need to "understand" it in order to realize the greatness of David Chase and his infinite wisdom.

"It's simply a look into how Tony views his world...every person could be out to kill him...he can never let his guard down..."

If that's the case, then what was the "Meadow trying to park her car for five minutes" shit about? That wasn't "through Tony's eyes." It was just another tease. A set-up for absolutely nothing.

I just really got the sense that David Chase had no idea where the show was going to go and made it up as he went along.

I appreciate the fact that the end of the series got me all worked up. But man, in the end I feel cheated. Six Feet Under...that's how you end a series!