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Update: 8/27/14: I have been bombarded with e-mails and comments regarding the Vox interview with David Chase posted today where he allegedly stated Tony did not die. I have received numerous hostile e-mails telling me to take my site down. Well, Chase’s publicist (via Variety)issued this statement about the article:

“A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview,” reads a statement issued by Chase’s rep, Leslee Dart. “To simply quote David as saying, ‘Tony Soprano is not dead,’ is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true.”

So there you go, and I hope there are still readers out there who appreciate my analysis and the brilliance of the show.

Update 2014. Now expanded section on Kubrick’s 2001 influence on the ending with new quotes from Chase regarding the same

*Update 6/19/13:James Gandolfini died today at the too young age of 51. His performance as Tony Soprano for 86 episodes is a masterwork and right at the top of our greatest performances of all time-in any medium.The Sopranos would not have been what it was, perhaps the greatest work of art in film history, a show that meant so much to so many, without his towering performance. Below is a scene from the final few episodes that is a favorite of mine and shows the great humanity he brought to the role. Rest in peace sir, and thank you:

And once again, this incredible, and now famous Sopranos tribute video by Lyle at exeterstreet, which now has new meaning

Now revised and expanded, including a very revealing radio interview with David Chase in April of 2008!

*Dozens of new visuals on all 4 pages and new content (“Death and David Chase”) added to Part I
**Part 1 and Part 2 have been updated with new comments from David Chase from December 2012 (look for “Update: December 2012″ marker)
***Part 1 has been updated with new Chase comments discussing his use of POV in the final scene (look for “Update: 2013″ marker)
****Check out an incredible Sopranos tribute video at the end of page 4.

*Note from author (December 6, 2010): Its been over three years since the finale of the Sopranos, yet the ending continues to be discussed and debated to this day. My piece has become more popular than I ever could have imagined but speaks to the viewer’s love of the show. If this piece has done anything, it has illuminated for many people the show’s depth and artistic vision, the true genius of David Chase and his writers, and how the show fulfilled its early promise when the New York Times called the show “The greatest work of popular culture of the past quarter century” back in 1999. I cannot tell you how many e-mails I have received from fans relaying how much this piece made them truly appreciate the artistry of the show and how they re-watched the entire series again after reading it. Those final few minutes of the final episode is truly the greatest scene in the history of the medium; a scene constructed as a culmination of 8 years and 86 hours of epic storytelling. Chase created the scene for the fans who were willing to dig beneath the surface and see exactly how much thought and creativity went into every tiny detail of this show. The final scene has solidified the show as the greatest in television history (with all apologies to “The Wire”), a show that is working on levels that could not possibly be comprehended on first viewing. Some of have complained that I have the gall to call the piece “Definitive,” but I think it has received more attention for that very fact (perhaps I should have meekly called the piece “This is what I think happened”). Of course, I know it is not “definitive” (only Chase knows, and I certainly have never heard from him) but I feel strongly that it is mostly correct. I also know that some of arguments may be stretching things a bit but that is part of the fun (those “lesser” arguments often appear later in the piece). Chase has given us a gift to be pored over and discussed forever. He has raised the bar for all shows to follow (for those looking for the current truly great series, I would recommend “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad”) and for that we should all be thankful….

INTRODUCTION:
    
     “If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there.”* These are David Chase’s words regarding the finale of the Sopranos. He is right, it is “all there”. This is the definitive explanation as to why Tony died in Holsten’s in the final scene of The Sopranos. The following is based on a thorough analysis of the final season of the show and will clear up one of the most misunderstood endings in film or television history. Chase took almost two years to construct the final season of the show after the fifth season ended in June of 2004. The ending was orchestrated years in advance and is the culmination of an artist in complete control of his vision. Part 1 will demonstrate how Chase directed, edited and scored the final scene of the Sopranos to lead to the interpretation that Tony was shot in the head in Holsten’s and how this ties into the “never hear it happen” concept that Chase hammered into the viewer before the show’s final scene. This explanation will be supported by words from David Chase himself, including a very revealing, largely unknown, radio interview of Chase in April of 2008. Part I will also discuss (and debunk) the other theories about the end including the “Tony always looking over his shoulder” interpretation. Part II will concentrate on what Tony’s death means and how his death was thematically constructed throughout the final season. Part III will focus on the use of symbolism in Holsten’s. Part IV will focus on The Godfather influence on the final season and Tony’s death. Part V will focus on how the final episode and final scene are linked to America’s war on terrorism. Part VI will concentrate on the “fun stuff” created by Chase and his creative team to foreshadow Tony’s death. Part VII will discuss the possible inspiration of two films on the ending of The Sopranos. Part VIII will speculate as to who may have killed Tony. Part IX will discuss the influence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey on the “point of view” pattern in the final scene. Some of these topics will overlap but the ultimate conclusion is the same: Tony’s death is the only ending that makes sense.
 
*Note: Chase’s original quote to the NJ Star Ledger the day after the finale aired is “Anybody who wants to watch it, it’s all there”. Chase’s subsequent quote regarding the finale “If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there” was published in the UK newspaper The Times on September 9, 2007 (from an interview of Chase by Stephen Armstrong)as the final episodes were set to air in the UK. The modified quote strongly suggests Tony’s death since there is essentially no reason to look at the final scene “really carefully” if Tony lived as he is clearly alive the last time we see him.
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS: 

Part I: How David Chase killed Tony Soprano: A look at the directing and editing in the final scene and the “Never hear it Happen” concept laid out by David Chase. Plus a closer look at why the other theories about the end just don’t hold up.

This section also includes:
Part I epilogue: “It’s all a big nothing”: Death and David Chase.

Part II: What does Tony’s death mean?  How the themes of the final season and all 86 hours of the show lead to a family dinner in a small diner in New Jersey.

This section also includes:
Part II subsection A: “Two endings for a guy like me”
Part II subsection B: “Holsten’s is the consensus”: Carmela in the final season.

Part III: The Symbolism of Holsten’s.

Part IV: The final season and The Godfather.
 
Part V: How 9/11, terrorism and the U.S. war in Iraq unlock the keys to the final scene in Holsten’s.
 
Part VI: Miscellaneous “Fun Stuff” that could only be created by David Chase.
 
Part VII: The Public Enemy and Goodfellas influence on the end of The Sopranos.

This section also includes Part VII addition: The real life inspiration for the ending.

Part VIII: Who Killed Tony?

Part IX: Kubrick’s 2001 influence on the POV pattern in the final scene.

 
PART I: How David Chase killed Tony Soprano: A look at the directing and editing in the final scene and the “Never hear it Happen” concept laid out by David Chase. Plus a closer look at why the other theories about the end just don’t hold up.
 
I. THE FINAL SCENE IN HOLSTEN’S IN “MADE IN AMERICA”:

     Mr. Chase structures the final scene so that a significant portion of it is shown through Tony’s “Point of View” (POV). Chase uses this technique so that the viewer can experience Tony being murdered. Here is a basic definition (from Wikipedia) of a “Point of View” shot:

“A point of view shot (also known as POV shot or a subjective camera) is a short film scene that shows what a character (the subject) is looking at (represented through the camera). It is usually established by being positioned between a shot of a character looking at something, and a shot showing the character’s reaction (see shot reverse shot)”
    
     More importantly, Chase uses the ringing of the bell of the door of Holsten’s to signal to the viewer when he will be using the traditional point of view shot discussed above (character looking at something/cut to a shot of what the character is looking at from the character’s POV/cut back to a shot of the character, usually for the reaction). This is repeated five times in the final scene to create a “pattern” that logically concludes that the last “shot” of the series (10 seconds of black and silence) is from Tony’s POV. The implication being that Tony sees “blackness” and “nothingness”. Tony is dead. So how exactly does Chase do it?
 
A: Tony walks into Holsten’s and a bell is heard. The door of Holsten’s has a bell that rings every time someone enters the restaurant. Tony enters and Chase starts with a straight-ahead full shot of Tony looking at something in the diner. The scene then cuts to a clear Tony point-of-view shot (hereafter Tony’s POV) establishing the geography of Holsten’s. Tony sees the whole diner which consists of mostly booths and a counter to his left with stools. Chase then cuts back to the prior angle but Tony’s face is shown in close up (still looking straight ahead). The next cut is the previous Tony POV shot of the inside of the diner except Tony is now sitting down at one of the tables in the middle of the frame (this is often called a “jump cut” as Tony is never seen walking to his table). This opening sequence in the diner readies the viewer that they will be seeing certain things from Tony’s POV. The awkward “jump cut” establishes that Tony’s POV will be straight to the door (this will be critical) and that Meadow will have a clear view of Tony’s murder when she enters Holsten’s. The “jump cut” also further signals the importance of Tony’s POV in the sequence because the viewer is again experiencing the prior Tony POV shot; Chase is subliminally putting “us” in Tony’s head space.

The opening shots, in sequence, of the final scene (as explained above):

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B:THE PATTERN THEN BEGINS:

(1) The bell rings and Tony’s face is shown in close-up looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). The next shot is Tony’s POV of who is coming through the door: a tall woman with dark hair who enters Holsten’s. The next shot is back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.

Tony hears the bell, looks up-

and sees…

(2) The bell rings and Tony’s face is shown in close-up looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 2-3 seconds). The next shot is Tony’s POV of who is coming through the door (same shot as (1)): an older man wearing a “USA” cap who enters Holsten’s. The next shot is back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.

Tony hears the bell ring, looks up-

and sees…

 (3) The bell rings and Tony’s face is shown in close-up looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). The next shot is Tony’s POV of who is coming through the door (same shot as (1) and (2)):Carmela enters Holsten’s. The next shot is back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.

Tony hears the bell, looks up- 

and sees…
(4) The bell rings and Tony’s face is shown in close-up looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). The next shot is Tony’s POV of who is coming through the door (same shot as (1), (2) and (3)): “Man in Members Only Jacket” (hereafter “MOG”) followed by AJ enter Holsten’s. The next shot is back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.

Tony hears the bell, looks up- 

and sees…

(5) The bell rings and Tony’s face is shown in close-up looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 2 seconds). According to the pattern, the next shot should be Tony’s POV of who is coming through the door (this should be Meadow as she is seen about to enter the diner a few seconds before the bell rings). Instead, the screen cuts abruptly to black mid-scene (at the exact spot where we should see Meadow from Tony’s POV) and the audio cuts off. All the viewer sees is “blackness” where Tony’s POV should be. This is Tony’s POV because he is dead. We no longer hear Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing because Tony no longer hears it. In a normal ending, the screen would simply fade to black followed immediately by the credits and the music would probably still be heard. Instead, the blackness and silence lingers for 10 seconds before the credits are shown to emphasize that the black screen is Tony’s final POV. The 10 seconds of silent darkness is a scene unto itself-as significant as any image or line of dialogue. The final shot also emphasizes the blackness, nothingness and eternal nature of death. Chase originally wanted no credits at all and the blackness to last all the way to the HBO logo (this was revealed by David Chase in the Ultimate Sopranos HBO book released in October of 2007). This would further emphasize the eternal nature of death. Tony is dead. The direction and editing in the scene suggest that he was shot from behind in the right side of his head.

Tony hears the bell, looks up-

and sees…

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..nothing, as Tony is killed in an instant. 

Tony was shot by MOG (Members Only Guy) as he exited the bathroom. Just before (5), MOG gets up from his stool and walks past Tony’s table. Tony looks twice at MOG as he walks past him and eventually enters the bathroom. Chase uses a tracking shot to follow MOG walking past Tony’s table into the bathroom. To further emphasize the shot’s importance, Chase continues the movement of the camera even after the bathroom is clearly seen (the camera moves so that the bathroom, originally seen in the right upper corner of the frame, moves further to the left and is consequently more noticeable when the camera finally stops). This is only one of two tracking shots in the final scene (the other is when Tony enters Holsten’s) as all the other shots in the diner are static.  Chase’s direction is clearly meant to convey the importance of MOG entering the bathroom. The purpose of the shot is to show that MOG will have a clear shot at Tony once he exits the bathroom. More importantly, the bathroom is behind Tony. Tony will not have a chance to react.

      MOG is deliberately framed by Chase as a threat to Tony once he enters the diner and there is a clear effort by Chase to show that MOG is different from any of the other patrons. MOG is the only patron ever seen outside of the door of Holsten’s before the bell rings (he is seen opening the door just before Chase cuts to Tony and the bell is heard). However, the pattern set out above in (1)-(5) is never disrupted because once the bell rings, Chase cuts to Tony looking up and the pattern continues accordingly. Chase also has MOG and A.J. enter at almost the exact same time (they almost touch). This may imply that MOG followed A.J. to Holsten’s. Once MOG enters, he seems to be looking straight to the back of Holsten’s (looking for Tony?). This seems strange in light of the fact that he immediately sits down at the counter to his left (which we would think he would have seen right away when he walked in). MOG enters in front of A.J. and continues straight toward the camera where he almost fills the entire frame (Chase has neither Carmela, A.J. or the other patrons enter in such a fashion). MOG almost completely obstructs the viewer’s view of A.J.; this seems unusual considering A.J. is a regular character rather than just an extra in the scene. Chase’s purpose here is to signal the importance of MOG. Once A.J. sits down, MOG is seen in the background sitting down at the counter. MOG is then seen in “soft focus” in the background between A.J. and Carmela. Chase then cuts to a full shot of MOG apparently looking in the direction of Tony’s table (and apparently tapping his fingers nervously against the counter) which is confirmed by the next shot of A.J. and Carmela as MOG is seen looking in their direction in a “soft focus” background shot between them. Later in the scene, there is a second full shot of MOG looking over at Tony’s table. Finally, there is a full shot of MOG getting up to go the bathroom. MOG is looking down as he gets up from the counter to avoid eye contact with Tony. He also walks awkwardly as his head turns to the left away from Tony while his body seems to stay straight. MOG seems to be going out of his way to avoid eye contact and is clearly not oblivious to the presence of Tony Soprano. Also note that none of the other patrons (including the “trucker in the USA cap”) are ever shown looking at Tony (more on this later). Chase makes it clear that the viewer should be paying special attention to MOG over any of the other patrons. As discussed earlier, Chase has set up Tony’s easy kill from behind; furthermore, the shots establishing the geography of Holsten’s and the tracking shot of MOG walking towards the bathroom logistically establish that MOG has an easy, unobstructed passage to exit Holsten’s after he shoots Tony.

     Meadow’s problems parallel parking and being late for dinner also confirm MOG’s actions and Tony’s subsequent death. Practically, it creates suspense in the scene. However, it has much more meaning than the viewer may initially think. If Meadow was on time then she would be sitting next to Tony in the aisle seat. In other words, she would be obstructing MOG’s clear shot at Tony from outside the bathroom (Chase clearly shows this when MOG walks to the bathroom). Secondly, her lateness gives the excuse for Tony to look up at the door one last time which Chase needs to set up the last shot of blackness from Tony’s POV (as explained earlier). It also serves the purpose of distracting Tony to give MOG an easier shot.

“Man in Members Only Jacket” is the only patron shown approaching the door before the bell rings.

Chase pays a lot of attention to MOG, who in turn pays a lot of attention to Tony:
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The tracking shot setting up MOG’s easy, unobstructed, shot at Tony when he exits the bathroom.
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     Mr. Chase covers all the angles and his POV pattern and Tony’s murder hold up under close scrutiny. There are other Tony POV shots in the scene including numerous Tony POV shots of the songs on the jukebox and Tony POV shots over his shoulder when A.J. talks in the frame (the point-of-view taken over the shoulder of a character who remains visible on the screen is another traditional POV shot in film).

Chase reinforces that we are seeing things from Tony’s POV by using separate POV shots of Carmela and A.J. walking towards his table.  Tony’s eyes follow them as they come toward him.  Carmela walks screen left as she enters from the front door and, in Tony’s second POV shot of Carmela, is shot at an angle  illustrating Tony looking at her slightly to his left as she walks past the desserts.   The second Tony POV shot of A.J. has him already much closer to Tony’s table at an angle illustrating Tony looking at him to his right.  Since Tony’s straight ahead view is to the door (established by the early “jump cut” when Tony walks into Holsten’s and the subsequent close ups of Tony looking straight ahead when Tony hears the bell ring), the camera must move at an angle to illustrate that Tony continues to follow them as they approach him (Carmela and A.J. cannot continue to walk straight towards Tony to reach him as they would have to walk directly through the tables in front of Tony). These shots occur after (4) and (5) respectively and are among the numerous Tony POV shots in the final scene. However, as discussed earlier, of most importance in the scene is that when Tony hears the bell ring, Chase always uses the traditional technique to establish the Tony POV shot: after Tony looks up at the door, Chase always cuts to the same shot of someone entering in a clearly subjective “tunnel vision” (from a character’s eyes) shot. This is done four times prior to the final bell ring thus creating the pattern that suggests that the black screen is Tony’s final POV (as laid out earlier in this piece). Also of note is that POV shots are usually not 100% subjective (as clearly we would see some of the tables block Tony’s vision if they were). Here is another important point about POV shots (once again from Wikipedia):

“A POV shot need not be the strict point-of-view of an actual single character in a film. It makes little sense to say that a shot is “inherently” POV; it is the editing of the POV shot within a sequence of shots that determines POV”.

The geography of the diner set up by Tony’s first POV shot and the “jump cut” to Tony sitting (*The two shots also illustrate that Meadow will have a clear view of her father’s murder):



Tony POV shots of the jukebox:



Further Tony POV shots as he watches Carmella approach to his left:


Tony POV shots of AJ as he approaches to Tony’s right:

Chase also deliberately differentiates when we are not seeing things from Tony’s POV to reinforce when we are seeing things from Tony’s POV. Chase shows us a shot of two young black men by the front door looking at the desserts. This shot is not from Tony’s POV (and the door opening behind the men is somebody exiting the diner)as the bell is not heard and Tony is shown looking down at his menu just before and just after this shot. More importantly, the black men are shown at a different angle and are clearly, and deliberately, shot from a camera that is low to the floor; here Chase is differentiating the Tony POV shot from a regular third-person shot. Chase also uses sound to tie the viewer to Tony’s POV. Tony twice takes notice of MOG as he walks past Tony’s table. However, Tony then returns his attention to his menu. The next scene is the black men looking at the desserts by the door as it appears they just entered Holsten’s. The editing suggests that they entered as MOG was walking past Tony’s table. This explains why Tony (nor we) did not hear the bell ring when they entered the diner as Tony had turned his attention to MOG. Furthermore, Chase shows us a full shot of a teenage couple at a table. The second time they’re shown, Chase increases the volume so that we hear them laughing. At the exact moment they laugh, a muffled sound of what appears be a bell is heard. The very next shot is the second close up of MOG staring in Tony’s direction with the door closing in the background (which may confirm that the bell did ring). The next shot shows Tony looking down. Apparently, if the couple did not laugh, Tony (and us) would have heard the bell and looked up. Had Tony looked up at that moment, he would have seen MOG staring right at him, a delicious irony that could only be orchestrated by David Chase and also illustrates how Tony is able to get hit. The bell is only clearly heard during the Tony POV pattern (besides when Tony walks into the diner himself). There are two background shots of the door opening. However, these shots are never shown from Tony’s POV and only show patrons exiting Holsten’s. The first is when the door opens behind MOG as he stares at Tony for the second time (clearly not the standard Tony POV shot and, as explained previously, follows a second or two after the young couple laugh). The second shot is a patron, only slightly opening the door, (which may explain why the bell is not heard) exiting Holsten’s behind the black men (not a Tony POV shot as explained earlier in the paragraph). Furthermore, Carmela and A.J. are shown looking down at their menus just before Tony looks up for the last time. Here Chase is relaying to the viewer that Carmela and A.J. have no chance to warn Tony when MOG comes out of the bathroom.

Connecting Tony’s POV with the viewer through sound: In the next 5 shots (in sequence) Tony looks up at MOG as he passes the table. It appears Tony was distracted while the black guys enter which explains why the bell isn’t heard when they enter the diner. The scene also refutes the “Tony is paranoid and eyeing everyone” theory about the ending (discussed later in Part I):

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The very last shot of Carm and AJ, they’re looking down. No chance to warn Tony:

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We then cut to Tony looking up (the bell is heard) for the last time:

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      A closer look at the scene reveals exactly how Tony is able to get hit and dispels the other most popular theory about the ending: that the scene represents Tony’s paranoia and how he will have to live the rest of his life. The scene actually suggests the exact opposite, that Tony is too relaxed and too comfortable. First, Tony takes a table in the middle of the restaurant, leaving his back exposed, which sets up “Man in Members Only Jacket’s” easy kill from behind. Tony looks up when the bell rings not because he is overly wary, but because he is expecting his family.Tony goes right back to scanning the songs on the jukebox after the first woman enters and after “trucker in USA cap” enters. In fact, “trucker in USA cap” lingers by the door (perhaps checking the desserts) but the next shot shows Tony simply returning his attention to the jukebox.  The direction and editing clearly establish that most of the other full shots of the patrons are third-person shots suggesting that the patrons are not meant to be seen by Tony. There is one full shot of “trucker in USA cap” stirring his coffee and reading his paper (he does not look dangerous or interested in Tony or anybody else in the diner). He is never shown looking in Tony’s direction and is never seen again after this shot.  More importantly, Tony is never shown looking at him.   The shot of “trucker in USA cap” stirring his coffee is directly in between shots of Tony looking down.  Thus Tony cannot be “eyeing” him (further refuting the “Tony’s paranoid” theory).   Tony is not “eyeing” the gray haired man with the boy scouts because they are seen behind Tony’s left shoulder and Tony is never shown turning around to see them. The laughing teenage couple are in front of Tony to his left as they are seen behind Carmela’s right shoulder.  The couple is never shown looking at Tony or vice versa.  Besides, the gray haired man with the boy scouts and teenage couple in love cannot be seriously considered threats to Tony. Tony is not, either literally or symbolically, “looking over his shoulder,” as many fans believe.     

    Chase’s editing in the scene, and his direction of “Man in Members Only Jacket” and Tony, further proves this point.  “Man in Members Only Jacket” enters with A.J. directly behind him. Consequently, Tony’s eyes will naturally focus on A.J. without taking notice of MOG. In the next shot after they enter the diner, Chase confirms where Tony’s attention is as he is shown in close up smiling as he sees his son. “Man in Members Only Jacket” has not registered with Tony. However, he has registered with us because he is the only patron seen outside of the door before the bell rings and because he enters in front of A.J. The first full shot of “Man in Members Only Jacket” looking at Tony comes immediately after Tony is looking down while he grabs A.J.’s hand. Just after MOG’s first look at Tony, Chase does not cut to Tony seeing him. Instead, Chase cuts to a medium shot over Tony’s shoulder (suggesting Tony’s POV) of A.J. checking out the menu while “Man in Members Only Jacket” is seen in the background out of focus in the middle of the frame. This exact same shot is repeated several times when A.J. speaks and MOG always lingers at his stool directly in Tony’s point of view, but he apparently never registers to Tony as he talks to A.J. (MOG is kept out of focus to further reinforce this point). “Man in Members Only Jacket” looks over again, and Chase cuts to Tony looking down at his menu. Again, “Man in Members Only Jacket” does not register with Tony. Chase has at least six shots of Tony (with only his face in the frame) looking down at his menu (you would think Tony was studying scripture!!). This does not include multiple shots of Tony looking down at his menu in shots that also include Carmela and A.J. The directing and editing in the scene emphatically establish that Tony is not paying enough attention. There are multiple shots of Tony smiling and his expressions are of happiness, not paranoia. Finally, there is a full shot of “Man in Members Only Jacket” getting up from his stool. He walks towards Tony’s table and Tony finally looks up at him but then quickly returns his attention to his menu as MOG heads towards the bathroom behind Tony. Tony then does a quick glance at MOG behind him as he is about to enter the bathroom but then goes right back to looking at his menu. The very next shot is the two young African American men looking at some desserts which then cuts to Tony looking down at his menu. Tony never sees them, once again dispelling the myth that Tony is eying everybody and is paranoid. The editing suggests the exact opposite. Chase has given the audience more information than Tony has: Tony is not aware MOG looked twice in his direction before he got up to go to the bathroom. If Tony knew this, would he so easily return to looking at his menu after MOG enters the bathroom? The scene suggests exactly how a normally wary Tony is able to get hit. The “Tony’s paranoid” theory is a fallacy, it is actually the viewer who is paranoid because of all third person shots of the other patrons and MOG staring at Tony. Furthermore, for the viewer, this is the final scene ever; for Tony, he’s just having dinner with his family. Consequently, the viewer is projecting their feelings onto Tony when the evidence in the scene itself essentially shows a relaxed Tony. Even Chase’s words seem to rebut the “Tony’s paranoid” theory. Chase in the “HBO Ultimate Edition Sopranos” book says he had the idea for the ending for years and further states:

“As I recall [the end], it was just that Tony and his family would be in a diner having dinner and a guy would come in. Pretty much what you saw.”
    
     Chase’s words suggest one threat, not numerous threats symbolizing Tony’s paranoia.*

*[As will be discussed in Part 2: What does Tony's death mean?, the most significant thematic point that Chase was making was that Tony lost everything that truly meant something to him when he was killed.  In setting up that thematic point, Chase shows Tony having a rare, happy moment with his family.  Tony being "paranoid" or ill at ease would have completely undermined the ultimate point of the scene].

These three shots in sequence reveal that Tony never sees MOG staring at him. The over the shoulder shot (shot #3) shows MOG staring in the background, yet he is out of focus suggesting Tony doesn’t see him:



MOG looks over again and Chase cuts to Tony smiling and looking down:

        
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1,981 Responses to “Page 1”

  1. Lance Strate Says:

    Excellent work, thorough analysis, well reasoned, and as you know, I agree with you on the conclusion that Tony did die in the end. While my own interpretation differs, in that I think the last episode was all a dream and that this death came while sleeping in the safe house following the end of the next to last episode, Chase clearly set up an open text allowing for multiple readings, and yours is certainly quite valid. All roads lead to Rome, so to speak, and all signs point to finality.

  2. Drew Says:

    Very well done. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, especially the symbology of holsten’s. One more proofread to catch the grammar/punctuation gaffes and this piece would be perfect

  3. tim Says:

    Very comprehensive. I hadn’t noticed the editing pattern, but knew that bell wasn’t ringing just for the heck of it….

    Question: typo or secret reason why “Members Only Jacket” gets abbreviated MOG instead of MOJ?

  4. masterofsopranos Says:

    “MOG”=Member’s Only Guy. You’re right though, it is a little confusing.

  5. tim Says:

    Of course it does. And now I shall enroll myself in Remedial Acronyming 101.
    :-)

  6. mondov Says:

    Wrong Answer. The final minutes of the episode are the key, but one needn’t read anything complicated into it. It is all subjective from Tony’s viewpoint. We, as the viewer, are allowed to live inside of the head of Tony Soprano. We are seeing what it is like knowing you or your loved ones might be killed at any moment. Everyone in the bar no matter how innocent they appear, could be an assasin. Are they looking side to side becuase they are waiting for the window of oppotunity to take him out, or is it just that they heard the air come on? Every moment his daughter is late, could be just that she had trouble finding a parking place, or she may have been whacked. This is the life of Tony.

  7. Eric Says:

    You miss the meaning of the POV. It is FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of the CHARACTER, not the viewer. Thus, if the final shot is anyone’s POV, it is Carmella’s.

    More to the point, though, Chase is whacking we, the viewers. Thus WE die (in a metaphorical sense) from the ongoing arcs of the story. Is it so hard to understand this vastly simpler and more straightforward explanation?

    End of story.

  8. Michael Whalen Says:

    Excellent, very convincing analysis.

    To really understand The Ending of The Sopranos, however, we must first acknowledge that there are in fact several endings, & that the final diner scene is just the last of many curtains being drawn on this sprawling saga.

    I think that Christopher’s murder and Tony’s triumphant proclamation of “I get it!” brings many things to a close. His trip through therapy and the hope of some enlightenment ends at that haunting moment in the desert. He is so deluded and spiritually vacant at that point, it’s clear the emotional/psychological journey he began ends here.

    That scene also bring the long awaited punch line to season 6, which could be described as “Tony get shot by his uncle, and kills his nephew.”

    We’ve been waiting for the answer to the question “How does Tony ultimately respond to the shooting?” We get our answer when he becomes for Christopher what HIS uncle was for him.

    “Blue Comet” ends with what many saw as a cliffhanger – Tony in bed with a big machine gun, waiting for his enemies, but I think it too was another curtain being drawn on the story.

    We are meant to ask “What is Tony’s reaction to this disaster (Bobby & Silvio shot)?” The answer? He goes to sleep. He has achieved the emotional numbness that is the only answer to his emotional problems. He will not change, so it is a victory in a way for Tony that he can endure the last pillars being kicked out from under his little NJ empire without panic, or despair, or any real feeling whatsoever.

    Notice that at this point, as “Blue Comet” ends, even Dr. Melfi has gotten off this ride. Only we stick around for one more episode, just because we have to see what, if anything, can happen now.

    I’ll leave “Made in America” to be discussed by others, but I want to point out the social commentary involved in Tony pulling himself out of his tailspin by employing his “war on terror” card, still stashed up his sleeve.

    It’s agent Grasso, and Tony’s terrorist tip, that does Phil in and solves Tony’s Phil problem.

  9. Mark Says:

    this was a gift. as someone who cannot read enough about the Sopranos and especially about the ending, i am so thankful you took the time to do this. what i truly found to be a treasure in this piece, and the most convincing argument, was your breakdown of the final scene on filmmaking level. most people never notice the little camera positions and editing tricks that directors put so much stock into to tell their story. i never considered the bell/POV scenario but as soon as you mentioned it, i was hooked. in my opinion, that alone validated everything in your essay that followed and made so much sense i can’t believe i hadn’t noticed it. thank you again for doing this and for giving me another enjoyable moment with the sopranos.

    on a related note, i recommend reading Walter Murch’s similar essay in the Youth Without Youth issue of Coppola’s All-Story magazine. it de-constructs the editing and angles of the Godfather II Michael/Hyman Roth scene in Roth’s den. Unbelievable the amount of detail and attention paid to a simple two-person conversation, especially considering that 99% of the public will never consciously comprehend the intentions.

  10. Gawdfather Says:

    Well-reasoned and argued, but will all fall apart when a Sopranos movie is announced.

    That’s the real beauty of the ending. It can lead to the massive pixel-spill of words above, while at the same time allowing for the possibility of a huge payday from a movie studio if David Chase is of a mind to. Chase can simply say, “I never said Tony died, never showed Tony dead, and if some of the audience interpreted it that way, well…that’s on them.”

  11. masterofsopranos Says:

    Micheal Whalen,

    That was a great post. Please elaborate on the “multiple endings”.

    Mark,

    You’re welcome. I know the more casual Sopranos fan will never read the piece because it’s huge. However, for passionate Sopranos fans, an in-depth discussion of the show can never be long enough. The piece is ultimately a tribute to David Chase and his artistry and sheer guts for doing things his own way.

  12. hushpuppy2nj Says:

    All I can truely say in one word….BRILLANT!!!! You are as brillant in your analyzation as Chase was for the ending.
    Thank you so much, it was such an enjoyable read!

  13. Lord Running Clam Says:

    You’ve convinced me. Up till now, I believed Tony lived through an uneventful night at Holsten’s and that Chase was setting us up for a 7th season we would never see: What will happen at Tony’s trial? How will Tony handle having Patsy as a brother-in-law? Is A.J. primed to become a pyromniacal arsonist? Now I realize he was setting us up for a seventh season Tony would never see.

    I’m chagrined to realize that the main reason I leaned toward this reading was because I “loved” Tony too much to want him to die. It’s a testament to Chase and Gandolfini that they could imbue a sociopathic monster with so much humanity that I (and many viewers) were willing to “forgive” his incalculable evil.

    One more thing: my brother points out that the orange cat who stares at Christopher’s picture is Adriana reincarnated. Considering how much the show pushed her feline qualities (leopard print everything), it fits. Also, of all the deaths Tony is responsible for, hers hit the hardest.

  14. David Says:

    You’ve left out an important piece of the “Tony was distracted” puzzle, that’s right there in the dialog… A.J. says to him, “Focus on the good times.” Tony chides him for being sarcastic, but A.J. presses the point by saying “Isn’t that what you’re always telling me?”

    But throughout the series, when Tony focuses on the “good times” he ends up vulnerable (his happiness at having Tony Bludetto back, his near-dalliance with Adriana, his encounter with Juliana, etc.). That night in Holsten’s with his family by his side, is precious to Tony. That’s what he’s “focusing” on, and as a result he let his guard down for one moment, and paid the ultimate price.

  15. D. DeCesare Says:

    YA GOT ME!

  16. The Hypnotaod Says:

    One theory i have is that AJ’s girlfriend was the one who ratted on where Tony would be that night. Remember when her and AJ are on the couch watching the politicions doing silly dances, Carmella comes in and says that they will be meeting Tony for dinner at that restaurant. You can see the girlfiend look up for a second when she says this. I didn’t pay much attention to this show in the early seasons but wasn’t this girl in previous episodes prior to conveniently meeting AJ at the insane asylum? Maybe she is the key to finding out who murdered Tony, she might have told someone where Tony would be that night. Because i don’t think they would have some random guy kill Tony for a random reason. I mean, the entire series was about people trying to come at Tony’s family…. do you really think Chase would end the show with one of them being successful and not even say who it was?

  17. Michael Says:

    A very interesting analysis. I have one question regarding the “never see it coming” analysis. The only person within the Sopranos, as I recall, who ever suggests such a thing is Bobby Bacala, when he tells Tony “you probably don’t even hear it when it happens, right?” I find it very interesting that it is Bobby’s own death that gives lie to the “never see it coming” theory. Bobby, though helpless to prevent it, sees his killers approach and hears the shots quite clearly. If Chase really wanted to drive this point home, he either should have had Tony deliver the Bobby line or have Bobby die like Phil did (never seeing it coming).

    Very enjoyable read.

  18. Shane Says:

    Thank you for this exhaustive analysis. Your work strikes quite a compelling balance between specific elements present in the episodes and broader themes explored throughout the course of the series. Delineating all these ideas is clearly an intense progress, and I thank you for spending the enormous amount of time that this must have taken you to produce (from writing and research)

    I had always felt that the shows broader themes of criminality, morality (or lack-thereof), reconciling his two families, and the difference of perspectives (how Tony looks to his family, co-workers, law-enforcement, Melfi, etc) all pointed to Tony’s death being the only logical conclusion.

    Whether your explanation of the end result is lengthy or short. The first season is about Tony exploring his own inability to lead two “family” lives that are inherently incompatible. However, he rationalizes to himself (and Dr. Melfi), that he reason he does all these terrible criminal things is FOR HIS FAMILY.

    In the beginning of the 6th and final season, Tony is given the wake-up call he has prophesied himself so often in earlier episodes: that a gangster’s life never ends pretty. None of them do: by the final episode, which characters survive? Nearly every character introduced in season 1 is dead… and most characters introduced in latter seasons have also died. Tony has very few left to kill, and no real friends left alive (after conflicts with Heshe and Paulie left those friendships damaged). Tony shoudn’t still be here, but he is. And instead of enjoying everyday, smelling the roses, etc. He (as many of us do) ignores the gift and epiphany he has been given, and becomes a morally corrupt degenerate again. No longer MUST Tony be involved in crime for his family… he just does it because that’s what he does.

    I loved how you tied the final episode in with the beginning of the sixth season. I believe that link holds the key: Tony’s death could/should/would be at the start of the season, but he is given a reprieve. The coma (as you eloquently dissected) gave Tony his path to redemption; everything he needed to make sure that he wouldn’t put his family through that experience again. But he grows more ruthless and callous as season 6 continues, until Tony has nothing left to savour. He no longer enjoys (or remembers) the moments he treasured at the end of season 1… so long ago in the past… “when things were good”

  19. bchurch Says:

    I think you’re basically right but reading way too much into things further down in your analysis.

    Assuming Tony has died at the end, Chase would have better conveyed it by actually showing a half second or so of Meadow coming in from Tony’s POV and then cutting out. Just my opinion.

  20. masterofsopranos Says:

    Shane,
    Well said. We’re on the exact same wavelength.

    Michael,
    Think about it the other way. What if Bacala didn’t see his killers or didn’t hear it coming? The flashback would lose its effectiveness as a major “indication of the end” (as Chase likes to say) because it would just be seen as a remembrance of Bobby and the nature of his death. Think about what the fervent believers that Tony lived would say if the scene had unfolded that way, they would say “it wasn’t a clue to Tony’s fate but just a remembrance of the exact way Bacala died”. Chase HAS to kill Bobby the way he did to reinforce the flashback as a clue to clear up the ambiguity of the final scene. As stated in the piece, there are enough other “never hear it” moments to get the point across.

    David,
    Great point. Tony’s distracted by one “family” to be killed by another.

  21. John Says:

    Superb analysis. On the point about American distraction, basking in our luxuries and losing sight of the things around us, as Tony does with his family and his early season 6 “reprieve”: it’s interesting to me that the final scene comes immediately after the visit to Uncle Junior, whose memory lapse shows how easily something that really comprises the proper core of someone’s life can disappear because they forget it or ignore it. We’ve been following Tony’s perspective for six seasons, entering his moral universe and rooting for him in enterprises we know are simply wrong, ignoring the cruelties he perpetrates on his family and colleagues. He’s forgotten the real order of things, just like Junior has–and now he’s paying for it.

  22. the puzzled ibex Says:

    this is really a masterful analysis and i’m grateful i found it. thank you. i’ve put a lot of work into analyzing sopranos because it is so rich in detail and meaning, but have had trouble finding any serious, detailed commentary on it.

    i can’t add anything to what you’ve written here, but have two related thoughts. one, it was clear to me (as to many others) for years that david chase despised most of his fans, which was appropriate. here he is, the modern equivalent of michaelangelo on his back painting the sistine chapel ceiling (yes, i’m serious), and as thanks he gets hordes of idiots begging him for more whackings, oblivious to the meaning of what was going on. my initial reaction to the final scene was that it was chase whacking his cretinous fan base (well…my first reaction was that my dvr switched over to another program 10 seconds too soon).

    you touch on this and acknowledge it, but the full account of the scorn and contempt chase held for his doltish fans has yet to be written. but a key theme throughout the series, as most thoughtful viewers knew at the time, was this toying with the audience, getting it to identify with and even love tony and his “family,” and at the same time showing them for who they truly were, which is a bunch of fat f*****g sociopaths and morons. the constant malapropisms, in addition to being really funny, serve the purpose of reminding us that no high ideals or values are at play here, and that for the most part, gangsters are not terribly bright and totally unworthy of admiration except as merely human beings.

    the second thought simply is that this really is a work of art, as detailed and pregnant with meaning as history’s best sculptures or paintings. it’s often the case that in trying to figure out a painting, for example, history decodes meanings that aren’t really there. but that’s the whole point, right? not only is it imperative to understand art, but good art isn’t easy to fully decipher.

    chase was faithful to the first question asked in the first episode, which is: is tony soprano capable of change? as is the case with most of us, sadly, the answer was: no.

  23. Lord Running Clam Says:

    Tagline from the first season: “If one family doesn’t kill him the other will” or words to hat effect.

  24. masterofsopranos Says:

    puzzled ibex,

    I love the sistine chapel reference. “Sopranos” is truly one of the great works of art in history.

    You’re correct. What other work of great art has such a varied fan base? From the “all I want is whacking” WWE crowd to the most pretentious intellectual scholars. By the end of the show Chase seemed to lose all respect for the fans. He continued to make Tony more despicable as many fans continued to cheer him on. I do think there is an hypocrisy there, Chase became rich partly because of the violence of the show. In the end though he trusted that the real fans could think and gave us an ending that forced us to look back and recognize what the show has always has been about. I can imagine he has a smile on his face thinking most of his fans think Tony made it out of the show alive.

  25. Michael Whalen Says:

    It’s instructive to take a big step back from the diner scene in order to see it.

    Over the course of the series, what story has been told? The rise and fall of the gangster. The genre has always told this story, from Cagney to Henry Hill. The gangster rises to the heights of power, and then falls.

    Blue Comet (the 2nd to last episode) brings this story to a conclusion. Phil & New York finally crossing the Hudson River and kicking the last legs out from under the Soprano crew completes this story – Tony may live or die, but he is now in permanent decline. Just like the Corleone’s rise to power mirrored the rise of post-war America, Tony’s decent into permanent decline mirrors America’s post 9/11 post Iraq fall from assumed dominance.

    After the big fall – which Tony, now comfortably numb, is able to take in stride – there remains just one final episode. Why? Becuase the rise and fall of the gangster is not the real story here.

    Tony & his family find themselves in that diner with a paradox – their enemies are smoked, but they’ve never seemed in so much danger. The terrible danger from Members Only Guy is unlike anything the series has given us before. The whole FAMILY could be killed right here! They may not be, but basically they are in free-fall. The course of the series dramatized the choices they made to arrive at this terrible point.

    That’s the story of the series. Life. Not the rise and fall of the gangster, but life. Every small choice they made throught out the series has led them to this. Every moment of life, ultimately, leads somewhere. Life is always happeing. It’s happening right now. If you died right here, would you get to see your daughter first, or will she still be parking that car?

    Chase cuts these people no slack, but he has great empathy for them. They are not unlike us. Life is choices, yes, but it’s made up of so many small ones it’s hard to even realize what you are REALLY choosing. We’ve seen these people live their daily lives in excruciating detail, and we understand that they didn’t choose this fate from a menu, it just seemed to happen that way.

    But that’s way too much live with every day. Who could? So don’t think about your choices. Everything will turn out fine. Eat your onion rings. Double down on your loosing bets. Ignore the danger behind you. Don’t stop believing.

  26. Michael Whalen Says:

    I think there are potentially more interesting things going on in this scene beyond the question of “Does Tony die?” I think the possibility that he COULD die puts everything in an important context.
    Turns out I got more to say here.

    Another way of looking at this scene is to marvel at the choices that characters had to make to end up here in this diner together. Carmela is, in the hard cold truth of it, an incredibly reckless woman. By her choices (chronicled in the series) she has chosen to ride “the midnight train going anywhere” which she knows leads possibly to prison, or murder, any God knows what. She is making the choice to sit here in this diner. Her whole family could be killed together, right here, and that’s a choice she made.

    Chase invites us to marvel as her and think how we watched her end up here.

    Another angle, the filmmakers self-deprecation. The lyrics to the song: “Working hard to get my fill, everybody wants a thrill. Paying anything to roll the dice, Just one more time…”

    The “trill” referes to the famous “Sopranos” ability to hold us in suspense. Those “OMYGOD, someone’s gonna die?” moments the show was always filled with. After 6 seasons, are they going to give a “thrill” “one more time?”

    The Members Only Guy walks past Tony is what feels like slow motion. We hold our breath. Nothing happens, but wasn’t that a great thrill? Just like most of “The Sopranos,” when we thought there would be violence, nothing happened. The lyrics here are the filmmakers referencing their own device, and thrilling us with it one more time.

    The lyrics also refer to Carmela and Tony “rolling the dice, one more time.” Prison looms in Tony’s future, but they are gonna bet that it won’t happen. And of course they are rolling the dice this time with their son. Surely legal troubles will be in his future at some point.

    One more point. Tony’s “I GET IT” moment in the desert stands in stark contrast to another character who has an “I GET IT” moment of reflection and spiritual enlightmenment. Bobby’s moment at the lake house with his daughter at the end of “Soprano Home Movies” (“this magic moment, so different and so new, will last forever…”)

    We are meant to remeber that moment when Tony has his. It is Chase way of putting the true vacant quality in Tony’s revelation in context.

  27. the puzzled ibex Says:

    one last thought i forgot to get out. tony obviously was a sociopath (albeit one we could empathize with). so the show and the ending deal largely with him, and with that. but it is also a metaphor for life as seen by david chase, who i know from interviews has the same dour and tragic sense of dread about life that i do: nothing lasts forever, there are no fairy tales at the end, and all of us – all of us – have at least one very, very bad day coming up. we don’t know what exactly it will entail, but there’s a good chance it involves pain and blood.

    tony sitting at holstein’s with his family – trying to have a good time, genuinely enjoying the little things, trying to put that knowledge of unavoidable doom out of his head. to a certain extent, the procrastination of impossible change and the useful state of denial about what it means – these things apply to all of us. that’s the best we can do in life, even those of us who are not fat fucking crooks. focus on the positive, enjoy the little things, and try to stop thinking about the bad day coming up.

  28. Martin Says:

    nice read.

  29. masterofsopranos Says:

    Also, just wanted to add this great post from “Gary” about Seven Souls that he posted as a comment in the wrong section:

    You touch briefly on the seven souls narrative at the beginning of the episode Members Only. There’s more there. Mainly, the narrative is focused on the 7 souls that depart your body at the “moment of death”. The montage features Vito, Eugene, Meadow, Ray Curto, AJ, Adriana and Carmela as these souls. Notably, Meadow is the guardian angel (you quite succinctly explain why she is Tony’s guardian angel), AJ is the double (Tony’s double) and Carmela is the remains (his wife). Tony is never shown during this sequence, but is the first character shown when it does conclude. The narration is setting us up for Tony’s death.

    I agree. I didn’t include a real analysis of Seven Souls b/c this thing is long enough and I didn’t want to get so abstract. I do like your explanation.

  30. Rlangg Says:

    Is the end of this essay “Part VII ‘The Public Enemy and Goodfella’s influence…'”? The paragraph ends:

    David Chase is well documented fan of Martin Scorcese and his mafia film “Goodfellas”. In a scene in the film mobster Henry Hill is surprised by the police behind him telling him to “freeze”. Henry then says in a voiceover “For a second I thought I was dead, but when I heard all the noise, I knew they were cops, only cops talk that way. If they had been wiseguys, I wouldn’t have heard a thing. I would have been dead.” Just like Tony Soprano.

    Is that the end of the essay? Or am I distracted?

    What I have read is wonderful (except the grammer (it’s caught my attention)) and convincing. Just great.

  31. Bully Jones Says:

    One thing I want to mention is that I didn’t want Tony to die because I knew that would be the end of the series. Not because I thought he was some kind of hero. Tony Soprano dispelled any thoughts like that, for me at least, early in the first season.

  32. Robert Says:

    great read for a sunday morning, i’m convinced but remain open minded to further interpretation that is as well researched and presented as yours.

  33. Linking and Driving, Without the Driving: Sunday Linkdump | Semantic Drift Says:

    The Sopranos: Definitive Explanation of “The END” and I do mean definitive. Theres a lot of text here, but the author makes some really good points about the ambiguous and frustrating ending to an awesome show.

  34. Dead or Alive • Jessica Alfieri Says:

    From the exhaustive analysis of the Sopranos finale, The Definitive Explanation of the End, which is also an exhausting endeavor to read (even for a hardcore Sopranos fan),

    The POV pattern [established in Hosten's Diner in the final episode] caused the viewer to expect to see who was coming through the door from Tony’s POV. When the bell rang, Tony looked up. Our brains were conditioned by Chase to think that we were going to see Meadow . In a sense this was a Pavlovian type response. The fact that so many thought the last shot was Meadow is a tribute to David Chase and how effective his POV pattern really was.

    It isn’t really Pavlovian, though, because that’s a matter of overt conditioning. The more precise description for what happened there takes us back to probabilistic prediction.

    This is how the brain works – show it something and it’ll create a pattern. Sopranos-watching brains followed the POV pattern, remembered it, and made the prediction that Meadow was walking through the door. When she didn’t, many of us noticed a striking dissonance. The rest of us just filled in the missing information and “saw” her as they thought they were going to.

    From Jeff Hawkins’ On Intelligence,

    When you listen to a familiar melody, you hear the next note in your head before it occurs. When you listen to a favorite album, you hear the beginning of each next song a couple of seconds before it starts. What’s happening? Neurons in your brain that will fire when you hear that next note fire in advance of your actually hearing it, and so you “hear” the song in your head. The neurons fire in response to memory.

    When listening to people speak, you often know what they’re going to say before they’ve finished speaking – or at least you think you know! Sometimes we don’t even listen to what the speaker actually says and instead hear what we expect to hear. [...] Of course, we don’t always know all the time what others are going to say. Prediction is not always exact. [...] Sometimes we know exactly what is going to happen, other times our expectations are distributed among several possibilities.

    And that last sentence can pretty neatly be applied to the many varied interpretations of what exactly happened in the conclusion of the Sopranos. However, I’m with “Master of Sopranos”. Tony’s dead.

  35. Sean Says:

    I disagree that Tony was killed. I think the ending puts us in Tony’s head, as others mentioned, and in his head we see that he lives perpetually in a sort of controlled paranoia…a control which he loses at times, hence his panic attacks.

    I think the ending was a metaphor that despite having to hide out and live in fear of the NY Mob, despite the potential to lose what he really loves (family), he will never change. This is Tony, take it or leave it, not a hero nor an anti-hero, but rather a flawed individual who chooses a path that most others would never take.

    My main disagreement with the ‘Tony got killed’ hypothesis…Chase isn’t that simple. Why would a show ripe with subtext and symbolism setup an ending scene that intentionally makes the viewer uncomfortable, only to have it end in the most predictable way possible? I know, the scene leads the viewer to think he died…and that’s partly why I think he *didn’t* die.

    It represents the bittersweet life Tony leads. Even in the best of times – a simple dinner with family – he’s always on the lookout, always on edge, and unable to fully enjoy it. In a sense he has paid for his success with his life, but not in a literal sense, but rather in a metaphorical sense. The life he leads takes away more than it provides.

  36. The Sopranos - Ajarn Forum - Living and Teaching In Thailand Says:

    Good interpretation of the last scene of the Sopranos here; very long but it makes sense.

  37. Stephen Bro Says:

    from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Members_Only_jacket
    “Their advertising tagline, “when you put it on, something happens”

  38. maggie Says:

    Hm. I’m on board with almost all of it, but it sure sounded to me like he yelled “I did it!” rather than “I get it!” in the desert which, if he was feeling guilty about killing Chris is a totally believable thing to yell – confession in public/private. You sure about your transcription?

  39. tonya bologna Says:

    where do you get the friggin time on your hands to write so extensively about the ending? it would be clear if chase wanted us to know. just as death would be a clear clean mark if the universe wanted us to know anything. mystery is good for its own sake. let them shits alone for fuckssake …..A+++ for effort though….gabbagoul to yous.

  40. fuhgettaboutit Says:

    Great job. You have done justice to an incredibly complex, dense, and multi-layered work of cinematic art. I wish the dipshit commenters wouldn’t ignore all of your arguments and simply conclude, “…but I think X because Chase wouldn’t do what he did” or “should’ve done it this way.” Holy shit–one commenter couldn’t even deal with the abrupt end of the essay, even after 120 screens of “whiteout”/silence.

  41. Jimeee Says:

    Excellent analysis. There are some parts that I think are pure conjecture like identifying the people in the diner with people from Tony’s life – but overall great work.

    Why not check out this interactive Sopranos family tree website I did a while back:

    http://www.utopiaplanitia.info/sopranos

  42. The Definitive Sopranos Ending Explanation « Cool Aggregator Says:

    For all of you who were left baffled, outraged, amused, or simply confused by the Sopranos series finale, a fellow WordPress blogger has broken it down for us — in what just might be the definitive explanation for the ending outside of David Chase (who’s not talking — well, at least not to us):

    What follows is a painstaking analysis of the last scene shot-by-shot (pun intended). Then the blogger analyzes the symbolism, bringing in references to other episodes in the series as well as 911 and the Kennedy assassination.

    Will the post “The Sopranos: Definitive Explanation of THE END” put all speculation regarding this controversial episode at rest?

  43. luther Says:

    “You miss the meaning of the POV. It is FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of the CHARACTER, not the viewer. Thus, if the final shot is anyone’s POV, it is Carmella’s. ”

    This makes no sense. He takes great pains to show us how Tony is looking up at the door every time the bell rings, not Carmela – in fact, her back is to the door so she can’t see what Tony sees. The point is that Tony’s POV is blackness because it’s all over for him. And he didn’t even see it coming.

    I, too, used to think it was a look inside Tony’s paranoid head that Chase was showing us – but, as this excellent essay points out, Tony doesn’t seem bothered at all. It’s us, the viewer, who is on edge because we know it’s the last scene – Tony seems oblivious to any possible danger.

  44. Kid Charlemagne Says:

    An interesting and plausible analysis, but I’m willing to think that ambiguity must be allowed for, and that while the symbols and claustrophobia of the scene are portents of Tony’s future, it might not be an immediate one! The clear focus on the man in the Members Only jacket and his mimicking of Michael Corleone’s trip to the bathroom (prefigured in the coma sequence – “This is it”) seem to be almost too unsubtle for this to be a conclusive reading, more like devices leading towards a resolution we’re not allowed to take comfort in. And I think the quote from David Chase makes it clear that it’s not really important whether this is the last supper; some version of it probably will be. The scene can be interpreted less literally: no matter what happens, the Soprano family, and the rest of America, go on with their unthinking, guilt-free, mercenary life until some act of violence – maybe NOW! – brings an end to their own capsule version of the American Dream. Isn’t that a more ambitious artistic statement than “Tony gets killed”?

    PS Re the Kennedy allusions, there was also Phil Leotardo’s comment in Series 5 episode on Tony S.’s claim that Tony B. was acting alone: “The lone gunman theory…”

  45. still wondering Says:

    Great analysis, though ultimately I think the brilliance of Chase’s ending is that it’s still being discussed a year later. (Is anyone still debating the Will & Grace finale?) The clues, foreshadowing, flashbacks all add up to a hearty puzzle that it’s creator probably intended never be solved. But you’ve made a very strong case.

    One thing you didn’t add was the importance of the Monks in the coma episode. Why Buddhist monks, instead of anyone else (or other religious figures)? Their warning to Tony about the lawsuit continuing can be seen as a reference to the karma that Tony is tempting. Here is Wikipedia’s definition of how karma relates to Buddhism:

    “Karma is thus used as an ethical principle and a cosmological explanation for the world. Buddhists believe that the actions of beings determine their own future, and because of this there are no private actions: all actions have a consequence. The emphasis of karma in Buddhism is on mindful action, not on blaming someone else for whatever happens to oneself.”

    So it would seem that Chase’s deliberate use of monks in this scenario indicates that there will be a consequence for Tony not changing his ways.

  46. Jay Says:

    Actually Tony Soprano is not dead. He has assumed a new alias. He goes by James Gandolfini and claims to be an actor.

  47. Michael Whalen Says:

    Maggie,

    He most definately says “I get it!” Although it is tempting to hear it as “I did it!”

    His triumphant demenor, his almost tearful joy at that moment, and later statements to Dr. Melfi & The Guys that he experienced a profound revalation about life and the universe (“THIS, is not all there is.”) supports this.

    “I did it!” doesn’t actually make any sense, and would be quite irrelevant to the series and the story, and certainly out of character.

    This scene is meant, I believe, to contrast with Bobby’s own moment of reflection on the true meaning of life, when he holds his young daughter in his arms, looking out over the lake at his family’s home.

  48. Michael Whalen Says:

    don’t know why those stupid wink faces keep ending up in my posts. grr.

  49. lovetheSopranos Says:

    I haven’t seen anyone else mention this anywhere – but that orange cat looks like Adriana and always stares at Chris’ picture. Then there’s the tiger over Tony’s shoulder. Tony is responsible for Adriana’s death as well, and that was a bad one. What I usually have to say about the final episode is “The cat is Adriana!” Maybe it’s just me?

    I thought this was a great essay — the breakdown of the final shots esp. and the thorough examination of the coma-trip.

  50. chrisskinr Says:

    Initially I subscribed to the Tony isn’t dead theories, but I now agree with everything you have said. Unbelievable article and presentation of evidence, well done sir. I think, however, that this (amazing) analysis focuses too much on Tony and not enough on us. Tony is undeniably shot on that final note, but one cannot ignore the controversy this cut to black caused in the public eye. As you have beautifully shown us, Chase created a road littered with clues leading up to Tony’s ultimate demise, but he purposefully left out a death scene also because he wanted us to realize something about ourselves. Immaculately done by Chase, the final sequence does unquestionably leave Tony dead, but it also leaves the viewer without an immediately blatant conclusion. Throughout the entire series, Chase has shown us that good and evil can exist in the same body; this case study of the gangster way of life shows us killers and thieves that seemingly do not struggle with murder, but more so with the everyday relationships with their own families and friends. In that final scene, we are shown the character that we have watched so intently for years, the Tony Soprano we wished we could work for or even be, and when we are deprived of viewing his death, we are outraged. We are left bloodthirsty for bullets and brain matter. Perhaps in the end, as Tony sits there with his family, Chase leaves us with nothing but the human side of his fictional monster, and the real monsters inside all of us.

  51. Anton Chigurh Says:

    What can I say? You’ve written a masterpiece of analysis. Well done! Regarding the Sopranos connection to the Iraq War and post 9-11 America, you might want to check out “No Country For Old Men”. Cormac McCarthy has written a post-modern commentary on greed and complacency in America and the Coen Bros movie contains a similar structure to the Sopranos finale (ripe with symbolism and implied events that were not shown on-screen).

  52. masterofsopranos Says:

    “Still wondering”,

    Great point about the Buddhist philosophy and it does tie into the main themes in part II of the essay. I remember reading years back that Chase was reading up on Buddhism right around the time the sixth season started to film.

    Anton,
    I also noticed the connection after I saw “No Country”. “You can’t stop what’s coming” has that inevitability of “never hear it happen”. Both have off-screen deaths of the main protagonist.

    Michael Whalen,
    I had the same problem with the “wink-faces”. I can’t get rid of the one in Part VI. WordPress has some quirks. For instance, a lot of the words in my text came together after I put up the photos.

    Chriskiner,
    Well said. I enjoyed your post.

    Maggie,
    Chase confirmed Tony said “I get it”. Closed captioning will tell you the same.

  53. tim brennan Says:

    Awesome read! made me feel like I was back in film school.

  54. Scott Burton Says:

    Great essay, thought provoking and comprehensive. It’s a very clear illustration.

    I have a problem with this, though, which is central to your premise:

    “Once Tony is dead, there is no show. If Tony was to die it had to be the last moment of the series. The show ends where Tony’s consciousness ends.”

    It relates to the “Chase Wacked The Viewers” fallacy. It’s clear from the very first episode that we are not Tony, we aren’t a “character” in the show, and we are not under the influence of an untrustworthy narrator – these are the traditional techniques that storytellers employ in puzzle films like “Memento” or “Mullholland Drive”.

    Instead, we viewers assume the more familiar role of the Omniscient Third-Party: we see everything we are supposed to see, and know more than any of the characters know. We know that Tony is two-faced and suffering cognitive dissonance. Every pertinent detail of A.J.’s and Meadow’s lives is on display to the viewer. Carmela’s secrets from Tony aren’t secrets to us. The identity of every FBI rat is revealed before they affect action. We’re the first to hear the New York crews plotting against New Jersey, and we know that Vito is gay before anyone else does. We are the first to know that Eugine hangs himself in the basement.

    In many scenes, we see Tony asleep, literally unconscious. We are clearly not sharing his mental space. Even the moments where we do share Tony’s consciousness – “The Test Dream”, the Costa Mesa coma, the peyote hallucination – are rare, far between, and clearly delineated.

    And on top of that, we aren’t tricked by Chase very often, only surprised by shocking head-shot wiseguy hits and the occasional rollover car crash. Every surprise is visually laid out in explicit detail.

    In short, from the very beginning, David Chase has labored to tell us the whole story. Everything is revealed, nothing is hidden. We get the same god’s-eye view that characterizes most literature. We are not inside Tony’s head. His consciousness is not ours.

    Moreover, neither is his point of view ours. We are often shocked by Tony’s actions, and find him inscrutable at times. What makes the show compelling is the contrast between Tony and us.

    Why then, in the show’s final episode, should Chase treat us with a puzzle, when we’ve thus far seen the whole picture with such clarity? This is why I find it incongruous that Chase should break this pattern for a cheap gimmick.

    Of course, it would absolutely fit the theory that Chase isn’t such a master storyteller, and that “Made In America” (perhaps the entire last season) is a real stinker which jeopardizes any claim “The Sopranos” might of had of “Greatest Show In TV History”.

  55. Scott Burton Says:

    I should clear something up, when I wrote “which is central to your premise:”, I refer to your premise that “It is one of the great deaths in cinematic history”, not that Tony is in fact dead. I believe (and you’ve given ample evidence) that Tony’s death is a real possibility. I simply disagree that the 10 seconds of black categorically represent Tony’s death from his point of view, something we’ve never once truly shared.

    I also forgot to mention that I found your explanation of the coma and Vegas trip as bookends to Tony’s moral degradation very insightful. It cleared up all of my misconceptions about these scenes.

    I also want to mention I enjoyed and agree with Michael Whalen’s posts above.

  56. masterofsopranos Says:

    Scott,

    Thanks for that thoughtful and insightful post.

    I agree that Tony is not a narrator and we are rarely literally in his head. However, I don’t think that precludes Chase from orchestrating a shot pattern to suggest we are in Tony’s eyes at the moment of death.

    I think it makes sense because Tony is the central figure of the show. All of the other plot lines effect or inform his character on some level (either thematically or on a narrative level). The opening scene is Tony visiting Dr. Melfi’s office. At that point our (and Tony’s) journey begins. Never has one character been so central to a television drama. Try to imagine the show without Tony. I know I can’t. Anything after Tony’s death would be anti-climatic and expositional.

    Now assume Chase wanted to kill Tony and wanted to do it without “showing” it. He clearly didn’t want to remove us from his death. He wanted us to think and re-visit the past to figure out the ending. More importantly, he wanted us to extract the main themes of the show as a result of that search. How exactly would he do this? I think the POV pattern is a great solution. In a sense he has “showed” us Tony’s death, just not in the way we would expect to see it (through Tony’s eyes).

    It’s interesting that you call it a gimmick. I think any of the other explanations for the abrupt blackout would fit that description. If Chase was just messing with us then that’s as gimmicky as you can get. I also think he failed as a storyteller if the whole point of the blackout was that he was making a comment about storytellers, that they can pull us out of the story at any moment. That viewpoint would be a pure “meta” moment and actually add nothing substantive to the text of the Soprano story. If Chase intended that “life goes on” but we just don’t get to see it then Chase has failed because an abrupt cut to black mid-scene is a sudden interruption, the exact opposite of continuity.

    By putting us in Tony’s eyes at the moment of death, he did something far more impressive. He made us feel it.

    I think it’s perfect and perfectly consistent with the sudden and fragile nature of life in the mafia.

    I understand your hesitancy because Chase always laid things out clearly. I think the single biggest reason for the resistance to the Tony dies interpretation (besides the fact that its not explicitly shown on screen) is that there was nobody with a motive to kill Tony and b/c we never see the plot to kill Tony set into motion. However, I think this misses the point of the show. Chase is more interested in overriding themes and characterizations than in plot mechanics. I think once we hit Holsten’s, narrative convention is thrown out the window and the final scene becomes what the show has always been about thematically and how the 86 previous hours led to that moment. For example, in the same Chase interview that I frequently quoted in the piece, Chase also said that he “just had to get the family to that diner”. This indicates to me that the scene stands on its own, distinct from mechanics of the “plot” of the story. This is why the Nj-NY ended so abruptly and so early in the final episode. Everything is really about that final scene. That is really what Chase has always been concerned with when he conceived the ending 4 years ago. The family can’t be relaxed in a diner out in the open if Phil is still a threat. Chase gave the whack happy fans “Blue Comet”. Now in the final episode he puts that aside to execute his vision for the ending that he laid out so many years before.

    I also should point out that making his death more “clear” would disrupt the vicarious nature of his death and disrupt the effect Chase was going for. The actor who played Agent Harris said the script had MOG coming out of the bathroom and walking towards Tony’s table and THEN the cut to black. The actor who played MOG (who actually owns a pizzeria in Philly) said he returned for a second day of filming where he was filmed coming out of the bathroom. He couldn’t say more due to the contract he signed. I believe Chase did film a shot of MOG coming out of the bathroom toward Tony just before the cut to black. I think Chase decided to cut it b/c it would disrupt the effect of the POV pattern and the “never hear it happen” concept. Tony wouldn’t see MOG behind him so we shouldn’t either. Chase give us just enough to suggest Tony’s death (MOG’s looks at Tony, the geography of the bathroom in relation to Tony, and the POV pattern) without actually showing it. It’s an exercise in minimalism and force us to retrace the show to discover not just the answer, but the meaning behind that answer.

    What else can you ask for in a great work of art?

  57. A Definitive Explanation of the Ending of The Sopranos? » Pop Culture Will Eat Itself Says:

    If you’re anything like me the final moments of The Sopranos still bothers you. A while back I linked to a really good theory about what happened. Well here’s an even more thorough breakdown of the finale, presenting very compelling evidence that the cut to black was Tony dying, having been shot by the guy in the Members Only jacket.

    This explanation works for me. But David Chase still gets a big “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”.

  58. Rivers Are Damp » Blog Archive » Weekend Reading Says:

    Not clear who the author is, but this long essay dissecting the last episode of The Sopranos is pretty darn impressive.  Are you persuaded? 

  59. Mikkel Andersson Says:

    Wonderful analysis. Very impressive, and I agree completely.

    One thing to ponder as to who did it, or rather – as, I agree that MOJ certainly pulled the trigger – who orchestrated the hit on Tony.
    Let’s look as who would be likely to assume the position of boss of the DiMeo-family after Tonys demise. With Tony dead and Silvio in a coma the entire senior leadership is gone. As for the capos all but the jinxed Aprile-crew is de-facto capoless: Gervasi is talking to the FBI, Baccalieri is dead and Larry Barese in jail somewhere for violating the terms of his house arrest and awaiting another RICO-trial there. The obvious person to step up and take the reins would be Paulie – but as stated above “Chase goes out of his way to show us Paulie is not long for this world after being made capo of the jinxed Aprile crew“.

    So, for the sake of argument let’s assume that Paulie also has his “not hear it coming”-moment coming up. Then the crew would solely consist of soldiers. This is a pretty motley crew consisting of minor players in the family: hitmen like Benny Fazio, Walden Belfiore a few others we’ve hardly seen. And then Patsy Parisi as the only senior member of the family still standing. We know that he had some seniority in the family as he was obviously first in line to take over Paulies crew while in prison, and was angry about being passed over in favor of Christopher. As he is also dating the former boss’ dauther certainly wouldn’t bode ill for his position in the family post-Tony. Assuming that Paulie is also whacked, I fail to see who else but Patsy – unlikely a candidate as he may be – would be first in line for what would indeed then only be a “glorified crew”.

    Patsy is a bit interesting. First, Tony had his twin brother killed for being a loudmouth, which led Patsy to take the rather drastic step of going to Tony’s house armed, and obviously with the intention of taking Tony out (though obviously drunk). He however settled for urinating in Tonys pool. And Patsy has repeatedly referred to the death of a twin as something you never recorver from. If you look at the final scene involving him where he is visiting Tony with his wife, he hardly seems pleased with Tonys belitteling attitude. All in all it seems a bit intesting that the Meadow/Patrick Parisi plot is so prominent in the two final episodes, and – that as explained original posting above – Meadow might be pregnant with Patsy’s grandchild. Especially considering that, if we assume Paulie also dies, Patsy is next in line for the boss-seat. Furthermore we can assume that Patsy would be able to get to know the location of the family dinner pretty easily from his son (though this is not necessarily a critical argument in any sense – someone from NY could also have followed anyone from the family there, but still).

    All this is pretty speculative I know, and hardly qualifies as a thesis as such, but it’s a bit interesting to think about. Certainly in regard to motive Patsy seems to be rather well equipped, being both next in line (again assuming Paulie is taken out) and having a serious grudge against Tony which has earlier driven quite close to attempting a hit on him.

  60. Mikkel Andersson Says:

    Oops…

    I wrote, about Patsy:
    As he is also dating the former boss’ dauther…
    It should have been:
    As HIS SON is also dating the former boss’ dauther…

    Sorry bout that.

    Also, I forgot to mention that in Tony’s conversation re: the leadership of the Aprile-crew with Paulie in the final episode, it is actually explicitly made clear that Patsy is second in line after Paulie.

  61. masterofsopranos Says:

    Mikkel,

    Great post.

    Patsy certainly has the motive. There is another interesting scene at Bacala’s funeral where Patsy calls his son Jason away from the table with Aj, Meadow, Bacala Jr. etc. It’s a weird moment. The “other” Jason then gets picked up for selling drugs causing his father Carlo to flip. Later, we have the uncomfortable scene between Tony and Patsy as they sit down for drinks with Meadow, Carm and Patsy’s wife. Tony mentions the “other” Jason again and Patsy’s wife blurts out that she thought her own “jason” wasn’t welcome. There may be a real concern that Patsy thinks his son will be picked up next by the police (as the “2 Jason’s” were always together and probably in on the same crimes). Patsy may be thinking that Tony thinks his Jason will also get busted and that will lead to Patsy flipping. In other words, Patsy may be a dead man. So Patsy (perhaps with the help of Butchie and NY) decides to take out Tony first. It’s plausible and fits with the worlds collide theme (Family and family) as Meadow is engaged to Patsy’s son.

    I think the motive behind the kill is the real “ambiguous” part of the finale. It is more of a peripheral matter (much like the “Russian”) that Chase isn’t really concerned with. Whereas, the ultimate fate of Tony, while Chase did want it to be initially ambiguous, would certainly not be something Chase would leave hanging.

    I do find it interesting that Chase includes those weird Patsy moments. I also find it interesting that he doesn’t have Butchie specifically give the location of Phil. Like I said, Chase gave us little crumbs to ponder an answer we certainly can’t know for sure. Maybe he just did it to remind us that there is always a motive to kill Tony.

  62. From Around the Web: Worth a Look « Vox Nova Says:

    For fans of the Sopranos, a definitive and I think convincing case that Tony is dead.

  63. pmanley Says:

    Excellent work. Thought I’d add a couple of things:

    -To go along with your comment above about the “weird” Patsy moments. In season 3 Patsy shows up in Tony’s backyard looking for revenge on Tony for the death of his twin brother, but has a change of heart and pisses in the pool instead (http://youtube.com/watch?v=v_8nvr7Qh2I). Some of that could still be lingering in the last season and could further his decision to take out Tony.

    -I just noticed this while watching season 6 recently. A lot has been made about Meadow’s parking in the last scene and how it “builds the suspense.” I always thought that it went along with the idea of “3 strikes and I’m out” that Tony references to Dr. Melfi after he’s out of the hospital. The two failed attempts on his life are much like the two failed attempts when Meadow parks. However, she gets it right on the third try, hinting that the hitman will “get it right” on the third try, thus resulting in Tony’s demise.

    This seems to be referenced earlier in 6A during “Mr. and Mrs. Sacrimony Request,” possibly foreshadowing Tony’s death. When arriving at the church for the wedding, guests had to pass through a metal detector. Tony’s first attempt through fails, so he removes his watch and walks through again only to have the detector go off a second time. As he goes back to the entrance to take off his shoes, the camera focuses on Meadow walking cleanly through the detector, then immediately shoots to Tony passing out on the steps from bending over. It could be a stretch but I couldn’t help but think of Meadow walking into Holsten’s right when he is shot, just as she walks through the metal detector as he passes out.

    Either way, I enjoyed reading your post and appreciate all the time and effort you put in.

  64. ballerstatus Says:

    Nice job… thanks for this… I know it took a long time to write and put togehter. Appreciate it.

  65. masterofsopranos Says:

    pmanley,

    Your point about the metal detector scene reminds me of another moment that I left out of the piece.

    If you remember in Part 2, I talk about when Tony is wheeled out of the hospital. He has that great moment when he closes his eyes and seems as happy as he’s ever been. He holds Janice’s hand and vows that he will appreciate every day to the fullest. We then hear bells ringing. Tony looks and we cut to the church bells from his POV. Tony then turns his view towards something else….

    He sees an open door of what appears to be a high school. A young girl walks out. She has long black hair and is holding a notebook. She easily could be Meadow.

    In Tony’s ultimate moment of potential rebirth, he “sees” his daughter walk through that door. By the last scene in Holsten’s, Tony view of Meadow is interrupted by a bullet to the brain.

    It’s amazing that Chase puts so much into the show that 99% of the audience will never notice.

    I appreciate the great responses to the essay. Let’s keep them coming. I think the essay has made a lot of people get out the DVD’s of the final season again. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

  66. whatamess1964 Says:

    I’m really depressed that Tony is dead. I saw just recently all the episodes.
    It’s the best i ever seeen.

  67. A Garlinghouse Memorial: BoomTown Decodes the Infamous “Peanut Butter Manifesto” | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD Says:

    And here is the last minutes of “The Sopranos,” where Tony–and here is an exhaustive and convincing explanation as to why–got whacked:

  68. Henrus Says:

    Ok, this is a convincing analysis and you have me good. However, (and my apologies if you covered this as I did not read every word in detail), given how good Tony is at spotting trouble, how could he not feel something funny about MOG? I mean, clearly to us (who saw what he saw from his POV), this MOG was a suspcious looking guy. How could he have completely missed this? Was he so far on the edge that he was almost looking to get plugged because he saw the end coming as inevitable (and welcome compared to being put through a trial)?

  69. John Dekowski Says:

    This is all excellent, and as properly stated not only are a number of clues in the final scene of Tony’s fate, but the past 86 hours of the show do truly lead us to a family dinner in a small diner in New Jersey.

    One reference can be added though.

    In Season Two’s episode “From Where to Eternity”, Christopher awakes from a near death experience and tells Tony and Paulie he went to hell, saw Mikey Palmice and Brendan Filone, and was told to deliver the message “three o’clock” for them. With that being said, in Season Six’s episode “The Ride”, Paulie is clearly seen to be awake at 3:00AM while awaiting the results of his biopsy. In addition, the final episode, “Made in America”, Paulie mentions his vision of the Virgin Mary to Tony. It is believed by Roman Catholics that Mary’s Ascension into Heaven happened at 3 o’clock. Then, in the final scene of “Made in America”, the MOJ man walks into the men’s room in Holsten’s at the three o’clock position, relative to Tony.

    With this and everything else mentioned in this blog, the MOJ man then shoots Tony in the head, thus explaining why the screen went black all of a sudden. This is a nod to Tony’s favorite scene from “The Godfather” in which Michael Corleone retrieves a gun from the bathroom before shooting his enemies. This also points to a conversation that Tony had in “Soprano Home Movies” with his brother-in-law Bobby in which Bobby comments on how suddenly and without sound death can happen in their lives as gangsters. Thus, a strong argument points to the three o’clock warning given to Paulie and Tony in Season Two and that it was very legitimate and a key to the final season of the series and specifically to Tony’s fate in the end.

  70. masterofsopranos Says:

    John,

    Nicely articulated point about “3 o’clock”. I excluded the reference because I tend to see MOG’s 3 o’clock position to Tony as a happy accident. I just think Chase had so many other things to worry about logistically when setting up the final scene other than making reference to “3 o’clock”. Of course, I could be wrong and it would be a nice twist as I think we all thought the reference would only come back in relation to time rather than being used logistically. Nice catch to the Virgin Mary reference by Paulie to Tony which of course Tony laughs off.

    Henrus,
    Read all of Part I. Tony isn’t paranoid or even watchful. MOG doesn’t register with Tony until he walks to the bathroom. The filmaking gives the audience more information than Tony has. MOG looked over at Tony twice but Tony never saw him. We are aware of the potential threat but Tony isn’t.

  71. Jack Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this analysis of the Sopranos, and I feel everything was broken down very well. Tony being dead was my initial conclusion when the episode first aired, but I wasn’t able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to explain it as well as it was done here. Kudos.

    I think a lot of good points are made in this analysis, but the one thing that I really still can’t get over is David Chase’s apparent contempt for the audience. He just comes off as an elitist admonishing the very people who made the show successful in the first place. Not everyone in the audience is a film student who is going to sit there and analyze every shot as if it was Citizen Kane. The reason why the Sopranos was so successful and so popular was that it was entertaining to such a wide array of people. Both educated and not so educated people enjoyed the show for different reasons. While I consider myself to be one of the educated people who watched the show, I still think that there was something wrong with Chase’s decision to go with a more abstract ending. The audience helped make the show succesful and popular, yet Chase’s ending to the Sopranos essentially denies a definitive ending for a good portion of the audience who may not have been prepared to analyze the show the way Chase clearly expected us too. Some people just want to be entertained and viewed the show as an escape, and I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with that. Chase, from his decisions and his comments clearly does have a problem with his show being viewed casually. Heaven forbid you happen to be one of the dullards who doesn’t know how film directors traditionally set of POV shots or who may not invest too much time close reading Yeats, or who just likes mafia stories as a brief escape into a criminal underworld that they would never experience in their actual lives. It doesn’t make one group of people superior to another just because they get all the esoteric references in the show. It just means that they enjoy the show on another level than say the casual viewer who just wants to be entertained and escape for a while in the Sopranos universe. Chase could have constructed an ending that would have satisfied both his artistic integrity and the entire audience, but he chose not to do so.

    I came to the same conclusion about Tony being shot when it first aired, yet I felt that there were plenty of ways to convey Tony being killed without showing the actual shooting or dead body or chaotic aftermath. I understand David Chase’s misgivings about the audience’s lust for Tony’s death, and why he may not want to satisfy them by showing them exactly what they expect to see (i.e. Tony with his bloody head face down in a plate of onion rings while Carmella, AJ, and Meadow scream their heads off). I agree the show and the characters were too dignified for that.

    One compromise that could have resolved everything and satisfied everyone was for the show to end exactly the way it did with the 10 second black out after Tony looked up. Then, we cut to Dr. Melfi picking up the paper with a headline about Tony’s death and her reaction.

  72. Jack Says:

    The show wasn’t always from Tony’s perspective either. Throughout the series, we saw things from the perspective of other characters including Dr. Melfi. The ending would have only made sense if the ENTIRE series was from Tony’s perspective, which just wasn’t the case. There were numerous episodes where we saw and knew things that Tony didn’t know because the series was told from a 3rd person omnicient point of view, meaning that we were not limited to Tony’s perspective for the entire series run. We had stories from Melfi’s perspective which had nothing to do with Tony’s criminal underworld. In fact, as the audience we know why Melfi chose to terminate her sessions with Tony while Tony doesn’t. We saw her in her own therapy sessions and in her own life apart from her sessions with Tony. It would have been more consistant for the series to end with Dr. Melfi learning of Tony’s death since Tony’s visits to Dr. Melfi are what started the show to begin with. If it wasn’t for Tony seeing Melfi, he would not have gained an understanding of depression and the subconscious which made him a different individual than other characters in his line of work. Without Dr. Melfi, the Sopranos would have lacked the very thing that distinguished it from other mafia stories. Ending the show with Melfi learning of Tony’s death would have satisfied Chase’s artistic integrity by not showing the actual death and it would have let the audience know that the show was over and that it was indeed the end for Tony.

  73. Bliggity Says:

    Henrus,

    I wouldn’t say Tony is out of character. I think he’s as cautious as he always is, but as mentioned by the author of this articles and several above we are given more information then Tony is (most notably the double-glance MOG gives Tony before heading to the men’s room). Also, it’s probably worth noting that we may be slightly more alert as most of us are looking at the clock, knowing there are only minutes left in the episode, trying to figure out how this show we’ve invested so much time in is going to play out. We’re *expecting* an ending to Tony’s life in one fashion or another whereas Tony is only expecting some food.

  74. toby Says:

    I’m going to have to join the chorus of congratulations; this is a great great thing you have created here.

    I just finished watching the entire 6 seasons (the wonder of bit torrent) and it is strange how reading your piece here can somehow significantly enhance my appreciation of a show I really came to love. Is he dead ? yep probably, my only doubt – and I know your reasons to disprove this – is that Chase would have given us some kind of closure. He would have hinted some more…. maybe.

    However, if Tony has gone, this was the best way to do it. I love the idea you propose of Meadow being his ‘guardian angel’ and as she walked through the door she was the last thing he possibly saw, or not. Great stuff.

    But… what about a film ? You write in your intro you are going to look at possible films. I can’t find this ?

    (I don’t want it to the end, maybe..).

    T

  75. Chris Lee Says:

    This really is a moving elegy to David Chase’s masterpiece ending. I still didn’t buy any of it while reading the first part, which was heavy in detail of technical shots yet full of compromises. However, once I began reading the thematic explanations, it strung together instantly.

    I watched the entire six seasons of The Sopranos vociferously in a span of about a month. Along the way I lost interest as certain plots and characters seemed too contrived, and the acclaim I had read about the show had seem overrated and undeserved. That is probably true – I think everyone can agree about the stretched out stories, as well as the fandom that was obsessed with the cliche mafioso sections and violence, completely unaware of what Chase’s original intentions were. It’s as if Chase then began to withdraw his control and hand it off to close partners who were also unaware of Chase’s true thoughts.

    Much of the themes and plots relating to Tony’s death are contained within this last season, a season which no doubt had more oversight of Chase than any other season. Once season five rounded off, season six came back with one of the most sublime moments of all cinematic history. Compare this ‘dream’ sequence to that of season five’s The Test Dream, which after the Kevin Finnerty saga, seems completely inferior and mishandled. Like the fourth season of Lost, once Chase had a set deadline and structure, everything fell into place.

    The abrupt jump-cut from Tony looking to Tony sitting down at the diner seems to reference the last moment of 2001. Chase has cited Kubrick many times in interviews and in the show itself with Kubrick’s earlier and bleaker movies, Dr. Strangelove and Paths of Glory. In 2001, violence is one of the prevalent themes, from the man-apes who advance themselves with weapons, to Hal’s battle with humans, and even the brief inclusion of a spaceman watching karate on tv. Admist the journey of The Sopranos, fans and writers other than Chase probably got carried away with the depiction of violence, and in the final episodes, violence sprawls out of control, just like in The Departed (Christopher plays the bitchin’ soundtrack right before he dies), where all the lies and deceit of cops and gangsters unravel into an unavoidable end. With the spiritual rebirth present in season six, Chase makes a reference to Kubrick’s most transcendent movie, but perverses its original ending. Instead of man dying and then being born into something greater that escapes all human meaning, ala schrodinger’s equation, waves, and buddhist monks, Tony dies, and death is nothingness, kaput, black with no credits. Tony has failed again and again, with the ending (and somewhat forced ending) of his relationship of the single two purposes of the show’s creation: Dr. Melfi and his two families.

    masterofsopranos, your analysis has redeemed The Sopranos for many like me, who grew tired of a so-so mid-season. I now have to tell friends who I’ve expressed dissatisfaction for The Sopranos that they should stick with it, if only for the Chase episodes, and like all great works, the very ending. I am very suspicious of you being Chase himself, and if not, I’m sure many of us would like to know your own background and inspiration to clear things up. If I had not read this, I would have walked away from something so incredible, something that joins the timeless pieces of art, and holds up to each one of us to realize our world and our responsibilities.

  76. masterofsopranos Says:

    Chris,

    I really appreciate that response. I can assure you, I’m not David Chase or anyone associated with the show (would Chase’s grammar be that bad?). The inspiration for it is my love for the show and my hope that everybody will appreciate the show as much as I do. I am a practicing attorney with an unhealthy Sopranos obsession. You can send me an e-mail if you want to know more.

    I do think many miss what the show is really about, which I go into in Part 2. This show isn’t really about the violence. I think one scene really captures what the show is about more than any other (even more than the duck flight from Tony’s pool). In season 3 episode “University”, Tony is sincerely upset over the death of stripper named Tracee who is beaten to death by Ralphie. In the following episode, Tony is in his kitchen and looks at Meadow. Suddenly, the image of Tracee walking towards him pops into his head. Tony then sees Meadow again and gives her a look of sadness and concern. He then tells her how much he loves her. The scene reminds us that Tony’s criminality could reach his family, with severe consequences. Tony later tells Melfi in “Army of One” that he wants both of his children far away from him when they grow up. When AJ’s panic attack prevents him from going to military school, (and perhaps his last chance to eventually stay out of “the life”) Tony weeps and says “How are we gonna save this kid?”. That scene then cuts to Jackie Jr. in his casket. It’s no accident that Coco’s harassment of Meadow is the catalyst for the final showdown with Phil. This merger of the “two families” was a long time coming and was the only way for the show to end. Tony HAD to be murdered in front of his family. It’s the only ending that fits. I also find it ironic that AJ and Meadow have both returned to the nest. They have stayed within Tony’s grasp.

    The real tragedy is Tony’s love of his family was never enough for him to really take a chance and quit the life. The Witness Protection option is staring him in the face in the final 2 episodes but Tony never sees it. He sadly misses the big picture, what made him truly happy.

    I agree with you. Season 6 is the best because Chase knew exactly where he was going (had 2 years to plan it out) and it was really time to concentrate on the most important themes of the show (despite the Vito excursion). The coma-trip is a masterpiece. Actually, Chase’s earliest comments about knowing how he was going to end the show go back to just before Season 4. In the opening episode of that season, Tony gives the “2 endings for a guy like me” speech to Dr. Melfi. The early episodes of that season have Carmela worrying about the future and contain her “Everything comes to an end” speech. She worries about the kids future’s if Tony is gone. A certain post 9/11 mentality sinks into the show from that point on. Carmela starts stealing money from Tony to invest and protect her future. I’m convinced Chase did this to tell us that Carmela will be o.k. after his death. Tiny seeds for Tony’s eventual death have been planted early on in Season 4. If you recall, the 5th season was supposed to be the last but HBO kept pushing Chase to extend it so Tony’s inevitable fall was delayed.

    By the way, I agree with you about Kubrick’s influence on the show. Chase is a documented fan. Kubrick was a revolutionary with his use of subjective POV. Actually, the diner scene is not the only “Tony sees himself” type moment in the final episode. There are 2 others that are not as blatant but clearly deliberate. The first is when Tony visits Janice. Tony looks, we cut to Janice laying on a lawn chair, cut back to a close up of Tony’s face looking (just like the famous jump cut shot in Holstens) we then cut back to the Tony POV shot of Janice except Tony is now walking towards her. When Tony visits Junior the same thing occurs. He stares at Junior. We cut to a shot of Junior from Tony’s POV. We cut back to Tony’s face and then cut back to the POV shot except Tony is walking towards Junior. I think Chase was subliminally setting us up even before Holsten’s. He was clearly trying to tie our POV with Tony’s. Has any filmmaker ever used POV to suggest death the way Chase did here? I think Kubrick would be proud.

    One more thing, Chase reaffirmed that the coma-trip wasn’t a dream when he was recently honored by the Writer’s Guild. Chase did a ballsy move by putting Tony in a “supernatural” type situation to start the final season. This was all part of his final vision that would tie the final 21 episodes and Tony’s final fate together. Chase did things his own way. This was his vision and it wouldn’t be compromised.

    Once again, thanks for the great post.

  77. Jack Says:

    Another thing that struck me odd is how MOG knew Tony would be at Holstens, which is not a place we’ve seen the Sopranos eat before (unlike Vesuvio’s). It has been suggested that MOG followed AJ there, but he walks in the door before AJ, which is a bit disconcerting. If he were following AJ, he would have walked in after AJ and would not have blatantly gotten so close to him. Also, how would MOG know the layout of Holsten’s and that Tony would be sitting exactly where he would be vulnerable to him when coming out of the bathroom? Also, MOG while appearing to be the obvious threat in the room doesn’t act like a typical hitman. A typical hitman wouldn’t have wasted time getting coffee and going to the bathroom (like Eugene killing that guy in the episode “Members Only”) . He would have just drawn his gun and shot Tony, who was in no position to defend himself from a frontal attack anyway. The only explanation is Chase’s desire to emulate the Godfather scene where Michael kills the two men responsible for the attempt on his father’s life.

    Chase wanted to make MOG the obvious threat in the diner, and unlike some critics have said, Tony is too relaxed and comfortable where he is to notice someone who is so obviously out of place amongst the other patrons. He’s almost begging Tony to notice him first by coming in so close to AJ, and then by looking over at Tony’s table twice before standing up and making his way to the bathroom avoiding all eye contact. It just leaves you wishing that Tony would have picked up on it, but he doesn’t because his focus is on his family and on enjoying onion rings. The question of MOG’s identity is one that will probably never be settled, but if I had to guess, I would guess it’s someone who was indirectly affected by Tony’s actions like a brother or son of a victim. It’s probably someone who may not be connected to organized crime at all despite the Members Only jacket, which may explain why he needs to shoot Tony from the back. As it has been pointed out, he’s the only other person in that diner that Chase ascribed a characterization to aside from just being an extra in the scene. This person seems to have a history that is somehow directly linked to Tony only Tony may not realize it.

    I also think that Tony’s prior discussion with Junior made him think about how things were going to end for him. In a sense, Tony is almost better off dead rather than in jail until dementia sets in like Junior. I think he comes to that conclusion himself and he maintains that “it’s all a big nothing” mentality that his mother instilled him. The only comfort he has is his family, which is something Junior doesn’t have, and something that he will eventually lose if he goes away to jail. The conversation about Carlo pretty much sets up what the Sopranos could expect their lives to be like once they leave Holstens. It could only end badly with Tony dead or in jail even if neither of those things happen that night. Still, Tony maintains a rather relaxed attitude throughout this scene as if he’s not worried.

    Another thing that occurred to me was that bad things seem to happen whenever Tony stops therapy. It’s almost as if the therapy helped him to better asses his situation in order to perceive and handle threats. In season 4, Tony literally loses his blood family when he stops therapy even though it wasn’t a direct result of it.

    Also, of minor coincidence is when Tony lied to Adrianna about Christopher before having her killed, he mentioned that Christopher was found in a diner by some state trooper. There is a certain connection between death and food that you started to touch on with the oranges, but I think it’s more prevelant than most of us even think. In the pilot, Junior wants to kill Pussy Malenga in Artie’s restaurant, Eugene kills a guy in a food joint, also a lot is made of the food when they go to funerals as if it’s the main attraction amongst death. I also thought of real life gangster Joey Gallo being murdered at a restaurant, and the image the food plays in films like Goodfellas and how much food plays a part in death in the Sopranos. Just something to think about I guess.

    I still think Chase could have done things differently while still satisfying his own vision for the ending of the show as I said above, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. I don’t want to seem like I resent Chase for ending the show the way he did because I’m fine with it. I just don’t agree with it.

  78. pmanley Says:

    This really has no ties to the ending but is just something that I randomly noticed and was curious about. In 6A and 6B, Syracuse University is mentioned on more than one occasion, and being the big fan of Syracuse that I am I always get a kick out of it. Fat Dom mentions Syracuse “tanking again” before he’s killed by Sil and Carlo. Then in 6B, they showed a Syracuse basketball game in Kennedy and Heidi and made a point to reference it, as well as the kid who had acid poured on his feet in Walk Like a Man talks about transferring to Syracuse’s business school. You would think being in Jersey and NYC they’d plug schools from the area. Is anyone on the show from/associated with Syracuse?

  79. Sinestro Says:

    I think you’re missing why people criticize this ending. The fact that you had to spend several pages making an argument that Tony died is exactly why this wasn’t the best way Chase could’ve executed it. The viewer literally doesn’t know what they’ve seen at the moment they see it. That’s not subtle, it’s just obscure.

  80. masterofsopranos Says:

    Jack,

    I agree that Chase had a certain contempt for the audience. However, I feel Chase often did give a certain segment of the fans what they wanted. “Blue Comet” is a prime example of that. Many fans were upset with the more cerebral and less violent Season 4 (with the exception of Tony’s shocking murder of Ralphie). So Chase came back in Season 5 and gave the fans the most violent season ever. I think when it came to the end though, he wouldn’t compromise. You’ve got to give the guy credit for sticking to his vision no matter what the majority of the fans would think. He really gave the hardcore, more cerebral fans a special ending that a “casual” Sopranos fan would clearly miss.

    I understand you have reservations about the realism of the action’s of MOG. However, this show isn’t known for realistic whackings. Like I said in the essay, Chase isnt interested in that. Would you call Tony taking a gun out of the mouth of a dead fish to murder someone in broad daylight realistic?, well it happened in the 1st season finale. Don’t most gas stations now have camera’s? Walden doesn’t exactly seems concerned when he shoots Phil. NY hit-men shoot Silvio in front of dozens of spectators, not to mention about a thousand witnesses passing by in traffic!!. I already mentioned the Bacala whacking. I could go on and on (not to mention the silly Torciano whacking). Now think about exactly how Chase wanted to build that scene. He needs to create tension and suspense. That doesn’t happen if MOG just walks in and shoots Tony.

    pmanley,

    Interesting catch. I don’t know if any of the major actor, directors or writers went to Syracuse.

    Sinestro,
    I think it’s purely subjective whether the ending is obscure or not. I have seen many other comments on other blogs that have linked to my site that say Tony’s death was pretty obvious and my lengthy essay isn’t needed to explain it. Now think about it from this perspective, if Tony is simply shown getting shot than this essay wouldn’t exist. I think Chase wanted us to analyze and think about the ending and during that process extract what the show was really about.

  81. masterofsopranos Says:

    Just wanted to post this interesting tidbit from Brent submitted on the wrong page:

    When you discuss the significance of orange when relating to death, there’s another big tie to The Godfather you left out.

    When Vito Corleone is shot while shopping in the market with his son (in Part I) he drops a bag of oranges that spill on the street. When Tony is shot at in Season 1 the first shot shatters a glass container of orange juice that Tony is holding.

    Two Mob bosses lives are almost taken by assassins…the presence of orange in both scenes.

  82. John F Hong Kong Says:

    Well, there was me believing that Tony would live the rest of his life looking over his shoulder and all he had to do was look over his shoulder for a couple of seconds to make it happen!
    Absolutely fantastic piece of work, MOS, you have totally changed my opinion of the ending and just made me want to watch all 86 episodes again.

  83. RustyJohn Says:

    And this is why I listen to Tom Petty and watch Clint Eastwood movies- not much symbolism to digest for my pea sized brain. I actually haven’t seen the entire final season but have seen the ending on YouTube- I have been watching the episodes on A&E as they come on.

    I have been attempting to rationalize any other interpretation other than Tony is dead- but can’t quite come up with another reasonable conclusion. The only thing that would lead me to believe he wasn’t killed is the awkward manner in which MOG enters the restaurant and is so apparently out of place- I just have a difficult time comprehending that Tony did not feel something was amiss. There really would be no other way to end the show other than to fade to black and either have Tony killed or fade to black and just have the whole saga continue.

    One more Godfather parallel- the obvious part of the Godfather was how Michael was never intended to be part of the family- either by his wishes or by his father’s. Circumstances and his own rationalizations bring him back into the family. The same can be said of Meadow- off to college, idealistic, but over time tainted by the family. Here, talk about Italians being targeted and discriminated against as the reason why Tony is targeted remind me of the scene in the Godfather when Michael says, “My father’s not any different from any other powerful man, like a president or senator.” (Which leads to my favorite line- when Kay says, “Do you know how naive you sound? Presidents don’t have people killed.” To which Michale replies, “Oh, who’s being naive, Kay.” ) Anyhow, I guess that would make FInn the equivalent of Kay.

    The other Godfather parallel is with AJ/Fredo- weak and stupid with minor “entry level” jobs. Dropping the knife while trying to kill Junior like Fredo drops the gun.

    Finally, what is surprising is how shocked and disappointed people are that Tony is dead. As a character, Chase did just about everything that could be done to make him a despicable human being- by the end of the 5th season any love I had for Tony was quickly fading. Where I am at now- 1/2 way through the 6th season, he is just a detestable creature.

    We are his family, excusing everything that he did for our own selfish desires- namely entertainment.

    One regret about the show- with all the classic rock they played, I wish they would have played some Rush- oh well, at least the threw in some Kid A at the close of one episode.

    Happy Overthrow the Government Day. We have become sheep.

  84. masterofsopranos Says:

    Rusty,

    I totally agree about the 5th season being the point Tony was past redemption. His murder of Adriana (through Sil) was truly his most despicable act.

    Chase did use “Rush” near the end of “Walk Like a Man” (6b). “Tom Sawyer” (Rush’s most mainstream hit) is heard briefly playing on Tony’s car radio as he drives up to his house. I guess Chase just wasn’t a big Rush fan (that’s a shame, they’re terrific).

  85. Kris Says:

    Excellent summary of what likely happened.
    Ultimately, however, I think Chase wanted to leave the back door open for a possible movie with Tony in it. Everything else can be debated until the cows come home!

  86. Patrick Says:

    Everyone apparently missed one of the *BIGGEST* clues, a clue that dominates an entire episode, the episode where Tony dreams the entire episode… Season 5, Episode 11: “The Test Dream”.

    Notice the giant paintings of those football players on the paintings behind Tony? Tony’s entire dream, the recurring dream, was his coach pointing down at him and telling him how he was unprepared (“You’re not prepared! You’ll never set me up!”). See also the last 15 minutes of that episode, where he talks about the dream on the phone with Carmella (Carmella: “Were you unprepared as usual?” Tony: “I’m sort of a coach now.”).

    Tony’s dream is an allusion that he’s unprepared when his destiny comes. Tony’s statement that he’s “sort of a coach now” can be read to be that he’s a boss.

    The far-left picture above Tony is a tiger. What’s the tattoo on Tony’s shoulder? Yes… a tiger. “Tony the Tiger”?

    a few other things:
    season 1, episode 1 – Tony walks behind Uncle Junior in Vessuvio and pretends, with his hand, to point a gun in the back of the head and says “dont move”. (about 13 minutes, 30 seconds into the episode)

    season 6, episode 2 (“join the club”) – during tony’s cosa mesa visit, tony says, very plainly, “there’s always a faster gun.” (a little less than 10 minutes into the episode)

    Looking at the dvd box set of season 1, the tagline reads “If one family doesn’t kill him, the other family will.” Thinking about it, over the course of the show, Tony’s lost his entire mafia family one way or another. By the end of the show, even Silvio is in a coma. The ending of the show can be read to be that Tony’s about to lose his other family.

    season 5, episode 12 (“long term parking”) – this has nothing to do with the last episode, but i noticed that the same “fancy luggage” (its actually written on the luggage tag – see s04e01 about 10 min. 45 sec. into it) that christopher throws in the field after adriana dies is the same red luggage he brings home on the episode where the fbi agent “danielle” first shows up at his place. So literally and figuratively he’s getting rid of baggage.

    season 4, episode 10- The jacket that the bum is wearing (about 19 min, 30 seconds into it) when he brings Christopher home is the same jacket that Richie tried to give Tony back in season 2, episode 8 that Tony ended giving to the maid.

  87. Pete Sayek Says:

    Bah. People wouldn’t still be having this discussion if David Chase hadn’t decided to pull an artsy-fartsy bullshit ending on everyone. I can’t stand when directors pull nonsense like this, full of “symbolism” and “clues” for everyone to figure out. Come on, man – you are telling a story, not making a Fellini film.

    I felt like I’d been strung along for six seasons by someone I trusted and then left on a corner in a strange town with no wallet. Leave the fru-fru artistic crapola for college kids with endless rolls of B&W film looking to get an arts degree. Don’t waste years of my time with a “you-guess-what-happened” story resolution – then act all smug and superior because you came up with such “genius”.

    As the old saying goes, Genius is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

  88. masterofsopranos Says:

    Patrick,

    Interesting point about the “Test Dream”. I never thought about it that way. My goal was to keep the article rooted in the final season (although Part 2 is an entirely different beast) as Chase had the ending already figured out at that point. Although, as I have mentioned in an earlier comment, Chase is on record as far back as 02 as knowing how the show would end. I get into the “Test Dream” in the Godfather section. If you also remember, Chase references the Godfather bathroom scene in that episode as well. Tony says (as Artie points him to the bathroom) to Annette Benning that “something bad is gonna happen”. Benning says (in another Godfather reference) that she doesn’t want her husband coming out of the bathroom with “just his c-ck in his hand”.

    I do reference the “always a faster gun” remark by Finnerty in Part II. I don’t make much of the Junior-T scene in the pilot but the very first murder of the series (Chris of “E-mail” Kolar) is a back of the head, never hear it coming shot. I like the “Long term Parking” catch (that’s pure Chase). Here is another favorite of mine: After Tony learns that Chris accidently killed Adriana’s dog by sitting on it, he yells “I should suffocate you!..”. Of course, Tony later suffocates Chris to death.

  89. James Says:

    When Tony walks into the diner in the final scene, just before he opens the door there are two red dots from the Holsten sign outside (red-dot gun sights). If you pause at the right moment, one dot is pointing at his belly where Junior shot him. The other is at his temple, where he is about to get shot? Chase positioned this perfectly.

  90. masterofsopranos Says:

    James,

    You’re right. However, it’s from the reflection of the back of a moving van. One red light is the brake light in the middle (on top) and the other is the left rear tailight. Actually, if you pause it at another point, one is at his belly and the other is at the back of his head.

    I still don’t think it was intentional, at some point “a cigar is just a cigar” but who knows?……..

  91. B Page Odom Says:

    A credible interpretation that, perhaps because of its “protesting too much” length, fails to rule out the other possibilities. I once had a teacher upbraid me on a paper by saying, “Many of your examples were unnecessary to prove your point.” I’ve been puzzled by that remark until now. Editing is a virtue.

    But never mind.

    It does seem, however, that if this is what Chase wanted /sans phrase/ he could have just shown it. That he did not do so is not a sign that he wanted to reward only especially clever or observant viewers. It is that he wanted to leave the saga without a formal ending, either “brains blown out” or “lived carefully ever after.” I think we have a “Turn of the Screw” undecidability here, a virtue in my opinion after all we’ve been through in the preceding series.

    Moreover, as a matter of interpretive theory it is dubious to make Chase’s the definitive interpretation, for this is to commit the intentional fallacy. Chase’s intentions as author of the work are an an important element in its interpretation, but his views are no more decisive than those of any other commentator. Once an artist creates a work s/he lets it go for the interpretive community to engage. The artist can weigh in, but cannot dictate terms. (Chase himself is not doing this, our present author is.) One reason why this is the case is that trying to employ the author’s intentions as determinative involves us in just the situation we see in this essay, viz., an interpretation that requires us to read quotes and explore material from sources extrinsic to the work itself: interviews, series guides, books, current events, etc. This strategy is surely deeply flawed. What if Chase had never commented at all? Would the work remain inscrutable? Of course not. Can one only interpret “Hamlet” if one has in hand interviews and other remarks Shakespeare left behind? The present essay is weakest when it relies on this sort of material. (It is not that this other material is irrelevant, it is that it is not–as our essayist seems to take it–decisive). Section I, however, is very convincing and well argued, in large measure because it works with material immanent to the episode itself.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh. IMHO this is an excellent, thought-provoking piece of work, and a service to the community of interpretation.

    One thing puzzles me, though: Why is Man in Members Only Jacket’s acronym MOG? Shouldn’t it be MOJ?

  92. Jack Says:

    MOS, James, and Patrick really came up with some very interesting points. I love how Tony told Christopher “I should suffocate you” and then years later he did it. That’s brilliant.

    I think most of the clues from before season 4 are coincidental though since Chase is on record as saying that he thought of the ending during the break between seasons 4 and 5. Sometimes, foreshadowing can occur without being planned because writers might pick up on something that was done previously and develop it so that something becomes a clue when it wasn’t originally intended that way (like the Christopher thing -I doubt they knew Christopher was going to die the way he did back in season 4, but it happened to work out that way).

    One of my theories is that MOG is Phil Leotardo’s son although there is nothing to suggest that whether Phil had a son or a daughter (but the grandkids had to come from somewhere). The Godfather imagery of the man going into the bathroom would fit in perfectly since afterall, in The Godfather, it was Michael (the Don’s son who is the one who goes to the bathroom for the gun to avenge his father). Plus, the way that he and AJ walk in together seems to suggest that they have a common bond of some kind. AJ botched his attempt to avenge his dad when he tried to kill Junior, and MOG will succeed maybe because he wasn’t coddled the way AJ was. Also, it would make sense why Tony wouldn’t recognize him since he wasn’t part of Phil’s crew just like Michael wasn’t part of Vito’s underworld and was therefore not seen as a threat in the eyes of Sollozo and the policeman.

    Tony may have made his peace with Butchie, but if Phil had a son, he would undoubtably seek revenge. Tony’s error was that he just went after Phil without being prepared for the consequences. You don’t just take out a boss and not expect to be taken out yourself even if you negotiated with the remaining capos. Either somebody’s going to double cross you or a blood relative will seek revenge, which is what happened to Tony. Once Tony knew that Phil was coming after him, he should have known that it was going to take a prolonged drawn out war to resolve this conflict. Taking out Phil by himself just wasn’t enough. He had to take out everyone close to Phil in order to secure his safety, and that wasn’t going to happen since t was already clear that Phil had the upperhand in terms of the number of soldiers while Tony had guys like Burt (the guy Silvio killed) wavering and Carlo amongst his ranks. Plus, it was clear from the near confrontation with Johnny Sack in Season 5 that no one wanted a long drawn out war because it was too costly financially and and no one wanted to risk their own necks anymore.

    Anyway, this is a little off topic, but I was wondering how some of you guys would rank the sopranos seasons. It’s funny, how I used to not like season 4 (and MOS mentioned how it was one of the more “cerebral” seasons). Now I find myself wanting to rewatch season 4 moreso than the other seasons when I just feel like watchng a random episode on dvd. I
    think there is a difference when you watch the show as it’s coming out as
    supposed to rewatching on dvd aside from the obvious difference which is you know what’s going to happen already. I think when watching for the first time, I was always waiting for something big to happen with each episode (even if it wasn’t violent) while rewatching it , I get to appreciate some of the more subtle qualities of the show such as the foreshadowing and how the music is used to set up the scene. Anyway, I’d like to see how everyone ranks the sopranos seasons from most favorite to least favorite. I count season 6A and 6B separately but people can do whatever they please if they want to count it together.

    My list:
    1. Season 3: The Russian, Gloria Trillo were just a couple of the things that made this season great, also the first season which left a lot of loose ends, which is a quality I came to appreciate about the show. Ralphie was probably my favorite antagonist for Tony. He just knew how to push buttons and get under everyone’s skin. Jackie Jr causing trouble on both sides of Tony’s Family was fascinating to watch too. Excellent writing, directing, and acting. Not a bad episode in the lot.

    2. Season 5: Steve Buchemi (although I feel he was underused) was a great addition to the cast. I know someone said that killing Aide was the worst of Tony’s deeds, and while I think it’s bad, I think Tony killing his cousin was worse. I know he felt he had no choice, but he took upon himself to kill a blood relative which is something I think he had the most regret about. Also, the previously mentioned Aide storyline finally gets some closure, war almost breaks out with pre-cancer Johnny Sac and Tony and Carm find some common ground. This was just a terriffic overall season from every standpoint. Every episode (even Test Dream) was excellent.

    3.Season 4: This may have been my least favorite season a few years back, but having rewatched it I find that it’s one of my favoruite seasons. I think the Furio Carm romantic tension was probably the weakest part of the season since I just didn’t see any chemistry between the two of them. Other than that, this was a really standout season although many people might disagree. Chase decided that Tony’s marriage would be the main driving focus of the season, but there was no shortage of great stories in Tony’s other family either. Ralphie comes to a brutal end, Christopher is on heroin, and who can forget that memorable intervention?

    4. Season 1: The one that started it all. Junior and Livia were perfect foils for Tony and his therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi set the standard for what was to come. Some weak moments, but overall not bad for a show no one thought would be all that successful.

    5. Season 6B: Overall a very strong season with a very controversial ending which of course everyone here knows about. Lots of big things happen to characters that we have come to know for a very long time. At times, the pace almost seems rushed if you were to look at it as a single season (given the length of time between seasons 6 A and 6B, I usually consider them separate but that’s just me). I actually liked the unexpected nature of things. Paulie griping about nobody coming to his ma/aunt’s funeral because it was on the same day as Christopher’s funeral was classic. Tony’s gambling luck took some interesting turns too since he hadn’t had that many money problems since season 4. Also there
    are some things that happen between 6A and 6B that we don’t see, Tony’s penchant for gambling being one of them (remember Tony was not much of a gambler in previous seasons – he saw his father chop off a pinky because of gambling debt). Also, we never got to see the relationship between Blanca and AJ sour, and I would have liked to have spend more time with Christopher and Cleaver.

    6. Season 6A: I actually didn’t mind the attention that was spent on Vito. The story unfolded in a very interesting and unconventional way. I was just expecting more to happen seeing as how things were winding down. There are certainly standout episodes such as Luxary Lounge and the one with the wedding of Johnny Sac’s daughter. I think those were the two best episodes of the season, but overall in retrospect it’s not a terrible season. Tony getting shot was an unconventional way to start it off,and
    I liked what it revealed about the other characters like Paulie and Silvio. While Tony’s coma-induced experience was interesting and informative about his psyche, I feel it was unnecessary to drag it out for two episodes. While I feel it was an important part of the season, the point could have been made without making fans wait so long for Tony to regain consciousness. Overall, I like this season.

    7. Season 2: While I suppose it was good for it’s time, the Big Pussy saga was drawn out for too long. It would have been better if Tony had that dream a little more than halfway into the season so he could have disposed of Pussy sooner and they could have moved on to something else. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good and even great episodes in the course of this season, and by making it last on my list it doesn’t mean I hate it. I love the entire show so I don’t think there was any truly bad season of the Sopranos. This is just my least favorite. Overall, not a bad season with Janice and Livia causing trouble, and Ritchie Aprile on the loose. Still, Ritchie was nowhere near as good an antagonist for Tony as Ralphie came to be.

  93. masterofsopranos Says:

    B Page Odom,

    You make some very interesting points that I do want to address.

    First off, many readers are hung up on the title of the piece. Well, “Definitive Interpretation..” is a catchy title and will get the “asses in the seats”, so to speak. Of course I don’t think its “definitive”. The bottom line is Tony wasn’t shown getting shot so I can never be 100% certain he was killed. However, I am 99% sure that Tony dying is Chase’s personal interpretation of the end of the show. That’s not as catchy of a title but the actual text of the essay makes that point. I’m not David Chase, so the title means nothing. On the other hand, I am highly confident my interpretation is correct.

    As far as “protesting too much”, I see your point. Some of my points are clearly more important than others. However, I want to give you a little insight into my way of thinking. It would make a very weak argument to say that the possible Godfather homage was the only indication that Tony was shot. However, when you put all of the “clues” (and I do hate that word with regard to something as complex as this show) together, it makes the argument stronger and consequently is included in the piece. My points in Part 1 and 2 are clearly (for me at least) the major indications of Chase’s intent. Part 3-5 are the “icing on the cake” that make the argument stronger. The comprehensiveness of the piece raises the question in a doubter’s mind-“If Tony didn’t die, can all of this just be a coincidence?”. I think the logical answer is its no coincidence. If Chase didn’t intend for us to think that Tony died, then he sure did a lot of work for nothing.

    I do strongly disagree with you that Chase’s “views are no more decisive than those of any other commentator”. The danger of that way of thinking is that it creates an “all arguments are created equal” type of mentality. Yes, the show is a work of art. However, Chase is the creator, his intent is critical to an understanding of the material. Chase had a very specific vision of how the show would end that incorporates the entire narrative of the final season and the major themes running throught the entire run of the show. To interpret the ending differently from Chase’s intent is to undermine his entire enterprise. Do you think Chase would really respect the argument that “the entire the last episode was a dream” or “You get to choose your own ending”??. Of course not, because Chase would have failed as a storyteller and artist if he didn’t get his point across. I frankly find the “Lady and the Tiger, choose your own ending” rather absurd. Would Chase, who is always in complete command of his narrative, allow the viewer to decide there own ending?

    I think many of the doubters get so caught up in the cachet of ambiguity that they miss the big picture. Many artists create ambiguity in their works but at the same time there is a clear intention or a definite answer. Chase’s intent was to create a superficially ambiguous ending to force the viewer to engage the material and extract what the show was about all along.

    Also, I only use one external reference to bolster the argument-the quote from the DP who shot the final scene. I actually was quite restrained in this regard. The DP also mentioned in the same interview that Chase talked about the Godfather homage when he filmed the final scene. As far as Chase’s own comments (which I don’t see as “external”), I think they’re important becuase they speak to his intent. His reference to the Torciano murder is so deliberate and specific that (to me at least) he’s practically telling us Tony died. Again, I was restrained in this regard as well. I didn’t include other quotes from Chase where he talks about only doing a Sopranos movie if its a prequel (which may suggest the story cannot continue because Tony is dead) or his “Planet of the Apes” analogy which suggests an implied but definite ending for the show.

    Also, MOG=”Members Only Guy”. This has caused a lot of confusion and I apologize. MOJ makes more sense but the anacronym MOG has sort of taken on a life of its own among many Sopranos fans.

  94. masterofsopranos Says:

    Jack,

    I do believe there are documented quotes from Chase about how the show would end going as far back as before Season 4. From what I recall, after Season 3 finished, Chase was quoted as creating a 2 year arc to finish off the show. The show would end after 5 seasons. However, (with increasing pressure from HBO and plenty of cash) he eventually stretched the show to 6 seasons and finally, an additional 9 episodes known as 6b. I also specifically remember that an explanation many critics (and fans) used for the (apparently) weak 4th season was that it was a “filler” season and Chase was saving the good stuff for the 5th and (what we thought) final season. I think we have to draw a distinction between Chase’s general idea for how the show would end (Tony getting shot and killed) and the exact way it would happen (in front of his family in a diner, etc.). I think the latter was clearly orchestrated in the 2 year gap between season 5 and 6. This may explain the discrepancy in Chase’s quotes about how long he has known how he was going to end the show as he wasn’t making the distinction himself. As I mentioned before, tiny seeds seem to be planted early on in Season 4 with Tony’s “2 endings” speech, all the talk of what Tony’s death would mean for the rest of the family, and Carmela’s increasing assertiveness in financially protecting her future. The early part of Season 4 has that much more resonance knowing Tony will die and I don’t think that’s an accident.

    As far as MOG being Phil’s son, there is nothing to really give us any indication of that. Again, I don’t think the identity or motive of the killing is really that important to Chase. On the other hand, many don’t believe Tony was killed because a non-sanctioned hit is an unlikely scenario (because, Butchie and Tony apparently made peace). However, remember Tony Blundetto’s murder of Billy Leotardo and near murder of Phil. Angelo Garepe’s surrogate “son” Tony B. sought revenge for his murder. This was something Billy or Phil couldn’t see coming (would they even recognize Tony B.?). This may yet be another reminder that Tony’s line of work creates so many enemies that you are always vulnerable. Someone may seek revenge at anytime.

    If I had to rank the seasons (a really tought task):
    1) Season 6 (which I see as 6A and 6B)
    2) Season 5
    3)Season 3
    4)Season 1
    5) Season 2
    6) Season 4

  95. Louis Denaro Says:

    Regarding foreshadowing, I want to throw in something in the final episode that no one seems to be bringing up. This concerns an off camera conversation with “George” to set up a meeting at the warehouse with Tony and Butchie to resolve their conflicts. When George is asked to set it up, his simple off-camera voice response is a detached: “I can do that”. When I heard it I immediately recalled that the only other character I ever heard respond to a question with the same exact words spoken in the same exact fashion. It was “General Y” in Oliver Stone’s JFK movie. When told by an off camera voice that sic. “we’re going, in the south, sometime in the fall, we want you to come up with a plan” General Y responds “I can do that” in exactly the same way. Of course, the assumption is that Y sets up the JFK thing at his peer / bosses request, in the same manner that George may have engineered the Tony assasination with Butchie. Fuel for thought!

  96. luke Says:

    Great, compelling analysis. At first I was disappointed by the style of ending but I have grown to appreciate its cleverness. I have to agree that Tony dies at the end. But this would seem to preclude a follow-on movie, except for some sort of prequel which I don’t like or find very interesting in general.

    However, as others have pointed out, it’s possible that Chase could cast the finale as a dream sequence. Hopefully he doesn’t do that as that would be a total sell-out. An alternative along these same lines would be to cast the fade to black as one of Tony’s panic attacks/black outs. The movie would pick up sometime after he recovers from this fainting episode. Again, such a tactic would be quite gimmicky.

  97. masterofsopranos Says:

    Luke,

    Chase has too much artistic integrity (to quote George Costanza) to destroy his ending by doing a follow up movie with Tony alive. He knows he would be exposed as a sell-out because he created such a strong Tony dies interpretation. It would taint everything that happened in the final season (and the entire show itself). Any movie would have to be a prequel as Chase has suggested. Chase even talked about going back to to (for example) 2005 and tell a story that we didn’t see between seasons. However, he mentioned how problematic this would be because everyone is older, especially AJ and Meadow. The only feasible idea for a film I could see is a movie about a young up and coming Tony Soprano. The film could also concentrate on his father and Livia. We could meet a young Richie Aprile, Ralphie or Big Pussy. However, Chase would have to cast all new actors. Can anybody play Tony besides Gandolfini?? The other problem is (I think) it could sort of destroy the mysteriousness of much of Tony’s and other characters backgrounds if an expositional film lays out how everyone came to be. Think of the horrible Star Wars prequels. We had just enough info from the original trilogy to tell us a little about Darth Vader’s past but he was still a mystery. That was ruined when we met the whiny young Anakin Skywalker in the prequels. All the mystery was gone and all that we were left with was a terrible actor playing the future evil Darth Vader. Chase has given us small glimpses (via flashback) into Tony’s past. I don’t see him making a full film out of it.

    Recently, Peter Bogdonavich spoke to Chase about a possible film: “He (Chase) said he thought about it, and he can’t figure a way to do it.”

    Makes sense to me.

  98. Des Says:

    Hi and thanks from me too for your analysis of the show and the finale in particular. What you say all adds up. I came to the show very late due to my working hours being incompatible with watching every week and so I’ve seen all the episodes over the last month or so. Sure, there were times i wanted more Family and less family, but that’s what fast forward is for, I guess. One big disappointment was the way there was no payback for Employee of the Month because of what he did to Melfi – or maybe that was a way of showing her professional integrity in not involving Tony in her private life. But congratz again – The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

  99. luke Says:

    One other element of foreshadowing was when Dr. Melfi terminated Tony’s treatment. She told him something to the effect, “I can’t help you.” Thinking back, I realize that perhaps this was another piece of evidence of Tony’s lack of redemption thus dooming him to his final fate.

  100. CialisKa Says:

    Thx for article

  101. J-Ro Says:

    I think the odds are that they guy in restaurant did not shoot Tony.

    Here’s why:

    In the Godfather, the gun is waiting in the bathroom because Michael Corleone is patted down before he meets with Sollozzo and McCluskey. He couldn’t have shown up with a gun on him. It had to be planted behind the toilet.

    Why would the strange guy in the final scene of the Sopranos have to retrieve a gun from the washroom? He wasn’t expected, so he wasn’t frisked for a weapon. If he wanted to shoot Tony, why would he not bring the gun on his person and just shoot Tony?

  102. Rick Says:

    First off i loved this show and saw the entire 6 and a bit seasons in just over a week. It moved me more than most things i have watched on tv in recent years and am truly sad that it is over.
    From the begining i see the influences of both his families on our main character of Tony Soprano and the American condition being mirrored in their lives now at the end in the restaurant there is a certain inevitable death coming and i admire what the essay has said about that death being of Tony.I however feel that the death is of one of his families the Mafia.They all lay dead he cant really regain his position as head of a family they truly have been relegated to a glorified crew so that leaves him at the end with his family, wife,son and daughter and we stop watching when that is complete.
    The death of Tony would be a symbolic death of America which some would say is happening but there has to be room for redemption surly both for character and country for while both have done horrible things,there must be capacity for change in at least fiction if not reality.
    I truly hope for more from the sopranos and believe that there is much more to explore with the character of Tony Soprano to leave him to death is to admit defeat to the world of our creation and we would all succumb to the depression of the modern age.

  103. ELouis Says:

    Oddly enough I never watched the show as it aired and in the last three weeks decided now was the time to do so, with the whole canon available to me on DVD. I just finished up yesterday, promptly went looking online for interpretations of the end and wound up here. As for those who are miffed at Chase for ending the show in the manner he did, well, hey, its his baby. HBO asked him for another season of a show he was ready to put to bed. Its a fascinating piece of work, possibly the best series I’ve ever seen, and I’m in my late forties… I’ve seen my share of series come and go.

    I agree Tony is dead. While his family is still around him, the other family is gone, plain and simple, with the exception of Paulie. Chase has left no one left from his ‘other’ family for a movie vehicle- no Christopher, no Silvio, no Bobby. I think its obvious he didn’t want to turn this into a movie down the road, or else at least one of those characters would have stayed in the big picture. He closed the Dr. Melfi door so that aspect is gone. Likewise, he took out all of the potential prominent adversaries Tony would have had to deal with in a film.

    I for one am not interested in a movie about Carmella furthering her professional career, Meadow becoming a lawyer and A.J. being a walking trainwreck, ever childish, foolish, fragile and full of misery and self pity. No, Tony Soprano is not a character I want to see without the strong supporting gangster cast he had around him….the family at home isn’t enough to sell a GOOD feature film and I think Chase is well aware of it.

    I think the most convincing evidence of Tony’s death at the end is the fact that Chase burned all the bridges necessary in order for for the show to continue in the manner in which the audience perceived it for so long. The show was about about nothing BUT death in the final season, so it stands to reason that it would end with the death of the character that threads the entire world together. Lets face it, in past times it was a HUGE deal to kill off ONE big character in a series. Season Six kills off half of the main cast! With those members all gone, how many rich avenues and great moments has Chase denied himself the opportunity to work with in a continuing saga? He didn’t want those avenues; as far as he was concerned the Sopranos road comes to a dead end here.

    The orange reference makes me wonder if there was anything telling when A.J.’s SUV went up in flames, and his interpretation of freedom later to his therapist? I suppose his change in stance going from taking a bus to accepting the BMW from his parents is an indication that he is selling out his own ideas and aspirations.

    That said, I think it was an incredible ride and the end was sheer genius, a shock to the system unexpected as were so many other moments in this vehicle. With 86 hours of this to enjoy whenever a fan would like to, I think this is how the show should end, with Tony’s death, and I think that is how it did end, only in a way subtle enough to spare some fans the trauma of seeing the lead character die onscreen; if anything, Chase did those fans a favor.

  104. masterofsopranos Says:

    I received an e-mail from “Dave” about a possible inspiration for the final scene and more specifically the final Tony sees nothing POV shot. Just wanted to post it as a comment here and see if anybody has any thoughts on this. I myself have never seen the film:

    “….Have you seen the circa 1969-70 movie “Performanance” with Mick Jagger? IMHO, the ending in that film is as close to what you describe — in a contextual not literal way — as the end of the last episode (which I have not seen yet). In the case of Performance, the last real scene, IIRC is shot from a POV that can only be interpreted as an internal view of his own murder by Jagger…”

    “I remember it to be a scene from Jagger’s POV (or maybe more aptly to put it “Jagger’s Brain’s POV”) following a more — sorry, I don’t know the filmic vocabulary — external shot of Fox (?) the Gangster shooting Jagger in the head (who had given him sanctuary, and perhaps meaning, in a confused sort of way). Normal consciousness (as represented by the “external” shot) ending suddenly, replaced by the process of bullet tearing through brain…”

    Very interesting. The movie appears to be (from a little internet research) a somewhat controversial (in its time),violent, rock and roll, gangster and experimental European art film with Mick Jagger in the lead. Chase is a well document fan of European art films and we know of his love for the Rolling Stones.

    I was wondering if anybody has seen it and also sees a connection.

    Elouis,
    Great post.

    Rick,
    I don’t see Chase as a “hopeful” kind of guy, at least not with these characters. I don’t think he ever saw redemption for Tony. In fact, he demonize him more in the final few seasons.

    J-Ro,
    I never meant to suggest that MOG retrieved a gun placed in the bathroom. The homage to the Godfather doesn’t have to be an exact replication to get the point across (by that logic Chase wouldve have to cast Al Pacino as MOG).

  105. Joe Says:

    I may have missed this in the above, but I found it very intresting the Junior seems to be wearing a Member’s only Jacket when he visits Livia after the attempt on Tony’s life in “Isabella.” BTW- Great job!

  106. Mad Macca Says:

    I have just watched the full DvDs Bx sets with audio commentary afterwards. Favourite episode College, nice farther & daughter bonding moment with a payback hit for an ex Italian subcultured Mafioso. Favourite audio commentary White Cliffs, clearly expained by david chase. 2nd favourite episode, Who ever did this. Action pact Ralphy had to go some how. Great Breakdown of the final episode well thougt out very well done.

  107. kevin 0 hara Says:

    thank you so much for finally putting things right for me mate,there has been so much crap,lies and over hype and complete total bulls**t about the ending of the greatest show to ever be filmed,ive watched the whole last series just to recap over some vital points you made and you were bang on.thanks again

    ps… DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHERE I CAN GET MY HANDS ON ANY BOOKS OR NOVELS BASED ON “THE SOPRANO`S”???WILL BE MUCH APPRECIATED. give me an email on kda.ohara@hotmail.com thanks.

  108. Jeremiad1971 Says:

    Hey MOS,

    A humble pie moment for me.

    I did about 1,000 words on the end last year (interested parties may like to read them) –

    http://eyebrows71.blogspot.com/2007/07/guy-walks-out-of-psychiatrists-office.html

    but I have to say your arguments are hugely convincing.

    Hats off to the MOS.

    I need to practice genuflecting.

  109. Alneri Says:

    First of all, I really want to thank your terrific post. For a non american guy like me, your comments put the light in several dark spots that I had for not being familiarized with many of american popular culture references that you have mentioned on your brilliant post.
    I’ve been a big fan of the show since the beginning and I’ve been waiting for DVD publication on my country for the last year. Finally, this last weekend I saw the whole sixth season from the 1st to 21nd, non stop. This one has been the BEST (yes, in capitals) ever season (non matter which show you could talk about it) of all times, and it’s probably the best movie (I know, a XXXXL movie, but a MOVIE) I’ve seen in the last years.
    I only want to contribute modestly to your work with this observation.
    I think that all the shots about Meadows parking, apart from the obvious tension that gives to the whole sequence, it’s also a homage to “Godfather”, because while I was watching the last scene I couldn’t avoid to think that Meadow was going to die in presence of his whole family, in the same way Mary Corleone dies outside Palermo’s Theatre in one of the very last sequence in Godfather part III. I believe that the whole scene is planified to make seem that the price that T. has to pay for his final victory it’s his daughter death, as Michael Corleone did. I couldn’t stop thinking during the whole sequence in that other sequence and how Chase drives us to think that this death is which is going to happen.
    Once again, thanks a lot for your write.

  110. Jeremiad1971 Says:

    Well done Master.

    I was sure the audience got whacked and wrote a piece about it (above) but you have convinced me.

    I guess I have to genuflect.

    David

  111. masterofsopranos Says:

    Thanks for all the kind comments

    Alneri,

    It’s interesting that you make the Godfather III comparison. I think many people thought (including myself) that Tony would suffer in a different way; that perhaps a member of his family would be taken because of Tony’s actions. I always find it interesting that some people resist the idea that Tony died because Chase isn’t about “Punishment” for your sins. However, it’s totally subjective to call Tony’s death more of a punishment than some of the other options. Certainly, Tony’s potential imprisonment could be seen as a harsher punishment and more of the standard “crime doesn’t pay” message. The ending seems to imply that Tony will at the very least be indicted if he survives that final scene. Any loss of Meadow, AJ or Carm to an act of violence would put Tony in an eternal hell far worse than death.

    Besides, does Tony really PAY for his sins? He is met with instantanous and painless death. He never sees his killer or even gets a chance to think about “why” this is happening to him. Just instant nothingness, like in real life.

    Tony got off easy. Chase teased us with it in the final scene but there would be no moralistic Godfather 3 ending.

  112. Alneri Says:

    Hi there again,
    First of all, I should apologize for my poor english because I couldn’t explain clearly my point of view. I really think that you are absolutely right: T. dies, no doubt at all on that (indeed, you have written the most brilliant explanation about how it happens) . But, what I was trying to explain is Chase would like to make believe us, in the way that whole sequence is edited, that Meadow is going to die on Holster, but that is never going to happen, because, as you said, Chase is teasing us with it the whole scene. In that moments, while I saw the scene I couldn’t to stop of thinking in the analogy with Godfather part III. Finally, at the end of the sequence all you have seen is blank screen; no pain, no cry, no suffer, no yell, … nothing but blank screen. It’s amazingly brilliant, isn’t it?
    That’s the reason because I think this sequence is also a homage to Godfather and, of course, to one of the best all the times history tellers, Francis Ford Coppola.
    For ending, a funny stuff. I’ve read that Journey’s singer Steve Perry didn’t want to allow Chase used the hit “Don’t stop believin'” in the final sequence, because, I quote, “he feared that the song would be remembered as the soundtrack to Tony’s demise”. It’s obvious that not explicitly, but now Steve can blame you, because I always will remember that hit in the way he didn’t want to. :) In fact, I’ve listened on my head for the last 3 days, “and on and on and on …”
    Best regards.

  113. Mani Says:

    Fantastic analysis! I totally agree with your theory, and I find your links between phil, tony and johnny in their inevitable demises insightful.

    Just one thing though is there a long gap between your analysis and our comments there to further reiterate your point.

    if so..methinks its pretentious, but i like.

    regards.

  114. Kieran Says:

    Thanks! I found this illuminating although the quotes and references to Chase’s intentions give the piece a distracting litigious quality; the “evidence” is overwhelmingly within The Sopranos, as you expertly demonstrate.

    Having yet to start a second viewing of the final season, I seem to remember the TV in Silvio’s hospital room flicks from the advert you discuss to the little girl in Little Miss Sunshine screaming (with joy). This represents Meadow’s screams, which we are (thankfully) denied.

  115. trapman Says:

    A couple of others have raised this issue, but I don’t think the author/blogger here as quite addressed it. In short, I find your analysis very, very compelling, pretty much to the point of being unassailable. But, assuming you’re correct, why wouldn’t Chase have just shown a split second from Tony’s POV before the blackout? You’re right that the camera work suggested that the NEXT shot would be from Tony’s POV. But that simply was not the shot we were in at the moment the blackout took place. If we had seen even a brief glimpse of Meadow coming through the door, I don’t think there would be any question whatsoever.

  116. Ocelot Says:

    Someone wrote

    “Well-reasoned and argued, but will all fall apart when a Sopranos movie is announced.”

    In the first scene of that movie- maybe even in the first shot- we should see Tony Soprano’s brains splatter all over Carmella and Anthony. ON the way out, MOG knocks a shocked Meadow down, gets away in a speeding car and goes to meet Paulie…

  117. Ocelot Says:

    Very strong analysis. One oddity: shouldn’t we have heard the shot? After all, Tony would have died after the bullet was fired.

  118. brady Says:

    One problem I have with it is during one of the dream scenes, with Tony and his cousin Tony. There is a reference that guns are not in kept in bathrooms like the movies. So, I think the guy in the jacket going into the bathroom kind of ruins it for me. Also, I do not think Chase wanted us to read into the ending this much. I mean pulling things like this out….yea just my thoughts. Well written though.

  119. masterofsopranos Says:

    trapman,

    You’re correct. If we had seen Meadow come through the door there would be no question of his death. However, Chase didnt want it to be that clear (for reasons I have previously mentioned). Now think about it from a practical standpoint; Does Chase want the last image of the series to be an awkward POV shot of Meadow walking through the door? or did Tony’s face have to be the last thing we see?? Tony HAD to be the last image we see because this show begins and ends with him. In order for Chase to accomplish this and also have the last shot (10 seconds of black) as Tony’s POV, he had to create the POV pattern. Because of the pattern, the final glimpse of Meadow from Tony’s POV isn’t necessary. If Chase hadn’t laid out the pattern, the final POV shot of Meadow would have been necessary to express the black screen as Tony’s POV.

    Ocelot,

    Not necessarily. If Tony is shot in the back of the head at close enough range and depending on the gun, the bullet could travel faster than sound and destroy his brain stem before Tony’s brain could process the sound.

    More importantly, the silent shot reinforces the “never hear it” concept laid out by Chase. Before people start analyzing whether someone could be shot dead from a bullet to the brain before the sound registers (which, by the way is very possible), its more important to remember what Chase was going for. The “never hear it” concept is part of Chase’s universe. I don’t Chase is overly concerned whether it’s scientifically possible. Since Tony’s face fills the screen before the cut to black we will never know how close MOG was to Tony anyway. Besides, the sound of the gunshot would hinder the vicarious experience Chase was going for, the “what the f-ck?” feeling of disorientation that Silvio experienced during Torciano’s murder and the eerie flashback to Bobby’s words about the experience of death.

    Mani,

    The comments just come out that way. I can’t move them up.

  120. Ocelot Says:

    masterofsopranos,

    Thank you, and I agree. One of the most convincing pieces of evidence that Tony is dead is the flashback to Bobby’s “never see it coming” lines at the end of the penultimate episode.

  121. inferior to you! Says:

    You are a genius. The only bigger genius out there is David Chase.

  122. David Says:

    A truly great piece.

    At the risk of seeming UK-centric, is the Get Carter uncalled off hit relevant here?

  123. mackaxx Says:

    One problem. The instantaneous black when it should switch to tonys POV. This means that he is shot at the very instant the POV switches. Given the whole speed of light thing shouldn’t we have seen the gun flash in the final non POV shot of tony? Or did the bullet beat the light?

    Zoom down to Muzzle flash on the wiki

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muzzle_blast

  124. Lead foot Says:

    A great read! My god you picked up details inside the details.

    The Boss is dead.

    Chase is true to his word. All of the info is right there in front of us to put it to rest.

    Points are,

    1.Tony lets his guard down and is not watching behind himself. He is wide open for a hit that he doesn’t see or hear coming. The position next to him is reserved for Meadow. She is the last person to yet to arrive.

    2. Only the charters of importance are being shown in the POV stance.

    3. The last sequences show AJ coming in with the MOJ man. The fact that MOJ leads is insignificant. I have followed people and to avoid detection passed in front of them. MOJ man seized the moment and is merely working out the details of the hit when he glances in the direction of Tony. It could be reasoned that the MOJ man knows that the opening to the Right of Tony will be blocked soon by Meadow when she arrives. He makes his move to the washroom quickly and without error.

    5. The thee of them, Carmella, AJ then Tony all take an onion ring and eat it whole, in that order. ? I never eat them that way. They will burn your mouth. This, I believe, is a play on words with the cliche “Hole in the Head”. The troubling thing is why Carmella and AJ. Did they get wacked also? That would be out of Mafia character.

    4.Symbolically, The final parking issue Meadow has builds suspense and also leaves us with an emptiness that Tony never gets to see his guardian Angle come to him.

    David Chase doesn’t have to drag us through the last moments of the show. He has externalized it by leaving doubt. We all know of a time when the fear of the unknown killed us many more times than the death itself.

    Tony your as large as life in my opinion, to bad your line of work has a short life span.

    Godspeed

  125. Elio Says:

    Excellent, sir! strong work!

  126. markfromBAMA Says:

    Don’t forget in Season 2 when Christopher was seriously injured from a hit from his subordinates, in “From Where to Eternity” he awoke from a coma warning Tony and Paulie about a message from his father from beyond the grave. Chris told the pair “3 o’clock”. Paulie was very worried about the omen from Christopher’s dad but Tony blew it off. MOG exited the restroom in the diner to Tony’s right which would be 3 o’clock on the clock face. Something to think about.

  127. David Kidman Says:

    Thank you for an excellent and enriching read.

    I wanted to add that season 6 generally has the feel of an ending of an empire, as people die of old age or indulgence in excesses. For me, it draw parallels with the fall of the Roman Empire – leaders who sought to create a new and just society for their citizens but eventually succumbed to overindulgence, corruption and excess.

    The parallel was explicitly shown by Tony’s trip to Las Vegas – itself a place of excess and indulgence, and even a camera shot of the casino “Caesar’s Palace”. Again, it reinforces your theory that Tony’s cry in the desert of “I get it” is hollow; he doesn’t ‘get’ anything; he has overindulged in gambling, drink, sex and drugs, and he has failed to heed the lessons from his dream sequence at the start of season 6.

    Another point reinforcing this is Tony’s apparent love of history – he is frequently seen watching documentaries on TV but again, fails to heed the warnings from the past (“to appreciate the present we must understand the past” – e.g. the fall of the Roman Empire). Ironically, this is when we see him at his happiest – relaxed, smiling, at home with his family.

    Just like his sessions with Dr Melfi, he comes close to listening and changing his ways but ultimately cannot do anything but overindulge and ignore the risks. He is ultimately a tragic character and the final scene of “Made In America” shows his inevitable death.

  128. hilde Says:

    Here is a repost of my comment:

    Master of Sopranos and other commenters:

    My wife and I just finished the series on Netflix last night. This thread is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent series of posts.

    I’m ambivalent about what happened, but I’m pretty sure that’s the intended ending. Like a great painting, no one can say what it finally means. (“Starry Night” is about insanity in the country–would be an example of how some art defies final interpretations.)

    My own intuition (and that’s all it is) is that the tension and apprehension that comes with being a Soprano is the lot of this family. Tony will always be watching the door, the stranger, etc. Carmela will always be spouting homilies out of denial. In this regard, I suppose I read the show as CrimeNotes does. As an anti-genre series that wants to use the mafia to bring out the ennui and anxiety of trying to make it in America.

    I’ll add one final thought for a pet theory which I was convinced of just as the show ended. The FBI Arrest Theory. Here goes: the show is realist. It mirrors real world events. In the real world, the mob in the NYC and NJ area was largely fractured and then disassembled by the FBI. Times are changing–the lawyer says something to Tony about “this day coming” and Meadow’s boyfriends revelation that one can make 170k/year doing criminal work just shows that the culture is now rewarding attorneys more than mobsters. White collar crime is the big fish, now–and Tony, Junior, etc. are all becoming dinosaurs before the viewers eyes. The end of a family, so to speak, mostly caused by the history rather than gunfire.

    Again, my central point is not to take a firm stand on the ending, but to argue that the ambiguity of the ending is endemic to all great works of art. Thus, there must be a multiplicity of possibilities, always possible for the different ways different people would construe the various pieces of evidence on which they need/choose to focus. This is the arc and message (if you can call it that) of the entire series. Day to day life. That’s the end.

    Master, you’ve changed my mind. Your evidence is overwhelming, meticulously, and a great read, too. At some points, I felt that you were taking some pretty innocuous details and shading them to fit your argument, but then you come on with a dumptruck full of granite and the powerful case just begins building up higher and higher.

    Still, I’m left with this niggling detail: there is something both “Greek tragic” (where the ending is necessitated by Fate) and “Sartrean/existential” (where no endings or closure are possible) with this series. And I would be most grateful if you can help me.

    QUESTION: Do you, Master, believe there is a strong existential-current running through this series, and if so, do you believe this existential current is destroyed by the fully final closure effected by the conclusion you argue Chase has given us?

    Answer that for me, and I’m pretty fully and completely sold on your beautiful argument.

  129. Nick Says:

    i googled the restaurant and saw a picture of their onion rings, and they were much larger than those the Sopranos ate.

    The size of these onion rings was a deliberate choice by Chase; the way they ate them, especially the way Tony ate his, reminded me of communion in a Catholic Church. Communion is a reenactment of Jesus’ LAST SUPPER as well as a way of achieving REDEMPTION.

    And it is interesting that they broke bread (onion rings), right after A.J. reminds Tony that Tony told him to focus on the good times.

  130. NJtoTX Says:

    Excellent analysis! As far as motive, I thought there was a good chance that the guys from NY given the task to get Tony were just not all reached with the “call off the dogs” message. I mean, there isn’t even an indication that Tony knows that Phil is dead.

  131. Toby Says:

    Not sure if this has been noted. But.. The last episode Made In America – MIA, ‘missing in action’..

    T

  132. Jonathan Kirkland Says:

    I found this site through a YouTube video, someone had recommended google searching it. I am glad I did! Everything outlined on this site seems to have perfect relevance and structure. I never even considered the deep analysis of the sopranos and there were many things I never would have even thought of that you outlined here.

    I, too, was one of those who thought maybe the ending was left to interpretation by the fans. But when presented with all the evidence you shared I really am leaning strongly towards the fact that Tony is indeed dead.

    Thanks again, I enjoyed it!

  133. redfox23 Says:

    This was pretty brilliant. You just made it absolutely clear to me that T is dead, which now I see that it’s the only way the show could’ve ended. You made connections that I hadn’t even thought of. Thanks for doing your homework and clearing all this up.

  134. wei Says:

    tony is not dead, i saw yesterday walking on in Caracas

  135. bassmanfl23 Says:

    I am surprised that you havent mentioned anything about the use of “3’s” in the final episode as symbolism. When the USA Cap guy gets his coffee there are 3 creamers and one big cup. 3 boyscouts and one old man, its full of stuff like this. the “one big cup” being tony and the 3 creams being his family members. Also, meadow tries to park 3 times and is succussful the 3rd try, just like the attempts on tonys life…..Just watch the scene again and pay attention to 3’s. Even 3 lights on the wall behind tony anr carm at the table…. just found that interesting

  136. Brian Monre Says:

    Excellent analysis, especially the POV argument. I agree with you that Tony did in fact die, but you fail to provide meaning to his death. What did Tony’s death and life actually mean? I see it in a much deeper context. True insight into his death can be found in the first scene of “Made in America.” Not only is death forshadowed in this scene, as you correctly mentioned, but more importantly it is his sudden, spontaneous awakening which is what really matters. Look at it inversely: Tony has been dead all along during this series; now he awakens.

    If you want to hear more on my ideas about The Sopranos, check out my blog at jakjonsun.wordpress.com. I have three blogs explaining my theory.

  137. gramasheena Says:

    I was very disappointed in the way the series ended. I understand the symbolism, etc after reading all these opionions & “POV’s”, but I believe it was not only unneccesary but annoying. I truly enjoyed the series & always saw Tony as a bad guy who would eventually get his due, but I would have preferred closure. A previous blogger was so right when he said “this is not a Fellinni movie”.

  138. The J Dog Down Under Says:

    Top stuff.

    When Bobby died, was that paying homage to the Godfather too, i.e. when Don Vito Corleone was shot, but not killed at the fruit stall by the Turk’s goons? The two shootings seemed similar to me in the way the large sized victim saw what was coming, tried to run, but was gunned down with multiple shots.

  139. tomm Says:

    I dunno if this has been posted but I was just watching “live free or die” and the guy Tony argues with about Vito’s whereabouts is wearing a “USA” cap.

  140. David Sidhu Says:

    Fantastic article, you really put a lot of work into this! I’m not all the way through yet but I just realized something I wanted to bring up with you guys. I remember David Chase saying somewhere that he liked the fact that he’d directed the first and last Sopranos episode, forming a sort of “book end”. The very first scene of the first epsidoe of season one follows this same shot pattern. We see Tony, we see what he sees “the nude statue” and then we see his reaction! The show starts from Tony’s point of view and ends with it as well, a very nice bookend.

  141. Erik Larsen Says:

    Absolutely excellent analysis

    One small point however – there was a “throwdown” of the staple gun after Tony used it on Mikey Palmise – I’m sure you knew that but thought it worth mentioning (as to additional throwdowns of guns)

  142. Lawrence Says:

    I would like to add one small blurb regarding Tony’s cousins, Tony B and Christopher and how they relate to the guilty conscience that Tony exhibited throughout the series as he reconciled his gangster life and family life. The two cousins transcended the line between mafia life and family as they were directly related to both. When Phil demanded Tony B’s death, Tony was torn and indecisive. Tony B was like a brother to Tony S. Tony was presented with a choice that had to be made. In the end, Tony chose mafia life over family when he blindsided Tony B with a shot to the head. During the moments leading up to Tony B’s murder, the prominent emotion Tony was combating was his guilt. Guilt is a prevalent theme in Tony’s relations with his family and he often had to talk things through with Dr. Melfi. Once Tony made the decision to kill Tony B, it was necessary to absolve himself of the guilt before he could pull the trigger. The clear implications were that while Tony still struggled with the choice between family and mafia, he clearly chose the mafia life.

    A scene that shocked me was when Tony killed Christopher. Christopher was like a son to Tony. Yet, once again, Tony kills a family member with his own hand. A very cold and chilling scene that was beyond even what Phil Leotardo was capable of. While Phil was ruthless, he was never portrayed as someone that could kill a family member. If Phil was deserving of death, then we should have been screaming for Tony’s demise.

    Christopher’s death seemed unnecessary and Tony was completely guilt free. Tony even celebrated by going to Vegas, a city free of guilt, and having sexual relations with Christopher’s goomar. This was a direct slap in the face of Christopher and a figurative slap in the face of the family life in favour of ‘the good life.’ Tony’s resolution of his guilt was complete. He fully embraced his gangster life style at the expense of family and there were no guilty feelings to contend with anymore.

  143. David Sidhu Says:

    Lawrence:

    Very good point about Tony B and Christopher’s deaths representing the choice Tony has to make between his two families. But I disagree about Tony not being guilty about killing Christopher. Whatever his reasons for doing it, I believe he did feel a great amount of guilt. When he goes to Vegas, does drugs and has sex with one of Christopher’s girlfriends I think he’s showing a defence mechanism called identification. It’s a way of dealing with strong emotions by absorbing the characteristics of a person who the negative feelings centre around.

  144. Samantha and Rob (UK) Says:

    Thanks very much for the brilliant article. The piece was thought-provoking and much appreciated as we have been analysing the Sopranos for nearly a year! We certainly agree that Tony was shot in the head, and it was probably by the Members only guy, but did anyone else notice that in the final moment before the screen went black, that Tony appears to reach for his gun? And he is facing the door.
    There is one question that remains unanswered as well: WHO was behind it?

    Our theory is that Patsy Parisi was behind it and here are our reasons why:

    1. His identical twin brother Philly is killed on Tony’s orders. What bigger motive is there for revenge?

    2. Patsy/Philly appear in a couple of Tony’s dream sequences in symbolic roles, for instance when Tony sets himself on fire, Patsy is having his shoes shined (i.e. now Tony’s gone, I’m in charge).

    3. Patsy is constantly being stepped over by Tony for people he considers are below him. He is never more than an errand boy throughout the whole series, though is clearly more capable than that.

    4. He attempts to kill Tony after his brother is killed, though it is a weak and alcohol-fuelled attempt. He ends up urinating in Tony’s pool; after reading your theories on what the pool represents, this may be symbolic of what danger his family will be in. I also read somewhere that Sicilians can hold a grudge for a lifetime.

    5. Patsy is ordered to tell Gloria Trillo to stay away from Tony, and with the camera directly on his face, warns: “My face will be the last one you’ll see, not Tony’s. It won’t be cinematic.”

    6. Patsy may have his son Patrick in on the act; his sudden yet initially secret relationship with Meadow seems too convenient. Patsy has found a way into Tony’s family, therefore limiting any suspicions Tony may have of him.

    7. (As read in another blog) Outside Holstens, Meadow has trouble with parallel parking (PP= Patsy Parisi).

    8. Lastly, and perhaps most curiously, why on earth is Patsy really even there!? He’s just around, in the background for the best part of 6 seasons, without really having any kind of influential role to play.

    Any comments on our theories would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

  145. Erik Larsen Says:

    One other thing – at the sit-down – Tony talked about restitution for Bobby’s death – one more reason for it to be advantageous for Tony to be gone – no simple answers, and theories are just that – theories – as these are not real people, although it speaks to the power of the series that we sometimes view them as such.

  146. masterofsopranos Says:

    Just wanted to say I’ve been away for a while but still appreciating all of the great comments.

    The comments section has gotten so long that some writers are mentioning the same things already mentioned in previous comments! (3 oclock and Meadows “3” attempts at parking and the Patsy stuff come to mind).

    There are some really interesting points in the Tony Soprano/Tony B. analysis posted above.

    Butch’s payoff to Tony for Bacala’s murder is another interesting point about a possible double cross on Tony. Again, all those strange Patsy scenes were put in the final show for a reason. Even in “Blue Comet”, there is discussion by Silvio that many of the NJ gang is being solicited by NY to accept “new management” (this is when he tells Tony about Burt Gervasi).

    Also of note in the final scene is that Chase seems to not only emphasize MOG visually, but perhaps verbally. AJ talks about his job consisting of “ordering coffee” as MOG is in the background seeming to sip his coffee. Tony then says to AJ that “it’s an entry level job”; is this a clue that this is MOG’s first kill? (which may explain his seemingly nervous and deliberate behavior).

    Speaking of Patsy, his threat to Gloria in Season 3 now seems eerily prescient. He tells Gloria that her murder “won’t be cineamatic”. Which is the exact way we can describe Tony’s death.

    David Sidhu,

    That is a great point about the first scene of the series (and I haven’t heard it elsewhere). It does open with a Tony POV shot. It provides beautiful continuity with the final scene. His POV of the nude statute (femine power and mystique, the loving mother figure Tony never had?) can also be compared or contrasted with his final view of Meadow (although I haven’t really thought this out enough to consider exactly why).

    All of this really makes me want to write an expanded piece incorporating some of these ideas (with due credit of course) and add much of the stuff that I left on the cutting room floor (mostly in Part 2). **I know, it’s long enough!***

    Brian Monre,

    I did read your blog and found most of it fascinating. I really like your theory on what happens to AJ after Tony’s death. You even make the point that Tony’s murder of Chris was some sort of positive personal growth in Tony. Not sure I agree but interesting nonetheless.

  147. Newby Says:

    Thank you for this great analysis on the final episode of the Sopranos. I know there is more going on than I pick up on and appreciate the explanations.

    I just finished watching the entire series and wanted to make some observations that I hadn’t seen mentioned about the last episode. The biggest is that the circle was a very prominent symbol that was thrown in our faces over and over. The onion rings, the orange, the new birth control for Meadow (an O-ring?), the plate Mrs. Parisi turns over, the Ford hubcap on the van that runs over Phil, Janice’s son Harpo changing his name to Hal – no O (maybe a nod to Stanley Kubrick?). In the scene where Tony visits Sil in the hospital, the only word Sil’s wife says is ‘Oh’ before she gets up and leaves. There was a humongous tire in the sit down scene in that warehouse. A circle goes on and on and on. A circle is also a prominent symbol in Christianity – a wedding ring, Jesus says ‘I am the alpha and the omega’ – the beginning and the end, an advent wreath.

    I think this is a reference to the ‘circle of life’ and the idea that life goes on after Tony dies. In scene of the get-together after Bobby’s death, the next generation is shown very prominently. Also, given AJ’s reaction to Tony being shot by Uncle Junior, I think he’s going want big time revenge on Tony’s death. AJ was wearing a shirt that was always Tony’s style in the diner. I know Tony didn’t want AJ in the family business and he’s not very mature, but he’s going to have to do a lot of growing up now that his father has died. He was also giving up his idealistic ways at the end and coming back to the family way.

    I also thought the scene showing AJ and Rhiannon watching Bush on TV was very significant. I feel it represented the fact that our government is no different from the mob. People are being killed in Iraq. Soldiers’ families are being irreparably damaged. Corruption, greed and vengence (Valerie Plame) are a constant part of the process.

    I loved the idea that the cat that kept watching Christopher’s picture was Adrianna based on the fact that she was so cat-like. The parts that showed Paulie being so upset with the cat reminded me of the frequent arguments between him and Christopher and how they got on each others nerves.

    A few other thoughts that came to mind based on other posters’ comments:

    The Syracuse football team is also known as The Orangemen

    Ford is sometimes jokingly referred to as Found On Road Dead. It was a Ford van that ran over Phil’s head.

  148. Erik Larsen Says:

    Interestingly, in Season 4 Episode 1, Tony relates to Melfi that there are two ways out – prison or death. He then mentions a third way – through blood – in other words, relating orders through a trusted blood relation.

    Of course, we all know where that latter one went – which leaves either prison or death.

    The finale was then never about Tony “living the rest of his life in fear” – or “life going on as normal” – we know that Carlo flipped, so it was going to be prison

    Or death

    And for the reasons put forth by MOS, I think it’s death.

  149. Erik Larsen Says:

    Sorry for my disjointed posts – but for the fun of an intellectual exercise – it makes sense to hypothesize that with Tony’s crew mostly gone, Butchie would have approached Patsy (or perhaps Patsy phoned Butchie to see if a deal could be struck), resulting in an agreement that Patsy would take over what remained of the DiMeo family, kicking up quite a bit to the Lupertazzi family

    Why?

    Butchie hates Tony – watch any interaction between them – eg when Tony went to visit Phil at the hospital – and also Tony threatened Butchie with a gun during the Coco curbstomping encounter.

    Patsy has a lot of resentment, as documented by others here, due to the twin death, and always feeling passed over (he hated Christopher).

    There is some great reading here!

  150. Newby Says:

    This is way out there, but I think Uncle Junior had Tony wacked – Tony said ‘three times and I’m out’ and Uncle Junior was responsible for the other two times. The black guy at Uncle Junior’s place and the two other guys in the diner may have been a reference to the first attempt – could be one, two . . . I’ve got to watch it again for other clues in the scenes with Junior. Junior was very, very sly. When Livia was out of it she had surprising moments of clarity, too. She blamed Tony for putting her in the nursing home. Junior could blame Tony for being where he is.

  151. Newby Says:

    Livia said something about ‘It’s all a big nothing’. Zero – ‘O’. She also said something like, ‘In the end your family turns on you’. I’m not spending time to look this up and get the wording exactly right, but I think this is all significant.

  152. Newby Says:

    I did a little more research and here’s what I came up with. Based on your fine analysis of the final scene and the emphasis on Bobby’s words, ‘You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, right?’, I am now certain that Uncle Junior had Tony wacked. In a previous episode, Uncle Junior was shown as having made friends in the nice mental hospital. I believe he also made contacts/friends in the state run institution.

    When Tony arrives for his visit with Uncle Junior the camera first shows a young African American guy. Then it shows Tony in the entryway looking at Uncle Junior. Tony doesn’t hear the orderly behind him, trying to move past him. (You probably don’t even hear it). In the diner, Tony doesn’t hear the bell when the two African American guys walk in. (Same thing – You probably don’t even hear it). I think Uncle Junior made friends with the orderly and asked the orderly to get rid of Tony (or have his friends get rid of Tony). Tony’s visit to the mental institution is the last scene before the diner scene. I think think Tony was followed from his visit with Uncle Junior to the diner.

    There are SO many clues:

    Tony mentioned to Dr. Melfi that Uncle Junior tried to kill him two times and said ‘Three strikes and I’m out’. There were many threes in the diner – the three boy scouts, the three creamers with the coffee cup, the three sodas delivered to Tony’s table, the three Soprano family members.

    When Janice visited Uncle Junior in the last episode, he mistook her for Livia. In the diner, a woman enters who looks like a young Janice. This is supposed to be Livia and is related to Uncle Junior and Livia attempting to kill Tony.

    The Guy in the Members Only jacket in the diner looks like a young version of Uncle Junior. His renactment of The Godfather killing scene represents Uncle Junior killing Tony.

    The young couple in the diner – the fellow looks like a young version of Tony. He is wearing a T shirt that’s the same style as the one Anthony is wearing in the same scene.

    The lyrics to the Journey song – ‘A singer in a smokey room’ – This is Uncle Junior, who sang the moving song in the last episode of the third season.

    Janice tells Junior ‘Bobby’s gone’ and Junior says ‘Ambassador Hotel’. Bobby Kennedy was killed at the Ambassador Hotel after winning the California primary, a big victory. I think Tony gets killed after winning the war with New York.

    In the Members Only episode, there is a scene titled ‘The Circle of Life’. In it, Tony describes a dream to Dr. Melfie where he sees a black woman pushing a baby and another one pushing a man in a wheelchair. Dr. Melfie says it’s like the circle of life. She goes on to talk about Tony’s mother trying to kill him. At the mental institution in the last episode, Janice (Livia?) pushes a baby in a stroller. Junior is in a wheelchair.

    Circles – Circle of Life – Livia said ‘It’s all a big nothing’ – zero. Onion rings. Meadow’s birth control – O-ring. Carmella’s earings are hoops. Lyrics to Journey song ‘It goes on and on and on’. Harpo changed his name to Hal – no ‘O’ at the end. Livia’s name is like Olivia with no ‘O’ in the beginning. David Chase likes to ‘bookend’ things. In the scene where Tony visits Sil in the hospital, the only word Sil’s wife says is ‘Oh’. The humongous tire in the sit down scene in that warehouse. The plate Mrs. Parisi turns over. The Ford hubcap on the SUV that runs over Phil’s head.
    There is a tiger on the wall at the diner. Junior mistakes Tony for Pussy Marange when he shoots him in the Members Only episode. Is the building on the wall in the diner the mental institution? There are football players shown on the wall in the diner. One has the year 1971 under it and the other has the year 1973. In the Members Only episode, a song titled ‘1973’ is included. Here are the lyrics:
    1973
    Simona
    You’re getting older
    Your journey’s been etched
    On your skin
    Simona
    Wish I had known that
    What seemed so strong
    Has been and gone
    I would call you up every Saturday night
    And we’d both stay out ’til the morning light
    And we sang, “Here we go again”
    And though time goes by
    I will always be
    In a club with you
    In 1973
    Singing, “Here we go again”
    Simona
    Wish I was sober
    So I could see clearly now
    The rain has gone
    Simona
    I guess it’s over
    My memory plays our tune
    The same old song
    I would call you up every Saturday night
    And we’d both stay out ’til the morning light
    And we sang, “Here we go again”
    And though time goes by
    I will always be
    In a club with you
    In 1973
    Singing, “Here we go again”
    I would call you up every Saturday night
    And we’d both stay out ’til the morning light
    And we sang, “Here we go again”
    And though time goes by
    I will always be
    In a club with you
    In 1973
    Singing, “Here we go again”
    I would call you up every Saturday night
    And we’d both stay out ’til the morning light
    And we sang, “Here we go again”
    And though time goes by
    I will always be
    In a club with you
    In 1973
    Singing, “Here we go again”
    And though time goes by
    I will always be
    In a club with you
    In 1973
    Notice the references to ‘Journey’ and ‘Here we go again’ (trying to kill Tony again) and ‘I guess it’s over’.

    This is a song ‘I Dreamed I Dream’ that played in the last episode when Tony was talking to Uncle Pat about Janice visiting Junior:
    I Dreamed I Dream
    Look before you leap, okay?
    Do you read me?
    May all your dreams come true
    He’s standing by the door
    He’s got something in his hands
    All the money’s gone
    All the money’s gone
    The days we spend, go on and on
    Shift
    F**king youth
    Working youth
    May all your dreams come true

    A lot of people suffer
    From impotence
    All the money’s gone
    The days we spend go on and on
    F**king youth
    Working youth
    F**king youth
    Working youth
    F**king youth
    F**king youth
    Working youth

    [lee]
    You slept
    Did I drift?
    Do I dream?
    Do you read me?
    I’m not speaking
    Do you read me?
    I dream

    I dream

    Sound today are you sound today
    Are you sound today?
    Sound today are you sound today
    Are you sound today?
    Today
    These things don’t happen
    Automatically
    I dream
    Edith moves each step
    F**king youth
    The days we spent go on and on
    I dream
    Do you read me?
    Notice the references to ‘All the money’s gone’, ‘He’s standing by the door’ (the orderly, Tony), ‘The days we spent go on and on. I’m not speaking. Sound today. (You don’t even hear it when it happens.)
    There are a lot of shots of Junior ‘thinking'; somtimes he has a sly look on his face. Is he pretending to be senile?
    Tony got wacked by Uncle Junior. I think Carmella and AJ also got killed because of the onion rings they ate like Tony (maybe last rites?) and the fact that this wasn’t technically a mob hit. (Family doesn’t get touched).

    masterofsopranos – I would like to know what you think of this.

  153. Mike Gebert Says:

    What’s funny is you worked this all out, and then eventually he’ll make a Sopranos movie and take the out he left himself, and prove you wrong.

    (Personally, I think the message of the end, setting the cynicism above aside, is “One of these days Tony is gonna get it. Maybe it’s today, maybe it’s a year from now. But it’s gonna happen like this. And that means every night will be like this, wondering if this is the one.”)

  154. Even the Onion Rings Matter | SMALLVILLE 100% Says:

    My colleague JVL passes on this link to a dissertation-sized explanation of the last episode of The Sopranos. It is heavy. It is dense. It is repetitive. It is thousands upon thousands of words long and it may take me a year to finish. (Incidentally, the longest magazine article I ever read was Paul Berman’s “The Passion of Joshka Fischer” in the New Republic, which numbered more than 25,000 words. It took me six months riding Metro to finish.)

    Nevertheless, the argument is laid out in excruciating detail that Tony Soprano does indeed die at the hands of the man in the Members Only jacket. And everything has significance: the ringing bell every time a patron walks into the diner, the location of the patrons around the diner, Tony’s POV, the onion rings (?!), things that were said in previous episodes (not knowing when the end comes, the lyrics to the song about Jimmy Brown). It’s like an analysis of the Zapruder film–which is also mentioned! Totally out of control. But you’ll read on. And on. And on. And on…

    Clearly a ton of one’s time was devoted to this. And some of it is very interesting. But here’s one amazing detail that was entirely missed in all the analysis:

    When Johnny Sac’s daughter Allegra is married, she and her father share the classic father-daughter dance. The song is “Daddy’s Little Girl.” But Allegra is not little. She is enormous!

    Take that, Sopranos experts!

  155. bfm Says:

    patsy parisi…in the study…with the candlestick…

    Fascinating read by the way…

  156. RMG Says:

    Tony’s death is very good for business from New York’s point of view. On the New Jersey side, Sil is in a coma, and Bobby and Christopher are no longer around. The only remaining member of Tony’s senior crew is Paulie, highly reluctant to step up in his last conversation with Tony, and with a history of flirtations with the other side (for example when he relayed the Ginny Sack joke). With Tony gone, presumably it wouldn’t be too much of a problem for New York to step in and mop up the scraps.

    I wonder if the brokered truce was indeed a ruse by New York, luring Tony into doing their dirty work for them by taking out Phil Leotardo and lulling him into a false sense of security, hence making him far easier to take out than when the families were at war.

  157. wjr Says:

    a very interesting, thought-provoking & illuminating article MOS. speaking of illumination, did anyone else notice the similarity between “the Beacon” in T’s coma-dream to the rotating spotlight on top of the Eiffel Tower as viewed by Carm when she was in Paris? maybe nothing, but……

  158. Samantha and Rob (UK) Says:

    We are watching all the episodes from start to finish again and noticed something quite cool! We didn’t spot it before but it’s so obvious now.
    In series 2 episode 4, the one where they visit Italy, Paulie is sat at a coffee table by himself and greets the Italian men at the table adjacent to him. Only one of these men look around at his comment, and this man is …………………….David Chase!
    We had to rewind it four times to be sure, but there’s no mistake!
    Ok, so not really any help with the mystery of the ending but an interesting nevertheless!

  159. JJ Says:

    Thank you for this, an excellent reading, particularly your analysis of the ‘Bell/Closeup/POV’ pattern, as well as the connections/parallels with Eugene.

  160. Ted Murphy Says:

    You missed the biggest clue indicating Tony’s death… the wind.

  161. AM Says:

    Hi,

    Very good read, however I have a couple of points to make. Using your POV analysis, surely if the final scene of us looking at Tony was his death, then we would see a bullet splattering his brains all over the place. That cannot be the LAST second of his life…If instead the last view was of Tonys POV looking at the door as usual, and us seeing Meadow and THEN it went black, then it would represent his death without question…However by giving us the MOG and by building up the tension as well as the repetition of ‘never here it coming’, Chase has given us just one interpretation to follow. I dont support the ‘always looking over his shoulder’ theory because its not where the scene was pointing to. I think it was a genuinely ambiguous ending. Yes without doubt death is a strong possibility, but to me the deaths of all of those you mention above and relate to TS’s shooting have a fundamental difference, we saw them die. For example take the shooting that Silvio was splattered at, he never heard it coming BUT he was covered in blood, which gave it away. Phil Leotardo’s death, he didnt hear it coming BUT we saw his head get popped. With Tony, it could not have been his demise in that last shot since we do not see any evidence of him getting shot. The blackness you describe as death, does not make sense since we are looking at Tony, if it was from his perspective then i agree it would be him ‘going dark’…Your POV concept is really interesting since i too remember seeing meadow enter the bar, but having seen it loads of times i know she didnt. It is a device used unquestionably but i think that your proof of why TS was killed is nothing more than falling for a trap set by the director. Normally in the show, something isnt repeated 5/6 times to make it clear to the audience, you have to be sharp and pick things up as they happen. So the fact that the Bobby quote is mentioned loads, the fact that all of the events above (silvio’s silence shooting, and phil’s death) are supposed to give you the impression that TS has possibly died in the final black out scene…BUT it could also represent the end of many of his problems in life… Throughout the years we have heard him complain about the same problems; krissy, junior, paulie, AJ, Meadow, NYC etc…and all of these problems are resolved one way or another…anyone that was in Tony’s way is dead, AJ is sorting his life out slowly, Meadow is settled down with an italian and doing well, Junior (the scene before the restaurant) is good as dead, krissy is dead…Tony now faces just one problem, the mother of all problems, the problem he has been fighting since the first show…JAIL…and its the first time a case is going to have to be properly settled in court…i dont agree with you when you say that this case is ignored because his death takes priority. I think you could argue that the reason this case is mentioned several times before the end is because its the next big thing in his life. something that would have changed the show enormously and probably been quite boring to watch! (the court procedure)…My only real point is that there is not enough to suggest that the death happened. all of your reasons are in the show deliberately to give us one possible solution but i believe that since we dont see Tony get shot from that angle, or his blood splatter elsewhere then we cannot assume that is what happened. I think you are missing the point if you think he has definitely been shot, because there is nothing definitive about it…personally i dont want TS to get shot in the final scene, but i objectively read your article and i agree with everything you say except for the fact that it does not prove he got shot, it simply proves its possible that he did, but most probably didnt since it was handled like no other death in the show…yes the way he was sitting was deliberate, the angle from the toilets was all deliberate and brilliantly arranged, however we are supposed to be worried, and aware that he might get shot. Just bear in mind the only other time Tony has been in this scenario was in season one when Junior hired guys to kill TS, and similarly he was oblivious to the attack and over medicated but he managed to avoid death… the only reason we dont see this in my opinion this time is because the show is over, and we are not at all sure that someone is actually after Tony…With the murder in front of silvio we knew the guy was in line to get shot in the NYC struggle. With Bobby we knew he was on the hitlist for NY, with Phil we knew he was on the hitlist of NJ, but with Tony there is NO evidence to point that hes in trouble except guessing that because they shot phil’s face tony is now wanted…its all possible but nothing is definitive and that is the point of the final scene. i can honestly say this is the best tv show ever, and in my mind Tony does not die at the end. The show and his life continues but in a different fashion: there is no more therapy for Tony, all of the cast at the start are dead with exception the soprano family and Paulie, we have reached the end of, dare i say, the JOURNEY that brought us to this point. Thanks for a great read tho.

  162. AM Says:

    Also to dispell the NY after Tony ideas, we saw the disagreement in the NY members before the ‘ruse’ meeting was held. They genuinely did not believe that Phil was handling things properly. Again there is reason for TS to be killed, but there always has been. This is nothing specific to the end of the show.

  163. Lee Says:

    Fantastic article. I couldn’t agree more.

    Tony dies at the end and it was inevitable. I always originally thought the show cut to black to let viewers decide for themselves, but it makes alot of sense that Tony never see’s Meadow come through the door because of his demise.
    In fact, it is sheer brilliance to give us, the viewers the same fate as Tony by putting us in his shoes as he is killed. As viewers, we will never know what happens next, just as Tony will never know because of his death.

  164. Locust Says:

    The way I interpreted it (although the arguments here have given me a few shreds of doubt) is that Tony doesn’t necessarily die there, in that place on that night, but it is a distinct possibility, just as every other moment of a life such as his also contains the distinct possibility of death. It is intended to represent the impending possibility, i.e. that Tony will, eventually and inevitably, take one of the only ‘two ways out’. The fact that there is no explanation, no particular motive, is meant to represent the fact that it could come from one of a thousand people for one of ten thousand reasons. If forced to decide in black and white, then I would say yes, that was his execution, whenever it occurred (there is nothing to indicate that it is more than a day or less than a year after Leotardo’s demise, apart from the lack of ageing on the part of the Sopranos); but my base inclination is to say that this event was a metaphor, a depiction of something that will eventually happen, not a bona fide part of the story that inescapably DID happen, at that time.

  165. Erik Larsen Says:

    Hmmm – just watched the first episode last night – the opening shot isn’t from Tony’s POV – it’s of Tony looking at the statue, which then cuts to his POV

  166. Matt Says:

    I think this is a great analysis, the only thing that I don’t get is that they show Tony walking into the diner from the same angle that they show everyone else walking into it…how is it from his POV at that point?

  167. Rathland Says:

    2 mackaxx re

    “One problem. The instantaneous black when it should switch to tonys POV. This means that he is shot at the very instant the POV switches. Given the whole speed of light thing shouldn’t we have seen the gun flash in the final non POV shot of tony? Or did the bullet beat the light?”

    No we shouldn’t be seeing any flash of light because movies are filmed at 24 fps, meaning the last frame of Tony’s face was shot before the lights originated from the flashing gunfire reached him (for both light and sound it’ll take less than 1/24th of a second to cover the distance from gunman to Tony). And the next frame (the first in the black frames sequence) was shot at exactly the moment the bullet reached his head.

  168. Stace Says:

    MOS,

    I saw this on another board and I thought you would be interested. From a David Chase interview on Air America radio back in April on a show hosted by Richard Belzer-

    R.Belzer: I was working with Steve Schirripa recently, we were judging Last Coming Standing for NBC and we were talking about a lot of things and he was saying he heard all of these theories for the show that had nothing to do with your intention and wasn’t anything the actors thought, like little hints along the way, like a word, like when Tony and Steve are on the boat at the lake and they say “‘you never know its gonna happen” or “you never know its gonna hit you”…

    D.Chase: That was part of the ending.

    R.Belzer: Oh, it was? see, what do I know? Were there other things in previous episodes that were hints towards it?

    D.Chase: There was that and there was a shooting which Silvio was a witness, well he wasn’t a witness, he was eating dinner with a couple of hookers and with some other guy and there was some visual stuff that went on there which sort of amplified Tony’s remarks to Baccala about you know “you don’t know its happened” or “you won’t know it happened when it hits you”. That’s about it.

    This is the site-

    http://premium.airamerica.com/BelzerandDavidChase

  169. mobile Says:

    Dammit, somebody beat me to the punch on the first part, but not only is Syracuse’s symbol the Orange Man, I looked it up and found that it is was also the name of a city in Sicily. Also, I think the theme of Tony representing America is the most interesting, and really enjoyed your thoughts on that. I think it’s the one theme that will certainly resonate the most 30 years from now, that the old America is dead. Or at least I think it will, what do I know?

    As for the mentioning of prequels, somebody brought up Star Wars, which is an interesting point. My main thought on the prequels was that George has always been an idea man, not a writer. He knows how it should feel, what it should look like, and who it’s about, but the dude can’t write. The first Star Wars movie, the only good one he wrote, works only because it’s so damn simple he could handle it, but with the prequels, he reached for the sun and just couldn’t do it. I think he wanted it to be like Godfather, heavy with Shakespearean grandeur and it was just beyond the scope of himself and the subject. Empire and Jedi also reached, but not as far, and he had good writers working for him then.

    Now, I mention this for a reason, half of The Godfather Part II was a prequel, and it was freaking great. So, I guess my point is, is that prequels don’t suck, just George Lucas’s writing does, and maybe a Sopranos prequel wouldn’t eat it either. Should they though? I’m not sure, the ending for The Sopranos was so complex, final and perfect, why screw with it? On the other hand, so was The Godfathers.

    If he does do it, it totally should be about the time of Tony’s childhood, possibly even earlier, and focus on Junior, Livia, and Tony’s Dad. Not only would it mirror the Godfather, but it would be distant enough from the original series as to not tarnish it. You’d see more into Tony’s home life, and maybe Tony B and Vesuvio would show up later on, but everybody else would be left alone. We knew quite a bit about Livia, but not so much about Junior, and we know practically nothing about Tony’s Dad, Tony’s other sister, and absolutley nothing about Tony’s grandparents, so there’s room there.

    Now Chase could also get completely fucking insane and juxtapose it with Tony’s family dealing with his death, but not only is that just too silly, I don’t think there’s much there. Their lives will just turn to shit, and that’s it. Carm will marry some rich shell and feel empty, AJ will self destruct, and Meadow will just move away like her Aunts did.

    Maybe they won’t, maybe they’ll change, and that will be the interesting part. I think it would be damn funny if the show took place ten years from now, if America completely sunk as a power and Meadow winds up immigrating to a foreign country in search of opportunity. That’d be hilarious. Maybe if it’s a movie he could do it. It’d crazy, and maybe even feature a third story line of some people we never met form the old country and Chase would just go all out to arty town.

  170. mobile Says:

    I’d like to emphasize, that what I’d find funny about that is the whole cyclical nature of the series, and it would relate to Italians coming to America in search of opportunity.

    Also, do you think you could elaborate on what you think Chase meant about the Planet of the Apes? I never quite fully understood what he meant by that, there’s a lot of ways to look at it.

  171. steve Says:

    This is the best explanation for the sopranos ending ever!!!!! after reading this no one should have the courage to make another theory about the ending this one killed it the most detailed analysis ive seen i think david chase himself would be impressed with MASTERSOFSOPRANOS. u did a great job and thank u for not wasting 2 hours of my life reading this great piece of work.

  172. steve Says:

    and OH YEAH I FORGOT check out wikipedia and check made in america episode david chase talks about meadows and ajs future im serious

    PS sorry if i offended anyone for saying “after reading this no one should have the courage to make another theory about the ending” my bad

  173. PidGi Says:

    Well done ! I totally agree with your work !
    A hit is a hit !

  174. ben Says:

    Bit superfluous, but other than that, good analysis; quick point to add (and it may be nothing) but Chase wanted a full three minutes of silence/ black before rolling the credits. Now I’ve read before about the Christ analogies – but isn’t 3 minutes also generally considered the time it takes for brain death to occur after respiration stops? Just a thought…

  175. raimaninov Says:

    i agree completely, T dies, but not only him, all of us who ‘ve had empathy with him, who have been at last, HIM, feel what dead must be…nothing. The fact that as a viewer you can ask “what the hell happened” and can write dozens of pages afterwards about it doesn’t change the fact that Chase makes us feel for 10 seconds as a back- gunshotted man: the movie (your life) is going on and now…it isn’t. Great Chase! .
    I thing that one character that shows clearly the level of identification that all of us got with T is the FBI agent that after knowing about Phil’s death says “this WE won”…great way of mixing all that ideas about america, terrorism, moral trials etc that you show up in your text.

    Another analogy to Godfather III and scorsese: there is an escene in the 6th season in which Silvio and Paulie play boxing slowly like in Scorsese’s “Raging Bull”. The music that soinds there is the intermezzo of cavalleria Rusticana. I don’t remember if this music is in Scorsese’s film, but for sure it is the music of all the final scene of Godfather III, when al pacino collapses in pain with his daughter death and we don’t listen him crying, we only see it and listen to that music. I love this ending GFIII…. just when i listened that piece i thought “something is gonna happen to meadow” . I thought in fact she was gonna get crushed by a car when crossing the street in the final moments…so chase achieved to make me think (as tony did) about my daughter security, not mine…

  176. James Says:

    Hi,

    This is my second post. I read this analysis after watching The Sopranos for the the first time, and i loved it. I just finished watching season 5 and 6 again and it’s funny how many times i would pause the show and notice how there were so many clues during some of those episodes as to the events that will take place in Holstens e.g. Tony can’t eat onions after the operation but it’s the last thing he eats at Holsten’s. Also, with the orange cat being a bad omen, Christopher says to Tony B, “Keep your eye on the Tiger” when Tony B is studying for his massage exam, and Adriana in or around that same scene point to her temple with her hand shaped like a gun asking about his operation to remove the cancer on his head. It’s probably been mentioned that Adriana could be reincarnated as the cat seen in the last episode. She dressed and looked similar to a cat, Silvio shot Adriana while she scurries away on all fours like a cat, and the cat incessantly stares at Christopher’s picture. And it’s Tony who gives the order to kill Adriana.

    Obviously, one of the critical episodes is “Members Only”. As we know, MOG kills Tony in Holsten’s. Apart from wearing the same jacket, I think MOG looks quite similar to Eugene. In the episode “Member’s Only”, when everyone is sitting outside Satriale’s, Agent Harris (who becomes friendly with Tony during the final season and warns him of any possible threats), is talking to Tony, then looks across where Eugene is sitting for at least a couple of seconds. It’s only a small thing but it’s noticeable.

    At Raymond’s funeral in that episode, Tony and the crew are talking, when the crew go out for a smoke. Tony is standing looking at the coffin. You can see Eugene standing a few metres in front of Tony (like MOG sitting at Holsten’s). Eugene then glances over to Tony (MOG in Holsten’s) and then walks toward him (MOG at Holsten’s). He even approaches Tony on the same side as MOG approaches Tony at Holsten’s. There is a door at the funeral parlour where the mens room would be at Holsten’s. Just food for thought.

    Cheers

  177. Mark Says:

    I agree with you, Tony dies in the final episode.
    Tony was offered a chance of redemption when he entered into a coma after he was shot. He squandered that opportunity and from that moment he embarked on a spiral into hell.
    Chase’s use of imagery in these episodes was beautiful and brilliant.
    -The inferno in the distance that Tony/Kevin could not explain: a warning that hell awaits him.
    -Or, the play on words: Kevin Finnerty (Kev ‘Infinity’) a warning about how Tony’s eternal life would play out if he did not change his ways.

    The theme of ‘infinity’ returns in the final scene. The onion rings that Tony and AJ order are not only another example of their indulgence, but a symbol of infinity. A circle is a symbol of infinity. Tony’s forged his circle and his life-journey had come to an end; Tony’s eternal life awaited him.

  178. Just finished Says:

    First I would like to thank MOS for this work. I didn’t watch the show real-time but just wrapped it up with HBO On-Demand. The Wire was my top all-time show until the last few minutes of The Sopranos roared past it (The Wire kinda limped to the finish line while The Sopranos went out strong). I’m glad I found this when searching for some translation of the ending. I’m not sure if this was mentioned in the comments (so many but most very interesting) but I think the loophole for a movie could be the black is unconsciouness instead of death from the hit? I don’t think a movie will happen and probably shouldn’t since the ending was brilliant. The series ended on top and should stay that way even though I still want more. You never know what factors could arise ($$$?) in the future though. I can’t think of any other loophole for a movie that wouldn’t greatly diminsh the ending. Thanks again for this piece.

  179. Alex Good Says:

    Having just watched the series for the second time, and having read a few posts about all this, it seems pretty damn obvious to me what happens.
    The viewer decides.

    The whole damned show is a euphemism for modern American life. Greed, degradation, family, politics, power. We, the viewer, are made to feel empathy for these monstrous, hideous people. The scum of the world, we go about in pity for them. Tony survived being shot, twice, he survived going to the mattresses and he survived his mother – The show is about his survival, and then everything goes blank.
    There is a chime as Med walks in the door, and historically we haven’t seen the series hitmen sit around for 15 minutes showing their face around before carrying out the job. Especially as the guy walked in before some of the family, and could have done the job a lot easier earlier.

    The whole point of the show, in my opinion, was to get the viewer to look at themselves. Therapy? The atomic family separated from this life of demonstrable evil, the way he earned for them?
    I’m going away from the show knowing that Tony will live every second of the rest of his life in limbo. Feds, hitmen, whatever.
    Whether every second was only 1 more, or 30 years worth of seconds I dont know. We aren’t supposed to.

  180. Daniel Says:

    Just wanted to point it out, taken from the not-too reliable Wikipedia…but if it is true, it lends a lot of weight to the ‘Tony Is Dead’ argument-

    “The “Blue Comet” is also a Hopi Indian prophecy which states that a comet will be seen in the sky as a final warning to mankind.”

    In Wikipedia’s article on The Blue Comet.

    Just wanted to thank you for the amazing read, I could read it all day!

  181. Anonymous Says:

    Just wow…

  182. bumpa Says:

    Wasn’t Jakie Jr. killed on Ralph’s orders, not Tony’s? I’m pretty sure Vito comes in, after doing the deed, and nods to ralph, who is on the phone at the time.

  183. Jaron Says:

    Thank you for this analysis, you saved me weeks of internal arguments.

    WRT people who deny Tony’s death on the premise that there is no one left to kill him, that is ridiculous. The DiMio family and Tony in particular are in the business of screwing up the lives of others for their own benefit… the list of casualties, and therefore people with motives is bound to be quite huge.

    Members Only jackets were popular for only a brief time, in the early eighties. This was about the same time Tony was first coming up in the Family. I first noticed a Members Only jacket in this series when Richie Aprile first reenters society after being incarcerated for a long time. When Blundetto gets out of prison, he first shows up in a Miami Vice style pastel suit, with the sleeves pushed up, another eighties style. Remember that Tony B. got pinched instead of Tony in the early eighties, so it seems plausible that a formerly connected guy or associate getting out of the slammer might have some score to settle with Tony.

    Also… Junior is seen in a Member’s Only jacket and conspires with Livia to snuff Tony. Eugene is seen in one and also discusses taking out Tony, IIRC with his wife. Richie wears one and also conspires with Junior and NY to whack Tony. A conspiracy is usually known only to its members…

  184. Lee Says:

    Although this is great piece, sometimes I feel that film enthusiasts and literature lovers can over analyse – can things not be taken at face value anymore? Does anyone really believe that David Chase sat in his room creating diabolically coded sequences with ridiculously tenuous links and references to outside sources?

    In my experience film / tv makers often only go as far as cross referencing and / or borrowing from other film / tv in a homage. I have seen an interview with Chase here in the UK where he freely states that the show is actually about nothing. No ‘crime doesn’t pay’, no ‘self analysis’, no big theme, lesson or moral to the story, just the good old human condition using great great subject matter.

    Its a great analysis but I think you are ignoring the rather large elephant in the room – it is up to each viewer to decide how they think the story will play out. Personally I do lean towards the idea Tony gets shot but there are enough incongruities in there to leave me in slight doubt.

    It is exactly for this reason that, when I first watched the final scenes, I just thought WOW, what an utterly brilliant way to end a fantastic show that has entertained me for 80+ hours. I was thoroughly entertained and very happy and satisfied with that fact. Cinematically it was very well realised.

    Going back to the piece, I bet you could pick any 5 minutes from any of the shows and go into the same level of analysis if you tried hard enough. I do like the comment at the end however where you describe it as the anti-scarface ending. Much better than the average blog in any event, thank you!

  185. watcher Says:

    Very nice breakdown of the final scene.

    The jolting cut-to-black should also jostle the empathy bone among the seemingly rare non-sociopathic fans. A remembrance for abrupt termination of Tony’s dozens of direct and indirect victims…regardless of how good/bad/fascinating they may have been. The problems and doings of the deceased are left behind for whoever cares or is affected. For Tony, this was his ultimate selfish ‘gift’ and legacy.

    There was maybe a somewhat obvious connection in ‘Blue Comet’ to Tony claiming that Boss’ families have unspoken protection from a hit, but then contradicting that with fanatic action to separate and escape the house. (An implicit expectation of his own demise as an unsurprising probability) Whether the rest of family was also hit in Holsten’s diner maybe be more difficult to assess, and certainly less important.

    On a less serious note – a major kudo to Simon for the genius pairing of Journey in the final scene.
    A bit of regained respect for a schlocky 80s band much beloved in youth, but somewhat a source of embarrassment in adulthood !

  186. adam Says:

    One last note on the POV sequence/Blackout. Just after the finale aired, blogs on the internet contained numerous posts from viewers swearing they saw Meadow walk through the door just before the abrupt cut to black.

    Hi,
    Just letting you know….when i watched the ending (over and over) the very last scene was meadows face and she was midway through a sentence before it blacked out. Until i read that above comment i always assumed that was how it ends but am shocked that this versio apparently doesnt exist.

    I will locate the dvd i had and tyake a screenshot if need be.

  187. John Says:

    Amazing! Very well done!

  188. isobel Says:

    I love this site! At last a way to handle my Sopranos withdrawal symptoms! I agree with a post from RMG that NY, i.e. Butch, manipulated T to kill Phil, as a way of getting rid of him and taking over the NY crew without being implicated. Then the truce lulled T into a false sense of security allowing Butch to take him out and take over the NJ crew too.

  189. isobel Says:

    Regarding the comment Chase made about the Planet of the Apes, someone above asked what this meant. I interpreted it to mean that when he watched that movie, he was so stupid that he didn’t realize that the ending indicated that they had been on planet Earth the whole time, rather than some strange planet. Not realizing that this was the intention, he (Çhase) totally missed the really obvious meaning. He’s saying that some viewers have missed the really obvious ending of the Sopranos, which is that Tony has been shot and killed. What else would a black screen mean ? Remember Meadow helping AJ interpret the Frost poem, when AJ says “I thought black meant death?” and she says “White too!” (one of my favorite lines…)

  190. superdayv Says:

    I was just thinking how appropriate this ending is, especially of Tony dies. First of all having nothing conclusively decided is so appropriate, we are simply disconnected from that world, much more realistic than the storyline coming to a conclusion. For all of these years we were catching a glimpse of a realistic world, a neutral observer; simply being unplugged from that world makes it all the more real.

    Also if what people are saying about Tony dying, and there being signs all along is true it fits in very nicely with the rest of the series. There have always been signs pointing to events that are just there and not shoved in our faces, we have to piece it together ourselves. However in the past once that event happens it serves to help us tie everything together. But now we are disconnected before we witness that final event, with all of the signs still being there. It’s like the normal process of having precursors followed by a payoff all exist, just that the payoff is shrouded from us.

    (Sorry my computer died on me before I could post it)

  191. BigAl Says:

    This is an excellent deconstruction. Masterfully done. The entire thing from your research and perspective makes very comprehesible sense to me – and rings true in a sixth sense-way about what probably really happened. Its all there, just waiting for us to interpret and absorb.

  192. Jeff Says:

    He didn’t die…The whole scene was just a set-up that reflected Chase’s contempt for his audience….So obvious with the blatant ‘Godfather’ restaurant shooting tie-in…..And if he did ‘die’ then Chase has no sense of a conclusion…You’re telling me that the best he can do is to rip-off Coppola?….

    Your theory and explanations are great, but I believe Chase’s foreshadowing was simply to build dramatic effect..And then, like so many movies and shows will do, he simply had no vision other than to let the air out of the balloon and give no real answers..

    The Sopranos was not a show about the profound, or answers.It showed life in very stark terms, and was at it’s best when it delved into Italian ‘Black’ Comedy.

  193. Paul Jardine Says:

    Thanks for writing this brilliant peice. It extended the sad closure of the wonderful piece of TV that is/was The Sopranos.

    There are many, many things for me to ponder on. So, thanks again. A very well researched and well written essay.

    Paul x

  194. Bob Says:

    I stumbled onto your analysis last night, and was mesmermized by the detail. I have always felt the same way as you, but had an empty feeling after the last episode because of its ambiguity. I couldn’t agree with you more. One of the things that if you just look at the simplicity of what Chase always maintained was that the Bacala comment in “Movies” and then flashed back in “Comet” was very important to the ending, it answered the question right there of whether he died or not. Why emphasize it if that was not the case? The Silvio analogy when Torciano was killed was something I hadn’t thought of, but that was also a very good point. I totally agree with the pattern Chase set up with Tony looking up and then seeing someone come through the door and then the last time, blackness. He was not flippant, and everything had a purpose, especially in the last season. He would have never went to all the trouble to show him getting shot, the Kevin Finnerty thing, redemption chance, and then Tony actually reverting and becoming worse than he ever was before to just have a “life goes on” ending. Too much building up, symbolism,… for it to end that way. You should figure out a way to send your analysis to Chase somehow, it would be interesting to see if he responded to you. Your absolutely excellent analysis helped me put closure to that ending, and again, couldn’t agree with you more. Kudos to you!

  195. Jeff Says:

    I also stumbled onto your analysis tonight and found it very interesting. I have read through some of the comments and didn’t see where anyone else had mentioned the homage paid to The Godfather 1. MOG did the same thing to Tony that Michael Corleone did to Capt. McCluskey and The Turk Solatso. He gets up, walks to the bathroom, and although it wasn’t shown, I can imagine him splashing water on his face to calm himself, comes back out and shoots Tony in the head.

  196. Gary Says:

    One additional Adrianna-cat thing. In the Master-P episode, she is shown singing her friend Richie’s band’s song to Master-Pand. There is a point in the chorus where a cat inexplicably “meows”. We see Adrianna raise her “paws” and do her best cat imitation. Master-P even mockingly copies her.

  197. Joe Says:

    Good, detailed analysis. I felt from the moment the last episode ended that it was the best episode of the entire series. It tied everything up perfectly. As to the people who don’t think we were given a real ending, it’s pretty clear they don’t understand most of what they see. It was crystal clear and really beautifully done.

  198. Doug Says:

    This was a great analysis of the finale. However, one of the early comments was this:

    Sean Says:

    June 17, 2008 at 3:07 am
    I disagree that Tony was killed. I think the ending puts us in Tony’s head, as others mentioned, and in his head we see that he lives perpetually in a sort of controlled paranoia…a control which he loses at times, hence his panic attacks.

    Could this suggest that at the moment where it goes black and silent, this is actually Tony suffering a panic attack?

    Once again, a great analysis.

  199. Pax Says:

    Chase’s quote about how people wanted to see Tony Soprano dead and how he personally thought it was disgusting… was interesting.

    I think he achieved two things with the ending. He sated the appetite for those who wanted Tony Soprano dead by providing them with a classic suspenseful build-up (toying with the love-hate relationship). He also sent a gentle reminder to everyone that IF Tony Soprano died – so did the show… That’s why we didn’t see Meadow walk through the door – everyone ceases to exist. They ceased to exist because the show was over not because the main character was killed.

    Remember – not once in the entire run did the Sopranos ever have a happy sit-down dinner. So there was no reason to end the show like this. In Soprano-World – there are no happy endings. So instead of onion-ring eating and laughs to end the show happily, Chase decides to cut to black because even this happy ending disgusted him.

    What happens when a show ends – it cuts to black. A series final that cuts to black without any ending music simply means that the series is over. That’s what happened here. The abrupt ending only adds to the possibility, however slight, that the show may return since it leaves some viewers with questions. Perhaps if enough viewers demand answers, enough money could be generated to produce that feature film.

    If and when ‘The Sopranos’ return, the diner scene isn’t even shown. Nothing happened here except that Meadow sat down and swallowed an onion ring like the rest of the family because, frankly… they’re pigs.

    As far as MOG… he exits the bathroom after Meadow has sat down and we realize why he was looking over at Tony Soprano… he recognized him. He introduces himself and wishes Tony and family his best. Now with Phil gone, Tony Soprano has moved up the food chain. Tony is aware of his new status which also explains why his back isn’t up against the wall and why he’s out (unprotected and relaxed) with his entire family (in contrast to earlier in the show).

  200. Steve Says:

    Beautiful work. I cannot say that I drilled down into each delicate detail as you did, but after gleaning through a majority of the intricately worked explanations, it explains a lot of the gaps I missed through my first watch.

    Well done, sir.

  201. Bas Says:

    Wow the level of detail is astonishing, you must have seen it dozens of times :)

    I also heard aout the theory of Meadow parking her car, failing twice and then the third time she does succed; reflecting Tony almost being murdered twice once by the two black dudes and once by his uncle. Perhaps this is the third time? ;)

    Anyway, thanks very much for this. I already beloeved that he died but if your evaluation doesn’t prove it I don’t know what does:P

    Greetings from Holland

  202. Svizec Says:

    Detailed stuff, yes… but wrong in a sense, that it tries so hard to prove something that can’t be proven. It should be obvious to EVERYONE that this is just a theory and that it could easily go any other way. Here is a quote from Chase that in my opinion clearly shows, that the analysis on this page is far from being probable, let alone certain. However the authors put so much work into their analysis and are so much sure about their truth, that they will probably diseregard it or lower its importance:

    This wasn’t really about leaving the door open. There was nothing definite about what happened, but there was a clean trend on view — a definite sense of what Tony and Carmela’s future looks like. Whether it happened that night or some other night doesn’t really matter. ” but goes on to say, “There had been indications of what the end is like. Remember when Jerry Toricano 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.” From this I believe it is clear that, “trend on view” is that (like Jerry Toricano) Tony will be killed, before he even notices it. From reading the synopsis of the final season on this page as it stands you’d think that it all ended happily and peacefully

  203. me Says:

    I also *swear* I saw Meadow from Tony’s POV just before the shot faded. Except, I was watching it on my computer, and I just watched it again and sure enough she wasn’t there. Unless Chase hacked my avi file so that I would only see her the first time I watched it, it really was an *amazing* film making trick.

  204. Gridlock Says:

    It’s pretty obvious that Jackie Jr didn’t hear it coming too, just *pop* mid-stride and down he went.

    We should be so lucky…

  205. Cheryl Says:

    Great ocd site. I do have to say that I believe the cat is Christopher. The cat is referred to as a male a number of times throughout the episode. Adrianna has been gone for sometime while the Christopher murder is much fresher. Also the cat particularly bothers Paulie and his relationship with Christopher was always strained. The cat laying in front of the store while Paulie is sunning. to me means Paulie’s days are quickly running out also. Tony keeps defending the cat while Paulie is trying to get rid of it. Very similiar to Tony’s relationship to Chris.

  206. Jack Hamilton Says:

    I love your thesis. I do have problems with MOG being at 3 o clock, more like he was at 10 o clock position.
    I think Pauly has several reasons to take out Tony. One is, his gut has to tell him, Tony was thinking of killing him on the boat, in Remember When. In the first seaon, when Junior tried to have Tony killed, Paulie tells him, “If I’m Your Uncle, I have to finish, what I started” Giving Tony reason to take out his uncle first. Paulie would have reason to kill Tony, before giving Tony another chance. Also Paulie was playing both sides during season four.
    Am I missing something, or did Tony assume that Carlo flipped. I thought his lawyer said, there was grand jury testimony. I never heard him say it was Carlo exactly. I heard Tony jump to that conclusion when talking with his wife, but that doesn’t make it so.
    One detail that I feel was important was that discussion Tony had with Agent Harris. Agent Harris makes the off handed comment, that they could’ve been testing to see how the FBI responds. When Walden walks into the getaway house, differently, it is possible, he was seeing how they responded. If Walden was working for someone else.
    Thanks again, for your work.

  207. Chase Says:

    What if the russian guy that got away in the woods killed tony? =p

  208. Anonymous Says:

    Nice analysis. It explained a lot of random things I noticed but never connected.

    There’s an interesting scene in the episode when they have the Cleaver screening that I noticed – Tony, Phil, Doc and Danny Baldwin have their picture taken together. The two real bosses (Tony and Phil) and the two acting bosses Doc and Danny – Baldwin obviously was literally acting as the Tony character in the film…

  209. Matt Says:

    Great analysis. I share all the same feelings but had not found anything anywhere that conveyed all the facts and nuances in such a clear, concise and detailed way. It’s something I can print out for friends who are also fans of the show.

  210. Leo Says:

    Nice,before reading this my theory was that if you liked Tony he lived,if you hated him he died.Simplistic maybe but i can dream (!!).

  211. Rob Says:

    I feel like I’m in an “Emperor’s New Clotches” sort of situation. It seems to me that, if Chase intended the result to be clear, then the ending was a dismal failure, if only based on the level of disagreement about what happened.

    This level of analysis is something one would apply to biblical verse, and equally open to rebuttal.

    To me, the entire series was representational, not symbolic, and The Sopranos was always about full disclosure — in a big way — all the way. Very little was implied, at least as far as narration of the plot was concerned.

    Also, The Sopranos was *never*, ever, just about Tony’s POV. We were with Carmela, with AJ and his friends, with the shrink while she was with her shrink, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum. There were a thousand plot developments that Tony never even knew about! To suddenly say at the end that we didn’t see the hit because Tony wouldn’t have seen it from his POV is, IMO, stupid, and counter to the way the entire series was written and edited.

    IMO, this is a case of a clever guy (Chase) getting too clever for his own good, and drinking his own Kool-Aid. There were plenty of ways to tell the story straight and avoid ambiguity without showing Tony’s brain matter flying into the onion rings. They could have shown the hand with the gun, or someone across the table reacting to the gun, or the reflection of the guy with the gun in the front window, or turned off the video and let the audio run (which is what I kind of expected), or a million other things.

    Instead, we started with millions of people thinking their cable went out, and we will forever have millions of Elvis-like conspiracy theorists waiting for the Sopranos movie sequel. If Chase meant to tell it straight, but a Doctoral dissertation is required to explain how clear it is … it’s a total miss.

    Sorry. Loved the series. Hated the ending.

  212. ShaolinTiger Says:

    Fascinating piece.

    What interests me is no-one has explored the fact the final POV shot could be from Meadow and it was her that got clipped.

    It could have been what caused Coco to give her that shit in the Little Italy restaurant.

    Anyway like you’ve conceded, there’s no definite interpretation to the ending as the ending is designed to be left open to interpretation.

    It could have been much clearer though, if Chase had meant it to be clear.

    Obviously it wasn’t and it’s disappointing for many people, for me I just say “What you gonna do? *shrug*”

  213. Ken Says:

    A couple of points (if I am not too late to this game, considering it is nearing two years since the end of the show and nearly a year since this was first posted):

    First, let me tell you what my take has always been on the ending. In a nutshell, it quite simply didn’t matter. Chase had made it perfectly clear through six seasons and especially culminating in the final season that Tony was going to spend eternity in hell. I know we all have the Sunday school or Catechism version of hell in our heads… with its fire and brimstone and devils and pitchforks, etc., etc., but, heck, a few years ago, even Pope John Paul II acknowledged (and I am paraphrasing here) that hell was not a place but rather a state of mind. As such, Tony’s eternity in hell need not start when he dies. In my mind, as he sat down in Holstens that night, his stint in hell was starting whether his brains got splattered into his onion rings or he wolfed down a fantastically greasy burger and left to spend a quiet night with his family in his McMansion on the hill. As of that moment, and Chase made this fantastically clear over season 6B, Tony knew his future…. REALLY knew his future. Sure, he’d said in the past that that guys like him either end up dead or in jail, but saying it and really understanding what that means deep in your soul are two very different things. Over season 6B, he’d seen every possible permutation of his own future up close and personal in the lives of his compatriots, and all were indeed hellish: Junior dying alone, broke and enfeebled in an institution with no friends, money or even memories; Johnny Sack dying in prison but not before watching his family face a life of poverty without him; Janis facing life alone with her child and no apparent means of financial or emotional support (not to mention Bobby’s kids possibly doomed to a life being raised by Janis, which undoubtedly would be little different from Tony’s upbringing by Livia); not to mention, Tony’s own children already beginning to suffer as direct result of his choices with Meadow quitting medical school to become a lawyer thanks to her witnessing his allegedly poor treatment at the hands of law enforcement and with A.J., not only facing the same types of mental health issues Tony does, but also having been so coddled that he has little hope of a life without Tony’s direct assistance (which undoubtedly ends with him living the “mob life” just like his father and his father’s father); and, beyond that, Tony’s “work life” was just as bad. His crew was decimated. One of his few remaining capos, Carlo, had already started cooperating with the Feds, which left him with nothing more than the dunderheaded Patsy and… well…. what more does one need to say about Paulie. The rest of his crew was a bunch of nameless, faceless kids who, even if they have the requisite ruthlessness, certainly don’t have the experience, all of which leaves Tony’s economic future also in serious doubt (Let’s not forget, his finances were such bad shape only a few weeks before that he had to borrow $200 k from Hesch and struggle mightily to pay it back). None of this even mentions the fact that, from that moment on, he was always facing the possibility that the next person he sees will either slap him in handcuffs and drag him off to jail for the rest of his life or put a bullet in his brain and end his life. I think without any more embellishment, a compelling argument could be made that Tony’s existential hell on earth would be every bit as bad as anything the great satan could dream up down below. The point is that Tony was already in hell when he sat down at Holstens. He didn’t need a bullet in his brain to get there. Therefore, there was no need for us to see his brains oozing out of his head into that bowl of onion rings to know that Tony was going to get the punishment he deserved.

    Having said all that, I now want to congratulate MasterOfSopranos. I have spent the better part of two years reading “definitive explanations” showing that Tony died that night in Holstens and, frankly, none of them came remotely close to convincing me. Until now, that is. Yours convinced me. Bravo!! I do now finally believe that Tony took a bullet that night from MOG and it was the bullet burrowing into his brain that caused the screen to go black at the end of the final episode. Fantastic job, my friend.

    Mind you, it does not change my own interpretation of the ending. The simple fact is that Chase didn’t make it any more clear that Tony had died because, as I explain above, it wasn’t necessary. It was almost irrelevant.

    For those who are so hot to condemn David Chase for this ending, regardless of intent, I have to make another point: Part of the brilliance of this ending is that it gives virtually nothing away, and I am not talking about to the viewing audience who will be watching a fully-edited version that was probably only seen by a handful of people on whole planet prior to airtime …. Nor am I am referring to some alleged sequel that David Chase will undoubted be given a zillion dollars to do someday (it is NOT going to happen, by the way, not in a million years. Maybe… MAYBE… a prequel, telling the story of Tony’s father or Uncle Junior or some other aspect of the early years of the DiMeo family, but no more “The Sopranos” as we know it). I am referring instead to anybody who actually witnessed the ending being filmed. Nobody, not the actors or the crew or the press or the multitudes of fans who followed the crew around to witnesses its final shooting schedule, could watch the filming of that final sequence and tell you anything except that the show ends, just like season 1, with Tony eating dinner with his family. That may seem like a small thing, but, for those of you (like me) who live in New Jersey, you undoubtedly still remember what was going on in New Jersey while that final episodes were being shot. It was a zoo. Details of shooting locations and happenings were popping up on blogs and, heck, even on the local news on a nearly daily basis. Everyone… and I do mean EVERYONE… knew that the final scene had been filmed at Holstens. In fact, most of the multitude of leaked “endings” that were floating around the internet in the months and weeks before the final episodes were aired even went so far as to tie together all of the known events (based on what fans had witnessed being filmed at various locations) including Phil dying his gruesome death at a Gas Station; Bobby getting gunned down in a train store and Silvio and Patsy both being gunned down outside the Bada Bing (though apparently nobody saw the filming of Patsy running away and/or Silvio in his coma). I presume that Chase himself was the source of these “endings” to get everybody off the path of the real ending, but the point is that these endings were out there because everyone KNEW what was being filmed. I think it is pretty safe to say if Chase had filmed a scene in Holstens of Tony’s brains oozing out into a bowl of onion rings while his family looked on in horror, that it would have been mentioned in the blogs within about 30 seconds, hence ruining the ending to the show. Sure, they could have gone to some soundstage somewhere, rebuilt the interior of Holstens, and filmed some final shots without the public being aware, but, even then, the crew and cast (including the guy playing MOG, who was, in fact, just a Delaware pizza guy, not a professional actor) would have known the ending, and, thus it would still have been possible (better yet likely) that the ending would get out. I think we can all agree that, if we had known for a fact that Chase had filmed a scene of Tony dying at the end, the finale would have lost most if not all of its luster. With this ending, as wonderfully explained here, Chase gets to have his cake and eat it, too. He gets to have Tony die at the end of the final episode without…. well…. without having to film his death (and risk having the ending given online seconds after it was shot).

    I’d also like to add one more thought that came to me as I read this… in particular, as I read some of the great responses. One of things several of the responders have seemed to focus on was both the “who” and the “how”, specifically, WHO would have ordered the hit and HOW did MOG know to go to Holstens to make the hit? A couple of people made the argument that Patsy Parisi was somehow behind it, but, initially, I didn’t really buy their explanations. They just seemed like a bit of a reach. I don’t have a specific answer either and, because the camera was not privy and presumably Chase isn’t talking, we will likely never truly know. Frankly, as far as the narrative goes, it truly doesn’t matter. It goes back to my point above that none of ending matters. The fact is that Tony is already in hell. The rest is only a matter of which version of hell he is experiencing at any given moment. Anyway, back to the point of “who and how”, which obviously are intertwined, and, in reading so much great stuff here, I’ve come up with my own theory that, while, yes, still a reach, may tie some of what we do know together and maybe make some sense.

    First the “who” part of the equation. Here is what we do know:

    1. Butch made a deal with Tony to end the war because he decided that Phil was continuing to push for extreme measures for his own reasons rather than for the good of the family.

    2. Butch, although he made the deal that ended the war, was still an old-school mobster. To him, it was never going to be acceptable to execute a boss, especially in the way Tony did Phil in: In front of his family and with his head, even if accidentally, crushed, and thus, leaving Phil unable to have an open-coffin funeral. This is a matter of basic respect.

    3. We know that Butch had no problem ordering the “decapitation” of the Soprano crew only days before, and seemed to agree with Phil’s long-held belief that North Jersey was nothing more than a “glorified crew” anyway. In other words, he had no particular love or respect for Tony Soprano even before Phil was whacked.

    4. Finally, as a former underboss and now boss, who worked his way up in the organization through some pretty difficult times, Butch was, by definition, brilliant at the Machiavellian game of gaining and maintaining power. As such, if he saw great advantage without risk to himself in completing the decapitation of the North Jersey family, he wouldn’t hesitate.

    Based on the above, I think it is certainly possible, in fact, even probable that Butch, at minimum, would be open to taking Tony out, even after cutting the deal. Which brings us to the “how” part of the equation. We know that, as this New York-New Jersey war was coming to a boil, there was a plot within North Jersey to take out Tony that was led, in part, by Burt Gervasi. We also know that Silvio nipped that in the bud by garroting Gervasi. However, we do not know how big or deep or serious that cabal was. For all we know, Silvio was at the head of it or at least deeply involved, and, like Junior before him, he eventually realized that his options were better if he stuck with Tony. One would not have to go too much further through the looking glass to make an argument that Patsy Parisi would be a prime candidate to be turned against Tony, too. There is the obvious fact that Tony killed his twin brother, but also the fact that Patsy felt he had been passed over, for example, when Christopher kept getting bumped further up in the family over his head. Now suppose for a moment that the “anti-Tony” cabal actually included Burt Gervasi, Silvio, Patsy and maybe even Carlo, Patsy would have found himself the “last man standing”. By cutting a deal with Butch to take out Tony, he could put himself at the head of the DiMeo/Soprano crime family. It is no doubt that he was dumb enough to think he could come out ahead by doing this, so it is definitely plausible. All of this leaves us with the following: Butch and Patsy in some kind of agreement by which Patsy takes out Tony, and Patsy gets control of North Jersey.

    This closes the final loop in the puzzle. We now have the man, Patsy Parisi, who just might have reason to kill Tony and now is just waiting for the chance. If you remember on the day of the dinner at Holstens, the narrative was, in my mind, kind of odd. We were shown Carmella talking separately to each member of the family and agreeing with each to meet at Holstens for dinner. I don’t remember her EVER doing something similar for any other family dinner like that (and it was certainly never filmed that way) but the point is that we know that early in the afternoon the entire family, including Meadow, knew they would be meeting up at Holsten’s that night. It certainly isn’t a reach to think that Meadow would mention this to her boyfriend as soon as she knew (i.e. “honey, I won’t be coming over tonight because I am meeting my mom and dad for dinner at Holstens”). So now, it is quite reasonable to expect that Patrick Parisi was aware of the dinner at Holstens. Now, suppose he happened to talk to his father that day, too. He undoubtedly would have asked about Meadow, to which Patrick might simply say something like, “Oh she is having dinner with her mom and dad at Holstens in Bloomfield tonight.” Boom! Now we have somebody with intent to take out Tony who now knows where he will be at a specific point in time. The rest is easy. Obviously, he would have to get an outsider who was available on short notice… somebody who was probably fairly untrained as a hitman… to do it, and, thus, MOG gets the job and carries it out, even if in slightly inelegant fashion. Chase specifically recruited an “Italian looking guy” for the part of MOG, presumably so he could fit in as a North Jersey everyman that wouldn’t necessarily be noticeable in a diner in Bloomfield. Patsy could know such a man in any number of ways. Maybe he owed Patsy money for gambling or drugs or was in desperate need for money for some other reason… whatever…. Patsy was in position to pressure him to do the job.

    There you have it: Patsy Parisi, with probably some spoken or unspoken agreement with New York, made the hit on Tony.

    Best of all: This now sets up the perfect sequel. Patsy at the head of the former Soprano crime family with Paulie as his underboss. Comedy gold!!

    Yes, that last paragraph was a joke, but the rest was not. Think about it.

  214. Ken Says:

    A couple of more things regarding my post above: First, when I wrote my closing thoughts about Patsy Parisi being the one behind the Tony hit, I had not read the very end of your own writings and, obviously, I now realize that you made a much more definitive case about the same thing. Perhaps, I’ve added some salient points that expand on what you’ve said, but, I doubt it and, for the most part, I simply ended up unintentionally parrotting much of what you said and you did it in a much clearer, more concise and more persuasive manner than I did. Kudos again.

    I find it almost comical how many of us are driven to continue watching, reading, writing and debating about this show when it has not been on the air in nearly two years. I think it is a tribute both to David Chase and the actors who truly brought some very real people to life. As awful as almost every character was, they were people I came to know and relate to unlike any fictional characters I’ve ever encountered.

    Like David Chase, I am an Italian-American who grew up in New Jersey, and, like him, I grew up in a world with more than few “goodfellas” around. Mind you, I am not claiming to have been friends with mobsters or to have run in the same circles or anything of that nature. I am just saying that they lived in the same town as me, and their kids, like A.J. and Meadow, went to school with me. Consequently, the characters on the Sopranos rang so true it is almost scary to me, and, thanks to the great scripts and again great acting, I feel like I know them intimately. Quite frankly, I think I know more of the minutiae of Tony’s life than I know about my own… and that is not an exaggeration.

    Anyway, again, kudos all around. I think your writings and your ideas are fabulous and fabulously presented. The great dialogue above amongst the various repliers adds even more. Kudos to each and every one of them, too.

  215. braxton Says:

    amazing analysis. just…wow.

    i think paulie had tony whacked.

    watch paulie’s attitude in the last couple episodes, especially the final one. in the one scene, as he walks out of the bing after refusing tony’s offer to lead the one crew, he is framed in the orange doorway of the place with quite an angry look on his face. orange representing death.

    then in the final episode, watch paulie’s face and attitude after conversing with tony and “accepting” his offer. then he is shown next to the orange cat, with his tanning device, making himself even oranger than he already is.

    i think paulie got sick of taking orders, and finally saw his chance to be the leader for once.

    but whatever the case, amazing analysis. you should seriously write a book. just…wow.

  216. Txolo Says:

    Congratulations from Madrid (Castilla) for your great analysis about the ending. I agree in the thing that Tony was killed, I think it is the most logical end. Maybe it was a death that way or maybe it’s a symbol about how is going to be Tony’s death, one day or another, but that does not matter.

    However, in some of the theories about some other symbols on the final scene or on the final episodes… I don’t know, “The Sopranos” was always very classical narrative style, it’s not Twin Peaks and David Lynch. Following a classical narrative style and if we take Chase’s words (“it’s all there”) it is difficult to think about other end but Tony’s death. The theories about boy scouts, dark hair chicks and stuff like that… I don’t know. But, anyway, I agree in most of your theories.

    Have this one also, it’s my father’s: Mainly, the end means that Tony died, BUT they left it open, they did not close the door, just in case they want to make a movie or something. That’s what my father says, eventhough I wouldn’t like a movie, I think the end like this is the right thing.

    As I said, congratulations from the old continent. Soon I’ll write something in my blog about the show, it is just one of the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

  217. Los Soprano… what you gonna do… « Rebeldes en la Estrella de la Muerte Says:

    [...] Buena Explicación sobre el final de la Serie [...]

  218. Iain Street Says:

    Have you noticed, that in every single episode, the name Jesus Christ is mentioned numerous times ?

  219. Chris Says:

    My first reaction to the ending was different, I thought “They had to make a cut, and the cut symbolizes that any other (and maybe more “satisfactory” ending for that series would be ridiculous”. However, I had a uncertain feeling about that, just as something inside of me knew that the scene actually showed Tony’s death. Although he got worse and worse in the last series, I still like him and didn’t want him to die as a viewer. That is why I objected to him being killed in that final scene.
    But your explanations are too convincing and adding them to Chase’s remarks, it’s all too clear that the series ends with Tony’s death.
    However, it still leaves a back door for a feature film which was rumored – brilliant!

  220. Anonymous Says:

    Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich

  221. AC Says:

    Nice analysis. One addition– many of your interpretations of who killed TS certainly could be valid. But, my take: it was Butch DeConcini and crew. As newly promoted underboss of the Lupertazzi family, it was the smart move to take out both bosses, Phil and Tony. He stood to gain by allowing Phil to get whacked in two ways: first, and most obvious, he ascends to Boss of the Lupertazzi family, and does it without having pulled the trigger himself. Then, by feigning compliance with Jersey, he eases Tony Soprano back into comfort mode to allow for the final hit on him (the final scene). With TS gone, he usurps Jersey’s business. Butchie wins big.

  222. Ken Says:

    Hey guys, since this is an active discussion with quite a few hard-core fans who seem to know their s***, I am going to pose a question unrelated to the final episode that I just happened to stumble across while watching a repeat of Season 1. I am dying to get some input from others like myself.

    To set the scene, this is late in Season 1 when Junior and Livia are talking (mostly obliquely) about whacking Tony. There is a short scene where Junior and Livia are standing outside in a line (perhaps waiting to enter a movie theater). It was extremely windy (presumably this was done purposely) and they stood in line continuing their conversations about Tony. Later, when the Feds sit Tony down and play him various tapes of Junior and his mom plotting against him (in hopes of convincing him to go into witness protection), one of the conversations they play is (I am quite certain) the conversation between Junior and Livia outside the movie theater on that windy day! Now maybe this is something that has already been discussed ad nauseum and explained in great detail. However, because I am only a recent devotee of online discussions, I may have missed those discussions. On the other hand, if this has not been disected yet, I have to ask: How did the feds get that conversation? It was NOT outside a regular hangout (Satriale’s for example), where perhaps the Feds could justify putting some bugs outside to try and pick up conversations. Moreover, with that wind, even if they did have some kind of outdoor surveillance, the wind likely would have made it difficult to record anything anyway. So here is my question: Was Livia wearing a wire? It sounds ludicrous, particularly since she was later arrested with the plane tickets that the feds were going to use to build a case against Tony, but how else could the feds have gotten that conversation??

  223. Wasted hours of my life on this Says:

    Maybe the MOG and the guy in the USA hat represent “Made in America” Who knows? Anything is open to interpretation because there’s no clear answer, everything can be argued until we’re all blue in the face. I for one, woooooooon’t stoooooooop be-lieeeev-ing Tony didn’t die. Great analysis though.

  224. Sam Says:

    It was all a dream. Tony’s shirt changes after he walks into the restaurant.

  225. Detective Crockett Says:

    It wasn’t a dream, and Tony’s shirt didn’t change. He simply removed his jacket.

  226. mike Says:

    in regards to Who Killed Tony? – note when Tony and Carmela have Patsy and his wife over the house for dinner, Tony pours wine for Patsy, thus subordinated. great site!

  227. mike Says:

    also Patsy and Philly Spoons were from Bloomfield, where Holsten’s is located

  228. webgrunt Says:

    I came to the same conclusion after the final episode. I remembered the big deal about “never see it coming” and it was pretty obvious the MOG was going to kill him, so I didn’t see any other possible conclusion.

  229. Anonymous Says:

    I also believe that dead leaves/leaves rustling were a repeated symbol of death in the last season. For instance, when Tony is on the phone making the plan for dinner at Holsten’s, I recall leaves rustling around on the ground. Also, when he was at the “Inn” during the coma leaves were blowing around throughout the scene.

  230. jeff Says:

    Don’t forget…..in season 2 when christopher goes to hell for a few minutes. Mikey tells Christopher to tell Tony, “3 o clock”. At the diner in the final scene, members only jacket guy goes into the restroom to Tony’s right. On a clock, the restroom is at his “3 o clock”….remnants of The Godfather with a little forboding 5 seasons ago.

  231. Kevin Says:

    I don’t know if Paulie is behind Tony’s murder, but I know this. It Blue Comet, Butchie was giving orders to the New York gang in a barber shop. A barber shop…remember in Mad in America, what did Paulie bring to the Bing for the guys? Barber Scissors. Butchie didn’t mentioned Paulie’s name as one of the big 3…Paulie also had a sense of nervousness…when Tony and the gang met up at the safe house at the end of Blue Comet, Paulie jumped when Walden put down his gun on the table…he was nervous…just a thought.

  232. Nikolai Says:

    “Gary Says:
    January 22, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Great stuff.

    One additional Adrianna-cat thing. In the Master-P episode, she is shown singing her friend Richie’s band’s song to Master-Pand. There is a point in the chorus where a cat inexplicably “meows”. We see Adrianna raise her “paws” and do her best cat imitation. Master-P even mockingly copies her.”

    -Good observation. Also, in that ep (A hit is a hit), you see Massive Genious (not Master P, but he’s probably based on him) wear a leopard hat, in the scenes at Hesh’s house. Perhaps he was a “tiger” too, like Ade, and that it was to show one of the reasons he wanted her?..

  233. dsweeney Says:

    I have just come across your updated analysis and in my opinion it is beyond reproach. Simply brilliant. I have been ” whacked” from a Sopranos web-site, the best by far IMO, for arguing ( debating) pretty much the same case that you make. Maybe too forcefully, I don’t know. But for me, there is simply nothing else that makes sense and as far as I can tell most people who say we don’t know what happened for sure are people who don’t WANT Tony to be dead. This is not engaging with the material as is. It is only ambiguous if you choose it to be. The way I have posted on it is that Chase didn’t PORTRAY Tony’s death, but he did CONVEY it to us, through symbolism, foreshadowing and subtext. The scene of Mink trying to get keptchup from the bottle is a clear reference to Chase not wanting a bloodbath, Scarface type ending. Tony’s death was not a case of crime doesn’t pay or the bad guy dies in the end, but an inevitable consequence of his choices in life.He had ample time to change and chose not to.
    I particularly valued your take on the ” little Jimmy Brown” song which I couldn’t quite tie in with things, each verse we hear relating to different characters. Over-all a fantastic analysis and better than anything I have come across in print. You should seriously consider having it published,only to put to bed once and for all the “ambiguous” and “open ended” arguments. Well done.

  234. JOHN Says:

    It wasn’t a point of view shot towards the end, the screen went blank for the viewer not from Tony Soprano’s perspective. The last thing the viewer sees is Tony Soprano looking towards the door, if the last shot had been Meadow entering the restaurant, then a blackout then perhaps there may be some credence in the Tony was shot theory. As it is this scene is ambigious and will always be so. The curtain came down for the viewer not for Tony. And who exactly is meant to be shooting Tony anyway? He cut a deal with New York, the war is over. Finally wouldn’t Anthony have seen the man coming out of the bathroom pointing a gun at his dad? Instead he is looking down at the menu.

    Personally I think the lyrics of the song (a cross section of characters, anybodies, going anywhere in any town USA) The name of this particular episode (Made in America). The man in the USA hat, the couple drinking milkshakes and the all round quintessential American diner setting, point to a strong symbolism and alludes to the archetypal American way of life in its very essence. If the Sopranos was about anything then it was about the American family all be it with a gangster twist. Life goes on for Tony as it has for the many years we have been watching. Tony continues to live and eat onion rings, then probably a steak.

    There is no point speculating about what goes on off screen. Unless the shows director wants to inform us about the characters then there is no way of knowing. It’s like, what exactly happened to the Russian in the woods? We don’t know, he was never mentioned again, but if we choose to guess then there could countless outcomes.

  235. interested Says:

    To be honest, I didn’t find it important if Tony was supposed to be whacked or not. I always assumed that the man would die. It didn’t matter if it was right at that moment, or if it was years down the road.

    What I took from the ending was that we were dropped into Tony Soprano’s life, following him around for years. We learned about him and his fears. We learned about his family and his “family.” We came to our own conclusions about what kind of man he was. Our time with him simply was over, regardless of why.

    We know Tony won’t live to be an old man with New York eyeballing him closely and the grudges he’s more like likely left behind. Men living as long as Junior does is a rarity in The Sopranos. They all die prematurely, usually decades before their natural life span.

    It just doesn’t matter if he died right then and there. We know he’s a dead man at some point.

  236. Lesneck Says:

    JOHN,

    You need to read the whole thing more closely and logically. You dont need to see Meadow to make it a POV shot, that’s the point of the whole pattern. The pattern sets it up so the next logical cut is to Tony’s POV. At the precise moment of the normal cut to his POV, it cuts to black, i.e. Tony POV=black=death. What do you think was the point of the POV pattern anyway?

    Also, Chase did mention the Russian again, as the author points out, another 3 times in the series.

    MOS should retitle this page to “Case Closed”!

  237. John McDevitt Says:

    There is one piece of symbolism in the series (mostly/all during Season 4) that I have never seen an adequate explanation for. In fact most of you probably will have never heard of it, but if you watch the episodes it will become 100% clear that Chase means something by it.

    In I believe 4×09 (Ralphie’s death episode, “Whoever Did This”), the episode opens with Junior walking down the courthouse steps. A boom mike falls on his head (literally having “the boom lowered”) and he falls down the stairs. A television reporter reports that Corrado Soprano has just fallen down “nine…no, seven steps”. 907.

    An episode or three later, Tony wakes up in a Florida hotel, clock reading 9:07. He stumbles into the bathroom and turns the red heat lamp on – Hell. He then walks out to the balcony and looks down on the beach, pool, palm trees (cue Beach Boys) – very clearly intended to be Heaven/Paradise.

    There were also several Divine Comedy references that season. I have heard several possible explanations of 9-0-7, including 9th and 7th circles of Hell, and possibly a verse number in Paradise Lost. Nothing that seems definitive though. And like I said, it is QUITE clear that Chase had something VERY specific in mind with “9-0-7″. There was discussion on this on USENET when those episodes aired; you can search Google Groups and find the thread(s). I just checked Wiki today to see what times the 9/11 planes hit, but neither of them were at 9:07.

    Season 4 was definitely very rich in non-dream/non-coma symbolism, especially 4×09 with Tony as Jacob Marley, Tony as a puppet master operating the farm equipment (and possibly Disney’s Black Pete or some other iconic evil cigar-chomping character in that same scene?), Ralphie’s bald-headed soul descending into Hell (the bowling ball falling down the stairs), etc.

  238. Roogers Says:

    Thanks.

    That was an enjoyable read and I totally agree with your opinion. It shows that theres someone else out there that believes in real art and in a more 3 dimensional way of thinking obout a plot.

    It also cements my thoery that these shallow minded people that live by the ode of Lost and Heroes for thier flashy cliff hangers and thier pradictability, are made to look like fools when givin a real form of entertainment. Good write up mate.

    Graeme

  239. Ian Prendergast Says:

    This is a very well researched piece but there is one assumption that you have made that no one else seems to have picked up on. You assume that Tony is dead because of the fade to black but he could also be unconscious which would have the same effect. He may have been shot in the head & quite possibly be dead but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is dead. It is possible he is in a coma (remember Sil) so the opportunity for Tony (and Sil for that matter) to return in any sequel or movie etc is there if Chase wants to take it.

  240. dsweeney Says:

    You seem to forget Ian that Tony has already been in a coma, for nearly three episodes, so the idea Chase would put him in another is ludicrous to me. I posted elsewhere about why Chase would put Sil in a coma in the second to last episode and didn’t just kill him. Where is the payoff in it? There isn’t time for any dramatic tension of ” will he won’t he” etc. and besides, we went through all that with Tony already. I believe he did it simply to recreate the scene where Sil had visited Tony when HE was in a coma. Both scenes are very similar in tone and very touching.
    To John a few posts above, you should remember that the final cut to black is part of a SEQUENCE and can’t be taken in isolation. To briefly recap Masterof’s analysis the sequence is as follows. We see a shot of Tony. The bell on the door rings and Tony looks up. We cut to the person entering Holsten’s and then cut back to Tony’s reaction. In the final few seconds we see Tony, the bell on the door rings because of who we know to be Meadow. Tony looks up and we cut to what Tony would see next, following the pattern and at that instant-black. End of. It is that simple if people are just open to it but as Chase has railed about, people have been so conditioned and “spoon-fed” storylines in rubbish TV for years, that because we don’t actually WITNESS the shooting with our own eyes, they can’t accept it. I fear it’s precisely this type of audience he has such contempt for.
    Another point that I feel is crucial to the thing is the ” no music” idea. If, like some people say, Tony didn’t die and just carried on stufffing his fat face with onion rings and life went on, why was there no music at the end? Music was crucial to the whole thing and the silence to me can only symbolise the party is over. And NOT just for the viewer either. Our muse is gone.
    Just one final thought on about who would have Tony killed. Just about anybody he ever came in contact with if you ask me! How many lives and families has he knowingly and otherwise destroyed? It’s completely irrelevant who had him whacked anyway, that’s the point. He never saw it coming. And NEITHER DID WE. That was the point of what Chase was trying to,DID, achieve.

  241. Steve Says:

    Is the Trucker in the USA cap actor Robert Patrick who played David Scatino in Season 2 episode “Bust Out” I’m sure it’s him.
    If it is what is his significance in the final scenes?

  242. Guy Says:

    A very convincing analysis. Watching it recently on DVD ( I came late to the Sopranos) there was no doubt in my mind that Tony was shot, and the apparent fact that David Chase originally planned 30 secs of black screen would seem to confirm it, at least for me. As well as all the “You never hear it coming” references. And the shot of Tony framed as per “The Last Supper” as soon as he enters the diner. But of course, the director has also left the door open for a sequel should he want to.

    As for “whodunnit”, I agree that it doesn’t really matter – there are a number of people who have the motivation. But for me the obvious references to the Sollazo scene in The Godfather suggest that, as per Michael Corleone, it was done by someone who was previously a non-combatant and therefore not suspicious. So its not one of Butchie’s crew – we’ve seen how they operate, always in pairs (as per Bacala and the killing of Johnny Sack’s successor as boss – can’t remember his name now) and always immediately. They don’t wait around for a while then hit. Its not an imported Italian team, because they always work in pairs too. In Tony’s family, they do hit independently, so it could be someone sent by Patsy or Paulie, but given that Patsy didn’t have the guts to do it when he had a genuine beef (the death of his twin) and that Paulie doesn’t really want to step up to lead the Aprile crew, let alone move into Tony’s shoes, it seems unlikely. Although Paulie is a bigger possibility than Patsy, given that Paulie was excluded from the hit list, and that he has always had close ties to NY, and would be the one the NY mob would most likely agree is a “real” made man and could most do business with.
    No, I think that as per Michael Corleone, its a non mob person, and given the Members Only jacket, and the guy’s physical resemblance to Eugene Pontecorvo, my guess would be one of his (non mob) relatives. Which is why he has to psych himself into it. But it could be anyone. And that’s probably the point.

    One thing that I am unclear about is Agent Harris. Why does he go to so much trouble to help Tony? He clearly shocks the agent he is sleeping with (presumably the source of information) by revealing it to Tony whilst she’s getting dressed. Is it the reason that he is sleeping with her? Why would he do that? Any why when he hears of Phil Leotardo’s demise, does he shout “Damn, we’re going to win this thing” which is a direct quote from Lindsey De Vecchio – a mob informer in the FBI. Was Harris actually Tony’s informant? Is that why the references to the Departed, and his regular presence at Satriale’s?

    Or one last possibility before I get on with my life. Does his meeting with Agent Harris mean that Paulie thinks its Tony who’s flipped? Is it Tony who is to give evidence before the grand jury? Which is why he’s not too concerned about this? And why someone hits him? Just a thought…

    But a great analysis, thank you for it.

  243. dsweeney Says:

    I can certainly see the similarites Steve but I can almost categorically say it isn’t the same actor. They are similar though. I generally take the various groups in Holsten’s to be typical all-American types and nothing more sinister than that. When you rewatch the finale you realise nobody but MOG gives Tony the time of day and it is only WE, the viewer, who invest any importance to them whatsoever.

  244. dsweeney Says:

    To “Interested” a few posts above; You say the finale is portraying how, at some time in the future, Tony could be whacked and that it doesn’t necessarily happen that night in Holsen’s. That’s fair enough but how do you explain then, the lack of music at the end? The funereal silence? Why ten long seconds of screen blackness? Chase actually wanted thirty seconds of black screen and prior to that no credits at all, just straight blackness all the way to, as he put it, “the HBO whoosh”. For legal reasons, Equity etc, he was told this couldn’t be done. It surely means Tony actually IS gone and that it’s not just a sort of metaphorical or allegorical death, at “some time in the future”.

  245. dsweeney Says:

    I can see the similarities Steve but I’m almost positive they are not the same actor. I think the people in the diner are just typical all-American types and nothing more than that-except MOG of course.
    Some people make the point about how MOG would know Tony was in Holsten’s that I have to comment on. The simple fact is he could have been following Tony for hours, all day in fact and waited until he knew he was settled down and could get a good shot at him. He blends in for a few minutes, gets up to go to the toilet and blindsides Tony from behind and to the right.But as has been already said, the authenticity of the hit is irrelevant, it’s not what Chase was going for. TWICE in the text we are told “you never hear it when it happens right?” And we didn’t. Just like Tony.

  246. dsweeney Says:

    It’s an interesting point you raise Guy. A few things spring to mind on this. Don’t forget Harris is now working on Counter Terrorism and not OC. Over the years he built up a relationship with Tony, a kind of understanding. While not exactly liking each other there is a kind of respect there. Harris actually says he new Phil years earlier in Brooklyn and didn’t like him, a real scumbag. It could be that he decides it’s better that Tony’s faction win the war than Phil. “Better the devil you know” and all that.
    On another level it illustrates how the Mob and the State are ” two sides of the same coin”. This theory is often cited in relation to the CIA involvement in the Kennedy assassination. How, while sworn enemies, they will use one another if the situation calls for it. Harris could argue that in the real world, and not in the FBI training manual, he made an executive decision in siding with the Soprano crew over Phil. “In the interests of the greater good” etc. Just my take on it.

  247. Steve Says:

    Thanks for the reply Dsweeney.
    I really enjoyed the detailed annalysis of the final episode ending. I must admit when I first watched the ending it didnt quite click with me, but after some thought and a couple of re-watches I clocked on.
    Like was said earlier it was a much more satisfying ending that a bloodied Tony, familey screaming etc etc

    The only negative thing I could possibly say about sopranos is that it’s finished. I enjoyed it so much it’s hard when such a good program ends.

  248. matt Says:

    Great piece. However, you dispensed the “view getting whacked” explanation with a fallacy. You say, “When has the viewer ever become part of the show?”. But earlier you use this to explain the Gerry Torciano murder scene as the viewer being at the table. That’s why the sound goes to a ringing. To implicate that the viewer’s hearing was affected by the gun shot.

  249. olly Says:

    the ending was abrupt enough to tie in with the theories and there were literally hundredsof pointers towards Tonys death, but Chase has constructed all of this very cleverly. Carmella told Tony about her restaurant choice in the household. How the hell would MOG have known where they were dining so that he could plant a gun in the bathroom?! This is a point I believe Chase wanted the conspiracy theorists such as masterofsopranos to overlook. All the tension and symbolism of the episode draws away from that important point.

    The blackout is the ending of Tonys life in fear. Now that Meadow has arrived they are all together. He’s safe and happy with his family, eating some onion rings. I can sleep well now :)

  250. Mick Says:

    I hate to be the cold, calculating capitalist in the room, but somebody’s gotta point this out. From a financial point of view, Chase’s ending leaves him the maximum flexibility to resurrect the series, or follow up with a feature film. After all, he may be an “artist”, but he’s also a businessman. The powers-that-be at HBO would probably have peed themselves if he’d actually showed Tony getting hit! Yes the “blackout” can be construed as Tony’s death, but you could also make the point that we’ve just reached the end of the “slice of life” we’ve been viewing. You can read a lot into the camera angles and editing of the final scene, but at the end of the day, that’s all it is: some interesting camera angles and clever editing. Anybody wanna bet we don’t see a “Soprano’s” movie sometime soon? (And not some crappy “prequel” either, Gandolfini’s getting to old to play a young Tony!) Time will tell ….

  251. Moishe Says:

    Fantastic and transfixing read. Thank you.

    I think it is clear that Tony was killed in the final scene.

    My point of departure is, whodunit?

    Now that it is politically correct to say that MOG killed Tony, I just want to say that I’m surprised no one has commented that it is too obvious. With all this analysis, why do we think the obvious guy did it? We have hundreds of pages and thousands of words, yet the long drawn out theory is that the guy who was shown practically breathing down Tony’s neck did it.

    There must be more to it than that. If we are made to think, why just settle on the obvious?

    My theory? Paulie. There were times when he wanted to take Tony on and to take out Tony. By killing Tony he would be head of the New Jersey family (the theories about the twin being the head ignore this) and he wouln’t have to take on the cursed assignment Tony left him with. He also had a quick temper. Also explains why the last cut shows Tony looking at the front door, when all of you think he gets it from behind.

  252. DC Guy Says:

    I finally saw “Made in America” on A&E last night. I had heard of how the episode ends, but I thought it would be much more ambiguous. I could not come away and see how anybody couldn’t think this meant Tony was killed.
    MOG was the shooter and I applaud the creator of this site for breaking down the scenes to the cut to black. There were nods to “The Godfather” and “Mean Streets” in what was about to happen here. MOG clearly was eyeballing the Soprano family and waiting for the convenient shot.

    I had heard about the “cut to black” but thought it was more of a fade. Not until last night did I see for myself how abrupt it was and how much it was like Tonys description of death in Season 1. David Chase all but spelled it out for us. I believe Chase has stayed particularly quiet about his meanings just to hedge his bets on some type of series revival. Like the meaning to the lyrics of “American Pie” or the (once) secret indentity of “Deep Throat”, it may remain a disputed topic, but I cannot dispute my interpretation.

    Another thought I had is that Tony walked to his own death. Tony had a truce with the NY family but probably knew he was still in danger after the death of Phil. Maybe the threat wouldn’t come from business associates, but a blood member of Phils family. Phil was shot in front of wife and babies and regardless of the NY families business like hatchet burying, a grudge was still to be settled. Tony loved his family and chose to live his life not in fear but as a family man somewhat alike any of the other men in the diner that night. Tony tied up some loose ends in this final episod.He visited Johnny in the nut house and tried to make financial arrangements for the late Bobby’s kids.Tony directed a lucrative position of power toward Paulie. Tony pushed to get AJ away from the fantasist world he was living in and toward a job that would prepare him to run a club ( and maybe enter the underworld).

    THANK YOU for this excellent site and analysis!!

  253. A Viewer Says:

    I don’t know if it’s been said, but it may be relevant in light of this excellent interpretation. In the episode “From Where to Eternity”, Christopher tells Paulie that he met his father in his Near Death Experience, and that his father played a hand of cards with the Irish guys in “Hell”, and lost every hand. Then, at midnight every night, he gets “whacked” the same way he did in real life. And the sequence repeats over and over again. If we take the POV theory, then the shot where Tony seemingly looks at himself sitting at the booth could be seen to be a POV shot of Tony watching himself get whacked, over and over again. Thus the bells become more significant, as do his looking up at almost every bell, as he has a sense of paranoia (mentioned in a different context) and expectation during this viewing of his “repeated” death. Thus, the black-out in the final shot could be seen to also be the beginning of the same scene, over and over, for Tony. The coda to his existence, so to speak.

    A not fully fleshed out theory, I admit, haha. But it’s something that occurred to me while I was reading the interpretation given here. Sterling work – made for a brilliant read!

  254. Moishe Says:

    Strike my last sentence about the killer coming from the front door–Tony looking that way is obviously in response to the bell ringing and Meadow entering. Someone could have come in the front door with Meadow, like MOG did with AJ, but wait, as we see Meadow go to the front door there is no one else there. Also, they couldn’t walk in the front door, see where Tony is and shoot on target in the time it took for Meadow to walk through the front door. So the killer was already in the restaurant.

    Does the restaurant have a back door?

  255. dsweeney Says:

    In response to Olly above; nobody is saying MOG planted a gun in the toilet. He could have been tailing Tony for hours and simply followed him to Holsten’s. He could have been outside when Tony visited uncle Jun in the hsopital. Just because Michael had a gun in the bathroom in the Godfather doesn’t mean that’s what happened here. It’s a symbolic reference to GF 1 in that the hitman emerges from the bathroom in a restaurant.

  256. mike Says:

    Four words…

    Russian in the woods.

    He’s still alive!

  257. chaka Says:

    The more comments that show up on here, the less of a chance that this theory is actually tangible. There obviously is still a demand for the show, and mark my words…there will be a movie.

  258. Daytona.AUS Says:

    Brilliant work MOS! Well constructed piece that further emphasizes my original belief that Tony Soprano has been shot and killed thus the abrupt mid sentence fade to black… A brilliant end to a TV series that really set a benchmark in quality dialog and cinematography…The fact that nearly 2 years since the final airing people like us here are still talking about it…

    Thanks for 86+ hours of superb television David Chase!!!!

    Where did the leak that a Sopranos movie was a possibility come from???

  259. Ryan Christopher Says:

    Absolutely amazing. It’s been a lot of fun reading everyone’s insights. To reference MOS’s comment regarding AJs inheritance of Tony’s lifestyle, does anyone see a connection between Tony’s stories to Melfi about his father in Season 1’s “Down Neck” and AJs seemingly inevitable situation in “Made in America”? Consider AJs comments while sitting in his bathrobe in MIA (Tony imitation with bathrobe/appearance?) and Johnny Boy’s own comments in DN. Also, are Tony’s stories in DN and his own situation reflecting the same inevitability of his own son?

  260. Ryan Christopher Says:

    Any by the way, a movie is a terrible idea. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Please.

  261. Raymond Says:

    I think that Ryan Christopher is onto something. I think that AJ joins the mob after seeing his father killed. The bigest clue is the title (“Made In America) the titles in past episodes are clues to the episodes contents.I think this because he and his father have a lot in common. For example they both had to see psychologist for depression and panic attacks. They both never really did the college thing, and the whole high school football deal theses are some weak connections but they are connections none the less. Another connection is Tony and AJ names, Tony is not named after his father and it reflects in his leadership and tactics (John Soprano more respected and well like then his Son, Tony). AJ is named after his father they both seem to have the same self centered personalities. For example Tony is motivated by money and he and his wife get AJ to abandon his plans to join the military for a new well paying job and luxury car. And the bigest clue as to AJ getting made into a wise guy or at least getting revenge on his father killer is the episode where Tony is shot buy his uncle Junior and AJ wants to Kill him. I think that if he is this protective over his father and talks of harming his own relative then he will avenge his father death or less likely join the mob.

    But i see some holes in this theory because Tony is a lot stronger emotionally then his son AJ. So they are not the exact same but is close.

  262. Miriam Mergatroyd Says:

    I just caught an A&E showing of the last episode (having not seen it since it first aired) and was compelled to google “Sopranos ending”–what a treasure trove I have found here. I love masterofsopranos’s analysis–though it is sort of hard for me to believe that Chase thought about the ending (or of any other part of the series) in such minute crisscrossing detail beforehand. Clearly he is gifted, an artist– my personal feeling is that artists are less originators than conduits of truth & beauty & passion–i.e., it comes naturally, not with so much numbing “preinterpretation” –anyway, I do appreciate all the passion here, beginning with that of masterofsopranos…. ranking artist among Sopranos analysts.

  263. BobWiggly Says:

    Johnny Sack was 47 when he died also, right? (Miscellaneous fun stuff, Part VI, (12)

  264. BobWiggly Says:

    I took a one week vacation from my job 5 days ago. Didn’t plan on doing anything but some spring cleaning and quiet relaxation. I had never watched The Sopranos before and decided to buy the box set and start watching. I bought the complete series on my way home from my last day of work before my vacation. I started watching the pilot late that night, and couldn’t stop watching until the first season was finished around noon the next day. Like I said, it is 5 days later, and about 2 hours ago I finished the finale. I’m in awe. I never thought a t.v. show could consume me like a good book.

    Regardless of not getting anything done on my vacation, I am so happy I was able to virtually watch the entire series back to back. Pretty much the only time I wasn’t watching was when I was sleeping.

    Unfortunately, the only thing I did know about the show was the 10 second black-out at the end. But watching the complete series in it’s entirety like that, I strongly do agree Tony was killed in the end by MOG. I was actually surprised afterward reading the conflicting theories. It never occurred to me that there was suppose to be any ambiguity. I remember a lot of talk a few years ago that there was a controversy, but I thought it was just over who was behind the T-whack.

    Before finding this site (which is amazing by the way), I did notice the POV filmography (or whatever you call it), and I realized what the black-out meant (Tony died while we were seeing through him), but the first thing I thought was MOG was a friend of Eugene’s.

    I thought the significance for Tony being killed in front of his family was retaliation for probably Eugene’s family finding him hanging. I am a huge fan of the movie A Bronx Tale, and after Eugene killed himself I couldn’t get that movie out of my mind (in that movie Sonny, the boss, was killed by the son of a man Sonny killed years earlier, someone that was actually insignificant throughout the movie; and of course the actor who played C tried to kill Chris in this show).

    After reading all the pages of this site, I second guessed that theory, but still believe it was retaliation for Eugene’s death. Not that it’s right, but just like a good book, some things should be left to the reader’s/viewer’s interpretation. I do agree after reading your analysis though, that it really doesn’t matter. That Chase didn’t want that emphasized.

    As far as if Tony was killed or not, I think your analysis is perfect. It truly amazes me that there is any question, but if any one took the time to read these pages, I believe they would agree.

    P.S. Thanks to those of you that pointed out the significance of the 3 o’clock from Chris’s near death experience. That was driving me nuts throughout the entire series and I didn’t even think of where MOG shot him. And I definitely would not of picked up on the symbolism of the 3 strikes and your out and etc.

    Thank you

  265. Ryan Christopher Says:

    Nothing to do with “The End” but has anyone ever noticed in the closing scene of Full Leather Jacket (S 2 Ep 8) Tony’s voice when he says “How could this happen?” Everyone is sitting in Chris’ hospital room after he was shot, and the episode ends with Tony saying “How could this happen?” twice. I don’t know if my ears are messing with me or what, but since I saw that episode many years ago, I’ve always thought that it doesn’t sound like Tony’s voice at all, but a purposely placed dub-over of someone else’s voice, with some meaning behind it, I just never could put my finger on whose voice it really was. Anyone notice this/have any thoughts?

  266. dsweeney Says:

    It’s nothing too serious but to Bobwiggly further above I’m sure Johnny Sac isn’t 47 when he dies. I’m nearly sure he’s actually 52. Phil’s brother Billy was 47 when he died and Eugene was 47 when he hung himself. And of course Tony had just had his 47th birthday in “Soprano home movies”. To Raymond above, while obviously we’ll never know for sure, the idea of AJ joining the mob seems far fetched to me. The very words of AJ and WISEGUY together made me laugh out loud. Remember the mess he made of his attempted hit on uncle Jun? With the knife? I know he’s only a kid but I think the inference is that it’s just not in him. In some ways he reminds me of Fredo more than Michael Corleone, if you see what I mean. While there are clearly similarities between him and his father, being a stone cold mobster just isn’t one of them IMO.

  267. dsweeney Says:

    Oh and by the way, there will be a Sopranos movie over David Chase’s dead body!

  268. dsweeney Says:

    I totally agree with you Bob…when you wonder why there is such differing of opinion. It’s as clear as day if you ask me, what happens to Tony. I have posted elsewhere that the ending is only ambiguous if you want it to be. And that means ignoring all the symbolism and subtext etc, foreshadowing Tony’s death in Holsten’s. Chase himself has said he can’t believe people are still debating it after all this time. It really is ” all there” but sometimes people can’t see what is front of them. Or, as I believe, they CHOOSE NOT TO. Some don’t want Tony dead so opt for the “well we don’t know for sure” etc. This is of course their right but to me it’s not engaging in the material in front of us as it is, rather how they wished it to be.

  269. Andrew Rowe Says:

    Excellent analysis, truly first rate.
    I concur that death is the only real outcome on the cards for Tony.

    What I think is of interest, and perhaps should be looked at more closely, is the foreshadowing in previous episodes.
    You Have quite rightly highlighted the fun things that David Chase can only do, and I think a major area that is overlooked is the Music from ‘Members Only’.

    The First song/Soundtrack playing on this episode is a William S Bouroughs Reading From his Novel the Western lands.
    A succinct analysis of this is found on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Western_Lands)..

    Wikipedia states: ” it explores the after-death state by means of dream scenarios, hallucinatory passages, talismanic magic, occultism, superstition, and Burroughs’ characteristic view of the nature of reality.” A good Lead up to the Kevin Finnerty episode methinks.

    However, If my memory serves me correctly, there is line that talks about the nature of death. It essentially states that life is a film, and death corresponds to the name of your director. Its a little bit of a blurry connection, but the director of the last episode is David Chase Himself, so he is the creator/director for tony, and the fact that this song is played on an episode names ‘Members Only’, the fact that Members only Guy appears in the the Chase directed episode must be a massive clue that Tony dies, surely?

  270. Junk on the Brain - Michael Abernethy - The Homegrown Snob : Burlington Times News Says:

    Spoiler Alert!; For those outraged or confused by the final episode of The Sopranos,here is proof  that ____ ____. Get ready to lose a few hours of your life to this exhaustive but engaging look at the now-departed HBO phenomenon. (If you haven’t seen the episode or the show yet, don’t read this because it will ruin it for you.)

  271. Miriam Mergatroyd Says:

    Perhaps someone has already brought this up–I can’t claim to have successfully absorbed all the great analyses here. But Balzac is supposed to have said something like “Behind every fortune is a crime”–I’ve often thought this to be true behind every fortune “Made in America.” For example, my family once upon a time made alot of money (before they drank and gambled it away) in the cotton manufacturing business, in the pre- and post-Civil War South–i.e., slaves before the war and basically child labor afterward. Tony could just be Chase’s stand-in for all successful American capitalists.

  272. dsweeney Says:

    Without a doubt Miriam, Tony is a symbol for all the greed and corruption at the heart of society. The way Zellman, the politician, is involved with Tony’s shady dealings etc. I also think the dumping of the asbestos all over the city is symbolic of the pollution of society by the mob. A case could also be made Miriam for Tony symbolising America itself, the selfish self-interest, the materialism. I always like that scene where Svetlana tells Tony that Americans are the only people who expect happiness, that they have everything and yet all they do is complain, going to shrinks and therapy etc. And Tony himself going to Dr.Melfi! I believe in an interview somewhere that Chase has said the final scene in Holsten’s symbolises the war in Iraq. If you take Tony as being America, then his entering Holsten’s ( Iraq ) and his subsequent death, it could be read as the eventual death of America itself. Or at least the “idea” of America, or America as we used to know it. And that the US has changed can be in no doubt, surely.

  273. Kayla Says:

    Great analysis! However there is one detail that doesn’t seem to get discussed much.

    When Tony sits down at the table, he begins looking through the songs on the tabletop jukebox. Listed along with “Don’t Stop Believin” is another Journey song “Any Way You Want It”.

    If you think Tony gets whacked….you’re right
    And if you think its just another day in his life….you’re right.

  274. Sasha Says:

    Great work.

    It really helped me to understand not only the fact that Tony was killed, but also some important Chase’s messages. Special thanks for “space odyssey” part.

  275. Erik Larsen Says:

    DSweeney – you have made some very good points – especially your latest post WRT not feeling too bad for these people since they are murderers

    I would like to point out for those who wonder why everyone ends up at Holsten’s – it seems to be Carmela’s sole decision – in the final episode she says “Holsten’s is the consensus” – she didn’t ask anyone in advance – then Tony responds “I’ll gotta see some people, I’ll meet ya there” before going to see Uncle Junior. It wouldn’t take a genius to tail either party to Holsten’s. Maybe some stuff ended up on the cutting room floor, saying that where should we go etc etc, but we won’t know

    Another thing I would like to point out – I’m Canadian – and love Canadian art. Emily Carr used to paint logged stumps as grave headstones for a wooded forest. The episode where Adriana is killed, look at how Tony sits on a tree stump “headstone” in the woods similar to where Adriana is killed, where Carmela is planning her spec house.

  276. dsweeney Says:

    I have posted elsewhere about how the Made in America and Members Only episodes are very similar in some respects and almost mirror each other. In Members Only Carmela also enquires as to where they will have dinner that evening-just like in Made in America and I am almost positive these are the only two occasions that this happens. Normally they eat at home or sometimes at Vessuvio’s but in these two episodes Carmela almost word for word asks where they will dine later that evening.And Tony gets shot of course, in Members Only. And Eugene, in his Members Only jacket, shoots a guy in a diner. When he’s driving away from the hit the song “Dreaming” by Blondie is playing on the radio. The first song we hear in Made in America is “Denis”, which although here it is by the original artist, was a big hit for Blondie and most people of my generation would that version. There are other instances of the two episodes mirroring each other and like I said, Tony is shot by uncle Jun in Members Only so…..just another pointer as to Tony’s fate in Holsten’s that night.

  277. Jessen Says:

    great analysis, thankyou. personally i thought the ending to the sopranos was artistic and brilliant.

    sorry if this has already been posted or explained, but i wondered about something when i read this part of your analysis.

    “Phil’s goomar even gets to watch her father take a bullet in the head (and then catches a few bullets herself) just as Meadow sees Tony take a shot in the head as she enters Holsten’s in the final scene.”

    If tony is facing the door, and meadow is walking in the door, and tony’s shooter is behind him – would meadow have copped a few bullets? Meadow would have seen tony’s killer, right? Makes me wonder about tony’s expression in the last few seconds of the scene – he sees meadow obviously, but he doesn’t seem happy about it – in fact he looks like he is just about to frown. perhaps as meadow sees tony’s killer she reacts with horror – and just before tony can react to meadow, he is killed.

  278. Miriam Mergatroyd Says:

    I am extremely angry at David Chase, and don’t know where to vent except here. After happening upon the last episode and then this website, and last night watching on HBO “The Knight in White Satin Armor”–mind you, I have already seen every episode at least once–I simply cannot accept that Chase will not be giving us any more Sopranos. I’m a wreck! Every single line of this show is perfect, every gesture, every name–and the subtleties–for instance, I’ll always remember the implied commentary of names such as McKenzie Coluccio and Hunter Scangarelo….

  279. dsweeney Says:

    To jessen above, just to clarify; Tony is hit from behind and TO THE RIGHT. MOG is not directly behind Tony and therefore not aiming in Meadow’s direction. The bathroom is slightly behind Tony and away to his right so when MOG emerges from there he is not firing towards Meadow. If anything it is Carmela, sitting directly opposite Tony, who could have caught some stray gunfire.
    JFK was also hit from “behind and to the right” and this is not a coincidence. There are references to the Kennedy assassination throughout the show and he was a hero figure to both Tony and uncle Jun. Quite why I could never really understand, Kennedy being Irish-American and I always understood the mob to have turned on the Kennedy’s once they got him elected. The mob hated Bobby anyway as Attorney General he went after the Mafia with great zeal.
    To Miriam above I can understand your anger but imagine how you’d feel if Mr.Chase relented and made a terrible movie and ruined the perfection of what we have? That would be unforgivable. His original vision is that Tony is gone. There’s nothing more that can be said with the character.The show had everything in it and you can’t add any more to that. Enjoy it in it’s perfection.

  280. Ramon Says:

    But why is “I’m Alive” one of the songs on the jukebox…?

  281. Lesnick Says:

    To Ramon above, “A lonely Place” and “I’ll never be in love again” are also on the jukebox which sound like death to me.

    Does anyone think Chase was having his own private joke about the whole debate? I agree that Tony is dead. If you look at the “Anyway you want it” in the jukebox, by itself, it may look like Chase wants you to choose the ending. If you look at everything-all the big clues, POV, Chase’s saying “never hear it” was about the ending-it’s clear Tony died. I’m amazed by some who use the “Anyway you want it” to argue Tony may be alive. It’s naive to think Chase took years to make an ending that would be decoded by a lyric in a song!

  282. Chad Says:

    Wow! what a complete explination. I had put some of the facts together but, nothing like this. Although, I was sort of hoping for an eventual Sopranos movie. Think there is any chance of that? Maybe a prequel? Mr. Gandolfini was on “TMZ” the other night almost roughing up some of the cameramen…. looked like he was in old form.

  283. dsweeney Says:

    To Ramon above, it’s important to remember that unlike “All that you dream” which is playing on THE SOUNDTRACK ONLY when Tony enters Holsten’s, Tony himself chooses ” Don’t stop believin'”. But the fact is life DOESN’T go on forever. The movie DOESN’T “go on and on and…” I believe it’s a joke on Chase’s part that he has T. pick this track just before he gets whacked. Similarly, and finally this is the point I’m trying to make, just because ” I’m alive” is on the juke-box doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It could be another joke by Chase. The fact is at the moment Tony is leafing through the songs on the juke-box, he IS alive. Very much alive. But not for long. Because there’s a threat to him and his family that he is completely oblivious to. In fact he is “comfortably numb”! Certain song titles have clear relevance to various stages in Tony’s life, ” I’m alive” being one of them because as of that moment he IS alive. But “Magic moment” is also on there. This is the key song in the “Soprano home movies” episode where Bobby’s infamous ” you probably never hear it when it happens right”? occurs and Chase first introduces the whole concept of how Tony meets his fate. Finally. MOS covers this point brilliantly in is analysis. “This magic moment…” plays when Bobby comes home to his family. Tony is also hoping to be with his family. The “ducks”. My take on all of that was that while Tony feared losing his family when the ducks left his swimming pool, it was HE who left THEM! He was afraid something bad was going to happen to them when it was he himself who dies. Something else he “didn’t see coming”.

  284. fred Says:

    …gotta leave it open ended…..

  285. Gordinho Says:

    My goodness i am an emotional wreck. After having been given the privilege of watching/follwing The Sopranos series as the reward for working hard to provide for my family i never thought i could become so completely overwhelmed again by such esquiste writing, the quality of the Sopranos writing has been highlighted and complimented by far better poster’s than me but the description and explanation of the ending (when T absolutely dies) is beyond words. My own theory is that if David Chase didn’t actually write the expalnation himself we have found his equal, thank you all

  286. jkincher Says:

    Maybe we were given the straight up simple explanation from Carmella’s comments in Paris when she said that it is strange to be in a different country where nobody knows you because for them you don’t exist and for you they don’t exist when and before you came to the country. In other words…you carry your reality with you and it is only where you are, such as when someone gets on an airplane. If you are on the ground it feels like your reality is there, but if you are the one getting on the plane it feels like reality is now with you and the ones left behind are sort of theoretical. We wave good bye and reality changes. Same with a tv program that is over or when we leave the theatre.

  287. dsweeney Says:

    To Fred further above, if you want it to be “open-ended” then that’s your right. But to do that you are choosing to ignore the symbolism and subtext, not to mention the DELIBERATE sequencing of the camera shots in the finale, inherent in the show. In fact you are one of the very people Chase has railed at in interview. Because the ending isn’t spoon-fed to you but told in a more abstract way, asking the viewer to ” think outside the box” a little and to engage more deeply with the material, you say it’s open-ended. It’s not. There can be no doubt as to Tony’s fate. It’s just related to us, or as I previoulsy put it, CONVEYED to us in a manner that’s unfamiliar to us.

  288. T Says:

    Great job, I read all of part one and most of the comments. I still have one issue, why did MOG go to the washroom first, i think he would of just shot him on the way.

    You said he wanted to make sure it was Tony Soprano (and be behind him on the way out), i don’t buy that. The MOB risks exposure and would shoot him right away and get out. Also, i don’t think chase would use a God Father gimmick.

    T

  289. Erik Larsen Says:

    T – it makes sense to come out of the washroom, and then take out a gun – you’re in Tony’s blind spot – if you pull a gun out when coming straight at him, you risk him being able to react

    I don’t think it’s a Godfather gimmick – more it’s a reference – quite different.

    MOG didn’t go there ahead of time to hide a gun, he’s just coming out towards Tony at the three o’clock position – in his blind spot

  290. jkincher Says:

    Miriam.
    To the extent Tony is seen as a capitalist, his character has drawn the viewer into his sociopathic universe and this is exactly what real sociopaths are able to seamlessly do. Tony would think of himself as a “businessman” or “capitalist” in order to rationalize what he does. If he is a stand in for capitalism then it is a poor use of a symbol.
    The mob acts more like the government – an organized group, taking what it did not earn because it decides it has a greater need than the ones who earned it by hard work or running a business. Both mob and government take for their own special interest groups, feel entitled and have power to use their force to bully producers.

  291. dsweeney Says:

    To T above, I can’t see how you could say Chase wouldn’t use a Godfather gimmick. As Erik says it isn’t a gimmick, it’s a reference to or an homage to it. There are references to the Godfather all over the show, from the 1st. season to the last. So it makes perfect sense to reference it in Tony’s death scene. AJ mentions how Tony has said Michael whacking Sollozzo is his favourite scene from the movie. It’s a beautiful irony by Chase that Tony meets his own end in a diner/ restaurant by a hit-man emerging from the bathroom. As has been said, Chase isn’t particularly concerned necessarily with the “realism” of the hit, more the aesthetic quality of it.

  292. John Says:

    The significance of Syracuse is the Mascot. The Orangemen. I really enjoyed your commentary. I agree with you completely.

  293. Miriam Mergatroyd Says:

    jkincher– sounds like you have a political ax to grind. I like to analyze, but when entertainment is conflated with real life, its value as diversion is lost.

  294. monstersink Says:

    This is brilliant and very comprehensive. After reading the piece I only read the first half of commentary and my only response is to the comment that concludes when Tony goes to sleep after Sil and Bobby get shot he is numb. Rather I think it his sleeping amplifies what his sociopath behavior. He doesn’t mourn adults remember, only animals (quack quack and naayyyy) and children. When Melfi final gives in to the conclusion that he is indeed a sociopath and stops therapy with him (an episode or two prior). Had he stayed in therapy we might have seen him confide in Melfi in the final episode and shed some light on his thoughts on the death of his friends and as to whether or not he was paranoid or not. He’s obviously not going to share that sentiment with his family. But because we don’t see him in therapy, but in the center of a restaurant, we can only come to the conclusion that he is not paranoid.

    Great piece! Seriously, the MOG and the audience is paranoid conclusions are insightful. love it.

  295. dsweeney Says:

    You touched on something here that reminded me of something that I always thought was telling. When Tony comes home to find AJ drowning in the pool at first he berates him with “what have you done…etc” but then he cradles him calling him “my baby,my baby, it’s ok” or something along those lines. It’s only by thinking of AJ as a child that he can comfort him, his own son. He has no feelings for him unless he sees him as a baby. This I think gives real insight as to Tony’s mindset and tallies with the findings of the study on sociopaths-they only express empathy for pets and babies.

  296. Erik Larsen Says:

    dsweeney, great point. That also reminds me of Christopher’s intervention, where the only thing that really gets Tony upset is finding out that C killed Cosette when he was high. It was very cleverly and funnily done, that scene.

  297. Mrs. 50 Says:

    Wow. I just finished watching the series for the first time. I had heard about the mystery ending, so I was prepared for something to happen. I sat on pins and needles watching the last scene. The suspense was masterful, yet I felt silly for being so engrossed because nothing specific is shown. Everything is just building on itself, and to what end, we really don’t know for sure.

    As true with the series as a whole, even in the last scene there are many story lines to consider. My first thought while watching was “Why is Tony the first of his family to arrive at the diner?” I thought something must have happened. So the suspense begins to build as it takes a while for the family to show up, one at a time. Each member of the family has a different story. The one I was most struck by was Meadow. By Carmela’s tone when telling Tony Meadow was coming from the doctor, I assumed Meadow was pregnant (or was needing an abortion????). This paralleled Meadow’s difficulty with parking the car and her frustration.

    Additional story lines the viewer must consider are all the various people in the diner and those who enter. But there was something distinctly different about “MOG”. This ties into the work above about POV and that we the viewer knows more than any given character in the scene. I agree that Tony is primarily concerned with the arrival of his family, and so disregards that other people around him, thus becomes vulnerable and NOT paranoid. He does not truly see MOG until MOG goes to the bathroom. (Great parallel to Tony referencing his favorite scene in The Godfather.)

    Then, what’s with the two black guys at the counter? Why show them at all, and specifically from a different POV than the majority of the scene? Were we supposed to suspect them of foul play just for being there?

    Holding true to the nature of the series, you were still being challenged to THINK in the final scene. Then the ending just “blows you away”. Wow.

    This definitive work is incredible. It seems that the most intellectually appropriate explanation is that Tony does indeed die. I LOVE the section (Part 1) about the POV and that WE experience death. We FEEL it. Wow. Amazing analysis. I too want to thank the author for so much dedication.

    One “constructive comment” I have for the author is the use of credible sources, namely Wikipedia. Maybe I am just old-school about this, but you NEVER want to use Wikipedia as a credible reference, especially as one of the FIRST citations you make in the whole piece. It honestly almost made me stop reading entirely. But again, maybe anti-Wikipedia mantras are just too ingrained into me from college.

    I look forward to rewatching the series many times over. After reading this work, it makes me want to start all over again NOW to see if I can pick up on more clues and artistic brilliance. And, I still have more questions. Also, I have bookmarked this page so I can refer to it again in the future as well.

    Again, thank you.

  298. Brian Says:

    Thanks for that in depth analysis. I just finished watching that episode and must admit I was pissed at the ending. Though it was obvious Tony would die in the end, I guess I was expecting something different. (I am not an avid fan of being made to think when the climax is coming!).

    But thanks to this post and analysis, it all made sense now. Thanks for this enriching and informative narration. I really love it!

  299. KDH Says:

    I’m very late to this party, having just watched the finale last nite. I had heard of the rampant dissatisfaction of fans with the abrupt blackout, but felt just the opposite. It was creative genius; finally a TV series ends without the predictability. Ending with the viewers “dying” vicariously thru Tony was like nothing I’ve experienced on TV or the movies. And, love him or hate him, he did have the most painless death possible save dying in your sleep. Thank you, MOS, for the fantastic step-by-step recount, which is the first I read to confirm my initial belief that the blackout was meant to convey Tony’s death. Even tho you make the valid point that it doesn’t matter WHO did the killing, it would have been nice to know anyway. I agree with other posters that it did not seem like a typical mob hit, so maybe it was a revenge killing from a victim’s relative (interesting that AJ could have witnessed a successful avenger)

    Also, someone above mentioned that Tony’s most evil deed was killing Tony B. I disagree. He saved Tony from a long drawn out tortuous revenge murder. It was just unfortunate that Tony B. DID see it coming and from whom.

    A couple of other unrelated thoughts that I’ve had no other forum for and will use this convenient outlet: Besides the obvious fascination with the juxtaposition between a mobster’s ruthless career and his mundane everyday activities (going to kids’ soccer matches, getting the paper every morning), I was especially taken with overarching theme of greed. The love of money and the high rolling lifestyle was each of the characters’ downfall. It drove me crazy every time Christopher bitched about Adriane’s death and kept wanting Tony to be more appreciative of him giving her up. HOWEVER, Christopher ultimately was the one who caused her death! He was in the car with her all packed and ready to flee when they stopped at a gas station and he stared at an obviously poverty stricken man with like 7 kids getting into a broken down beater. The next thing you see is Christopher in Tony’s basement. His love for Adriane could not overcome his love of money. There was no way he would ever end up like the “loser” at the gas station.

    This happened to Vito as well. Here he was safe in a gay-friendly community where he could be himself and even found love with a partner. But the disgust he had for working on that farm and then not being able to get up a game poker with the guys late night was enough for him to run back to NJ to try to get his old life back, which ultimately ended in an especially tortuous death.

    I personally would LOVE to see a prequel (either a movie or series!) Tony would just be a side character to Junior and Johnny coming up or even further back a la Godfather II as others have mentioned.

    Thanks again MOS for providing the fodder and forum for Soprano’s fans (if they’re like me, they don’t have too many people interested in a comprehensive dissection)

  300. dsweeney Says:

    I totally agree with you KDH about Tony B. It was actually a twisted sort of mercy killing by Tony. Otherwise he would have died horribly at the hands of Phil and his goons. Tony’s lowest point is surely the killing of Christopher. Just to tidy up on one point you make. When Chris sees the poor family living out of their car he isn’t with Ade, he’s on his own out getting smokes. And we don’t immediately see Chris running to Tony, that’s much later.This is so we don’t see the murder of Ade coming until it is too late. Brilliant direction and apparently it was Drea De Matteo’s idea to it that way. Chase originally had us seeing Chris going to Tony BEFORE Ade is killed. I like your point about how Chris milks it to death about how he gave her up to Tony. That he genuinely loved Adriana can’t be in doubt but like you say, he loved his liberty and ” the life” even more.

  301. huxley Says:

    Bravo, masterofsopranos and to the commenters! A most enjoyable wrap-up on a marvelous television series.

    I have one tiny detail to add, that I’m sure can’t be a coincidence, yet I haven’t seen it remarked upon here.

    The last episode is #86, which as wiki explains, “In American English, the number 86 used as a verb, to “eighty-six,” means to “ignore” or “get rid of”.”

  302. Don Says:

    The Sopranos uses music throught out the series. Why not look into the song playing a little before you assume that a hitman would waste the time to go into a bathroom when he could wack him at any time.

    Oh, the movie never ends
    It goes on and on and on and on

    Don’t stop believin’
    Hold on to that feelin’
    Streetlight people

  303. dsweeney Says:

    There is another possible origin given, relating to “86ed”. A coffin is apparently eight feet long and you’re buried six feet down, so when you’re in your coffin you’re said to be “86ed”.

  304. dsweeney Says:

    To Dan further above, as I have posted on before, don’t forget it is TONY who chooses to play “Don’t stop believin’ “, but the fact is that life doesn’t go on forever, the movie doesn’t “go on and on and on….”. It is no coincidence that the show DOES stop right on the lyric “don’t stop”. Right on cue.
    To get a clean shot from behind at Tony is hardly ” a waste of time”. If he were to open fire walking directly in front of Tony he’d run the risk of return fire from Tony. As has been said, Chase wasn’t always interested in the realism of hits, more the aesthetic qualities and the idea that Tony is whacked by a hitman emerging from the bathroom, echoing his favourite scene from the Godfather is just too delicious to pass up.
    If you are of the opinion that Tony isn’t necessarily ” gone” I’d be curious as to your explanation for the ten seconds of black at the end of the episode. What’s that for if he’s not “gone”? Chase wanted THIRTY seconds of black screen and in fact no credits at all, just black screen all the way to, as he put it,”the HBO whoosh”. For legal reasons, Equity etc, he wasn’t allowed do this so he settled for the ten second cut-to black, which is perfectly adequate to make the point in my opinion. If, as you say, he’s not gone, what is the point of all this? Why wouldn’t we see Meadow enter Holsten’s, the screen would FADE out and immediately credits would roll as normal, WITH music instead of the deathly silence he uses.

  305. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. Sorry, I meant Don, further above.

  306. Tessa Says:

    A hardened gangster like Tony would not be out in a public restaurant days after what had been going on like hiding out in Florida etc. – he would have been ‘lying low’ for a while till the dust settled. Moreover sitting exposed in the middle of the restaurant with people walking behind him is improbable. I would have more sense and I’m not a gangster. In fact in an earlier scene it shows him sitting at that pavement cafe is it with Paulie? for all the world to have a go at him at one of the most dangerous times in his life – not likely again!

    The first episode introduced Tony wading through the swimming pool after the geese and the ending went full circle with Tony again wading through the pool rescuing AJ and then looking up at the sky I expected to see the geese back but it was just to note the leafless trees and the end of the year. The full circle of the onion rings I understood was symbolic of the full circle of the story. Meadow’s difficulty with parking I saw as the difficulty the Sopranos had in fitting in to America but she did it in the end and without bashing the cars front and back – which tony probably would have done like he tore out the page from the magasine. the next generation i.e. Meadow and AJ had found their place – they were Made in America and were true Americans without the need for the props hankering for the old ways of an insecure, immigrant people. The visit to Uncle Junior where I think at one point he babbled in Italian showed a world that was gone – for the Sopranos at any rate. The next generation were American. I thought it was Meadow going through the door and I saw the final black screen like Molly Bloom’s last ‘Yes’ just something positive – Tony’s shit ways were always redeemed to the audience by his apparent love of his family – and here in this last scene we were given a large dollop of that. In fact his relationship with all the characters was resolved or gone over in the last episode so it would be just too convenient for him to die at that point. If he did die or was shot it was as he was dreaming this stuff while asleep in bed ! It was great.

  307. dsweeney Says:

    The crucial point Tessa is that as far as Tony is concerned the threat from NY has been extinguished. Phil is gone. He has had the sit-down with Butchie and that is that. Business as usual. So he thinks. But as Bobby clearly says, “in our line of work, it’s always out there”. They have destroyed so many lives the threat of violence can come from anybody, anywhere. But Tony is totally relaxed. Totally at ease and off his guard. His other big worry, Christopher, is gone as well. He took care of that himself. I believe Tony now believes he is almost immortal. Every heinous act he commits he gets away with. He coldly murders Chris and what happens? His losing streak ends. He wins big at the roulette wheel in Vegas high on peyote. I believe this is what the “I get it ” in the desert means. He believes we are simply human beings in a vast universe. No right. No wrong. No morality. He can do what he likes with no divine retribution. No God. He is now utterly beyond any redemption of any kind and thinks he’s invincible. Beyond danger. And this is when he is at his most vulnerable. He chooses “Don’t stop believin'” becase this is how he is feeling. But, “you never hear it when it happens right”? Right. He didn’t. You say it’s unrealistic he would sit in the middle of Holsten’s. As far as he is concerned the war with NY is over. What’s he supposed to do, sit at home for the rest of his life watching the History channel? Now that would be unrealistic. He’s the untouchable Tony Soprano!!
    Interesting comment about Molly Bloom but how you can take an abrupt black screen to be a positive “yes” is astonishing. When Tony came out of the coma the screen cuts to white and he comes around to see Meadow, his guardian angel. But in Holsten’s Meadow isn’t there this time to save him because she’s outside parking the car.
    You mentioned the scene where Tony tears out a page in Melfi’s office. It was a page from “Departures” magazine. The cd Chris is playing before he gets killed is the soundtrack to “The departed”. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Nothing in this show is.

  308. Juan Says:

    Hi! I´m from Spain, and I first apollogize for my bad english (sorry!)
    I´m a big soprano´s fan since the series aired on TV. I´ve watched all the episodes several times and have been involved in the sopranos world to the point that I organaized a trip years ago to NY only to visit the locations of the series (you know, the typical die-hard fan tour: Satriales, Pizzaland, Bada Bing, etc…). I was in the Bada Bing the day before the last episode “Made in America” was aired (that was the 9th of June Saturday, if I remember….).
    I watched the season Finale several weeks after, as I returned to my country, where only a few have knowledge of the importance of the Sopranos in the audio-visual and media history.
    I resisted myself to believe Tony is shot to death in Holsten´s. During weeks I choosed the other option: Tony lives in our hearts, Tony is not dead, Tony´s life will continue with fear and existenciallist “angst”. Months ago I read your marvellous analysis on the series Finale and I was ashtonished. Now I´ve read it again and I have to recognized that maybe you´re true. But only maybe…hehehehe ;)
    I would like to introduce one thought of mine that nobody has think about it in the comments: it´s about the death of Chris Moltisanti.
    Chris talked with Adrianna during the first seasons about his movie-carreer. He sees himself as a character who needs his own “curve” “-where´s my curve, Adrianna?”. In season 6B Chris becomes father of a lovely child and produces the movie “Cleaver”. Two symbols: have a child, write a book…. There is a famous statement that says that every man before he dies needs to have children, write a book and…plant a tree. Chris has clearly completed two of them, so, what comes next?
    One or two episodes before he gets killed by Tony, there is an ending that Chase use to tell us that Chris is gonna die: he comes back home late at night and watches his yard ruined by Paulie´s vengeance-crazy drive-car. He stops at the stairs of his house and tries to rebuild one little tree: it´s the signal that his character has complete the circle, he now has his complete “arch” or “curve” that all big-tragedy-dramatic characters should have; he´s now ready to die as character because he has accomplished everything important in life: children, Book (movie) and tree.
    I don´t know if this theory of mine is bullshit that my insane madness for the Sopranos has created or if it has something of true. I don´t mind, for me the Sopranos is a show that always let you thinking a bit more when the credits are over.
    Great Job with your analysis.
    Regards from Spain.

  309. JMack Says:

    While you went to a lot of trouble to fabricate a possible answer to why the show ended the way it did……I still must disagree with your synopsis.

    Why?

    Simply becuase it makes no logical sense whatsoever based on the entire show and it’s premises.

    #1 – With Phil now dead, and Phil’s #1 captian who gave approval……who is there currently to give an order to whack a boss???

    Answer: No one.

    #2 – Of all the “key” characters who were whacked in the show’s entire series, no one was ever whacked by some random unknown guy – aka: The Members Only Jacket guy.

    #3 – No one was ever whacked in the show with their family present, this was considered a “no, no” to all of the mafia, especially for a boss. It would have been an extremely dishonorable thing to do. (Whacking a boss as he sit at dinner with his wife and kids. Nope, never would happen.)
    Phil Leotardo was the most unforgiving and ruthless character in the entire history of the Sopranos, and even he wouldn’t have done that.

    To say that none of this makes sense is also to say that Chase stepped out of his normal pattern of the entire premises of the show, it makes no logical sense for him to have done that.

    I firmly believe that the answer is more simple. As Tony Soprano himself was simple.

    At the time of the Made In America episode, Phil was Tony’s only real threat from the inside of the mob. Hence Tony got to Phil first and with support of Phil’s Captain, thus this threat is now over.

    Secondly, the FED’s are a threat, but they would arrest Tony, not kill him in a restaurant.

    Ultimately, there is no ending, as of yet and that we know of, and that is exactly what Chase designed to illustrate….

    …That as of now, Tony Soprano will go on…..and the rest is left up to one’s imagination or Chases should the project ever get revised somehow. (Maybe a movie in a few years???)

  310. dsweeney Says:

    I must admit to not having heard of the saying before Juan, but you are definitely correct and well spotted. Chris has completed “his arc”. Chris drunkenly fixing the little tree in the garden is definitely a sign of his oncoming death. Before his death he is playing “The departed” cd. Tony tears out a page from “Departures” magazine. Do you not think this is a sign of Tony’s fate in Holsten’s in Made in America?

  311. chato Says:

    I know it is too late but I´ve just finished the sopranos show.

    I knew he was dead after the end but I didn´t want to belive it until I read your review. I feel sad for his death. I really do, because I don´t know why, but after 6 seasons I really finally liked Tony´s personality.

    Great show, amazing end.

    Congratulations for your work from Spain

  312. Dana Says:

    I would also like to thank you for taking the time to write such a meticulously well thought out analysis.

    I have been a fan of the Sopranos since the beginning, I own the DVD’s and have seen the entire series more times than I can count. I have watched it in mixed up sequences (all the first episodes, all the season finales, all the episodes grouped by main character storyline, etc. I have done this, not onlly because I find it entertaining but also because every time I see an episode I realize something new, some small detail or some piece of symbolism.

    I myself have always believed that Tony died at the end as well, even though there was part of me who wanted to believe that it could be true, that he lives to a ripe old age and is forced to live out the consequences of his choices, but I must honestly say that nothing points to it. The final season is loaded with symbolism and imagery which all say Tony is going to die. He has to, due to the choices he has made and the invariable death, destruction and undeniable suffering he has wrought on all that he has come into contact with.

    I loved the part about Meadow being the guardian angel, I never really picked that up from the premiere of season 6, but I really find that fascinating and I am going to rewatch the first episode and the last to feel how that resonates.

    Thanks so much!

  313. dsweeney Says:

    To jmack further above. The idea that because Phil is dead Tony is now safe is complete nonsense and to miss the point entirely. As Bobby said, ” in our line of work? It’s always out there”. How many lives has Tony destroyed? How many unseen enemies has he? You say they don’t get hit in front of their families? Who was that in front of Phil when he got a bullet in the head? From behind!! His wife and grandchildren, that’s who. That alone could be reason enough to have him whacked. When you say there is no-one left to order a hit on a boss ( of a “glorified crew” don’t forget, not a Family) who is Phil’s no.1 captain you talk about? The last we saw of Butchie was at the sit-down when he more or less gave the go-ahead to hit HIS OWN BOSS, for God’s sake. See? It DOES happen.
    But all of this is academic. The point Chase was trying to make was that in the life Tony leads he could be whacked anywhere, anytime and by anyone. Rules? There are no rules with these people. “What is this, the f**kin’ U.N. now”? as Johnny Sac hilariously exclaims.
    You say none of the key characters are hit by a random unknown like the Members Only guy. Well why put him in a Members Only jacket at all then? It is a signal by Chase that he is not just another patron in Holsten’s but a “mob guy”, a gangster. Chase could have had him in a leather jacket, a denim jacket or NO jacket. Ritchie wore a MO jacket, Junior wore one when plotting to kill Tony, Feech La Mand wore one and of course Eugene from the “Members Only” episode wore one. When he shot a guy in a diner. Before Tony himself gets shot by Jun. You put great stock in how Chase sticks to his rules of the show etc. If that’s the case then MOG is a hitman and not just in for a coffee and a trip to the bathroom. He TWICE at least stared down at Tony. Chase wouldn’t show T. get whacked. But he DID whack him.

  314. Tiger Gimenez Says:

    Great analysis and great reading, I have to agree with you that Tony probably bit the big one.

    Just as an addition, I think another reason for Patsy wanting Tony killed is in retaliation for his significantly reduced income. In episode 73 Tony sells a building to the Jamba Juice corporation. The same building is a major source of protection money for Patsy and when he finds out it’s been sold he fumes and wonders how he’s supposed to earn a living.

  315. A. Nother Says:

    Thanks for your analysis. I agree that everything implies Tony gets shot.

    One other thing I picked up (although it is hard to know when one is looking too much into things!)…

    I wonder if those scouts, dressed in black are a little nod to the ducks that are featured in the first few episodes? Having them there in a uniform with *billed* baseball caps.

  316. HB Says:

    I have one problem with this whole composition, Well actually 2 but the second one manages to work itself out…

    First the Guy who shot Sylvio was NOT wearing a members only Jacket, it did resemble a Members Only Jacket (and trust me i know them well, i think my father was one of the last members in the early 90’s) There is no Members only Badge on Sylvio’s Jacket at all, Why does this site so insightfull and intelligent make such and easy mistake?

    Also weh MOG walks past Tony the song lyrycs say “hiding Somewhere in the night” not what was printe d on this site…

    Besides that EVERYTHING i feel is dead on, I really loved the contrast of the white light and the darkness amazing!!!

  317. Veda P Forrester Says:

    Great analysis– really interesting. I’m afraid I haven’t been able to read all the replies, but I wonder if it has been suggested that Deanne Pontecorvo might have hired a hit man to kill Tony with her $2 million–since Eugene hung himself (and was the original wearer of the Members Only jacket)?

  318. Andy G Says:

    I just finished the box set, and am very thankful for your analysis… wow, it certainly does make sense… and man, i’m really depressed. not only b/c my enjoyable viewing experience is over, but b/c Tony too is “over”… and those who are left standing are in a bad spot.

    in any case… Depressing or not, it was indeed a work of art. and your analysis gets an A+.

    thanks.

  319. Andy G Says:

    i don’t know what’s more staggering… that Chase actually made all of these subtle references, or that you actually noticed them all. talk about craftsmanship (both of you guys!) thanks again for writing this — without it, i wouldn’t have noticed a fraction of what was going on.

  320. Jim Says:

    This is exactly the kind of analysis I was looking for – case closed on Tony Soprano. It’s great to see an interpretation of this sort that actually involves a thorough exploration of how the stylistic aspects work to support the themes and intentions of the writer/director – and have it make sense!

    I quite like the debates over who might have killed T, as this aspect is open to interpretation yet we are given a few potential clues, so to add my POV I support the “revenge for Eugene” theory but think we are given a concrete character who could have orchestrated the hit (as opposed to a shadowy “friend”) – his wife. After all, she was the one who urged Eugene at one point to consider offing Tony and as I remember, she was shown in that ‘Member’s Only’ episode to be a dominant, controlling character (with a violence-prone, sociopath husband under her thumb), easily capable – and of course financially able after their inheritance – of arranging an assassination in retaliation for what Tony “did” to her family. Never underestimate the Lady Macbeths – look at the influence of Carmela and Phil’s wife on their husbands. Although what the final series reinforces is the way Tony turns everyone against him, so his death really could’ve come from anywhere. And I like the Patsy Parisi theory too.

  321. dsweeney Says:

    To Tiger Jiminez further above, great shout. I always wondered what the hell Patsi meant when he says at the end of the episode, “…it’s over for the little guy”. I thought it was just some generic remark about the small businessman being crushed by the big corporate giants. But I sort of felt it had some other connotations as well. Patsi could be referring to the little guys like him, that the Tony’s of the world are taking EVERYTHING for themselves. I’ll watch again with that in mind.

  322. Sid Says:

    Superb analysis! I just watched the entire series from start to finish over the course of a few days (non stop marathon while I was working) and then found your site. It has been incredibly insightful regarding the last season of the Sopranos and the culmination of Tony’s life.

    Well done, this is probably the single best critique I have ever read about any television show.

  323. Ilene Says:

    Whew, thank you. I thought I had read everything after I read the hard cover Sopranos book. Now I’ve discovered your blog and the final episode analysis. Read every word, was glued. I am a diehard fan of Tony and the gang. I met James Gandolfini outside the Jacobs Theater last week. He signed my playbill. I thanked him and said “Love You.” That is my sentiment to Tony Soprano, aka James Gandolfini.

  324. JRSIV Says:

    This was a great series of articles on the greatest series ever, The Sopranos. I have watched the 6 seasons probably 20 times over and this piece was full of detail I knew like the back of my hand and other details that were new and surprising. Great job and I’ll be sending my friends who love the show as much as we do by to check it out.

  325. Iain Says:

    Thank you so much for this. Everything makes sense, and David Chase is truly a genius. The onion rings, the cat, the ketchup, brilliant. Definitely think Paulie ‘changed sides’ too. As was pointed out above, by the reference to the scissors/hairdressing salon. And no one respected him. “You’re the only baby here…” Also Paulie’s fear of death contrasted with Tony’s lack of fear, hence too relaxed in Holstens.
    A tiny little detail I spotted, that probably everyone else got first time but took me three viewings, was Agent Harris being asked about his ‘pal’ in Brooklyn that might know where Phil is. His ‘pal’ is the woman he sleeps with to get the info for Tony, hence the awkwardness.
    Thanks again Master of Sopranos, you really ought to get it published before someone else ‘lifts’ it.

  326. Sid Says:

    You have made reference to the 3 o’clock position that the MOG comes from when in the final scene and I remembered that Christopher mentions in “From Where to Eternity” (where he gets shot) that he had a message for both Tony and Paulie about “3 o’clock”. Now this may just be a coincidence given that Chrissy gets shot in season 2, a full 5 years prior to the last episode but it may be one of those nuggets that Chase wanted some fans to unearth after the series was over.

  327. dsweeney Says:

    To Iain further above,could you refresh my memory on the scissors/hairdresser’s and Paulie point? I just can’t belive Paulie jumped ship to New York. Don’t forget when he got stung with Johnny Sac and murdered the old girl to get her money to give Tony and get back in his good books. With Bobby gone, Chris gone and Sil in a coma, Paulie’s stock would never have been higher. He is terrified of taking over the “jinxed” Aprille crew but does so. Someone said that this is Chase’s way of telling us Paulie’s future- he’s not long for this mortal coil.

  328. LEE Says:

    Masterofsopranos: you may have written it in your explenation, but if I remember correctly about the members only guy, he is the only one whom we see enter and does not check out the menu /food on the opposite side of the bar. He just looks straight ahead (for Tony) and sits down at the bar. I just thought that was a hint along with all the others… great work by the way :)

  329. Paul Says:

    amazing!

    best wishes from germany

  330. Erik Larsen Says:

    dsweeney July 6th 839 – I thought Patsi’s comment about “it’s all over for the little guy” quite relevant. Those guys have made their living historically shaking down the little guy – now with all of the franchise outlets, there really isn’t a way to intimidate the managers – as the one guy says, every penny has to be accounted for, and if you hurt me, they’ll just bring in another manager.

    So, it’s ironic – Patsi’s feeling bad for the little guy, but in essence he’s really acknowledging that his way of life – shaking down the small businessman for protection – is coming to a end. (Much like when Butchie went walking through little Italy talking to Phil on his cell phone – when he stopped – he was in Chinatown or Koreantown or equivalent).

    It all reflects the fact that the mafia stranglehold on small businessmen and communities is coming to an end, much as Tony’s life will . . . . .

  331. dsweeney Says:

    Ah, right. Great take on it Erik. And you’re right, that episode seems to be about the old ways dying and things moving on. Tony wandering around the old neighbourhood, chatting with the old dear and she complaining about the blacks moving in to the area. At first he is on her side, but when it comes to business? He sells to Juliana in the end. Another example of “the little guy” getting crushed by bigger powers and “big business”.

  332. Jason R Says:

    Excellent process of intelligent reasoning and study. I myself had come to the conclusion that Tony was killed as that could be the only way to end the series.But your explanation into the process of Chase’s artistry and the rationale behind his work is as thorough as I have ever read. I had a simple black and white explanation for the final scene but you have added color to the picture I had drawn! Great work!

  333. Veda P Forrester Says:

    anybody here happen to know if there is anything written (on the web or otherwise) about what might have happened to Carmela, AJ etc if they survived? The rest of the family? Speculation about what their lives might have become?

  334. dsweeney Says:

    Not to my knowledge Veda. There are some people who belive both Carmela and AJ died as well and that only Meadow, who didn’t make it in to Holsten’s survived. For instance, the ” three strikes and you’re out” idea could equally apply to AJ. He survives his own suicide attempt and then narrowly escapes from his exploding SUV. In the ” seven souls” monologue at the start of the ” Members only” episode AJ is identified as ” the double, …reaching bodily death around the time of adolescence and is the most reliable guide through the land of the dead”. My quote may not be exact but the sentiment is right. In her dream when Carm is talking to Ade in the spec house she says ” a family ” will live there. Now we know Ade is dead and the family could refer to Carm, Tony and AJ. It is kind of vague but I certainly think it’s a possibility. I know Chase talked of AJ having some sort of future in the movie business but we all have plans that don’t necessarily pan out you kow? I personally think he was simply saying that AJ had sorted himself out finally and is more positive about himself. Sorry rambled a bit there. Any speculation about Carm and AJ’s future would be just that I think, speculation.

  335. YourRoyalFlyness Says:

    Just a thought maybe Uncle Junior killed Tony…somehow. Could he have sent MOG to make the hit?? If Meadow’s parallel parking represents the two unsuccessful attempts on Tony’s life. Well….Uncle Junior was unsuccessful twice. He sent the black guys after Tony, and tried to off him himself also. Maybe the third time he was successful. Maybe he wasn’t losing his marbles after all. Again, just my thoughts

  336. kevin Says:

    i forgot to add something i noticed… when rosalie and carmela were together looking at the pictures. tony walks in to notify his family of impending danger.
    you see a shot of rosalie flipping through pictures of her and carmela together in paris. it’s almost like a foreshadowing of what life is going to be like in the future. the two widows living out their lives together.

  337. Neill Says:

    awesome read.

  338. Bevin Says:

    Very painstaking analysis.

    A few spelling and grammatical errors, but that’s another matter.

    For the most part I agree with your conclusions.

    My sole objection to Chase’s artistic choices is his final shot.

    The camera was on Tony.

    The scene cut to black while the camera was still on Tony.

    That is completely inconsistent with the premise.

    The premise was that the series was seen through Tony’s eyes, and that once he’s gone, we see nothing.

    The camera should have been on Tony’s wife Carmela and his son AJ.

    It should have been a reverse angle shot, from Tony’s perspective, looking across the booth at his his wife and son.

    The screen should have gone to black, and the soundtrack to silence as Tony looked at his wife and son across the booth.

    That would have indicated that the the hitter had just popped Tony in the head with a bullet.

  339. David Says:

    Great analysis. I think, as some other people whom have posted, Tony dies. Gets whacked. Though, I will say that Chase, with the cut to black, could just be suggesting, this story is over, for now. I doubt it cause you just wouldn’t go to all that trouble of setting up the last season for such a great ending in my opinion, i mean really we are still talking about years later, but it gives him multiply outs. Either to start anew, if a movie deal gets done, or the integrity of ending his show, his way with viewer always wondering, even after it is over.

  340. burt Says:

    I also believe the song titles shown briefly on the juke box are important. I am too lazy to type them up but youtube the ending again, and pay attention and pause and see the song choices.

  341. Bevin Says:

    It’s possible Chase was hedging his bets, keeping his options open.

    That may have been the reason he cut it the way he did.

    But that said, I don’t think his final choice was necessary.

    He could still have cut to black from a reverse angle shot from Tony’s POV.

    If he wanted to make a Sopranos movie he could do one of two things.

    1. Make it a prequel. Have it all happen before Tony dies.
    2. Explain the cut to black later not as death but merely as unconsciousness.

    But all in all, the Sopranos was a great series.

  342. dsweeney Says:

    Bevin, with respect, you are wrong in saying the final shot was incorrect. The point of this is that it is a SEQUENCE of shots. A pattern. And the last shot can’t be taken in isolation as you do. In the sequence established by Chase the NEXT shot we should see should be of Meadow entering Holsten’s. The camera is on Tony. The bell rings. He looks up. We see who enters and then cut back to Tony’s reaction. But THIS time, when we should see Meadow-the lights go out! Black. Silence. For ten seconds. Rolling credits with no music.
    Also, and again with respect Bevin, you are wrong when you say the show is seen through Tony’s eyes. It most certainly isn’t. He wasn’t in the woods with Chris and Paulie was he? But he is the subject of the show. Chase’s MUSE if you like. We only know the other characters because of their relationship to Tony. Without Tony, “The Sopranos”, as is, is no more. The world we had a window on was one with Tony in it. The POV sequence relates only to the finale in Holsten’s.

  343. Adam Says:

    On the subject of who actually killed him, is it too far-fetched and too long ago to suggest the Russian from series 3? I found the Pine Barrens episode seemed like it would be significant in the future when I first watched it, it seemed strange to me at the time that it was left unknown as to whether Paulie and Chris actually got the guy and then they return to find Paulie’s car gone, Chase doesn’t seem like the sort to put something random like that in without it meaning anything, same goes for the fact that they never actually knew whether they got the guy. It would also make sense for the Russian to wait a substantial amount of time before carrying out the hit, what with his knowledge of Tony’s position in the underworld. So when better to do it just after two of his captains have been taken out and there is serious unrest in the mob world? Also, this part is less significant and could well mean nothing, but I did think the guy in Holsten’s looking dodgey looked eastern european. Like I said though, this is just some theory I had, I know there is a six year gap between the two episodes but with a writer like Chase you don’t know when he had an ending planned in his head. Also, as is shown in this in depth analysis, one of Chase’s quotes “Chase: There are no esoteric clues in there. No Da Vinci 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.” He does mention “seasons” before that. On the other hand it’s a good way of saying to the audience, you interpret it however you like or think it should be interpreted, although I don’t think that it his style.

  344. Adam Says:

    Also, I forgot to mention that on quite afew of the posts I have read people suggest that Tony wasn’t killed because there was no-one left that would have reason to, but with the Russian, he has proper reason and I don’t think many people would think about him, this was another thing I noticed in the episode Pine Barrens, the emphasis that is made on the very tight and close friendship between the two Russian men after the history in the military together.

  345. pitu Says:

    Fantastic write-up! Thanks so much!

  346. Soprano Guy (Reall) Says:

    …and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  347. petras Says:

    Another interesting point, although perhaps not too overly important is the fact that at some point every character makes a point of Tony’s eating habits. Interestingly enough the final scene is in a restaurant. Most of the characters claim that he is always thinking about what he is going to eat next and how that eating all that steak and sausage will kill him.

  348. petras Says:

    Also the title “Made in America” is homage to Goodfellas where we see Tommy about to be made, so close, yet eventually because he broke the rules, he is killed in a similar POV shot. Tony has broken so many rules it is incredulous to think that he will not be punished no matter how much we root or cheer for him.

  349. publeusmaximus Says:

    It’s pretty stupid. I don’t care what kind of interpretation the director was trying to achieve, the ending wasn’t good, he knew he was going to confuse 90% of the viewers. I think he’s just trying to appear intellectual. If he wanted an ending where the viewer decides what happened he should have cut to black with some kind of sound effect at least.

  350. petras Says:

    And yet another clue, is the way in which Tony is shot by Junior for the second time. We get a shot of Tony’s POV in which he is preoccupied with something (I can’t remember i am pretty sure he was reading or eating something). Meanwhile we can see Junior running down the stairs and we have no clue what has happened, we dont even see the gun, until after Tony is lying in a pool of his own blood.

  351. Delilah Says:

    A day late & a dollar short- I came in on the series in rerun somewhere near the end of season 5, so I missed out on a lot. Also, I’m seeing it on A&E and figured a lot had been cut- So I thought I’ll just buy the series on DVD and get it all. Then today (Aug. 04,2009), I saw the rerun of the last episode in the series and saw what I assumed was Tony getting whacked (I was right but I thought maybe the whole family might have got it as well). I could see it coming! Great suspense! But I was angry at how it ended and at what is now old news to most, the thought that the black out was a cop out for a series being pulled and no thought going into giving the series an ending with more meaning- and I’ll forget about ever buying the DVD set, thank you very much. However; After just reading your first page I realize how wrong I was and how right the ending was- how there really couldn’t have been a different or better ending and yet do the series as a whole and a work of art, justice. I think I’ll just go buy that DVD set now. Thank you for clearing things up.

  352. Wade De Shane Says:

    Hands down the best read ever on the Sopranos ending. I have seen every single episode countless times and when I first read your explanation I was in awe. You hit everything dead on. Whatever site you posted this on before, the link I had no longer worked. Glad you posted this on WordPress.

  353. dsweeney Says:

    To publeusmaximus further up above, Chase DID NOT want an ending where the viewer decides what happens. We DON’T decide what happened to Tony, if you engage in the material thoroughly and not just on a superficial level. And not just with the finale in Holsten’s but with everything that led up to it. The forehadowing of death, the allusions to The Godfather, guys in “Members only” jackets etc. Casual viewers immediately think, oh, you decide for yourself what you want to happen. Well, attentive students of the piece as a whole,like MOS, know what happened-we just never saw it coming. Like Tony.
    If, as you say, the viewer decides for themselves what happens, how do you explain the ten,long seconds of black? Followed by silent credits? Credits that Chase in fact didn’t want at all. Nothing, all the way to, as he said, ” to the HBO whoosh”. There is no ” make up your own ending” here. Chase wanted people to really “look closely at what’s there”. Why would he say that if we could make up our own ending? The last time we see Tony he is very much alive. But the FINAL SHOT OF THE SHOW is from his point of view. As I have constantly said to anybody still interested enough to listen, the episode does not end at the cut to black. The ten seconds of on-screen black is PART OF THE EPPISODE. CRUCIALLY. Those silent ten seconds ( Chase wanted THIRTY seocnds ) are as much part of the episode as Tony visiting Jun, Phil getting it in the head and Tony arriving at Holsten’s.
    If you want to make up your own ending then that’s fine. But you can only do so by ignoring the material in front of you. In the moment of his death, we are in Tony’s shoes. Ye never hear it when it happens right ?

  354. Joe Says:

    I was truly amazed by this entire 3 part analysis. I am watching the entire series again, with special attention to season 6, just so I can pick up all of the details elaborated in Part 2 of this analysis.

    “Definitive” is the right word to use for this analysis.

    I think it is strange to see people really trying to disagree with it. The pattern you point to in the editing of the scene is simply incontrovertible. Combined with the foreshadowing of earlier episodes, there is just no way to avoid the conclusion you reach.

    Chase did a wonderful job, however, leading everyone slightly astray while leaving just enough for the astute (and multiple) viewer to put the pieces together. The first time you watch it, you aren’t looking for the clues, but you ARE pretty much expecting to actually SEE Tony get shot, or at least get a clear indication that this will/has happened. We are meant to “suspect” Members Only guy. I know I did when I first saw it.

    I wanted to believe, though, that Tony lived. And that’s another thing we can admire about Chase – if that’s the right word. He made a person we would ordinarily think of as a monster into a somewhat likable and sympathetic character. But having read this, there’s just no way to deny that Tony was killed.

    Masterful analysis of season 6, too.

  355. Bevin Says:

    Dear DSweeney,

    I understand what you are saying.

    I probably should have worded my comment slightly differently.

    When I said that the series is “seen through Tony’s eyes” I did not mean literally.

    I meant it in the same sense that Chase meant it. I meant that Tony is the series, and once he’s gone, there’s both metaphorically and literally nothing more to see.

    It’s not practical to actually film an entire movie entirely through the eyes of the protagonist.

    Robert Montgomery tried to do that when he directed Raymond Chandler’s “Lady in the Lake.” He shot the entire film through the eyes of protagonist Philip Marlowe. We see exactly what Marlowe sees. The only time we see Marlowe’s face, is when he looks in the mirror. Unfortunately the gimmick wears thin pretty fast.

    That’s why Chase did not shoot the entire series through Tony Soprano’s eyes.

    But I do feel he should have selectively shot the final scene subjectively through Tony Soprano’s eyes. Because it would have driven home the idea that Tony is the series.

    Just my own nit to pick.

    As I said, great series, and we are all grateful that Chase created it.

  356. dsweeney Says:

    Yes Bevin, we agree, Tony is the central and pivotal character of the show. Everything revolves around him and without him, there is no show. As I think I said before, the world we see and are concerned with is the one with Tony S. in it.
    It’s a valid point you make about shooting the finale entirely from T.’s point of view and that, for sure, would leave people in no doubt as to what actually happened. The problem with doing that though, as I see it, concerns the “never hear it when it happens” concept that I think Chase was trying to achieve. If we, the viewer, were given too much information prior to the actual hit the effect he was going for might be lost. Or at least lessened. Just my thinking on it anyway.

  357. soundofthunder Says:

    Dear DSweeney,

    Chase was probably as you suggest, trying to avoid telegraphing the shocker ending.

    But in my own judgment, it was not the best decision dramatically speaking. To me at least, it merely confused the ending instead of making it more shocking.

    Because people were confused, because they were busy scratching their heads, they weren’t shocked. The confusion displaced the shock they should have felt.

    In order to be shocked, the ending must be immediately clear. Only then can one react viscerally to what one has understood intellectually.

    But I see your point. Chase was being experimental. That’s hardly a bad thing. But it’s risky. Sometimes it doesn’t come off. To my mind, this was a case of not quite coming off.

    But it’s really a matter of “how” rather than “what.”

    I should add that I agree with other viewers who said Tony Soprano had it coming, and that we viewers really shouldn’t have that much sympathy for him.

  358. Anonymous Says:

    Even the name Soprano is an insight to exactly what this family is all about. A soprano is a woman or a young boy. Tony’s dad died early. Tony, too, it would seem, died early. Livia carried on to a ripe old age, pulling all the strings as she went, now as we finish the series we see Janice being positioned to take over the exact same role.

  359. dsweeney Says:

    Totally agree with you Soundofthunder. Tony is utterly repulsive by this stage in my opinion, completely beyond any kind of redemption whatsoever. Some people, even at this stage, still say he had some good in him, his kids etc. The killing of Chris, his surrogate son, was his absolute nadir. I believe Chase went out of his way to make Tony as despicable and hateful as possible. Tony is NOT a nice guy. He lies, cheats, is petty minded, selfish, greedy and a multiple murderer. He is, as Chase himself said, ” a gangsster”. End of.

    But that is not why Tony gets whacked. It’s not a morality thing, or that crime doesn’t pay. It’s simply the most likely outcome for a guy who lives the life he does. He’s survived two previous attempts on his life. And in the real world you don’t get any more chances than that. To have Tony dodging bullets left right and centre while everyone else are dropping like flies would be ridiculous. He ain’t Superman, after all.

  360. Clem Says:

    It were the Russian! One of the songs on the box was “This Magic Moment” and that was the song played at the end of the episode where Baccala made his first hit for the Russians via Tony on the guy in the laundry. The MOG guy is Russian and hes there to complete the payback they having knocked off Bobby already.

    The two black guys are there to reinforce the hit idea. Two black guys having failed before. Chris said after the attempted hit that he remembered the two guys from the day before in a Buick I believe. One of the Songs on the box is “My Baby Drives a Buick” Another Sawyer Brown song was “Somewhere in The Night” on the box. Look up the lyrics. “Calm before the storm…when you are feeling safe….lightning strikes out of no where”.

    The truck driver with the sugar. The movie Hoffa, the diner, the sugar. Maybe even the dinner killings in Godfather, Mike in the diner. Sugar plays a role in one of these flicks.

    “Chrystal Blue Persuasion” was another song on the box. Remember the killing, stabbing in the back office of the Bing that Chris’s girl witnessed and her involvement in disposing of evidence is what forced her hand and got her killed.

    The song “Turn, Turn, Turn” …to everything there is a time.

    And the football theme in the dinner. What was it Tony’s coach said to him? You will have to kill me?

  361. Bahtatboy Says:

    The whole series is very full of symbolism, and altered how we perceive made-for-TV drama on an epic scale.

    Chase (and the other writers) demand that we actually THINK about what’s happening, although the series works on a simple level, too. (Read Camus’ The Plague and you might find it interesting without actually thinking about it, but apply critical analysis and you have something much, much deeper and meaningful.)

    So is Chase going to give us a final episode which we don’t have to think about? Of course not.

    The POV / Tony’s dead hypothesis works on all levels and isn’t really that complex (unless you want it to be, and it works then, too). Any other conclusion ignores all the allusions and cross-references explained in MOS’s analysis.

    There is no rational denial of MOS’s conclusion. Sadly, though, coz I desperately didn’t want it to end…

  362. Vladimir Says:

    Did anybody notice a shot in the kitchen of the restaurant, where the knife from Cleaver was shown? Also, what is the meaning of cat watching Chris portrait constantly – in many cultures cats can “see” dead souls?

  363. tonym16 Says:

    Hey , just wanted to say you made a really nice read, and it was all greatley thought out. Im a huge Soprano fan too, but rarely look in to it as deep, since most things seemed so straight forward to me.

    I think your explanation is quite correct, in some ways, but its still just a theory.

    I think the point is what all actors were saying right from the start “make of it what you will”.

    Like all great theories, holes can be found if one think s about it enough.

    One thing that stood out to me was when you explained that Tony was not paranoid in the diner and was “too relaxed” and that all the paranoia in the scene was just the camera work…

    ..thats actually not strictly correct. Tony was paranoid in that diner. At first when the finaled ended i assumed the black guys killed Tony since he made a really shocked face when screen went black. I then noticed he made that same stupid suprised looking face every time the bell rang and someone came in. His face would then relax when the person coming in looked like an average joe to him. He smiled when it was family.

    As far as Tony was concrened ( and i been in this position before so i am speaking from experience), he had fully scoped out the joint when he first entered and so to stay safe alll he needed to do was watch the entrance. He was Very, very paranoid, and was visibly scared every time that door opened. HOwever this type of paranoia aint the same as what a “crack head” would experience. A crack head looks in every direction and eveyrone can clearly see hes paranoid. When you live like Tony , you are hardended to the unpleasant experience of paranoia, and you cope better.

    Tony was a master of hiding his true feelings, and he knew how to convince his family everythingw as ok, even when its not.

    So all im saying is that Tony was actually very paranoid in that diner, even more paranoid then normal.

    I saw you said he didnt notice the MOG guy and he didnt sit ina good place, and I have an explanation for that. He sat in the middle cause he feels its more secure, in that he can run out easier if something happens, and plus hes “Tony” he does as he pleases ate the end of the day he rareley listens to reason, and will put himself in danger nearlly all the time, and really not care.

    He did notice the the MOG guy, but he didnt recognize the guy, and in Tonys mind he can easily recognize a made guy, so his ego disregards this threat. He was probably more concerened with the black guys.

    As far who killed Tony ( and thast only if we take the scene “as is”, we dont seen no gunshot, a d so that black scene could still be something else, if you care enough to think of another theory, but i could care less tbh, I im happy to tale the scene as is), the only thing that can possibly make sense, is that it was one of the 200 button men the NY family had, who went rogue. Phil must have been loved by some pf those soldiers, and may have even had a relative as one, who just got pissed off.

    Butch and patise didnt order it, I can ensure you of that. Butch was a sensible guy really , as was pointed out when he realised that phil was just pursuing a personal vendatta. Patsie, was a coward at end of the end of teh day, and was incompetent most times, he never would have pulled this off, in such a short frame time, and he would have done it himself. He could have teamed up with Butch like you said, but thats very very unlikley ins such a short time frame, (it would have required patsie to know someone huge in the Ny family in a realy friendly manner, and at least 2 sit downs).

    So thats my theories, which stem really from my own life and wathcing the show. I did enjoy reading your work though, was a really good read, and alot of it seems very true.

  364. tonym16 Says:

    Oh i almost forgot, another idea i had that could make sense as to who killed Tony.

    There are Five families in NY and they are supposed to work together. We never see the other four families, only the family they apply is the biggest in NY (phils one). So its very possible the other families may have been very much in the mix and pissed off enough to end Tonys life for killing Phil. This theory has huge holes though, and is a far strech, since most families will never get involved in a war like that, unless it became personal, so i still think it was a relative of Phils who done it.

  365. tonym16 Says:

    As to why a relative/soldier would go against Butch? Well what happens to a family when they loose a boss? Eeveryone knows this and Sopranos has shown at least two times the chaos and power struggles that occur. Its the soldiers who suffer, and they have no idea who to take orders from till new boss has offically made his stance (by taking out any rivals). Butch would have been consumed with fixing his family, and its possible he didnt do such a good job yet ( was still early days), and so soldiers can take full advantage in this time of “power loss”.

  366. Clem Says:

    Yes his conclusions really helped me understand a great deal and put things together. I put a lot of time into the music but couldn’t see the hit.

    The thing about Meadow parking her car is very clear now. It shows in the last cut at the table.

    The thing about the cub scouts. Wasn’t AJ in the cub scouts and wasn’t there an old episode where Tony was looking proudly at AJ’s uniform on a hanger? Much to think about there as far as life choices, the good times AJ mentions, the scouts about to witness a murder, that could have been Tony over there instead of where they were sitting.

    Something that did catch my eye. If we are to understand that every single second of this had a meaning…..I noticed the clip of the two guys working on the grill. It immediately reminded me of the clip of the black guy in “Heat” that they picked up in the restaurant, working the grill, at the last second becouse they needed a driver. He left the simple life, a second chance, humble as it was, for an easy score and ended up dead a few hours later. There is a bell in that as well. I dont remember how many times he hit it.

    And the football mural had to have something to do with the dialog between Tony and his coach but I will have to go back and watch that to see what it was. Didn’t he tell Tony he could have been a good football player but always wanted things easy or something like that?

  367. AngeloD Says:

    Firstly, congratulations for your superb analysis and making my watching the series again more enjoyable.
    One thing i picked up on during a re-watch of the series was how Tony commented in an episode how like his father he had a sixth sense in reading people, he went and spoke to, and excuse my forgetting his name, the guy that wore the cap with the bug in it, and came back saying “i couldn’t tell a fucken thing” also how tony repeats how he can spot a fag etc and Carmela says you “you think everyone’s a fag” or words to that effect and ironically Tony has a guy, one of his Capos, his biggest earner right under his nose who is homosexual.
    I think Chase is giving us clues that maybe Tony is not as smart as he thinks he is.
    Toy should be on his guard, he awarenessd of his surrounding in Holsten’s should be heightend, but he is not, he is not as sharp as he should be or thinks he is safe, he is wrong and he pays with his life.

  368. Angelo D Says:

    Please add this to my original post.

    As for who and why Tony was killed, my best guess is that after Carlo flipped and Tonys impending indictment and probable trial, there was a chance he himself would also flip, what he knew about LCN etc the 5 NY Families said “Fuck it! Why take a chance” and to echo Phil Leotardos words, “5 Families in NY and we got this fucken Pigmy thing over there” The other families had a commision sitdown and decided Tony was too much of a liability and thus was worth more dead than alive and the decision to whack Tony was made.

  369. Angelo D Says:

    I remembered something that may or may not relate to what i’m saying, but in the episode “The test Dream”, Vic asks Tony whether he is prepared and then Tony says yeah and pulls out a copy of “The Valachi Papers” obviously the Mafia Turncoat.
    Another thing i noticed from that dream sequence is when Tony is the dinner, Finn changes to AJ and Vic says “he won’t amount to anything”.
    Either way that was a great episode and probably woth a thorough analysis of it’s own.

  370. Jasonbonez Says:

    kinda crazy. But maybe it was Tony’s son that had him killed. AJ and MOG walk in together, When AJ sits down he looks nervously toward the bathroom and avoids eye contact with his Dad, When MOG looks over at the table, the camera cuts to AJ’s face- Perhaps MOG had met with AJ when he was “on his way” and watched him take a seat. and of course he says “remember the good times.” It seems like a crazy theory but who knows.

  371. Bevin Says:

    Dear DSweeney,

    You wrote:

    The killing of Chris, his surrogate son, was his absolute nadir.

    That’s what I was thinking too. When I saw that scene, when Tony strangled Chris, I was outta there in terms of “identification” with Tony.

    I assume Chase did it to drive home the point and to foreshadow Tony getting his comeuppance.

    But I agree that Chase was probably thinking less in terms of morality than in terms of harsh realism. You live that kind of life, and your chances of getting murdered go way up.

    I myself believe that the two are in fact correlated at a deeper level. I myself believe that the moral is the practical, and the practical is the moral.

    — Bevin

    Incidentally, the soundofthunder comment was mine.

  372. Bevin Says:

    Another key indicator that Tony was “beyond redemption,” and due for his comeuppance, was Dr. Melfi finally dropping Tony as her patient.

    Dr. Melfi did say something that I found intriguing in our modern “value free” era.

    She asked Tony whether he didn’t see a connection between his anxiety attacks and his knowledge that he was committing all sorts of evil acts.

    I laughed out loud at that one.

  373. tonym16 Says:

    hehe, yeah nice theory jason. I actually mulled it over and almost for a second thought it was possible. But this is actually way too far stretched, AJ would have been a nervous wreck, if he was setting his dad up, look how he reacted when that black guy got beat up. Aj had a consience.. sort of.

  374. dsweeney Says:

    Angelo d, that’s a great and very original theory as to the “who” would have Tony whacked. With Carlo having flipped, you’re right, other NY families might fear that T. himself could do the same. That coupled with the way Phil, the boss of one of the NY families, was killed by Tony’s crew would be plenty reason for having him whacked.
    But personally I think the “who” is irrelevant. The point I think is that Tony could be killed by anyone, anywhere and at anytime. Tony didn’t know MOG. And we didn’t either. He was a hitman and that’s that.
    As for Tony being paranoid in Holsten’s, in my view he most certainly was not. He sits where he does so he can see who enters through the door, that’s all. He’s expectiong his family don’t forget. He may of course sit there out of survival instinct but I don’t think that’s the case here. Tony doesn’t even see the black guys enter and has no interest whatsover in them. Nor they in him, for that matter. It’s only our own prejudice that even makes us think they might be there to kill him. The only patron who pays any attention to Tony is MOG. Period. And Tony is so wrapped up in the juke-box he doesn’t notice him.
    One more thing. Someone further up above mentioned the Russians and the episode where Bobby kills the guy in the laundrette ( Soprano home movies). They weren’t Russians, they were French speaking Canadians from over the border.

  375. dsweeney Says:

    Bevin, in your post just further above, you touched on something that I have mentioned elsewhere. When you say you lost any feelings for Tony when he smothered Chris. I believe this was part of a deliberate pattern by Chase. If you notice you will see with some characters that before they meet their own end, they do some terrible act themselves, we see them at their absolute worst. This, I believe, is so that WE DON’T CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT PEOPLE WE OTHERWISE MIGHT.
    Take a few examples. The most obvious and what put me onto it first is that of Vito. Driving home with tears streaming down his face, swigging from a bottle, to what he knows may well be his death, we can’t help feel some sympathy for him. But just when we might forget what these people are, he cold bloodedly murders a complete stranger. Bofore Chris is murdered by Tony, Chris himself callously kills J.T. in his apartment. A scene that I always thought a bit gratuitous before I noticed the pattern was where Sil, of all people, strangles Burt Gervasi to death. Sil himself is very shortly shot and ends up in a coma. Bobby finally crosses the line and commits murder in the “Soprano home movies” episode and later gets his in the toy shop.
    When you consider these are all characters we have come to know and maybe even like, Tony killing Chris is for me part of the same pattern and another hint that he does in fact die in Holsten’s. So basically my theory is that Chase shows us these animals in their true light before they die in case we had been taken in my their charms. They are psycopaths and gangsters at the end of the day. Not nice people.

  376. Clem Says:

    “They weren’t Russians, they were French speaking Canadians from over the border”.

    That was me, sorry. But it was a magic moment.

    Dude seriously it isn’t prejudice that made me think the two black guys were there to kill Tony. Please, please, please. Its getting really old and stale. The two black guys simply reminded of the hit attempt. Its association, which is most of what is being discussed here. It is no more racist born than some pointing out the guy in the America hat as a possible truck driver is a class thing. Or for that matter the Members Only attire as a fashion statement. Simply people making associations from past episodes.

  377. Greyscale Says:

    I enjoyed your in-depth analysis of the Sopranos’s finale very much, but I also think that there was one very obvious clue that happened just before the scene that you analyzed.

    Chase made a point of showing that Meadow could not parallel park in front of the restaurant because there was a car parked directly in front of the front door that was taking up two parking spaces. Like where a getaway car would be parked, flanked by the cars parked in front of and behind it, to ensure that the shooter would be able to make a swift exit from the busy restaurant after whacking Tony. This has to be important, or why would he even show Meadow’s parking difficulty?

  378. dsweeney Says:

    To Clem further up, in no way was I suggesting there was actual racism on your part. I simply meant that collectively we tend to see a group of young, rap type black guys as having some sinister motives for being there, other than being there simply to have a meal, like anybody else.
    And I take your point, they are clearly a reference to the attempted hit on Tony in the earlier series.
    Interesting spot Greyscale about Meadow and the parking. Never noticed that and you may have something. I always took the trying to park scenes to be, apart from simply creating tension, about Meadow, Tony’s guardian angel, not making it inside to Holsten’s to save him. As MOS pointed out, if she had made it inside she would have sat beside Tony in the booth and DIRECTLY IN FRONT of him from MOG’s perspective when he exited the bathroom. She pulled him out of the coma but this time she wasn’t there to save him. Chase is being symbolic here I think, rather than actually saying MOG couldn’t hit Tony simply because Meadow was sitting in his line of fire.

  379. Jee Says:

    Ok, i think reading this has finally convinced me that Tony got killed! But i have a few questions. You wrote that the MOG had a clear path to exit out the diner after he killed Tony, but what i want to know is what your theory is about How he gets out if Meadow walked in the diner at the exact moment Tony got killed? Was there any clues Chase left about that? I am sure she would scream and cry but at the same time i doubt that she would just excuse the MOG to walk past her and leave the diner! So does she try to stop him?Does he do anything to her? Just a small thing i am kind of curious about, because i did not see any clues left for the viewer to make us know what happens as he is leaving the diner after whacking Tony with Meadow At the front of the diner door.

  380. soundofthunder Says:

    Dear DSweeney,

    You summed it up nicely. I concur with your views on the issue of audience identification with protagonists who are fundamentally evil.

    When screenwriting guru Robert McKee analyzed The Godfather in his story structure class, he half joked about the Corleone family being the “good bad guy” and the Tattaglia family being the “bad bad guys.”

    McKee joke “Yes, the Corleone family murders people, but it doesn’t do drugs.”

    By contrast, David Chase’s The Sopranos is closer to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. In Goodfellas the title is ironic. There are no goodfellas in Goodfellas.

    There are only “bad bad guys.”

    This is my long-winded way of saying yes, I am inclined to agree with you on this point.

    — Bevin

  381. dsweeney Says:

    To Jee up above, what happens after the hit we can only speculate on as I don’t think Chase had any interest in that. Once Tony is gone, that’s that as far as he is concerned. But just to theorise along with you, I would imagine that when Meadow entered Holsten’s she would see Tony getting shot in the head by MOG, but that he would have already almost brushed passed her before she knew what was happening-like Sil during the Torciano hit which Chase quite specifically referred to in interview. It happens so fast that the shots are fired, the victim is on the way down before your brain can engage with what it is seeing. Meadow would then be in hysterics and MOG, like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, would drop the gun and WALK, not run, out of Holsten’s. Just how I imagine it would have played out, or something along those lines anyway.

  382. JasonBonez Says:

    thanks for the feedback Tonym

  383. John Says:

    Great analysis! I am part of the crowd that like the subtext of the show, not just the whackings. Sure the whackings were entertaining, but what made the show great was that there was always something there you had to delve deep into to understand. The ironic thing is I was one of those fans who thought Tony would change after he got shot by Junior, and I was looking for this arc in the last season, like someone turning on a lightswitch, and poof, Tony was a different guy! But Tony never changed, it was just business as usual, and all he was trying to do was win at all costs, and provide for his family. That pretty much sums up his thought process.

  384. travis Says:

    The one thing I don’t remember reading in that well put essay is that the screen going black could have been Tony blacking out

  385. dsweeney Says:

    While agreeing totally in principle with you John I think you’re being a bit generous to Tony. I don’t think it’s business as usual, I think he’s infinitely worse than he ever was. And while you are right that T. does provide for his family, I think it’s a by-product to his own well-being really. He doesn’t murder people to “provide for my family”. Tony is about Tony, at the end of the day. He’s no hero, in my opinion, doing what it takes to look after his family. In fact, by the end, he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever in my opinion.

  386. Gerald Sherfy Says:

    I commend you for this flawless analysis of the finale. I haven’t watched that episode since it aired and left me head-scratching as to its significance. Now it all is so clear and has left me eager to watch the entire series once again. Clearing up the 3 oclock reference for me, too, has been perfect resolution for such an incredible series.

    One another point that may or not have significance: The final episode title “Made in America”. Is it a coincidence that the hat of the old guy says “USA” (America) on it? Im obviously not implying that he had anything to do with the impending hit, but ‘Made’ is obvious mafia parlance for a man becoming a made member of the mafia. Could the hit-man’s being ‘Made’ been motivation for his whacking of T.S.?

  387. dsweeney Says:

    Travis, further up above, raises an interesting point. One I can’t agree with though. He wonders could the sudden cut-to-black in Holsten’s be Tony suffering another blackout. This is of course perfectly possible. But there is something not quite right about it and it is this. In the past whenever we see Tony having a panic attack and passing out, it is always preceded by some stressful situation or something that pushes him over the edge. Meadow bringing home an African-American boyfriend, a fight with his mother or Ritchie etc. Something he can’t handle and his “putrid gene” kicks in and he passes out. In Holsten’s, there is nothing like this. In fact there is nothing even approximating this. Far from it, Tony is as relaxed and care-free as we have seen him in probably the entire show. The war with New York is over. His worries about Chris flipping are over. Even AJ finally seems settled into something and Meadow has a promising career and future ahead of her. He’s waiting to meet his family for dinner. What more could he ask for ? No, I’m sorry. There is no reason for him to have an anxiety or panic attack. At his most relaxed he takes his eye off the ball, doesn’t sense MOG checking him out,twice. Doesn’t sense the danger and goes back to the juke-box. He looks up to see Meadow enter Holsten’s and right when we should see her through his eyes….well, you know by now.

  388. Dave Says:

    I loved your analysis and has made me re think the final scene. However one point always sticks in my head. The final scene was Tony looking up from Meadow’s POV. I know this was discussed but I just can’t seem to grasp the theory that you quoted below. I always imagined that since the final scene was from Meadow’s POV, it was Meadow that was killed and not Tony. I would have enjoyed the ending much more if the scene went to black from Tony’s POV.

    <>

  389. dsweeney Says:

    Dave, the final shot IS FROM TONY’S POV. In the sequence of shots established the pattern is as follows; the camera is on Tony, the bell on the door rings, Tony looks up and then we see the person entering from Tony’s POV. However, this time around the sequence goes like this; the camera is on Tony, the bell rings by who we know to be Meadow, Tony looks up and the next shot,I.E. the black screen, IS FROM TONY’S POV. Where we should see Meadow from Tony’s POV, we see black emptiness,no sound, no music.
    BTW, the final shot we see of Tony, IS NOT FROM MEADOW’S POV. She is not even in Holsten’s yet, for God’s sake! The doorbell has just rang and Tony reacts because he is waiting for her to show up. The last shot we see of Tony is just a regular shot from our, the viewer’s POV. We then cut to his POV and should see Meadow, as has been established in the pattern. But in that instant….nothing. Silence.

  390. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. I should make it clear that when I say the final shot is from T’s POV I’m referring to the black screen. The black screen until the credits is PART OF THE EPISODE. That “black” is from Tony’s perspective and is still part of the episode. The episode doesn’t end until the credits start to roll in silence. The final ten seconds of black is part of the episode, CRUCIALLY.

  391. Kristin Says:

    Furthering dsweeney’s response to Dave’s theory that Tony could have had a black out, we’ve always seen his collapses in the past. But, we’ve never seen him dead before….

  392. dsweeney Says:

    Unfortunately Kristin there are those who will say we haven’t seen Tony die here either. And of course technically speaking they would be correct. We don’t see Tony dead because at the critical moment WE ARE TONY.Or we are seeing things through his eyes at least.
    People who say Tony isn’t necessarily dead have grown up watching TV and seeing things literally played out for them in front of their eyes. Chase didn’t want to show Tony die in a bloodbath and have people cheering,people who all throughout the show had rooted for Tony. So he at the critical moment, he put us, the viewer in his shoes. Through symbolism and subtext and other clues he CONVEYS to us what happened. But some people, because we don’t actually witness Tony’s death, won’t accept it. But it was not about Chase letting people make up their own ending. Tony is gone and in his death we die with him. Brilliant.

  393. sara Says:

    Tony can’t die in our heads otherwise that part of us would die too. He was doing the things we wanted to do when we get crazy and he was feeling what we feel each day in his normal moments. We loved the show WE all could get it, smart or not so smart. The more you watch it the best you get it, it’s a work of art also for this reason. Tony is dead ? we don’t know it . Chase may also not know it, HBO may be able to perform a miracle ….depending on how much a Sopranos Movie is going to pay.
    Great work and beautiful psycological analysis everyone ( well almost everyone). Sara

  394. Guy Says:

    I’ve been thinking about a couple of points a bit more

    1: The “life goes on” ending: Actually, if you want this ending, you get it at the end of Episode 77 “Kaisha” – a family dinner, peace and calm, life goes on. This was the end of Series 6 Part 1 – when i watched this on DVD I didn’t know that there was a Series 6 Part 2! Neither did the friend who gave me the DVD…. we both thought that was the end, and it was an end we were happy enough with. Sure there were some loose ends, but there are always loose ends in Tony’s life, and the creators had given us unresolved plot lines before – the biggest one for me, was not the Russian in the woods, but the unresolved Furio situation. I kept waiting for Furio to turn up again….
    But the point is, if you want a continuity ending, you have it there…

    2: Who is MOG? I think it is obvious that MOG is NOT a professional hitman, not from another New York family, not hired by the Pontecorvos, not one of Butchie’s crew, not one of Paulie or Patsy’s guys. He is an amateur. Why do I think this? Because of the really obvious reference to the Solazzo killing in the Godfather – Michael was trusted because he wasn’t in the mob – and because although Tony was NOT relaxed, but was constantly checking the situation (I agree with Tonym16 on this – he gets there first, he scopes the place he wants to sit, he faces the door) he doesn’t register MOG as a threat. He looks at him twice – but doesn’t see him as a threat. Now, I think Tony has enough experience to be able to be able to spot a professional hitman – but this guy doesn’t look like a pro – so he dismisses him. Next – MOG doesn’t act like a professional. At no time in the series have we seen a hitman WHO GIVES HIS TARGET THE CHANCE TO SPOT HIM AND REACT. At most, victim see their killers when they already have their guns drawn, usually they don’t see them at all. No way would a professional sent to kill a boss like Tony Soprano sit around on a stool, giving Tony the chance to spot him, draw his gun first, run to the bathroom, whatever. The guy is an amateur – and Chase makes this point really clear, by HIRING A NON PROFESSIONAL ACTOR. Why else would he possibly do this? Unless someone tells me that he regularly used non professionals. Had he used up all the Italian American actors? I don’t think so – this is a clear sign. MOG is not part of the circle, he’s not a threat, so Tony doesn’t “make” him. He wears a Member’s Only jacket, but he’s not a member of the “life” so Tony pays no attention to him. And MOG probably goes into the bathroom first, because, just like Tony’s crew, he’s seen the Godfather many times too! So coming out of the bathroom shooting seems like the right way to do it

    3: Why? Tony has sorted out all of the “professional” threats, and I don’t buy the idea of a double cross by Butchie or Paulie that Chase decided not to tell us about. Throughout the series the gangland machinations have been clearly explained and there seems no reason for him to change this for the last episode. But there are lots of innocent bystanders that have been hurt, women wronged, “civilians” Tony barely notices. Its one of them – and i think the use of Members Only jacket is meant to tie it back to Eugene Pontecorvo. Its one of his friends or family

    Cheers

  395. Mike Lane Says:

    Your comments won’t move up because you’ve got a ton of paragraph tags ( ) in the code. Go into the wordpress editor and use the HTML editor to see them all. Delete all the paragraph elements that do not have any writing in them and all should be right with the world.

  396. Fif Says:

    Very well done !

    Since I’ve read your incredible analysis I decided to re-watch the whole episodes.

    I thought that T’ was killed in the last episode but I didn’t realised the POV stuff was leading me to this.

    Another clue according to the ending, the 1st episode of the season 6 part.A is called (as you all know) “Member’s only”. In this episode, a song (rap’) is playing at the beginning of the episode with said that a man’s got 7 lives. All the description made for a live is relayed to a episode. The last live is called “vestiges”.

    Sorry for my broken English – I’m French

  397. Chris Says:

    Is everybody in the series sworn to secrecy? Why? The series is over. Why not just ask the actor that played MOG how they coached him? If he was a hit man, they would have told him.

  398. soundofthunder Says:

    Dear Chris,

    You wrote:

    Why not just ask the actor that played MOG how they coached him? If he was a hit man, they would have told him.

    That’s actually a very good idea.

    It’s not foolproof of course. Sometimes directors give actors deliberately misleading direction. The do it to get a certain result out of them.

  399. dsweeney Says:

    To Guy up above, I don’t think it’s too relevent whether MOG is an amateur or a pro. The salient point surely is that he IS a hitman. Chase has said that he wasn’t always too concerned with the realism of the hits on the show.

  400. dsweeney Says:

    To continue on the above, MOG may have had to double-check that it was Tony, just to make sure. He takes a seat at the counter and at least twice looks down at Tony. Having decided it was his intended victim he gets up and clearly very awkwardly walks to the bathroom. He will exit from behind and to the right of Tony-precisely where JFK was hit. JFK was clearly a sort of hero figure for Tony.
    Soundofthunder raises a good point. Don’t forget that Chase himself directed the final episode. I would say the actor was told simply to walk to the counter, stare twice at Tony and then get up and walk to the toilet. That’s all he needed to do, the camera work does the rest.
    BTW, just to throw something out there some of you may or may not have heard of. The man who plays MOG is not, and never was an actor, never acted a day in his life. His name is Paolo Colandrea. The credits read as follows; Paolo Colandrea Man in members only jacket. Now these letters can be rearranged to read;
    A man kills Tony, Carmela, AJ . Don become prone.
    This could of course be entirely coincidence but it is curious that Chase decided to use a non-actor for this role. The credit for the probable hitman states the fate of all three characters who we know made it inside Holsten’s. Maybe just coincidence….

  401. masterofsopranos Says:

    Mike Lane,

    Thanks, but I did delete all the tags and it still won’t move up. Very wierd.

  402. dsweeney Says:

    Before people start ridiculing me could I just say here that I don’t know if there is anything to the anagram or not, I’m just pointing it out. It is curious though that Chase quite pointedly said in interview that initially he wanted no credits at all at the end of the final episode. The black screen was to run all the way “to the HBO whoosh”, as he put it. But for legal reasons, Equity etc and that actor’s work must acknowledged, he was told he had to have credits. Is it just possible that on being told he MUST end his creation in a certain way, that he decided on a bit of mischieve ?
    If you look at the part of the credit he would already have, the “Man in Members Only jacket” part, the names of Tony, Carmela and “J” are already in there. He or someone else may have spotted this and took it from there. It seems ludicrous I know, to suggest that somebody was used for the letters in their name but why would a non-actor, who runs a Pizza parlour be chosen for a walk-on part on The Sopranos ? Are there no out of work Italian-American actors who couldn’t have used the role ? The now infamous MOG ? Probable assassin of Tony Soprano ?

  403. FBIFan Says:

    I just finished the going through the whole series with my roommate, and I think you do an excellent job of analyzing the ending and supporting your conclusions. My initial impression, however, doesn’t match your conclusion and I’m wondering if maybe someone might comment further on the other “possible end” Tony lays out for himself throughout the series.

    You claim that the “Arrest Theory” as it might be called is a red herring of sorts, but I wonder if there might be some intentional evidence supporting that conclusion as well. It would provide the ending with some great ambiguity. You don’t seem to treat this other option fully in making your case, so I’ll just point out some brief things to think about and if anyone can debunk them or chime in to support them that would be helpful.

    First, Tony and the FBI become increasingly involved during the final 9 episodes of the series. An FBI agent even tips Tony off about the threat to his life, and Tony gives the agent information on suspected terrorists in return. This might portend Tony’s impending arrest. In the final episode, we see the FBI eavesdropping on Tony’s meeting with the New York family, so they clearly know that something is up.

    Also, Tony’s FBI buddy gets worked up about Phil’s death, shouting “We might win this thing.” Now, I think that could possibly support the death conclusion if he represents the viewer who’s still rooting for Tony to win in spite of everything. It might also, however, represent the bureau’s goal of arrest. This FBI guy doesn’t seem like the type who would suddenly root for T, even if he has been getting information. He even recognizes that Tony has been, to some extent, stringing him along a little. I think there’s something to be said for considering the arrest option.

    Much is made by Phil during the final few episodes that Tony hasn’t spent significant time in jail, which makes him somehow less of a boss. Tony himself has the personality that might fear imprisonment more than death. He’s seen his uncle Junior languishing in state custody. He’s seen Johnny Sack deteriorate to the point of death in jail. He’s also seen him escorted from his daughter’s wedding in chains. Tony, throughout the final season, is torn between his new outlook and a desire to not appear weak in front of his guys. He kills Christopher and justifies it by citing his cousin’s “rat potential.” He’s so afraid of prison that he’ll kill the character he claimed to be closest to.

    Your POV analysis is still beyond persuasive, but I wonder if it might be bent to account for a panic attack instead of a shooting, or a cut out of Meadow’s reaction to her father slumped on the table, flanked by the FBI. The Members Only Guy might be setting up a sting for the Feds.

    Meadow choice of law might be another key. You deal with that convincingly in your own right, but Meadow was always the character who knew of her Dad’s dealings. She still has the claim to nobility in terms of wanting to help those whose rights have been violated, especially in post-9/11 America. This choice is consistent with her characterization throughout the series, and, I think, does not make her any less of a sympathetic character. He choosing law over medicine might foreshadow Tony’s legal troubles as opposed to the medical troubles that got her convinced to go into medicine.

    The cut to black retains its power under this scenario, I think. If Tony is arrested, he’s faced with Uncle Junior’s fate. Rotting in a cell, with only occasional visits from his family to satisfy him. No dangerous rushes and no prosciutto. He also must weigh the decision to cooperate, which, given the history of the show, would be a crazy dilemma, especially if, as you claim, Meadow is pregnant. Tony, the all along anti-rat would have compelling reasons to give up his friends. The post-cut out world is still fraught with trauma even if Tony doesn’t die in the last episode.

    Under this way of thinking, it’s the MOG who is the red herring, leading us to think death when there’s another, similarly plausible explanation. I don’t think I can argue for this interpretation as convincingly as you have for yours, but I have to think there are some clues to its possibility sprinkled throughout the series. Even when Bobby and Tony are talking about not hearing death coming, they are also fishing, which has an important connection to arrest and finking for T.

    Again, your work is excellent, and I really can’t argue against it directly. I just wonder if you feel this alternate idea might have some plausibility. Thanks for the analysis and for reading!

  404. dsweeney Says:

    Agent Harris shouting “we’re going to win this thing” is surely simply him leaning towards Tony over Phil who he explicitly said he didn’t like, describing him as I think, ” a nasty piece of work”. There have been cases in real life of FBI agents getting too close and choosing the lesser of two evils, in this case Tony over Phil.

    The cut to black is NOT from Meadow’s POV. She isn’t even in Holsten’s yet so she couldn’t be looking at Tony. Besides, we have never, EVER, seen anything from her POV before.

    Masterofsopranos: Sorry dsweeny, just had to edit your post a bit. While I agree with most of what you said (and you have sort of taken the mantle from me as far as responding to the comments) let’s still respect other poster’s opinions.

  405. masterofsopranos Says:

    FBIfan,

    A well articulated argument but I don’t buy Chase leaving us to always wonder if Tony was convicted after he’s arrested.

    I have heard the “panic attack” theory before but why would Chase end the show with a “panic attack”? I can’t think of a single artistic or thematic reason for ending the show in that way. Also, Tony always slowly loses consciousness when he has a panic attack, which we have seen through his eyes before (see Season 2 “House Arrest” with Tony at the “Garbage Man’s ball”). Consequently, he wouldn’t have a SPLIT second blackout ( like instant death) if he was having a panic attack. The last time we see Tony’s face he looks fine and then BANG!-instant cut to black and cutting off of sound.

  406. Sunny Says:

    i love how you broke it down to every lil detail, well done case is closed

    RIP TONY SOPRANO

  407. Daveed Says:

    Is there also a clue in the title of the final episode, “Made in America”? There is a man at Holsten’s in a USA cap, the America theme. Was Tony “made” there and therefore killed? Just something that crossed my mind.

  408. dsweeney Says:

    Sorry Masterofsopranos, never meant in anyway to assume your position. All of the above correspondence is in response to your brilliant analysis, nothing to do with me. Again, apologies.

  409. R.I.P Tony Says:

    Ok Let me break all the clues throughout the series down, first off
    starting with chris’ message from beyond the grave “3 o’clock”
    of coarse tony is like “whatever” but paulie is scared shitless of that and goes into hysterics in a way.

    but the “3 o’clock” isnt only meant as an hour also direction wise
    so when we see tony at holsten’s what direction is the washroom located from where tony is? right at 3 o’clock the right of him.

    Also another hint is the episode “test dream” where tony is dreamin some random stuff and when he was talking to his coach he says:
    “YOUR NOT PREPARED” we thought it was just another random dream of his at first but now it means something if we go back to watching it after we saw the ending.

    The “YOUR NOT PREPARED!” is meant for that final scene because Tony was not prepared at all in holsten’s for what was coming from 3 o’clock.

    and of coarse bobby’s line when they were fishing “you will probably wont even hear it when it happens right?” that to is a clue we all know to explain the cut to black.

    Finally the scene where sil is sitting with Torciano, sil never noticed what was going on til after the shot was fired.

    So really chris’ “3 o’clock” message, the coach in the dream’s message “YOUR NOT PREPARED!” Bobby Bacalla’s line “You probably wont ever hear it when it happens right?” and Finally the Silvio experience when he notices nothing til after the shots are fired.

    Those are Pretty much all clues to what happens to Tony that night at Holsten’s and thats my breakdown of the hints throughout the series i know im missing a few more…..oh right the 3 strikes and your out those 3’s yes that too but im probably missing a few significant clues but i hit the major ones dead on.

    and now my aftermath vision obviously would be like this:
    Carmella is in shock when she see’s Tony’s brains splattered everywhere and yells “TOOONNNYYY!!!” with horror A.J hmm well i really dont know what his reaction would be since hes already a mess as it is (well he is just getting better) hed probably flip into crazyier hysterics
    Meadow well he reaction would be obvious she’d gasp and murmer “daddy….!” as the MOG guy pushes her out of the way to make his escape.

    So as for buisiness Paulie’s move would be to be Boss Patsie i guess Captain as for silvio hes an unkown he may come out of his coma and well they will start to re-build thier empire that was Demolished and thats all for what i think of the after-math visions.

    Great Series Awsome!!!!

  410. dcraine Says:

    I just finished watching the series last night, and your analysis of the final scene seems spot-on, especially your explanation of the extended black screen as a shot in and of itself as Tony’s final POV. Great analysis that never would have occurred to me without your explanation.

    I didn’t read all the responses here, but has anyone explored the idea that Tony Soprano is a metaphor for America and its image of itself in relation to the rest of the world? Tony and his crew wreak havoc on their world, and their only justification is the acquisition of money. Carmela knows in her heart what Tony is doing, yet devotes herself to him because it supports her gluttonous lifestyle. AJ touches on this theme in the final two episodes, and even Meadow, who is portrayed as having some sense of social justice, simply rips AJ for suggesting that America over-consumes at the expense of others (“What are you talking about? You’re all over the place?” is Meadow’s response.) There are numerous other clues throughout the series: Tony’s disdain for African Americans, the quasi-religious rituals for being “made,” having people of other nationalities do the dirty work, etc. Perhaps Chase is, in part, making the case for America being ruthless and cruel in its never-ending quest for more material wealth. And it gets away with it – at least on the home front – with lies, deceptions, and importantly, charm, that can blind even the most critical observers (Dr. Melfi, for example).

    Any thoughts?

  411. masterofsopranos Says:

    dsweeney,

    You took what I said all wrong. I don’t have the time to answer all the comments (an apparent contradiction since I had the time to write this analysis!) so I’m grateful to you that you took up the mantle!

  412. GoodShow Says:

    Just finished watching the 6th season. I’ve read your post and it’s amazing how you’ve put everything together.

    I have one problem. The last shot (pov) we see we’re looking at Tony. How is that his pov? All assumptions aside. We the viewer are not seeing through his eyes. We’re clearly looking at him.

  413. dcraine Says:

    “I have one problem. The last shot (pov) we see we’re looking at Tony. How is that his pov? All assumptions aside. We the viewer are not seeing through his eyes. We’re clearly looking at him.”

    The last shot isn’t our view of Tony. That’s the second-to-last shot. The last shot is a black screen. That is Tony’s POV.

  414. dsweeney Says:

    Goodshow, the BLACK SCREEN that runs for ten seconds before the credits roll is from Tony’s POV, that’s the argument we’re making. The “cut-to-black” ITSELF is the final shot of the episode/series and not the shot of Tony glancing up in anticipation of seeing Meadow entering Holsten’s. The very last shot should be of Meadow from Tony’s POV but right at the critical moment-blackness,silence,no music,the end.
    Don’t forget Chase wanted THIRTY seconds of black screen-an eternity of screen time. Why would he want this if it doesn’t mean anything ? As I have said before, the ten seconds of black screen IS PART OF THE EPISODE, CRUCIALLY. The episode doesn’t end until the credits roll. The black screen is Tony’s POV. The last sight we have of him obviously IS NOT from his POV. Hope that clears things up a little.

  415. Bevin Says:

    Dear GoodShow,

    You make a good point.

    I raised the same issue a little earlier, and batted it around with dsweeney.

    I felt Chase should have inserted a reverse angle shot from Tony’s point of view, before cutting to the black screen.

    That would have followed film convention more closely, and clearly indicated that as we were looking out at the world through Tony’s eyes, a bullet had just entered his head, and his brain had stopped working.

    If I remember correctly, dsweeney felt Chase may have been concerned about making what happened too clear, and may have wanted to keep people guessing.

    But he agreed that would have been another way for Chase to go.

  416. dsweeney Says:

    Masterofsopranos, seeing as you can edit posts before they go out, I hope you won’t mind if I ask you something. Are you by any chance the poster known as Richieaprile from the “Chase lounge” web-site ? I only ask because his essay, “It’s all there; how David Chase killed Tony Soprano” concurs almost entirely with your own thesis. If you haven’t read it, if you get a chance you should as it is a very good companion piece. Just curious.

  417. Rich Says:

    Great site! Just one observation of the final scene… figured this is the place to share it…

    The songs “Somewhere in the Night” and “My Baby Drives a Buick” (by Sawyer Brown) appear on the first page of song selections that Tony looks at (this page is only shown for about 1 second). And below them on this first page are the songs “Those Were the Days” and “Turn, Turn, Turn”(by Mark Hopkins). Then when he does indeed “turn turn turn” (the page, that is) the same exact two Sawyer Brown songs are there AGAIN on the next page.

    Not sure if or what that might symbolize. My best guess would be that perhaps, “Turn Turn Turn” can symbolize how life tends to repeat itself – the lyrics of that song certainly convey that and it’d play into what was talked about on this website about how Tony’s death would have been a repeat of sorts of several of the show’s previous deaths, most notably Phil’s.

  418. xrayspec Says:

    An interesting analysis, but flawed — it emerges from your questionable premise that there is a specific, concrete ending here that is meant to be puzzled out. When really it’s more open-ended than that. By looking for the One True Meaning of the Scene, you’re foreclosing the possibility that the scene serves a broader purpose.

    What’s on the screen is on the screen; what’s not is not. You don’t give enough credit to what’s not on the screen and *why* it’s not there. Ambiguity is deliberately built into the scene, but your analysis demands that it be taken out.

    The final season of the Sopranos was devoted to the disintegration of Tony Soprano’s empire, showing how his mistakes and impulsiveness had finally snowballed. By the time he sits down with his family, most of his crew is dead, his income has disappeared with them, he just killed Phil Leotardo, and he’s about to be charged with the weapons felony. He is in an untenable position.

    Everything you’re saying about the foreshadowing with the “you never hear it coming” is true. But the final scene is less about a murder than about the fact that one way or another, Tony’s life as he knows it is over. We know from what’s happened in the previous 9 episodes that it’s likely he’ll either be killed or go to to jail. Is he killed in the diner? Maybe. Is he killed the next week? Maybe. Does he go to trial and get a 10-yr sentence? Maybe. Does he enter the witness protection program? Maybe. Certainly, he does not live happily ever after. He has no more cards to play.

    What specifically happens to the characters after the blackout doesn’t really matter, and the scene is just acknowledging that it doesn’t matter. The unexpected blackout does pay off the foreshadowing, but it signifies the end of the story more than a particular event. The show was about Tony’s rise and fall as a crime boss. At the diner, he has hit bottom. And the sound of that bell and the 10 seconds of silence afterwards was like the fall of a curtain — time’s up, nothing more to hear or see here.

    Seems this is borne out by Chase’s comment:

    “There was nothing definite about what happened, but there was a clean trend on view — a definite sense of what Tony and Carmela’s future looks like. Whether it happened that night or some other night doesn’t really matter.”

  419. masterofsopranos Says:

    xrayspec,

    I basically agree with you and at the end of Part I discuss that quote and the ending as being either Tony’s literal death or symbolic death. The quote seems contradictory to his other statements about deliberate clues to Tony’s fate when he talks about the “never hear it” from Bobby and the Gerry hit. There are also the editing choices/POV pattern in the final scene that, in a sense, put Tony’s death on screen (although not the way we would expect to see it).

    That quote to me seems to be reconciled by an article I read in Variety about backstage questions to Chase about the ending after the Emmy’s in 07. There were no exact quotes from Chase but the writer said he apparently told reporters the ending was “open to interpretation” but after further prodding, Chase finally stated that he had his OWN personal interpretation of what happened in Holsten’s.

    Consequently, his words along with some other quotes-“its all there..”, the Planet of the Apes analogy, suggest to me that Tony’s literal death is his personal view of the events. The artists interpretation is most important to me in determining the meaning.

    I agree that it’s ambiguous (and deliberately so) but many artist create works that are initially ambiguous but under the surface have a very clear and definite meaning. I think this is the case with the end of the Sopranos. Of course some argue that the artists intentions don’t matter, that once it’s out there it’s free for everyone to interpret different meanings. This is true-I guess-but that is something I’m not interested in.

    One last thing. Chase could have expressed your view by simply cutting to black and directly to the credits. Instead, he has it hang for 10 seconds as if it’s part of the scene itself. That’s because the editing makes it Tony’s POV and Chase has to emphasize that (by making it 10 seconds) to suggest his literal death.

    Bevin,

    I debated addressing this argument in my original piece. Remember, the whole point of the POV pattern is to make it unnecessary for us to see Meadow from Tony’s POV before the cut to black to suggest instant death.
    I think Chase did this for two reasons:

    (1) He didn’t want to end it with a cheesy shot of Meadow walking through the door or possibly have her eyes go wide as she sees MOG approach her father from behind. This show is about Tony, his face HAS to be the last image of the show (but not the last scene, as the 10 second blackness is the final shot).

    (2) It would destroy the mystery and ambiguity of the final scene which Chase didn’t want to do. It’s far more elegant this way and leaves us to sort it all out ourselves.

    By the way, the early jump cut that gives the illusion that Tony is staring at himself in the diner also suggests what Meadow’s view of Tony would be when she walked through the door. Look at that shot again (“the last supper” shot with Tony sitting in the middle of the frame) and imagine that’s what Meadow sees EXCEPT she also sees MOG coming behind him with a gun. It’s a frightening thing to leave to our imaginations and quite deliberate by Chase.

    Dsweeney,
    Yes, that was me. That was a much shorter version (but damn long in of itself!).

  420. xrayspec Says:

    “Chase could have expressed your view by simply cutting to black and directly to the credits.”

    Well, Chase could have expressed your view by just showing Tony actually getting shot. Or expressed anyone’s view by showing [fill in the blank]. A hypothetical doesn’t really prove anything. We’re limited to discussing what’s actually on the screen.

    “Instead, he has it hang for 10 seconds as if it’s part of the scene itself. That’s because the editing makes it Tony’s POV and Chase has to emphasize that (by making it 10 seconds) to suggest his literal death.”

    A person who’s shot in the head is dead instantly — their consciousness ends. They do not sit for 10 seconds in blackness, as if in a sensory deprivation tank. So the 10 seconds is certainly part of the scene, but it’s really for our benefit, as viewers.

    “The artists interpretation is most important to me in determining the meaning.”

    Consider that one of Chase’s favorite themes is the idea that “Life seems to have no purpose but we have to go on behaving as though it does.” (That quote comes from the EW interview also)

    Just about everybody that Tony meets in the last 9 episodes is contemplating life’s purpose in some way or other — Bobby, Johnny Sack, Christopher, Beansy, Carmela, AJ, Junior, Paulie, Melfi, Phil Leotardo, etc.

    But what happens to us all is unknown and unknowable. And the 10 second blackness that ends the show is the viewer’s chance to stare into the void (“Life has no purpose…”) and consider our own thoughts about what might have happened next (“…we have to go on behaving as though it does.”)

    Your argument is thorough but ultimately relies a little too much on cherry-picking. The ending isn’t a rubik’s cube, to be solved. It’s more subtle than that. But, by thinking that Tony was assassinated, viewers can reduce the ending to something simple and spare themselves from having to deal with the far bleaker ending that’s really being offered.

    As Chase said, “some things are beyond words, actually.” The ending is reaching for something deep and existential, not just describing yet another murder of yet another gangster. It’s speaking to the spiritual void we all start out with as human beings — to find self-awareness, purpose, meaning, closure, etc. We use every psychological tool at our disposal to fill that void, but it will always be there.

  421. masterofsopranos Says:

    Xrayspec,

    No, his death is far from simple and has meaning-that’s what “Part II” is about. To simply show us Tony getting killed stops the process of actively engagaing the show, which Chase didn’t want us to do. This site doesn’t exist if Chase simply showed us Tony’s murder, instead the process has just begun and in turn we discover what the show was really about in the first place.

    Our views are not incompatible. Showing Tony dead would ruin the point-there is nothing, no final scene, nothing dramatic. The final POV of blackness shows us Tony’s greatest fear. We all desperately look for meaning in life, in all the little details – but in the end we die and that’s it. Nothing. To see anything, especially Tony’s murder would undermine the nihilism of that scene. He couldn’t show Tony dead and make the point he wanted. So, he let us know Tony was shot in a variety of ways, which are pretty clear. We see it from his perspective, the cut to black allows us to feel the full force of empty nothing. It just ends and life may be meaningless. That’s why you have to “enjoy the good times” as AJ relays to Tony, advice that Tony forgot that he gave himself. Now he has no more “good times” to enjoy, because he didn’t concentrate on what was important after his near death epiphany.

    The story is much more about the terror of an empty existence or “its all a big nothing”. When we die, we don’t get to see other people’s reactions. Death is unfair and earlier than we think it should be. In death, we are just cut off and the viewer gets to experience that themselves. Once this is understood, the ending is chilling and PERFECTLY in line with the views of David Chase. A man who-as numerous interviews point out-constantly thinks about death and who is clearly afraid of it.

    A couple of more points: You’re doing your own “cherry picking” yourself with certain Chase quotes. So how exactly are we any different?

    Also, the 10 seconds is a practical effect to suggest death. Yes, if he lost consciousness, he wouldn’t see anything. It’s more like a missing POV shot or the person with the POV is no longer there (i.e dead). It is a suggestion or implication of death and simply would NOT work as effectively if the scene cut immediately to the credits (i don’t think this site would exist if it did).

  422. Bevin Says:

    Dear masterofsopranos,

    I agree that having Meadow’s eyes go wide as the hitter kills her father Tony might well come across as “cheezy.”

    But that is hardly the only alternative to the ending as shot. Chase was not just the director, he was also the writer. He was an “auteur.” He could have written it any way he wanted to.

    For example, Chase could have timed it so that Meadow was still outside the restaurant with her hand on the door pull, just about to open the door when Tony gets whacked.

    My own take on the “mystery and ambiguity” aspect is that it doesn’t quite come off. The “mystery and ambiguity” merely left many viewers mystified and ambivalent.

    Their reaction was “Huh?” So was mine. It should have been shock. Instead it was confusion.

    Hence the endless debates about “What did the ending mean?”

    If hypothetically, Chase had asked me “How should I shoot the final five, ten seconds of the episode?” I would have said:

    “Keep everything the way you have it, but insert a one second long reverse angle shot from Tony’s POV, looking across the table at his wife Carmela and his son AJ, THEN cut to black.”

    That single addition would have made it crystal clear what happened. Instead of being baffled, viewers would have been shocked. They would have been shocked because they would have instantly understood what happened. Namely, that a bullet had just gone through Tony’s brain. That he could no longer see. That it was all over for him. That was all over for the series.

    But that kind of shock requires prior understanding. Prior understanding requires clarity. Clarity requires saying no to “mystery and ambiguity.”

    Again, this is a minor quibble in the larger scheme of things. Chase created an historic television series that we were all privileged to enjoy.

  423. xrayspec Says:

    My point is really just that all the pieces on the table have to fit into the puzzle. You can’t quite claim to have the “definitive explanation” to the ending if you’ve thrown out the pieces that don’t fit your theory.

    David Chase himself said “There was nothing definite about what happened” so I think you have to take him at his word, rather than convince yourself he meant the opposite.

    Ultimately, whatever the virtue of the message he’s trying to get across, the ending is still a bit of a cop-out artistically. It’s a gimmick, and out of place as the ending of a show that avoided gimmickry.

    It also seems that Chase might simply have been making a pragmatic commercial decision, and hedging his bets about the future of the characters. Tony Soprano is a valuable asset. If he dies on screen, any possibility of a future movie or TV special dies with him. I know, I know, he claims it’s never going to happen, but the Eagles said they’d never tour again too. This way, Chase can pick up Tony’s story in the future however he wants.

  424. clanger69 Says:

    very much in agreement with xrayspecs , i have literally just finished the series and i think there is more to be explained and said, whilst this is often the case in tv series leaving a few questions answered i think this ending allows further expansion i.e series seven or more due to the inevitable influx of new characters because so many are dead leaving tony cil and gaulteiri left as the old guard i dont think this will happen for a while but if tony were to survive there is that possibility and i still think there is possibility even if he is dead, AJ has been compared to tony throught out and family history and the heiriditary nature of the family means he could be thrust into this life too many possibilities with significant stories line are left remaining for this to be it i believe chase is hedging his bets a little to see the reaction see what time brings in the way of money and ideas, although i do agree whilst the ending is not a fans choice ending thats often the way, the best way to end tv series an example is the shield (personally my favourite and very gripping) the ending was horrible and gut wrentching no at all what u wanted and what vic was reduced to was horrible but it ended the series. Tv series are emotional rollercoasters and this is a big point in favour of the article so all in all im not disappointed with the ending but from a fans (always wanting more) point of view there is alot more that can be done as im sure u will agree , great article though very well put im still indecisive if further stories will happen but who knows are great sshow though

  425. clanger69 Says:

    oh and i just realised i miss bevins comment that would have made the ending crystal clear and nice blood spattered carmela would end all possible potential and form a more solid base ending

  426. Bevin Says:

    Dear clanger69,

    Thanks for the affirmation.

    I must say I never actually visualized blood splattering over Carmela’s face in the reverse angle shot.

    I was thinking in terms of something considerably lower keyed.

    But that would certainly have done the trick in terms of eliminating ambiguity!

    LOL!

    Bevin

  427. dsweeney Says:

    Xrayspec says the cut-to-black is more about the end of the story rather than the end of an event. If the blackout was simply the end of the story why does it last ten seconds ? Why would Chase initially want it to last thirty seconds ? Why not cut immediately to credits ? It’s because the black screen is an integral shot in and of ITSELF.
    Xray.. also says what’s on the screen is on the screen and what is not is not and that MOS doesn’t pay enough attention to what is not. How can we pay attention to something that isn’t there ? How can we know about ” what isn’t there” ? Chase urged us to “look closely because it’s all there”, not to ponder on what may or may not happen after the black. What happens after the blackout is irrelevant. The show was about Tony and ONLY Tony. Other characters only exist because of their relationship to Tony, no matter how tenuous.
    Bevin’s point about Chase having a final shot from Tony’s POV of Meadow behind Carmela and AJ entering Holsten’s is a valid one and would have made what happened abundantly clear but as MOS says, we would not even be having this conversation if he had filmed it that way. He did want a little ambiguity, a little bit of mystery for us to chew on while closer inspection CONVEYS to us what has happened. If it’s meant simply to be the end of the story why no music ? The lack of music at the show’s end is surely telling us something. Surely ?

  428. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. Could I just add my thoughts on Chase’s ” nothing definite” quote ? I believe when Chase says this he is merely stating the obvious- there is nothing definite or CONCRETE here in that we don’t actually witness or hear any shooting. But ” THERE IS A DEFINITE TREND”. This part of the quote, allied to his reference to the Torciano hit, is surely his way of, not being coy or mischievous, but of CONVEYING to us what happened.

  429. Jeff Says:

    Chase, while a gifted genius who gave us one of the best 5 to 10 shows of all time, is also a hypocrite and a flake…….The ending was crap.Pure and utter crap….His moralistic attitude as well.He makes a lot of money off of showing some pretty gross and shocking things, all the while chastising not only the characters, but also the viewers….”Ooh, I got it, let’s ripoff some things from The Godfather restaurant scene and then call it a day”….WOW, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer GENIUS of it all!…And the Journey song was a terrible pick….CHEESE

    As is often the case with great TV shows, this one too had a less than satisfying ending…Simply a case of running out of good ideas(or in this case, IDEA), and nothing more…Too bad, because the rest of the episode was(as with the rest of the series) GREAT…I think people like Chase create these worlds that aren’t really meant to end, and so they have some kind of schizophrenic embolism that prevents them from finishing up in a coherent manner.

  430. xrayspec Says:

    “If the blackout was simply the end of the story why does it last ten seconds ? Why would Chase initially want it to last thirty seconds ? Why not cut immediately to credits ? It’s because the black screen is an integral shot in and of ITSELF.”

    Hypothetical questions — “why not cut immediately to credits?” — are pointless. You can prove anything with a hypothetical. We are limited to discussing what’s actually there.

    “Xray.. also says what’s on the screen is on the screen and what is not is not and that MOS doesn’t pay enough attention to what is not. How can we pay attention to something that isn’t there ? How can we know about ” what isn’t there” ?”

    That’s exactly my point. We can’t know what’s off screen. And we’re not supposed to. Things are left ambiguous. But the MOS theory (and those like it) are trying to fill in those gaps with narrative. Whereas I’m suggesting that those gaps aren’t meant to be filled.

    “The show was about Tony and ONLY Tony. Other characters only exist because of their relationship to Tony, no matter how tenuous.”

    Not really true. The series was full of digressions. For instance, all the scenes about Vito’s romance in NH. The boyfriend character had no connection to Tony, and the scenes weren’t necessary to move Tony’s story forward.

    “If it’s meant simply to be the end of the story why no music ? The lack of music at the show’s end is surely telling us something. Surely ?”

    Again, this is an argument based on a hypothetical: “if that premise were true, there would’ve been music; but since there wasn’t music, the premise must be false”.

    “But ” THERE IS A DEFINITE TREND”. This part of the quote, allied to his reference to the Torciano hit, is surely his way of, not being coy or mischievous, but of CONVEYING to us what happened.”

    Chase’s comment on the Torciano hit didn’t even refer to depicting a death. Read it again:

    “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.”

    What happened with Torciano & Silvio is what is happening symbolically to Tony at the diner. He’s been aware of the danger nearby him but he’s somewhat oblivious to how close the end is, much like Johnny Sac was oblivious about the FBI raid at his house that led to his arrest. (BTW, no coincidence that was the day that Tony lost his gun, leading to the weapons charge that was probably going to send him to prison.)

  431. Willis Drummondius Says:

    In the original Godfather, the pivotal scene is when Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) executes the enemy mobster in the diner, after retrieving the weapon from the washroom. Did the MOG do the same thing? Or at least the ending was preceeded by MOG making a toilet trip, yet another tie-in …

  432. Lesnick Says:

    Dear xrayspec,

    I agreed with your opinion until I found this page. I thought Chase brilliantly gave us an ambiguity that gave us Tony’s death and “life goes on”, a Tony finding happiness in his family but at the same time being a hunted man.

    However, this explanation of the ending convincingly demonstrates that there is an unambiguous meaning to the astonishing final shot (especially the examination at the way the final scene is shot and edited).

    I think I understand where you’re coming from. I also mourn the loss of the ambiguity I enjoyed. On the other hand, the way the explanation makes the case is thoroughly absorbing and shows that the final scene is even more artfully constructed than I realized. I now realize it’s the ONLY way it could end.

    If you get past your resistance of losing the ambiguity, you’ll finally see the ending for the genius that it is.

    P.S.-your explanation of the Torciano thing is a stretch. In another interview Chase relates that hit to the Bobby lakehouse discussion about death.

  433. dsweeney Says:

    Xray, when I asked why Chase originally wanted thirty seconds of black screen silence you put this down as a hypothetical question. There is NOTHING hypothetical about it, he SAID IT IN INTERVIEW. In fact, not only did he want thirty seconds of black, he wanted NO CREDITS AT ALL, the black screen was to run all the way to, as he put it, ” the HBO whoosh”.
    In relation to the Torciano hit, Lesnick up above put it perfectly. Chase is driving home the “never hear it when it happens right ? ” idea by alluding to the previous hit of Jerry Torciano and Sil DESCRIBING to Tony how the hit had gone down before he had a clue as to what was happening. This was for the viewers benefit with the later Holsten’s scene in mind.
    Why not cut immediately to credits, I asked, and Xray.. derides it as a hypothetical question. Why is it a hypothetical question ? It’s a perfectly valid question. If Chase intended the jarring, mid-scene cut-to-black as simply being the end of the story, the credits would roll immediately like any other episode. But it doesn’t. Because the episode isn’t in fact over at that point. The final shot runs for ten seconds. From Tony’s POV and THEN the episode/series is over. ONLY then.
    You mention further up above Xray.. about a head shot bringing instant death and not ten seconds of black like some sensory depravation experience. This, I think, is deliberately being awkward and obtuse. How else is Chase meant to convey death in a TV show ? The black is both symbolic and literal. Besides, I take it you yourself haven’t been shot in the head so how do you it isn’t as Chase portrayed it ? It’s a device and that is enough to make his point, I feel.
    One last point about Vito and Johnny cakes. We see Vito in New Hampshire because he is in Tony’s crew, Tony knows him and is therefore part of Tony Soprano’s world-which is the subject of Chases’ piece.

  434. Anonymous Says:

    The analysis you have given has shown that Tony was probably shot. The only thing about this theory though is that Chase doesn’t give straight answers in any interview he’s done and a lot of the theories that people come up with are reading between the lines. I feel that Chase ultimately wanted to give the viewer the obligation, or of a better word, to make their own judgement up on how the Sopranos ended. Many will view the whole series as nothing more than a window of an interesting character. That window suddenly shuts and its up to the viewer to say if Tony’s life goes on or have we seen just before the end of his life.

    Personally I feel Chase needed to end the show, I felt it was concluded well but could have done with missing a good chunk of the 1st part of series 6. Some of the episodes felt a waste of time and I feel Chase could have come to the whole penultimate ending a lot quicker.

    David Chase though done an excellent job with the Sopranos, with any other writer the show would have been a lot more predictable and less intuative of the character Tony Soprano.

  435. rdystdygo Says:

    Amazing analysis. Some personal highlights/revelations include:

    I’m not a film student so I appreciatted the POV lesson and explanation. Makes perfect sense now.

    The pool (water in general) representing hope for Tony…throughout the series Tony is seen staring at the ocean, lake or pool. The Christmas episode following Pussy’s death features flashbacks to Atlantic City (I think) and often lead to a flashback of some moment in Tony and Puss’ relationship. Wonder if any symbolism of Pussy (a tie to Tony) being dumped in water (hope) has any significance.

    Adrianna. Genius. I knew that freaking cat staring at Chrissy’ s picture in the last episode meant something.

    The onion rings at the diner as communion wafers symbolizing a token cleansing for past transgessions. Again, knew there was something to it and couldn’t figure it out ’til I read this.

    There are a few stretches if I may say…
    Adrianna wearing a sweater with a cat on it from seasons ago.
    The 3:00 shooting position – meh. If looking at Tony, it’s at 9:00.
    The people who walk in the diner representing Janice and Phil and significant others, again – meh.
    These are just a few I could remember.

    All in all a terrific analysis and well worth the times spent reading it! Thanks for making it available.

  436. masterofsopranos Says:

    rdystdygo,

    You’re welcome. I also wanted to point out that some of the clues to Tony’s fate are stronger than others. There is a reason why some of theories are at the end of the piece; especially some of the “fun stuff” section.

    I still tend to think that the 3:00 thing is a happy accident and not intentional by Chase. I also want to point out that I don’t believe the “cat shirt” was inserted all those seasons ago as a clue to the end. Again, I see it as a happy accident and worthy of mention given the whole Adriana cat/tiger motiff. I am also a little more skeptical of the whole cat theory as others have pointed out that the cat is referred to as a “he” throughout the episode. There is the opinion that he is symbolic of Christopher-also a constant source of tension and stress for Paulie.

    One more thing, I strongly feel that the man with the boyscouts (cubscouts?) is meant to invoke Phil Leotardo. Remember, Chase has direct control of everybody in the scene, including the extras. It is a strange that this guy just never sits down and is CONSTANTLY standing behind Tony, over his shoulder in numerous shots. He points his finger like a gun at the children. Chase has him sharply come into the frame behind Tony at the 2:00 mark (of the scene) just as the music pumps up. He is seen standing behind Tony’s shoulder JUST before Tony looks up for the last time. That scene is JUST after Meadow runs across the street after being hit by the Phil-like SUV. Finally, he is wearing grey, just like Phil when he is murdered.

    Chase was saying something, maybe suggesting that Tony’s murder was revenge for Phil. Maybe just suggesting that his past has finally caught up with him.

    I’m still not sure why he was with the boyscouts. Possibly because Phil was murdered in front of 3, his wife and 2 grandbabies. This seems like a stretch though. In the Holstens section I metion that the boyscouts may represent the innocent childhood that Tony never had but this seems to also be a stretch.

    Any thoughts on this are welcome.

  437. Erik Larsen Says:

    MOS, I have commented before on this excellent analysis and resultant discussion, I will post briefly and try to inject something new, and won’t rehash old well made points.

    I think the last scene is full of people who should make the viewer think “remember when”, recapitulating past characters

    PS – I enjoy the way that after Tony enters the restaurant, we look through his eyes, then we see him, then we see him already seated. It’s a fast cut, almost as if he’s watching himself (and a brief recap of his life)

    First entry – a woman who looks a lot like Janice, his sister (or a hybrid between his two sisters)

    Second entry – the trucker who looks a little like Jack Massarone, who wore the hat with a camera and refused to take it off

    Carmela enters, and then after a few quick passes the camera rests on a young couple, who could represent a young Tony and Carmela, (although the younger girl isn’t blond).

    Next we see the boy scout leader, who could very well represent Phil, or at least a boss talking to his soldiers. There is faint audio there, and with that tone of voice and his “finger gun”, he doesn’t project the appearance of a kindly grandfather.

    Tony and Carmela are happy to see each other. Then there is sighing and knowing looks. Carmela mentions that Meadow is going to switch birth control – interestingly Tony reaches up with his tongue to his teeth – reminding us of the scene in the restaurant with Markazian as Finn’s father, and the toilet, and the Godfather reference, etc etc

    Then, the bad news. Carmela asks if Tony has talked to Mink “again”. Carlo is going to testify. (That’s the end of their dream right there, even if nothing else happens.)

    Next comes the entry of MOG and AJ (I have nothing new to add here), other than the fact that Tony is still trying to keep a happy face, and the family unified.

    After AJ complains about his job, he mentions the “Try to remember the times that were good” line – taking us back to Season 1 finale where the family was together, and Artie cooked them a meal during a storm. But, what should be a warm family moment isn’t, the news of Tony’s indictment through Carlo is still sinking in with Carmela. AJ is oblivious to his mother’s well concealed distress.

    Next are the two African American guys – where did they come from? Did they enter and Tony didn’t even hear the bell? We don’t see them sitting before this, note the boy scout leader is visible in the first wide shot. Having them enter and not being heard is possible – as this may also evoke the fact that Tony didn’t even suspect that particular hit attempt at all, and didn’t even look at these two guys.

    The end – well, I think most of us here agree what’s what.

    Anycase, MOS, that’s my thoughts about the significance of these characters. A trip for the viewer down memory lane. Cheers.

  438. dsweeney Says:

    MOS, at the very start of an episode in, I think, series 5, Chris is stoned staring at the TV. It’s the one when his drug habit gets really out of hand. On the TV a bunch of cub-scouts are talking about a bear ( Tony ). The “bear” is in fact some ropey looking gorilla who attacks one of the boys. One of the other boys throws a stone and HITS THE “BEAR” IN THE HEAD. For me, this is a foreshadowing of Tony being hit in the head in Holsten’s and the cub-scouts are an allusion to this. My take on it anyway. I’ll check what exact episode it is and get back.
    To rdystdygo up above, MOG is at the THREE O’CLOCK position from TONY’S PERSPECTIVE, not nine o’clock. He is at the nine position from OUR perspective.

  439. dsweeney Says:

    I think the episode in question is in fact from series 4, “The strong silent type”. The episode I’m thinking of starts with Chris shooting up in front of the TV anyway and the cub-scouts/ bear scene is playing.

  440. FBIFan Says:

    I just want to throw in that I think the points xrayspecs makes are solid ones. Not to discredit the analysis, which is both impressive and logical. There are definitely clues that make it a more-than-plausible interpretation. It’s just that it’s really hard for me to swallow that it can be “definitive.” I mean, if it truly were, would we still be debating and analyzing the ending two years later?

    Again, not to dump on your work MOS and your comments Sweeney. And not to claim I believe in the kind of “reader response” theories that MOS mentioned in an earlier. The artist’s intentions clearly matter. I just can’t buy that Chase truly intended for the ending to be interpreted the way you have interpreted it.

    The Tony’s death theory makes for a powerful response. I like it in that respect. It really makes sense in terms of the themes of the show. But some of the things that xrayspecs is saying are powerful in their own right.

    Does trumpeting ambiguity really reduce the power of the blackness at the end of the series? I don’t think so. We know Chase has, to a small extent anyway, vilified his audience for cheering Tony on and then hypocritically calling for his head later. The prolonged blackness can still be a powerful statement. Here is a character you’ve watched for 7 years, a character who you feel intensely conflicted about. Here he is, at a traumatic moment, when it’s clear that he and his crew are living an outmoded existence (a great point made by you initially), when his “friends,” if ever they could be called that, are dead, when his children are looking adulthood in the face and struggling with it, here he is. And now he’s gone. Just like that. No more Tony Soprano. Whether he’s meant to be dead or not, he’s no longer part of our lives as viewers, and that is, I think, just as powerful as his death.

    Without art, without escape, without that lens through which we examine our own lives, there is that abyss that xrayspecs talks about. There’s a nothingness that we’re left to soak in. That’s the case no matter which interpretation you buy. You can never be sure and that’s awfully damn scary. Even scarier than the ending you’ve argued for, at least in my opinion.

  441. Bobby C Says:

    One of the other songs featured prominently on the jukebox is Tony Bennett’s “I Gotta Be Me”. It certainly helps support your theory that Tony’s failure to change led to his death.

  442. dsweeney Says:

    Are you saying then, FBIFAN, that all the ending is saying is that Tony has a bleak future ? That life’s a bitch ? Hmm. It took Chase seven years to tell us we’re all going to die ? With respect, I could have told him that.
    Why do you dismiss all the little clues and foreshadowing of death as simply being clues to his “possible” or ” probable” death ? Why would Chase go to all that trouble and then leave it at, ” ah, maybe he dies or maybe he doesn’t” ?

  443. xrayspec Says:

    dsweeney: I’ve made my point. There are a lot of unresolved holes in the theory. The defense of the theory has included the following premises: Everything is on screen, except for what’s not. Chase meant everything he said subsequently, except where he meant the opposite. All the shots in the scene are from Tony’s POV, except where they’re not. Etc. and so on.

    Finally, since you like hypotheticals, I will observe that there is no precedent in the series for a hit, let alone a boss hit, going down the way it did at Holsten’s.

    The MOS theory is that the MOG / hitman enters a crowded restaurant, sits alone at the counter where everyone (including Tony) gets a good look at him, goes to the bathroom, and then comes out and shoots Tony.

    In all the hits leading up to Tony — Bobby, Fake Phil, Real Phil, Silvio, even Torciano and Rusty if you want — you had two or more guys handling the hit. They approach the target, one or both of them shoot, and then they both leave. (Hits on high-ranking guys seem to be handled outdoors, but maybe that’s just because it’s easier to get at them.)

    Do you really think that a hit on Tony Soprano would be ordered to be carried out in a way that disregards all the “ground rules” for boss hits that Chase has already established? Someone would send MOG, apparently the worst hitman in the world, to carry out the hit in the most inept way possible?

  444. Guy Says:

    Exactly – so that shows that MOG is not a professional hitman, but probably one of many many non combatants Tony has hurt along the way. Which is why he doesn’t play by the rules, and is dismissed by Tony as a threat. And also why he is played by a non professional actor. Can be no other reason for this

  445. Lesnick Says:

    Jackie Jr., Teddy Spiradokis (hit by Eugene), Paty’s twin brother, and Torciano are all hit by one guy. So there goes your theory.

    Speaking of Torciano, he’s hit in a crowded restaurant. Sound familar? In a hit directly referenced by Chase as being “part of the ending”

    As MOS has said, the scene doesn’t work for what Chase wants to do if MOG simply walks in and shoots Tony. It’s cliche and dumb and can’t bleed the suspense Chase is trying to create.

    Of course MOS has already discussed all of this in his essay which makes me wonder if some of the doubters have read the whole thing.

    Are Tony’s words in the diner that it’s an “entry level job” perhaps speaking to MOG himself?

  446. dsweeney Says:

    Xray, Phil was shot in front of his wife and grandchildren, possibly endangering all three of them. Tony’s crew has therefore broken any such “rules”.
    Never has MOS at any point said ” all the shots in the scene are from Tony’s point of view”. Never. He talks of a ” pattern of shots” established by Chase relating to Tony and his reaction to the bell on the door when someone ( he’s waiting for his family ) enters Holsten’s. MOS specifically makes the point that Tony doesn’t react when the black guys enter because ” HE DOENS’T SEE THEM”.
    All your points about hitting a mob boss in a certain way brings to mind Carmine’s great line about the Sopranos being ” not a Family, they’re a glorified crew”. This exact quote is later specifically referred to by none other than Phil himself.
    You mention MOG not being the greatest hit-man ever. I would quote Bobby speaking to Tony. ” In our thing ? It’s always out there”. Meaning death. In any shape or form. From anybody. What about the hit on Mustang Sally for instance. An old man dying of lung cancer ? Hardly very professional.
    Just while I’m on MOG, something else occurs to me that I haven’t posted on before. It’s a small point but relevant I feel. Why would MOG enter Holsten’s, sit down and maybe little more than a minute later get up and go to the bathroom ? Surely you would go to the bathroom first and then sit down to enjoy your meal or cofffe ? Without interruption ? He sat at the counter to case the joint, identify Tony ( at least twice he clocks him) and then goes to the bathroom to hit T. from behind with no risk of T. firing back. He’s not that bad a hitman if you ask me, that MOG.

  447. Matt Linden Says:

    I enjoyed the commentary on The Sopranos. It is well done and a whole lot of work was put into it.

    I have a couple of ideas regarding The Sopranos. First, I believe one of Chase’s themes is a debunking of the mafia saga as a representation of the Italian American experience. Throughout the series three films loom large; The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Goodfellas. The major theme from the beginning of The Sopranos echoes Micheal Corleone’s comments to his mother in II when he asks her if his father, by being strong for his family, risked losing it. Another theme is what legacy Tony Soprano will be passing on to his children.

    The Godfather saga presents La Cosa Nostra as a world which exists parallel to American Society. Though different, it operates under its own clearly stated sense of right and wrong. The Corleone family only takes the lives of those who 1) threaten them or 2) are disloyal. Goodfellas presents the mafia differently. In the end, the mob is Brooklyn’s answer to The Dukes of Hazard; just some good ole boys who never meant any harm. Getting by the only way they know how but that’s just a little more than the law will allow.” Yes, they are violent and dangerous but in the end are no threat to anyone who has sense enough to stay clear of them.

    Chase directly addresses the question of good and evil in The Sopranos. Tony is not a Vito Corleone; an essentially benevolent man acting in the interests of his family and his community. Tony poisons everything he touches. His family is not capable of producing Micheal Corleones; only Sonnys and Fredos. This is not because of weakness but because of his embrace of evil. This is shown in the final season, when A.J. attempts to have his Michael Corleone moment. He announces that he intends to join the Army to fight the war on terror. But unlike Micheal in the final scene of The Godfather II, A.J. is ultimately bought off by his parents offer of a car and an easy job. He does not have the gumption to make a moral stand against his family like Micheal Corleone did because the Soprano family’s failure to acknowledge good and evil.

    Writers have often referred to Dr. Melfi as the conscience of The Sopranos. However, I do not think this is so. Because psychiatry “punts’ on questions of good and evil, in the end it cannot save Tony Soprano. All it can do is help him be a better gangster whose panic attacks will not interfere with his ability to commit murder. In the end Melfi abandons Tony in his time of need. Because she fails to take a moral stand throughout the series, Tony is in a position to call her “unethical.”

    The true conscience of the series is Artie Bucco. Artie, we learn, was the toughest of Tony’s friends growing up. He certainly had the opportunity to go the way Tony did. However, he followed his father’s path. He took over the family restaurant, upgraded it from a pizza/red sauce joint to a white linen dining room. Throughout the series he struggles financially and in his marriage. As difficult as it is, he perseveres and by the end of the series he has what Tony will never have; children and grandchildren who will honor him. Coppola will never make a three part saga about someone like Artie Bucco, but he represents the true story of the Italian American experience. Follow in your father’s footsteps. Take over his business. Improve upon it a little bit. Stay true to your wife as difficult as it may be. Maintain the Catholic faith of your upbringing even if the parish compromises itself by accepting Tony Soprano’s money. Don’t stop believing. In the end it is the ducks will return to Artie Bucco’s pool, not Tony Soprano’s.

  448. dsweeney Says:

    Superb post Matt. One thing I would disagree with though. For me, the real moral compass of the show was not Artie but Charmaine. From the outset she was against Tony and everything he stands for. She remains true to this throughout the show, never caving in to his “charms” like everyone else it seems. Even Melfi wasn’t entirely immune but in the end gives him the brush-off. Unprofessional of her maybe, but she realises the con-man she’s dealing with so can’t continue seeing him.
    While Charmaine stands against Tony for all the right reasons, I feel it is only because Artie is so weak that he doesn’t become like Tony and not out of any great conviction. If he could he would, I think, but he’s a civilian and that’s that. Even Jean Philippe kicks his ass!
    Charmaine also represents, for me, everything Carmela should be but isn’t. She represents the “good” Camela. The moral, hard-working, honest and true Italian-American woman. And not the “house whore” that Chase describes her as.

  449. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. The final sentence above should read; ” And not the “house-whore” that Chase describes her ( Carmela ) as”.

  450. masterofsopranos Says:

    Awesome post Matt. I especially love your Godfather and Goodfellas distinction. The former creates almost mythical status for its characters, the latter basically says “these guys are animals and there is no more to it than that” I think Chase agrees more with the “Goodfellas” model.

  451. late4thesky Says:

    Almost finished reading the MOS analysis plus all the great comments and updates. Will finish eventually but wanted to chime in here in hopes I’m not repeating anyone else’s contributions.

    1. Agent Harris, on hearing that Phil had been killed, shouts I’m going to win this thing. At least that’s how I heard it. I believe what the writers were trying to do here is to show that the agents had a pool going on who was going to win the war between NY and NJ. That he had inexplicably provided the inside information to Tony helps resolve that.

    2. Tony killed both his cousin Tony Blundetto and his nephew Christoper out of mercy. Tony B was facing torture on orders from Phil. Tony B died a quick, almost peaceful death and in TS’s own masterful way he again defeated Phil. Tony’s killing of Christopher was a mercy killing as well. Notice no direction to struggle was given to the actors. Chris was surely going to die anyway as he was bleeding internally. He was also high, or would “not pass a drug test”, and poetically as well it was time for him to go. Tony/the writers paid CM due respect by dying at the hands of a loved one, having the “wind sucked out of him” (Pauli Walnuts’ warning about the cat, which in my opinion represents Tony and his nine lives more than Drea Demateo’s character Adrianna)

    3. No one has mentioned Mr. Wizard. He was the elderly man in the hospital with Tony. The one that was smarter than everyone, who pointed out that we are all part of one energy (the two boxers), and who lost his voice upon last appearance. I like the casting of his character too, Hal Holbrook, the wise man from Wall Street that gave deep thinking advice to the young Bud… one of which deserves quoting here:

    “Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.”

    Finally, at this point I am inclined to follow my original conclusion when I viewed the finale of The Sopranos, Tony is not dead. The series ended, but “life” for TS, what we witnessed for 86 episodes, goes on and on.

    Jeffrey

  452. isobel Says:

    Thanks dsweeney for your reply about Charmaine. From the first season on, she was the only one not seduced by easy (ill-gotten) money. Unlike Carmella, she turned down the “blood-money”. If not for her, Artie would have been one of Tony’s minions.

  453. dsweeney Says:

    While goofing around the net I came across the following; ” In a later radio interview Chase was more specific about the ending and referred to “Stage 5″ and ” Soprano home movies” in relation to the ending”.
    “Stage 5″ is the episode where Gerry Torciano gets whacked in front of Sil and Sil later recounts how the shots were fired before he knew what was happening. ” Soprano home movies” has the scene with Bobby and Tony on the lake and Bobby saying ” you probably don’t even hear it when it happens right ? “. This, I feel, is as close as Chase will ever go to ” telling us” what happened because to say any more would ruin the surface ambiguity of the piece for future generations of Soprano fans. By that I mean the ending is ambiguous at first glance, ON THE SURFACE. But repeated, careful viewing, reveals what happened,

  454. John McDevitt Says:

    late4thesky, I don’t think I agree with a single thing in your post.

  455. dsweeney Says:

    Late4thesky, the reality is life does NOT ” go on and on and on..”. It doesn’t, no matter much Tony might think it does. Don’t forget it is Tony himself who puts on “Don’t stop believin’ ” because that is how he’s feeling at that moment. He has won the war with Phil and his family are in pretty good shape for once. I personally think it is Chase laughing at Tony and the ultimate irony that he chooses this song and then gets it in the head.
    On another site somebody was of the opinion that Tony’s killing of Christopher was a good thing because he prevented Chris’s baby from a terrible future!! That in fact, Tony did the ” wider community ” a service by killing Christopher. Not only is this ludicrous but very worrying. Only another sociopath would think like this. Who made Tony Soprano God to say who lives and who dies in society ? He being such a moral person and all!

    Nice catch though about Paulie saying cats ” suck the life out of you”, I’ll give you that one. I still think if the cat represents anything it is surely Ade though.

  456. j.t. Says:

    I thought the final episode was a dream. Janice calls herself Juniors daughter, the two black guys in the diner tried to kill Tony in the first season, the scouts were in the train store when Bobby was killed, and the episode before the last showed Tony falling asleep. I’m pretty sure that there are some other things a little funny about the last episode as well. I have to check. I also have to check on the episode titled “Members Only”- somethings there in that episode as well.

  457. late4thesky Says:

    (DSweeney) thank you for “giving one” to me for my connecting Tony’s suffocating his nephew with Paulie’s phobia of the myth of the (male) orange tabby. I’m flattered. [img]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-rolleyes008.gif[/img][/url]

    is it too late to remind some that Sopranos is a tv show? That Tony Soprano is a fictional character. The association or blatant calling of mere viewers of the show, who were impacted by this complex drama differently or interpreted their way why Tony was written to have killed two of his loved ones *in the story*, …as real life “worrisome” or that viewers may be sociopath as some sort of association or ink blot test, is just sad. Is this forum only for those that believe ten seconds of silence and screen blackness represents anything less than a whack job and instant death? If so count this one out.

    At least however some affirm that they know the drama is not real by writing that they believe “Chase is laughing at Tony” in the last scene by selecting the Journey song before Tony……….

    Jeffrey

    It’s all there.

  458. Mike D. Says:

    Well done sir. I agree that Tony bought it that night. I did have one thought on who was responsible. I think it was Herman. I think that he saw an opportunity because of the New York war to take Tony out over the conflict over the borrowed money that they had.

  459. Keith Hayes Says:

    Personally I’d like the ‘blackout’ to be a panic attack. I like Tony but for me the case for Tony s demise comes down to this and I wish I could be wrong.

    I recall and correct me if I’m wrong that plans for dinner at Holstens were overheard by the FBI when Carmella told Meadow on the phone where dinner would be held that night. Since The FBI new Tony would be at Holstens synonymously with Meadow they had plenty of time to tell New Yorks Butch DeConcini Albie Cianfalone where to pop Tony. The exclamation by agent Harris “We just might win this thing !” meant the job was half done and the halftime score stood in favor of the FBI one zip. A good time for Harris to cheer since he’s pulling the strings and things are going his way. Butch and Albie would have split New York and New Jersey between them with Tony gone preserving the boss count and earning respect. Killing Tony would be explained as getting revenge for Phil s murder but really no explanation is needed since they would both profit with Tony gone. The hit would have presented no problems in New York and with Tony’s death there would be complete acceptance of the new regime as New Jersey would be decapitated. Anybody who knew about the ‘sit-down’ would understand the double cross. The greater New York families would not be concerned with Butch and Albie as they would have eared respect for snuffing Tony, who was their former bosses enemy and assassin. If anything their cooperation at the sit-down made them look weak and what better way to fix things than double cross Tony. It would a natural thing to do from their point of view. As for Harris, he liked to dance with the devil a little bit. I don’t think he could have resisted the irony of using the same medicine on T that he allowed T to serve up to Phil. To knit the thing together like other ‘theories’ the phone message to Meadow spilled the beans and Meadows arrival happens synonymously with Tony s demise. Meadows presence in both these scenes flags the true wizard of oz behind the scenes, as being the FBI and in particular Agent Harris. So many FBI informants had been killed that Harris had plenty of reason to get Tony and pretend to be close to him.

  460. dsweeney Says:

    Sorry J.T. but this theory has been torpedoed already. Some eagle-eye pointed out that in the final episode we see Elliot and Melfi discussing the study on sociopaths and later at the dinner party. And this is the thing J.T. TONY HAS NEVER MET ELLIOT ! So how could he dream about him ? He doesn’t know him at all, much less that he’s Melfi’s shrink. It is most definitely not a dream.
    I urge you to watch “Members only ” again as soon as. There are indeed ” some things in there”. Such as Eugene, in the eponymous Members Only jacket, walk into a diner and shoot a guy. At the start we see Bobby for the first time with his trains, eerily foreshadowing his death in the toy store. Ray Curto is identified as ” the heart, treachoury” and later he has a heart-attack just when he’s about to give Tony up to the Feds. Meadow is identified as Tony’s gaurdian angel and it is she who saves his life and pulls him out of the coma later on. But in the Holsten’s scene, she is delayed trying to park the car and so is not there this time to save him. At Ray’s funeral Rusty says of him, ” stand up guys like that ? They’re A DYING BREED”. Rusty himself gets it soon after.
    There is also a tiny, short scene of Tony eating by himself in the fish restaurant. He gets a sudden bout of indigestion or something and pats himself lightly a couple of times on the belly- PRECISELY where he is later shot by Junior. There is no other reason for this short scene. We later see it in the hospital when Janice goes in to see him. A hole the size of a fist.

  461. dsweeney Says:

    Mike D. I personally feel that there is nobody we know behind the hit on Tony, that the point is it could be from anybody, anywhere, anytime. But I have posted before on my theory that if someone we know WAS behind it, Hesh for me would be a strong candidate and precisely for the reasons you mentioned.

    Tony has ” borrowed” K200 from Hesh and is reluctant to pay it back. Hesh senses this and in a brilliant line wonders aloud to his son-in-law that Tony might consider it cheaper to get rid of him rather than pay him back his money. Hesh then says, ” I go to guys like him, to deal with guys like him”. Now maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what Hesh did. Went to somebody ( MOG ) to ” deal” with Tony. His girl Renata then dies tragically in her sleep and Hesh is beside himself with grief and forgets all about Tony and his money. But if he had the hit in train already it would still ” go down “. This, I think, is at least a possible scenario but like I said I personally think the point is death is ” always out there ” for Tony.

  462. Bevin Says:

    Dear dsweeney,

    You wrote:

    Tony has ” borrowed” K200 from Hesh and is reluctant to pay it back. Hesh senses this and in a brilliant line wonders aloud to his son-in-law that Tony might consider it cheaper to get rid of him rather than pay him back his money.

    This sums up the selfish attitudes of people like Tony Soprano, or Jimmy Conway in Martin Scorses’ “Goodfellas.”

    They talk about “honor” and “family.” but in the end it’s all about the money. It’s all about naked greed.

    No one should feel sorry that Tony Soprano got whacked. Morally speaking, they should all kill each other off.

    Bevin

  463. Keith Hayes Says:

    If T has been hit it can’t be a random hit. From start to finish the Sopranos was too well done a series for a hit On Tony at Hosten’s Diner to just happen. The hit on Phil Leotardo at the gas station took episodes to set up. Any hit on Tony has to have a history and the question comes down to who knew that T would be at Hosten’s? The answer is his family and the FBI.
    Agent Harris was getting even for Adriana and he even tells us so. Remember the story Harris told Tony about a female co-worker whom he claimed Phil Leotardo had set up to be raped. At the time Harris claimed that he hated Phil for planning such a thing. Harris hated Phil this is true so sincerity was no problem and he was convincing. However murder not rape was the way Phil Leotardo did business. In his own odd way I doubt Phil would have done such a thing as Harris claimed as Phil Leotardo had strict ideas on appropriate sexuality.
    Harris was telling Tony that he wanted to get revenge on Phil for a rape that never happened? I think not. Harris was dancing and telling Tony he was going to revenge right enough but revenge for Adriana his infomant and ‘co-worker’, Harris wanted revenge on Tony.
    Harris has remained above suspicion because we all want to believe he was Tony’s friend. However we need to examine this belief. Why should Harris be Tony’s friend? Harris has reviewed all the crime scene photos of every murder thought to have been masterminded by Tony That Harris wants to help Tony get Phil, a murdering animal makes no sense. Harris has seen half a dozen FBI informants killed by Tony and he can’t see the Tony we have seen in Melfi’s office. To us Tony is a complex character who is in ‘the life’ because he was born into it. We see Tony as making the best of his situation and so we have compassion for him. FBI agent Harris is Tony’s adversary and he has been frustrated by Tony at every turn. Expecting Harris to have the same view of Tony that we have is irrational. Harris can’t really be Tony’s friend, it makes no sense. Harris grabbed the big brass vigilante ring by helping Tony whak Phil. To believe Harris set up Tony actually makes sense, he’s done it before. Harris made a phone call and told New York that Tony would be at Hostens. It’s as simple as that. Harris eliminated both a New Jersey boss and a New York Boss with only a couple of phone calls. I bet sex with Harris’s FBI mistress was very good that night. That Harris had a goomah stitches things together tighter still, if Harris acts like a Mafia boss by having a mistress why can’t he act like them by planning a hit?

    Could somebody please try and poke a hole in my theory.

    Thanks

  464. Guy Says:

    Its all perfectly possible Keith, and I agree that Harris’ motivations are unclear, and there seems no reason for him to help Tony. But I don’t believe it personally for 2 reasons. 1. I don’t believe Chase would construct a massive off screen conspiracy and then not tell us about it – that doesn’t really fit with the serious and 2. I just don’t believe New York or anyone else would employ such an incompetent hitman, who lets himself be seen at length by his victim. Certainly the New York hitmen we’ve seen don’t act like that. But that’s just my opinion

  465. Guy Says:

    I mean of course….that doesn’t really fit with the SERIES

  466. dsweeney Says:

    Keith, I don’t understand why you refer to it as a ” random hit ” just because we don’t know the background to it. As I have posted before, MOG could have been tailing Tony all day, could have been on his tail when he visited Junior etc. and simply followed him to Holsten’s. That would explain why he walks in, coincidentally, with A.J.
    You seem convinced the F.B.I. know Tony is dining later in Holsten’s. I may be wrong but I just don’t think this is the case. To my knowledge the only time Tony’s house was successfully bugged was in series 3 when they got into his basement and put a bug in the lamp. This ended up in Meadow’s dorm at college and became useless. And that was that. They gave up trying to bug his house and his phones. So as far as I’m aware the Feds DO NOT know about Holsten’s. If someone says for certain that the phone in Tony’s house is bugged and they hear Carmela tell Meadow the arrangements then I’ll stand corrected.
    I can’t go for your theory about Harris avenging Adriana. For a start, they ( the Feds ) don’t know for sure if Ade is even dead or not. She’s never found. They even wonder if she didn’t just do a runner and that’s all. To tie Harris’s comment about a former colleague being set up to be raped by Phil to what happened to Ade is too big a leap for me. Harris is just saying what a real creep Phil is. Don’t forget as well Keith, Harris is Counter -terrorism now, he’s not even in O.C. so the idea he would go to the trouble of taking out Tony, a potential source of useful information for him, doesn’t add up.
    Guy, why do you refer to MOG as an ” incompetent hitman” ? Surely it doesn’t matter if his VICTIM sees him ? As long as the deed gets done ? Tony casually glances at him and then dismisses him, blissfully unaware of the imminent danger. Despite his own warning to everybody to ” have eyes in the back of your head”, he himself didn’t take his own advice and paid the price. Dearly.

  467. Keith Hayes Says:

    Guy, thanks for the feedback but I have to ask what you mean by ‘does not fit with the series’. I don’t invent a huge off screen conspiracy as its possible Harris acts essentially alone. My explanations describe events that actually happened, I don’t pull anything out of thin air. Harris conspired with Tony to kill Phil on screen for all to see and his knowledge of Phil Leotardo once planning to have a partner of his raped but then never getting around to it in the distant past makes no sense at all. Harris was really talking about Adriana. I think Harris wanted to tell Tony be was an ‘animal’ but that would have spoiled his plans. Instead Harris talked about Phil being an animal.

    If the hitman had never actually met Tony and only seen a photo of him there would be no reason for the hitman to hide, the hitman has to confirm Tony’s identity. Being visible to Tony is necessary under the circumstances. In one of the above photos we clearly see the MembersOnlyGuy sitting at the counter looking at Tony, confirming his Identity. Something any competent hitman would certainly do. As for hitmen being competent in the series I could point out the accidental hit on Phil Leotardos Mistress’s Lithuanian father as an example but really what happened in the Pine Barrens episode shows that Soprano hitmen are not always competent. By Soprano standards MembersOnlyGuy is highly competent.

  468. Guy Says:

    DSweeney I refer to MOG as an incompetent hitman not because he doesn’t get the job done, but because he gives Tony plenty of chances to spot him and to take evasive action. The fact that Tony fails to do so is irrelevant – MOG can’t rely on that. I don’t believe a professional, sent to kill the top mob guy in NJ would take those sort of chances. Which is why I think he’s not a pro – and the bathroom references from the Godfather (Michael Corleone was trusted because he was not, at that stage, a mob guy) supports that, plus the fact that the actor is not a trained actor – but an amateur. But for sure, there is no proof.

    Keith – I just mean that throughout the series we have seen all the important facts and plots on screen and I don’t see why the creators would have changed this for the last episode. So if Harris was planning something – I think we would have been told. If Butchie was planning a double cross – we would have been told etc. So I can’t really buy the idea that Tony is killed because of an important plot element we’re just not told about. Far more likely, in my view, that “it could be anyone” – ie characters who we are not familiar with. But again, that’s just my opinion

  469. dsweeney Says:

    I’m nitpicking here Keith but your assertion that ” Harris conspired to kill Phil with Tony ” is pushing it a bit I think. I’ll admit he gives Tony ” a location ” on Phil in the full knowledge of what is likely to happen. And in fact what does indeed happen. But I still think to say he conspired to kill Phil is stretching the truth a bit. For me, it’s the exact same as with Butchie and Ray Ray, Phil’s main guys in his crew, in that they won’t actually assist Tony in taking out Phil but they tell him ” to do what you gotta do”. Meaning that if Tony does take Phil out, they won’t react. And there lies the peace between the two ” families “. Business as usual, back to doing what it’s all about, making money, without Phil and his bulls**t.
    You said earlier something about Tony being responsible for the deaths of half a dozen or so F.B.I. informants. I don’t think this is the case. Eugene hung himself without Tony being aware he was a rat. Ray Curto keeled over and had a heart-attack right at the critical moment of giving Tony to the Feds. Again, Tony was oblivious to this. Pussy and Adriana I’ll grant you, they were informants that Tony killed or had killed. But as I said, the Feds never find either of them so can never know for sure what happened to them. And no matter how drop dead gorgeous Ade was, the Feds, and Harris in particular, NEVER regarded her, or any informant for that matter, as a ” colleague “. The idea Harris would want to ” avenge ” her presumed death just doesn’t fly for me. No way. And the point of Harris telling us about a former collegue being set up by Phil is to lay the ground for him choosing Tony over Phil later on.
    The key point about this, I feel, is Harris’s ” damn, we’re gonna win this thing”. The fact is that by this point, Harris has crossed a line. He has got too close to Tony and let his personal antipathy towards Phil get in the way of his professional judgement. He decides on Tony being the lesser of two evils. Or maybe it’s because like I said earlier, Harris is Counter-terrorism now and Tony could be valuable to him.

  470. dsweeney Says:

    Gotcha Guy, great post and I agree with you 100%. The key point I think is, ” it’s always out there”, so Tony could be taken out by anyone, from anywhere.
    One small point I would make though in regard to MOG giving Tony time to take evasive action is that his wearing a Members Only jacket is for OUR, THE VIEWER’S benefit and is in no way a signal to Tony that MOG is a threat. See my point ? The jacket is a device by Chase to alert us to the fact that he is not just any other punter in Holsten’s but a mob guy. For me, MOG doesn’t do anything inherently suspicious other than glancing at least twice at Tony. A more wired, alert Tony or a Tony still on a war-footing may well have sussed him but he doesn’t. If MOG feels sure Tony doesn’t know him, and he clearly doesn’t, then I think MOG’s actions are reasonable enough. Don’t forget as well the counter he sits at is a fair distance away from Tony’s table so he feels he’s descreet enough in clocking T.

  471. shaunbwilson Says:

    One more instance that Lincoln showed up in the show was when Janice was asking Tony for money for Uncle Junior’s bills. He pulled out a five dollar bill as a sarcastic gesture. I remember thinking at the time that it was strange that he’d pull out a 5 instead of a 20 or 100 like I’d expect him to.

    Another purposeful appearance by Lincoln?

  472. TR Says:

    Tony is not dead he was at the Jets game tonight !!!

  473. stoppo driver Says:

    fantastic stuff.

    if tony was whacked – then it was uncle junior who gave the order. unlike tony’s love interest on the other side who honored her boss/father – tony dishonored his boss/uncle. uncle junior, as dumb as a fox as he is, played the memory loss to the hilt and with the help of NJ and/or NY prevailed albeit from inside.

    the “phil’s son did it” idea above is a good one

    if tony was not whacked: it is because tony when picking that particular booth could see the bathroom doorway in the reflection of the chrome of the table juck-box. moreover, MOG/MOJ worked for tony. that’s why tony was relaxed.

    Made in America is not about demise. Made in America is about reinvention

    Mr. Chase we look forward to a movie and/or another series.

  474. dsweeney Says:

    Shaunbwilson, it’s very possible it is another Lincoln reference. More likely though it is, as you pointed out, a sarcastic gesture on Tony’s part. That Janice knows what she can do with Jun’s bills ! Or as a way of showing how little Tony care about Jun’s bills.
    But it could well tie in with the other Lincoln references. They may not loom as large as the Kennedy allusions but they are most certainly in there. Another leader who was shot and assassinated. The fact that JFK was a kind of hero figure to Tony maybe makes it more poignant I suppose. Poignant from Tony’s perspective I mean. There is nothing poignant in the death of Tony Soprano. He started out a ruthless gangster and went downhill from there into depravity with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Good riddance, albeit to an extraordinary character.

  475. dsweeney Says:

    To Gary, great and succinct post, you clarified a few things for me regarding the seven souls sequence, especially AJ and Carm. I always took the ” remains” and the shot of the hole in the ground to refer specifically to Tony himself but I see your line of thinking in it being Carmela, she being his widow after he’s gone. One thing I might argue with you though is where you say the first soul is represented by Vito. This may well be the case but for me the critical point is on the word ” death ” we see Bobby playing with his train set for the first time. It eerily foreshadows his own death scene in the toy shop so I would lean to it being him rather than Vito.

  476. dsweeney Says:

    To Stoppo up above, exactly now did Tony dishonour his ” boss ” ? Uncle Jun was never Tony’s boss. They let him think he was boss to take any heat that came down on the family but everybody knew who was really running the show-Tony. And as for dishonouring him, might I remind you that it was Junior, with Livia, who conspired to have Tony killed, not the other way around.
    By the time of series 6 when Jun shoots Tony himself, he has clearly lost his mind and is not acting. Why would he do the hit himself, in his own home ? Makes no sense whatsoever. Why rant about Pussy Malanga when shooting Tony ? And why cower in the closet after shooting Tony if he’s only feigning memory loss ? No, he’s not acting and is not behind any hit Tony. On being told that he and his brother used to run north Jersey his ” really ? That’s nice ” response is both touching and GENUINE.
    I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you waiting for a movie/ new series- it ain’t going to happen, at least not if Chase has anything to do with it.

  477. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. Up above should, of course, read ” exactly HOW did Tony…..”

  478. Jake Says:

    I have my own theories and am open minded, but as you put a lot of effort into writing this I thought I’d leave a post to let you know how good I thought it was.

    Thank you for a great read.

  479. thezor Says:

    Such an interresting and enlightening essay
    Congratulations and thank you for this, I’ve read it entirely without stopping once, it was quite fascinating

  480. Keith Says:

    You’ll never see it coming. That’s the message, so enjoy it while you can. Live by the sword and you’ll die by it. Ever notice that the ones who do the hitting in the series always wind up dead. The Sopranos was a morality play from start to finish. By the rules of the Soprano universe Tony had to go for all the people he had hit. The Instigator has to be someone we know but who Tony doesn’t suspect to be consistent with the you’ll never see it coming theme. Agent Harris and his Mistress fit the bill. I’ve asked for logical criticism of my theory and have received none. This being the case I’ll claim victory now.

    Snap to black screen everybody.

  481. stoppo driver Says:

    to dsweeney

    why if tony did get whacked, junior ordered the hit (junior who proved himself to NY and NJ to be unflippable): I never did see the pilot but:

    in season one jackie aprile was the acting boss so junior must have been passed over already even though in earlier days johnny boy and junior ran jersey [in PENULTIMATE scene of Made in America, stated by tony to junior while junior was still acting confused so that he could stay in the nicer hospital jain as opposed to a real jail]

    at the start of in season one, 1. tony is a capo and not the boss but becomes the boss by in effect marginalizing junior in Artie’s cafe and 2. junior is complaining that tony is stopping him from doing business. The intent to kill tony was there all the time- third time was lucky!

    go the to penultimate scene of Made in America: look again at the actor’s (junior) facial expressions during the conversation – junior has had it, so had it with tony (a pushy, bombastic, disrespectful blood nephew who may or may not be prone to flipping to Agent Harris) that he decides old school has got to be enforced.

    why else make this the penultimate scene of the last episode

    stoppo driver

  482. dsweeney Says:

    Keith, did you read any of the posts after your claim of Harris being behind the hit ? There is no evidence whatsoever for your theory, complete speculation. I have since watched the last few episodes and I can state categorically that the F.B.I. do NOT KNOW about the family meeting in Holsten’s.
    Agent Harris is now in Counter-terrorrism, not Organized crime so had no motive for killing Tony. He wouldn’t give a damn about Adriana even if he knew for sure she was dead, which he doesn’t.
    The crux of the ” never hear is when it happens ” that Chase was going for was for us, the viewer, to have the same vicarious experience as Tony. WE didn’t see/hear it coming either. If there was a conspiracy by Harris to kill Tony and we were made party to it, the effect Chase was looking for wouldn’t have been achieved. As we are NOT party to any conspiracy, you have to come up with concrete evidence that it even exists. Which you haven’t.
    To Stoppo, I say again, why would Junior rant about Pussy Malanga and then hide in the closet after shooting Tony if he was only feigning memory loss ? There is no reason for him to do this as he’s the only other person in the house at the time. That Jun harboured a grudge and/ or greivences towards Tony is not in doubt, I’ll give you that, but he is a broken, sick old man by this stage. Remember the beating he took at the hands of the young Asian guy in the ” Remember when ” episode ? That would affect anybody never mind a demented old man. Junior has no crew left by this time. They are all either dead or have walked away from him. Even Bobby, his most loyal guy has disowned him.
    The reason to make Tony’s visit to Jun in hospital is simply to resolve the most important relationship in the whole piece, arguably. That of Tony and his uncle Junior, his REAL father if you like, the guy he ” used to play catch with “. We only ever see Johnny Boy in flash-back so Jun is the biggest blood relative of Tony’s that he looks up to.

  483. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. To Keith, with respect, how are we meant to logically disprove your theory when you have given no evidence to support it ? Just your own suppositions on things. I mean, I could just as easily claim that , let’s say, Carmela is behind the hit on Tony. She’s sick of his playing around and wants him out of the way so she can get his money and fly off to Italy and be with Furio for ever and ever. You can’t disprove this preposterous idea can you ? No, but that doesn’t mean it is a correct analysis. Just a notion without any foundation whatsoever. Maybe Artie decided once and for all to kill Tony for burning down Vesuvio’s. Maybe Paulie didn’t want to skipper the jinxed Aprile crew and decided he wanted the big chair and took Tony out . Who knows ? And that is precisely the point with this guy Soprano. Again, like Bobby said to him, ” it’s ALWAYS out there “! Like the old Martini ad used to say, ” any time, any place, anywhere “.

  484. Anonymous Says:

    Stoppo….Just no. I’m sorry but that is a terrible theory. You can’t honestly believe that, surely?

  485. stoppo driver Says:

    Hello Anonymous – Hello dsweeney

    There are three fundamental issues (well four, really):

    1. What does the black screen ending mean, if anything
    2. If the the black screen ending means that Tony was whacked – then who ordered the hit (as opposed to who was the triggerman/woman)
    3. Is Mr. Chase going to do another series. I really like the idea of a prequel

    Putting aside 3. for now and going with 2. (masterofsopranos’ position) that Tony was whacked, then you are right: the whodunnit list is endless and in itself is fascinating. You could write a book with a chapter for each candidate screenplaying multiple endings.

    After going through the Comments above at bit more, I need to tip my hat to YourRoyalFlyness (7/18/09, 5:31am).

    It is not a terrible theory. Go watch Made in America’s penultimate scene to see and study the actor’s (Junior) face one more time. He has all of his marbles. He is not broken. He still has connections. Revenge from the padded wheelchair, if you will. He is as dumb as a fox (meaning a fox is not dumb).

    What is, on reflection, even more fascinating than Junior’s give away angry/blood boiling facial expressions (due to a recent comment above) is what on earth was going through Tony’s head just before the black screen. Whacked or not – that’s the POV shot I’m hoping Mr. Chase will start the prequel with. I recommend that the prequel be a three parter: 1) Tony as a little kid focusing in on the old neighborhood, Johnny Boy and side kick Junior capturing NJ + revealing the maternal toxicity, (That’s a good looking actress) if any, of a 30 something Livia , 2) Tony in his Senior year running amok with Tony B up until getting married and doing his first hit and 3) TBD.

    Stoppo Driver

  486. dsweeney Says:

    I believe the hit on Tony was by nobody we know, no on-screen character. But it’s fun to speculate as to who might or could have been behind it. I have posted elsewhere that I think Hesh could have set a hit in motion before Tony took HIM out, rather than pay him back the k200 he owes him.
    The other possible that I like is that it is to do with Eugene’s suicide, a family member or friend of his getting back at Tony. The Members Only jacket is crucial to this obviously and is a physical ” linking” of the two scenes-Holsten’s and the whole “Members Only” Eugene episode.
    This idea reminds me of the Clint Eastwood movie ” High plains drifter”. This is the one where the sheriff is whipped to death by a gang of bandits and the townspeople just stand by and watch. Clint then appears to take revenge on the gang and kills them one by one. It’s never made clear exactly who Clint is, a brother, friend or even a ghost or avenging angel of the dead sheriff. The whole MOG idea is very similar to me. It’s reminding us of the havoc and misery Tony inflicted on others and Eugene in particular in this case. MOG could represent either the bad karma that is surely Tony’s just deserts, or it could be more than that, that he actually is there to whack Tony precisely because of what happened to Eugene.
    For me personally, these two scenario’s have at least some basis in the text/script and therefore carry more weight than mere speculation. But I am sure in my own mind that the point Chase was making was that theses guys could be, and ARE, killed from all angles, at any time, by anyone.

  487. masterofsopranos Says:

    I tend to agree with Dsweeney’s position on this. Chase may not have the answer himself as to who was behind it.

    However, let’s assume his words-“it’s all there” also includes who was behind the hit rather than just whether Tony was killed in the final scene. To me, the most logical conclusion, based on the final episode, would be Patsy Parisi. I discussed all of those strange scenes with Patsy in the “Who killed Tony?” section. Unless its just a huge red herring (and Chase’s words-“It’s all there” and that he’s not trying to “mess” with us would indicate that it’s not), they seem to be in there for a reason. All of the stuff with Jason Gervasi and threat that Paty’s son could be picked up next by Feds and/or local Jersey police. Tony’s questioning Patsy about it at the dinner with Meadow and her fiance. Patsy’s wife nervously stating that she didn’t think her son Jason was invited and then Patsy cutting her off. The threat that Jason Parisi could be picked up next which could next lead to Patsy flipping (like Carlo) HAS to concern Tony and Patsy knowing that, has to take out Tony. It also fits in beautifully with the worlds collide theme (Family and family) in the show as Patsy is soon to be Meadow’s father and law. It’s a perverse take on Ralphie (who it appears in Season 3 will eventually be Jackie Jr’s father and law) ordering the hit on Jackie Jr. On this show it’s often the people closest to you who try to kill you; Livia and Junior tried to kill Tony; Vito shot and killed his cousin Jackie Jr.; Phil killed his cousin Vito, Tony killed his cousin Tony B., Janice killed her fiance Richie Aprile. Again, watch the Patsy scenes closely again. I think Chase was trying to tell us something here. Even at Bobby’s funeral, Patsy, with a concerned face, orders his son Jason away from the table. Chase then immediately cuts to Jason Gervasi. The question is why? I think Chase did it to make us decipher it later.

    Patsy may have had the help of NY. Patsy says at the safe house that his customers are giving his action to NY. We know Butchie hates Tony and is not gun shy. The continuity of the hit’s on Tony and Phil (both in front of family) suggest the second hit was revenge for the first.

    These two suspects (Patsy and Butchie) are the most logical suspects, based on the evidence in the final episode, as to who killed Tony. Yes, it is very thin evidence, but if Chase feels like he told us enough as to who was behind it, it has to be either of those two.

    Now, a relative of Eugene would be the next best guess based on the symbolic connections (the “Members Only” Jacket, the resemblence to Eugene, the possible motive of the angry wife who suggeted that Eugene take out Tony) rather than anything specific in the narrative (Eugene’s wife is never seen again after the opening episode of 6A and at Eugene’s funeral).

    Junior had nothing to do with it. There are multiple scenes of Junior alone (away from Tony or the Feds) where it is made clear that he is really crazy (just look at the episode “Remember When”). By the end he is in a state run facility that is nothing like his cushy facility from early on in 6b. Besides, why would he kill Tony? There is no motive. Before Junior went crazy, there relationship was relatively stable.

    There are ENDLESS possibilities and that may be Chase’s point as well. Take a number and get in line as to who may have killed Tony Soprano. It could have been personal. Remember, Tony B. taking out Billy Leotardo and injuring Phil. Those two never saw it coming. An unsanctioned revenge hit for Angelo Garepe, who was like a father to Tony B. Why is it not possible that the same thing happened to Tony? Take a look at some of these who may have a motive:

    Any close friend or relative of: Pussy, Richie, Ralphie (scratch that, EVERYONE hated Ralphie!), Mikey Palmice… the list goes on and on. Tony took out Rusty (on the orders of Johnny Sack) a high ranking NY capo. At the sit down between Phil and Tony in the 6a finale, Carmine Jr. says “he will find out in time” who killed his dear “friend”[Rusty]. What if Carmine Jr. found out Tony was behind it? What about Matt Bevilaqua? In the season 3 opener, the feds listen to a wiretap of Tony and Pussy (who is now dead) discussing how Bevalaqua had “family” in construction. Did somone from his family take out Tony for revenge?

    The point is there is plenty of people with a motive to do it and in the spirit of the Billy Leotardo murder (and the near murder of a NY capo Phil) by Tony B. (who is not even a made man when he carries out his revenge murder), ANYONE could have taken out Tony for a personal vendetta.

  488. dsweeney Says:

    Great spot MOS about Carmine vowing revenge for Rusty, one I had forgotten. I posted elsewhere about Carmine possibly being behind the hit. If you look at it from a broad standpoint, while all through the show Carmine was this clownish, idiot-like character that all the bosses secretly mocked, who is the last man standing ? Yep, Carmine! Who’s laughing now ? Johnny Sac ? Phil ? Tony ? No. Remember the war in NY because of the power vacuum after Carmine Sr. died ? Carmine pulled out but at the end of the race, he’s the only one left. King of New York.
    MOS, the point you make about the scene at Bobby’s funeral is something I’ll have to look at again, there is definitely something about Patsy hurrying his son out of there. But for me, the scene where Tony/Carm meet Patsy/ his wife with the newly-weds to be is easily explained. The terrible awkwardness I think, is simply because Tony is his boss but Tony as father of the bride and HOST, is going around filling Patsy’s glass, waiting on him etc. BOTH men are aware of the situation and if you look closely when Tony hands Patsy his drinK T. doesn’t even look at him. And Patsy then doesn’t know where to look and is all sheepish. This, you could argue, is a great instance of the two families colliding, embarrassing for Patsy and insulting to Tony ( he feels ). But I personally can’t go with Patsy being behind the hit. Patsy barely escapes with his life after the hit on Sil at the Bing. I can’t see him siding with NY after that, assuming they are behind the hit on Tony.
    There is key line for me, in possibly the last episode of series 3. When Tony finally ends things with Gloria he sends Patsy to convey the news. Patsy graphically tells her what will happen if she doesn’t leave him alone and then tells her, ” and remember, the last face you will see will be mine. Not Tony’s. It won’t be cinematic!” The reason I mention this is that for me, by this time Patsy has put all the business about his twin brother and whether Tony did or didn’t have him killed ( we know hd did of course ). I think Patsy is genuinely back on side with Tony. His son is going to marry the bosses daughter. Even Tony says it’ll be good for business, admittedly only to wind Paulie up but still. I personally don’t think Patsy has a motive any more for taking out Tony. He’ll never forget his twin brother, but business is business.

  489. masterofsopranos Says:

    I’m talking about Tony specifically referring to Jason Parisi as Jason Gervasi’s “pal” when he asks Patsy about him and Tony doesn’t exactly look pleased. Carlo has already flipped at this point. I wasn’t referring to the moment when Tony pours Patsy a drink although it may be a subtle allusion to Patsy possibly wanting Tony’s position. Patsy did put the hit on his brother behind him. Patsy’s motive is a product of his own self-preservation, he knows he may be a marked man if his own son gets picked up.

  490. Joycee Says:

    Didn’t it seem strange that Tony was paying so much attention to the menu in the final scene? Tony is not the type of guy that studies menus or is indecisive about what he’s going to order.

  491. Keith Says:

    When Tony was in a coma in ‘Mayham ‘ Meadows calls brought Tony back to life. Had Meadows not called, Tony Blundetto would have taken Tony’s briefcase and Tony would have crossed over to the other side. Tony looking through the Menu and Meadows trouble parking her car shows fate trapping them in a moment of time they have no escape or control over. In ‘Mayham ‘ Tony survived his coma because Meadow needed him, it was not his time to go. Now Meadow is employed, engaged and happy. Tony looks through a menu waiting for Meadow to arrive and save him as she had once before. Unfortunately Meadow is too late to save Tony as she had in the ‘Mayham’ episode. Meadow also had saved Tony from FBI agent Harris by taking a bugged desk lamp to her dorm room. Meadow can’t save Tony from Agent Harris’s this time. I contend Harris made a phone call to Butch. ‘Hostmans, seven o’clock’ CLICK and ………………………..BLACKNESS

  492. stoppo driver Says:

    Keith: The idea of Meadow (marrying and) having a baby with a son of the man who whacked her Dad or who authorized the whack is as disturbing as disturbing can get. If Mr. Chase’s goal was to get the audience to interactively think, then this level of avenging karma certainly should grab the audience’s attention and put the fear of God into all of us.

    ***

    Dsweeney and Anon: If Black Screen does equal Tony getting whacked, Why Junior ordered Tony’s hit:

    1. Go back to “Meadowlands” 1999 episode

    a. TV presenter informs us that 74 year old E. DeMayo (serving life sentence at Springfield) is the Boss and that Jackie Aprile has been the Acting Boss for two years

    b. Side Note: After Christopher’s’ “Yo Yo Mendez, DEFCON 4″ conversation with Tony departs Bada Bing with Sil saying “Adios Junior”

    c. Tony arrives at the “SIT TITE LOUNGETTE” {get it!} and a series of POV shots occur after the door bell rings once:

    1. Door Bell rings
    2. POV per Junior as Tony enters – Door man/bodyguard is activated.
    3. POV from Tony (note how Junior is looking down at possibly a menu)
    4. POV from Junior
    5. POV from Tony
    6. An “over Junior’s left shoulder” POV as Tony gets into the booth
    7. An “over Tony’s right shoulder” POV as Tony sits down
    8. A “Back of Junior’s Head” POV

    d. The conversation begins:

    T: Sopranos have been waiting a long time to take the reins
    T: That why I want it to be you
    J: This is your decision
    T: It is
    J: You speak for the captains
    T: I can
    J: Come here you . . . . You had me worried there
    With a hug and a whisper the “asking price” is established and Junior happily agrees to it

    e. Fast forward to the funeral: The Shakespearian level of treachery leveled against Junior is revealed as common knowledge amongst the North Jersey Family captains as well as to Hesh (an outsider)

    Sil: Tell me why this was a smart move to make Junior the big willy
    Tony: Look at him. He’s content. He thinks he’s the king of kings. Truth is every decision is made by me
    . . .
    Tony: Point is he’s got the title, he’s a happy camper. The house is secure
    Sil: Not only that but we have a brand new lightning rod to take the hits”
    Hesh: Smart
    ???: AS long as you guarantee to keep the fart in line

    Tony evades: Hey, I still love that man. I’m his favorite nephew. Those people went through WW2

    f. Then see Meadows full screen all knowing “told you so” smile to AJ

    g. Haunting soulful music start (AE cut off the credits – what is this song):

    Son stares at Dad
    Dad in loving manner head nods to son
    Son smiles back
    Dad winks and smiles with a full smile back
    Son continues staring back.

    {{Stage set for AJ’s inherent DNA to blossom (under Carmine of NY guidance) even bigger, better and badder than his Old man)

    ***

    Keith: AJ, as much as Meadow, did not “need” Tony (and if Carm ended up as collateral damage, Carm too). If Mr. Chase wants the audience to interactively think, then the depths (of Tony’s final gaze and of the blackness of the black screen) that the audience is to plumb require the audience to soul search from within the little tiny boats that their parents pushed them out to sea in. (Ton’y Eskimo Theory)

    ***

    ***

  493. dsweeney Says:

    MOS, when Tony enquires about Patsy’s Jason and refers to the other Jason being picked up, are you sure Tony knows Carlo has flipped by this juncture ? I seem to remember it being later, when Tony is talking to Mink and says, ” so Carlo has flipped “. My point is that if Tony is not yet aware that Carlo is going to give testimony against him then Patsy’s position isn’t in doubt or under any threat and so he has no reason to fear Tony and then possibly set the hit in motion.
    Stoppo, like I said, Jun HAD grievences with TOny, for sure, but he missed the boat, he has his chance and he blew it when the black shooters messed up the hit on Tony. Everyone knew Jun was behind it. W

  494. dsweeney Says:

    Sorry, dont’t know what happened there.Word even got out about Livia’s involvement. By the time Jun shoots Tony he has lost his mind, no doubts about it. Like I said before Stoppo why would he hide in the closet after shooting Tony ? There’s nobody else in the house !!

  495. masterofsopranos Says:

    No, Carlo had already flipped as Paulie had relayed it to Tony that Jason Gervasi was arrested and Carlo had suddenly disappeared. Tony guessed correctly that Carlo had flipped.

  496. dsweeney Says:

    Fair enough MOS, I’ll take your word for that. And yes,if Tony knows Carlo has flipped to save his son’s skin then for sure the thought would occur to him that Patsy might do the same. That of course is dependant on Patsy’s Jason being arrested which there is no suggestion that he has. Jason Gervasi is busted selling dope but there is no reason to assume the Feds know anything about young Parisi, or any of his friends for that matter. More likely, on discovering who this Gervasi kid actually is, the Feds thought christmas came early for them and made Carlo an offer he couldn’t refuse.
    This is all theoretical of course as I, like you, believe the hit on Tony is from an unknown source. Any one of hundreds of people that Tony has destroyed. Friends, family members, business associates he has turned over. Something I recently noticed in the final 6.b. episodes goes like this; there are a few clear instances of Tony being outsmarted by people in arguments whereas before he ALWAYS had the last word. Take the scene with Melfi where he bleats about suicide being the coward’s way out. Melfi responds by saying that people who say that don’t understand the nature of depression, ” BUT YOU DO “! Tony has no answer for this.
    Similarly with Meadow in their final scene together, he is moaning about how she gave up her career in medicine to do law. She replies by saying if she hadn’t seen the way he had been treated all these years by the FBI she might have become a paediatrician. Again Tony is struck by the irony of this and has no answer to her.
    In the Holsten’s scene itself AJ rather glibly says ” focus on the good time” and Tony has a pop at him. AJ tells him Tony himself has said this in the past. The point I’m making with all of this, eventually, is that towards the end of the whole piece Tony is not as ” together ” as he once was. He forgets things, confuses himself in arguments. Has blind spots when it comes to other people. He destroys people and then forgets all about them. Eugene specifically and for me, Hesh. The destruction he leaves behind him would eventually catch up with him. Not out of any moral sense but just that he couldn’t survive for ever for is to be realistic. He’s already survived two attempts on his life and at least two car crashes. It was getting like Star Trek, where the only people who died were unknown cast members in the ” away team ” who beamed down to wherever and you knew they were going to get it. The law of averages dictated Tony had to go with the dangerous world he lived in.

  497. Not.So.Tough.Huh? Says:

    I’m gonna propose an idea,maybe one of hope, that the main character who I’ve grown to see as an adversary when it came to certain views, and on the other hand seen as someone that could have been a mentor or just someone to “shoot the shit” with,IS NOT DEAD… although it was made clear by the creator and director that in fact…he is. Think to the dream sequences of this show, of course being the viewer, we probably get to see them a lot more vividly than Tony, but isn’t “The End” like dreams that he’s had before (or any of us had for that matter) especially the “jump-cut” scene to where we look from his POV to see him sitting down? All I’m sayin is it could have easily just been a dream…or maybe I’m dreaming, hoping to wake up and hear about a season 7 lol. In all seriousness, it was a wonderful show. Messages were received by me that go above and beyond “La-costa-nostra” or whatever. For example it helped me see that no matter what you are in life in the end you’re just a human being, and no matter what you’ve done there will always be someone there to outdo or top or even erase you. That, I think , was relevant through the whole series. On the brighter side it helped me remember we also always have options even if we think the roads may be dark and scary if we just weather it we’ll be fine. So, to conclude, in my personal opinion if you live that kind of life, then that kind of end, in inevitable and then after that you’re not so tough…huh?

  498. RangerMan Says:

    A great analysis and likely right on cue with Chase’s vision. Great comments too by everyone.

    Unfortunately, it’s not the analysis above I question, but Chase’s ending itself. It’s uncharasteristic with what we know of Tony. He’s always on his guard like a hawk. Would Tony really suspect that after a war with NY families and Phil’s death that he would think there would be no bad blood left–Also knowing Carlo has flipped. We heard in more than one episode that many in NY believe the Sopranos are not a real family but a “glorified crew”. What kind of power struggle or vaccum must have been left behind in NY once Phil was killed? It’s hard to believe all was peaceful in the universe right after that and we can all go to Holsten’s together and share some onion rings.

    Do we really think it would be all ok to bring his family unprotected out into the open like that? For Tony to sit at a booth with the bathroom door not in his line a site (bathrooms being where’s he’s roughed up a few people in different episodes). This is not like Tony. Every episode shows a man whom we know as very aware of his surroundings–his great sense of survival. For him to let his guard down like that especially in the presence of his family doesn’t quite jive. I think Chase concentrated too much on presenting an original artsy and symbolic ending. It would make more sense if Tony would have been dreaming this scene. But the part about Meadow painstakingly parking her car kind of blows that.

    Anyway, it certainly was interesting but anticlimatic as one person above put it. I just watched the whole series over a month and never saw it before. I long for when writers finished their stories and provided closure for the audience, but Chase obviously wanted to generate debate. He’s certainly succeeded in doing so, and I guess we get to go deeper into the characters through continued discussion. It would have been less difficult for the audience to accept this ending if it were a two-hour movie as opposed to a seven year series. It’s great show just the same.

    Cheers,
    JP

  499. dsweeney Says:

    Good post Rangerman. I touched on what you say a few posts further up above though. What you say Tony and the ending is part of an overall arc from when Tony recovers from the coma and his slide back to his old ways, except worse than ever. He has lost the run of himself, gambling like the degenerate his father warned him not to be, falling out with life-long friends ( Hesh ) and killing almost on a whim. He has also started taking chances the old Tony never would. In the ” Remember when ” episode down in Florida with Paulie he meets a group of Mexicans about a load of stolen gear-he would never have put himself at risk like that, he the boss of the family but would have got the guys to do the ” heavy lifting “. For all he knew it could have been a set-up by the Feds and got pinched-like a rookie.
    I mentioned as well where Tony isn’t as ” together ” as he used to be, forgetting things and being outsmarted in arguments with people. Tony, by this time, is losing control-and this is precisely why he is so relaxed and off his guard in Holsten’s. The war with NY is over and Chris is dead. What did Tony call him, ” a major strain on my emotions”, something like, someone who could flip over a dime bag of junk. Tony told the crew to have ” eyes in the back of your head, EVERYBODY “. But HE didn’t, Rangerman and that’s the point. The old Tony would have sensed MOG was suspect.
    I can’t agree with you though about Tony eating in public with his family. As far as he is concerned ” families don’t get touched “. What he forgets though is that Phil was blasted in the head probaly five feet from his wife and their two grandchildren- so why not Tony ?

  500. dsweeney Says:

    P.S The point with this is that Tony eating in public is not inherently a dangerous thing for him to do. They’ve dined out plenty of times up ’til now so it’s not anything new.

  501. packerphil Says:

    What I want to know is…. Who is the RAT that whacked Tony, and who ordered it?

  502. dsweeney Says:

    I can’t agree with you Not.so.tough. when you talk of Holsten’s being a dream. There is no reason to think this, nothing odd or surreal about it like previous scenes where it is MADE CLEAR to us he is dreaming or in a coma/ alternate state. He isn’t riding Pie-oh-my in his house or in bed with a dead Carmine. See my point ? He enters, looks for a table, sits down and waits for the family. What’s dream-like about that ?
    The jump-cut you refer to is initially jarring but on repeat viewing we see it is merely a device to show the POV from the doorway. It shows us what MOG sees when he enters Holsten’s- a clear view of where Tony is sitting. He sits at the counter, clocks T. a couple of times, gets his bearings and sidles his way past him to the bathroom, giving him a clear shot when he emerges with no chance of Tony firing back.
    For any of the doubters / wishful- thinkers out there still living in hope could I just emphasize the Godfather point about this. It is mentioned during the show that Tony’s favourite scene in their favourite movie is Michael whacking Solozzo in the restaraunt after emerging from the bathroom. In Holsten’s, why have MOG get up and be CLEARLY SHOWN going to the bathroom ? MOS makes this point very well. The camera pans with MOG as he goes past Tony and we are meant to see him. If he is just another patron in the place why emphasize him at all ? No, for me it is a beautiful irony by Chase that Tony dies in the same way as his favourite scene. Actually another irony just occurred to me. After AJ’s botched attempt at killing Junior, he says to Tony that he was always saying the Solozzo hit is his favourite scene and Tony shakes him shouting ” it’s only a movie AJ, it’s only a movie “! Except further down the line in Holsen’s when Tony meets his Waterloo, it isn’t a movie. It’s all too real for Tony. And he never saw it coming. Just like Solozzo.

  503. blacklabel chris Says:

    fucking excellent. thank guys. frankly, im suprised so many people seemto have difficulty getting it. it was pretty clear to me…..anyways, a great read. thanks again.

  504. dsweeney Says:

    Well said Blacklabel, my sister’s reaction was exactly the same. After much persuasion she finally got around to watching the whole thing and her reaction was ” oh yeah, he’s gone for sure “. No ifs, buts or maybes. She grew up, like the rest of us, watching TV and she just went with her gut instinct and what her eyes told her. Again, well said. Like Chase himself said, ” I can’t belive people are still talking about it “. I take this to mean that he thought it wasn’t SOOO complicated people would be still confused by it.

  505. dsweeney Says:

    To Packerphil, if you scroll back up a ways you’ll see quite a few of us touched on that very point. Some, like me, feel Chase was trying to illustrate just how violent and dangerous Tony’s world is and that we, like him, didn’t see the hit coming. We don’t know who MOG is and don’t know who, if anyone, sent him to hit Tony.
    Others have a few possibles, even probables. Patsi Parisi is a lot of people’s most likely. Others link it to Eugene’s death, maybe a friend or relative getting revenge for his suicide in the ” Members Only ” episode. If I had to pick a possible I’d go with my theory of Hesh having set up Tony. Hesh voiced his concern to his son-in-law that Tony might have him killed instead of paying back the money he owes him. He may have set the hit up with MOG and then forgot about it when Renata dies so tragically.

  506. Karl Says:

    Just finished watching this epic series last night. Yes, I know it’s a long time since it finished airing, I have no excuse.

    I thoroughly enjoy thought-provoking drama, and have repeatedly been disappointed when promising series from the States have been cancelled for perhaps being too complex (I have constantly lived in fear that Lost would either be canceled or diluted beyond recognition).

    When the final series of The Sopranos came along I could only forsee it ending with one possible conclusion, the killing of Tony. To finally see this ‘event’ portrayed with such subtle ambiguity made me laugh at its brilliance.

    Chase is clearly not afraid at engaging in intelligent storytelling normally reserved for epic novels. But isn’t that what the Sopranos has been? A grand story, lulling us into presumption by its moments of accepted violence and familial mediocrity, only to slap us awake by an epiphany here and a moment of kindness there. They are all devices that Chase has used to upset the ‘standard’ viewing mentality of people who just want to be entertained and not engaged. It has been a story of life and death from start to end, and for Tony to have finally ‘got it’, to have arrived at his spiritual safe point to only get whacked is poetic but so very clear. His guard is down, he has his relative nirvana, he’s perhaps completed his life journey (as have we, the viewer).

    Upon initially seeing the cut to black I wanted to believe it continued, but in the same way it started, as the linearity of simply his life. But the more you think about it, the simpler it gets. It’s fitting. It’s genius. I for one hope there is never a movie (things would have been simpler and perhaps kept more integrity to the story if they had never made Serenity for instance), or a cash-in spin-off.

    Let sleeping (or dead) dogs lie…

  507. blacklabel chris Says:

    wow Karl. nice.Desweeney, respectfully, Patsi? Hesh? c’mon bro. thats a bit of a reach. i realize its mearly speculation but its a moot point. its irrelevant.

  508. blacklabel chris Says:

    once again, on behalf of my wife and myself, thanks dsweeney and mos. i wish i would have stumbled upon this sooner. stellar. excellent work!

  509. dsweeney Says:

    Oh yeah, for sure it’s a bit of a reach, I agree totally. I’m simply pointing out a few possibles that others mentioned.
    But I wouldn’t dismiss any of these people out of hand blacklabel. These are ALL capable of extreme acts of violence. Look at Janice ! Mobbed up or not it’s the way these people deal with everyday things, violence. And don’t be fooled by Hesh either. He’s more than capable of taking care of himself. I quote the man himself directly, talking about Tony he says to Eli;
    ” I go to guys like him, to deal with guys like him “.
    What he means is that if someone who owes him money isn’t paying up he goes to Tony Soprano to ” lean” on the guy. But this time it’s Tony HIMSELF who isn’t paying up. See the point ? In fear for his own life Hesh hires MOG to take out Tony before he gets whacked first.
    And Patsi is a more than capable guy, no problem to get a couple of ” zips ” from the other side and take Tony out. But you’re right, this is all speculation. The two key points are, curiously both from Bobby :
    ” You probably never hear it when it happens, right ? ” and
    ” In our thing ? It’s ALWAYS out there ! ”

    It’ll be when you least expect it and it could come from ANYONE. THIS, is what Chase was trying for, and GOT I believe, with the ending in Holsten’s, as excellently described by MOS.

  510. blacklabel chris Says:

    youre absolutely right. well said.

  511. Jeff Says:

    While Master of Sopranos anaylsis is thorough and thought provoking, and quite possibly correct, could we PLEASE stop with the strokefest going on for Chase saying how ‘brilliant’ it was TO END THE SHOW BY ripping off a major scene from ‘The Godfather’?..

    The rest of the series is BRILLIANT, but the VERY end was a COP OUT…as is the case with most TV Shows, even great ones

  512. giddi Says:

    the truth is that the whole final episode was a dream. it is obvious. he falls asleep then wakes up in a dream, and the whole episode from there on is a dream with many hints indicating that he’s a dream. no, nobody shot tony in the diner. you got that wrong.

  513. stoppo driver Says:

    Giddi, you appear to wrong re “Holstein’s” being a dream sequence (I hope your right) but you are right in so much as Tony is not dead.

    Reference Stoppo Driver 10/19/09 entry above: MOG is Tony’s bodyguard – while stirring his coffee at the counter MOG looks over and actually smiles/acknowledges Tony. Tony is sooo relaxed because it is MOG who is there. Tony clocks MOG going towards the toilets and actually kinda acknowledges him as he walks by. While Tony was looking up for his ducks to swing by when Carm says “the consensus is we going to Holstein’s”, Tony says “OK, I’ve got to see some people first”. No kidding: Junior first and then probably the Russians for a family bodyguard (note how MOG “accompanies” AJ through the door).

    I’d like to quote “bucabrasi”s 6/5/07 “Line of Cozarellis a mile long” comment @ http://www.slate.com/discuss/forums/thread/5724.aspx: “And now its him (Paulie) and Tony. Friend or foe? We will find out”

    Tony has not departed and when the HBO franchise is re-activiated, watch out because AJ will have transformed into a bigger, badder and better version of of his old man, Tony. Wait and see.

    So, in summary, Tony is a grandfather, earning 65/35 with the Little Guy and happy knowing that Carmine is teaching AJ all about legitimate 21st Century revenue streams. Tony managed to combine his two families after all. Let’s wait and see.

    PS: MOG could have possibly been an FBI bodyguard (via Agent Harris) because Tony was repeatedly angling for brownie points/nice guy commendations for his “terrorist tips” – but this is not a possible scenario because Tony despite of all of his other weaknesses, we all agree, is unflippable.

    ***
    Now, to “Tony is dead” theorists, I know that this has been covered earlier but wouldn’t the black screen be a POV shot of someone looking at Tony. Irrespective, if Tony was whacked, Uncle Junior ordered the hit, possibly using Pat (from the Farm) as a means to get word out to a NY or NY hit man who most probably was the MOG as per MOS’s extensive work here. To further back this up re showing Uncle Junior’s ARC, reference Phil L. himself who says”. . . anthony soprano . . . he’s a guy that stepped over his own uncle to grab the big seat – his father’s own brother”. (Don’t forget, Phil L’s Brooklyn Family and the NY Five Families/Carmine can’t be contenders because they all double crossed him Phil L. when the Little Guy said to Tony at the sit down in the warehouse, “you gotta do what you gotta do”)).

    To Dsweeney: as you have brought this up twice now: the only reason Junior hid in the closet upstairs after shooting Tony was because he didn’t want to see Tony die and not because he was play acting being looney tunes in order to keep out of the slammer!

    ***

  514. dsweeney Says:

    I would argue with you when you say that they ” ripped off ” The Godfather. I think it is more of a homage to it. It is Tony’s favourite scene so it is very ironic that he should meet his end in a similar manner.

  515. Goodfella Says:

    Superb interpretation, what i enjoyed the most about this 1st page is the cinematic analysis of Tony’s POV and stuff. Great work im going to read more immediatly.

  516. dsweeney Says:

    Giddi could you point out any of these ” hints indicating he’s dreaming” please ?
    There is nothing to say he’s dreaming. The strange ” jump cut ” is simply to establish the POV from the doorway in Holstens. This is what MOG sees when he enters, a clear view of Tony at his table.
    Somebody also pointed out Giddi that we see Melfi talking to Elliott, her therapist who Tony HAS NEVER MET!! So how could he be dreaming of him ? Somebody he has never met before ?

  517. Biscuit Says:

    Im sorry if you have gone over this already but if we are supposed to believe the reason the screen went black is because Tony was shot wouldnt we have heard the gunshot? Great explanation though. Better than what i came up with. I actually thought the dvd i was watching was messed up until i googled the ending and found this site. I guess im to used to having everything explained to me by the writers. This one made me think.

  518. dsweeney Says:

    Stoppo; first off, quoting your own post is hardly proof of anything. Every character who has worn a Members Only jacket up ’til now has been a scumbag, a mob guy. How do you reach the conclusion, therefore, that MOG is actually an FBI agent ? If he is a bodyguard why does he TWICE glance down at Tony ? Surely he can see he’s with his wife and son is therefore not in any danger. He stares a THIRD time at Tony, behind AJ’s shoulder.
    Secondly, unless you actually work for, or even OWN HBO, you can’t possibly know about future projects that even David Chase himself doesn’t know about. Imagining AJ as a future mob guy, or dreaming of Tony and Carmine running the show is hardlly proof of anything, just wishful thinking on your part.
    Thirdly, my point about Junior running upstairs and cowering in the closet after shootint Tony IS proof he isn’t feigning madness. If he doesn’t want to watch Tony die why kill him in the first place ? Or why not simply close his eyes ? No, he is not acting. Why would he pretend to confuse Tony with Little Pussy Malanga when shooting him ? Tony will be dead so why bother with the pretence ?
    Finally Stoppo, regarding your comment of ” wouldn’t the black screen be a POV shot of someone looking at Tony “. The answer is NO. MOS meticulously explained the SEQUENCE OF SHOTS in his thesis.

    It goes like this; the camera is on Tony, the bell on the door rings, he glances up to see who’s entering ( he’s waiting for his family ), the camera shows who enters, ( USA trucker guy, dark haired girl, Carmela, etc ) and then the camera cuts back to see Tony’s reaction. In the final instance of the sequence however, when Tony glances up to see who’s entering this time ( we know it to be Meadow as we’ve just seen her skip up onto the pavement outside Holsten’s ), when we should see Meadow from Tony’s POV, the screen goes black, the sound cuts off, for ten long seconds ( Chase wanted THIRTY seconds of black screen ) an the credits roll with NO MUSIC. The black screen ITSELF is where Tony should be looking at Meadow.
    MOS more than adequately went through this in his anaylsis but I hope this should clear it up once and for all about the final POV shot. I agree with some though that Chase COULD have had a split-second shot of Meadow entering and THEN cut to black. This would have left us in no doubt about what happened and given some of you the definitve closure you require but on the other hand we wouldn’t be having this discussion two and a half years after the show finished. Which is what Chase wanted. Discussion. Thought. Engagement with the material. And if nothing else he certainly succeeded in that.

  519. dsweeney Says:

    Could I add something that is maybe a little self indulgent here ? Whaddya gonna do after all , hire MOG to whack me ?

    It concerns talk further up above about AJ’s future, him becoming a gangster like his dad, a new improved Tony if you like. If you ask me, in terms of ” sons “, AJ is, to continue ” The Godfather ” allusions in the show, more of a ” Fredo ” type than a ” Sonny ” type. In other words, a bit of a simpleton, or less kindly, a useless dufus. The idea of AJ suddenly morphing into some kind of Luck Luciano for the 21st century is just too improbable for words.

    And that brought to mind a couple of things from the show. I could call it ” AJ and water “, or something along those lines. Remember when Jackie Jr. got whacked by Vito and Junior was saying how he was always a ” dumb fuck ” or something like that and ” didn’t he almost drown in a few inches of water ?”. This is eerily like AJ and his attempted suicide in the pool. Even more pointedly, in the ” Soprano home movies ” episode Carmela relates how the child of a friend was found lying in the pool and suffered terribly after it. Tony says he can’t ” get that story out of my mind “. Again, foreshadowing his OWN son’s misadventure in the duck pond.

    If we can agree that this is indeed definite and deliberate foreshadowing by Chase and the writers, I would think it is pertinent that this is the same episode where the ” never hear it when it happens, right ?” quote from Bobby appears. It also has the scene of Tony sitting alone and a bell sounding in the distance- foreshadowing Holsten’s.

  520. D.C. Says:

    dsweeney,

    Technically, Tony never “met” Eliot, but he did encounter him. It was in a parking garage in Season 4 (I think).

  521. Robbo Says:

    Pretty interesting interpretation. It all makes sense, but it’s hard to believe someone actually planned all of this out. Pretty impressive if true.

    Just a little foot note. With the point about Meadow parking and it representing the attempt’s on Tony’s life. You know the third time being successfull and all that. I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed but when Tony selects Journey’s ” Don’t stop believing” he clearly presses the buttons K 3. Maybe that has signifigance or not, interesting none the less. But with all these coincidences in the show i’m guessing it does mean something.

  522. Dude Says:

    Masterful analysis. I’m convinced. Excellent work.

  523. Nic Says:

    A great analysis and welcome. As a Brit who missed the series totally whilst it was on air, I’ve watched all the DVDs of all the series over the last 6 months or so and this article is fantastic.

    One thing that I did think (and believe one person at least has commented on – Nick Sept 1 2008 8.58) is the religious, Catholic suggestion and the article could make a little more of this.

    Tony, AJ and Carmella are delivered onion rings and coke and just before it ends there is a close up of them each eating an onion ring (see Nick’s prior comment on the size of these) -they all do it in the same way which is to put the whole thing in their mouth and then close their mouths without biting them first. To me (and I’ve never been) this is very suggestive of the wafers in last communion / Eucharist – the last supper. Perhaps coke and onion rings are the American version of bread and wine (the episode is entitled “Made in America”) or at least the version of bread and wine in the American that Tony inhabits.

    Given the Italian-Catholic theme throughout this is not accidental. It’s also notable that there are only 3 of them present (perhaps another reason why Meadow could not be there) and they are the Father, Son and I’m going to cast Carmella as the holy spirit (she’s easily the most religious of the family – despite the contradictions in her life that entails). So, by definition, Meadow is the only one who can’t be there.

    The above falls down a bit of course as it should be the Son that dies and whose last supper they are enjoying, not the Father and the disciples who are present at the meal (Tony’s other family perhaps?) so that last bit may be taking it a bit too far but the suggestion is definitely there. If only it was Junior not AJ who was there at the end……!! Of course, I’m only arguing that the consept of the last supper may have been suggested and Chase would not warp the whole ending around this one theme so it is not going to fit perfectly.

    Another mildly interesting point, in the last episode Paulie wants to drown the cat – suggested to represent Adriana. Paulie, depite his flirtation with another family whilst in jail (calls to/from Johnny Sack), hates ‘rats’ – indeed he needs Tony to suggest to him that Carlo has flipped in the final episode as the act is so far off his radar that he won’t even countenance it. I also understand that the actor playing Paulie had a contractual provision demanding his character would not flip. What was Adriana and what got her killed…. Again, supports the arguements made above.

    As to who did it…. as all the above suggests – Patsi or Butchie are the prime suspects. Personally, I’d go with Butchie and Little Carmine as they get a freebie in on the NJ boss in revenge for Phil’s death, can pick up the scraps from the NJ table and, with Christopher, Silvio, Bobby and Carlo all recently out of the picture and the aging Paulie (who may have defected to NY – see scissors comments above though not sure I buy it – and has previously suggested he would defect and who has tried to turn down running Ralph’s old crew) and the previously passed over (in favour of Christopher) Patsi the most senior guys left, NJ looks to lack the inclination and muscle to strike back.

    Thanks again

  524. dsweeney Says:

    To D.C.- Yes, Tony did ” meet ” Elliot in the car-park but not only did he barely see him, he had no idea who he was. And THAT is the salient point with this. He doesn’t know who he is or what he does and so could not dream of him in therapy with Melfi. I would imagine Tony assumes, ( correctly of course ), that he is another parent of a kid in the college, like himself.
    Biscuit, the reason we don’t hear the shot is because in the instant of the black screen, WE ARE TONY. We are seeing through his eyes right at this moment. When Tony / we should be looking at Meadow entering Holsten’s, the screen abruptly cuts to black. That’s why Tony/ we ” didn’t hear a thing “. I’m quoting Goodfellas there but the idea still holds here.
    I’d like to throw something out there at this point, if anybody is still interested. It concerns my own take on ” the black screen”. While I am in no doubt as to what happened to Tony, brilliantly detailed by MOS, I personally believe it is more than a case of Tony being dead. For me, it is saying he has gone to hell. It doesn’t just represent the loss of consciousness for me. It’s more than that. Throughout the show I feel Chase has made enough references/ allusions to the afterlife. Or some sort spiritual existence. The seven souls idea and the fact that in interview he said the coma sequences ” weren’t just dreams “, implying, for me anyway, that Tony actually went somewhere else. And so the black, empty, silence for all eternity that is Tony’s fate, is a vision of hell. Hell is having no after-life, no spiritual growth. Just nothing. Just my interpretation of the black.

  525. Rangerman-Perplexed.. Says:

    Did Tony really die? Maybe it’s because I want him to live. Don’t know. I’m attached to the frickin’ characters now-damn! If we’re seeing the end from Tony’s perspective, then it would have made perfect sense if we would have seen Meadow walk through the door and we would have seen her directly through Tony’s eyes and then blank–nothing. You never hear the shot and you know he’s gone because the last thing you would have seen is Meadow–directly through Tony’s eyes. That would have been logical and a nice artsy fartsy end I could have accepted.

    But no, we see Tony from the eyes of what appears to be the shooter’s perspective looking at Tony then blank. Is it possible that the ‘Members Only’ dude is shot in trying to whack Tony? And Tony was smart enough to place a sentry to protect himself and family–just like he’s smart in the whole series. I just can’t buy seeing Tony sit in the most vulnerable place in a restaurant–the middle–after a major war with a more powerful NY family. He must have known Phil got whack in front of family and took precautions–expected same treatment. It just doesn’t jive.

    Damn I wish Chase would have finished his frickin’ episode. How anti climactic! It’s like watching a concert and the band is headed for the climax–last song–and suddenly stops and walks off the stage saying to the audience.”Well you all heard the intro, verse, bridge and chorus. So you just figure it out the rest ok?”. As a musician, I would never do that to an audience. I feel this is a total lack of respect for your audience. Most people I’ve spoken to are really disapointed with the end. I’m glad I didn’t watch it over 6 seasons and only for a month. I’d be fuming. If you’re such a great artist then finish what you start. I also think Tony deserves to know his own destiny.

    Longing for simpler times. “What ever happened to Gary Cooper?”.

    Forgive me for my diatribe. I had a hard day. I watch The Sopranos to relax.

    Cheers,
    JP

  526. dsweeney Says:

    Rangerman-Chase most definitely DID finish the episode- and in a way that we’re still talking about it. He has made clear how he hates conventional TV with it’s lazy, patronizing attitude towards the viewer. “Give the audience the same old garbage and they’ll lap it up anway “. He hates neatly tied up endings. Life, unfortunately, is not like that.
    The last shot we see of Tony IS NOT from MOG’s POV. It is just a regular shot from our, the viewer’s perspective, as per the sequence of shots detailed by MOS. I have said further up above that Chase could have done exactly as you described, a split-second glimpse of Meadow coming through the door and then the sudden black. But this would not have generated the endless debate and discussion of the ending as is.
    None of us know our own destiny, if there is even such a thing. So why should Tony ? It’s worth repeating that the key to the ending is the ” you never hear it when it happens right ?” concept that Chase said in interview ” was part of the ending “. So how could he reconcile this with Tony knowing his own fate ?

  527. Jeff Says:

    If Chase wanted to ‘keep us talking’ he succeeded..But only in talking about things relating to Tony’s death…So in other words, he really failed.Chase made millions off of a shocking show, but then has the gall to try and ‘moralise’ about the Mob…Are the mob evil?Sure, for the most part.So are the governmnet in many ways, as well as many big and small business people….Michael Corleone said it best on his walk with Kate upon returning from Sicily!……Chase should have just had the guy blow Tony’s brains out and get the blood all over Carm and AJ, with a horrified Meadow watching..Then CUT!…This constant yammering about the ‘brilliance’ of Chase at the end is a joke IMO.The guy flubbed BIGTIME…AS most TV shows do when they end….But the analysis of WHAT happened is pretty good, and after initial disbelief I probably have to agree….Not knowing who got ‘em is BS too!Chase could have showed some kind of hint for that!I mean, that would have led to a lot of excitement at the end, and people figure Tony is probably going to survive somehow.That he would have actually been killed would have been even more shocking, especially in front of his kids.

  528. keith Says:

    There would still be discussion if we saw Meadow walk in because the series is so well done that even knowing Tony is dead there remains the mystery of who killed him. The rules of this parlor game is that whoever is behind killing Tony has to be someone in the Soprano series.

    Patsy Parisi ………. Oh please……………I say not, Patsy’s son is going to marry Meadow and he is on good terms with Tony. At heart Patsy is somewhat of a lightweight or who was it running away from the Badda Bing like a frightened bitch anyway. Patsy is not the power behind the hit if Tony is dead. Patsy does not have the nerve, remember him pissing in Tony’s Pool. Patsy drinks heavy, Napoleon he is not.

    I contend Butch received a phone to say Tony was going to Holsten’s and if I’m right who made the call is obvious.

    So would Butchie have hit Tony if he knew Tony was going to be at Hosteins?

    The obvious person who I mention could have called someone else, but Butchie gets my vote.

    So was a phone call made?

    A phone call between Meadow and Carmella was recorded by the FBI. That suggests mister H to me. I cant imagine that we were shown the phone call being recorded for no good reason.

    .
    .
    .

    When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    Sherlock Holmes

  529. S Fan Says:

    Great analysis!

  530. Moarphine Says:

    Personally Tony is shot. Looking only at the scene you could think differently however there is overwhelming indications as mentioned by the article that this is the finale, the fat lady has sung.

    I hope it wasnt his Uncle who ordered it though, Tonys better than that scum. Boby dieing was sad.

    But the worse part was Sil in a coma. Sil was the best and easily my favourite. God bless Silvio Dante.

  531. dsweeney Says:

    Keith, where is the evidence that the phone call between Carm and Meadow is recorded by the Feds ? Where are you getting this from ? THE ONLY time they manage to bug Tony’s home is in the basement when they get a mic in the lamp. This lamp is then TAKEN BY MEADOW TO COLLEGE. It is then completely useless to the Feds as all they get is Mead and her girlfriends yakking rubbish etc.

    That, to my knowledge, is the end of that. Once the bug in the basement is redundant, they turn their attention to Adriana, getting the undercover agent close to her with the intention of getting something on Chris and then ultimately trying to flip him to nail Tony, their REAL target.

    This means that agent Harris, as I assume it is he who you are referring to, has NO WAY OF KNOWING the family is eating later in Holsten’s. So he can’t call Butchie and set MOG on Tony’s tail. The fact is, nobody knows they are meeting there but themselves. The likeliest is that MOG has been tailing Tony all day, or at least a few hours up until he finally settles inside Holsten’s. He follows him inside, sits at the bar, checks Tony twice while casing the joint, gets up and sidles his way to the bathroom, knowing he will have a clean shot from the side and behind with no fear of T. shooting back. And that’s that. He drops the gun and WALKS OUT of Holsten’s.

    Jeff, I can’t agree when you say all people are left talking about is the ending. The show, in it’s entirety, is a masterpiece. Single spisodes are worthy of endless discussion, even individual scenes. The fact is though, this site here is about MOS’s analysis of the ending, so naturally that’s what people will discuss here. The show itself though has taken on a life of it’s own in popular culture and in people’s imagination. Irrespective of your take on the ending.

  532. Paul Says:

    Very, very interesting to read. I agree with the analysis of Tony being unable to give up the lifestyle; he needs the ‘highs’ his mobster life provides him with. Remember when Chris goes to get cigarettes after Adriana tells him the Feds are trying to make her talk? Christopher sees a family get in a car, a regular, civilian family. He then decides he cannot have a life like that, and thus cannot consider the ‘way out’ that poor Adriana has suggested. He phones Tony and gives up Ade.

  533. dsweeney Says:

    That was always my take on that great, crucial scene Paul. The sight of poor, white trailer-trash living out of their car made up Chris’s mind for him there and then. That isn’t the future for him. So he gives up Ade, knowing full well what would happen to her. Giving up ” the life” was too much to ask of Chris.
    Similarly Tony himself couldn’t go straight either. His philosophy of ” smell the roses ” and ” every day is a gift ” lasted all of about a week. He admits as much to Melfi in the revealing ” shark ” scene. Something about a shark having to keep moving or it dies and how that relates to some humans. Tony is most certainly a predator. But Melfi touches on the key point I think saying something about how some people ( Tony ) have to keep going, keep moving, so they dont’ have to think about what they are doing. They don’t have to reflect on their actions.
    This inability to change his ways, to leave the life of a gangster and go straight, ultimately leads to his inevitable fate in Holsten’s. Not because he deserves it but because his luck has to run out at some point. He can’t keep dodging bullets and surviving endless car crashes etc. Tony has had a good run for his money. He’s outlasted almost all of his compadres. Only Paulie is still standing from the old crew. And he isn’t long for this world either, taking over the jinxed Aprille crew as he does, against his better judgement. Tony has had ample time to redeem himself but actually becomes infinitely worse than ever before,practically gorging himself in depravity, revelling in it in a way he previously didn’t. Good riddance I say.

  534. Jeff Says:

    DSWEENY,

    Yes, I agree the sho was a masterpiece….I guess that since I consider that Chase was a MASTER of using shock value, he should have just had MOG blow his brains out all over the family, leave an overview shot of Tony dead on the floor with blood(and Carm and AJ covered in it with Meadow screaming in horror) and then fade to some good Italian music showing highlights from the show…Then you could kick it with more highlights and the intro tune blaring.

  535. Tim Roberts Says:

    I agree with you that Tony did die. I think after watching the entire series as closely as I have, especially the final season, there is perfect evidence that this is what happened. Two things I think you left out though, and wanted to get your opinion on. First I didn’t see you make mention to the sound of the bell in “Soprano Home Movies” which was the first episode of the last season. This happens when Tony is sitting outside by the lake next to the pier where the boat is, the morning after he got beat up by Bobby. This has to be in connection with the bell on the door in Holsten’s during the last scene. Second is the other day I was watching “Funhouse” the finale of season 2. When they (Tony, Paulie, Sil) were in the boat about to whack Pussy, you notice a bell start to ring and Sil actually has to leave because he can’t stand the noise. Right after this they whack Pussy. This has to be in relation to the bell in Holstens as well. Curious about your thoughts on these two things?

  536. masterofsopranos Says:

    Jeff,

    I always thought that it would have been downright ballsy to show us Tony’s brains and blood on Carm and AJ, the crazy screaming as a result, and MOG running out the door past a shocked Meadow. It sure would have been shocking but I’m not sure how Chase could have done it without it feeling exploitive. After the initial shock of the scene wore off I’m sure it wouldv’e been criticized as cheap. I also think there is something to be said for leaving that to our imagination. Chase was going for something a little more elegant and poetic to trigger the audience to really think about the ending. Practically (as one commenter mentioned) I don’t think he could have prevented the ending from leaking if he actually filmed it. Thematically, that ending would also perpetuate the simplistic “Crime doesn’t pay” message he was trying to avoid.

    Tim,
    I do mention the lakehouse bell scene in the “Fun stuff” section. The scene also uses POV (like Holstens) and a duck is seen flying away. As I point out at the near the end of the Part II section, Tony’s fear of the duck flight and losing his family discussed in the Pilot is finally realized in the final scene of the show.

    The “Funhouse” scene is a nice catch. In that episode, Tony lights himself on fire and kills himself in a dream. He wakes up crying that “everything’s black”-perhaps a link to the final shot of the series.

  537. Paul Says:

    Dsweeny, you write Tony’s “philosophy of ” smell the roses ” and ” every day is a gift ” lasted all of about a week”. Was there anything on screen that made him fail? I remember he succesfully (but only just) resisted the first woman that came his way (the real estate woman), but when Cam was in Paris, he cheated again for the first time with that stripper he was giving a ride home. Was there anything that pushed him back to the dark side? After that came all the other stuff, the almost-killing of Paulie, the killing of Christopher etc etc

  538. dsweeney Says:

    Jeff, Chase alludes to the very type of ending you describe in an interview where he talks of ” people cheering Tony on and then wanting his brains on a platter in the name of justice, I think that’s disgusting “. I’m totally para-phrasing here as I can’t remember the exact quote but this was definitely the sentiment. Viewers who rooted for Tony for seven years and then wanted him blown to bits for his crimes. Chase says he wouldn’t do that. It would be hypocritical of him to mete out ” justice ” to placate people who cheered his every move up ’til now.

    It would also be the cliched ” Scarface ” type ending that some critics, rightly in my opinion, would have pilloried him for. Personally, I think the ending was brilliant. Original. Complex. And one that will be discussed for years to come, unlike most TV shows.

  539. dsweeney Says:

    Interesting point Paul. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any one thing that causes him to fail, as you put it. I think it’s more a case of the lessons he learned from his coma experience are soon forgotten and he drifts back to his ” true nature”, for want of a better description.

    The insights he gains from his coma seem to fade from his memory and the old Tony resurfaces. As a classic sociopath of course, he is almost incapable of change. There are scenes with Melfi where he almost tells her he misses ” the action “, without quite coming out and saying he misses the criminal life. One of my favourite and best quotes in the entire series pertains to this very point Paul. Referring to his new take on life Tony says;
    ” Ok every day is a gift, but does it have to be a pair of socks ” ?

    This reveals his real self I think. He knows how valuable life is, his family, Meadow especially but he still can’t make the hard choice to become a civilian. Like Henry Hill at the end of ” Goodfellas “, he would now be a nobody.

    So I would say it is a combination of the allure of the action, the danger and the ” fringe benefits “, with his inherent sociopathy that sends him back to his old ways and ultimately results in his Waterloo in Holsten’s.

    Just as an aside on that note, I always think the scenes of the painting of Tony dressed up as Napoleon ( or at least like Napoleon, as paulie says ) is a nice foreshadowing of his own Waterloo in Holsten’s. I’m sure this was totally unintentional by the writers as nobody mentions specifically the battle of Waterloo but still it would have been a nice irony all the same.

  540. Pedro Says:

    Hi,

    This is just a brilliant interpretation. Congratulations! Good job.

    I have just noticed how the last song “Don’t stop believing” flows with the scene. It begins EXACTLY when Carmella enters the restaurant. Then, AJ and the “Man in Member‘s Only Jacket” come to scene and the tone suddenly changes. Finally, it ends abbrutly with Tony’s POV, supposedly when he gets shot.

    Was this mentioned?

    Anyway, just amazing read. Thank you!

  541. Jeff Says:

    DSWEENY,

    I am not saying parts of the ending were not brilliant, I just do not find such a blatant cop from ‘The GF” to be particularly inspiring….

    I wasn’t rooting for T’s blood myself….What was going to happen either way was fine, although I think in the mob world, Tony was clearly a BETTER person than Phil Leotardo, Ralphie Boy, and a few others.They are all BAD people but unfortunately, being BAD is often a trait of powerful men in one way or another.

    We as a nation have a lot of blood on our hands too, and people should remember that while they drink their coffee and eat their eggs in the morning.I love America, best country in the world, but we are not so innocent and good as we pretend.

  542. GT Says:

    I was in denial, but that’s what I figured was the purpose of the sudden cutscene to black. At the time, it was frustrating, but thinking back on it, it was the best way of killing off a larger than life character like Tony Soprano. A bloodied Tony Soprano with his panic strucken family screaming in horror would have been a cheap and conventional cop-out…

  543. dsweeney Says:

    Jeff, you may be right about the Godfather ending being uninspiring, that’s your opinion and is as good as anyone elses. I personally just like the idea that Tony dies in similar fashion to his favourite scene from one of his favourite movies. Very ironic I think by Chase. It’s like him saying ” you like that ending tough guy ? Well do ya ? Here you go then-blaam ! How do you like the best onion rings in the state now ” ?

    I, like you, certainly wasn’t rooting for Tony, from a long way back I think. Not just since the killing of Ade, although that was a new low for him I think, killing a woman, but maybe back to the cold-blooded killing of the Beveluaqua kid. I though this unnecessary on his part but, give the writers credit here, true to real life. He had tried to kill Chris, Tony’s nephew and a made guy. At least I think Chris was made by then.

    You say Jeff that Tony is a better person than the likes of Phil, Ralphie etc. But is this actually true ? Does it stand up under close scrutiny ? This may surprise you- it certainly did me- but in a straight head count who do you think commits most murders in the show ? Give up ? Well it’s Tony himself. Not Chris. Not Paulie. Tony. Ralph brutally killed poor Tracee and Tony is outraged by it. He then orders the death of Adriana. Arguably he has no choice but still. Tony has murdered family members- Chris and Tony B. Tony lets on to himself that he does it to save him from a terrible death at Phil’s hands but the reality is it’s because the Tony B. situation is bad for business. Having him around is costing Tony money. He could have spirited him away to anywhere in the county if he really wanted to protect him.
    So I would argue then that Tony is in fact every bit as bad as the others, it’s just that he hides it better maybe. He has more charm. We see more of him. His softer side in caring for pets and little babies is part of his sociopathy don’t forget and nothing deeper than that. He has no real compasion for people at all and only expresses those feelings the rest of us have, in the context of animals and small children.

  544. PaulietheRat Says:

    Two Ideas,

    1) Paulie either flipped or aligned himself with New York…several times Tony figured that Paulie was talking too much, Dreamed of him ratting to the FBI…sped off when the cousins from Italy came. His heart was with Sack and by association with Phil. Paulie even tried to fight Bobby when he agreed to go to war with NY. I believe Tony would have whacked him if he admitted to talking out of line with that Jenny joke and costing Tony money with the property dealings. I saw the Paulies hate for the cat as a sign that Paulie was the rat…

  545. Mark Says:

    I think the last 5 minutes is out of context from the rest of the series, As a mob boss just coming out of a war, would it be in Tony’s interest to expose his entire family this soon? Would he require some protection? namely someone who is relatively unknown to the family, MOG possibly? It seems Tony acknowledges him as he is walking to the bathroom.

    The reason I see it being out of context is, most if not all the hits are calculated and executed reasonably fast. They go in make the hit and leave as soon as possible to avoid being identified. This MOG sits down, has a coffee and basically makes himself recognizable to other people.

    The first attempt on Tony by JR was delayed because there was too many witnesses, here we have a room full of witness as well. Even if we look at the hit when Silvo was in the restaurant and on Phil, they walked in hit and left.

  546. Paul Says:

    This is off-topic, but still crucial: why did Tony actively encourage Christopher to start drinking again? In the episode when they steal the bottles of wine from the Vipers gang, he urges Chris to try and take a drink, until he finally succumbs. This returned Chris to his way back down and before long, he did heroin again and he was the addict again that he always was. In the end Tony killed Christopher because his drug habits made him a liability .. but why point him back to his road down in the first place?

    The explanation I can offer is that Tony cannot stand it when others seem to be able to rise above their weaknessess. Remember when Janice took succesfull anger management classes after beating up the soccer mom. Tony keeps tormenting her with references to Harpo until finally she breaks and flies into rage.

    Tony cannot stand it because he himself is very much UNABLE to rise above his weaknesses, and on some leven he knows it…

  547. tim Says:

    First of all I’d like to add my thanks for the article which was brilliant.
    I just finished series six the other day, I watched a downloaded version so I was initially fuming because I thought I’d actually got a fucked up copy which had deprived me of the last ten seconds of the series!!
    Having rewatched it though, I have to agree that Tony is killed. MOG is the most obvious suspect because of the particular attention paid to him, his couple of glances at Tony and his disappearing into the toilet just beforehand. To be honest though, I think who did it is arbitrary, as we know nothing of the story or motives behind it.

    A few things, I skipped through a lot of the comments so forgive me if I’m repeating anything.

    Firstly, I wouldn’t completely disregard the ‘audience getting killed’ idea – on a metaphorical, not literal level. Although the series isn’t shot solely pov and we are privy to many twists before he is, we live the whole series vicariously through Tony and he is our main point of reference for the storylines, so essentially we die with him and the blackout signifies our ultimate identification with the character.

    Second – with regard to who’s more of a ‘bad’ guy, I don’t think Tony is necessarily a “BETTER person than Phil Leotardo…” etc, but the series is about him, so naturally he appears to us as a more human, flawed, likeable character. Perhaps if the series had been ‘The Leotardos’ it would be a different story.

    Thirdly, with regards to his part in Adrianna’s murder. Although its an extremely uncomfortable sequence to watch, with regards to the code by which he lives, I don’t think there is any other possible outcome. Although he doesn’t appear to show any real remorse or distress over it, he doesn’t take any pleasure in it either. You could say that Chris has the most blood on his hands, as he knew exactly what would happen when he told Tony about her – in the flashback scene to it (don’t know the episode) he pleads with Tony in the basement “don’t make me do it”. It’s true that Tony shows no compassion, rather resentment toward Christopher afterwards though.

    Lastly, whilst I’m not saying I think he knew explicitly it was about to happen, his attitude – guard down, completely untroubled despite the fact that he has just come out of hiding- in the last scene portrays a certain fatalistic resignation to death. Although I suppose this could be because I knew it was the last 3 or 4 minutes of the last ever episode! The tightly wound tension and paranoia that underpin his character have evaporated and he is perhaps more relaxed than he has ever been in the whole series.
    This resignation is particularly apparent contrasted with the state of Junior in the previous scene – alone, decrepit and confused. In fact when I watched it again, having also read this article, I saw it in a different light – Tony on his ‘deathbed’ surrounded by his family (although Meadow didn’t quite make it), contented and at peace. It was as if he died happily on his own terms, having witnessed the alternative in Junior. Obviously you could say that being murdered isn’t on his own terms, but come on, nobody really thought he’d grow old and go peacefully in the night did they?
    When you look at it like this, it kind of highlights his ultimate selfishness – happy for his family to experience the trauma of witnessing his bloody death to satisfy his own ends.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to speculate on David Chase’s intentions or motives in writing or filming the scene, just offering another perspective that struck me on the second watch.

    Thanks again MOS and everyone who commented for the great read – its nice to know other people obsess over great television too!

    And as sad as I am to have reached the end of the series, please tell me all this talk of a Sopranos movie is bullshit!

  548. dsweeney Says:

    Great post Tim, I think I agreed with everything you said.

    As for a movie, I suspect there will always rumours and hints about it but unless we hear anything from the man himself I think we can take it as the bullshit you hope for. At this stage the only thing that could be done is a ” prequel ” and who wants that ? Really ? The series as it is covered everything imaginable, the gamut of human existence and beyond. There is nothing else for Chase to say. He said it all. Let sleeping dogs ( fishes! ) lie.

    Sorry, but there is no evidence that Paulie flipped or went over to NY. The look on his face after agreeing to skipper the Aprille crew is totally because of his superstitions about it being jinxed. Nothing more. His behaviour with Bobby is that having been in the war with the Colombo’s way back when, he wants to be sure the orders are coming from the very top, namely Tony.

  549. Mark Says:

    There is one part of that scene when we see for a split second Tony’s POV, looking at the MOG…I think Tony was shot, but it’s just so inconclusive…It would have been so much easier if we saw the MOG with the gun pointing at Tony and then the screen cuts to black. It’s a cheeseball way to end it…Season 1-5 is straight forward all of a sudden season 6 goes to hidden meanings and clues? If I wanted that I would have watched LOST…at least they started that trend from season 1.

  550. stoppo driver Says:

    Mark re your 12/7/09 post: MOG didn’t kill Tony.
    Please see my 12/1/09 re MOG smiling at Tony and Tony acknowledging MOG.

    EUREKA: Tim’s post 12/3/09 para 3: “audience getting killed” is the answer to the riddle. Thanks, Tim for bringing closure.

  551. dsweeney Says:

    Paul, you are 100% correct in your analysis of Tony ‘s actions towards Christopher. His innate selfishness and self-centredness means he can’t stand seeing someone else coping and rising above their problems and weaknesses. Because he on some level he knows he can’t change himself he has to drag everyone else down with him. The scene with Janice is so revealing. She has gone to anger-management classes and is trying to cope. He then throws in the horrible comment about Harpo just to ruin it for her.

    Mark, if we saw a shot of MOG with a gun we wouldn’t be here. Nobody would be talking about the show. Or at least not to the degree that we do. In conveying to us what happened in an unconventional way- i.e. in the instant of his death we are seeing from Tony’s POV- Chase gave us an ending to remember. Trust me, in twenty years time nobody will be talking about Lost, good entertainment that it is. At least the first season was anyway. ” The Sopranos ” wasn’t just art, it was HIGH art and as such merited an ending worthy of discussion and not the straightforward one you describe. You may have been satisfied with it, and that is fair enough, but I think a lot more would have been very dissappointed at it’s ” conventionality “.

  552. IES Says:

    I’m on my 9th round of the Sopranos full series DVDs. It interesting because I catch innuendos, not noticed before in earlier go-rounds. One of the main reasons it keeps my interest is because I went to West Orange HS and grew up in the real neighborhoods traveling on the real streets. Springfield Ave, Pompton Ave (where Bobby’s wife died in a car accident), South Mt. arena (where AJ tried to purchase a gun after Jr shot Tony), South. Mt. reservation (where the gorilla pulled Ade out of the car), Verona (where Ton’s mother lived), Pizzaland (who, btw, has phenomenal fresh pizza and I highly recommend their product-thanks to the owner who comped me a slice recently)…

  553. McKenzie Collucio Says:

    Does anyone know if there are CDs available anywhere of every song ever played in the series, from “Woke Up This Morning” to “Don’t Stop Believing”? Apparently there is one of the first season or two, but not after. Imagine the great music from all seasons on a few discs– maybe it’s all downloadable somewhere? Thanks.

  554. Richard Burnell Says:

    Bloody marvelous analysis. Well done!

  555. Mark Says:

    Dsweeney Says:

    November 18, 2009 at 10:27 am
    If he is a bodyguard why does he TWICE glance down at Tony ? Surely he can see he’s with his wife and son is therefore not in any danger. He stares a THIRD time at Tony, behind AJ’s shoulder.

    I could be wrong, but If the MOG was going to “Whack” Tony, why would he sit directly in Tony’s line of sight? Hits are planned out (especially if it’s a Boss) And there is always more then one person with a gun, especially if it’s a high profile hit. It could all be circumstantial but if you look who is sitting behind Tony, it might be a better indication.

    I think Chase left it open. just like JK Rowling did as a “just in case” If the money becomes thin he could always write a book, make a movie etc. All Chase did was protect his future/offspring.

  556. stoppo driver Says:

    Dsweeney

    Man, you are really-really down on Tony (e.g. by saying “his innate selfishness and self-centredness”). You do understand that Tony is a mob boss, a leader of hardened criminals, an evader of law enforcement, a strategist capable of vicious means and methods, a controller in a dog eat dog eat world.

    Net-Net Bottom Line: MOG was a Russian body guard brought in by Tony, Tony is not 6ft under, the black screen IS the “audience getting killed” and although a movie seems unlikely, a prequel does not.

  557. dsweeney Says:

    Stoppo, two points I will make, again, which you consistently fail to address.

    If MOG is a bodyguard there to protect Tony, why does Chase have him in a Members Only jacket ? In the Sopranos, a Members Only jacket is short-hand for mob guy. Don’t you get it ? It’s a play on ” our thing “, ” cosa nostra ” and ” made guys “. Chase himself explicitly said this in interview. Eugene, Ritchie, Feech and briefly at one point even Junior, when he was actually plotting the hit on Tony with Livia, have all worn Members Only jackets. So why in God’s name would a bodyguard we have never seen before ( why not Benny ? Walden ? even Paulie ? ) be deliberately put in a Members Only jacket ? Also, Tony had never, NEVER, used a bodyguard before. So why now ? The war with NY is OVER. He sat down with Butchie and he told him to ” do what you gotta do “. This is explicit permission to whack Phil. Period.

    The only way the audience gets whacked is vicariously through Tony. Understand ? We, the viewers, are not actually in the show, so how can we be whacked ? But by seeing through Tony’s eyes, where we should be looking at Meadow entering Holsten’s, we die with him. For ten seconds of nothing. THEN the credits roll and the show is over.

  558. Paul Says:

    Also off-topic. Is Tony really a sociopath? I mean, really?

    A sociopath is someone who is incapable of acknowledging other people’s feelings, interests, distress, pain and well-being. They care only about themselves. Ofcourse Tony and the gang are a bunch of selfish, nasty monsters, but they are not immoral. They have many morals, they have many rules, and their code of conduct – such as providing for the family of a mobster of your crew who is in jail, never talking with the authorities, providing for the family of a mobster of your crew who died, not accepting a ‘fanooch’ in your crew, do not drag women and children into a mob war, or don’t deal in drugs (The Godfather). It’s just that their morals are different than those of the mainstream society that they prey on. They feel their allegiance to their ‘state within a state’, the mafia stronger than they feel it to America, the general public, the ‘civilians’. Their threshold for violence is also noticeably lower than that of ‘regular people’. But I am not sure they should all be classified as sociopaths in the medical/psychiatric sense of the term .. except Paulie ofcourse :)

  559. dsweeney Says:

    It’s an interesting point you make Paul. But I would have to say that, for me anyway, Tony most cerainly IS a sociopath. He almost admits as much to Melfi when he talks about having to feign sympathy, tears etc. when, ” I don’t feel it. Not really.”
    The Yochelson study that Elliot brings to Melfi’s attention speaks of the sociopath showing feelings for little babies and animals, or pets more precisely. Melfi suddenly realises this fits Tony like a glove. If you remember the ” care-frontation ” scene Tony gets more upset about Ade’s dog being killed by Chris than anything else. Three times he comes back to it; ” How could you not see it ? You suffocated her ? I OUGHTA SUFFOCATE YOU ! “. Brilliant piece of fore-shadowing that as we later see that’s exactly what Tony does to him.
    I do agree with you though that to operate in the OC world they are all sociopathic to some extent. Or it could be a product of their environment. By that I mean they way they are brought up, surrounded by violence. Exposed to crime by their families and friends. How could they come out any other way ? But I think it is sufficient to say Tony certainly has sociopathic traits/ tendencies in his make-up.
    Something just occurs to me here. Somebody said elsewhere that Tony is not as bad a person as Phil, Ritchie, Ralph etc. I disagree with this. I think he is at least as bad as any of them, he just hides it better,is more subtle and has more charm. Contrast Phil’s reaction to his brother Billy’s death at the hands of Tony B. and that of Tony and his family members. He kills both his cousins without batting an eye-lid. Of the three young sousins who used to play on uncle Pat’s farm, Tony has killed two of them leaving himself as the only survivor. Phil’s grief and rage is absolutely genuine no matter how twisted. Tony appears to have no REAL feelings or remorse whatsoever.
    P.S. Stopppo; MOG is a Russian bodyguard ? We know this how exactly ? I’ve got to hand it to you, your imagination is second only to Chase himself.

  560. McKenzie Collucio Says:

    Paul– Shall we ask the corpses in left in the wake of these men you assert are “not immoral?

  561. Rangerman-Perplexed.. Says:

    Respectfully to all,

    Someone mentioned the idea of the audience getting wacked in the end scene. Got to admit, that person has a hell of point. I think regardless of what Chase wanted and all the analysis, that’s what stands out in end. We got clipped. Our perspective went blank–nothin’ else. Everything else is speculation. To hell with all the past episodes. Chase blew us away.

    I like the idea that the audience (or observer) got wacked in the last scene. We just knew too much! Sort of like when as a growing teenager you finallly decide after many years to stick a firecracker in your own GI Joes’s ass and blow em’ up like that comedian said (I don’t recall the name). He just too much!

    Chase left his options open. If he’s do a movie right now it would be bigger than Titanic, Stars Wars, or Guns of Navarone put together. It would be awesome. The movie could start out at Holstens. What are you waitin’ for Chase? C’mon man.

    Tony is an antihero. Sort of like anti-Fred Flinstone and his wife is anti-Wilma.

    Anyway, I think Tony, family and the audience deseve better.

    I very much respect everyone’s and all opinions here. They are very thought out–from logos and pathos. But most people who I spoke to who followed the show for many years (the general audience) are pretty disapointed with this ending.

    Cheers,
    JP

  562. stoppo driver Says:

    DB: “MOG: is a Russian bodyguard ? We know this how exactly ?”

    Thanks but it’s perception and not imagination! Inter-Alia, Tony’s ill-gotten retirement money is being salted away on the IOM thanks to the Russians. He trusts them when he cannot trust any of his own kind. He has always trusted the Russians. Tony knows of no better/effective protection on a moments notice than of that provided by a ex-Soviet no nonsense killer/combat veteran, making it in America. The pantomine that Paulie and Christopher went through @ Barren Pines sorted out the men from the boys in Tony’s mind. Give?

    But this is a side issue anyway as the black screen is the “audience getting killed” and not Tony.

  563. dsweeney Says:

    I’d have to agree with Mckenzie here Paul. While they have their own ” law of the jungle ” type rules and some sort of code of ethics, they can’t in any way be called ” morals “. At least not in the way we think of them. These people take what they want in life, by any means necessary and God help anybody who gets in their way. They don’t let a little thing like morality get in the way.

    Also, most people would take issue with you over your assertion that not allowing ” fenoochs ” in the mob is somehow ethical on their part. The ridiculous attitude of Phil, that ” it’s a sin “, is laughable. These vile murdering creeps lecturing other people on morality ? Please !

    I would also argue that in fact they DO deal in drugs. Maybe not Tony himself but further down the food chain. And you can be certain the PROCEEDS of this dealing is kicked upstairs to Tony. So while he can claim some moral high-ground by not directly involving himself, he eats very well from it.

    While in some respect they are indeed ” soldiers “, the innocent waiter that Chris and Paulie murder wasn’t. The guy Vito shoots in the head on his way back from New Hampshire wasn’t. And poor Tracee who Ralphie beats to death behind the Bing most certainly wasn’t.

  564. Jeff Says:

    DSweeny,

    Your ‘Tony vs Phil’ comparison has some good points, but you aren’t being very thorough….

    First of all, how many people did Tony kill by shoving things up their rectum?Phil’s killing of Vito is just about the most heinous act of the series.There was no reason Vito couldn’t have been exiled and put into counseling like his wife wanted….Vito’s kids left fatherless because Phil is a complete homophobe….. Even Tony wasn’t going to kill Vito to placate Phil.

    Tony and Phil both had an insane lust for power, but Phil was totally murderous in his rise to Boss….

    Tony killed Tony B because Tony B went off the reservation..Had to be done…And Tony thought Chris was going to die and is surprised to learn that he probably would have survived.

    Certainly a sociopath, but not much more than some of my family!Huh Huh….Of course it is a testament to Gandolfini that Tony is so lovable even with all his ugliness.

  565. dsweeney Says:

    I’m going to be a bit mischeivous here but what the hell !!

    To those of you out there who don’t agree with MOS’s analysis and who won’t / can’t accept that Tony is gone, how long will you wait for a movie to appear before you will accept the reality that he is in fact dead ? It’s now 2 1/2 years since MIA ( MIA, nice coincidence that ) aired in June 2007, without any real talk of a movie being in the pipeline. And by that I mean from Chase himself, not rumours in the industry or wishful thinking from some cast members.

    If Tony did not die then there is no problem in making a movie. Chase could start it with Tony and the family waling out of Holsten’t and take it from there-no problem. If in, let’s say 5 years time, there is STILL no plans for a movie, will you naysayers finally give in and say ” ok, it looks like he really is gone and that’s that ” ?

  566. Paul Says:

    @McKenzie Collucio:
    Like I wrote: the Soprano mobsters are not ‘immoral’ in the sense that they lack morals. They do not. They have lots of morals. I gave the examples. The whole show was about the morals they have and how this caused conflicts. Ofcourse, their morals are strange and terrifying to us and the general public and are bound to cause problems in every society in which the mafia exists. If you would maintain that the mobsters are positively immoral, then so are soldiers sent out to kill in a war, for example. It’s not, ofcourse, as clear-cut as that, and precisely that made the show interesting. Heck, how often did we not feel for Tony, only to be reminded brutally some scenes later how nasty he really is? That was the game David Chase was playing with us. Wouldn’t have worked if the mobsters were plain and one-dimensional evil.

  567. Ronnie Says:

    Stoppo,
    You are in denial that Tony is dead for whatever reason.

  568. saintjohnny Says:

    One small detail of symbolism – Meadow’s three attempts to park correspond to the number of attempts on Tony’s life. The black guys failed to kill him, Junior failed to kill him – the third attempt was successful. Given Chase’s fondness for foreshadowing (in the best traditions of John Steinbeck!) this must surely be of some significance?

  569. Tim Roberts Says:

    I just got done rewatching season 3 and picked up on a couple of things and wanted to get your insight. First of all, I think any episdoe written by David Chase is very important. He chose to write specific episodes for a reason, and in an interview he states that what happened at the end was stated in episodes before it and seasons before that. Knowing that some of the things Chase put in episodes he wrote have to be an explanation of the finale. (Going along with this point, I think a lot more attention has to be paid to what is really the meaning of “The Test Dream” an episode written by Chase, maybe it is somewhere in here that I didn’t see). In the second episode of season three, “Proshai Livushka,” written by Chase, I think there is a very imporant conversation between A.J. and Meadow that I haven’t seen anybody pick up on. It is the night they find out Livia has died and AJ is trying to analyze a poem by Robert Frost for homework and asks for Meadow help. She tells him the white snow is a symbol of death and Frost is saying he has miles to go before he sleeps, the sleep of death. AJ responds that he thought black meant death and she says white too. I feel like this has to be related to the finale, with the white that is filled up all over the screen when Tony comes out of the coma in season 6a, “Mayham,” and then after almost two seasons (i.e. miles to go before he sleeps) the black that fills up the screen at the end of the scene at Holstens, symbolising death. I also can’t figure out who the guy is on the staircase at the end of the episdoe “Proshai Livushka” when everyone is in the great room at the Sopranos house. You see him for about two seconds but there is defintely something to him being there. In the season finale of season three, “An Army of One,” another episode written by Chase, I feel like there are a lot of things in that episode that can be related to the finale in “Made In America.” First the army aspect, which was a huge deal in the finale with AJs storyline. In “An Army of One” Tony and Carmella both realize something needs to be done to change AJ after he gets expelled, and it is Tony that suggests and then later Carmella agreeing to send AJ to military school as the answer, and AJ refusing. In the last episode we see AJ being the one to suggest he should join the army and this time his parents refuse. It seems like Chase is trying to make the point that this is something that could actually be the solution in changing AJ and making him a better person, and he is never going to get there. Then at the end of the episode we see Meadow run out of Vesuvio after she comes to the realisation of what being a Soprano is living in this mafia world. We see her run across the street away from the family as a sign that she might escape this mafia world because she realizes what it really is, and she doesn’t want to be associated with that life of crime. In the finale we see her come full circle, where it appears that she is going to become a lawyer defending people associated in the mafia as her finance made note to when the Parisi’s were visiting the Sopranos. Then in the final scene we see Meadow run across the street and into the restuarant toward the family. I felt this was Chase showing us how close AJ and Meadow were from escaping this life for a better one, but ultimately they will remain associated with the mafia lifestyle forever. Finally in “An Army of One” near the end of the episode after Jackie Jrs funeral at Rosalie’s house we see that same man I mentioned above on the staircase in “Proshai Livushka.” He is seen behind Ralphie’s shoulder creeping towards him. I feel it is no accident this man is shown both times after funerals and is related with death. Who is this man (he is bald) and what is important about him that Chase put him in both episdoes that he wrote and related him with death. On a completely different side note I was watching Goodfellas on tv the other day and was reminded of something I read that had to relate to the finale of the Sopranos but wasn’t sure if it was here or not. When Henry gets arrested at the end with the police officer putting the gun right next to his head he says “at first I thought I was dead, than I heard all the noise and I knew they were cops. Only cops talked like that. If they were wiseguys I wouldn’t of heard a thing. I would have been dead.” We know Chase loves and has studied this movie so this has to end all the Tony got arrested at the end theories, and give more credence to the theory that Tony was shot and killed when we hear nothing at the end. Want to get your thoughts on all of these topics, and hear your insights?

  570. Paul Says:

    About the morals:
    when i say that the mobsters have their own morals/rules, I am not implying that they are on our own level. Hey, these guys are murderers and thieves and in general quite nasty people.

    But let’s step aside from our own feelings and judgements here and just OBSERVE. Ofcourse it’s not ethical from our perspective to kill Vito for being gay. But by doing so, they do adher to some twisted old school rule from their own world, the mobster world. Ofcourse, they break as many rules of their own code as they follow, but in that, they are no different than the rest of us ….

    The drug comment referred to the Godfather, not the Sopranos.

    And indeed, the most poignant scenes were when the mobsters lectured others on morals. Like Tony and Meadow having an argument about black guys stealing bikes. Tony the crime boss bitching about people stealing bicycles? If anything, Tony was an incredible hypocrite.

    Was, because it’s so very obvious that he died in the last scene.

  571. dsweeney Says:

    Sorry Jeff, but Vito was beaten to death and THEN a pool cue was inserted in him. Just to keep things precise. Horrific that this is, I just can’t agree that it is the most heinous act in the show. Don’t forget, not long before this Vito cold-bloodedly murders a complete stranger, rather than deal with the cops about the car accident. He could have wounded the guy and then done a runner. Anything in fact, other than what he did. And let’s be clear on this, in my opinion the only reason Tony is against killing Vito is because he is his top earner, by a long chalk. It isn’t because Tony is such a liberal all of a sudden. Vito is this cash cow compared to the rest of the crew. THAT’S WHY Tony wants him kept around. How many times has Tony gone on about ” fags ” etc. to Carm ?

    I think you have the Chris situation all wrong Jeff. If Tony thought Chris was going to die he would have just left him to it. It’s precisely because he can’t take the chance of Chris surviving that he murders him. He sees the perfect opportunity and takes it. The look on Tony’s face is chilling. Complete emotional detachment. Like a child killing a bug. Brilliant acting from Gandolfini.

    After Carmine died without naming a successor there was a power vacuum. And yes, Phil did come out on top when Little Carmine didn’t have the stomach for it. Such is the way in the mob world. Didn’t Tony wipe out most of Juniors crew in much the same way ? No, both are as evil as the other. It’s just that we see more of Tony and whatver little ” good side ” he has.

  572. dsweeney Says:

    Superb post Tim Roberts, I missed it earlier. Brilliant. Unfortunately I have a few series out on loan so can’t comment on the guy you mention seen in ” Proshai Livushka ” and other episodes. But I have definitely seen others post elsewhere about this so you are certainly on to something.

    Your point about AJ reading the poem with Meadow and their comments about black and white representing death are 100 % correct and it is no coincidence that Chase himself wrote the episodes in question. Of course after the ” white-out ” Tony is very much alive but for me this is deliberate contrast by Chase with the ” black-out ” in Holsten’s- Tony’s actual death.

    The catch about AJ and the army in ” Army of one ” and then in ” Made in America ” is a great one. It is, as you say, to point out how AJ will forever be tied to the family, that ultimately what Tony and Carm say is what matters in the end. Ditto, your point about Meadow running away from the family in the earlier episode and running TOWARDS them in MIA is again about Meadow at the end becoming closer to the family. All her earlier promise about being her own person and making something good of herself is gone. Like father like daughter. When she says to Tony at their final drink together about how seeing his treatment at the hands of the Feds made her choose her new career, the look on his face is priceless and the ultimate irony.

    I posted elsewhere about the Goodfellas connection and I would urge anybody here who hasn’t seen the film to do so as soon as. Especially some of the doubters out there. ” If they had been wiseguys ? I wouldn’t have heard a thing” ! Chase has described it as his Koran. Another of these, for me, Tim is the scene in Goodfellas where Henry, out on bail, finds out that Karen has flushed all the dope he had stashed around the house down the toilet and the scene in our thing when Chris finds out from Ade that she has been got to by the Feds. Michael Imperioli / Chris almost does Ray Liotta word for word; ” OH my God!! Oh my God ” ! while rocking back and forth. Almost complete re-enactment.

  573. masterofsopranos Says:

    Tim,

    Meadow almost gets hit by a car (the car honks and Tony screams “Meadow”!) when she runs across the street in “Army of One”. The SUV almost strikes Meadow as she runs to Holstens. Yet another similiarity between the two scenes.

    “The Test Dream” could provide pages of analysis for a variety of reasons. I touch upon it a little in “The Godfather” section so check it out. I cover that scene from “Goodfellas” in Part VII.

    Good stuff about the Frost poem but I do believe Chase (or someone from the crew) stated that the old man in “Proshai Livushka” was an extra that accidentally wandered into the scene. Not sure I believe that but who knows.

  574. Sean Juan Says:

    A truly great read. I agree with your interpretation of the ending. I appreciate a lot of the symbolism you revealed as I had not noticed a lot of that before.

    One thought I wanted to share though. When you mention the “ICE” written on the side of the van when Tony answers the cell phone call from Agent Harris, you say that it forshadows him being “on ice” in the future. My thought is that I.C.E. (since 9/11 especially) has been cell phone address book code for “In Case of Emergency”, meaning that’s who the medics or whoever should contact if you are in an accident or something. In this scene there is an emergency coming for Tony that he needs to react to.

  575. kara Says:

    this was really insightful/informative. I love how all these things were collated from a 7-minute scene C= thank u so much! I am now obsessed with the sopranos!

  576. gotmewrong Says:

    i’ve realized one thing. the shirt tony’s wearing at holstens is the same as he was wearing when uncle jun shot him. should we try to find something about this?

    and thanks to masterofsopranos, great comments, appearently come from a gorgeus mind.

  577. circasuicide Says:

    “Chase also gives more detailed connections to Eugene in “Member’s Only” and the final scene in Holsten’s. Eugene, wearing a “Member’s Only Jacket” shoots a fat man named Teddy Spiradokis (initials T.S.=Tony Soprano) sitting in a diner eating. In the same episode, Eugene’s wife, angry that Tony will not let Eugene retire to Florida, ominously tells Eugene to “put a bullet in [Tony’s] fucking head.” After Eugene’s murder of Spiradokis, Eugene listens to Blondie’s Dreaming. Tony enters Holsten’s as Little Feat’s All that you Dream plays in the diner.”

    something interesting that occured to me as i read this part was in season one, tony kills Fabian “Febby” Petrulio. when tony finally catches up with fabian, he refers to tony as “teddy”, and tony corrects him. this could be a coincidence, but it further connects this theory.

    i have to say, this article is, to put it lightly, very impressive. i wanted to believe tony lived. as ive watched the last season again recently, and thought alot about it, i keep leaning more and more towards the resolution that he did indeed die. this article is the cherry on top. i have to somewhat embarressingly admit that it really hurts me that tony died, and that he didnt turn his life around. i mourn for tony, not because he was a good person, but because he could have been. david chase has made me, and i suspect many, many others, have a deep care and connection to this fictional man.

    i think there is alot to say about the fact that tony, and only tony, stops Eugene Pontecorvo from changing his life and his fate for him and his family. i think tony subconciously, or otherwise, denies eugene a way out because he knows he cant, or wont, get out.

    shakespeare has nothing on david chase.

    thank you for this wonderfully thuoght out and executed article. even though it ripped my heart out, it made me realize the truth.

  578. Davie Scatino Says:

    Some great discussions on here, as always, but this…

    “But this is a side issue anyway as the black screen is the “audience getting killed” and not Tony”

    is just the biggest load of nonsense imaginable. I’m sorry, but wtf does that even mean?

  579. masterofsopranos Says:

    circa,

    Thank you for that awesome post. I also believe “College” is a pivotal episode and go into it a little in part 2. I think a lot of itelligent people revel in the ambiguity and I understand the resistance to let it go but I think many of those people aren’t the real hardcore fans of the show. They choose to see a Tony dying ending as simplistic because they don’t really want or desire to do the digging and understand what Tony’s death really means. Like you said, simply re-watching the final season makes that conclusion inevitable and as you said “rips your heart out.”

    I also get the resistance b/c people love the character and want to believe he will change (one founder of another Soprano site, a person of rare intelligence, has the same blinders of denial on for the same reason and it’s dissapointing that he/she is missing out on what we understand). Ulitmately, this was not a story of redemption. For those who “get it” and understand why Chase did what he did, we get to fully appreciate the emotional force and artistry of the ending.

    Davie,
    I agree but wasn’t as blunt about it as you! That theory makes the ending a complete joke and gives no credit to Chase as a storyteller. Besides, if we’re whacked, why isn’t Tony whacked along with us??? It’s just as silly as believing Chase decided to end the story without a conclusion.

  580. dsweeney Says:

    I know exactly who you are referring to MOS and yes this poster is of rare intelligence but I believe I know why this poster is in the ” we don’t know for sure ” camp. This person feels ” badly burned “, so to speak, by Chase from earlier in the series. While watching the series live, as it aired, this person was convinced that through symbolism / logic etc, Carmela was about to be killed. Around series 5 I believe. But of course Carmela didn’t die . This poster was furious with Chase, believing he had bottled it or changed his mind in order to continue the series.

    I believe it is because of this this person won’t accept what most agree to be the truth. Because what this person believed to be the fore-shadowing of Carm’s death didn’t pan out quite that way, this poster resists all other cases of fore-shadowing. A pity because as you say, the poster is missing out on the brilliance of the ending as it is.

    This isn’t ” a redemption play “. At the end of the day Tony is , as Chase himself says ” gangster “. He can’t or won’t change. End of story. Some want to see the good in him, whatever that is. Some say he can still turn around. Wrong. He can’t. In fact he got worse than ever. Total depravity. Chase gave him more than enough chances for redemption and time and again he went back to his old ways. Enough said. Case closed. A violent, bad, bad man met his end in a violent world. Not because he deserved it but because there is only two ways out for ” high-profile guys” like him- either in the can or dead. And he isn’t in prison so…..

  581. circasuicide Says:

    thanks for the reply, MOS. i can’t overstate the importance of your research and incite in this article.

    one thing i see very often, almost more than the ‘tony lived’ or ‘we don’t know what happened’ theories, is people saying that david chase cut to black to make people scramble for their remote controls and think their cable went out, etc. that he actually made fools of people, or as one article put it, chase ‘messed with the fans’. as if the past eight years of serious drama would entertain the idea of the creator ending the series with a ‘gotcha!’. unbelievable.

    although i love tony soprano, and am genuinely saddened that he died, i have to admit that my feelings changed towards him when he killed christopher. chris’s faults aside, that was as cold-blooded and selfish as it gets. but still, i mourn tony.

    i wanted him to change so bad. it’s a microcosm of how in this life we have the chance to change and walk the narrow path, but if we reject it, we will have to pay for it in the end. not that i think david chase was speaking to spiritual matters for certain, but it’s all encompassing.

    its also funny how several cast members keep saying, ‘we want to do a movie, we’re just waiting on david to write the script.’

    a sopranos movie without tony? how about a musical without sound?

  582. dsweeney Says:

    Anyone who says Chase cut to black as a gimmick or to mess with people is not a serious fan of the show Circa. He said as much himself. These people are simply too lazy or disinclined to scratch below the surface of the material and deal with it on a deeper level.

    Many, many people feel the way you do about Tony but I just can’t accept that. I mean really ? By the end is repulsive. A cold-blooded murderer. Even by mob standards he has gone way beyond the pale. And as you say, killing Christopher, his surrogate son and one-time protege, is the absolute nadir in an already low trajectory. Are you sure Circa that, like me, it’s not THE SHOW that you mourn for ? That with the death of Tony, the SHOW is gone and that’s what you really mourn for ?
    Aside from the killings, on a more mundane, personal level he is repulsive. The way he falls out with Hesh over money, a life-long friend. The way he seeks out Chris’s girl to break ” the tragic news “, only to end up in bed with her. The way he childishly gives Bobby the hit just because Bobby beat him in a fight. Knowing that up ’til that point Bobby had never actually killed anybody. Despite Carm’s claims, he ” IS a vindictive man “. The way he treats Chris when he is dry after rehab saying about drink ” I know a crutch when I see one”- while HE goes to Melfi for therapy. And the daddy of it all, when he says AJ tried to take the easy way out and Melfi says, ” people who say that don’t understand the nature of depression. But YOU DO ” ! Tony is left speechless.

    I’m sorry but by the show’s end, and long before that, Tony is unlovable, beyond any redemption having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Good riddance and may he rot in hell. May ” The Sopranos ” rest in peace though.

  583. cobalt Says:

    This site is brilliant. A few thoughts:

    Although Tony tells Dr Melfi that the purpose of the “bus ride” epiphany is to make it back to the mother, I see it differently. Tony has been using therapy from the beginning of Season 1 as a vehicle to take us all for a ride: How, otherwise, do we side with this gangster?

    This is part of the viewer’s attraction to Tony. We think therapy humanizes him because we believe he is trying to identify the source of his depression and somehow, better himself. Remember how Tony initially keeps his sessions under wraps because he has an image and power to maintain. When he lets the cat out of the bag, his gang’s reaction is predictable, and they make “shrink” jokes behind his back. He even keeps therapy a secret to Carmella until situational circumstances force him to tell her. The audience sees this human struggle of a man with inner demons, who must be a tough ass and yet he reveals vunerabilities to his therapist. Everytime Tony tips the scales on the downside with a crime or horrible act, he gets a pass from us on the upside of the scale because of our perceived humanity in him, sometimes through therapy sessions, sometimes because he doesn’t react predictably.

    This is where the Christopher arc is so important, and in my mind, the trajectory downward. Yes, Christopher was a screw-up, but there was absolutely no justification for his murder. And although we can make the case that Tony has clipped family before (Tony B), what is different about Christopher is that (a) he was killed by Tony’s own hands and not clipped by an order, (b) Christopher is bonded/related to Tony twice: by blood and marriage. He is THE son, so to speak, and the link between the family and The Family. Once that is gone, it isn’t long before Tony loses both families. And although we assume that Tony’s concern about the ducks leaving has to do with his family, I see that it is a dual fear of also losing control of The Family.

    As another poster pointed out, Tony resents those who better themselves and perceives it as weakness because he, himself, is too weak to improve, so he deflects by bringing the other person down. Christopher tries to dry out, seems to be doing well, and Tony tempts him with the wine they steal. Tony breaks his balls because he stays away from the Bada Bing and the temptations that environment brings. Yes, Pauly breaks his balls about this too, but I believe it’s just because he doesn’t understand. Tony understands but he doesn’t care. Tony attends therapy but he doesn’t put the theories or realizations into ACTION, whereas Christopher does. Yes, he slips off the wagon, but he gets back on, returns to AA, seeks out his sponsor, and isolates himself from the drug/drinking environment, which happens to be where he works. But because Tony can will himself not to eat onions or sausages after his operation, he thinks Chris should just be able to do the same with substances. That’ is the depth of Tony’s empathy level (which brands him both a narcissist and a sociopath). Christopher, who HAS an addiction, keeps trying. Tony uses therapy AS his addiction, and tries nothing. For as screwed up as Chris was, I always felt that somehow he at least had a possibility at redemption. Chris dabbles in movies, I think on some level, to branch away from the Bada Bing. I saw his rejection of a life with Ade outside of the mob not so much because he couldn’t live without “that life” but rather because he saw his options as either “that life” or the trailer trash life. He doesn’t entertain something between either extreme.

    Recall when Chris says to Tony something along the lines of he’s damned if he does drink/do drugs because Tony calls him a junkie and damned if he doesn’t because then he’s a p*ssy. Tony, I think, projects onto Chris, his own inability to pull himself out of his rut, and sort of bitch slaps Chris back and forth (damned if you do/dont). Recall at the Bada Bing the night Chris shoots the script writer, what precipitates this: He again gets his balls broken about drinking club soda, decides to have a “drink” and later the guys are razzing him about his daughter growing up to be a Bada Bing girl. Can you imagine if someone said that to Tony? Can you imagine how Chris felt, especially watching Tony laugh along with the guys? Yea, yea, they’re bad asses, but as we’ve learned in the Coco/Meadow incident, daughters are OFF limits. Tony says “Come on. We’re just breakin your balls” as Chris walks away, but again, the lack of empathy and double standard Tony lives is evident. The tension had been building between Tony and Chris for a while. Tony is miffed with the whole Cleaver project and sees that as a slap instead of a guy who is writing from the only reference he knows. Tony feels upstaged when Chris was sleeping with his Jewish goomar.

    The night of the SUV accident, Tony is already annoyed with Chris. Watch the look on Tony’s face when Chris is messing with his stereo as he’s driving and says “this stereo has got no balls.” After the crash, Chris tells Tony to help him because he can’t pass the drug test. Tony looks to at the back seat to see the tree limb crashed through the window and onto the baby seat. Tony gets out of the SUV, walks to the driver’s side, sees Chris spitting blood and suffocates him. I had to rewind the crash scene and rewatch it a few times because at first, I THOUGHT it was a mercy killing: I could not let myself believe that Tony would do this for any other reason. Initially I thought when when Chris said “you gotta help me T” and he knew that he couldn’t pass the drug test, that Chris was suggesting the “help” was his death, which he saw as the only way out. That was until I realized that Chris says “call me a taxi” and Tony dials 9-1 and then ends the call. Chris wanted to live. The camera shot on the tree limb and baby seat was not Tony saving the greater community by getting a doper off the street, but rather him formulating HIS own out, his story. Recall Tony, on several occassions brings up the fact that Chris wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and the babyseat, thus projecting Chris’s wrecklessness. He suggest to Carmella that he detected a tone of relief in her voice at the news of Chris’ death. Projection and diversion. To me, the ultimate “slap” in Tony’s face was when Carmella says after the funeral something to the effect that she didn’t know how she could ever think that Chris could kill Ade.

    I got off Tony’s ride at the Chris’s stop. Tony lost me. Dr Melfi gets off the ride, on “The Blue Commet.” How fitting. She doesn’t go to the end of the line with Tony. She isn’t buying it anymore.

    Someone mentioned that the Godfather was old school mafia with codes and rules and Goodfellas was more like the Dukes of Hazzard. Just a bunch of knuckleheads doing more harm to themselves or something to that affect. Notice the more the old school Italians and the Mafia establishes itself into the New World, how the rules that were so clear cut in The Godfather, become a watered down version in GoodFellas, still present, but somewhat changed, to blurred shades of gray in The Sopranos.

  584. Jack Says:

    You cite an interview with Chase in Entertainment Weekly. It’s also important to note Chase later said there were multiple ways of looking at the ending.

    Are they wasting their time? Is there a puzzle to be solved?
    There are no esoteric clues in there. No Da Vinci 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 Toricano 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.

    Are you saying…?
    I’m not saying anything. And I’m not trying to be coy. It’s just that I think that to explain it would diminish it.”

  585. Jack Says:

    Furthermore Chase asked a presenter at an awards ceremony if he could explain to the audience (the presenter), that it is perfectly possible for everything a New Jersey diner to suddenly stop.

  586. Justin Says:

    MOS,

    I apologize in advance if this has been raised already. I did do a scan, but the sheer volume of responses is overwhelming.

    The “bell rings/Tony looks up and we see his POV” sequence upon which much of your thesis depends doesn’t really happen the way you describe it. It does for the first three people to come through the door, the third being Carmela, but not for the fourth, the MOG. And it’s an important distinction.

    You say that when Tony looks up after the bell rings, and then we see who is coming through the door, that we are seeing this from Tony’s POV.

    The problem with that is that there is a brief shot of MOG still outside, approaching the door, from this same perspective (exact same camera), while Tony’s head is down, looking at his menu. Then when MOG enters and the bell rings, Tony looks up, and we see that same perspective again. But we can see from him jerking his head up from his menu (when the bell rings) that as MOG was approaching the door milliseconds before, he was not looking in that direction. But we, the viewers, were.

    So is that view of the door after each bell ring really Tony’s POV? He’s surely looking that way, since he’s expecting his family. But we also get that same view when Tony has his head in his menu, so in at least that case, it is not Tony’s POV.

    I’d be interested in any thoughts.

  587. masterofsopranos Says:

    Circa and Dsweeney,

    I think Chase has always given us some of the humanity in Tony so that we can relate to him and hope that he can be redeemed. Tony’s panic attacks and depression seem to suggest a subconscious guilt for his actions. In a sense, Tony may not be meant to be a gangster and his Kevin Finnerty experience suggests a subconscious desire to live a normal life. I think Chase has shown that Tony may be different than the rest of his cohorts. For example, Tony is genuinely sad over the death of the stripper Tracee; nobody else cared. Chase uses the love of his family to force us to relate to him. Tony is in tears about his son’s future in “Army of One” (“How are we gonna save this kid?”). He says in that episode that he wants Meadow to eventually be as far away from him as possible. There is an interesting moment in “No Show” when Meadow confronts Tony and tell him and Carmela that she is leaving college to go to Europe. Tony and Carmela are angry and against it; suddenly Chase has a close-up of Tony and the sound dies down around him. Tony seems deep in thought and then suddenly reverses position (to Carmela’s shock) and suggests that Meadow SHOULD go; this is right after the death of Jackie Jr. (an example of his corrupt Family infecting his family) is discussed. Tony, like all of us, wants a better future for his children than his own (something everybody can relate to). In acknowledging this, he in a sense is recognizing his own evil. I think Tony later sees Finn as Meadow’s chance to get out. Finn and his parents show up in his “Test Dream” and even Tony’s fantasy of living a normal life is played out as “Kevin FINNerty”(a coincidence?). In another strange moment (but very deliberate by Chase) in either “Walk Like a Man” or “The Second Coming” (I can’t remember which one), Meadow interrupts Tony and Carm in their bedroom in the middle of the night to warn them about AJ’s depression over Blanca. As Tony wakes up, he says “Is it Finn?”. This is really strange since Meadow had already broken up with Finn for a while at the point (these are the final few episodes). It seems that Finn and what he represents for his daughter is still on his mind, at least subconsciously. Now look at the scene in “The Second Coming” where Meadow tells Carm and Tony about Coco’s harassment. We see Tony get angry. However, keep watching him in the scene; when Meadow then reveals she’s dating Patrick Parisi Jr. he seems to get even angrier and storms out at that moment to go get Coco. We later see Tony’s disgust when Patsy Sr. tells Tony they’re going to be “family”. Here, Tony’s fears are coming true, Meadow isn’t going as far away as possible but will now be stuck in the same corruptive cycle.

    Both Circa and Colbalt talk about Tony killing Chris as the turning point. I think it comes sooner when he orders (off-screen) Adriana’s death. Adriana represented something innocent on this show. Chase knew that and her death was felt way after it she was gone, eventually leading to the end of Tony and Christophers relationship. Chase chose not show Adriana murdered. I think that’s important in that she was the most innocent and perhaps he thought we shouldn’t see it to avoid it seeming exploitive. In any event, I admit I was naive in that I didn’t think Tony would order her death (perhaps just tell her to leave town). He seemed to truly love her. His sadness over her death expressed in the final scene of “Long Term Parking” where he is out in the woods with Carmela seems to express this as well. Tony looks around and we are reminded of Ade’s death in the woods. Tony seems about to have a panic attack and sits down as “Wrapped in my memory” starts to play. Ade is indeed wrapped in Tony’s memory. Tony beats up Chris after Ade’s murder in that episode and screams “you think you are the only one suffering in this?” (or words to that effect). The next episode Tony visits Chris as Chris is hiding in a hotel from Phil. There is an amazing emotional moment between the two about Ade. Tony in a clear effort to avoid his feelings and demonize Ade (and therefore rationalize her murder), calls her “a cunt” and he doesn’t sound sincere at all when he says it. They then both hug, bound by the love for her and their secret of her murder. After her death, I accepted the truth that this story was never about redemption for Tony Soprano. There was no way back after that one. Ade’s prominence in the storylines after her death, as well as the cat in final episode (and in Holsten’s) is a reminder of her importance.

    Cobalt,

    I agree that his murder of Chris, who he swore to protect, was a low point. It’s amazing how sympathetic Chris seems to become as Tony slowly (as you pointed out) leads him back to drugs. You’re spot on in your observations. Although I never saw it as a mercy killing at any point; look at Tony’s face when he suffocates him. It is cold and expressionless, it’s truly chilling. By sleeping with Christopher’s Vegas goomar after his death, he gets to one-up Chris over Tony losing both Julianna AND Ade to Chris (go watch “Irregular Around the Margins” again if you don’t believe Tony was ready to call Ade all his own).

    Justin,

    I have heard the point made before and I address it in Part I. It certainly creates a viable argument that the pattern is broken but I don’t think it is. In fact, I think it further supports my conclusion:

    The questions you have to ask yourself is: Why does Chase ONLY show MOG outside the door (from an angle inside the restaurant) before the door opens and the bell rings and Tony looks up? (the tall lady, USA cap guy, Carmela, and even AJ (who is barely glimpsed behind MOG) are never shown before the bell rings and Tony looks up).

    The answer is this. Chase is using cinematic language to suggest MOG is DIFFERENT than the rest. He is someone of importance that we should be paying attention to which leads into my next point:

    Chase is giving the viewer more information that Tony has to signal that MOG is up to no-good and to show why and how Tony is able to get hit. Once the bell rings, MOG has AJ enter WITH him so that Tony never sees MOG and his eyes naturally go to AJ (confirmed when Tony smiles when he sees his son). As detailed in Part I, the editing shows that Tony never sees MOG staring at him twice. In one shot we even hear the possible sound of a faint bell exactly when the young couple laugh. The scene then cuts to MOG looking at Tony again and then cuts to Tony looking down (not seeing MOG). I think here, the laughing (pumped up on the audio) muffled the sound of the bell. If it didn’t muffle the sound, Tony would probably look up and see MOG staring right at him. Here (as in the black guys entering but we nor Tony don’t hear the bell b/c Tony looks at MOG as he passes his table) Chase also uses audio POV to show us how Tony gets hit. In all the over Tony’s shoulder shots of AJ, MOG is always seen in the middle of the frame. Except he is shot out of focus, suggesting Tony never sees him despite being in his direct sight line.

    As far as the pattern. Remember the strict definition of the traditional POV shot. Once the bell rings we get the “Tony looks up/shot of who is coming in/back to Tony reaction” and are now back in the realm of character subjectivity. The pattern continues and is not interrupted. To further prove this point, why does Chase bother at all to cut to Tony looking up and back to MOG again if we see MOG at the door? why not just finish the shot of MOG coming in before cutting to Tony?? I believe because Chase KNOWS he has to get back to the pattern to set up the last shot. This awkward transition seems to only call MORE attention to the POV pattern. It’s the only explanaton I can think of.

    The one real lingering question is why doesn’t Chase change up the angle a little when MOG approaches the door before the bell rings so as to clearly distinguish between the POV shot and the objective one? I can’t clearly answer this. Perhaps Chase only realized it in the editing process that he never got a different angle or perhaps Chase decided to use the shot of MOG at the door before the bell rings in the editing room and never though to change up the angle during the actual filming. My best guess is a combination of what I talked about. Chase wanted that shot of MOG at the door before Tony to distinguish him from the rest of the patrons. I think Chase wanted US to see him BEFORE Tony (remember, Chase wants us to have more info on MOG than Tony has) but decided to use the same angle as the Tony POV shot to remind us that we are still sharing Tony’s POV in certain instances. And as explained earlier, going strictly by film language, once the bell rings and Tony looks up, we still have a traditional POV shot.

  588. Andrew Brennan Says:

    I literally have spent the entire day at work reading this website on my blackberry. Shows you how much work I do. Whether your theory is correct or not. A job well done.Pointed out so many things in hindsight that make a lot of sense. I was of the mindset of Tony always looking over his shoulder but not anymore. Really well done and interesting. The only thing that was a little far fetched was the Tony shot at a 3 o’clock angle thing. Your explanation certainly is credible focusing on the way they shot the episode and all the obvious clues that you can look out for through the last season. Very Well done I enjoyed this read alot

  589. Lost Child Says:

    Wow, I am teaching a class about point of view and ending narratives with questions, and I thought I’d reference The Sopranos as an example of the way audiences are so often unsatisfied with ambiguity. Your discussion of POV is precise and informed. You did a great job with this analysis. I was never personally that bothered by the ending, and I had decided that the “always looking over his shoulder” theory was appropriate (I came to this decision about an hour after the episode ended). You have changed my mind. Nice job. If my students are interested in this discussion, I am sure they will really appreciate your fine attention to detail (I am not teaching a creative writing or film class). Nice job.

  590. dsweeney Says:

    Great post Cobalt. Your points about Chris are really well made. Great shout about how Chris at least TRIES to overcome his addictions. He comes off the rails now and then, like the rest of us, but as you say, at least the WILL to change is there. Unlike Tony.

    MOS, you cleared something up that I had never given enough thought to- the way MOG and AJ enter Holsten’s together. I couldn’t figure why Chase did it that way but you are 100 % correct. It is purely to distract Tony from MOG and the imminent threat he poses. Tony is waiting for his kids to arrive and visibly cheers up when he sees AJ, picking out a fresh menu and slapping it down for him at their table. MOG passes under Tony’s radar getting barely a glance.

    One other thing MOS, which is purely a matter of opinion. Horrific as the murder of Adriana is, I would argue that from Tony’s perspective he has no option. For the sake of realism, Tony has to take her out. A rat, talking to the FEDS, has got to go. Anything less and Tony wouldn’t be the fearsome mob boss he is meant to be. But like I said, which is the worst of Tony’s crimes is purley a matter of opinion.

    I would agree though that Tony’s downward spiral begins around series 5. It is also part of an over-all pattern involving most of the major characters that I believe exists in the show. I posted before that before a lot of characters we may have come to care TOO MUCH about are killed, we see them at their very worst, committing murder themselves before THEY get their just rewards. And I think this pattern applies to Tony as well. His complete degeneration is to prepare us for his death. We are no longer meant to care for him. He’s a gangster. Unrepentant. Remorseless. A destroyer of lives, not least that of Ade, a relative innocent. Like other characters before him, Vito murdering the driver of the car he runs into, Chris needlessly murdering J.T. or Sil strangling Burt etc, Tony is diminished in our eyes before meeting his end. Another device, I believe, used by Chase to CONVEY what happens in Holstenl’s.

  591. Lost Child Says:

    Hello Again,
    I actually did question using Wikipedia as a source (maybe because I am constantly reminding my students that they are not allowed to use Wikipedia as a source for a college essay), but since the information from Wikipedia is ‘common knowledge’ to me, I forgave the use of that site.
    You really did a fantastic job. Are you by any chance a David Lynch fan? I had some complex explanations for Twin Peaks, but that was before I had the Internet.

  592. Jeff Says:

    How does Sil starngling Burt compare to Vito, Chris, or Tony’s murders they commit before dying?????….Burt was a mobster himself

  593. cobalt Says:

    MOS,

    I agree that Ade’s killing was probably the turning point for Tony, but what I said is that Chris’s killing is the trajectory downward. By that I mean that although Tony was on the downswing, being shot by Junior and his time in a coma, halts that journey, at least temporarily, freezes it, if you will. The viewer thinks, that maybe a turnaround is in store after Tony’s experience. When Tony murder’s Chris, we realize this isn’t true, and that downward pattern that was at least stalled by the coma, has now suddenly accelerated.

    The only reason I initially thought Chris’s murder was a mercy killing is because I didn’t hear him say “call me a taxi” and for me, that was the missing link that caused my misinterpretation. I heard Chris say “T, you gotta help me. I’ll never pass the drug test” or something close to that. Tony gets out, has a look at Chris, starts to call 911, stops, then suffocates him. I know Tony’s facial expression was heartless, but at first I thought he was just trying to “man up” and because I couldn’t possibly believe he would murder Chris or that Chris’s death would be so, how shall I say, unspectacular. It wasn’t until I replayed the scene and heard Chris’s request for a taxi that I realized this was a huge sin on Tony’s rap sheet.

    BTW, what distinguishes a round from a flat character in film and literature is their growth throughout the work. Tony, regardless that he is the star or protagonist, is a flat character in that he never grows or evolves. He does nothing with the information or insight he gains and they, therefore, seem to be nothing but blips on his radar screen that he ignores. It’s enough for him to go through the motions. Chris, to me, was a round character in that he has developed over the years. When we first are introduced to Chris, he seems like some snot nosed, Fila sweat suit, gold chained wearing, “yo adrian” pimp. At least that’s how I viewed him. But he does have realizations and some pretty profound comments in season six. He marries, has a daughter, and is trying to kick the demons. He isn’t perfect, but I see he isn’t where he was in season 1. Tony isn’t where he was in season 1 either, but he’s on the otherside of the dividing line between progress and regress.

    One more thing I wanted to add, atlhough not about Chris. I can see how some viewers may think the final episode of season six is a dream sequence: Tony awaking to a dream, because there are several inconsistencies and loose ends in that episode that otherwise would be tied up:

    1. The Vanilla Fudge “Keep Me Hanging On” song is playing first when Tony wakes up from his sleep and again later when he and his driver pull up to the family safe house to visit Carmella. The time seems out of joint. Certainly the song wasn’t playing from the time Tony awoke to the time he arrives at the house. Did the radio station play it two different times?

    2. In the previous episode, Tony goes to bed with the machine gun across his chest, sort of in “all alert, mattresses on the floor” mode. When he awakes, it is as though he wasn’t half sleeping on alert. The gun is off to the side of the bed, I think leaning against the wall.

    3. When Janice visits Junior, she makes identification references that are not accurate. I forget who she identifies herself as, but it isn’t Janice. When she shows a picture to Junior, she says it’s Bobby and her daughter but Bobby isn’t in the picture. What was that exchange about?

    4. I’ve watched this episode a few times and I cannot identify when/where Carmella and Meadow discuss their plans to meet at Holstens. Is this assumed? I don’t recall a phone call between the two. How does Carmella assert to Tony that Holstens is the “consensus” when AJ is told and not asked, and when was Meadow queried?

    There are other things that bother me about the last episode, not enough to definatively believe that it was a dream sequence, but rather I’m able to understand why some might think it is.

  594. cobalt Says:

    There was one more aspect of the last episode that suggests the “dreamlike” quality again dealing with music. Recall when Tony plays “Don’t Stop Believing” the volume of the song is louder than usual. For the most part in the series when there is dialog involved, the song is part of the background. In the final scene, the song is just about as loud as the dialog. Now, maybe that was to convey that the song was playing right there, at the table, but I tend to think not. The volume never adjusts itself down to accomodate for the conversation or the other sounds. This always stood out to me as strange and in a way, I think it adds to the tension. It is interesting to me, again the bookends theory of irregularities with regards to soundtrack at the beginning (timing) and the end (volume) of the episode. Just a thought.

  595. Paul Says:

    @ Sweeney: I am not sure that Chase prepares us for the deaths of major characters in The Sopranos by showing their ‘complete degeneration’ such as in murdering people like Vito did with the guy whose car he hit and like Chris did with the movie guy who wrote the script for his slasher movie.

    I think that he is playing with our feelings here: we feel sorry when Chris is killed, and also Vito (because he too seemed to have the chance to escape his mob life and because he was murdered so cruelly with the billiards thing) … but then we realize we have just seen them coldly murder people themselves! This ambiguity is exactly what Chase wants to us to ponder.

    Another great example is when Tony and Meadow are argueing about black guys stealing Meadow’s bicycle. You kind of get along with the argument – Tony’s racism vs Meadow’s talk of social inequity – when suddenly you realize this is a MOB BOSS making moral statements about bike thieves!

  596. dsweeney Says:

    Jeff, it’s a fair point you make.

    What I was getting at though is that by and large Sil wouldn’t be at ” the muscle ” end of things and is more a character for ” comic relief ” and the viewer definitely feels some sort of affection for him. Admittedly it is he who takes out Ade, but we don’t actually see it. And of course Burt Gervasi IS a gangster himself so it isn’t as good an example as the others. But I always felt his murder by Sil to be almost out of context and even gratuitous. Very unlike ” The Sopranos “. The point still stands though. It is to remind us exactly who and what these people are. Murdering, vicious bastards.

    The sight of Vito crying while driving home to what we now know was his death is genuinely moving. He then shoots an innoncent bystander to death. The state of Chris is tragic with his lapse back to drink and drugs fuelled obviously be his loss of Adriana which he never got over. But before we feel too much sympathy he murders J.T. for no apparent reason. At least none that I can see. Any ides on that one anybody ? My own flimsy take is that while drunk when J.T. shouts at him ” Chris, you’re in the mafia “, he realises he has already said way too much and the ” soldier ” in him kicks in and he does what all of these people do- resort to violence. The ultimate violent. In the case of Bobby, he got to nine eopisodes from the end of the series without killing anybody. But now he has crossed over. And gets his in the toy store.

    My theory only applies, of course, to characters that we may have come to care TOO MUCH about. People we almost cheer for, forgetting the scum they really are. People like Ritchie, Ralph etc are different in that they are painted as one-dimendionally bad people. Brilliant but uniformly bad nonetheless.

  597. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. I should clarify something up above; when I say the murder of Burt by Sil is ” out of context ” what I really meant was that we have no background knowledge of this story-line. It appears as if comletely out of the blue. I remember first seeing it going ” what the f…” ? What was that all about ? Sil ? Throttling a character we barely, if at all, know ? With his bare hands ? It seemed totally gratuitous to me. As if Chase was saying we’re near the end now so I better goose up the body count, the ” wow ” factor.

    But for me, IT IS part of the pattern I have mentioned. Different slightly from other instances- Jeff is right in that- but the point still stands. Before these characters meet their maker, or not, in case we have gotten just a little too cosy and familiar with them, we see them in their real light and get slapped in the face by Chase.

  598. ASTON TECHNO Says:

    this is not shakespeare people…it is marketing and advertising

    enthusiasts will continue to fan the flames on this HBO fireball

    remember in the history of all entertainment media

    nothing of excellence ever goes unrepeated

    unless you are taking a university course relating to this subject

    i can’t see the relevance of any further conversation here

    be patient…….the sopranos will be back with new material soon

    quality has an audience demand

    we certainly have that here ô¿ô

  599. circasuicide Says:

    MOS,

    i agree that the death, and ordering of the death, of ade was probably the first domino in the final domino affect. but i personally feel that there was still a small chance of redemption. i think when he killed christopher was the final nail in the coffin. i think he had realized his own depravity and his own refusal to turn his life around and in affect figuratively killed himself when he smothered christopher. i think tony saw alot of himself in chris and when he repeatedly over the years fell back in to his old ways, he was angered not only by his screw-ups, but by his refusal to turn his life around. i think secretly tony was partly angry that christopher didn’t run off with ade and change his life. this could just be me, but i always saw his level of anger over finding out about ade to be a little high. i’m rambling, but my point is that i believe tony saw himself in christopher and when he wouldn’t change, and the fact that tony was internally upset with himself for not changing, he figuratively killed himself when he killed christopher. from that point on, i feel tony had the attitude of ‘this is as good as it gets’ and decided if he couldnt be happy and changed, he would be miserable and fall deeper into the mire. in other words, he couldnt escape this life, so he would atleast wallow in the upsides to it(women, money, power, etc.)

    dsweeney,

    after really considering that i mourned the show and not tony, i have to admit that i stand by my original statement. i think i somehow developed an unconditional love for tony. and i think, much like god, i love him even at his worst, and am genuinely saddened that he passed violently, and weighted by so much sin. tony is in hell, and hell is eternal seperation from god. as the show ends, we are eternally seperated from tony who has passed on, as well as the show.

    maybe reading a little too deep here, but it’s how i feel.

  600. william b Says:

    test message

    I am trying to see if i can post, i believe that i am having problems. Got a lot to say

    Bill

  601. dsweeney Says:

    That’s fine Circa. That’s your take on it and you are entitled to it. Another poster elsewhere, who I was very fond of, held exactly the same view as yourself. Unfortunately because I held the viewpoint that I am about to make, she took it as an attack on her, which it most certainly wasn’t. I hope you don’t feel the same way.

    Your attitude, correct me if I’m wrong, is that of Phil’s wife, the ” love the sinner, not the sin ” take in things. The difficulty I have with this Circa is that I feel we can only forgive somebody who has wronged US, wronged US PERSONALLY. By that I mean the wrong has to be done to ourselves and NOT to somebody else. I dont’ think it is within our brief to forgive somebody who has wronged SOMEONE ELSE. Do you see my point ? You say you can forvive Tony for having Adriana murdered or for killing Chris himself. But this is the point. How do you think Ade’s mother feels ? Her daughter vanishes without a trace. She knows but she doesn’t know what happened to her. She knows she’s dead but doesn’t know and she knows Christopher was involved but again….doesn’t know.

    But WE do, don’t we ? We know exactly what happened. Chris, while loving Ade, loves ” the good life ” even more. And so he gives her up to Tony knowing what will become of her.

    Or what about Chris himself ? Is it Tony’s right to decide whether he lives or dies ? Whether he will or won’t be a good father to his baby ? I don’t think it is. And Kelly, his now widow, wouldn’t either. Who made Tony Soprano God to give and take life ? So while you may forgive his transgressions, there are others, those who have been wronged, who cannot. Ever.

    I agree with you Circa when you say Tony is in hell. For me, there were enough references throughout the show to at least sugggest the possibilty of some sort of after-life, spiritual or otherwise but the black screen and complete silence means there is no such after-life for Tony. He is damned to never know God. WHATEVER that is.

    Nice post Aston but I would say that, yes, The Sopranos isn’t Shakespeare- it’s BETTER than that. And I hope there will be endless discussion about it.

  602. Jeff Says:

    Burt was killed because he was flippin to Leotardo I think.Sil, the ever loyalist, did the deed.I think Chase should have let Sil live and take over.He worked hard and was always ‘smart’ about things.It would have been a relatively ‘clean’ regime under Sil.Besides. I am partial to guitar players….I love that line in ‘Godfather’….”Good food, everybody minds his own business.”…Next time you are eating at some Italian joint, just sit there and say that as you and your party are sitting down.It feels good and always gets a chuckle from someone.

  603. cobalt Says:

    When Tony is at the end of his coma, before he ‘comes to’ by meadow’s voice, I actually see that sequence there as a refusal to change his ways. He is told that the “family” is in the mansion and that he is “going home” but that he can’t bring his briefcase (his work) into the reunion. Basically, those two families are never going to coincide. When the man tries to take Tony’s briefcase, he says “I can’t. My whole life is in there.” I saw the briefcase as a representation of his mob life, his business, and he isn’t going to leave his business at the door. “I was being pulled to someplace and I don’t ever want to go back there.” I saw it not as a vision to him of redemption or damnation and the chance to change. He made his choice for “The Family” by not going in that door and leaving his briefcase behind. That’s just my take.

    Anyone notice the doctor attending to Tony in the hospital resembles one of the monks in his coma?

    Anyone notice the search light he sees while looking out the window of his hotel room and connect that with the search light on the Eifle Tower when Carm is in Paris?

    Remember, when Junior is diagnosed with cancer, he says “these things come in 3’s” thus that magic number again.

    I didn’t see that Chris killed JT because he knew too much, but rather because he dared to mention that Chris was in the mafia at all. I think Chris was pissed, he was ranting and raving about Tony and how he could bring him down if he wanted, how he was tired of being bullied by him (and yes, Chris was under the influence of whatever, which just increases the intensity) and had JT sided with him rather than actually pointing out the truth, he wouldn’t be dead. I probably defend Chris too much. I always had a soft spot for him.

    Just random thoughts.

  604. Kevin Fevitton Says:

    Awesome analysis. I’m a Scottish 20 year old student who has just finished the Soprano’s on DVD (too young to watch it on tv). Never have I been so thrilled by a series and think no series will come even close to the Soprano’s. People told me not to expect to much from the ending though I wasn’t disapointed. After watching it, I immediately typed into google and found this page, which although I understood most, went into fantastic detail and just shows the quality of writing and direction in the Soprano’s. Something I will watch time and time again, eventually showing my children, like my dad did for me.

    Thank you for this website. It is truly fascinating.

  605. dsweeney Says:

    Interesting take on the briefcase in the coma sequence Cobalt. Personally I always took it simply to mean his ” actual ” life and his struggle to hold on to it represents his struggle for life. The way I read it is that his body is closing down, he’s dying and this is how his mind or his consciousness sees it. His mind uses the briefcase and his effort to ” hold on to it ” as a symbol for his fight for life. In the same way when Paulie is banging on with his depressing rant, in Tony’s head it is represented as a row going on in the hotel room next to his. In my mind, if Tony had let go of the briefcase, he would have died there on the operating table. The pull of Meadow’s voice from his bedside is represented in his coma / dream as her voice from the bushes and drags him back to life.

    Great spot about the search-light outside Tony’s hotel and Carm in Paris, I’ll look out for it next time around.

    Jeff, Burt was definitely taken out by Sil because he was thinking of jumping sides over to NY. My point though is that it was very sudden, we had no knowledge of it and so seemed to me a bit ” forced”, for want of a better word. To me, it was as if Chase, knowing Sil was going to get it himself very shortly, put it in there to remind us what Sil is- not a good-natured clown who does Pacino impressions but a strip-joint owner who can kill with his bare hands.

    Earlier, it was a similar thing with Chris. Shortly before he would be suffocated at the hands of Tony, he brutally murders J.T. for no good reason. You’re right of course, simply having told him he was in the mob was enough of a reason but still, he had known for a long time before that and Chris was ok with it. But this time, while drunk, depressed etc. he hears the truth ( ” Chris, you’re in the MAFIA !!!” ) and can’t handle it. No way out. He’ll never be able to make it as a writer. And so does what a Mafia soldier does. He lashes out, killing J.T. in his apartment.

  606. NICOLAS Says:

    excelent study!!!

    if nobody said this before, the MOJ appears in the episode when Tony sees the two muslim guys (ahmed and mohamed) at the street

    thks

  607. dsweeney Says:

    That would be so cool Nicolas. If only it were true. Paolo Colandrea, who plays ” man in members only jacket “, is not an actor and hadn’t appeared in anything prior to the scene in Holsten’s. If he had worked previously on the show, trust me, we would know about it. Having said that, if someone else comes on here and says it is definitely him then you may be on to something.

  608. cobalt Says:

    dsweeney-

    I see where you’re coming from on the coma interpretation and I think that is probably the mainstream understanding. I just saw the whole briefcase struggle not so much as putting a choice out there in the future, but rather foreshaddowing what will happen. I guess you can take it either way.

    I too think that Chris reacted impulsively in shooting JT (and we know that impulsiveness is a character weakness for him), but on a deeper level, I think you’re right about him seeing the futility of escaping by getting into film. Plus, he doesn’t want to take responsiblity for the script, which has offended Tony and increased their already strained relationship. Julianna kind of warned him about the script when she read an earlier draft. Since JT isn’t going to take the fall for Chris, he doesn’t really see a way out. He solves the problem the only way he, and Tony, and all those of their ilk do: remove the problem. Kill it. Eventually, all these guys become problems to someone else.

    Kinda sad.

  609. Bianca Says:

    Thank you so much for your elaborate and insightful take on the last scene of The Sopranos.
    I just finished this episode and am so glad to have found your essay on this issue, as I felt a little lost in Limbo. That’s why I went on the Internet to see what others thought about this final scene.
    Eventhough I hate the thought of Tony being whacked, your ‘proof’ is too good not to be true …

    Stupid how empty you can feel after the loss of a character.

    Thanks again!

    Bianca
    (The Netherlands)

  610. dsweeney Says:

    It just shows how brilliantly written and acted the Tony Soprano character was Bianca. I think we all felt like you, at least initially. I know I did even though now I’m glad he died. There is only so much you can forgive and by the final episode he was beyond all hope for any kind of redemption, a repulsive sociopath.

    Cobalt- You most certainly can read the briefcase struggle as Tony’s inability or unwillingness to give up ” the life “. The problem I have with it though is that in the coma, by NOT giving up the briefcase, he lived. In reality, not giving up ” the life ” is what ultimately killed him.

  611. LifeStudent Says:

    “GROWING UP SOPRANO”

    Brilliant analysis and discussion. Truly enjoyable.

    While the Sopranos’ universe clearly revolves around Tony, and while the last scene of total darkness representing Tony’s immediate demise is completely plausible (especially given MOS’ expert argument), I see another possibility.

    To me, the main character/theme of the show is not Tony or gangsters or good versus evil. “Family” is the thing that ties every episode together. And family is what motivates every character.

    It’s all about how one relates to their family (the family of humankind, too) and its members. It’s about how one sees his or her role and responsibilities in their respective spheres of influence and other less intimate relationships, as well. It’s about how our choices vies a vies those people produce profound ripple effects for all concerned.

    In the show, and in life, the struggle is for individuals to strive to free themselves from the power and control of others and the very human tendency to try to maintain that same power and control over other people, especially those closest to us.

    This is the ultimate tension played out between Tony and his mother, Junior and Tony, Carmela and Tony, Christopher and Tony, Janice and Tony, Christopher and Aid, Hesch and Tony, Tony and Paulie, Tony and Bobby, Johnny Sac and Little Carmine, the Mob and the Feds, the Church and the people, the Soprano parents and their kids, New York and New Jersey, Dr. Melfi and Tony, etc. etc.

    Christopher tries to escape from Tony’s control internally and initially through drugs, then through rehab, then finally through the production of “Cleaver”, as Carmela points out, through its “revenge fantasy”. But to no avail. And just as with Christopher, when we fail to break-free from the chains of others’ power and control, we die little by little.

    Dr. Melfi is the only one in the entire show who ever realizes any sense of ultimate freedom and empowerment. And ironically this is only after her own therapist Elliott uses his power over her to “out” her at the dinner party. Her road to freedom took a major step forward early on, though, when she chose on her own not to disclose the rape to Tony as she decided wisely not to trade one control-freak rapist in her life for another. Freedom is not free. This act of self-determination was the greatest example of bravery in the entire series.

    The final scene shows us that Tony, and those closest to him–Carmela, Meadow, and AJ–would not be emancipated from the control and power of their family past and present. Ultimately, this is Tony’s “putrid gene”, his gift to his children.

    The bell rings. And like servants responding to the master, they come.

    Carmela walks down the aisle one more time, having failed to free herself because of her own control-dynamic issues manifested with AJ’s teacher/her lover. Tony hands her the menu. She asks him one last time, “what looks good?” relinquishing her own opinion and value again to a man who says he doesn’t know what’s good and never did.

    In the end, Tony (and his witting accomplice Carmela) have successfully stopped AJ’s progress towards independence and freedom by being part of the very military that purportedly is attempting to bring independence and freedom to Afghanistan (the very thing they said they wanted for their son). After his unsuccessful attempt at “freedom” through suicide when his dad once again “saved” him, they coaxed him back into the family business of control and power through a job with Carmine’s film company, adding fuel to the fire by using his new girlfriend’s influence and opinion (control) over him as added ammunition. This is why AJ walks into Holsten’s in near lockstep with the Member’s Only Guy. AJ is now in the club, successfully dominated.

    Sitting in Holsten’s, the three of them with their mimicked, learned behavior even pop the onion rings into their mouths in exactly the same manner, whole, not contemplating the heat being generated by their impulsive reaction to the aroma of past pleasure. Hmmm. Onion Rings. Best in the state. “Remember the good times” regardless of what got you there or what may be the results of pursuing them further.

    Meadow wasn’t so easy. She is last to come on board and the last to walk in. She was the great hope with a conscience and an open mind, even willing to date a half black/half Jewish boy. Her inclination was to make her own way. But, as the parking scene so artfully demonstrates, she has mentally maneuvered herself into a rationalized position to stay within the fold, in fact running toward it in the end.

    Could it be that Tony’s last Point Of View emphasized finally the utter nothingness which results in continually allowing yourself to be controlled by those in your life as well as what comes of not consciously releasing your loved ones into their own destiny, freedom, choices, and the growth and maturity that comes from dealing with the consequence of those choices?

    Remember, we hear that bell as Meadow, the last one to “enter”, the last to answer the bell, makes her way in. Tony looks up toward his daughter and what is his POV as he looks to her and her future? Darkness.

    The reason the MOG is so central in the final scene is that ultimately we’re all members of the same club, yearning to get out as Eugene yearned, many of us unknowingly. Sil oft quoting “I was almost out, but they pulled me back in” comes to mind.

    May we all learn the valuable lesson of the Sopranos who never became true, free, mature people. The family never realized the debilitating affects of allowing others to control and empower them (even and especially from family members with their “love”, good intentions, and all). Finding your value and worth through what others think and say–even a good therapist–leads to nothingness. In this position, they, and we all, are destined to continue to walk in darkness regardless of when that walk on this earth actually ends.

    It doesn’t matter if we’re a Boss, Capo, soldier, cop, politician, priest, or a parent. We’re all on Pussy’s boat.

    Tony’s death is not Chase’s conclusion. Whether he lived or not is not crucial.

    What is crucial, and what Chase concludes, is that all of us Sopranos are still beholden to the control and power of others.

    It’s time to grow up, Sopranos.

  612. masterofsopranos Says:

    LifeStudent,

    Awesome post. Thank you.

  613. Joe D'Angelo Says:

    I was hoping for an unexpected ending, like the family are converted to the Jehovah Witnesses or something equally zany.

  614. dsweeney Says:

    Great post and interesting thoughts on the show, Lifestudent. But I would ask one question and it is this; you say ” although Tony’s immediate demise is plausible, I see see another possibility”, but why does all of the above preclude Tony’s death ? Why do you seem to think it must be one or the other ? Surely all of the above still applies, WITH MOS’s ” Tony died ” analysis ?
    Chase has lots of things to say about lots of things throughout the show. But I fail to see why these ideas should negate the ending as explained by MOS in any way. Those of us who subscribe to the analysis that the ending portrayed Tony’s death, are not saying that that is what the show was all about-far from it. Seven years to tell us a gangster dies ? I don’t think so! Others say the ending is some sort of ” existential ” idea, telling us that although he doesn’t necessarily die here, ” he will die some time, some other night “. Jeezz, what a revelation that is; Tony will die some time in the future!!
    No, folks, Tony died in there alright. We didn’t see it because at the critical moment HE didn’t see it. And it really is that simple. It is ” all there “. That doesn’t mean, however, that that is what the show is all about. It’s just that’s how he decided to end it.

  615. Mrmyeah Says:

    Great analysis….. absolutely loved it.

    Just a side note – one of the jukebox songs is “TURN TURN TURN” and the arrow beside it is highlighted with “HIT” (at 3 o’clock) – the only one on that page (though the other pages all have one HIT on them).

    Another huge theme for me during the final two episodes was, “The wheels are in motion.” Phil mentioned this in talking about the hit on Tony and his crew. The imagery of wheels in motion is rife throughout the show thereafter. Bobby Bacala’s hit – the wheels of the train (a runaway train, at that), Phil Leotardo’s hit (the wheels of the SUV) and Meadow’s wheels when parallel parking. And as mentioned before, she’s successful on her third try. Every try the wheels have been put in motion, twice bungled but successful on third attempt.

    Just one final thing – I agree with everything you said, but something has been bothering me.

    I freeze framed the diner scenes – does one of the black guys not gesture that he’s holding a gun in his waistband? And if you go frame by frame during Tony’s last scene, the last two frames are REALIZATION on his face followed by what looks like the beginning of a reach (towards his ). Maybe?
    Chase has shown disdain for African Americans in his writing before. Maybe we are conditioned to think the threat is the (obviously Italian) MOG. Maybe its a commentary on the Mafia’s place in crime today, maybe its a commentary on black violence in America today………. just a thought. But I doubt it…….

    Great work, again.

  616. LifeStudent Says:

    DSwee,

    Thanks for the response and comments.

    I applaud the analysis from MOS and from you, and completely agree with the possibility of Tony’s murder at that moment based on those arguments. In fact, they caused me to contemplate the meaning of Chase’s concluding in darkness, and by extension, the meaning of the series.

    But we do not KNOW Tony is shot.

    My analysis does NOT preclude a hit on Tony, it just featured Chase’s final view of the thing that we definitely do know. I wrote:”Tony’s death is not Chase’s conclusion. Whether he lived or not is not crucial.”

    As you pointed out, “Jeezz, what a revelation that is; Tony will die some time in the future!!”

    Exactly.

    Whether that future was immediately after he looked up toward Meadow’s entrance into Holsten’s or sometime later is not critical. Chase not showing it (and MOS’ brilliant consideration of what happened there) motivates us to dig deeper.

    Tony is already dead.

    His physical death very well may occur when MOG emerges from the restroom.

    However, Chase’s denouement of darkness underlines the spiritual and emotional death that would continue through at least the next generation of Sopranos. He did so by demonstrating Tony’s FINAL POV, his inability to have broken free of the utter darkness produced by the guilt and control at the hands of his smothering mother (he wanted to smother her) and his continued tenancy to find his worth and value in the opinions of others, whether they be of Melfi, Carmela, Christopher, Junior (“don’t you LOVE me?”), or Artie (“what, I’m I such a toxic person?”).

    Perhaps Tony’s largest crime was his inability to have recognized that this control of others continued to dominate his life and therefore he was unable to release his own power and control over his own children. Again, truly, the Soprano (or human) “putrid gene”.

    “The Sopranos” was such a profound undertaking that killing off Tony as the ultimate conclusion would not do in and of itself.

    This is why Chase leaves us wondering, and therefore leaves us thinking about it which led MOS (and you) to your insightful commentaries which hopefully leads all to personal growth.

    Religion, government, mafias, insecure/immature parents, partners, and friends all lead to the same conclusion, darkness.

    You’re right, it’s all there. True art.

  617. dsweeney Says:

    Mrmyeah-

    Love all your wheels in motion ideas, great stuff. I posted elsewhere before on how the demise of certain characters is foreshadowed by things they say, or others say about them. Your catch about Phil saying ” the wheels are in motion ” is a great one and one I missed. Phil also says, ” we DECAPITATE and do business with what’s left ” and of course it is HE who is decapitated when the wheels of his SUV roll over his head. Classic.
    Another great example of this is when Johnny Sac shouts down the phone to Ralph saying ” your a piece of shit Cifaretto, I should have let Tony CUT YOUR HEAD OFF a year ago ” and again, this is exactly what happens to him, when Tony and Chris chop him up in the bathtub.

    One thing I can’t agree with you though is when you say ” Chase has shown disdain for African Americans in his writing before “. I don’t know of his other work but I think this is an unfair criticism of him, certainly in The Sopranos anyway. Virtually all of the black characters in the show are sympathetic ones and the inherent racism of Tony and the guys in constantly alluded to. The point about the black guys in Holsten’s is surely a comment on OUR, THE VIEWER’s OWN racism. The way we assume a group of black males are in there for any other reason than simply to have a meal. I also think the storylline in ” A hit is a hit “, about how black artists in the music business have, for decades, been ripped off by white management is Chase’s own, personaly viewpoint and not just something to fill screen-time. Nah, sorry, I can’t accept Chase as a racist. No way.

  618. Anonymous Says:

    Tony flipped!!!! Bottom line. Watch the last three episodes with that notino in your mind and it makes PERFECT sense.

  619. dsweeney Says:

    Lifestudent- Great post again but me being me I can’t let this go and anyway this is what forums are for, good cut and thrust argument.

    If, as you say, ” we don’t KNOW Tony dies”, then how do you explain the MOG character ? Why would Chase go to the trouble of having a threatening guy at least twice check Tony out ? In a Members Only jacket which in the Soprano world is short-hand for ” mob guy ” ? As has been pointed out, Ritchie, Junior, Feech and of course Eugene have all worn MOJ’s. In the episode CALLED ” Members Only “, Eugene, in the titular jacket, walks into a diner and shoots a guy dead. The same episode is littered with instances of foreshadowing, so why don’t the same rules apply equally to Tony ?

    Why go to all the trouble of having MOG go to the bathroom if not to re-enact the infamous scene from ” The Godfather ” ? Tony’s FAVOURITE scene ?

    Once you are aware of the POV sequence expertly explained by MOS, it leaps out at you, you can’t miss it. And when we should be seeing Meadow come through the door to greet her family we see and a black screen, accompanied by deathly silence, for a full ten seconds screen time, there can be no other conclusion but that he is gone. I’m sorry, but to argue the ending is some sort abstract, existentialist comment on his ” dark ” and ” empty ” future is to wilfully ignore all of the above. And all of the above is ACTUALLY IN THE SHOW. It isn’t conjecture. So, to finish, I would argue that if you engage what is there, we DO, in fact, know that Tony is dead. We just didn’t see it. Which, by the way, Chase himself said ” was part of the ending”, in interview talking about the hit on Gerry Torciano as witnessed ( ish ), by Sil.

  620. dsweeney Says:

    Just one other further point on this, if I could. If nothing actually happened in Holsten’s then why not show Meadow enter, go to her family and end it there ? The ten seconds of black screen is more than ample time for her to reach their table, Tony to go ” hi hon “, Carm to say ” Miss Meadow ” and AJ to say ” hey”. But this doesn’t happen. When Tony glances up to see his guardian angel, bang!! His lights go out. If ” we don’t KNOW Tony dies” and nothing happens why the mysery ?

    The reason I believe ties in with the last time we see Meadow and Tony together. Remember the earlier scene in the episode when they meet in the city for drinks ? Tony is making noises about marriage and babies along the lines of ” my chances are flying by me here “, and that time is running out for him. Too right it is. Little did either know that this would be the last occasion they would be together. Time really IS running out for him. And this ties in then with Holsten’s. The other ducks are all there. All except one. And when he looks up in anticipation …? Nothing. Watch the scene drinking shots together with this in mind and it is even more poignant. It’s Tony’s last time with his Meadow and he didn’t know it. As Chase said, that’s the way it goes. The ending is already happening before you are aware of it.

    Anonymous- If anybody flipped, HARRIS DID.

    I would refer you to the exchange between Tony and Carm in Holsten’s. She says something to the effect of ” did you speak to Mink ” ? and he replies ” it’s Carlo. He flipped and he’s gonna testify “. Now if Tony himself had flipped why would he care what Carlo has to say about anything ? He wouldn’t be even going to trial if he has flipped ?
    Also, why would the Feds want Tony to flip ? HE is the big fish they have been after for years. Tony Soprano, big cahoona. What, they’re going to flip him so they can bust Paulie Walnuts ? Or little Paulie ? Or Benny and Walden ? Remember they flipped Ray Curto to testify against Tony. Same with Eugene. Not to mention Pussy. It’s Tony these guys have spent trying to nail. They only went after small-fry like poor Ade to get Chris to flip and give up Tony. No way Jose. Tony Soprano is not for turning. He may be every other kind of slim but he ain’t no rat!

  621. dsweeney Says:

    Typo alert; Re up above, it should of course read ” SLIME ” and not ” slim “. I bet I know which fat Tony would prefer though!

    And further up it should read ” mystery ” and not ” mysery “.

  622. cobalt Says:

    When you take into account Chase’s initial desire to have the black screen and silence until the white noise HBO screen showed up, that pretty much points to Tony’s demise.

    The more you watch the Sopranos, you see references and symmetry. I love how Chris had “crossed over to the other side” in season two and how Tony got a taste of that “other side” in season 6, and how they both interpret those experiences. For Chris, hell is a given. His fate is sealed. There is really no reason for him to “change” or even try. For Tony, he sees there is a choice and a crossroads, but he doesn’t really change.

  623. dsweeney Says:

    Great point Cobalt, well spotted. Chris is ” going to hell ” and that’s that. Whereas Tony has been given the chance to change and take a new path. He either can’t or chooses not to. He is irredeemable.

    And of course you are right also about the black screen running ” all the way to the HBO whoosh ” as Chase said himself. If, as some fans claim, nothing happened, why go to such extremes ? Surely a quick FADE out ( as opposed to the jarring, mid-scene cut ) and then the credits would have sufficed. No, the very deliberate editing of the ending means much more than just ” life goes on as usual “.

  624. Tricky P Says:

    Another indicator of Tony’s death in the final scene is that, throughout the final episode, all of the characters that are close to Tony (that is, his family and his Family), and Tony himself, are wearing black, which resembles, of course, funeral garb. In other words, they are dressed for a funeral. And the black van that Tony is being driven around in resembles a hearse.

  625. mrmartin Says:

    According to me the meeting with the Buddhist monks in his dream and the other signs of a more emphatic and regretful Tony for his deeds in his past eventually becomes his weakness in the diner. His relaxed mood will be the reason for letting him not being aware of the killer in the members only-Jacket. The usual Tony (as he is being presented in the earlier seasons before his coma) would as the text said be more aware of what booth he chose and the entering of the killer. Before the coma and the awakening of Tony’s less egocentric view of the world, he was much more aware of the possibilities of an attempted murder on him. As in season 1 where the two African-American guys tried to murder him but did not succeed. Although Junior Soprano did shot him without Tony being able to stop him, he still survived. In the last scene his new philosophy on life eventually became his downfall.

    (Sorry if I double-posted)

  626. cobalt Says:

    dsweeney,

    One of the aspects that fascinates me about The Sopranos is the relationship between Tony and Chris. Recall in season 3 when Tony is getting on Jackie Jr’s case for going off the rails. There is an exchange that takes place between Tony and Chris in the basement (I think this is around the time the lamp is bugged). Tony sort of busts on Chris for not looking after Jackie Jr and says that he made a promise to Jackie’s dad to make sure that he didn’t get involved in “that life.” Chris seems almost hurt by the idea that Tony would look after and want something better for Jackie, but that being in the mob was good enough for Chris. Tony tells Chris that Jackie isn’t “suited” for the outfit, but you can clearly see that Chris is hurt by this knowledge, almost as if he wishes Tony were looking out for him in that way. Surely Chris joined the mob for approval and he’s got that, to a point, but it isn’t enough because he’s always looking for that fatherly approval and acceptance.

  627. circa suicide Says:

    dsweeney,

    i don’t see your counter view as an attack at all, rather just what it is – a different view. one of the gifts, if somewhat unintended, of the ending is that it has sprung forth so many different views.

    while i definitely see your point in the aspect of only being able to forgive directly, not indirectly, my faith tells me that not only should i forgive everyone, i must. one only need look at the cross to see that jesus forgave all, not just those who put him to death. not that living and acting like jesus is anything easily attainable.

    in the end, im

  628. dsweeney Says:

    I certainly respect you and your faith Circa. Where I have difficulty with this, and this was the sticking point with this other poster as well, is are you saying therefore that nobody is responsible for anything ? That in fact there should be no criminal justice system or no law and order ? That the Tony Sopranos of this world can do what want and will always be forgive ?

    I would agree with you that everybody deserves a second chance in life, even a third maybe. But a fourth, fifth, a sixth ? Where does it end ? At what point do we have to take responsibility for our own actions and pay the consequences ? While we may feel some sort of affection for Tony initially, very quickly he becomes the sort of cancer that society can do without. And that’s putting it mildly. He murders, steals, cheats and lies his way to satisfy his own greed and cravings. Maybe Jesus can forgive him but we are only human and that’s too big an ask I think. For me anyway . The families of his victims deserve better.

  629. dsweeney Says:

    Again Cobalt, great shout about Chris and Jackie Jr. Chris is genuinely hurt that Tony is trying to protect Jackie from ” this thing of our “, yet has no problem getting Chris involved. It is a difficult one even for Tony to answer. On the one hand Tony is effectively saying to Chris ” you’re a scumbag, like me, so I want this life for you ” but that he cares too much for Jackie and promised his father to keep him out of it. So you can see the difficulty Chris has with it.

    It’s indicative I think, of the dreadful mind-set of these people when you consider how Tony gets ” close to ” Christopher. He fingers the cop who allegedly murdered Chris’s father when he was only a little baby. I say allegedly because we have absolutely no way of knowing for sure this guy is who Tony says he is. His denial seems genuine enough to me, saying to Chris ” he’s setting you up “. But as Chris points out it doesn’t matter, ” either way he wants you dead “. Chris later says ” I’m going to hell for that man “, he’s so grateful to Tony for giving him the guy who killed his father. Supposedly anyway.

    It also reminds me of the whole ” Willie overall ” scenario. This was the bookie who Tony made his bones with, the first murder he committed. According to Paulie, Tony’s father had ” respected him ( Tony ) enough to trust him with the job “. Words to that effect anyway. Think about that. This Johnny Boy’s way of showing his affection and approval of his son, by getting him to commit murder. Tony then felt part of their thing, part of the world of a gangster. Similarly, he gives Chris the job of whacking the retired cop, to make Chris feel part of their thing, close to the boss.

  630. william b Says:

    i wonder if david chase has seen this site. I bet he has.

  631. GySgt Says:

    Perfect

  632. Dustin Leos Says:

    Haha…i knew that was what happened, but still one question remains………………If there was a truce in that warehouse, who ordered the hit on Soprano??? … Was that guy a Russian???????

  633. Jeff Says:

    “He murders, steals, cheats and lies his way to satisfy his own greed and cravings. Maybe Jesus can forgive him but we are only human and that’s too big an ask I think. For me anyway . The families of his victims deserve better.”…………….

    I agree with you on a basic level about “people like Tony”, DSWEENY, but as I have pointed out before, you are basically talking about 25% of the human race here, be they male or female..Probably closer to 33%!!!

    Of course, MOST people who may have some of Tony’s traits don’t have ALL of them, nor do they usually have the ability to inflict as much pain, but the fundamental fact is this..There is a LOT of evil, or at the least, disturbed folks out there.

    And Tony can’t really be all THAt bad can he??He wouldn’t even let Finn pick up the check.You would think that a truly evil person would have done that!Huh Huh

  634. cobalt Says:

    dsweeney,

    Very keen observations. Although Tony’s history with Jackie Jr’s father may go back a while (I’m not sure of this), his history with Jackie Jr does not, and because his history with Christoper DOES go back since childhood, maybe Chris feels jilted. But, Christopher is the son of “The Family” and everything he doesn’t want for AJ because, as he has said “it isn’t in his nature,” much the same as Jackie Jr.

    Remember when Tony makes the connection (upon Melfi’s suugestion) between meat and panic attacks, and how witnessing his father cut off the butcher’s pinky brought that on. Right before the family is to eat dinner, Johnny Boy tells Tony that he’s proud of him because any one else who saw what he saw in the butcher shop would run away. So there, not only do we see the mob-molding dynamic between him and his father, but we see this connection with food.

    These guys are always eating. They clip someone and they eat. The do a job, and they eat. The food washes away the details of “that life” because you can’t really think about it. Food is like a coping mechanism. But when he eats meat, the panic attacks come. After the shooting in season 6, he is restricted in diet. He continues to have digestive issues. I somehow think this is a subtext—being able to digest that sort of life, eat it up, and such.

  635. Jasper Washington Says:

    LET’S GET REAL. T MISSES A CHANCE TO OFF AJ?
    The one thing about the Sopranos Series that bothers me is the scene where AJ is trying to off himself in the pool. I have to say to David Chase, you cannot have it both ways.. either Tony is a narcissist and a sociopath or he is not. I see no magic line in the sand that someone completely lacking empathy would never cross. “Like, okay, the guy has a complete lack of empathy but not to that extent”. No, it does not work that way. You cannot have the Tony Soprano character consistently acting in his own best interests, completely without remorse but then stopping short when it comes to his own kid. AJ was a problem to Tony, an embarrassment and a constant pain-in-the-ass. Whacking his own kid would have been easier than whacking Moltisanti… all Tony had to do was to passively watch his son drown. Moltisanti had many more redeeming qualities than AJ, yet Tony still whacked him. Why not AJ? From a story telling view perspective, maybe it makes sense for Tony to draw back here, as you want the audience to identify with Tony. However, any true psychopath worthy of the label would have added a few more cinder blocks to the kid’s rope. For me, this error took the realism away from the story. At his point, it just became another piece of entertainment playing to the needs of the mass audience. You can argue it you wanna but you ain’t gonna change my mind.

  636. MG Says:

    You’ve certainly identified Eugene Pontecorvo’s critical importance as part of Tony’s failure to embrace his chance at redemption, but I think there might be even more evidence to see of Pontecorvo’s significance, and it’s in the most obvious of literary devices: his name.

    The name Eugene means “well-born” or “noble.” This contrasts to Tony “Born Under a Bad Sign” Soprano, whose name descends from the old Italian name Antonius. Marcus Antonius (Mark Anthony) is the most famous historical bearer of this name, a man whose life was embroiled in blood, war, betrayal and deadly intrigue – a man who sat briefly upon a throne, but ended up dead, trapped by his own machinations.

    Tony’s family “inheritance” hardly makes him well born. His mother and uncle try to murder him, and his father dragged him into a life of murder and crime. As you’ve documented well, Tony’s family tradition is dysfunction and sickness. And obviously, not much about Tony can be called “noble.”

    The name Pontecorvo is an Italian compound word. “Ponte” means “bridge” in Italian, and “corvo” means “raven” or “crow.” Put together, you have Bridgeraven or Bridgecrow. Bridges are very commonly used as symbols in literature/film of “crossing over,” transitions, and death.

    The crow is well known as a mythological and literary symbol of death. Examples for the Bridge and Raven/Crow symbology are numerous and easy to find. Most people probably know several.

    Pontecorvo’s compound name, and the meaning packed into it, also remind me of the “stormcrow” of myth – the harbinger of chaos, destruction, storms and death. It seems clear to me that Chase quite intentionally packed all this meaning into Eugene Pontecorvo’s name (as well as his character), giving us almost undeniable subtextual evidence showing Pontecorvo’s importance *and* the impending doom he means for Tony.

    Also interesting is that Pontecorvo is an actual town in Italy. We see yet more compelling twists on the Pontecorvo name when it’s explained in its original Latin meaning, from wikipedia:

    —”Its name derives from the pons curvus, “curved bridge”, that may still be seen spanning the Liri in the center of the town that grew around the bridgehead in the course of the Middle Ages. The curve of the bridge was intended to divert timbers that might strike its piers during floods. The folk etymology of corvo, “crow”, symbol of the “black monks”, the Benedictines of the abbey of Monte Cassino, within whose secular territory, the Terra Sancti Benedicti, Pontecorvo lay, is displayed in the town’s modern coat-of-arms, which represents a crow surmounting a curved bridge.”—

    Wow.. we have all kinds of nifty stuff happening here. We have The death symbols of Black, Crow, Ravens… we have a city that was a stronghold of the Benedictine (“black”) monks (in contrast to Tony’s Dream Monks who tried to tell him how to save himself).

    But there’s even more! Remember Tony-as-Napoleon in the portrait Paulie loved (If I recall correctly)? Consider this interesting tidbit in the history of the town of Pontecorvo, again from wikipedia:

    —”Although just within the territory of the Kingdom of Naples, the town was an enclave of the Papal States from 1463, when the comune placed itself under papal jurisdiction, until it was captured by the French army in the Napoleonic Wars. After having been proclaimed King of Italy in 1805, Napoleon created Ponte Corvo a principality for his General Jean Baptiste Bernadotte. The principality was nominally sovereign, but the Prince did have to take an oath to the King. It was short-lived, however, and in 1815 the town was ceded back to the Papal States.”—

    So, it turns out that Napoleon usurped control of the town from the Papal States, then lost it back. Admittedly, we’re starting to stretch things here in terms of hard connections to The Sopranos, but there are still arguable thematic threads to be seen. Pontecorvo was struggled over by Napoleon (as whom Tony is portrayed) and the Pope. If you’re willing to suspend your historical knowledge of the true Papacy and see it as a symbol of the on-paper Christian principles of redemption and forgiveness, I think there’s a clear thematic link to what’s happening with Tony. Eugene Pontecorvo is part of Tony’s tipping point in his battle between being Emperor Tony and Redeemed Tony.

    One last (and admittedly somewhat tenuous) thing that’s interesting is that the town of Pontecorvo was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in modern style. This mirrors a strong theme in American-Italian gangster films, where the difference between Old World Italy and 20th-century Italy is often shown. Certainly, both the Godfather films and The Sopranos pound on the theme of how much of the modern Italian mafia in the USA is a “Made in America” phenomenom, merging Old Italy and the modern USA in the post-World War era of American superpower dominance as a cultural and military force.

    Anyway – overall I think you nailed the analysis of the entire series, including the case that Tony is dead. I haven’t done meticulous editing or sourcing for this post, but I think I’ve given you enough to run with. Feel free run with it as you see fit; I think there might be even more to be found on the Pontecorvo Connection. I only spent a few minutes checking on my hunch once the meaning of his name dawned on me. With more digging and more people putting their minds to work on the issue, there might be more to see.

  637. Paul Says:

    @ jasper washington: if Tony is a sociopath, why did he not let AJ drown in the pool to be rid of his no-good son, you write.

    This points right at the problem I have with many people here labelling Tony a sociopath and what that would mean. I think that a sociopath is the clinical, psychological sense of the term is someone who lacks the ability to empathize with other people. It does not mean a one-sided, blank, movie-type evil, a sadist who like to hurt people (not necessarily) or a guy who would let his own son drown.

    I wrote here before that the mob-types are not immoral, they have lots of honour-related moral codes they live by. They do not adher to a lot of morals that mainstream society has and that is what makes them mobsters (and besides that they can be hypocrits about their morals, like all people can). By the same token: Tony is not devoid of all feelings. He loves his family, hell, he might even have loved Chris and STILL have murdered him when that love lost out against his sense of self-preservation and his selfishness.

    It paints a way more interesting and complicated picture of Tony when we realize he is a human being who loves and has some redeeming qualities at the same time as he is a selfish, destructive, murderous bastard. When we label him the proverbial bad guy, one-dimensional evil, we are not doing justice to the character and the series that Chase came up with.

  638. dsweeney Says:

    Wow MG, love all the Pontercovo stuff, fantastic. Eugene certainly ” crossed over ” in his very graphic dance of death. I agree that nothing in the show is done in an off- the -cuff manner and the names are certainly well thought out. I especially loved the ” Leotardo ” joke. And your stuff about Tony and Mark Anthony is fantastic, really great and the parallels with Tony are superb.

    Jesper- Are you serious ? I mean really ? Tony is a sociopath, not a psycopath. You’re confusing him with Jason or Freddy Kruger- different movies entirely. This is the Sopranos, not ” Cleaver “. While Tony can kill an ” enemy ” without remorse or compassion, he is not insane. He is not going to kill his only son because he is ” an embarrassment “. Remember the Yochelson study ? They ( sociopaths ) express feeling and empathy through pets and children or little babies. If you notice when Tony rescues AJ from the pool at first he shouts at him and scolds him, ” what’s the matter with you!! “, but then cradles him in his arms saying ” ok babt, I got you baby “. It’s only by thinking of AJ as his baby that he can feel any love or affection for him. His own son.

  639. dsweeney Says:

    Jeff- I don’t quite understand your point on this. Are you saying maybe 33% of the human race are criminals or what ? Or at least do ” bad” things ? High think that’s waaay too high, to be honest. Yes most people lie and cheat a little here and there but to use that as some sort of ” get out of jail ” card for Tony is not on. While we all have our faults we DO NOT murder our way through life.

    And that was the gist of my point. It may be within Jesus’ remit to forgive sinners but for society to function on any level they must be ” punished”, for want of a better word. The Christian God may forgive their souls in some great here-after but as humans we have to deal with the here and now. And animals who destroy people at will like our hero, simply can’t be ” forgiven “. It is not our call to make.

    If Circa reads this, there is a film I would suggest you see if you haven’t already. It’s called ” The Bad lieutenant” starring Harvey Kietel. It may be a bit graphic here and there and may not be your cup of tea but I would urge you to stick with it to the end. It pretty much sums up your exact take on things. It’s basically about having to forgive the unforgiveable.

  640. circasuicide Says:

    dsweeny,

    i most certainly think a justice system is good and something we have to have. from a secular viewpoint, i would have to agree that tony has long ago burned through his 5th, 6th, and probably 250th chances. that’s why i explained my faith in a way to make you understand that it is that part of me that doesn’t hate tony and cast him aside. i don’t want to come off as someone who codoned the violence, theft, murder, cheating, etc. of tony soprano, just as someone trying to extend the forgiveness someone has extended to me.

  641. Jon S. Says:

    Absolutely phenomenal show. Nothing about the show’s finale can ever take away from the fact what the creators of this show were able to achieve. They’ve raised the bar of television excellence incredibly high, so much so I don’t foresee any other show measuring up for some time.

    That being said, the finale DOES NOT work. Period. I have the read the lengthy dissertation above. I understand the mechanics, the artistry, the technical aspects involved in crafting and shaping the scene in the manner David Chase opted to. Does the scene build suspense? Absolutely. Is there clarity at the end as to what happens? OF COURSE NOT.

    The fact that the author above had to go TO SUCH GREAT LENGTHS to substantiate his arguments only goes to prove – that further elaboration is in fact needed. Who among us is really going to take the time to break down a scene the way the writer has? Who would even have the initiative to do so — other than a film school student? Or someone in search of answers?

    There are clues, the writer seems to be saying. I agree. There are clues, but the finale is left PURPOSEFULLY ambiguous.

    It is the choice of the filmmaker. I respect that. Why he crafted the ending the way he did? I don’t particularly know OR CARE. Was the finale satisfying on some level? Not really. Not on any level, really.

    A better question, I suppose, would be… is there any ending that would satisfy, that would be the culmination, the perfect coda of six glorious seasons? I don’t know. I certainly believe a BETTER ending could have happened.

    The ending kinda reminds me of the motorcycle accident that happens as a result of Sil getting shot. We see the patrons outside the “Bing” and the shooters drive off, and there’s frenzied traffic, and this motorcycle hits a car and its rider falls off the motorcyle… and… and… my point is… yes, it happened. Yes, it’s believable. Does it ADD anything to the story? Not particularly. Does it DETRACT from the story? Not particularly. If I wanted to, perhaps I could study and cross-reference and go to film school and learn about all the different camera angles they used in shooting this whole motorcycle sequence… and maybe… who knows… maybe I’ll find clues in there that will answer some questions… I don’t know… but SHOULD I HAVE TO???

    It isn’t that I’m a lazy viewer. It’s just that I’ve been able to appreciate six glorious seasons of gorgeous story-telling, phenomenal acting, incredible plot twists, and… not once did I have to open my copy of “Film School for Dummies.” Why on earth should the finale be any different?

    I forgive “No Country for Old Men.” But “Sopranos”? No. Different animal. The ending simply doesn’t work.

  642. dsweeney Says:

    That’s fine Circa, I do understand and never for one moment thought you condoned any of Tony’s actions. You made your point well.

    Could I ask for people’s input on a point that has vexed me from the time it first aired right up to this day ? It concerns the scene where Tony and little Carmine go to Phil’s house with some power drills as a kind of peace-offering. The meeting has clearly been arranged by Carmine but Butchie turns them away at the door saying Phil won’t see them. At this point we hear Phil’s disembodied voice ( which for me, can only be a reference to Phil’s future decapitation ) telling Carmine to ” get that piece of shit ( Tony ) off my stoop “! Carmine complains that he agreed to the meet to which Phil replies, and this is the point, ” cooler heads prevailed “.
    This response from Phil simply does not make sense. ” Cooler heads ” WOULD have a sit-down and broker a peace deal. See my point ? Another poster elsewhere came up with the theory that this meeting was, in fact, a HIT ON TONY. That far from being peace talks Tony was to be whacked there and then in Phil’s house and that Carmine was in on it. But that Phil has decided against it- that ” cooler heads prevailed “. This would explain why Butchie turns them away at the door, much to Carmine’s surprise. There has been change of plan but he knows nothing about it.
    We have no evidence of course for this but IT IS the only thing that makes any sense of Phil’s ” cooler heads prevailed ” remark. At least that I can see. Anybody got any other suggestions ? I’m certainly open to them because a hit on Tony by Phil would be such a major story-line we surely would have been privy to it. Then again, you never hear it when it happens right ?

  643. dsweeney Says:

    P.S. The episode in question is ” The second coming “. At least I’m 90% sure it is. If not it is next one, ” The blue comet “.

  644. circasuicide Says:

    i just have to say the obvious – the sopranos is the greatest television show of all time. season 6 is a masterpiece.

  645. Yossarian Says:

    Yes, Tony died. I have to believe that is what being dead is like. No sight. No sound. Nothing. Ever again…. It happens like the flip of a switch, and there is no turning it back on.

    Tony expected it, and now seems accept it’s inevitability. With the possibility of jail looming, he’s almost looking forward to it.

    If you watch the last scene from an acting perspective, you will see how the family has somehow reconciled with each other, highlighted by Tony reaching out to touch his son’s hand. He sees for once his son has remembered some piece of wisdom he had mentioned before. It makes him smile his last smile, and is reminder to himself of what he should heed.

    MOG is seen simply having a cup of coffee. Yet as he stirs his coffee, he is obviously more interested in the man sitting at the table with his family. MOG is out of place.

    Tony has given up worrying if he is to be killed or when. He barely glances up at MOG as he walks past, knowing, yet not wanting to know, if this is his turn. One thing he does know is that he’ll never hear it if it is.

  646. Yossarian Says:

    One other thing I’d like to add is this. The final moments leading up to the blackout, everyone watching knows time is running out. Is he going to be killed? Will he live? Seconds tick by. You start to ask yourself, do you want to see him die or not? It’s like flipping a coin. Heads he lives, tails he dies. As it all goes dark, you have to make that decision for yourself, and what that decision will say a lot about yourself and who you are.

  647. masterofsopranos Says:

    Jon S.

    I know I can’t change your mind about the ending but I just wanted to point out that I don’t think the ending requires such an in depth analysis. There are many who think Tony’s death is obvious based on the cut to black and Bacala’s words and the subsequent flashback to that moment.
    This site just explores ALL of the symbolic, cineamatic, and thematic clues that lead to that answer.

    I also urge you not to look at the ending in pure narrative terms. Tony’s death does not flow naturally from the plotlines in the final few episodes. There is an apparent truce with NY and no known plot is evident. However, how many people die for reasons that we cannot comprehend at the time? Death is often surprising and not when or how we expect it to happen. I think that’s part of the effect Chase was going for. I also think it’s best to look at the end from a thematic standpoint as Chase was never big on plot machinations anyway. If you can, watch the final season again and then read Part II. I think you may find the ending a lot more satisfying.

    Speaking of “No Country”, I don’t think it’s ambigious and certainly less ambigious than the ending of The Sopranos. SPOILER: The story is really about Sheriff Bell and Anton Chigruh walking away just reinforces the overwhelming force of unrepentant, relentless evil. It was never about an inevitable showdown between Brolin and Chigruh.

    Yossarian,

    Nice post, there is a certain resignation about Tony in those final moments.

  648. Yossarian Says:

    Thanks MOS.

    The last scene reminds me very much of the death of Colonel Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”. The way Kurtz knew what was coming, and how he lowered his head to take the inevitable final blow. Tony keeps his head bowed in a similar fashion during much of the scene.

    BTW, nice work with your analysis. I’ve only read page two, and look forward to reading the rest. I don’t know if I will ever be able to read all the responses however.

    The fact that people are still responding years after the final episode is a testament to the show and it’s makers.

  649. dsweeney Says:

    Jon S.- You mention the scene where Sil gets shot outside the Bing and the motorcyclist getting thrown from his bike. IF you did, in fact, LOOK CLOSER at the material you would know the relevnce of it. In an earlier episode Sil is reading from the newspapers about a football player who was thrown from his motorcycle and then hit by oncoming traffic- EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS when Sil is shot. It is part of a pattern where the fate of key characters is referenced BEFORE it happens. Foreshadowing if you like.
    Another few examples for you Jon. Johnny Sac barks down the phone to Ralph ” you’re a lying piece of shit Cifaretto, I should have let Tony chop your head off a year ago”. Tony and Chris DO chop his head off in the bathtub.
    At the ” carefrontation “, on hearing Chris suffocated Adriana’s dog Tony shouts at him ” I OUGHTA SUFFOCATE YOU YOU PRICK”. Tony DOES suffocate Chris after he flips the car in ” Kennedy and Heidi “.
    Waiting for Phil to show for a meet, Vito exclaims ” finally, I was starting to grow mushrooms outa my ass “. This foreshadows the strategic placement of a pool cue about Vito’s anatomy.

    There are others but I think the point is made Jon.

    Everyone on here, I assume, has grown up with television and movies. We all instinctively understand the way it works. We know about POV sequences without even thinking about it. It’s second nature to us. MOS correctly points out that some people say it is blindingly obvious what happens to Tony and not ambiguous at all. It is only when you write it all down, lilke MOS has, that it appears complicated and long-winded. It is very simple really. You say the ending could have been better. I disagree. If by better you mean easier to understand then that would have defeated the purpose of it. Chase wanted us to ENGAGE THE MATERIAL ON A DEEPER LEVEL. To go back and rewatch the series. A ” Scarface ” type ending is cliched and beneath the Sopranos. Ditto a ” crime doens’t pay ” ending and a ” Tony is a bad man so he must die, and BE SEEN to die ” ending.

    Tony is dead. He never heard it when it happened. Like Bobby said he wouldn’t as part of the pattern identified above. WE didn’t hear/ see it when it happened either because in the instant of his death we are seeing through Tony’s eyes and die with him. Genius. Some people have difficulty grasping the idea Chase was going for it really isn’t that difficult. It is UNCONVENTIONAL maybe. Different from the usual TV garbage ? Certainly.

  650. dsweeney Says:

    P.s.- A few other instances of this pattern where the fate of certain characeters is hinted at before it actually happens.

    Johhny Sac, referring to Rusty, says to Tony ” HE’S A CANCER. I CAN’T LET IS SPREAD”!! We know what riddles John in the end.

    Rusty himself, at the funeral of Ray Curto, says to Tony ” Guys like that ? They’re A DYING BREED “! A few episodes later Rusty gets it outside his house by the two zips from the other side.

    The best of course I suppose is from Phil. Referring to the Soprano CREW, he says ” WE DECAPITATE AND DO BUSINESS WITH WHAT’S LEFT “!

    So to sum up I would say this is evidence that the death’s of key characters is referenced long before it actually happens on-screen and that Tony’s OWN fate is absolutely part of this pattern.

  651. Jeff Says:

    I agree Jon S…The ending DID NOT WORK….It certainly isn’t ‘BAD’, but it fell short of the standards Chase had set to SOME degree….The whole ‘black’ thing is cool, but I would still have just liked to have seen Tony get whacked right in front of his horrified family…THAT would have been more shocking and in line with how he presented this show….

    And make no mistake about it….Chase GLORIFIED violence and general shock value with this show.He made millions, so to some degree his whole ‘morality’ trip is is hillariously hypocritical and short sighted.He is as ‘evil’ as Tony Soprano is to a lot of folks out there.Not me, but believe me, The Sopranos is not for most people in one way or another.

    In my opinion, neither are anywhere near as evil as some of the folks running The Show…It is hard to imagine Tony or David manipulating world events and economies into ruin.They seem to know how to generate revenue and success.

    I love Paulie being the last man standing though!!!HaHa!

  652. MDot Says:

    The one contradiction I see over and over again is allegedly where Tony was shot. On the analysis, it states that if Meadow had been sitting next to her father, she would have blocked MOG’s line of sight, indicating that the shot would have have come from Tony’s right. Yet, several times it was mentioned that Tony was shot in the back of the head. If he was actually shot in the back of the head, Meadow sitting next to her father or not would have been irrelevant. However, if the shot came from his
    3 o’clock, then Meadow would have been in the way. Also, its quite possible that Tony or someone else at the table could have seen something at their peripherals’. Still, depending how quickly and steathily MOG shot Tony, its possible that no one would have seen it until it was too late.

  653. Rick M. Says:

    MOS…Love your analysis. I always thought he died, i just didn’t know how to put it all together. This definitely wraps it up perfectly. Also, right after the series finale, I remember going online to trying to understand what I just saw(like everyone else). I remember reading a post in a forum, that people wanted to see Tony die because he was a horrible man. But, like David Chase said, it would of been hard for some(me) to see Tony in a bloody mess as a finale after 6 seasons of loving Tony. So, to add to you Chase/Scorsese comparison. In Taxi Driver, there’s a scene where we see Travis Bickle make a call from a pay phone to his love interest in the movie(forgot her name) asking her out on a date. The scene starts with the camera on him at the phone and as she starts to reject him, the camera cuts away from him and looks down this long hallway. The connection between that scene and the Sopranos finale is that you’ve grown so in touch with the character that it’s hard to see them get turned down(in Bickle’s case) or killed(in Tony’s case).

  654. dsweeney Says:

    Jeff- You say you ” would still like to have seen Tony getting whacked “. THE WHOLE POINT of what Chase was going for was that ” YOU NEVER EVEN HEAR IT WHEN IT HAPPENS RIGHT ? ” Understand ?

    For us to see Tony die would totally ruin the effect Chase was going for. This would be exactly what the people he spoke about would have wanted. People who he said ” cheered Tony on for years and now wanted his brains all over the place in the name of justice, I think that’s disgusting “. I say again Jeff, had we WITNESSED Tony’ s death we wouldn’t even be here discussing it.
    I can’t agree with you that Chase glorified violence. If anything, some people stopped watching because there wasn’t enough killing and gore to which Chase responded with series 5, the bloodiest of them all I believe. Besides, how else is he supposed to portray the life of a gangster ? Without the violence it simply wouldn’t be credible. A bit of info you might be inerested in Jeff; apparently some of the higher-ups at HBO, on seeing the script for the ” College ” episode in which Tony kills the guy with his bare hands, were against it saying if the audience see Tony actually murder somebody they wouldn’t be with him from then on. Chase disagreed. For us to believe Tony Soprano is a fearsome mob boss, he MUST be violent and capable of the ultimate act. Period. So I would argue IT IS NOT gratuitous. It is NECESSARY.

    Mdot- nobody here said Tony was shot in the back of the head. He was shot FROM BEHIND AND TO THE RIGHT- different thing entirely. Also and NOT by coincidence this is where JFK was hit and we know he was something of a hero figure to Tony and especially to Junior.

  655. circa suicide Says:

    jeff,

    “The whole ‘black’ thing is cool, but I would still have just liked to have seen Tony get whacked right in front of his horrified family…”

    this is exactly what pisses david chase off and sickens him. you rooted for tony for years, and in the end you wanted his brains all over the sidewalk? that is sick and irrational. the ending was original, suspense-filled, and classy. and it will go down as one of the best ending to a series in television history.

    “And make no mistake about it….Chase GLORIFIED violence and general shock value with this show.”

    i disagree with this statement. was the show violent, yes. but there were alot more instances of setting up for violence, preparing the fans for it coming, than out of the blue violence. plus, chase always showed consequences for violence and the mob life. sooner or later. the sopranos were rich and induldged in the finer things. their kids got the best and so did they. but chase showed the consequences over and over and over again. i think you should really rewatch the series or rethink it at least.

  656. Tommy Says:

    i didnt read all the comments so dont know if this has already been mentioned.

    i believe there was a great importance regarding meadow parking her car and the fact that chase puts a lot of emphasis on this. why else show her attempting to park. she gets it right third time. two attempts were previously made to kill tony and he survived (the car jacking and junior shooting him). i think that meadow getting it right third time is supposed to symbolise an assasination finally going right third time, in terms of people wanting to kill tony………

  657. Yossarian Says:

    Meadow trying to park the car was an annoying distraction from the real action about to happen. In our mind that is. We all knew the allotted time for a one hour show was rapidly coming to an end, and that distraction helped build the tension of the scene. All else going on inside the restaurant was average everyday business. Wanting to return inside the restaurant to SEE what was happening was our first concern. We couldn’t wait to SEE what was going to happen to Tony. We become accustomed to the routine of bell, look up, entrance of an individual or group. When Meadow finally got her car parked and was running across the street, we finally thought we were going to SEE what was going to happen. Bell, look up, cut to blackness. It gave us all an incredible sense of loss not to SEE what actually happened. Not unlike the feeling of loss when someone dies in real life. They are gone forever and we all feel a bit cheated by that loss.

  658. dsweeney Says:

    I think you summed it up to perfection Yossarian. Brilliant and exactly what Chase was trying to achieve and exactly what I experienced. You hit the nail on the head. I only wish some of the ” doubters ” out there would read it with an open mind and finally accept what happened. Tony is gone, gone, gone.

  659. Jeff Says:

    Circa…

    I really don’t care if the ‘audience’s’ desire(not mine) to see Tony killed sickened Chase….Since when do people watch shows based on how the creator of the show feels about them?I know more than a FEW people who were sickened by The Sopranos through the years..Again, not me, but for you and DS to say that the Sopranos was not(at least to many people) a show that glorified violence and shock value means you just got an ‘F’ in film school.. The Sopranos was on HBO, a network notorious for their desire to shock and outrage people

    Chase not only glorified viloence, he blatantly pushed people’s buttons with shock value…Nothing wrong with that!…But Chase is nobody to take moral lessons from…He deserves A LOT of credit for accurately portraying the mob and their families…The way he simultaneously glorifies the mob and also shows how ridiculous and hypocritical they all are is to be commended.

    But having Tony get whacked by an unknown is just , well, unfogivable.We should have at least had some glimmer who it was who pushed the button.I am thinking Little Carmine after reading this page for months.

    Well, it is a great page.Keep up the analysis.I may not agree with your whole take on things with regard to Chase and his ‘moralism’, but it is fantastic piece of work.

    More than anything, it is best to remember that The Sopranos is actually Italian Black Comedy at it’s finest…

  660. dsweeney Says:

    Jeff- With respect, I think you’re missing the point about this. I mentioned what Chase said merely as a statement of fact, as a matter of public record as to why he didn’t want to SHOW Tony getting whacked. Whether you think it’s hypocritical of him is another argument. I was simply stating a fact. He didn’t want to slavishly appease a baying audience who had cheered for this guy in all his depravity and then all of a sudden demanded his head ” on a silver platter ” in the name of justice.

    Jeff, would you say ” Saving private Ryan ” glorifies violence ? Would you say ” Schindler’s list ” glorifies violence ? I think most people would say they most certainly do not. There is no nice way of portraying the events on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 or the genocide of the holocaust. Similarly, there is no nice way of showing life in the mob. These are gangsters. Scumbags. Low-life. And far from attacking HBO, I would say the show could not have been done at all on any other channel EXCEPT HBO.

    It’s pure speculation but I posted before on Little Carmine as being a real possible for being behind the hit. If you look into the two usual things, MOTIVE and OPPORTUNITY, then he is certainly in the frame. Don’t forget he was in the power struggle after his old man popped off but pulled out of it, not having the stomach for the fight, leaving Johnny Sac as the victor. John is dead. Phil is now dead thanks to Tony. So little Carmine, crazy like a fox, steps in and takes out Tony. Carmine, last man standing. To the victor the spoils. Like I said, total speculation but one I like the idea of.

  661. Mark Says:

    Great, great job. I think your analysis is superb. What I wrote to a friend of mine:
    “I was going to go to bed two hours ago. Then I started reading this. Long, but fascinating, and utterly convincing.

    To be clear, I was already convinced of this particular interpretation of the finale. Having read this blog, what’s changed is that I no Ionger think of it as an “interpretation”. This is as definitive as it gets. And into the bargain, he explains the whole coma-dream salesman thing utterly to my satisfaction. Which I loved (unlike most people I know who’ve seen it), but could never really get a handle on why or what it meant.

    Also reminds me that maybe – maybe – The Wire is not necessarily alone at the top. Do I ever want to watch the Sopranos again.”

  662. Richie Walnuts Says:

    Two ways to look at this essay:-

    1) Complete master work – the ultimate guide to “The End”
    2) You need to get out more dude.

    Seriously – fantastic job with this piece. You have me convinced. Now for Lost……?

  663. dsweeney Says:

    Mark- The Sopranos is not just art, it is HIGH art. The Wire is a TV cop show, albeit a very good TV cop show. The Sopranos is about life and death and everything in between and even beyond. The Wire is Hill street blues for our generation. They both have settings in the crime world and both are on HBO. That is where the comparisons end. In my opinion, no I KNOW The wire is The Sopranos for slow learners. Because it had a much smaller audience there is a ” cultish ” and elitist element to The wire and some commentators want to appear more selective.

    That’s all I have to say on this because this isn’t the place for it. This forum is about MOS’s analysis of the ending of The Sopranos and The Sopranos in general. As far as I can see the only discussion about The wire is making comparisons to The Sopranos, unlike our thing which provokes endless discussion, so I think that says it all really.

  664. Sara Says:

    Vaya pedazo de movida!!!!

  665. Matt SR Says:

    Thanks, MOS, for a superb analysis. I watched the series when it was first broadcast, then on DVD, and over the last few weeks I’ve been enjoying the complete DVD set- I’ve just got to the start of season 6B. It’s one of the few- perhaps the only- TV series that reveals new depths and riches with repeated viewings; your insightful article has emphasised that, and made me want to start watching from the beginning all over again.

    Watching “Soprano home movies” earlier today, I picked up on a line that Carmela says at the very beginning:-when the cops are hammering at the door and are about to arrest Tony over the gun charge, she says to him “Is this it?”, i.e. “Is this the end”?

    Now remember what Tony says to Dr.Melfi in season 4:-

    “There are two endings for a guy like me, high profile guy, dead or in the can…big percentage of the time…”

    Of course, we know it’s not the end. But I think that line by Carmela, in the opening moments of the final season, indicates that the end is coming for Tony, and they both know it, whether it’s by arrest, or via a bullet to the brain, as eventually happens at Holsten’s. And there’s a symmetry there- we’re shown a possible end at the start of the season, and a definite end at the finish.

    Thanks again for your piece. I’ve found it fascinating and it’s made me appreciate the genius of the show even more than I did before.

  666. Mal Says:

    Wow!

    This essay is an incredible piece of work, a huge thank you to the author for taking the time to put it all together.

    I finished watching the show just the other day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since – I get the impression it had that effect on a lot of people!

    This site has helped to answer so many questions I had and has pointed out layers of detail that I never would have noticed. Overall it’s confirmed to me that The Sopranos is even more of a masterpiece than I’d originally realised!

  667. Music Matters! Says:

    Zapruder Fans Unite!

    All that you Dream Lyrics
    by Little Feat
    (Music playing when Tony enters)

    All, all that you dream
    Comes through shinin silver lining
    Clouds, clouds change the scene
    Rain starts washing all these cautions
    Right into your life, makes you realize
    Just what is true, what else can you do
    You just follow the rule
    Keep your eyes on the road that’s ahead of you

    I’ve been down, but not like this before
    Can’t be ’round this kind of show no more

    All of the good, good times were ours
    In the land of milk and honey
    And time, time adds its scars
    Rainy days they turn to sunny ones
    Livin’ the life, livin’ the life lovin’ everyone

    I’ve been down, but not like this before
    Can’t be ’round this kind of show no more
    I’ve been down, but not like this before
    Can’t be ’round this kind of show no more

    I’ve been down, but not like this before
    END

    Here are all the song titles I could make out from the jukebox
    (without zooming on hi def)

    I’LL TAKE YOU (HEARTACHE AND ALL)
    Artist: Unknown

    SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT
    MY BABY DRIVES A BUICK
    Artist: Sawyer Brown

    WHO WILL YOU RUN TOO
    MAGIC MAN (Live)
    Artist: Heart

    After Curly Woman Entrance

    I’VE GOTTA BE ME
    A LONELY PLACE
    Artist: (Not shown)

    THIS MAGIC MOMENT
    SINCE I DON’T HAVE YOU
    Artist: Jay and the Americans

    CRYSTAL BLUE PERSUASION (Relates to Blue Comet?)
    Artist: Tommy James and the Shondells (Not shown)

    TONY flips back a page

    MAGIC MAN
    Artist: Heart (Not shown)

    DON’T STOP BELIEVING
    ANYWAY YOU WANT IT
    Artist: Journey

    XXXXX NEVER BE IN LOVE AGAIN (clipped)
    Artist: (Not Shown)

    TONY flips again

    ROCK IT, BILLY
    Artist: T. Graham Brown

    I’VE GOTTA BE ME
    A LONELY PLACE
    Artist: Tony Bennet

    Last songs shown above

    I am impressed at everything David Chase did to 86 (episodes) Tony
    and I thank this site for such a cohesive explanation.

  668. dsweeney Says:

    I think it had that effect on most of us Mal. It’s nearly three years since it ended and we are still on here discussing it.

    Reading your post reminded me of how I felt at the time. It was like losing a real person which either makes me a real sado or confirms the brilliance of the show. Both probably. Initially I felt bad for Tony but on rewatching I very quickly changed my mind. By the time of ” Made in America ” he had crossed all boundaries and was totally beyond the pale. Unrepentant and unlovable. Good riddance.

  669. Famous Ankles Says:

    I first read this blog over a year ago and occasionally come back for the great comments.

    One issue that I keep thinking about and I don’t think I’ve really seen explicitly stated is that Chase’s ending lets him (Chase) get off “cheap”. At the same time, it’s a great ending.

    At the series’ last moment, you’re Tony. Then you’re dead. Who did it? Doesn’t matter: you’re dead. What happens to Meadow? Doesn’t matter: you’re dead. AJ? Doesn’t matter: you’re dead. Carmella? You’re dead. No explanations at all. Zero. You’re dead, you’re beyond explanations/followups.

    Any other way and we’d want the traditional ending with a funeral and a brief description of what happens to everyone (think the end of Animal House). But we are Tony. We’re dead. We’re beyond those issues. We are dead and that’s the end.

    One last thought I’ve always had about The Sopranos. Paulie has to be the most incredible character ever on TV. Every other horrible person portrayed on TV seems to have at least one redeeming characteristic or some sort of explanation as to why they’re horrible, and the writers turn that person lovable given any chance. Not Paulie. We may have thought his love for his mother was at least somewhat positive, but that was washed away when he denounced her for…caring for him and raising him despite only being his biological aunt. He goes back to her, but only when he needed comforting, not a word to her of thanks or that he was sorry for hurting her.

  670. Tara Clausen Says:

    Thank you so much ‘masterofsopranos’!
    I just finished watching all the seasons of Sopranos yesterday, and I was indeed very surprised and confused by the ending. I was convinced that Tony would die (he had to), but I did not expect it to happen like this! Suddenly I wasn’t sure whether he actually did die or not? To be honest I suspected my DVD player for not working properly, when the screen suddenly turned black – all of a sudden. But then I realized that my DVD player was fine, and I knew there had to be a considered explanation for the show to end like this. So I googled “Sopranos the end” and this extremely well-written essay appeared! I have now read it all, and I must say; I’m no longer in doubt! Tony died and he did it in a very cinematic way. Chase did a very good job! And you made it all evident.
    It was very interesting reading – VERY. I come from Denmark, and have therefore not heard about all the other interpretations there have been on the ending. So that part was also very fun to read. You interpretation was outstanding! I love the show, and now I also love the ending. This was definitely the only way it could end. Thank you so much for your fantastic work!

  671. mikeyfin Says:

    great work,,1 thing,,the 2 black guys in the diner,i see them as representing the fictional 2 black guys who stopped tony from getting arrested with tony b and really were the lynch-pin for the entire premise

  672. mikeyfin Says:

    the whole final sequence ,,the characters,,the dialog,,meadow parking was all totally dream-like,,great analysis but sometimes i think Chase wanted us to feel like the entire thing was only a dream

  673. Mallory Says:

    The scene from The Godfather where Michael walks out of the bathroom and kills both his fathers rival and the crooked cop while sitting at their table is reference at least 3 times:

    1. I think at one point in the series Tony watches the scene on video.
    2. During the dream sequence that Tony has while holding up in a New York hotel, he walks into the bathroom with William Heard’s cop and checks the back of the antigue toilet pull chain fastened to the wall to see if there is a gun hidden behind it.
    3. When Tony picks up AJ from the police station after assaulting Junior, AJ breaks down and admits he wanted to avenge Tony’s shooting the same way Michael did since it was Tony’s favorite scene from The Godfather.

    I can see the irony in Tony being “whacked” in the same manner as his favorite movie scene since he has been portrayed as always watching gangster movies and war documentaries.

  674. Male Livia Says:

    I, like many other commenters, am also amazed that we are here almost three years later discussing this episode and series. David Chase is to be complimented on creating the greatest dramatic series in the history of TV. Indeed, it is a powerful hat tip to his creative genius in bringing these characters to life and shepherding them through 86 brilliant hours that we are still affected by the show enough to advance theories about whether Tony dies or not, and if so, who did it, and in any case, what the future holds for the surviving characters and the overall milieu.

    Also, I think MOS has done an outstanding job of putting an enormous body of evidence together that, in my opinion, proves that Tony Soprano is killed at the instant of the fade to black. I’m not commenting to argue that point. The evidence in this masterpiece essay proves it beyond a doubt in my mind.

    I also admire the symbolism that Chase has used throughout this show. I’m no film student. I watch TV and movies to be entertained, not to work, but I don’t mind thinking through a semi-complex plot. This show is visceral. It’s not easy to catch symbology as it flies past in the flurry of plotline action. (There I need to disagree with some earlier commenters who claimed that Chase et al are not big in plot machinations. True, we don’t typically get a lot of twists from The Sopranos, but the plotlines typically develop logically and completely, and they are very engaging.) Nonetheless, it’s fairly simple to take in the archetypes portrayed and some of the deeper meanings being conveyed. There is no question that the show isn’t simply a festival of gratuitous mob violence and boob flashing.

    That being said, it’s hard for me to convey the depth of my dislike of the show’s ending. While I recognize Chase’s desire to culminate the flow of symbolism that he apparently set in motion throughout the show (hardly evident to even serious viewers), this seems to deviate completely from the tendency of the show. Indeed, MOS’s piece – while brilliant – points out my major criticism: in my opinion, no great cinematic or literary work should tell its primary story in its subtext, but that is EXACTLY what is required to understand the ending. Furthermore, while perhaps to the film students in the crowd POV shots and context are obvious, they aren’t to “general audience” like me. (I was left utterly clueless at the blackout, and I’m no dummy with a 160 IQ!) I also will quibble with the concept of using POV to portray Tony’s death by headshot – we didn’t experience other major catastrophes in Tony’s life from POV, particularly the Costa Mesa sequence (although I guess one could argue that the entire “dream” is POV, but that’s not how it works mechanically).

    Like I wrote earlier, The Sopranos is a visceral show. Its primary appeal is its gritty portrayal of modern New Jersey mob life. Naturally, it’s no big secret that there might be some morality play or the like buried in such a story, but the audience is not being entertained by noticing little touches of the artist’s brush here. It is looking at the major events and how they affect the characters. Our major attention focuses on Tony since he is clearly the antihero protagonist, but we have emotional interest in other characters as well. For example, Melfi’s rape leads us to sympathize with her being torn to use Tony as her tool of vengeance, and we are relieved when she does not pursue this path. However, the fact that we are “rooting for Tony” does not mean that we like him. Chase has brought us into this underworld of the DiMeo family and has framed the battle as “us against the world.” Why should he be surprised that we would be on Tony’s side? What are the alternatives? How would one possibly watch and enjoy the show hoping for Tony to get pinched in the middle of season two since he is a lawbreaker and we cannot condone such actions? It is perfectly possible to both “root for Tony” and despise him personally (in fact, this is his exact appeal!) Why likewise should he be disgusted when we would expect that the natural outcome of the series would be for Tony to die, and for us to experience this viscerally, as we have everything throughout the series? Perhaps one can argue that the chosen method was the most visceral, placing us in Tony’s shoes as he died, but I don’t see it that way. (Indeed, I really didn’t care in the end whether Tony lived or died, but I wanted to be entertained by what happened and how it occurred. That didn’t happen. It wouldn’t have had to be Tony’s blood and brains on Carmela’s face to do that, but it needed more than we got.)

    Furthermore, while the show has allowed minor plotlines to go unresolved, we have always gotten closure on the big stuff. How then can we allow Tony’s death to go unexplained? The viewer simply deserves better than to be left hanging to allow Chase to execute his masturbatory artistic windup to the show. Yes, I get it. Tony’s dead. The show revolved around Tony. Since he’s dead, the show is dead too. The problem is that that is not how life works. Yes, Tony’s death means Tony gets no closure, but we are not Tony. We are part of the show’s milieu, and as such we would get to know the epilog. Only if we are dead as well does that make sense. The failure of Chase to resolve the final, most important storyline of the series is a huge black mark on his masterwork.

    Adding to my chagrin is the missed opportunity by Chase to give the greatest drama series in TV history the greatest ending ever. To what a set of plot drivers we could have been treated! Various fates closing in! All the possible hitters scheming: Deanne Pontecorvo, Butchie, Patsy, Paulie, Bevilaqua’s family, etc. The Feds planning the takedown on the charges. Imagine the tension that could have been built as each of these foes worked through their schemes as we are aware of their mechinations. Then, in an instant, Tony’s fate unfolds, and we know the truth. He dies, and we by whose hand. He ends up in Federal prison forever. He escapes into oblivion a la DB Cooper. Whatever. Isn’t this far better than what Chase offered us? Or is it too predictable? I don’t remember anything like it, but I’m no TV or film historian.

    To sum up:

    1. Sopranos series: visceral. Finale: cerebral. Bad. Very bad.

    2. Rooting for Tony: natural. Repulsion by him: also natural. Wanting him to receive his due: also natural. Not contradictory, and certainly not disgusting unless Chase overly identifies with T.

    3. A more entertaining ending is easily comprehensible, and it needn’t have been gratuitous violence (hey, we got that with Phil!) to leave the viewer with appropriate closure.

    I still love the show, but I would look back even more fondly if I hadn’t been taken advantage of by Chase in the ending. The thing that really mystifies me is that he apparently honestly doesn’t believe that’s what he did, or I’m more gullible than I think!

  675. dsweeney Says:

    Mallory- Tony being whacked in the same manner as his favourite scene from The Godfather was, in my opinion, just too juicy an irony for Chase to pass up. I love for instance Mallory when Tony is shaking AJ telling him, ” it’s only a movie “, little would Tony know the very scene would be all too real for him further down the road in Holsten’s. Genius.

    Great post Male Livia but I would take issue with you on the ending. You say, ” we didn’t experience other major catastrophes in Tony’s life from POV ..” You are correct of course in this but again I keep coming back to the essence of the ending and the ” you never hear it when it happens right ?” idea. If we HAD previously been seeing from his POV at a critical juncture, let’s say when Jun shot him, the ending would have just “been another one of them “. We would have been conditioned, to some degree at least and the ending wouldn’t have been the shock it was. And I would argue the shock and sense of ” what the fuu…. ” IS ITSELF VISCERAL. Much more so than anything we could have actually seen or been shown by Chase. See my point ? I understand your point about the ending being a bit ” cerebral ” but I would argue that the very fact that people thought the cable had cut out or their dvd players were banjoed is what makes it so visceral and real.

  676. Matt SR Says:

    Sorry, Male Livia, I must disagree. The idea that we should see the various plans for Tony’s end before it happens would completely undermine the point of his eventual death scene- that he has no idea what’s coming, or when. Death comes out of the blue. If we had seen the machinations behind it, we would have been forewarned and the ending would have lost it’s power. When I first watched the finale, I was sure he had been shot, without needing to read any explanation- Bobby’s comment in “Soprano Home Movies” pointed the way for me- but MOS’s superb dissection has removed any doubt. I don’t think it’s really that hard to work out the ending, so I disagree that the primary story is told in subtext, as you suggest. The signs are there, and they’re actually pretty clear. I can’t understand why there is a need to see a more “definite” ending. It’s like those who doubt that Adriana was actually shot by Silvio, simply because we don’t actually see her bullet-riddled body. As Stevie Van Zandt said, “What did they think I was doing out there- shooting squirrels?”

    The way David Chase ended the series was entirely in context with the show itself- intelligent, original, and thought provoking. Anything else would have been a let- down.

  677. masterofsopranos Says:

    Male Livia,

    You make some interesting arguments. Everyone got so caught up in whether Tony died that it’s often never asked whether Tony dying is a satisfying ending, especially given the context in which it happens (i.e. no explanation as to motive or who was behind it).

    I cant really disagree with your assessment of the importance of plot machinations to the show and how most of the answers to the really important stuff isn’t witheld. I often wonder when Chase said “its all there,” did he mean not just the answer to whether Tony died but also as to who was actually behind it? I do think Chase inserted a lot of the Patsy stuff in the final episode to perhaps give a plausible explanation behind the hit but certainly not enough to say “its all there.” I often wonder if more evidence wasn’t left on the editing room floor. The sitdown with NY seems heavily edited with some awkward transitions in the scene.

    In any event, if “who” is important to you then I can understand not liking the ending. It works for me because of the elegant and original way it was executed. It did seem a little out of the blue but the whole final season felt different to me than the rest. Chase seemed to take complete control for the final season and even the coma trip seemed more ambitious and more “David Lynch” then anything that came before it. It seemed to be a true auteur vision and may explain why his most important collaborators (Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess) left the show around that exact time. I had read (although for the life of me I cant remember exactly where) that Green and Burgess disagreed with the tone of the final season and the coma-trip.

    I guess its all subjective but I wonder what Chase would think of your thoughts.

  678. dsweeney Says:

    I agree 100% with you Matt SR, superb and concise post.

  679. dsweeney Says:

    With regard to the ” who”, I believe, at the risk of repeating myself yet again, that any information given to us about the impending hit in Holsten’s cancels the effect Chase was going for. Along with Bobby’s ” you probably never hear it when it happens right “?, there is also his crucial ” it’s always out there”. This, from the same scene on the lake with Tony I believe. My point here is that as well as not seeing it coming, you won’t ever know who was behind it either. How could you ? You’d be dead. Similarly, WE THE VIEWER, can’t be given any background on the hit if what Chase was going for is to be achieved.

    Also, on the ” who”, I wonder has Chase not done enough hits in the series already, you know ? Throughout the course of the show we have had every description of whacking imaginable. From ” zips from the other side” to Janice offing Ritchie in the kitchen. Bobby in the toy store and PHIL FROM BEHIND IN FRONT OF HIS FAMILY….. I think he probably felt he has said all there is to say on the matter.

  680. Jeff Says:

    I don’t think ‘T’ should have been shot in front of Carmella and AJ and Meadow…That was just wrong…Shame on you David, you bad little sqiddly diddly!!

  681. Rick M. Says:

    I’m starting to think that masterofsopranos is David Chase.

  682. Andrew Says:

    Love the exhaustive post. You’re using the term “jump cut” incorrectly though. A jump cut is actually the opposite of what the words imply; it’s a cut that shows the exactly same thing except from a slightly different vantage point. It’s meant to convey a jarring feeling and isn’t used that often. Showing Tony at the door and then swinging the camera 180 degrees to show him at the table isn’t what’s typically described as a jump cut, even though it does seem like he “jumps”.

  683. dsweeney Says:

    Really ? Interesting. I’ll have to bow to your superior knowledge Andrew. I thought the term ” jump cut ” was perfect for the scene in question. By that I mean that we ” jump” from where Tony is standing in the doorway and cut immediately to him sitting down. We don’t see him make his way to his table in other words. The function of this of course is to show us the pov of someone from the doorway. Specifically MOG.
    Do you know if there is a technical term then for the edit here ? If it isn’t ” jump cut ” what DO they call it ? Just curious.

    I think Rick MOS has been asked that before and he denied it. What’s he gonna do, say yeah I am ? We could all say that so what would be the point ? But who knows, you could well be right. I have said elsewhere that Chase will never publicly come out and say definitively what happened in Holsten’s because to do so would ruin the ending as it is for future generations of Sopranos fans. But I can’t help feeling that he would like to somehow get it out there and put to rest some of the more ludicrous suggestions. To have put so much time and effort and INSPIRATION into it only to have it wildly misunderstood must be frustrating. Although doubtless some will say that was his own fault. Maybe.

  684. Anonymous Says:

    I enjoyed reading your analysis, cheers mate

  685. I was confused Says:

    This was very helpful. For some reason, perhaps something in local media, I thought they all died from a bomb blast. Much appreciated.

  686. Memosh Says:

    Male Livia – “Melfi’s rape leads us to sympathize with her being torn to use Tony as her tool of vengeance, and we are relieved when she does not pursue this path”

    Is it just me who was NOT relieved when Melfi didn’t tell Tony she was raped? The ammount of innocent people that have been killed or brutally battered due to Tonys orders, and for once there is a chance where he can do it to someone who deserves it. I really did think Melfi would have told Tony about it at some point throughout the show. It was always at the back of my mind, especially since she found out where he worked. When that episode ended with Tony asking her if she wanted to tell him something and she said ‘No’, i was literally like NOOO!!
    So yeah, just wondering if anyone else wished she had told him? Or am i the only cruel one who wanted to see him get beat the s*** out of?

  687. Memosh Says:

    Or even the s*** beat out of! =P

  688. Yossarian Says:

    The only thing that Chase could have done to make the ending even more disturbing and unpredictable, would have been to have the same ending happen an episode earlier, and about 3/4 of the way through the show. That is to say with everyone believing that there would be one more episode left to see. Now that would have been 100 times more awesome!

  689. Rick M. Says:

    well said dsweeney. a little too well said…maybe you’re David Chase…? lol. jk. if MOS isn’t Chase, i wonder if mr. Chase has seen this analysis, and if so, what he thought of it?

  690. Paul Says:

    @Memosh:
    I definitely wanted Melfi to tell Tony about ‘the employee of the month’ and was like ‘NOOOOO’ when she didn’t. That’s one of the tricks this series played upon you, you are left wondering ‘hmm what did I just want this character to do and what does this say about me’ …. :)

  691. B V Says:

    Though I’m convinced, I do think you’ve oversold some parts a bit. Every single one of your points is debatable except for one: the POV argument. Every time Tony looks to the door, he sees what’s happening at the door, except when he gets shot. There are multiple interpretations of every piece of that scene – including all your other evidence – but there is no other interpretation of that shot. The foreshadowing of Stage 5 and Bobby’s death help – but the rest can only be interpreted as frosting on the cake once you understand what happened.

    There seems to be a lot of debate about whether it was appropriate for Tony to be shot in front of his family. The way I see it, this show was about his family – not about the mafia. What made this show so intriguing is how “normal” Tony’s family was in every single way except for how he made his living. His family simply had to be included in the ending concept. But a screen shot of Meadow’s distress on seeing her father dead opens up too many more rabbit holes to explore – things that couldn’t reasonably explored in a 5-minute wrap-up or even one last episode without Tony. To do so would have been excessively anti-climatic. The only way to address it is to let the viewer himself imagine Meadow’s expression as she walks through the door – presumably seeing MOG with a gun to her father’s head a split second before the shot.

    I entertained the possibility of David Chase “letting the viewer decide” – such as in the novel Life of Pi, where that is clearly the point of the book. I am convinced that your study of the directing style refutes this, along with the foreshadowing. However, I think that “letting the viewer decide” is still applied – quite deliberately – to Tony’s family. I think David Chase wanted the viewer to have some time to think about the final effect Tony had on his family. Ultimately, it is Tony and not MOG that is responsible for Tony leaving his family dramatically in the lurch.

  692. Lee Says:

    All the family at the table was killed. It is a reference to The Godfather. Michael goes to the bathroom and comes back to kill everyone at the table. Just like the MOG. The NY family was outraged at the mutilation of (forgot his name) even though it was accidental, they were not to know this, so they killed Tony, AJ and Camilla. Not sure why meadow was spared. Something to do with her boyfriend. The Cat if a symbol of death, and the only person who wanted the cat around was Tony. One more thing. When Tony visits his Uncle there is a board that reads Next meal is Supper. Meaning the final Supper. Like Jesus last meal, this will be Tony’s.
    I expect another Sopranos in a few years time, Meadow is in charge of the family and exacts revenge. Wow, that would be awesome.

  693. blacklabel chris Says:

    i read somewhere (years ago..) that Lorraine Bracco was also upset that (her character) Melfi did not tell Tony of the rape. she thought it should have ended differently. shit, i wish i could remember where i read that….

  694. dsweeney Says:

    Agree with you on that B V. I have visions of Meadow coming through the door and looking straight at the table her family are at. We know this because of the earlier shot of Tony standing in the doorway and then ” seeing himself ” sitting down. In reference to the idea behind Torciano hit, Tony’s head would be in pieces before Meadow knew what she was seeing in front of her eyes. Like Sil, Tony would have slumped forward before she knew what was going down.

    For both Carm and AJ it would have been almost EXACTLY like the Torciano hit in that they would have been sitting at the table when the hit went down.

    Memosh, while I wouldn’t say you are the ONLY one, I would say you are in a small minority. I definitely remember part of me wanting her to tell Tony what happened and who did it but being much more satisfied then when she didn’t. She is the bigger and better person for it. She would have crossed too big a line in doing that. How could she continue her practice having set a criminal on someone and probably having them killed ? She couldn’t. She was satisfied in the knowledge that one word from her and ” employee of the month” would never have another burger and chips for the rest of his life.

  695. Anon Says:

    I just watched the entire series over the last few months. I find this all very informative. Thanks for putting this together. In your “Lincoln References” on Page 4, one other thing that wasn’t mentioned…………when Janice asks Tony to help “pitch in” to get Junior out of the State facility, Tony offers her a $5 bill…..with who’s face? Abraham Lincoln.

  696. dsweeney Says:

    Glad you brought this idea up Lee as there is some weight behind the theory that Carm and AJ are killed as well. But first I would venture the following on why Meadow IS NOT killed. When Tony gets it in the head and everything cuts to black, Meadow is still standing in the doorway. Or at least only coming THROUGH the doorway. See my point ? She is on the other side of the room, quite a distance from the hit.

    Also, I would say if indeed Carm and AJ die as well it is only because they are immediate eye-witnesses to the hit. They are sitting right in front of Tony AND MOG and clearly see his face and could at least potentially identify him. A real pro wouldn’t leave anything like that to chance. I like your spot though about how in the Godfather Michael kills everybody at the table and not just Solozzo.

    Don’t forget Lee that Meadow is Tony’s guardian angel, as represented in the ” Seven souls monologue “. The only reason the rest of the family might have got it is simply because they were at the table with Tony went it all went down. If Meadow HAD made it into Holsten’s in time she would most likely have got shot as well.

    A few things on this theme Lee you might consider. If the ” three strikes and I’m out ” idea applies to Tony, it could surely apply to AJ as well. He survives his own near-suicide and then narrowly escapes death when his SUV explodes.
    In the ” Seven souls ” monologue we see a dream of Carmela’s where she is talking ot Adriana in her spec-house. Ade asks her who will live in it and Carm says, ” a family “. This family will surely be her, Tony and AJ. We know Ade is killed by this point and the image of Carm talking to her is surely to convey some future ” land of the dead “.

    Something which you may find curious or dismiss as utter nonsense Lee but here goes anyway.
    The credits at the end of the final episode contain the following;

    Paolo Colandrea Man in members only jacket.
    These letters can be re-arranged to read;
    A MAN KILLS TONY CARMELA AJ DON BECOME PPRONE.

    Now this may be entirely coincidence but I think it is strange to say the least, that the credit for the character we believe to be a hitman states the EXACT FATE of the three characters WE KNOW made it into Holsten’s. Add to this the fact that Paolo Colandrea isn’t and never has been an actor in his life you begin to wonder.

  697. dsweeney Says:

    Typo- The 36 letter anagram should have read;

    A MAN KILLS TONY, CARMELA, AJ DON BECOME PRONE.

  698. MastrKey Says:

    Unbelivable essay with concrete facts to support your argument. The only thing that I had previously believed that I dont think was mentioned was the people enterting the diner not Tonys family were symbolic of people that had either tried, and failed, or that at one point in time plotted to kill Tony, right? Maybe another reader could help me out. The two black guys, that symbolized Juniors plot, grey haird guy, Phil Leatardo, and the woman with red hair, which would represent Janice. All in all Chase’s attention to detail was brilliant and the foreshadowing was not something that I picked up until I purchased the complete series and watched them continuaslly lol

  699. Irish Says:

    My husband & I just finished the Sopranos last night. We did not have HBO when the show was 1st on. Initially we were in the Tony-is-alive camp, but I wanted to see what viewers were saying. This morning I find this site and I agree that Tony died. I read a good portion of the comments, which are excellent and if someone already pointed this out, I apologize, but why Holsten’s? Just a random suggestion by Carmella as someone pointed out? They never ate at a diner-type place the entire series…why now?

    I also like the comparison someone made of AJ to Fredo Corleone. I always had Artie in mind as Fredo, but AJ makes more sense.

  700. Tara Clausen Says:

    Irish – try reading some of the essay also. The answer to why the eat at Holsten’s is given in the essay. And it’s a fantastic essay, if you like the Sopranos.

  701. dsweeney Says:

    Good question Irish. However there is one precedent for it. It’s a while since I had a re-watch but I’m nearly sure it is in the crucial ” Members Only ” episode. It has been established that it and the final episode have many similarities and fore-shadow and echo one another. An example of this is where, in both episodes, Carmela towards the end asks Tony about where they will eat later that evening. In fact the dialogue is almost word for word. These are only two occasions in the entire series where this happens. They either eat at home or at Vesssuvio’s or we just see wherever they happen to be, without any discussion beforehand.

    Pointedly Irish, in ” Members Only ” after Carm inquires as to where they will dine later Tony gets shot by Junior. Soooo, in the final episode after asking where they will dine later….. I would urge you to watch both episodes back to back. You know obviously ” M O ” is so titled after Eugene’s jacket. The guy at the counter in ” Made in America ” is credited as ” Man in Members Only jacket “. Eugene, wearing the eponymous jacket, walks into a diner and shoots a guy dead. It is like the Holsten’s scene being played out before your eyes and fore-shadows what happens to Tony later on.

  702. dsweeney Says:

    P.S.- Just a small further point on this Irish. When Carm goes out to Tony in the back garden ( almost a complete re-enactment from the earlier ” Memebers Only episode ) she says something along the lines of ” …Holsten’s seems to be the concensus “. This clearly indicates that they have, in fact, dined there before, even though we haven’t seen it. She speaks as if Tony is familiar with Holsten’s which gives the thing a sense of background and that it isn’t as you say a completely random suggestion by Carm.

    It is a good point by you though. Chase has said in interview that he had the ending in his head maybe two years prior to filming and that all he had to do was ” get them into the diner “. But without some sort of background to it, it would have seemed sort of staged or contrived somehow. I think he just about gives us enough to know they have eaten there in the past so for me it’s fine. Don’t forget though that MOG would have been tailing Tony probably for hours and simply followed him to Holsten’s. It’s not a coincidence that MOG just walks in and sees Tony there and decides to take him out. While that could be possible because as Bobby said, ” it’s always out there ” ( meaning a potential hit ) the odds that a completely unknown hitman would walk into a diner and find Tony a sitting duck ( ha! ) are very long I would have thought.

  703. Arthur Says:

    Excellent website, MOS!

    I just finished watching the series last night, for the first time. After about two seasons, the entire series was at the top of my netflix queue with no other DVDs, so I guess you could say I became obsessed. Enough to wake up this morning and find this website.

    Cannot quite agree, though, that your explanation is definitive. Here’s why: It is revealed in commentary (for the next-to-last episode, done by the actors who played Carlo and Sil) that James G. asked David Chase during the table read of the last episode script “Why did you end it this way?”

    Chase replied that he didn’t want to show that crime pays, but he didn’t want to show that crime doesn’t pay. (This was from commentary by the actor who played Silvio, clearly a reliable source).

    So the final POV shot is not the POV of any character. It is the POV of the audience. Chase has not yet cut from the audience view of Tony to the Tony POV. David Chase has turned off our televisions at the exact moment when we expect that cut – unplugged them, even! We are not allowed to see what happens next. All signs point to a hit on Tony. There are seemingly endless instances of foreshadowing this.

    But the narrative ends before the climax and denouement. We don’t see the shot, we don’t see Tony dead, we don’t see his POV after he got hit. Chase didn’t want to show that. He just tells us “You’re done. No more – go to bed.”

    Just a small addition to some of the excellent analysis in many of the posts here. “Members Only” is abbreviated M.O., the same as modus operandi, and tells us the method that will be used to hit Tony. Which adds to the foreshadowing of that episode…

  704. Arthur Says:

    Just to comment on what Irish and dsweeney have said about Holston’s, when AJ mentions the onion rings, Tony says “Best in the state, as far as I’m concerned.” Indicating they are familiar with the food and have dined there before.

    A couple of more things. Carmella enters wearing a bright red coat – a foreshadowing of the coming blood bath.

    When Journey sings “some will win, some will lose, some are born to sing the blues”, the camera shows AJ during “some will lose” and shows Meadow’s empty seat during “some are born to sing the blues.”

    The very last frames of Meadow are out of focus as she looks down to step over the curb and then looks up (into the diner), but her last expression seems to be one of fright.

  705. AngeloD Says:

    wow, so many comments since i last posted.

    Watched the final season again this weekend lol and really had a listen to the “seven Souls” at the start.
    Here it is.

    The Dream Machine

    SEVEN SOULS

    The ancient Egyptians postulated seven souls, Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name. This corresponds to my Director, He directs the film of your life from conception to death. The Secret Name is the title of your film. When you die, that’s where Ren came in. Second soul, and second one off the sinking ship, is Sekem: Energy, Power, Light The Director gives the orders, Sekem presses the right buttons. Number three is Khu, the Guardian Angel. He, she, or it is third man out . . . depicted as flying away across a full moon, a bird with luminous wings and head of light. Sort of thing you might see on a screen in an Indian restaurant in Panama. The Khu is responsible for the subject and can be injured in his defense- but not permanently, since the first three souls are eternal. They go beck to Heaven for another vessel.

    The four remaining souls must take their chances with the subject in the Land of the Dead. Number four is Ba, the heart, often treacherous. This is a hawk’s body with your face on it, shrunk down to the size of a fist. Many a hero has been brought down, like Samson, by a perfidious Ba. Number five is Ka, the Double, most closely associated with the subject. The Ka, which usually reaches adolescence at the time of bodily death, is the only reliable guide through the Land of the Dead to the western Lands. Number six is Khaibit, the Shadow, Memory, your whole past conditioning from this and other lives. Number seven is Sekhu, the Remains.

    “The ancient Egyptians postulated seven souls, Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name. This corresponds to my Director, He directs the film of your life from conception to death. The Secret Name is the title of your film. When you die, that’s where Ren came in.”

    Remember this is from the episode “Members Only”, the First episode of the final final series.

    Episode, Members Only, Tony killed by MOG.

    Also after watching the final season, i originally concurred with MOS that the cat represents Ade, but after a re-watch i’m more inclined to believe it was Christopher. There are many references to the cat as being male, eg “he’s a good guy’ etc.
    The link to ade is there, but i feel it’s because Ade was always in “Christophas” heart till the day he died.

    Anyway thought i’d post the above if anyone was interested in those Lyrics.

  706. AngeloD Says:

    To add, for those that need a clear vision of what happened after Tony was whacked, i tend to imagine it as being simmilar to what we’ve seen throughout the Sopranos.

    People crying real and crocodile tears, mourners commenting and salivating over the dishes on offer at the wake and those that would have picked over the remains of Tonys assets after his death, like Vultures picking over a carcass, case in point after Johnny sacks get’s put away.
    Carmela knew what to expect, hence her investments, the spec homes that is etc and her very real financial concerns knowing that Tony maybe be killed or “put away” at any given time.

    It’s all there for us to know of the likely scenarios after his death.

  707. AngeloD Says:

    After reading more posts, i’m still puzzled why some many people feel the need to actually see Tony get shot to satisfied that he’s actually dead.
    It certainly remends me of the season when Adrianna was murdered, IIRC the last ep of season 5.
    There were boundless theories at that time that she was still alive and had gone into the witness protection program, but even then i had no doubt she was dead, i argued with many that who in the hell would Sil be acting in front of, trying to convince prior to him dragging her out of the car and we see her crawling away.
    I for one had really began to pity this girl, i’m mean really feel sorry for her as she was bascically a good person albeit somewhat simple.
    i certainly did not want or need to see her get murdered.
    I feel this way about the final scene of the show, although T was fundamentally a bad person, we as viewers had lived through him and cheered him on and i feel i would of had no pleasure in actually seeing him having his brains splattered.

  708. Exodus1080 Says:

    I just finished the final episode of The Sopranos about 20 minutes before I started looking for people’s interpretations of the final scene online. This was one of the first results that popped up, and I’ve been glued to the computer since. Bravo, A++, perfectly explained to those of us without any knowledge of film-making. It was a show that got a little ambiguous for me towards the end, but I see know what the implications of the MOG were. I suppose the only comment I have to contribute would be that I wonder that he didn’t lead us by the nose to the conclusion that Tony was dead and actually DID leave us hanging. The thing is, having read this, it seems to me that, while your arguments are rock-solid, perhaps he cut out not as an indication of Tony’s demise, but rather to indicate that we have a 50/50 shot that Meado was actually what he saw next.

    Weak, I know, but my sentimentality gets to me when a great story ends, and I was perfectly happy assuming that the narrative continued in my imagination. Perhaps that’s pedestrian of me…

  709. AngeloD Says:

    I’m curious about something.
    In the ep “Members Only” during the “Seven Souls” portion, at the point this is being said “Number four is Ba, the heart, often treacherous.” there is a man on a treadmill, is that guy Gervasi the guy Silvio strangles?

  710. AngeloD Says:

    I’m starting to think that the song “don’t stop believing” is as important to the final scene as the name of the Band, “journey”. Journey is abrbtly cut off, the journey ends…

  711. dsweeney Says:

    Arthur, you say ” So the final POV shot is not from any character. It is the from the POV of the audience “. What ??

    I would say 98 % + of the entire series is from the POV of the audience. You could say what you said about almost every single scene in the entire series. The crucial point about all of this is that it is A SEQUENCE OF SHOTS. It is not simply the final shot that is relevent. The camera is on Tony. The bell on the door rings. He glances up. We see who enters. It cuts back to Tony’s reaction to indicate to us we have just been seeing things from his POV. This PATTERN happens four, maybe five times. At the last time of seeing the sequence, where we should be seeing the person entering Holsten’s ( in this instance Meadow ) everything cuts to black. Silence. NO MUSIC. Ten seconds. Silent credits. How some people, who have grown up watching TV and movies can’t figure out what has happened here is simply beyond me.

    You also say ” we don’t see the shot, we don’t see Tony dead, we don’t see his POV after he got shot “.
    With respect, you’re entirely missing the whole point of this. We don’t see the shot because Tony didn’t. We don’t see Tony dead because how could we ? We died with him. And after he got shot…….he don’t have no POV!

  712. ts Says:

    Awesome website and analysis. I’ve read most of what has been posted so forgive me if this has been mentioned. In reviewing the first season, I noted another “members only” reference. It occurs in episode 11, “Nobody Knows Anything”, Pussy is leaving Satrielles and there is a shot of him walking to his car. He passes a door with a sign on it which says, “America Club Members Only”. This is just before Pauli pulls up to ostensibly take him for a hot bath for his back, but really wants to check him for a wire. And we all know what happened to Pussy. It seems deliberate as there is really no other reason to have that shot of Pussy going to his car.

  713. Iri