Page 2: Sopranos: Definitive Explanation of the Final Scene Annotated Guide

Shot #76: AJ and Carm at the booth while the waitress brings the drinks.
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Shot #77: All three in the booth grabbing their sodas. Tony is looking down at his menu.
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Shot #78: Young couple in love laughing loudly. At the moment they laugh, a muffled sound of what may be the bell is heard.
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Shot #79: MOG again looks over in Tony’s direction (see shot#63 for the first time MOG looks over in Tony’s direction). In the background, the door is closing as it appears a patron exited. This may confirm the bell did ring as discussed in shot#78. Shot#80 further below establishes that Tony does not see MOG look over. Chase has MOG now twice turn his head and look in Tony’s direction and Tony never notices him. As Chase told the DGA in 2015, MOG looks at Tony (Chase’s way of relaying to the audience that MOG may be a threat) but at the same time there was a conscious decision in his direction to not have Tony notice him (at least until shot#101 discussed further below). Further, MOG could not be staring at Tony for too long as that would tip off Tony of the danger (see also shot#82 further below showing MOG in the background drinking his coffee and no longer looking at Tony). Again, Chase to the DGA in 2015:

“My thinking about wanting to introduce A.J. and the guy together was that both the audience and Tony would not focus on the guy so much, they would focus on A.J. Tony would focus on his son, rather than the man who might be there to do him harm.”

“I just wanted the guy to look over. I didn’t want him to look particularly menacing. And he glances off Tony so quickly. We worked on that quite a bit so he wasn’t staring at him.”

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Shot #80: Close up of Tony looking down. This shot and shot #77 confirm Tony never sees MOG looking in his direction. Further, shot#78 and #79 suggest that if the young couple did not laugh, then Tony may have heard the bell, looked up, and seen MOG looking in his direction. Chase brilliantly uses direction, editing and audio cues to establish how a normally wary Tony is able to get shot. Chase also lingers on Tony looking down and smiling in this shot. There is also no dialogue stressing that the shot’s primary purpose is to visually relay to the audience that Tony is not aware that MOG is again looking in his direction.
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Shot #81: Close up of Carm asking AJ how his new job is.
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Shot #82: Cut to shot over Tony’s shoulder of AJ explaining that all he’s doing at work is taking phone calls and “getting coffee”. MOG is again seen in the middle of the frame out of focus at the counter. As an additional Chase touch, MOG is seen drinking his coffee (and no longer looking over at Tony’s table so as not to tip Tony off to his intentions) at the exact moment AJ says he’s “getting coffee” at work.
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Shot # 83: Carm and AJ as Carmela reassures her son that he’s “making contacts”
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Shot #84: Wide shot of the booth as a smiling Tony tells AJ that “It’s an entry level job. So buck up.” Tony then playfully throws some paper (probably straw wrapper) at AJ.
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Shot #85: Cut to an over the shoulder shot of AJ saying Tony is right and that he should “focus on the good times.” As in shot#82, Chase uses dialogue to relay visual clues about what is important within the shot: MOG is still seen in the background at the counter and out of focus just as AJ ironically says “focus on the good times”. If Tony actually “focused” on what’s directly in his line of sight (MOG) instead of burying his head in his menu, then he may have seen MOG look twice in his direction.
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Shot # 86: Close up of Tony looking at AJ and responding “Don’t be sarcastic”.
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Shot #87: Shot over Tony’s shoulder of AJ responding that “Isn’t that what you said one time. To try to remember the times that were good?” MOG is still seen in the background at the counter.
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Shot 88: Close up of Tony responding “I did [say the “remember the good times” speech]?”
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Shot # 89: AJ answers that Tony did in fact say it.
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Shot # 90: Tony nods and responds “That’s true I guess”.
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Shot #91: Carm cautiously looks back at Tony.
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Shot # 92: Tony smiles at the connection he has made with his son. Again, throughout the entire scene, Tony is either shown looking down or smiling and enjoying this moment with his family. There is nothing to indicate that Tony is paranoid or sharing any of the viewer’s anxiousness about the scene. As Chase told the DGA in 2015:

“A.J. had remembered a moment at the end of the final show of the first season when they were all sitting down, eating in Vesuvio’s Italian restaurant and Tony said, ‘Just remember … value the good times,’ the moments, there really aren’t that many of them. And this is one of the very good times.”
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Shot #93: AJ slightly smiling in response to Tony. MOG is still in the background out of focus.
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Shot #94 through shot # 96: Cut to outside of Holsten’s as Meadow attempts to parallel park her car. These shots increase the tension in the scene.
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Shot # 97: MOG getting up from his stool. He stands up and begins to walk and looks down, perhaps to avoid eye contact with Tony.
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Shot # 98: Close up of Tony looking down and then looking up at something to his right.
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Shot # 99: Tony’s POV of MOG approaching their booth (seen to the right of AJ’s head)
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Shot # 100: Close up of Tony looking at MOG about to pass his table, then Tony looks back down at his menu. Here we see that Tony notices MOG but seems to dismiss him as a danger.
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Shot # 101: Wide shot of the booth (for the first time from the other side of the booth) as the camera tracks MOG as he walks past the booth into the men’s room. The camera tracks so that the viewer can clearly see that MOG enters the bathroom. As MOG walks past the booth his head looks to the left while his body stays straight as he appears to be avoiding eye contact with Tony. This is the only tracking shot in the scene besides shot # 1. The shot logistically establishes that MOG will have a clear shot at Tony once he exits the bathroom. It also establishes that if Meadow was on time, she would have been sitting in the aisle seat next to Tony, perhaps preventing MOG from attempting the hit. As MOG enters the bathroom, Tony glances at him quickly for a second time but returns his attention down to his menu (see the third screen shot below). Tony does not appear to be concerned but perhaps if he was aware that MOG had twice previously looked in his direction, he would not have felt so secure. Chase has beautifully set up how a normally wary Tony is able to get shot.

Chase also discussed with the DGA in 2015 how Tony dismisses MOG as a threat after he walks past him. Tony, at best, only on a “subconscious level” wants to make sure he sees the guy come out of the bathroom. At the same time, Chase relates the scene to a famous scene in The Godfather:

“We tracked a bit in this shot. We had to move to get the bathroom sign. I can’t say it was tricky, but it was time consuming because of the tight space. Yes, the scene in The Godfather [when Michael Corleone kills Sollozzo and McCluskey] occurred to me; it’s an iconic scene. I would say that Tony checked the guy out at some level. I mean any middle-aged male that would get that close to him, I’m sure he would do some summary surveillance of. It may be very quick; his instincts are very sharp. He doesn’t feel threatened by him but I’m sure he clocks that that guy’s in the bathroom, and that that guy should come out. It’s more like ‘I want to see that guy come out.’ This is all on a subconscious level, I’m sure. We all do this, every moment of our lives.”

Again though, if Tony knew MOG had twice looked in his direction he may not have so quickly dismissed him as a threat. In Chase’s discussion with the DGA in 2015, he specifically states that he directed certain portions of the scene so that Tony would not notice his killer:

“My thinking about wanting to introduce A.J. and the guy together was that both the audience and Tony would not focus on the guy so much, they would focus on A.J. Tony would focus on his son, rather than the man who might be there to do him harm.”

Further, Chase directed the actor who played MOG to quickly look at Tony, but at the same time not to be staring at Tony, as that would tip off the normally wary Tony that MOG may be there to do him harm:

“I just wanted the guy to look over. I didn’t want him to look particularly menacing. And he glances off Tony so quickly. We worked on that quite a bit so he wasn’t staring at him.”

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Shot # 102: Two young black men who apparently just entered the restaurant. They look at the desserts. The editing suggests that they entered as MOG walked past Tony’s table perhaps explaining why Tony (nor the viewer) never heard the bell ring. Tony never sees them enter (Tony is looking down in shot # 101) and the camera is placed at an angle differentiating between this shot and the Tony POV shot when he looks up at the door.
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Shot # 103: Close up of Tony looking down. Again this confirms that Tony doesn’t see the black guys enter and that he is not “paranoid” or watching everyone in the diner. Cutting to the two black guys entering in shot #102 again raises the tension for the viewer knowing this is the last scene ever and that something may happen. At the same time, it distracts the viewer who perhaps forgets that MOG has entered the bathroom (setting up the “never hear it happen” concept).
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Shot # 104: Outside of Holsten’s as Meadow finally parks her car.
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Shot # 105: An angle of the booth showing Tony and AJ in the frame as the waitress puts a basket of onion rings on the table. The last words of the series are Tony’s fairly mundane “I went ahead and ordered some [onion rings] for the table.”
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Shot # 106: Close up of Carmela taking an onion ring and putting it in her mouth.
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Shot # 107: Close up of AJ taking an onion ring and putting it in his mouth. MOG is not seen in the background as he is still apparently in the bathroom.
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Shot # 108: Close up of Tony taking an onion ring and putting it his mouth (and still looking down).
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Shot # 109 and Shot # 110: Outside of Holsten’s as Meadow exits her car and crosses the street. An SUV roars behind her as she runs across the street with an anxious look on her face as she is about to enter Holsten’s
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Shot # 111: Tony, Carm, and AJ in the booth. AJ and Carm are looking down so there is no chance to warn Tony when MOG comes out of the bathroom. Tony puts his hand on the jukebox and looks at the selections. Tony is still clearly distracted.
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Shot # 112: The Tony POV bell ringing sequence continues: The bell rings and Tony looks up at the door. Based on the pattern established in the scene, shot # 113 should cut to Tony’s POV of the door.
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*Shot # 113: Instead the screen cuts to black and the audio abruptly cuts off on the lyric “Don’t Stop.” The black screen lingers for 10 seconds before the credits. Based on the pattern, this is Tony’s POV because he sees and hears nothing as he was shot by MOG exiting the bathroom. The screen cuts to black approximately 32 seconds after MOG enters the bathroom.

*Or the absence of shot #113: If we want to be semantic, the black screen is technically not a shot as the camera has stopped rolling. Following the pattern set up by Chase, we are supposed to see Tony’s POV but instead the sequence is interrupted by a 10 second black screen. This indicates that the person with the POV (Tony) is no longer there because he has been shot by MOG and the dead do not have a POV. The black screen represents a lack of perspective and a complete and sudden loss of consciousness.

As Chase told the DGA in 2015:

“I said to Gandolfini, the bell rings and you look up. That last shot of Tony ends on ‘don’t stop,’ it’s mid-song. I’m not going to go into [if that’s Tony’s POV]. I thought the possibility would go through a lot of people’s minds or maybe everybody’s mind that he was killed.”
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Final thoughts: So the viewer is in Tony’s eyes at the moment he is shot and killed as set up by the POV pattern in the scene. We know Tony never heard the shot (the bullet travelled faster than the speed of sound) as foreshadowed with Chase’s “never hear it happen” concept before the final scene.

Chase wanted to express the idea that life is fragile and that death can come suddenly and without warning. That we should appreciate life while we are here because we’ll never know how it will end and we won’t even realize that we are gone. That was the ultimate point of the viewer vicariously experiencing Tony’s death. In making this point, Chase sets up a happy moment for Tony (As Chase told the DGA in 2015: “…and [Tony at Holsten’s with his family] is one of those very good times”) so that we understand his loss when he is killed.

Some other Chase quotes about the ending:

Chase to Men’s Journal in 2012: “We did a lot of POV stuff,” he says. “I did a lot of setups with POV shots in that episode. People have not picked up on that.”
“The only thing I would say definitively about it is, whatever happened [at Holsten’s],Tony put himself there. It was the world as he saw it. He was responsible for where he ended up – wherever that is.”

Chase to Associated Press in 2012: “Tony was dealing in mortality every day. He was dishing out life and death. And he was not happy. He was getting everything he wanted, that guy, but he wasn’t happy. All I wanted to do was present the idea of how short life is and how precious it is. The only way I felt I could do that was to rip it away.”

“[Tony] was an extremely isolated, unhappy man. And then finally, once in a while he would make a connection with his family and be happy there. But in this case, whatever happened [at Holsten’s],we never got to see the result of that. It was torn away from him and from us.”

Chase to Metro NY in 2012: “Well, what Tony should have been thinking, I guess, and what we all should be thinking — although we can’t live that way — is that life is really short. And there are good times in it and there are bad times in it. And that we don’t know why we’re here, but we do know that 20 miles up it’s freezing cold, it’s a freezing cold universe, but here we have this thing called love, which is our only defense, really, against all that cold, and that it’s a very brief interval and that when it’s over, I think you’re probably always blindsided by it. That’s all I can say.”

Chase to Daily Beast in 2014 when asked what “spiritual question” is asked by the final scene: “[Long Pause] I’ll say this: The [spiritual] question [that the final scene asks] is, to be really pretentious, what is time? How do we spend our really brief sojourn here? How do we behave, and what do we do? And the recognition that it’s over all too soon, and it very seldom happens the way we think. I think death very seldom comes to people the way they think it’s going to. And the spiritual question would be: “Is that all there is?”

With regards to the last quote above, shot#113 (the silent black screen) may answer Chase’s question: “Is that all there is?”


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