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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Sopranos Finale: a Bang or a Whimper

Like many Americans watching television on Sunday night at around 10 p.m., I yelled, "What?! What happened?!" At first, I thought my TV fritzed out on me. But a split second later it hit me and then waves of disappointment washed over me.

There is an internet debate over whether David Chase is brilliant or took the coward's way out. I think Chase is a brilliant coward. I can't blame him, but I will never forgive him. What a lousy stunt!? But still, it makes perfect sense.

Like many others, I am sad to say goodbye to America's most likable sociopath. For a series that was known both for its subtlety and its coarseness, perhaps the best end is no ending at all. The very last sound were these words to a Journey power ballad: "Don't stop." And then it stopped. All too abruptly.

Did it stop or didn't it? We'll never know. There were indications that something was about to happen. And then nothing did. But isn't that how life is? Are all the plot strings in your life tightly knotted at the end?

The episode made the point that life is like sitting in a rocking chair. It's a lot of work, but you don't go anywhere. After all the gore, bodily and emotional, we're right where we started. Tony goes right back to episode 1, season 1 with A.J.'s therapist. And just as the first season ended with a family meal, so the finale. Like men lost in the woods, we tend to go in circles. Has any progress been made?

The Sopranos gave us insight into the meaning of life. No, really. I mean that. When the other FBI agent told Agent Harris about Phil Leotardo's demise, Harris smacked the table with glee saying, "We're gonna win this thing." We're disgusted that he responded to the murder of a human being as if his favorite team just scored in a close championship match. Life is no game. But which fan of the show did not have the exact same reaction internally? Just like Harris caught himself, we have to ask, "why do I like this stuff?" What does that say about me?

The biggest question on everyone's mind was who will get whacked in the end? Will Tony finally get his due? The foreshadowing intentionally misled us. Bobby in the boat with Tony opined that you never see it coming when the bullet with your name on it comes knocking. Maybe, he said, it just all goes black. So isn't the conclusion obvious to you now? Chase didn't whack Tony. Whether he knows it or not, he whacked us.

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Paul, in Bethel Park said...

Hello, Pastor!

My take is that our ability to eavesdrop on the life of a cold blooded killer and his family simply came to a close.

I was always amazed how Tony and his family had the uncanny ability to rationalize his barbaric behavior. After all that had taken place, sitting in a diner having a harmless chat was just icing on the cake.

Their attitude always seemed to be...obladee, obladah, life goes on.

ghp said...

I tend to be in the camp that thinks that Tony is dead, and that things went black because "you never see/hear the one that gets you..."

In case you haven't already read them, here's an interesting interview with David Chase, and here's a hugely interesting (if not way too serious) take on breaking down the cinematography as a way to show that we were seeing Tony's funeral mass.

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary