"That was fucking weird." At the very end of the read-through for the final episode of The Sopranos, that was supposedly all James Gandolfini could say while Edie Falco started to cry. Now that the series has finally ended, the sentiment makes much more sense.
At the same time, as far as great television show finales go, this one was in many appropriate. We couldn't get enough of New Jersey's mob family and as such we are left dying for more. And while much remains unresolved, several plotlines have been concluded: Tony has finally made peace with Uncle Junior, who will spend his dying days in a decrepit mental institution (Tony is all the more sad when he reminds his senile uncle that their family "once" ran New Jersey). Paulie Walnuts was, is, and always will be the good soldier, leaving us where he's always been, in front of Satriale's, catching some rays (though soon to be heading the cursed Cifaretto crew). Anthony Jr. will continue to struggle while seeing his therapist, sounding more and more like his father (including his last line about remembering the good times--a touching reference to the end of Season One). Phil Leotardo's reign finally came to an end--thanks to an FBI tip--getting shot and inadvertently having his head crushed by his own tire (and thereby no open casket, the ultimate insult). As I long suspected, Butchie Deconcini would play a crucial role til the end, though I didn't think as a peacemaker. We can assume he rises in the ranks as well, maybe even heading that family.
Or maybe not. Could an ambush have been in the works? Fans will be talking about the final scene at the diner for a long time. It could easily have been family coming together, just like the end of the first season, but there was barely a second you actually felt comfortable watching. Was Tony going to be arrested? (We know he was probably going to be indicted. What did the FBI agent say? "We're gonna win this thing.") What was the deal with the guy at the counter who goes to use the bathroom? (Notice as Tony flips through the jukebox selections, the first song we see is "This Magic Moment," played in the first episode of this season.) Who were the two African Americans who walk in at the very end? Why did we have to watch Meadow make several attempts to parallel park, then run across the street looking frazzled? Tony looks up and ... The End?
The darkness on my screen, lasting for maybe ten seconds or more, made me think the set went out (there would have been riots at Comcast). But instead, that was how David Chase wanted to leave it: Their lives and their stories will continue to go on--it was just our stop and we had to get off (forced off, really).
No doubt Chase will have lots of explaining to do. Will there ever be a followup? How about a Christmas Special? One thing I do know is I am passing on "John From Cincinnati," canceling my Platinum Package with Comcast (yes, I know, that means goodbye to "Passion Cove," "Hotel Erotica," and "Sex Games Cancun") and getting on with my life. Who knows, I might actually get something done.
20 minutes ago