At the end of last night’s “The Sopranos” series finale, the world had but one question on their mind: What in the F happened to my cable??? But in case you were frantically logging into The Sopranos Yahoo Chat wondering what you missed, then know that the ending you saw indeed was the end of the eight year series. Nonetheless, the series finale left many viewers scratching their heads and perhaps even banging their fists. What could possibly explain the bizarre series finale of one of television’s most innovative dramas? Here are five of the top theories, organized according to iconic crime drama director.
1.The Scorsese Theory
Since The Sopranos owes much to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (including appearances by Michael Imperioli among others) then maybe Sopranos crime godfather David Chase was tipping his hat to Scorsese in filming his own underwhelming, incomplete, borderline sucky ending. (A criticism Scorsese has often heard) In what seems like a feel-good family moment, Tony Soprano sits with Carmela and AJ for dinner at Holsten’s, when Meadow eventually enters the restaurant after a bad parallel parking scare. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey plays on the jukebox while several shady characters enter the restaurant possibly with murder on their minds. Tony raises his head and the screen cuts to black. Millions of viewers simultaneously shriek that of all times to malfunction, HBO has to do it now. The credits follow and people shriek a second time. The theory that the series finale simply sucked is currently the #1 theory among Sopranos fans.
2.The Tarantino Theory
Some Sopranos loyalists however, understand David Chase’s warped sense of humor and appreciate that the ending – a purposely ambiguous fade out that was meant to F with our heads and keep The Sopranos story on our minds forever — as very characteristic of the show’s iconoclastic spirit. Some of the greatest directors in cinema enjoy messing with the audience’s head and The Sopranos creative team, knowing full well that everyone (including the master of sass Tarantino) was watching, decided to have one last laugh at our expense. What do we expect from such greasy, unlikable villains, anyway?
3.The David Lynch Theory
In a word, paranoia. The ending, though filmed ambiguously, was nonetheless clearly symbolic of the paranoia that Tony Soprano felt every waking moment of the day, fearing his comeuppance and possibly even done in the presence of his (personal) family. There were numerous potential threats – the fellow who went to take a whiz (and presumably grab a planted gun, in tribute to Coppola’s The Godfather) the pair of black dudes, and really, a whole roomful of some Italian and not so Italian looking guys who were clearly established by the camera as possible suspects. A good theory, however, one that was not filmed very well, since Tony Soprano seems oblivious to the crowd and appears to be enjoying himself. (Then again, by now surely he knows how to scout like a made guy)
4.The Alfred Hitchcock Theory
Cinema buffs, help me out. Who introduced the POV shot? Was it Hitchcock? In any event, another theory that is gaining supporters is the idea that Tony Soprano was indeed whacked and that we the viewer were treated to the same dying image as he experienced – namely, nothing. Fade to black. When somebody kills you from behind chances are you won’t feel or see anything besides a disappointing, empty blackness. (Not like Tony was going to heaven, right?) This theory is supported by the foreshadowing we see earlier in the show when Tony tells Bobby that everything seems to go blank and silent when you are shot. Tony dying without seeing the face of his killer is somewhat cruel – but maybe just what he deserved?
5.The Woody Allen Theory
Then again, maybe David Chase started to feel a bit neurotic at all this attention, knowing that the media was savoring the chance to report/criticize the effectiveness of The Sopranos swan song. (After all, they have to leave Paris Hilton alone at least once a week) Knowing that no filmed ending could ever live up to fans’ expectations, he decided to do a cop out, and actually let us fill in the blanks. What better way to satisfy the critics than to let them write their own perfect fairy tale ending? Chase hinted at the possibility of a future movie to come, and also at the possibility of no movie to come. If Twin Peaks has taught us anything it’s that a series creator should know when to let a good idea die. Or get whacked, so to speak.
One thing is for sure: The Sopranos is over, and as promised, went out with a bang. What more can we ask for? Time to cancel HBO…