From HE reader “Melendey”: I have an advanced copy of the new “Sopranos Sessions” book (out January 8th) written by Matt Seitz and Alan Sepinwall. It includes an extensive interview with series creator David Chase, who accidentally lets it slip that Tony dies and even curses at Alan and Matt for making him cough this up.
Chase is asked when he first thought about how he was going to end the show:
Chase: “I think I had that death scene around two years before the end. I remember talking with Mitch Burgess about it, but it was slightly different. Tony was going to get called to a meeting with Johnny Sack in Manhattan and it was going to black there, the theory being that something bad happens to him at the meeting. But we didn’t do that.”
Matt Seitz: “You realize you just referred to that as a death scene?” [a long pause follows]
Chase: “Fuck you guys” [Matt and Alan explode with laughter after a moment Chase joins in for a good thirty seconds]. But I changed my mind over time. I didn’t want to do a straight death scene. I didn’t want you to feel like ‘Oh, he’s meeting with Johnny Sack and he’s going to get killed.'”
From “Tony Soprano Still Dead,” posted on 8.27.14: “Tony Soprano sleeps with the fishes. He took one in the right temple and probably two more in the back of the head. He was clipped by that Italian-looking guy in that Members Only jacket…you know, that guy who was eyeballing him and then went into the bathroom and then came out. Thunk! Thunk, thunk!
“The cut to black was Tony’s abrupt loss of consciousness as the bullets slammed into his head. In my humble view Chase’s strategy would have worked better if he’d used a Tony-POV shot of Meadow entering the restaurant before the cut-to-black. Carmela freaked and screamed; Anthony, Jr. probably tried some kind of tough-guy shit which the Members Only guy…who knows, maybe he clipped Anthony also. Then he went out the back exit. That’s what happened, trust me.”
“Sopranos Finale,” posted on 6.10.07: Tony Soprano lives on in perpetual dread and uncertainty — unpunctured, undead, and prevailing after a fashion. That, for better or worse, is what the final episode of The Sopranos left viewers with this evening.
And anyone who writes in complaining that I’m spoiling the party by writing this can go stuff it. A comprehensive sum-up piece by the AP’s Frazier Moore went up at 11:50 pm eastern, Nikki Finke ran a negative reaction piece even earlier, and finale details are all over Monday morning’s N.Y. Post.
So far, there seems to be disappointment out there that a hitman’s bullet or at least some sort of bad-karma payback didn’t befall bossman Soprano, although I’d suspected this might be how the last episode would end.
The coolest moment in the finale was the glorious death of Phil Leotardo — not just shot in the head and chest, but his head accidentally squashed like a pumpkin by an accidentally rolling SUV. It was one of the two funniest bits, the other being that orange cat staring at a wall photo of the late Christopher Moltisanti, and Paulie Walnuts getting increasingly pissed at the animal for its odd behavior.
There’s tension galore in the final sequence as Tony, Carmela, Meadow and A.J. gather for dinner at a blue-collar family restaurant. You can feel something bad coming…a hit, probably. Maybe all four family members (good God) getting it at the same time. Guys come in and you wonder if it’s this one or that one who’ll pull out a pistol with a silencer. The tension builds and builds, and then cut to black — no catharsis, no grand finale.
It was, in fact, about as far away from an eye-opening, jaw-dropping finish as anyone could have concocted, and I imagine most people who saw it last night were a bit pissed about this, or at the very least underwhelmed. I myself was taken aback, but I thought about it for a few minutes and decided I respected Chase for having the brass to essentially tell the fans who wanted a “big finale” to go fuck themselves.
The N.Y. Post headlines are a scream — ‘SOPRANOS” FINALE WHACKS FANS….SHOW’S FINALE FIRES ‘BLANKS’…DARK SCREEN CAPS DISAPPOINTING WRAP…PHIL’S GRISLY HIT IS THE LONE HIGHLIGHT.
N.Y. Times columnist Alessandra Stanley put it thusly: “Mr. Chase’s last joke was on his audience, not his characters. Tony, Carmela and A. J. are gathered at a diner in a rare moment of family content that cried out for violent interruption. A shifty-looking man walks in and eyes them from the counter, then, in a move echoing a scene from The Godfather, ominously enters the men’s room. Outside, Meadow is delayed, trying to parallel park, then begins walking toward the restaurant.
“Nothing happens. Credits. What?”