Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sopranos Suspenseful, but Super, Stupid, or Special?

Two days after the long-awaited finale of the Sopranos, I still have trouble getting my mind around the cut-to-black conclusion that left me wanting so much more.

The episode, up until the last 15 seconds, was amazing, filled with a level of suspense and anticipation that has rarely been produced by any television show or movie. At every turn I expected one of the show’s many loose ends to be tied up, probably with a bullet through the back of the head.

While only one loose end was tied up that definitively, that being the much hated Phil Leotardo, I had no issue with most of the plot-lines being left in limbo. But I, like every other person who watched all 85 previous episodes, was hoping to find out the fate of the hero, Tony Soprano. Will he live or die? Go to prison, flee the state, or even take over Phil’s family? I guess we’ll never know.

That is what is so vexing about the ending to this show. For so many seasons, Tony has become an odd hero. We see his flaws as clear as day, but we also see the other side to him, and perhaps we all identify with some of the issues he faces. I have cheered for him in season after season, to get through the various challenges he and his family have faced. How can I not know if he prevails through these challenges?

I’ve been reading a ton of opinions on the finale, and drawing my own conclusions. At first I felt that David Chase was trying to say that the Soprano family was moving back to business as usual, and that Tony’s life would remain relatively unchanged, which is a great thought. I also thought that this could be the precursor to a Sopranos movie, which many have speculated over the years, but that would be a horrible way to promote the next endeavor.

But perhaps this is something else. Perhaps this is a level of genius that is rarely seen in our day and age. Had we been given a conclusion to the series, a true ending, I suspect that invariably many people would have been disappointed. But with this lack of ending, the number of possibilities is endless. The viewer is left to his or her imagination to determine what really happens to Tony.

Maybe the man at the counter or the man in the bathroom will come and shoot the whole family, including Tony, or maybe one will pass Tony the information to get him out of his legal troubles. Maybe meadow will be hit crossing the street, maybe she will witness the death of her father, or maybe she’ll have a legal solution to defend her father and keep him out of jail. With this ending, we can find out own ending.

This isn’t the first time that an artist has used ambiguity to provoke the audience’s imagination. What is the Mona Lisa looking at? How did Schubert envision his 8th Symphony ending? Only time will tell, but perhaps The Sopranos, ground breaking in so many ways, will one day be seen as a work of art itself. If so, the ending will certainly be cited as provoking similar levels of discussion as other historical masterpieces. In the mean time, I’ll just choose to believe that Tony is alive and eating sushi.

Posted by Scottage at 12:37 AM / | |