Monday, June 11, 2007

The Morning After on TSE - 6.11.2007

So here we are, 12+ hours after the finale of The Sopranos left all of us scratching our heads, cursing David Chase (see previous post) and trying aimlessly and unsuccessfully to get "Don't Stop Believing" out of our heads. The hangover caused by the general feelings of disgust toward David Chase (again, see previous post) have subsided and now we can finally start thinking about what the ending meant. Oh, and maybe even talk about sports.
To me, the final restaurant scene was terrific because there was so much that went on in that scene. To me, that makes it an almost perfect, if unsatisfying, way to end this whole show. But what is the final conclusion? Some thoughts...
When Tony walks into the bar, he looks around and gets his lay of the land. The camera is focused on him but the next shot is apears to be from what would have been Tony's point of view and we see Tony sitting in the booth. Whether this was just a quick splice because Chase needed to cut 10 seconds or something bigger, we may never know. Personally, I think HBO would have given Chase as much time as he wanted for his finale but I'm not making those decisions for HBO. Regardless, it seemed like an odd cut and most times, those lead to something, though we may never know what.
At first, I thought that Tony does end up dying, most likely shot by the man who walks into the bathroom. Here's why. The show has lived in the shadow of The Godfather since inception but got around the comparisons by always referring to the movies (gangsters being gangsters, and so forth). The last scene had one of the great homages to the movies in the history of the series. When AJ comments on the onion rings in the restaurant, Tony calls them "the best in the city". The man at the bar then walks into the bathroom and the rest is Meadow running into the restaurant (presumably) and then that gut-wrenching cut-to-black. Sound familiar?
McCluskey: How's the Italian food in this restaurant?
Sollozzo: Try the veal, it's the best in the city
[Michael Corleone draws gun retrieved from bathroom and kills the two men,
walks out]

We miss "Michael" sitting down and doing the shifty-eyes that make the scene from GF1 so great, but the tie is both subtle yet perfectly overt.
Another theory I found goes to almost too in depth (this is verbatim from Gothamist, so the grammar splices and run-on sentences and, my favorite, thinly-veiled racism are not mine:

So here is what I found out. The guy at the bar who walks into the bathroom
is credited as Nikki Leotardo. The same actor played him in the first part of
season 6 during a brief sit down concerning the future of Vito. That wasn't that
long ago. Apparently, he is the nephew of Phil. Phil's brother Nikki Senior was
killed in 1976 in a car accident. Absolutely Genius!!!! David Chase is truly
rewarding the fans who pay attention to detail.

So the point would have been that life continues and we may never know
the end of the Sopranos. But if you pay attention to the history, you will find
that all the answers lie in the characters in the restaurant. The trucker was
the brother of the guy who was robbed by Christopher in Season 2. Remember the
DVD players? The trucker had to identify the body. The boy scouts were in the
train store and the black guys at the end were the ones who tried to kill Tony
and only clipped him in the ear (was that season 2 or 3?).

Absolutely incredible!!!! There were three people in the restaurant who
had reason to kill Tony and then it just ends. This was Chase's way of proving
that he will not escape his past. Tony would like it to keep going but just as
we have to say goodbye, so does he." interesting take for sure.
The non-ending, however, may just be what we've come to expect from the show. Has anything ever come easy in this series? Every question asked was either left behind as a red herring or answered later, in some cases much later. Every episode always left us hungry for more; even this most recent string of excellent episodes (when Tony kills Christopher, for one) never fully satisfied. We even had to wait years between seasons. Perhaps the non-ending ending was, indeed, the piece of perfection Chase had been saving for a time like this all along. For how awful I thought the ending was last night, it's only now that I'm starting to realize just how good it was.
And you have to hand it to David Chase - he finally found a way to 1-up The Godfather:

Beats a Moe Green Special any day of the week...


DamianPBNJ said...

That guy at the bar couldn't have been Nikki Leotardo - it was his first time on the show:

The Chris Kopech said...

outstanding digging. Thanks much.