That Was No Fade To Black

Thursday, June 28th, 2007, 3:07 pm

Yesterday I covered the final table of the Seniors Event, which only took 5 hours and ended with the last two players making a deal. Apparently the chip leader gave the other guy $65K and he got the title and the bracelet. That’s a pricey bit of bling.

So I got out early, but not before Change100 hooked me up with the last 2 episodes of The Sopranos, which I hadn’t seen. Hadn’t seen, but I’d read a lot of reviews and blog posts and essays about them before I saw how it all ended. And having finally watched the shows…

Tony’s dead.

If you’re still on the fence, read Bob Harris’ piece on the final episode. Convinced me.

The only question I have is, who would’ve gone to the trouble of having Tony killed? Phil Leotardo is dead, his family OK’d the hit, so it wouldn’t come from that quarter. A friend of Phil’s? OK, but contracting out to kill Tony? That could get that friend in a lot of trouble. Tony obviously didn’t recognize the guy, so it wasn’t some low-level soldier out for revenge or trying to make a name for himself. Of course, there are lots and lots of people out there who would want Tony Soprano dead. But the exact motivation is a bit murky. Which, when you think about it, is totally irrelevant.

The final image is of Tony looking up, apparently at the front door, as Meadow walks in. We’re looking at Tony, not seeing things from his point-of-view. Had we seen Meadow walk in and THEN the screen went black, there really wouldn’t have been any question, would there? Instead we see Tony, a disinterested look on his face, just a guy eating onion rings…and then blackness. There’s room for ambiguity there, obviously…but the shot would’ve come from his right side, out of his field of vision. He wouldn’t have seen, or heard, anything. Neither did we. And of course that was no “fade” to black. We were suddenly confronted by a rectangle of nothingness that went on and on until the credits rolled. Chase apparently wanted that blackness to go on for 30 seconds. Which would’ve left a lot less room for ambiguity, I think.

After watching the last two shows I couldn’t help but think, how would The Sopranos have been different had Nancy Marchand not passed away after Season One? Would she have remained a major character to the end? How would her presence have changed the show. She’s still a huge presence–Tony couldn’t help bringing her up (and his own problems) when talking to A.J.’s psychiatrist.

A character we rarely saw was Tony’s sister Barbara, who appeared to be rather normal. Tony’s a monster, Janice might actually be worse…and yet their little sister somehow managed to avoid becoming a sociopath. The few times we saw her she didn’t come across as a milquetoast, but in no way did she appear a manipulative harpy prone to violence. How did Barbara turn out the way she did? And why did Chase keep her so firmly on the sidelines, when the show was so much about the importance of family?

Questions that will never be answered. Unless there’s a Sopranos movie five years hence. Which there won’t be. Because Tony’s dead.

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