creator David Chase wrote and directed last night's final installment of the long-running HBO mob epic, and he gave fans a relatively uneventful and, at times, bizarre send-off after six seasons of award-winning drama. The ending is what everyone will be talking about (or, more likely, complaining about) this morning, but the whole episode deserves careful examination. After the tension of last Sunday's spectacular entry, the finale felt like a toothless epilogue, an hour of anticipation with no pay-off.
The script was self-referential, making it clear that David Chase believes audiences put too much stock in fictional characters and that life is not like a TV show. Thus, the ending simply told us that, for the Sopranos, life is just going to go on. The prevailing thought that Tony would die in the final episode was obviously at the forefront of Chase's mind and he played off that notion throughout the episode, toying with the audience.
Unfortunately, surprising the audience by having a boring conclusion, although surprising, is still boring.
Retrospectively, the final coda was clever enough (with the quick cut to black very unexpected), but that, again, does not make up for the feeling of disrespect for the viewers. Leaving events up in the air for interpretation is all fine and good, but don't do it on the series finale. Fans wanted, needed, some closure. THey didn't really get it.
You know what, watching it again, that final scene is actually pretty beautiful, in the way in which it was filmed and paced. It created a ton of tension, and had viewers expecting a major event at any moment. But, when that all leads to nothing, to an ending that forces viewers to create theories and form rationalizations for Chase's motivations, it's not good.
The fact that the ending has produced a number of theories on what it actually means is reason enough to be disappointed by it. Did Tony die suddenly? Why was Meadow running? Was the guy going to the bathroom about to pull a Michael Corleone? Journey? Really?
David Chase may have just played a joke on The Sopranos fan base. He may have greatly miscalculated what fans wanted from the final episode. He may have just been fed up with everyone and their mothers predicting Tony's death. Whatever it was Chase was thinking or whatever his motivations were, the end result is the same: the series finale of The Sopranos was a mild disappointment.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of HBO)