Critical consensus is that The Sopranos is one of the greatest dramas American TV has produced, partly because of its multilayered portrayal of moral ambiguity. Appropriately, its finale was the opposite of absolute.
The show’s protagonist, Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini), was a made man in, er, the traditional sense, balancing his duty to the New Jersey mafia with a fraught family life. Over seven seasons, Tony oversaw the abuse and whacking of numerous characters, including two of the series’ most beloved. The high-tension final scene involved the oft-frayed nuclear family gathering at a diner, Tony looking up at someone who’s interrupted their settling-in, and … bam. Black screen.
After the episode aired in 2007, fans howled in disappointment. Ever since, they’ve debated its meaning: Was Tony finally whacked? This week, in an interview, the show’s creator, David Chase, revealed whether Tony was dead: “No. No, he isn’t.” He did not elaborate.
How do we feel about this? We’re not sure. Chase’s revelation raises more questions, which perhaps was his point. The spectacular Gandolfini died far too soon, of a heart attack, in June 2013. Did Chase intend Tony’s life to end, then, influenced by real-life events, changed his mind so Gandolfini would be, in some way, immortal? If Gandolfini were still alive, and a story continuation theoretically possible, where would Tony have gone?
Now we know, and yet we don’t. The discussion that’s erupted is a powerful tribute to a show that always kept us guessing.
So what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.