Sunday, June 10, 2007
And so, after months of anticipation, speculation and enough verbal ejaculation to sink Tony Soprano's boat the Stugots, the final episode of what is considered the greatest TV drama ever comes to an end.
It had all the elements we've come to love and expect from this series. Another funeral filled with steaming mounds of pasta and "waddayagonna do?". An SUV exploded spectacularly, with Bob Dylan moaning in the background, "it's alright, Ma...I'm only bleeding". Even while it was all happening, I was already mourning the end of the best lines in the world. Paulie says..."You can take 2007 and give it back to the Indians!". Oh how I am going to miss the non-stop flickering parade of current events and cultural references marching by just underneath the main action on the screen. Terrorism! Little Italy has turned into Chinatown! AJ is going to join the army and go to Afghanistan! Where else are we going to find a scene like tonight, where the Soprano soldiers are holed up in their safe house with an old TV show playing in the background. And while we watch the final episode of the Sopranos, we hear the soothing sounds of the Twilight Zone and they are saying, "TV is looking for talent and quality...talent and quality, and good writing!".
Where else, across 800 channels and 9 billion websites, are we going to find, outside of an independent film or two, such breath taking cinematography. Who wouldn't love the artistry of Tony meeting with Phil's henchmen in the wherehouse. Here, in our living rooms we've got, not Citizen Kane in Xanadu with his mile long oak dining table. Here we have Tony and the guys, sitting on white plastic lawn chairs in a cavernous garage. The detritus of their "off the back of the truck" lives, a jumble of giant tires and boxes, formed a beautiful backdrop to their crumbling moments of power.
In the end, it wasn't television, it wasn't even HBO, it was all about the movies. The Sopranos was a movie, chopped up into pieces and fed to our hungry eyes over an eight year stretch. And now, all other media, TV and film alike, have to be measured against its brilliance. Tonight we waited to see who would live and who would die. We watched a New Jersey family, order dinner in a roadside diner, while an annoying Journey song played on the jukebox. We watched because anything could happen. Well of course, in this post 911 world, anything COULD happen to any of us, at any time and for no particular reason at all.
Five minutes to go before the end of the final episode. We waited for their food to come. We waited for Meadow to figure out how to parallel park. We waited and prayed for the high pitched wailing of the Journey song to end. And we wondered. Why is that guy sitting at the counter staring at Tony, and is he going to pull a Michael Corleone when he comes back from the bathroom?
We waited...and then...just...nothing. Black. Not even fade to black. No sound, no picture, just gone.
And while I fumbled with my remote, thinking the cable had gone out, I finally got the joke. Now, we are all left to wonder eternally. What did happen to that Russian guy in the woods? Will Miami Steve ever come out of a coma so he can play in the next Springsteen tour with the real New Jersey Boss? Will Carmella ever become a great real estate agent? And for me, what the heck is it that David Chase has about animals, anyway? From mallard ducks in the swimming pool to black bears in suburbia, to Tony's beautiful race horse. Even tonight, an orange cat had a prominent role. Thank God it wasn't whacked.
Bravo, Mr. Chase. You ended it just like a movie. But please don't do a sequel. There will never be a higher note to go out on, than this. What an exhilarating finale to a phenomenal show. It's finished. But it will never be over.
Arrevederci, Tone. I'm sure gonna miss ya. Sunday nights will never be the same.