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'Sopranos' ending - Did Tony live?


Stashed in: Marc Andreessen, Believe, Are You Not Entertained?, tv, Telly, HBO

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Eh, we still don't know.

Vox ran a long profile of Chase that quoted him as saying that Tony Soprano, whose fate was left hanging in the show's famous, sudden cut to black, had lived. The news was, very quickly, everywhere.

But it appears that the sphinx-like Chase was taken, perhaps, too literally. In a statement, his publicist said, "A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview. To simply quote David as saying, 'Tony Soprano is not dead,' is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true.

"As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, 'Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.' To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of 'The Sopranos' raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer."

Glad that's settled. Seriously.

For seven years, viewers have puzzled about the scene that closed out "The Sopranos." In that finale, there were ominous portents afoot: a mysterious man in a Members Only jacket, daughter Meadow's cross against traffic to meet everyone at a restaurant. And Tony, despite having ended therapy with Dr. Melfi and beaten the New York mob, was still gripped by angst.

So the cut to black, jarring and in the middle of "Don't Stop Believin'," was a shock. If we wanted some conclusion about Tony's life -- whether he lived or died -- it was going to go unresolved. Forever.

It was perfect.

It was perfect because "The Sopranos" was as much about the pointless details of life as it was about the classic arcs of storytelling. For every brutal whacking, there was a Russian escaping through the Pine Barrens. For every guilty verdict, there was a guy who didn't get caught.

As Matt Zoller Seitz writes in New York magazine, " 'The Sopranos' was never about ending mysteries, it was about recognizing and exploring the mysteries of everyday life: the mysteries of personality, motivation, conditioning and free will, as expressed through behavior and conversation and action, and as translated into metaphor through fantasies and dreams."

Don't stop believing...

From Hitfix:

The whole thing's fascinating, but these last two passages in particular are very evocative, and both do and don't address the question of whether Tony died as the screen cut to black.

I said to Gandolfini, the bell rings and you look up. That last shot of Tony ends on 'don't stop,' it's mid-song. I'm not going to go into [if that's Tony's POV]. I thought the possibility would go through a lot of people's minds or maybe everybody's mind that he was killed. He might have gotten shot three years ago in that situation. But he didn't. Whether this is the end here, or not, it's going to come at some point for the rest of us. Hopefully we're not going to get shot by some rival gang mob or anything like that. I'm not saying that [happened]. But obviously he stood more of a chance of getting shot by a rival gang mob than you or I do because he put himself in that situation. All I know is the end is coming for all of us.

I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don't stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That's what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don't stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it's all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we're so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it's really worth it. So don't stop believing.

This is the most clarity with which he's ever discussed the meaning and intent of that final scene, and what he says suggests a kind of Schrodinger's Tony: either Tony is dead at the end of the scene, or he isn't, but it doesn't matter anyway, because death comes for us all.

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