A warning: if you haven’t seen the series finale The Sopranos, don’t read on…
The final episode comes to us in the wake of abundant hype as to whether or not Tony would get “whacked.” Dead Tony or not, the New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley reminds us that “there was no good ending” possible. Instead, the show ends with an almost unbearably tense scene where Tony, followed by the rest of his family, files in to a favorite restaurant amid several suspicious characters—including one particularly evil-looking man who crawls off into the rest room—as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” plays in the background. Before anything happens, the screen goes black and the sound cuts out abruptly after the lyrics “don’t stop.” One may like to conclude that something is wrong with the television, but in that same silence, credits roll and the eight-year reign of The Sopranos draws to a close.
According to Deadline Hollywood Daily, negative reactions from fans have resulted in much outcry against HBO. Fans apparently “crashed HBO’s website for a time tonight trying to register their outrage. HBO could suffer a wave of cancellations as a result…[creator/director] Chase clearly didn’t give a damn about his fans. Instead, he crapped in their faces. This is why America hates Hollywood.”
(America hates Hollywood? I’m not so sure…)
Liberal Values was also unsettled by the finale: “Ending the series by having life go on without a clean ending would have been fine. The problem is the manner in which this was done. Viewers shouldn’t have been left with the first reaction consisting of wondering if their cable went out. Fading out over a scene of a family dinner might not have created as much internet buzz tonight, but would have been a more conventional way in which to end. But then David Chase never wanted to be conventional.”
Urban Grounds, however, was satisfied with this completely unsatisfying ending, noticing that “not everybody got it” (see above). The blog gives us one word for that legendary ending: “genius.” Frazier Moore at Breitbart.com also sings the show’s praises: The foreboding ending was “almost certainly a false alarm. But we’ll never know. With that, ‘The Sopranos’ cut to black, leaving us enriched after eight years. And flustered. And fated to always wonder what happened next…The finale displayed the characters continuing, for better and worse, unaffected by the fact that the series is done. The implication was, they will go on as usual. We just won’t be able to watch.”
Eric Hirsch is a Columbia Journalism Review intern.
At-Largely advises, “Watch the first season now, if you are a fan, and see for yourself the rich symbolism, the points of tension tugging, the unexpected flirtation with poetic structure.” The show’s ending was certainly, for better or for worse, unsettling. Surely, the buzz about it won’t…”stop.”