Tony Soprano: Dead or Alive?

By Gary Korb

The news was all abuzz today with commentary on HBO's final episode of The Sopranos, so I figured I might as well chime in, too, even if I'm a little late to the plate. After all, the hit TV series has probably done more for premium cigars than any other show in the history of the medium. It even inspired its own brand - CAO The Sopranos.

I was just as perplexed as most of the other viewers who watched last night, most of whom felt the final episode just didn't pay off. Of course, I wasn't surprised either, since its creator, David Chase, likes to play with the audience, and as it sunk in, I grew to like the idea that he left it up to us to figure out what happened, or what will happen to Tony and his family. After all, he did tie up the loose ends with regard to A.J., Meadow, and Carmela.

On my ride to work this morning, while listening to my favorite morning radio show host, Michael Smerconish (an avid cigar smoker himself), he had on Alan Sepinwall of "Tony's newspaper of choice," The Star-Ledger, who wrote a terrific article on The Soprano's finale titled, "Don’t Stop Believing." He also announced it as his "must read of the day."

After that Mr. Smerconish opened the phones to his listeners, many of whom came up with some great analysis. After about six calls, mostly all cogent interpretations on what should'a, could'a, would'a happened, Smerconish said he would have to watch the last episode again. I second his emotion and would encourage everyone else who watched last night to do the same. Sometimes it's the little things we miss that drop a big clue as to what the writer and the director - both Mr. Chase in this case - wants to get across, even with regard to the selection of the background music.

One caller came up with a theory that I thought had some weight to it. That final close-up where Tony is looking at the camera and everything goes dark and silent, the caller said that was Tony getting whacked from Tony's perspective. Moreover, another caller alluded to an episode where Tony and Bobby Baccala are fishing and talking about what it's like to get hit, and Bobby says something to the effect that everything just goes black.

There were also other theories about the meaning of the cat, why the federal agent gave up Phil, whether the show would be continued in a full-length movie, and more.

The jury in my mind is still out until I re-watch the final episode. Any way you look at it, the series was a great ride, and if you feel Mr. Chase ripped you off in the final chapter, then too bad. Life's a bitch. Something Tony Soprano and his family knew all too well.


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