Goodbye, Sopranos. Will you miss me?

Two weeks since that last episode of the Sopranos, and you're still bitching. Not just disagreeing with David Chase's artistic judgment, but feeling utterly betrayed. As one of you bitter letter writers put it, shows should "respect their audiences by not leaving things up in the air." A still-livid friend of mine recently added: "I'll never watch anything by David Chase again."

Brother, I acknowledge your pain but take issue with your thinking.

"Up in the air"? The A story line of late was the long simmering tension, then outright war, between Tony Soprano and rival boss Phil Leotardo. Though office chatter before the last episode centered on whether Tony would be killed, that was not, strictly speaking, the dramatic question raised. That question was: Who will prevail, Phil or Tony? And that was answered unambiguously when Phil was shot dead and then got his head crushed by an SUV. That ain't final enough for you? Okay, so it happened in the middle of Act 2 rather than in a more formulaic Act 3 climactic shootout. You still got resolution. So what's your beef? 

The B story line resolved as well. That one involved Tony's son A.J., alternately suicidal and bent on joining the army, either of which paths would have taken him away from his family. The dramatic question -- Will Tony and Carmela manage to hang on to their son? -- was answered when A.J. got past his depression and agreed to take a job in the film business. If that plot line seems less than resolved, it's only because endless possibilities for further adventures involving A.J. come to mind. But you won't get to see them.

That's why you're upset. You had to say goodbye.

You said it to Christopher Moltisanti, whose photo you and that cat were starring at; to Uncle Junior, caustic as ever even without his faculties; to Silvio, in a bed in the ICU where's he's unlikely to recover. Or maybe he will. But if he does, you won't be there to see it.

Then there was that runner involving the superstitious Paulie Walnuts, spooked by a stray cat -- "snakes with fur" -- Tony took in. In a scene outside the familiar Satriale's Meat Market, where Tony talks Paulie into taking on a task his superstitions counsel against, Tony exits, and the camera pulls back leaving Paulie small and alone at the table -- just as his feline nemesis once again crosses his path. That scene button might have played as comedy in another episode, but in this one it was sad, a final snapshot of your Uncle Paulie (yeah, you thought of him that way), who you'd never see again. 

Of course, you watched Tony, Carmela and AJ in the diner, in that controversial last scene. You had to say goodbye to them, too. But nothing was left unresolved there either, because the scene had no story line to require resolution. Just a family out for dinner, and if they'd all smiled one last time and the camera had pulled back to a final long shot, and fade out, you'd have had nothing to squawk about.

But you wanted more. The scene did suggest, through ominous camera shots and Meadow's struggle to park her car (in fiction, as you instinctively understand, nothing happens without a reason), further developments you'd never get to see. It was a last look at a world where danger always lurks -- and from which you were about to be removed. 

And then all you saw was black. Tony didn't get whacked -- you did. 

In the season's first episode, out on a lake with Tony, Bobby speculates about what it's like to have somebody suddenly remove you from the world. "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

Right. But you feel it, and it hurts. 

So okay, maybe you did get betrayed. It happened to a lot of people. You don't hear them bellyaching. Count yourself lucky to have stuck around as long as you did.


Steven Zak, an
occasional contributor to American Thinker, is an attorney and scriptwriter.
Two weeks since that last episode of the Sopranos, and you're still bitching. Not just disagreeing with David Chase's artistic judgment, but feeling utterly betrayed. As one of you bitter letter writers put it, shows should "respect their audiences by not leaving things up in the air." A still-livid friend of mine recently added: "I'll never watch anything by David Chase again."

Brother, I acknowledge your pain but take issue with your thinking.

"Up in the air"? The A story line of late was the long simmering tension, then outright war, between Tony Soprano and rival boss Phil Leotardo. Though office chatter before the last episode centered on whether Tony would be killed, that was not, strictly speaking, the dramatic question raised. That question was: Who will prevail, Phil or Tony? And that was answered unambiguously when Phil was shot dead and then got his head crushed by an SUV. That ain't final enough for you? Okay, so it happened in the middle of Act 2 rather than in a more formulaic Act 3 climactic shootout. You still got resolution. So what's your beef? 

The B story line resolved as well. That one involved Tony's son A.J., alternately suicidal and bent on joining the army, either of which paths would have taken him away from his family. The dramatic question -- Will Tony and Carmela manage to hang on to their son? -- was answered when A.J. got past his depression and agreed to take a job in the film business. If that plot line seems less than resolved, it's only because endless possibilities for further adventures involving A.J. come to mind. But you won't get to see them.

That's why you're upset. You had to say goodbye.

You said it to Christopher Moltisanti, whose photo you and that cat were starring at; to Uncle Junior, caustic as ever even without his faculties; to Silvio, in a bed in the ICU where's he's unlikely to recover. Or maybe he will. But if he does, you won't be there to see it.

Then there was that runner involving the superstitious Paulie Walnuts, spooked by a stray cat -- "snakes with fur" -- Tony took in. In a scene outside the familiar Satriale's Meat Market, where Tony talks Paulie into taking on a task his superstitions counsel against, Tony exits, and the camera pulls back leaving Paulie small and alone at the table -- just as his feline nemesis once again crosses his path. That scene button might have played as comedy in another episode, but in this one it was sad, a final snapshot of your Uncle Paulie (yeah, you thought of him that way), who you'd never see again. 

Of course, you watched Tony, Carmela and AJ in the diner, in that controversial last scene. You had to say goodbye to them, too. But nothing was left unresolved there either, because the scene had no story line to require resolution. Just a family out for dinner, and if they'd all smiled one last time and the camera had pulled back to a final long shot, and fade out, you'd have had nothing to squawk about.

But you wanted more. The scene did suggest, through ominous camera shots and Meadow's struggle to park her car (in fiction, as you instinctively understand, nothing happens without a reason), further developments you'd never get to see. It was a last look at a world where danger always lurks -- and from which you were about to be removed. 

And then all you saw was black. Tony didn't get whacked -- you did. 

In the season's first episode, out on a lake with Tony, Bobby speculates about what it's like to have somebody suddenly remove you from the world. "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

Right. But you feel it, and it hurts. 

So okay, maybe you did get betrayed. It happened to a lot of people. You don't hear them bellyaching. Count yourself lucky to have stuck around as long as you did.


Steven Zak, an
occasional contributor to American Thinker, is an attorney and scriptwriter.