RIP Phil Leotardo
Maybe it was a red herring, but the terrorism subplot was definitely not nothing, as many feared. His relationship with the homeland security agent was the chip that got him Phil Leotardo, the biggest prize of all. So long as Phil was alive and in hiding, Tony was an explicitly marked man.
Phil: We decapitate, and we do business with whatever’s left.
With this in mind, Phil’s death was beautiful, beautiful poetic justice. I waited weeks for this moment and it was just what I needed:
I liked the cat/’rat,’ I loved Tony and Paulie reminiscing on their early days, and I liked the final scene at the restaurant, to a point. Even though I don’t understand any of the Jersey references, I love the plugs which, my friends (and Peter King) assure me, are everyday local landmarks, like Holstein’s.
The Final Scene
A lot of people are miffed that, after the foreboding throughout the show and during the final scene, there wasn’t closure. [The usual masochists are in thrall to the auteur’s hi-jinx.]
Beyond Tony’s death (which some will argue was that ending) or his imprisonment (which still may come), would any closure have been cathartic? I’m not sure.
Throughout the scene, Tony watches his back vigilantly, as he will for the rest of his life. The man on his way to the bathroom might bring back a gun like Michael Corleone. Meadow might end up martyred like Sophia Coppola. But, so far as we see, those fears (at least individually) prove unfounded.
The biggest Soprano-devotee among my friends insists that as Meadow entered the restaurant, she made a shocked, fearful expression indicating danger we can’t see. I missed it, and I don’t have DVR, but I’ll have to check the repeat.
Cut to Black
Weeks ago, while vacationing at Bobby’s hunting lodge, Tony and Bobby discuss being whacked:
Bobby: “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, Right?”
Tony: “Ask your friend in there – on the wall.”
In the spirit of this heart-to-heart, the Sopranos ends. Before Meadow can join her family, as she crosses the threshold of the restaurant door, the screen jarringly cuts to black and the soundtrack goes dead. Seconds pass before the music returns and the credits begin to roll. We all call our friends to make sure our cable box didn’t ruin the evening. Everybody’s had the same thought.
Did Chase just whack us, his audience?
It’s probably impossible to please a large and loyal audience with a finale like this. I didn’t know what to expect from the final episode, and I left mostly satisfied. But that cut has been bugging me ever since.
It was so ugly. The ‘Sopranos’ is gritty and realistic, but it’s also been beautiful. And the sweet, heartwarming moment we anticipate as Meadow enters the restaurant is snuffed out, not by an assassin or a cop, but by the editors, who let us hang in silence for several seconds. It’s like closing a symphony without a cadence. It’s physically disappointing for the audience.