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A New Perspective on THE SOPRANOS’ Final Scene

By Jef Dinsmore on Jul 18, 2013 to The Sopranos

diner-sopranos

I must admit that I am fixated on THE SOPRANOS yet again. Of course, the reasoning this time around has been because of the death of James Gandolfini on June 18. No solid reason is really needed by anyone to take in David Chase’s six season saga of Tony Soprano and his personal and professional families. It is often high on the list of fans and critics alike and always warrants a look.

I’ll also admit in this piece that I have not been watching a marathon of the entire 86 episodes again but merely a small portion of them. My sole intent is to find episodes that really showcased the abilities of Mr. G. himself. There are many scenes I could have watched; over the past three weeks though I focused on episodes which gave me plenty of good scenes that had Tony with Dr. Melfi, with his family at home and with his cronies out and about their daily business. Here is a quick list of what I watched:

  • Episode 01: “The Sopranos” – the pilot which gave us the story of the ducks in the family pool as related to Dr. Jennifer Melfi.
  • Episode 05: “College” – Tony takes his daughter Meadow to check out a potential college for her and, while he’s at it, also whacks a thug in witness protection with his bare hands.
  •  Episode 26: “Funhouse” Tony takes out one of his own when he silences Big Pussy in the Season 2 Finale.
  •  Episode 30: “Employee of the Month” – Even though this episode was about Dr. Melfi and her rape how Tony comes to her aid are moments not to be missed.
  •  Episode 44: “Pie-O-My” – This is the tale of the race horse that Tony Soprano became fond of to the very end.
  •  Episode 48: “Whoever Did This” – That is the one with Ciferetto’s head in a bowling bag. This episode says a lot about Tony and  just as much about the talent of the late James G.
  • Episode 52: “Whitecaps” – this was the big breakup episode between Tony and Carmella that end Season Four.
  • Episode 86: “Made In America” – the final episode.

ducks-tony

Now I know there were of plenty of episodes missed in between; you can spend time in the comments talking up your own favorites if you wish. These were just the eight I decided to watch again in tribute to James Gandolfini.

All of that however, is not the real purpose of this article as you can tell by its title. Ah, the final episode “Made In America.” It aired on 06.10.2007 and has been shrouded in controversy ever since. Viewers were quite angry about the way the scene and the series ended with that abrupt cut-away. The big question loomed whether Tony S. was whacked in front of his family and died in a serving of onion rings or not. There were indications leaning to either scenario. The mystery man eyeing Tony before he ended the restroom and the Journey tune playing made it look like either scenario could play out. So, what happened? I mulled over that myself at the time. It all resurfaced again during my mini-marathon. I finally have discovered six years later the answer or, at least, my answer.

David Chase actually gave his fans a gift, not only the talent of Mr. G, but also with that final scene. He wasn’t rudely insulting and shafting the audience in the end, as was suggested back in 2007, but leaving the power with the audience to write the ending. We, the aficionados of THE SOPRANOS were given the opportunity to decide the fate of Tony for ourselves. It was a surprise way to go that caught us off guard but we, each in turn, figure it out. I now know for certain my ending.

You might think it lame and not very creative of me to draw this conclusion so many years out but I now, upon the death of Gandolfini, can put it to rest. Now, I always felt that Tony lived past that meal in that diner but I never bothered to work out any details of how he lived the rest of his days. If you view, as I do, that Tony S. was in many ways like James G. than it all makes sense now. Both the actor and the character seemed tough on the outside but had a softer quality within. So it seems logical for me to draw one last parallel between them. Indulge me.

No dangerous incidence occurred at the diner that evening. Meadow rushed in a few minutes late and the family spent some quality time. In fact, the idea came up that the Soprano family needed to get away; they needed a family vacation and it was agreed upon to do so. They thought a trip to Italy would be ideal. Both Tony and Carmela were caught up in some issues they needed to square away before that could happen and Meadow & AJ needed prep time as well. Time slipped away and they ended up not working towards that goal but, finally, a few years later the subject was brought up again and they decided to act upon it immediately. It was during this bonding trip in Italy with the family together eating and laughing that they felt whole and happy and then, after all the years of hard work, stress, and violence Tony Sopranos body just stopped.

That is how I have concluded the story of the Soprano family. It ends the same way James Gandolfini’s did. It is simple as that.  RIP Tony Soprano and James Gandolfini.

Have the followers of HBOWatch given this any thoughts in the past month? The series is certainly readily available in a number of formats. If there is anyone out there who also feels the need to watch it, or I should say re-watch it, as it has surely been seen by anyone who is a fan of HBO and this site, right? You can find it on HBO On Demand and HBOGo plus, it has been airing on HBO Signature. There is also your home collection, whether you got them on VHS or DVD. Also, while I’m at it, I might as well advertize that the  complete collection can also be found on such places as Amazon for purchase. No matter how you enjoy the show you will be able to experience Mr. G. at his finest.

I leave you with this little clipfest courtesy of  Huffington Post.

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62 Comments on "A New Perspective on THE SOPRANOS’ Final Scene"

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ben
Guest

i like this idea. i never thought tony died myself. in interviews chase never seemed to want to make tony pay for his crimes. as for the cinematic ques to his death id say chase was just setting up tension, and what happens when tension builds in real life? usually nothing.

Topsy
Guest

Eugines brother shot Tkny dead. Eugi es wife said …put a bullet in his head….Eugjne had the Members only jacket as pointed out by Vito.

Jason Kovalik
Guest

My theory…. The entire series doesn’t represent Tony’s life…. Rather it represents Melfi’s fascination with Tony’s life… With tony no longer a patient…. And the presumably out of the news, Melfi stopped thinking about Tony altogether, and her Tony Fantasy went away…

jhk655
Guest
This a such a childish interpretation of the final scene. I think all the clues are there to suggest tony was killed in the diner. first off, the direction, editing and camera work in the final scene was all done purposely to give us the impression that he died in that final scene. for example, the man in the Member’s Only jacket, Tony’s killer, the camera spends a lot of time following his movements. The camera doesn’t spend half as much time following any of the other diner patrons which denotes the significance of this man. The man passes by… Read more »
ian
Guest
I agree on the perspective. The view was closer than where tony was sat. I believe he lived and we had a glimpse of what life was like now for tony. We were thrown in and out of a period of his life. He most likely went to jail on a rico. Or flipped himself and became what he said he would never do. I would belive he was killed if we had a glimpse of meadow before the blackness and all the shots of people entering were from tonys seat. I think when chase says its all there he… Read more »
signaturechic
Guest
i just finished watching the whole seasons completely and it was blissful…i dont think tony died at the end of the show i really think it was meadow who dies….think about it. I think it was significant that her old friend visited in that episode also they (the family) finally met her bf. I also think it was significant the focus on her parking her car..how long it took and all that. I think when she ran into the restaurant that was when the guy opened fire but rather than hit tony he actually hit meadow. Ofcourse, (as we saw)… Read more »
Ryo Shenmue
Guest

1 – Tony doesn’t carry a gun. 2 – The numbers of Meadow’s parking attempts match the attempts occured at Tony’s life during the series. 3- The last scene in the diner was made mainly to reunite the entire family because The Sopranos is a family drama masked as a gangster drama. It’s not important if Tony lives or dies, just that at the end he was having dinner with his messed up family, knowing that his life was always going to be incredibly paranoid at every moment(whether he was going to die a few seconds later or not).

signaturechic
Guest

Actually Tony does carry a gun I don’t know if you remember that episode where hew polls up to the house and Aj and friends were pulling upbehind him ….only he doesn’t know it’s aj so he opened his car door grabbed his gun and when he sees its aj puts it back and greets them…..I watched the whole series recently so it’s fresh in my mind

bcoyote
Guest

“it’s all there”

The very first scene of the entire Sopranos series is a camera on Tony as he sits in Melfi’s watiing room. We see him through the legs of a female statue, as if he is being born.

The very last “scene” is the blackness. Death. Plain and simple.

Phil Retardo
Guest

I fucking hate the fact that Silvio died, he was my favorite

JP McCarthy
Guest

Me too… but did he die?? I thought he was still in hospital? Dying but not dead.

Anthony
Guest

I have no conclusion personally, but I just want to bring up that at the end when Meadow is thought to be coming in the door, Tony then quickly reaches into his pocket. Could it have been Meadow going in and Tony reaching into his pocket for no reason? Or was it someone else and he was reaching for a gun? Just another unanswered question, but another possibility.

BarbDwyr
Guest

Tony did not die in that scene. Think about it. Why was that final scene shot from Tony’s POV? Why did everyone in that scene remind him/the viewer of someone else? Why was every little detail read so much into? Why did the tension build up to the point of the blackout? Because that’s what it was. Chase allowed the viewer to experience Tony’s anxiety and subsequent blackout. Brilliant stuff!

D. Watts
Guest

And of course Tony is dead…What was the name of the episode where Chris is killed? Kennedy and Heidi? 2 infamous moments in TV history. One, an assassination, the other a movie that cut off a football game right before the game winning play. Sound familiar? It’s an assassination that won’t be televised.

D. Watts
Guest

People! You need to read this a little closer…The author is not suggesting this is how he really thinks it ends..he is simply sharing with us how he’d like to imagine it does in light of Gandolfini’s death. It’s a bittersweet eulogy for an actor he obviously admired. He knows it is not a legitimate “theory”, and was not asking for yours. He’s just saying goodbye.

Darby O' Gill
Guest

this is a horrible theory… Choose your own ending? garbage. Sorry, what are you thinking???

D. Watts
Guest

He was thinking Gandolfini died too young and wanted a creative way to say goodbye. If you read it closely you’d understand that. He knows that’s really not how it ended. It was a eulogy for an actor he admired

Dominic
Guest
Let me start by first saying The Sopranos is by far the best thing that’s ever been on a TV screen. I first watched all the episodes straight through when I was 17, and have just finished watching them all through again at 24. I’ve spent years convincing myself Tony didn’t die, but it was out of hope more than anything simply because I love the character so much. He was clearly whacked in the final scene by the ‘Members Only Jacket’ character who walks past him into the toilet, and shoots him on his return when Meadow enters the… Read more »
Dominic
Guest
Let me start by first saying The Sopranos is by far the best thing that’s ever been on a TV screen. I first watched all the episodes straight through when I was 17, and have just finished watching them all through again at 24. I’ve spent years convincing myself Tony didn’t die, but it was out of hope more than anything simply because I love the character so much. He was clearly whacked in the final scene by the ‘Members Only Jacket’ character who walks past him into the toilet, and shoots him on his return when Meadow enters the… Read more »
Ritz
Guest

I NEED to re-watch lol

WG Ervin
Guest
I like to believe Meadow came rushing in, not because she was late (she couldn’t have been too much because the others had just sat down). The chiming of the bell signified good news. Hope. A light. The addition of another little Soprano. Meadow was coming to tell them all she was pregnant. Don’t forget WHY she was late. Why would Carmella bring up Meadow having an issue of birth control “switch up problems” of all things? Second point, one thing the show always held true to was keeping the idea of the Sopranos world as “grounded” as possible. New… Read more »
Darby O' Gill
Guest
Wow…. just when I thought I heard it all. I know I sound like a jerk and I am sorry, but nooooooo way on the baby thing. That’s just such an odd thing to take away from the episode. Anyway, the simplest answer would have to be the most likely here, as we were left with so little. The only conclusion one could draw, if they were to draw ANY conclusion (and let’s face it, we aren’t supposed to ‘choose our own ending’ that’s such a silly suggestion), would be that Tony is dead. Either he is dead, or there… Read more »
Matt Rider
Guest

That’s incorrect. David chase: “it’s all there”. Tony was offed by members only jacket guy. Black screen is just Tonys perspective (he no longer has one because he was executed).

A tony death is logical too. New York couldn’t let him live after their own boss was wacked. Too many hitters would be out there.

pot
Guest

it would have been easier to understand that we were seeing the people enter the diner from Tony’s perspective if we had actually seen them from Tony’s perspective, instead of seeing them (after Tony’s raised eyebrow look each time the bell rings) from the perspective of someone sitting at the counter in the diner .. oddly enough, from the Member’s Only Jacket guy’s seat

Darby O' Gill
Guest

I just watched it and have I no idea how you could possibly reach that conclusion, let alone be confident in it. The people walking in are CLEARLY seen from Tony’s perspective. But honestly I’d love it if I missed something, so please enlighten me

D. Watts
Guest

I think you’re all terribly missing the authors point…This is how he’d like to think it ends in light of Mr. Gandolfini’ s death…He doesn’t believe these were Chase’s literal intentions, it’s a bittersweet farewell to an actor he admired

Darby O' Gill
Guest

It’s nonsense.

D. Watts
Guest

…did you read what I wrote? How can it be nonsense if he’s just sharing what he’d like to imagine it being? He knows it’s not what Chase had in mind.

Tony
Guest
He dies in the diner in my opinion. I know that we will likely never get a 100% confirmed statement from David Chase, but in my opinion he got whacked by Members Only Guy. Here are my reasons: 1) There is the obvious scene in the first ep. of season 6 part 2 when Bobby and Tony are sitting in the boat with the quote, “you probably don’t even hear it when it happens” or something to that effect. 2) Flashback to the previously mentioned scene in Blue Comet when Tony is thinking about the death of Bobby, near death… Read more »
Ambers_Jacket
Guest

Your sixth point mentions the fade to black from Tony’s pov. But the fade to black is actually from a shot looking directly at his face. The fade to black was from an angle more from the door. Almost as if from Meadow’s pov given she had just walked in.

I believe Tony got whacked. But I guess I don’t understand why I have seen many posts and articles that say the fade to black is from his perspective.

slagbot
Guest

The important thing is that it is not a fade to black. It is a cut to black.

The established sequence was
A: bell rings
B: shot of Tony looking up at the door
C: POV shot from Tony’s perspective.

So this is consistent: bell rings, shot of Tony looking up at the door, cut to Tony POV shot, which is simply the blackness of death, never hearing the shot that gets him. If it was a “fade to black”, it wouldn’t have followed the pattern.

JP McCarthy
Guest

I like your number 6.

Gunther
Guest
The other clues I found; Chase says “it’s all there” and that he didn’t trick the audience with the ending. Well. Meadow trying to park the car and having trouble is building suspense towards something happening. What else could it be? The end of the series? I don’t think so. How about her father’s death. Also, the screen goes black but the credits don’t come on the screen for 7 seconds or so. That means the show is not over – it’s still going on. This goes back to Tony’s POV. If the show were merely over, the credits would… Read more »
Andrew Mast
Guest
Reading all of these comments brought up a scene where Carmela is yelling at Tony about saving money in case he dies… she says, “Well, let me tell you something, or you can watch the f*cking news…everything comes to an end”. My alternate ending is that Tony is shot again in the restaurant but survives, albeit in another coma. While in the coma, he returns back as “Kevin Finnerty” right after the Members Only episode… but this time, he actually walks into the house at the family reunion and never looks back. Remember one of the last episodes where he… Read more »
D. Watts
Guest

Yes. That is exactly how it ends. And then once a Kung Fu master he travels the country and outer space kung fuing bad guys. I agree 100%!

Victor Marinaccio
Guest

The Tony point of view shots each time the bell of the diner rings would lead you to believe that he’s killed as Meadow walks into the diner. As Meadow enters and the bell rings what should’ve been Tony seeing his daughter is instead a black screen. Tony is dead.

RazorShines
Guest

I knew instantly that Tony was killed when it went to black. The Bobby foreshadow, flashed again in the episode prior and common sense, you won’t hear the gun shot till after the bullet hits you…. Speed of light is faster than the speed of sound. I told all my buddies this theory and they all dismissed it with ire towards David Chase. Once I read the mastereofsopranos theory, I knew my theory held ground.

guesty
Guest

speed of light vs speed of sound doesn’t matter. it’s speed of bullet vs. speed of sound.

D. Watts
Guest

Of course speed of light matters numb nuts…that’s the whole point of the black screen..the sound would’ve come after if Tony were alive

Al Foil
Guest

Sorry, my mistake, it was Christopher’s warning to Paulie and Tony after his coma dream. That’s where the warning came from, which in turn causes Paulie to see the psychic.

Al Foil
Guest

The interesting thing I found, having just completed the series from start to finish, is that in episode 22 Paulie Gualtieri goes to a psychic and is warned about 3 o’clock for him and Tony. If the guy from the diner in the ‘Members Only’ jacket did in fact come out of the bathroom and shoot Tony, it would’ve been at Tony’s 3 o’clock, based on the way he was facing.

RazorShines
Guest

Also, Paulie gets the call about his cancer at 3:00 and Tony dies at the 3:00 position. Completely correct

Ollie Smith
Guest

Been trying to figure out that 3:00 for ages. Good work!

LincolnX
Guest

I agree with the interpretation laid out in great detail here: http://masterofsopranos.wordpress.com/the-sopranos-definitive-explanation-of-the-end/ I take solace that Tony paid for his crimes, but he didn’t needlessly suffer.

c. christiansen
Guest
I cant agree with Dennis more…David Chase clearly wanted the audience to understand that Tony S. is being wacked. As Tony S. states in earlier episode that when you die you don’t going anywhere, everything just goes black. I thought about that statement the night of the last episode and after re-watching the entire series and cant come to any other conclusion. I cant believe that if the intention was to tell the audience that ” THE SOPRANO FAMILIY IS A OK”, the final scene would not have taken place at the Sopranos home with all of the family by… Read more »
Dennis Goulet
Guest
Going to have to vastly disagree with your ending. David Chase said it himself: “it’s all there.” And, it was. Think about it… one of the first cuts of the final scene was looking down the pathway from the door into the diner showing the viewers its layout and Meadow’s clear view to her dad’s murder. Camera’s continuously focus on the dude in the jacket who sat down right in front of Tony at the counter and was tapping his fingers nervously. Why do you think they focused so much on her parallel parking mishaps? Because she’s a chick and… Read more »
Jef Dinsmore
Guest

Your interpretation of events are just as vaild and as interesting as anyone elses. Again, I feel Chase left the answer in the hands of the audience. I chose my path and now you chose yours and I thank for sharing it.

Darby O' Gill
Guest

Dude, I would really rethink the ‘choose your own adventure’ angle. It just doesn’t jive at all with the series, and I think you will find most fans have a hard time buying that.

Guest
Guest

Dude, I would really rethink the ‘choose your own adventure’ angle. It just doesn’t jibe at all with the series, and I think you will find most fans have a hard time buying that.

guesty
Guest

your misinterpretation and unwillingness to look at the actual evidence rather than crafting an impossible fantasy scenario pretty much invalidates your blog. Chase didn’t leave it up to you to decide. he gave you a definitive ending and you’re choosing to ignore it.

Dennis Goulet
Guest
Thank you sir. And, thanks for interacting with your readers. I think that speaks volumes for bloggers – professional or amateur. I just think it’s too hard to ignore the ‘hints’ and ‘signs’ that Chase gave in prior episodes: 1. The episode with Bobby and Tony in the boat where Bobby siad “yeah, you never hear it happen” referring to getting whacked as a mafia man and Tony even had a flashback of that when he realized it was about to go down between the NY Mafia and NJ Mafia. 2. Silvio witnesses Gerry Torciano’s execution, but Chase puts the… Read more »
Brittsten
Guest

Well you are right, your ending was note very creative. Not only because you “steal” the fate on Mr G but also because you fail to adress the likely upcoming trial against T,

Dennis Goulet
Guest

I thought the ending was VERY creative. I thought that my first time seeing it, but it was very artfully and brilliantly done.

Jef Dinsmore
Guest

No, I did not forget the trial. I mention that they didn’t go to Italy until a few years later. That leaves room for trials and loose ends. Loopholes or mistrial or whatever occurs and then I move them towards a happier ending.

NAUGS
Guest

No gonna happen Carlo is going to testify against Tony there’s not gonna be no mistrial no win for Tony Carlo no’s way to much stuff and like the lawyer said someone (Carlo) is giving grand testomony statements. Tony was fu#ked as soon as they fliped Carlo buddy.

Neil-sax
Guest
I just watched the final episode on HBO tonight. I had not seen it for a long time. It shows the creative talents of the production staff. Tony’s live was always a mix of drama and violence but the interaction with the people around him as well as everyday problems and happenings that we all face is what drew us closer to his character. The final scene proves that. If it was 4 hours long we all still would have stayed glued to it. The final scene is not about the end of the show but about the “Journey” we… Read more »
Jacob Klein
Guest

Whoa spoilers, Jef JEEZE! Haha I’m actually starting the series for the first time now and loving it. The ending was so ubiquitous that I could’t avoid it anyway. Nice piece!

Joseph Merrill
Guest

Are you for real!? You clicked on an article about the ending! What did you expect!

Jef Dinsmore
Guest

Sorry about that. I guess I assumed all the fans of HBO would have watched the series by now. Enjoy it!

Jacob Klein
Guest

Okay, I just finished this morning and WOW.. what a great show.
Anyway, I respect your view of the ending, Jef but I think there were too many clues pointing to him dying. Plus he’d probably be in jail anyway had he lived. Didnt hate the ending as others did. Would have been the same whether they showed his head exploding or not. That’s how it happens in the real world… just black.

Liked your insights!

Nahojism
Guest

I always interpreted the last scene as if the audience got “wacked”. No more Sopranos for you! :) The last scene also captured very well how it must feel to be a professional criminal. Being paranoid all the time and never being able to lower your guard really. What a shit life they live.

jimm james
Guest

don’t understand why the finale caused such outrage. if he had gotten shot, or they just panned away while the family was eating a nice dinner, would have really been that much better?

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