Friday, June 22, 2007

The Sopranos: "Focus on the Good Times"

We were all set to actually do a post on the now legendary ending of "The Sopranos", but the more time went by, the more times we watched that final scene. Then even more interpretations that started floating around, and we figured this puppy needed at least a week of breathing room before we gave it, what some would say David Chase did not provide, "closure". By Thursday of last week, Mackenzie was around to calling the entire episode "brilliant". Steven Van Zandt (or Little Steven as he can now officially go back to his day job) said on Monday, June 11th, the audience was 50/50; by Wednesday, he said it was easily 80/20 in terms of realizing that David Chase came up with an incredible ending that was true to the entire series.

More importantly, the final scene became a Sgt. Pepper type of thing for the next week, as millions everywhere looked for clues as to what really happened. There hasn't been this type
of water cooler buzz about really ANYTHING in the past five years, at least not to the point that conversations went on through the entire week. Personally, I didn't expect Tony to die in the end, and figured that Chase, as he usually did each season, got his heavy lifting in during the previous week's episode (go back and look through the show's rich history, the big stuff happens in the penultimate episode every season). Immediately following the "cut to black" as Steve Perry shouted "Don't Stop", I text messaged Mackenzie and said, "So he's dead, right?" I got calls the next day from friends I hadn't spoken to in over a year, many thinking the same thing. Some recalled Bobby Bacala's "You probably don't even hear it, when it happens" speech to Tony during the first episode of this mini-season. After watching the final scene a few more times, I thought Tony suffered one of his infamous panic attacks, and then Lorraine Bracco opened up her mouth about what she thinks happened (more on that later).

Before we get to some of the better links, it's worth recapping some of the bigger things that happened in the episode (since really, everyone is just focusing on that now legendary final scene in the diner):

  • Carlo flipped. Over the past year, Carlo -- who took over the crew that used to be captained by the likes of Richie Aprille, Ralph Ciffaretto, and Gay Vito -- was one of Tony's key guys. Finally, The Feds have their smoking gun they'd been looking for over the series entire run to nail Tony and get him on that Rico case. Even though T may have won the war with New York, this has him more riled up than anything (witness how pissed off he got when his lawyer couldn't get that damn ketchup out of the bottle, and the worried looks he and Carmela exchanged when they talked about Carlo testifying in that diner scene).
  • Paulie tried courting Bobby Bacalieri's grieving niece after Bacala's funeral by sitting next to her and undoing his pants for some breathing room. Not that this was a huge moment, I'm just pointing it out as one more reason we're all going to miss having Paulie Walnuts in our lives.
  • AJ finally got over his depression by becoming Little Carmine. Instead of joining the Army, Tony and Carm get AJ a cushy job working on a movie (script provided by Daniel Baldwin of all people) and a new BMW after he blew up his SUV. Which reminds me -- raise your hand if you figured Robert Iler was going to become a really good actor? If you're hand is raised, you're a liar. Iler went from some chubby punk to perhaps the MVP of this final season. If there's any justice in television, this kid will land a Best Supporting Actor Emmy Nomination. I always maintained Michael Imperiolli was the key supporting cog, but after Christopher died, Iler took right over and his performance was critical over the last three episodes.
  • Meadow chooses law over becoming a doctor, much to the chagrin of her parents, until they learn how much money she'll be making. But even after that, Tony goes sake-bombing with Meadow, wanting to know exactly why she took to being a lawyer. Her reasonning that it was about seeing Italians treated harshly "all those times" the feds came knocking for Tony didn't ring totally accurate. But then Meadow has always known exactly how to play her father.
  • Everyone on this show (including Dr. Melfi, to an extent) has their deal with the devil, and we finally got the chance to see Agent Harris show he's got more of Tony in him than say your average FBI agent. He cheats on his wife, and shows excitement in hearing about Phil Leotardo's demise.
  • We got the two great scenes we predicted here a few weeks ago: Tony's final confrontation with Junior, where he finally realized that old man really has no clue; and the perfectly staged murder of Phil Leotardo, from the "Say goodbye to Grandpa" line, to the FORD vehicle still moving after he was shot, ultimately crushing his head.
  • Echoing the very first episode: Chase layered the entire final episode with a killer soundtrack, so good that you could release a CD with nothing but songs from the finale. AJ and that little hottie Rhiannon listening to Bob Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)". Tony waking up to "You Keep Me Hanging On" by Vanilla Fudge. Scratch Your Name by The Noisettes blending right into The Lifeboat Party by Kid Creole & The Coconuts. And then who knew Chase was a fan of Little Feat? Tony arrives at a diner and waits for his family to LF's "All That You Dream". And evidently there was some Journey song that was like the 13th most popular song in the nation last week.

OK, the links:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another interesting take: