…and it is over; on TV at least.
There’s nothing Sopranos fans can do about the ending now. The end is past near. Auteur and honcho David Chase surprised all of his show’s viewers, whether they were low, middle, or high brow, and swept away every last piece of speculation that the Sopranos would be snuffed out via some kind of righteous moral or nihilistic satisfaction. At the end T sat rather than stood with his biological family, rather than his ‘blood family’ and contemplated the menu of a decidedly middle road hash joint.
Who’s to say what Chase thought to himself as he watched the final cut. Those thoughts would be surely interesting but they themselves draw out speculation without any prospect of return on my own many-years-long investment. Maybe it’s enough to speculate that Chase’s final act of reflexivity, tattooing as it did his own superior, God-like role over the drawn out machinations of Soprano-world, put the entire audience in their reflexive resting place.
To resist a Conradian truth makes Chase a Beckett for our cabled times. Several things are clear enough in the draft of T’s persistence: he’ll kill some more, sweat domestic cash flow, worry over his kids, and, bribe Carm until a new McMansion is required to store it all.
If this ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’ flow was telescoped at all, it was at the moment Tony had his callow psychedelic insight, “I get it!” Yes, the best delusions are illusions and they cover everything like a blanket or six feet of cold dirt.
Meanwhile, Chase reviewed the contradictions which never became conflicts. Of course this was one of the points of the show. So, Phil’s big head gets reduced, Tony imagines how helpful a lawyer or two in the family will be, and, there’s nothing like some sleek German steel to disabuse a confused son of his notion to kill people overseas, rather than, say, someday, in New Jersey.
If I have a novel, psychologizing sense, it’s this: if there’s a mythic modeling going on, it’s about the badness riveted to any desire to surpass the Joneses. There’s not much to be differentiated between thuggery in North New Jersey, on the cripps and bloods’ territory, in the board rooms of Enron and Tyco, or in the West Wing. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and the underlings pick up the pieces.
Paulie’s miniature crisis of conscience was telling. Aiming to serve but also survive, I couldn’t help but see the strains of the feudal ideal deployed against the incoming rockets of fate, lapses of attention, degenerating brains cells, court intrigue, catalytic converters perched on dry tinder leaves, decits, betrayals, snitches and cold professionalism. Perhaps the family struggles more to ease the wages of want more than the wages of sin.
No, it seemed the point was to squash the transcendent in a penultimate humdrum anti-ending.
Unforgettable: where the secrets are never surely kept, always subject to being let loosed, always remembered, never perishable where everything else can be killed.
If necessary. To protect the franchise.