That Darn Sopranos FinaleComplications Ensue
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

(Spoilers, but if you haven't watched it yet, what in the name of Dog are you waiting for?)

One thing I haven't seen discussed in the various discussions of the Sopranos finale -- maybe I just missed them -- was the nature of Chase's non-ending ending. What was interesting from a craft point of view was how Chase built your expectations that something terrible was going to happen. The lingering shots on the various patrons in the restaurant -- each a character in his own right, though without the lingering shots they would have been unexceptional. The trouble with Meadow parking, which felt like a buildup but was pure red herring. The guy going into the bathroom, and we're thinking there's a gun in there, though really, people go into the bathroom all the time.

So it is not merely that the storytelling cuts off. It cuts off precisely when something would need to happen according to the conventions of onscreen narrative.

For me the finale was hard to watch because it was so disjointed. It felt like every story line of the past few years had to be referenced, purely so they could be unresolved. We need to see Sil in a coma purely so he can neither die nor pull out of it. I found the ending unsatisfying emotionally but I can dig it as experimental story telling. The bulk of the episode I found just hard to watch because so little of what happened was actually a story.

Or so it felt to me at the time. I was pretty tired when we watched it.

To tell the truth I've been turned off of the show since the beginning of this season. It's felt to me like the nihilism got cranked up to 11, to the point where I simply haven't enjoyed watching the show. It makes me feel awful about the world, and I don't need that. (DMc will, I know, mock me for this.) So possibly I was not as involved in the finale as one ought to be in order to fully appreciate it.



Just out of curiosity, did you see the Angel finale, which also had a very open ending (with a cut to black just at the best part)?

By Blogger Nima Yousefi, at 4:41 AM  

I loved it. My assumption is that Tony is killed at the diner and, from his perspective, everything just goes black. Lots of things are left unresolved, because who dies with everything resolved? It was like Alexander the Great taking a sword to the Gordian neat little bows of traditional storytelling.

By Blogger Lisa Hunter, at 10:17 AM  

I haven't seen the Sopranos finale, but the Angel finale didn't finale didn't feel as disjointed as the way Alex describes the Soprano finale. We have the emotional resolutions (if not the prophetic ones), we just don't know if anyone's going to survive a great big battle.

On top of that, though, Angel was cancelled by the network, not chosen to finish by the creative side. The audience new the finale wasn't going to resolve anything and that the characters could show up somehow in the future, like they are going to do in the Buffy: Season 8 comics.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 11:36 AM  

I thought that the finale showed us the end of the story arc that dealt with Tony visiting Dr. Melfi, we saw that it affected Tony very little, and life went on as usual. That's why Tony was portrayed as so much more soulless in this season, it raised our expectations all through the season that he would get his comeuppance. It seemed that there was a bit of meta-story telling going on, as well: it was heavily advertised that this was the last season of the Sopranos, and that it would go out with a bang, so our expectations were raised to think that there would be resolution to the Sopranos' lives, while we all forgot the premise of the overall story: what if a mob boss needs to go to a psychologist? We tend to focus on everything except that, as more and more conflict arose, in fact we may have been encouraged to forget what was the initial point of the story, this slice of the life of our protagonist. I also felt a bit cheated at the end of the episode, especially with the cut to black that was extended an extra beat, just to punctuate that David Chase had a great Eff You moment to cap off a popular series, but I'm over it. The more I considered the ending, the more I thought it appropriate.

By Blogger Dave Mowery, at 12:37 PM  

The Angel finale was definitely a great example of an open ended finale, but the writers did actually intend to wrap it up that way. When Angel's cancellation was announced they decided to finish out the season the way they'd originally intended; the five episodes leading up to it, I believe, were changed drastically to incorporate some future storylines, but the finale itself was as it was.

Also, considering it was a show about the means over the ends and the ongoing struggle in the stand against evil - regardless of victory (if victory even exists, as the characters have wondered) - the ending was the perfect resolution in every way.

The Sopranos'...I don't know about that. Although BSG's Ron Moore, cliffhanger-lover and shock-value guy that he is, says "I wish I wrote it," so that's something I guess.

By Blogger RyanRB, at 11:11 PM  

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