I was kind of worried after last week’s episode that David Chase would conclude the show with a typical TV drama resolution, with a major climax, but was happy that he stayed true to the spirit of the series and ended it the way he did.
To be sure, the episode did have the trappings of a final episode. Bringing back Hunter Scangarelo. Tony visiting Junior. There were references to season one, with Tony recalling the nursing home saga and AJ in the final scene of the series recalling Tony’s comment from the final episode of the first season (when they were eating dinner at Vesuvio during the hard rain) to remember when times were good.
But despite these hat tips to convention, Chase ultimate chose to cut things off abruptly. In the past, Chase has responded to those who have criticized the show for leaving things unresolved by arguing that unlike in TV, in real life, things don’t get neatly wrapped up. Events occur that seem like a big deal at the time, but often peter out, or get consumed by newer ones.
Tony still faces a mountain of problems. Immediate ones: anybody at the restaurant could be there to kill him, the feds are moving in, family troubles. And deeper issues: his inner demons, dealing with his anger, his unhappy childhood, his relationship with his mother. Through all of this, life rolls on, and time passes and gets taken up by normal things. A mention of Tony’s impending indictment with the feds gets talked about along with Meadow having a doctors’ appointment. They order onion rings and Meadow struggles to parallel park. By ending it this way, Tony remains a larger than life figure, forever suspended in the same world he occupied when we first met him.
As for some of the other details in the show, nobody else I spoke to had the same reaction, but I thought that the FBI’s Agent Harris had set up Tony. After being told Phil Leotardo was killed, Harris beamed (paraphrasing) “We may finally win this thing!” Some interpreted that line as him rooting for the New Jersey mob over the New York mob, but what I thought it meant was that now the FBI has effectively decapitated both families by playing one against the other. When he tipped off Tony on Phil’s location, Harris knew Tony would act on the tip, and then they’d have the goods on Tony once and for all (remember the wiretapping scene?)
As for AJ, there were subtle and not so subtle hints (as there have been throughout the series) that he would end up like his father. Tony was once a sensitive child as well, both upset and intrigued by his father’s violent profession. In last night’s episode, we again saw the linking of their psychological states in the scene in which Tony talks to AJ’s therapist about his own unhappy childhood. There was also the symbolic moment when AJ came down to the kitchen wearing a bathrobe (Tony’s trademark). That was the first time in the series I can recall AJ wearing a bathrobe, although I cannot confirm that right now. In the scene that followed in which Tony and Carmela confronted AJ on his army plans, AJ brushed aside his mother with the “Always, with the drama!” line that Tony has used on Carmela and Tony’s father Johnny used on his mother Livia in a flashback episode. AJ may not wind up as quite the vicious criminal as his father, but will be trapped in that world.
As for Meadow, with all that talk about the state smashing the individual, are we to assume she’s become a libertarian?
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