Sopranos finale: ‘$&!?’
NEW YORK The eruption heard across the country Sunday night: Collective exclamations of What? Are you kidding me? and $&!?The choose-your-own-adventure ending of The Sopranos left endless loose ends that seemed to parody the typical audience expectations for a series finale. If you were bothered by the never-heard-from-again Russian who escaped assassination in the Pine Barrens, well, youre probably not very happy now.Meanwhile, Sopranos creator David Chase was in France, unreachable to all press, according to an HBO publicist. You might call it a safe house, far away from the giant hit he just ordered on Sopranos watchers.But as ambiguous as the conclusion of the HBO drama was, the 86th episode titled Made in America still left us with final, indelible images of the main characters.TONY SOPRANO: Many expected Tony to die, but the mob boss managed to live through the episode; whether he lives much past that is a matter of subjectivity. Were the shady-looking characters hanging around the diner in the final scene there to kill Tony? Were they undercover cops? Neither? With a likely indictment hanging over his head, our last impression of Tony (James Gandolfini) was of a relatively peaceful family man who had come to terms with many of his headaches, including Uncle Junior (whom he had disavowed after Junior shot him) and therapy (which he disavowed after Dr. Melfi ended their sessions). He showed interest in both in the finale. His kids continue to disappoint, but perhaps not too much. Any judgment of Tonys lasting mental state, though, would take pages and pages, and still leave unresolved issues.PHIL LEOTARDO: In the battle of Tony vs. Phil, New Jersey vs. New York, Tony won. Phil (Frank Vincent) met his fate at a gas station where he was shot, and then had his skull accidentally run over for good measure. Tony was able to turn Leotardos crew after even they acknowledged that the New York boss had gone too far in his war. Tony blamed the tension partly on Leotardos inherited insecurity from the deceased New York boss Johnny Sack Sacramoni, a veiled reference to Johnny Sacks sensitivity to his wifes weight. As always, slight comments linger, even beyond the grave.A.J. SOPRANO: Tonys son was his old self. He didnt kill himself, his dad or figure prominently in the mob war fallout. Instead, A.J. (Robert Iler) griped about America and quoted Yeets. He accidentally burned his SUV to a crisp, but also finally kissed his model friend Rhiannon. He decided he wanted to join the Army, but was dissuaded when his parents got him a job on a movie, which was put into production after Danny Baldwin passed a script to Tony. That future seemed no more likely to last for A.J. than any other, but it was he who warmed his family in the final scene by quoting Tony in wanting to remember the times that were good.MEADOW SOPRANO: Tonys daughter (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) mainly remained on the sidelines in the finale, as she had for much of the season. She and Patrick Parisi are headed for marriage, and he might be getting her a job at his law firm once shes completed law school. When Tony pressed her on why she wasnt still going to medical school, Meadow said she became interested in law only after seeing the police badger her family perhaps furthering Tonys guilt. We also learned that Meadow is an absolutely terrible parallel parker.AGENT DWIGHT HARRIS: We learned more about the FBI agent (Matt Servitto) in the final episode than in all those before it: His job is hurting his relationship, and hes having an affair with another agent. Harris also supplied Tony with the approximate location of Leotardo. Working terrorism, he clearly misses the more understandable, exciting world of the Mafia. When told of Leotardos death, he cheered: Were gonna win this thing! There were, though, several reveals of FBI surveillance on Tony, including phone taps. And Carlo Gervasi was rumored to have flipped after his son was arrested for selling ecstasy.CARMELA SOPRANO: Carmela (Edie Falco) remained a faithful wife to Tony and was seen flipping through real estate brochures, suggesting real estate remained her devotion. She also grown tired of Tonys use of his depression as a crutch similar to how Tony viewed Christopher Moltisantis alcoholism. When Tony spoke to A.J.s therapist about the hurt his mother caused, Carmelas eyes rolled.PAULIE WALNUTS GUALTIERI: The Soprano soldier (Tony Sirico) proved both his allegiance to Tony and his deep distrust of felines. A cat adopted by the crew that sat and stared at a photo of Christopher particularly bugged Paulie, who thought it might signify a jinx following Christophers death. Though Paulie was suspected of cooperating with the New York family, he proved loyal to Tony. When Tony offered Paulie Carlos job, Paulie hesitated, but eventually took it. In between, he showed he was feeling his age, and was haunted by sighting of the Virgin Mary in the Bada Bing, of all places.SILVIO DANTE: After being shot last week on orders from Leotardo, Silvio (Steven Van Zandt) was only shown briefly laid up unconscious in a hospital bed, his wife quietly filing his toenails. No mention was made of any recovery for Tonys second in command.JANICE SOPRANO: Tonys sister and the wife of the late Bobby Bacala was shown in mourning, but feeling relatively resilient. Janice (Aida Turturro) joked to Tony: I need to watch my weight. I need to snag another husband.CORRADO JUNIOR SOPRANO: Tony had long abandoned his increasingly senile uncle and former head of the family after Junior (Dominic Chianese) accidentally shot Tony at the start of the sixth season. But Tony visited Junior at what appeared to be a state-run old-age home, to tell him to leave his money (if he can remember where he buried it) to Bacalas children. Junior didnt recognize Tony; when Tony reminded Junior that he once ran Northern New Jersey with Tonys father, Junior replied: We did? Thats nice.DR. JENNIFER MELFI: Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) was a no-show in the finale after her abrupt termination of therapy with Tony in the penultimate episode. Tony appeared to use A.J.s therapist as a Melfi stand-in, divulging, You see, I never could please my mother. You can take the mobster out of therapy, but you cant take therapy out of the mobster.
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