Excellent post. I feel your need to see Tony redeemed is leading you to fail to fully appreciate the beauty of the final season.
RA, what exactly is it I'm failing to appreciate? I gave Soprano Home Movies, Stage 5 and Walk Like a Man each a rating of 9. I didn't assign a grade less than 8 to any other episode from season 6B, except Chasing It, which I gave a 6. I ranked THREE episodes a perfect 10, including Kennedy and Heidi, the episode which most clearly marked the point that I lost my affection and all hope for Tony and which made it abundantly clear that hoping for his redemption was folly. I also ranked Made in America a 10, a rating that I thought was very generous at the time (and still do) but which I gave nevertheless because of the sheer provocativeness of the blackout and the expert use of dramatic conventions to drive (and ultimately subvert) viewer expectations in the diner sequence.
Just to put this in perspective, I don't toss out 10s willy nilly, since I'm rating this show not against television in general but against itself. I've probably only ranked about a dozen episodes a perfect 10 over the course of the series. And I'll almost guarantee that the average of my episode ratings for season 6 make it the most highly rated season of the series on my report card even though it will never be my favorite.
You are confusing my disappointment and disillusionment with the ultimate direction Chase took his characters (which for obvious reasons couldn't be finally judged until the end of the last episode) with my ability or willingness to appreciate and acknowledge the quality of writing and production in the individual episodes. Yes, I NEEDED to see some kind of redemption for Tony for many reasons, not least because I agree with CIG that the prospect of that was dangled tantalizingly for years and because I didn't want to believe that we were plodding the same ground over and over with Tony without
there being some new destination, some different place at the end of it all.
Thank you very much for the compliment, RA. But, again, I must ask why you seem to want me to feel about the show the way you feel or to have the same obsession with it that I had before(?). Why must I value it for the same things that you or anyone else values it for?Fly, you are one of the great commentators on the show on the web and we need you back. Put aside how you though the show should
end and start digging into the material. Like Chase said "It's all there".
It's no secret that a big part of my obsession was the spiritual undertow of the show, the way fundamental issues of morality, mortality, divinity, psychology, and destiny were brilliantly, perhaps sometimes even unconsciously woven into the fabric of the stories. Once the show came to a conclusion that I could not feel good about or that I think paid off the time I spent mulling endless "clues" in a half dozen particularly symbolic episodes, the passion to search every nook and cranny left me.
I just am not driven or interested, at this point, in delving into the meaning of the orange cat that stared at Chris, the tiger on the wall, or whether the picture at Holsten's was Tony's high school (which I theorized it was early on after MIA). At least for now, I'm also not interested in what Tony "got" in the desert or about whom he was speaking when he laughed "he's dead", as it's abundantly clear in hindsight that no matter what the answer to those questions were, they weren't steering him to any place of spiritual growth but were just more of the same empty possibilities.
Most of all, I'm not interested in whether Tony died or lived after the blackout. As I said from the beginning, there's plenty of room to come to either conclusion for those interested in reaching a conclusion on that issue. Please understand this indifference is not new on my part. While Vegas and casual fans, even some hardcore folks here, were always quite interested (even preoccupied) with whether or not Tony would die at series' end, that was never a very interesting question to me. I never really cared whether he would die at the end but rather cared about how he would live just before the end. Holsten's has nothing to do with the latter.
It's obviously still very early in the post-Sopranos timeframe, so I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. But the most volatile of my pendulum swings came in the first 48 hours after MIA, from grave disappointment to an embrace of the ending based on my own inner pep rally and need to feel satisfaction. Weeks later, I think the pendulum has stopped swinging and settled into a middle ground, but who knows. I may just be taking my time to get back to another extreme.