Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#31
dsweeney wrote:But that he was the CENTRE of everything, the crux and the fulcrum of all things Soprano surely can't be disputed.


I'm not disputing it.:icon_wink: From my post:

Yes, Tony was the fulcrum of the TV show . . .
Of course the show wouldn't be the same without Tony. Of course it would require an acceptance and adjustment on the part of the audience that we would be entering into a new chapter or epoch of the saga where another character would be our fulcrum and perhaps where mob elements of the show would cease entirely because they are no longer relevant. Didn't Shakespeare do something very similar when he wrote two volumes called "Henry IV" and another called "Henry V" with many of the same characters or when he wrote "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Julius Caesar", which had an overlap of major characters but different dramatic foci? Is it much different than the first two Godfather movies, which, between the two of them, couldn't fully decide who the main character was, Vito or Michael?

If you want to get technical about it, the name of the show is "The Sopranos", plural, not "Tony Soprano", singular. Yes, he was unquestionably the main character and the dramatic fulcrum of the whole saga thus far. But why does that mean there can't be a new volume in the saga that bears the family name that makes another Soprano the fulcrum? How is a post-Tony epoch focusing on Carmela any less viable than a prequel -- which many fans have greeted with great enthusiasm -- depicting Johnny Boy and Junior and Livia as young adults and main characters and Tony and Janice as children and secondary characters? Wouldn't that be an even more seismic shift in focus since you are talking about a completely new cast, new time frame, and new historical culture? And, if the name is the hangup, "The Sopranos" could be dropped entirely and it could be called something like "Carmela's Fortune" (or something much better, hopefully, since that's all I could come up with in 15 seconds or less.:smile:)

I just don't agree with your suggestion that, as the creator of Carmela and all the characters that entered the Sopranos universe, Chase doesn't have full artistic license to explore their fates -- with or without Tony -- at any time he chooses. Do you really think Chase is so narrow-minded and bound by convention that he would view writing a post-Tony epoch about Carmela as "an abuse of his art, so unforgivable and lacking in integrity that even the most "hungry-for-more" fan couldn't go along with it"?

I don't. I think it's simply a matter of whether he has the interest in doing that (I don't think he does, at this point anyway) and whether HBO felt it was commercially viable. If for some reason Chase became convinced that there was enough different to say about Carmela than he had ever said before, I don't think Tony's death in the least would stop him from doing so. The real problem is that I think Chase pretty much closed the door as tightly on Carmela's evolution as he did on Tony's. He's labeled her a "housewife whore", so I'd bet he doesn't see her doing anything other than marrying another wealthy, powerful man after Tony's death.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#32
You're right of course, Fly, Chase is more than entitled to do what he wants with his characters. I guess what I'm afraid of is, for want of a better illustration, the "Joey" spin-off from friends type of thing.
My take on the original was that all the other characters were peripheral to Tony. That in fact they only existed in the show because of their relationship, no matter how tenuous, to either of Tony's families. We only saw any of these other people because they exist in Tony's world. Directly of indirectly.
Your point about Henry IV and V is a valid one,for sure and Chase could I suppose look at other characters in earlier times. Seeing a young Tony and Pussy and Jackie holding up Feech's card game would be great for instance, or a young Christopher being riled by Tony B. Any linear, present day or future drama is where the problem is for me. Anything that would compromise, and that's exactly what it would be,IMO, the original in any way would be a travesty. Anything that would spell out for us what the original IMPLIES through innuendo, foreshadowing in subtle detail and symbolism would be a betrayal of the original vision.
I mean, just to finish, does anybody really like the later three "Star Wars" movies? Which were set BEFORE the first three? Of course just because one series was messed up doesn't mean the other will and Chase's talent would win out, you would hope. But for me he has said all there is to say on everything. On the entirety of human existence and beyond. But never say never, I suppose. I hope to have the first three series' returned soon and look forward to yet another re-watch. More than enough, with new insights from the posts here, to keep me happy for a while yet.

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#33
dsweeney wrote: Any linear, present day or future drama is where the problem is for me. Anything that would compromise, and that's exactly what it would be,IMO, the original in any way would be a travesty. Anything that would spell out for us what the original IMPLIES through innuendo, foreshadowing in subtle detail and symbolism would be a betrayal of the original vision.


Anything that would make it less ambiguous?:icon_mrgreen:

I guess I'm having difficulty in reconciling the idea of being absolutely confident that Tony was assassinated in Holsten's (as you and richieaprile and conkom, among others, have opined) with being resistant to any post-Holsten's era story that merely assumes the same.

That resistance, it seems to me, is more akin to what richjcrouch expressed, that it was precisely the ambiguity, the mostly-abstract suggestion without absolute certainty, that made the ending so appealing for him. If that's the case, then I understand and agree that there is really no way to preserve that feeling about the ending while depicting anything related that takes place beyond that moment in time.

But if the totality of symbolism, subtext, and abstraction leave one utterly convinced that Tony died in Holsten's, how would a present day story that merely confirms his death that night, using only circumstance or incidental dialog and without any flashbacks or verbal or visual re-depictions of the details of the killing, ruin the abstract nature of the original depiction? Wasn't the purpose and appeal of that depiction that the audience would experience a first-person glimpse of being suddenly assassinated without having the assassination fully telegraphed by events or dialog beforehand? Wasn't that the reason for the abstractions in the first place, so that the viewer would only realize Tony was killed via an after-the-fact, intellectual reconstruction?

And how is that "never hear it coming" experience compromised by years-later confirmation that Tony in fact died? Wasn't the intended "oomph" of the moment provided when you first were plunged into black silence with no warning and seized upon the possibility that you were experiencing Tony's POV? Wasn't the chance for experiencing that particular "oomph" again forever forfeited afterward? In other words, can you ever "not hear it coming" a second time? When you rewatch MIA, isn't your consciousness filled with thoughts like, "Let me take in this crescendo of music and editing and the frenzy of Meadow's parking and all the scenic details inside the diner because, in just a minute, the screen is going to go black?" Isn't the rest of what we've been debating all these months really about the degree to which that scenario merely suggested Tony's assassination versus portrayed it to a certainty, i.e., a debate about its degree of ambiguity?

If the scene was not ambiguous to you, I'm just wondering is there anything left to be "ruined" that wasn't already ruined by the mere process of concluding that Tony died?
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#34
I think Fly raises some interesting points. Chase seems to want us to draw the conclusion that Tony died but at the same time leave a little bit of doubt. The question is why? I just don't know. Maybe if we knew that answer we would truly understand the end.

A big part of me thinks the answer may be a lot simpler than we think. Chase could have added a scene after the 10 seconds of black screen where Melfi is watching the news where it is reported that Tony was murdered in a local diner. Technically, this would not really disrupt the whole never hear it idea and still conclusively tell us that Tony died. However, I like the idea that the show ends when Tony ends and this would be disrupted by such an epilogue.

Personally, I think Chase was rewarding the fans of the show by letting them engage the story itself to figure out the ending for themselves. That process doesn't exist if Tony is explicitly killed or there is an epilogue. At the same time he can also kill Tony without making it a mob cliche. He created a superficial ambiguity that can be understood if one looks a little closer. This way, Chase can conclusively end Tony's story, (although true closure alludes us as we still never know who killed him or why) and at the same time his artistic reputation remains intact.

I think we're missing the real point on why there could never be a movie sequel if Tony died. No studio will finance a movie that concentrates on Carmela and the kids without Tony (assuming Chase is interested in this anyway).

Chase says "it's all there" but then later says "there is nothing definite about what happened." He seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. Finally, he seems to all but say Tony died on Air America radio of all places. Perhaps he thought no one was listening? I find it interesting that he never went into such detail on any of the extras on the DVD complete series. Perhaps he just had to be asked the question as Belzer asked or perhaps it was just edited by HBO who has a financial stake in keeping Tony alive. In the Supper with the Sopranos, he doesn't confirm or deny director Alan Taylor's belief that Tony died. Interestingly, Matthew Weiner responds to Taylor by saying the ending was "more than that [Tony getting shot]"-it was also a "F-you" to the audience, Chase vehemently denies that was the case (and I believe him).

I see the point Fly makes. If Chase tells us conclusively that Tony died, then that doesn't destroy his ending. I do think though it will stop the debate, it will stop the process of the audience engaging art, and lastly, it will take a little chunk of out of Chase's artisitic chops because the ending is more likely to be forgotten. Of course, he may have just left himself a little room to cash in if he wants to make a movie. I don't buy it because Chase has never seemed to compromise his vision over money.

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#35
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:Anything that would make it less ambiguous?:icon_mrgreen:

I guess I'm having difficulty in reconciling the idea of being absolutely confident that Tony was assassinated in Holsten's (as you and richieaprile and conkom, among others, have opined) with being resistant to any post-Holsten's era story that merely assumes the same.

That resistance, it seems to me, is more akin to what richjcrouch expressed, that it was precisely the ambiguity, the mostly-abstract suggestion without absolute certainty, that made the ending so appealing for him. If that's the case, then I understand and agree that there is really no way to preserve that feeling about the ending while depicting anything related that takes place beyond that moment in time.

But if the totality of symbolism, subtext, and abstraction leave one utterly convinced that Tony died in Holsten's, how would a present day story that merely confirms his death that night, using only circumstance or incidental dialog and without any flashbacks or verbal or visual re-depictions of the details of the killing, ruin the abstract nature of the original depiction? Wasn't the purpose and appeal of that depiction that the audience would experience a first-person glimpse of being suddenly assassinated without having the assassination fully telegraphed by events or dialog beforehand? Wasn't that the reason for the abstractions in the first place, so that the viewer would only realize Tony was killed via an after-the-fact, intellectual reconstruction?

And how is that "never hear it coming" experience compromised by years-later confirmation that Tony in fact died? Wasn't the intended "oomph" of the moment provided when you first were plunged into black silence with no warning and seized upon the possibility that you were experiencing Tony's POV? Wasn't the chance for experiencing that particular "oomph" again forever forfeited afterward? In other words, can you ever "not hear it coming" a second time? When you rewatch MIA, isn't your consciousness filled with thoughts like, "Let me take in this crescendo of music and editing and the frenzy of Meadow's parking and all the scenic details inside the diner because, in just a minute, the screen is going to go black?" Isn't the rest of what we've been debating all these months really about the degree to which that scenario merely suggested Tony's assassination versus portrayed it to a certainty, i.e., a debate about its degree of ambiguity?

If the scene was not ambiguous to you, I'm just wondering is there anything left to be "ruined" that wasn't already ruined by the mere process of concluding that Tony died?


I'm not just talking about it from MY perspective Fly. What I'm trying to say is that FUTURE fans of the show would miss out on what we all have experienced. If the "mystery" of Holsten's was spelled out in a new show by SHOWING us definitively what happened that night, the original piece is spoiled forever, IMO. Someone, years from now could see the "new" film/series FIRST and know what happens in Holsten's before Tony even sits down. So while you're right Fly in that for me, the ending is not ambiguous per se, for someone watching it for the first time around, it is certainly shocking and unexpected. But not if a friend tells you " I saw the film and....happens". So basically what I'm saying is any definitive clarification in a new film makes the subtlety of the original redundant for future Soprano afficianados.

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#36
Excellent post, CamMan.

CamMan wrote:I think we're missing the real point on why there could never be a movie sequel if Tony died. No studio will finance a movie that concentrates on Carmela and the kids without Tony (assuming Chase is interested in this anyway).


I hear what you're saying, and I alluded to this a few posts back:

I think it's simply a matter of whether he has the interest in doing that (I don't think he does, at this point anyway) and whether HBO felt it was commercially viable.
I was assuming here that any "sequel" would actually be in the form of a movie or miniseries airing on HBO because I think that makes the most sense, both financially and in terms of what the Sopranos is as a work of art. It is the series that redefined what could be done with the medium of television, and its most engaged fans love it as much for what it doesn't have in common with the average theatrical movie as for what it does. Dare I say, it made television so "cool" that dozens and dozens of A list actors, directors, and producers were suddenly drawn to projects produced for television by HBO. The network has always experienced waxing and waning subscriptions based on the presence or absence of the show from their lineup, and I think it will always be seen as the flagship product of their brand. (They own the rights to the story and characters, so no other studio is even relevant.)

Theatrical releases, on the other hand, necessitate expensive film prints, distribution agreements, and a whole different paradigm of promotion and sales. There's obviously money to be made in bringing television series to the big screen, but if the executives at HBO are half as smart as they should be, they will realize that they shouldn't compare any aspect of the Sopranos phenomenon to Sex in the City, Charlies Angels, or even the X Files.

So if the intended first publication medium is HBO subscription broadcast, with HBO On Demand, DVD sales, and "complete saga" DVD repackaging a lucrative secondary market, then I think it's safe to say that HBO would ALWAYS be very interested in anything Chase chose to write that continued the Sopranos story, even if Tony weren't a major part of it. (In any case, we all know that Tony would feature in at least one dream, thereby allowing the network to tout Gandolfini as among the cast anyway.) That doesn't mean they would greenlight it, but I think it's more likely than not that they would.

Chase says "it's all there" but then later says "there is nothing definite about what happened." He seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.
You noticed that too, LOL?
Finally, he seems to all but say Tony died on Air America radio of all places. Perhaps he thought no one was listening?
:icon_biggrin:

The "nothing definite about what happened" quote continued, "but there was a clean trend on view" and "whether it happened that night or some other night doesn't really matter". Talk about muddying the waters.

I confess I never felt a need to definitely answer the whole "did he get whacked" question (quite apart from whether a definite answer is even possible) because whether or when Tony died was simply not that interesting to me. It still isn't, except in this context where it might significantly impact the chances of there ever being a post-Holsten's era sequel and what parameters might circumscribe that sequel.

But from the involvement I did maintain in those threads, I can't recall much weight being ascribed to the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song heard in AJ's car. To me, that is like an epistle from Chase to the audience delineating his dilemma in trying to write the final episode of the series, aware of all the audience factions clamoring for this ending or that; knowing that, whatever he did, it would be subjected to an unprecedented degree of scrutiny and criticism; and knowing that any ending would inevitably disappoint some.

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not fergit
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.


Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.
Then there was the conspicuous Journey song on the jukebox listing that we didn't hear -- "Any Way You Want It" -- which was positioned as a "B" or flipside to "Don't Stop Believin'", even though they were from different albums and were never released together as a single. To me, that was suspiciously like a nod to the ambiguity of the end and the acknowledgment that a viewer could take it "any way they want it".

Of course viewer empowerment was a major feature of his ethic in writing the Sopranos and in enjoying, for the first time, almost complete artistic freedom. He's alluded in numerous interviews to his belief that the audience should not have to be spoon fed, should be credited with having intelligence and a decent attention span, and should be given the power and responsibility to decide for themselves what things mean. The series, as a whole, certainly illustrates these values at work.

In the same vein, Chase has always been very reluctant to say anything definitive that would attempt to tell a viewer how they should interpret some scene or storypoint or how they should feel about something that is less than obvious. Alan Sepinwall explicitly noted in a couple of articles he wrote, based on Chase interviews, that Chase liked his work to speak for itself. The most Chase was willing to say about the coma "dream", for example, was, "Frankly, I wouldn't call [those episodes] dreams." That's a big window into his intentions, in its own way, but still very cryptic and evasive of any kind of authoritative pronouncement of what those scenes DID depict.

In the Supper with the Sopranos, he doesn't confirm or deny director Alan Taylor's belief that Tony died. Interestingly, Matthew Weiner responds to Taylor by saying the ending was "more than that [Tony getting shot]"-it was also a "F-you" to the audience, Chase vehemently denies that was the case (and I believe him).
I tend to think that Chase wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted to symbolically portray Tony's assassination and give the audience a first-person glimpse of being "whacked" out of the blue. Yet he also didn't want to indulge what he viewed as the "disgusting" hypocrites in his audience who cheered Tony for years but then "wanted his blood and brains splattered". He wanted to pay lip service to the notion of viewer empowerment and subjectivity of interpretation yet seemed pissed that more people didn't (especially initially) conclude that Tony was killed.

He must have cringed when a smart, thoughtful, and engaged viewer like Sepinwall expressed his personal opinion on MSNBC the day after the finale that he thought Tony and family simply completed their meal and went on with life afterward. Chase was probably also pissed that Sepinwall and others read the ambiguity as allowing for the conclusdion that Tony died yet as "leaving the door open" for a movie in the future. That imputes a somewhat mercenary motive for the ending that I don't think he possessed. And I KNOW he was pissed that some people took the "Heidi" ending as a big "fuck you" to the audience, the dramatic equivalent of a you-know-what tease.

Until he flatly denied it in an interview published soon after the finale, I, too, felt that "f--- you" was a major motive at work. He deliberately invoked Godfather assassination imagery. By placing an Italian-looking man wearing a Members Only jacket in the diner, and by depicting his obvious interest in Tony's table, he invoked the episode title where Tony was nearly fatally shot once before as well as the murder committed in the same episode in a similar diner by a "member" of Tony's own crew. Then he uses a climax of music and a crescendo of intercutting to various simultaneous action, ala climactic and bloody Godfather endings. And he uses these tools with full knowledge of the almost-Pavlovian audience expectation that a huge climax can usually be expected near the end of a dramatic work (and there had been NO such climaxes in this episode to that point). So he deliberately built this fever pitch of tension and then resolved it with . . . . . . . a black, blank screen. And with not a shred of concrete, non-symbolic, non "meta" evidence to show that Tony was in fact murdered or that anyone even formed the intention to kill him in that time frame, the Gestalt of a black screen was left to rule the day.

To me that looked very much like a guy who wanted to punish his audience, or at least that segment of his audience that he termed blood-thirsty hypocrites. Because he so sternly denied that motive, I take him at his word, even if I remain convinced that those motives played at least some unconscious role in shaping his vision and choices for the ending. His vitriol towards his audience, increasingly evident through his interviews and commentaries over the years, makes any other conclusion sound naive.

But it's quite interesting to me that one of his co-writers saw essentially the same motive at work. I haven't seen any of the box set extras, but Weiner's comment really adds more fuel to this fire.

The bottom line for me is that I don't view anything Chase says in interviews about any episode or aspect of the show to be binding upon me as a viewer. Interesting and worth consideration in shaping my own views? Most definitely. Binding on my freedom to interpret and find my own "truth" in the story that he insists he wants to speak for itself? Not at all.

Of course I think Chase would concur with me on an intellectual level, even if he remains a little ticked that he, perhaps, gave too much freedom to his audience with the last episode.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#37
I find it curious Fly that on the one hand you talk of "Chase's belief that the audience should not have to be spoon fed, should be credited with having intelligence and a decent attention span, and should be given the power and responsibility to decide for themselves what things mean" but then say the ending is ambiguous precisely because we aren't given a definitive, visual display of what actually happened.
Also, with the utmost of respect Fly, I find it hard to understand how a grade A+ student of the Sopranos such as yourself, can talk of symbolism, foreshadowing, subtext and abstraction in the rest of the show, but when it comes to finale suddenly all of this means nothing. We don't see so we don't really know. Why is this? Surely the same workings of the show apply to ALL of the show. Again, with the humblest of respect Fly, is it not the case, if only a little bit, that the truth is you would like to believe Tony survives,or that Bada would like to believe in some redemption for him? Is this not classic "living in denial"?
Fair enough, you say the question of whether or not Tony is whacked doesn't really bother you and I respect that. But if I'm really honest, it's a mystery how someone like yourself who so obviously deeply cares about these characters can really mean that, deep down.

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#38
dsweeney wrote:I find it curious Fly that on the one hand you talk of "Chase's belief that the audience should not have to be spoon fed, should be credited with having intelligence and a decent attention span, and should be given the power and responsibility to decide for themselves what things mean" but then say the ending is ambiguous precisely because we aren't given a definitive, visual display of what actually happened.


One small correction, I have never stated that a "definitive, visual display" was the only way to remove the ambiguity of the end. I used the term "concrete" and in other posts I've used the term "objective evidence".

I've covered this before in other threads, but I will again. The concrete or objective evidence could be as little as MOG talking on a phone outside Holsten's saying something like, "He's here with his wife and kid. Is it still on?" It could have been a shot of MOG checking his weapon before entering the restaurant. It could have been Butchie talking to his capos a few scenes before Holsten's, proclaiming that the manner of the Leotardo killing -- crushed head under the wheel of a car containing his wife and grandbaby -- was over the top, not what he bargained for, and that they couldn't let that pass without retribution.

None of that involves seeing Tony murdered, none of it would have required the actual action inside Holsten's to have transpired any differently, none of it would have disturbed the ultimate unexpected shock of the black screen when viewed for the first time. But any of it would have added objective, concrete evidence differentiating a casual diner patron who happened to look at Tony's table a couple of times before going to take a leak from a hired assassin who was there to kill him. As it was presented, there is NOTHING about MOG or anyone else in that diner (including the two unidentified black males undoubtedly meant to remind of the assassination attempt in season 1) that conveys malice in intent or action. The only way to ascribe that malice to them is to assume the very fact you're trying to decided (whether Tony was killed) and then graft on a lot of abstract analysis after-the-fact.

Of course an assassination fits the ad hoc reasoning. But then so does the idea that nothing happened at all; that the "malicious" figures in the diner were there to symbolize the threats that had and would always haunt a man like Tony; that he might well, ONE DAY, be eating in a restaurant and be suddenly whacked by a killer he "never heard coming"; and that the black represented the sudden end of our window into Tony's world and the "blackness" of his future, both in life and death. Tell me, doesn't this interpretation fit to a Tee Chase's remark:
There was nothing definite about what happened, but there was a clean trend on view- a definite sense of what Tony and Carmela's future looks like. Whether it happened that night or some other night doesn't really matter.
Perhaps it's the lawyer in me, but when a piece of evidence permits two inferences, either of which is as likely as the other, I see no reason to select one over the other. Or, as chaseisgod so humorously and eloquently put it way back when someone was trying to persuade him that Tony necessarily died, he replied (paraphrasing), "Yeah, he could have died. But it's just as likely that he ate another onion ring.":icon_biggrin:

Also, with the utmost of respect Fly, I find it hard to understand how a grade A+ student of the Sopranos such as yourself, can talk of symbolism, foreshadowing, subtext and abstraction in the rest of the show, but when it comes to finale suddenly all of this means nothing.
It's not that it means nothing. It's just that it doesn't HAVE to mean what you contend it has to mean. Other conclusions, just as reasonable as yours, are possible.

As for my appreciation for symbolism in other aspects of the show, the difference here is that we aren't using symbolism and subtext to help us understand inherently abstract matters, like whether Test Dream was really Tony's subconscious screaming for him to leave the mob or whether the unseen Kevin Finnerty in the coma dream was a proxy for Christ whose intervention with a second briefcase and wallet and driver's license afforded Tony a "redemptive" chance at resuming life when he surely seemed fated for death. We aren't talking about whether Tony killing Christopher was as much about releasing unacknowledged anger and hatred towards his own father (and men like him) as it was about getting rid of a problem nephew who had come to hate Tony's guts and was a threat to flip. We aren't talking about whether the bear symbolizes one of the "Two Tony's" -- "the beast" in him -- and what it meant, therefore, when Tony returned home at the end of that episode and took up arms against that bear.

All of the times when I've delved into deep, sometimes twisted, perhaps even silly symbolic analysis, it was to address one of the questions or aspects of the show that was inherently a matter of abstraction or symbolism or subjectivity, something about a character's psychology, motivations, or unarticulated feelings, not to address a question that is as objective as whether a character died. As someone else once wrote, death is an ultimate black or white question. It's all or nothing, it's measurable, quantifiable, concrete. They stop breathing. They stop moving. They flatline. And if it's a murder, there's a murderer, some malicious agent that, with some degree of forethought and/or planning, actually does a real, physical act to cause their death which we accept without thought either because we witness the act or because we are made privy to the plan.

One of my first and most lasting criticisms of the ending, whichever way you go on the death question, is that it made the last few, emblematic minutes of the Sopranos essentially an action sequence with a mysterious ending, a simple mystery about whether the physical act of murder happened in that diner (or not). I always hoped the show might end as it began, not with a focus on something external or physical or action-oriented but on something internal, something about Tony's mind, feelings, or character. While the intellectual delving necessary to conclude that Tony died certainly involves abstract analysis, it is in service ultimately of the pretty mundane and concrete question of whether or not Tony died. Not the kind of compelling question that made me spend untold hours in contemplation of this show in the past. The only real satisfaction I've been able to derive from the end is to consider it less as an indication of the precise moment Tony died than as an indication of what his death would be like whenever he finally does die -- what I term a "black" death of nothingness or of complete and utter isolation -- as opposed to the "white" death of somethingness that he approached when he flatlined in his coma.

is it not the case, if only a little bit, that the truth is you would like to believe Tony survives,or that Bada would like to believe in some redemption for him? Is this not classic "living in denial"?
Fair enough, you say the question of whether or not Tony is whacked doesn't really bother you and I respect that. But if I'm really honest, it's a mystery how someone like yourself who so obviously deeply cares about these characters can really mean that, deep down.
If you doubt that I really don't care, deep down, whether Tony died, please reconsider the subject of our earlier exchanges in this very thread. I would be quite willing, thrilled in fact, for there to be a Sopranos sequel down the road where Tony wasn't even a living character, where his death at Holsten's is incidentally confirmed, and where Carmela is the lead character. If you further doubt it, go back and read some of my posts in the months and years before the finale. Whenever the subject came up about whether we wanted Tony to survive the finale, I was agnostic. I cared how he lived and what spiritual progress he made during that time. I didn't care how or when he died. Since Chase seemed to me to close the door on Tony ever meaningfully changing, it's just as well to me that he did die because there was little else interesting to say about him. That, in fact, is precisely why I have no interest in a sequel that focuses on Tony -- before or after Holsten's -- unless it contained elements like those I proposed earlier in the thread and therefore reopened the question of whether he is capable of change.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#39
Great post Fly, and I do now accept that you genuinely don't care as to whether Tony died or not. But indulge me just a little longer and then I promise I'll let it drop. You say the symbolism, foreshadowing doesn't "mean nothing", but that it doesn't necessarily mean what I insist it means. This is a fair point. But I'm reminded of something I said a while back. To para-phrase another classic; "Of all the jackets in all the world, you had to put him in this one". THAT JACKET. MOG. This is surely more than simple symbolism. To my recollection Ritchie wore one, Feech la Mana wore one and of course Eugene wore one in the episode of the same name. In which he kills Teddy in a diner. Sorry Fly, I'm re-hashing what you already know a hundred times. But still, this is more, surely, than a bear lumbering around the Soprano house-hold? Ducks flying away? Why not have him in a leather jacket? A denim jacket? NO jacket ? Now of course you could argue it could just be a ruse on Chase's part, a red herring. But to do that after seven years of genius would be a cop-out. Heartbreaking. For me anyway.

Re: The movie is "in the works"(!)

#40
dsweeney, we don't disagree at all on what the jacket is meant to evoke. It's there for a reason and that is to symbolically evoke a "member" -- a made guy -- and, perhaps more specifically, a made guy who's there to kill Tony in the diner just as Eugene killed a guy in an episode named for the same jacket and in which Tony was also nearly fatally shot. It's there for the same reason the guy goes to the bathroom, to evoke perhaps the most famous and pivotal scene from the Godfather trilogy when Michael goes to the bathroom of a restaurant to retrieve a pistol before he's to "come out blasting".

It's the same for the two black guys that enter the diner. While it's rather hard to use only the fact of race to attach significance to two random strangers, it makes sense here in light of the fact that two black males were recruited as a cover to shoot Tony in season 1, that two black males were recruited to kill Carmine in Season 4, and that "unidentified black males" were often only the visible perpetrators or conveniently-blamed parties for mafia-ordered crimes or hits, a theme important enough throughout the show to be reflected in an episode title.

What's missing in all of this is any scene, informative dialog, or objective occurrence that moves these factors beyond symbolic evocation to concrete evidence.

There were other people and symbols in the diner, too, and I suspect many excellent theories abound as to what they might have been intended to evoke, if anything. The boy scouts might well have represented the fact that Tony was innately a good, decent kid once upon a time who horrible parenting helped turn into a monster. The trucker-looking guy in the USA cap might have represented the arm of the law that would always be surveilling Tony just over his shoulder, or he could have more generally represented the cause of justice, the "average Joe" that gets screwed so often by guys like Tony, or maybe he was all of the above. The Janice look-a-like might have evoked more generally the persistence of Tony's Livia hangups, since Janice was often a proxy for Livia, both for the audience and for Tony. Or perhaps she represented the treachery and betrayal possible even within the closest ties of blood in Tony's world.

The actor who played MOG bore a striking resemblance to the actor that played Tony's father throughout the series. Coincidence or intentional, and, if the latter, what was it meant to convey? Same message as when Johnny Boy was shooting at Tony with a scoped rifle out of a "school book depository" like building in Test Dream? That the kind of man who largely made Tony what he is would be the very same kind of man that might one day kill him? That there's a vicious cycle of fathers turning sons into killers, who sometimes therefore kill, or wish to kill, fathers (Cleaver, Tony symbolically killing Johnny Boy via Christopher) who in turn kill sons? Is MOG meant more to be a comment on the unending destruction caused by male role models like those in Tony's life or to convey an actual imminent intent to kill him?

I know that Chase's assistant/associate producer confirmed that the paintings on the back wall were not part of Holsten's regular decor and that they were brought in specifically for the Sopranos shoot. Given my own theories about football symbolically representing "the road not taken" in Tony's life and a football coach representing the "good father" influences that Tony eschewed in favor of men like Johnny Boy and Junior and Dickie, I'm fairly convinced that the picture of the football player was there to comment in some way on that fact. I didn't get into the whole "Lady or the Tiger discussion" 'cause I think I just had "finale fatigue" at the time, but I'm sure the bright people in that thread had many excellent theories about what the picture of the tiger represented, perhaps a symbolic posing of the very question we're considering . . . did he or didn't he?

The point here is that the whole pastiche of that diner could be seen to symbolize key elements of Tony's persona, family history, relationships, choices, and the dangerous or grim realities those choices occasioned. The evocation of would-be assassins that Tony might never even hear coming is certainly one of the more compelling of those realities and is therefore perfectly appropriate for inclusion in any symbolic distillation of his life, a distillation that was apparently being portrayed in that diner. The relevance of that threat exists quite apart from whether it was fulfilled on that particular occasion (or ever.) "[murdered] or in the can" were the two futures Tony resigned himself to long ago, and the pointed discussion with Carmela about Carlo flipping and testifying weighed as heavily in the air at Holsten's as did the threat symbolized by guys like MOG and the unidentified black males.

But I still find nothing in the show that necessarily moves the evocation of Tony's murder to evidence of Tony's murder, and thus I'm not inclined to draw a firm conclusion about when or how he died.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

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