Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony Sopr

The following is the painstaking, exhaustive analysis of all 21 episodes of the final season that I talked about earlier. This paper is just my opinion. However, I am making an argument so it will not be wishy-washy and is not meant to rub some people who believe Tony lived the wrong way (I also submitted it to the Sopranos Academic conference). Chase has new comments that were posted in a UK paper yesterday. His comments add "If you look at the final episode really carefully" just before "it's all there" which is a comment he made the day after the finale. I will add a thread later to link to the article. The jist is to the look at the scene really carefully to find the answer. In any event, I hope people enjoy reading this as it took a lot of time to put together. Art is subjective and open to interpretation. However, I feel Chase clearly showed Tony's death through his editing and directing in the final scene. In addition, there are scenes, symbols and moments that only make sense to me in the context of Tony's death. Enjoy:

“If you look at the final episode really carefully, it's all there." These are David Chase’s words regarding the finale of the Sopranos. He is right, it is “all there”. This is the definitive explanation of why Tony died in Holsten’s in the final scene of The Sopranos. The following is based on a thorough analysis of the final season of the show and will clear up one of the most misunderstood endings in film or television history. Chase took almost 2 years to construct the final season of the show after the fifth season ended in June of 2004. First, I will show how Chase directed, edited and scored the final scene of the Sopranos to lead to the interpretation that Tony was shot in the head in Holsten’s. Once this is proved, I will show how Chase clearly foreshadowed his death throughout all 21 episodes of the final season. I will also illustrate how Mr. Chase’s pre and post finale comments and other artistic influences on Chase’s career lead to this conclusion. Finally, I will debunk some of the “Tony lives” theories. Some of the “clues” are stronger then others. However, taken as a whole the only explanation that we will be able to conclude is that Tony died in that NJ diner. The final season is a masterpiece of symbolic construction and film editing. Enjoy:

*Note: Chase’s original quote to the NJ Star Ledger the day after the finale aired is “Anybody wants to watch it, it’s all there”. Chase’s subsequent quote regarding the finale “If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there” was published in a UK newspaper on September 9, 2007 as the final episodes are set to air in the UK. The modified quote strongly suggests Tony’s death since there is essentially no reason to look at the final scene “really carefully” if Tony lived as he is clearly alive the last time we see him.

Mr. Chase, through the use of certain shots and edits creates a pattern to show us when we are seeing things from Tony’s perspective. Chase uses the traditional way of establishing a POV shot to create the pattern (Character looking at something/cut to a shot of what the character is looking at from the character's POV/cut back to a shot of the character, usually for the reaction). According to this pattern, the last “shot” of the series (10 seconds of black and silence) is from Tony’s POV. The implication being that he sees “blackness” and “nothingness”. He is dead. I will break it down.
A: Tony walks into Holsten’s. We hear a bell ring. The door of Holsten’s has a bell that rings every time someone enters the restaurant. We see him looking at something in the diner. We cut to a shot of the inside of Holsten’s (mostly tables seen from Tony’s perspective, hereafter Tony’s POV). We then cut back to a close up of Tony looking straight ahead. We then have a strange cut to the Tony POV shot of the tables as we just saw previously except Tony is now sitting down at one of the tables in the middle of the frame. This is done for 2 reasons-(1) It shows us that Tony’s POV will be straight to the door (this will be critical) and (2) it readies the viewer that we will be seeing certain things from Tony’s POV.
(1) Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is a tall woman with dark hair who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(2) Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 2-3 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is an older man wearing a “USA” cap who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(3)Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is Carmela who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(4)Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is “Man in Member‘s Only Jacket” (hereafter MOG) followed by AJ who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(5)Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 2 seconds). According to the pattern, we should then see who is coming into the diner from Tony’s POV (this should be Meadow as we see her about to enter the diner a few seconds before the bell rings). Instead, all we see is “blackness” where Tony’s POV should be. This is Tony’s POV because he is dead. We no longer hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” because Tony no longer hears it. The screen cuts abruptly to black mid-scene and the audio cuts off. If this was a normal ending we would see a fade to black followed immediately by the credits and we would probably still hear the music. Instead, the blackness and silence lingers for 10 seconds before we see the credits. This emphasizes the blackness, nothingness and eternal nature of death. Chase wanted the blackout to last 30 seconds but HBO convinced him of 10. Tony is dead. He was shot from behind in the right side of his head. How do we know this?
He was shot by MOG as he exited the bathroom. Just before (5), MOG gets up and walks past Tony’s table. Tony gives him two looks and MOG eventually enters the bathroom. Chase uses a tracking shot to follow MOG and to make sure that we see MOG enter the bathroom. To further emphasize the shot’s importance, Chase continues the movement of the camera even after the bathroom is clearly seen (the bathroom moves from the corner of the frame to the left and consequently is more noticeable when the camera finally stops). This is only one of two tracking shots in the final scene (the other is when Tony enters Holsten’s). Chase’s direction is clearly meant to convey the importance of MOG entering the bathroom. The purpose of the shot is to show that MOG will have a clear shot at Tony once he exit’s the bathroom. More importantly, the bathroom is behind Tony. Tony will not have a chance to react.
MOG is deliberately framed as a threat to Tony once he enters the diner. Chase also goes out of his way to indicate that MOG is different from any of the other patrons in the diner. MOG is the only person ever seen outside of the door of Holsten’s before the bell rings (we see him opening the door just before we cut to Tony and hear the bell ring). However, the pattern set out above in (1)-(5) is never disrupted because once the bell rings we then cut to Tony looking up and then the pattern continues accordingly. Chase also has MOG and AJ enter at almost exactly the same time (they almost touch). This may imply that MOG followed AJ to Holsten’s. Once MOG enters he seems to be looking straight to the back of Holsten’s (looking for Tony?). This seems weird in light of the fact that he then sits down immediately at the counter to his left (which we would think he would have seen right away when he walked in). Once AJ sits down we then see MOG in a background sitting down at the counter. MOG is seen in “soft focus” in the background between AJ and Carmela. We then get a full shot of MOG apparently looking in the direction of Tony’s table. This is confirmed when we cut back to the shot of AJ and Carmela and we see MOG looking in there direction in a “soft focus” background shot between them. Later in the scene, we get a second scene of MOG looking over at Tony’s table. Finally, we see MOG get up to go the bathroom. MOG is looking down as he gets up from the counter to avoid eye contact with Tony. He also walks awkwardly as his head looks to the left while his body seems to stay straight. He seems to be going out of his way to avoid eye contact with Tony. He is clearly not oblivious to the presence of Tony Soprano. Also note that none of the other patrons (including the man in the USA cap) are ever shown looking at Tony. Chase makes it clear that we should be paying special attention to MOG over any of the other patrons.
Meadow’s problems parallel parking and being late for dinner also confirm MOG’s actions and Tony’s subsequent death. Practically, it creates suspense in the scene. However, it has much more meaning then we might initially think. If Meadow was on time then she would be sitting next to Tony in the aisle seat. In other words she would be obstructing MOG’s clear shot at Tony from outside the bathroom (Chase clearly shows this when MOG walks to the bathroom). Secondly, her lateness gives the excuse for Tony to look up at the door one last time which Chase needs to make the last shot of blackness from Tony’s POV (as explained earlier). It also serves the purpose of distracting Tony to give MOG an easier shot.
Mr. Chase covers all the angles and his POV pattern and Tony’s murder hold up under close scrutiny. Chase reinforces that we are seeing things from Tony’s POV as we see separate POV shots of Carmela and AJ walking toward Tony’s table. These shots occur after (4) and (5) respectively. However, they never disrupt the pattern set out above. Chase also deliberately differentiates when we are not seeing things from Tony's POV to reinforce when we are seeing things from Tony's POV. The scene of the young black guys is not from Tony’s POV (and the door opening behind them is somebody exiting the diner) as Tony is shown looking down at his menu just before and just after the shot of the two black men looking at the desserts (the black men are also shown at a different angle closer to the floor then the normal Tony POV shot that we saw earlier). Tony gives MOG two looks as he walks past Tony’s table. Tony then returns his attention to the menu. The next scene is the black men looking at the desserts as it appears they just entered Holsten’s. It appears that they entered as MOG was walking past Tony’s table. This explains why Tony (nor we) did not hear the bell ring when they entered the diner as Tony had turned his attention to MOG. We also never clearly hear the sound of a bell other then what has been mentioned above. We do see two background shots of the door opening. However, they are never shown from Tony’s POV and only show somebody exiting Holsten’s. The first is when we see the door opening behind MOG as he stares at Tony for the second time (clearly not the standard Tony POV shot). The second shot is a patron exiting Holsten’s seen behind the black men (not a Tony POV shot as explained earlier in the paragraph). Also, we see Carmela and AJ looking down at their menus before Tony looks up for the last time. This is Chase telling us that they had no chance to warn Tony when MOG comes out of the bathroom.
So the last shot is from Tony’s POV. Tony may not hear the bullet if it is shot from close range (the bullet traveled faster then sound). Tony never heard it coming. No chance to reflect or react. The bullet shattered his brain and there was instantaneous death. Just a void of blackness and nothingness. Worse, his family was there to be bear witness to his murder. The viewer experienced death through Tony’s eyes and it was jarring. Upon further inspection we see that Chase set up this moment through significant clues throughout the final season.

*One last note on the POV sequence/Blackout. Just after the finale aired, blogs on the internet contained numerous posts from viewers swearing they saw Meadow walk through the door just before the abrupt cut to black. The question arose whether Chase had two different versions of the final scene shown across the country. One with Tony’s face as the last thing we see before the blackout and the other being Meadow walking into Holsten’s before the famous cut to black. We now know that there was only one version shown. Surely someone would have recorded this alternative version if it existed. There is actually a simple explanation for this misconception and it all has to do with the POV sequence explained above. The POV pattern caused the viewer to expect to see who was coming through the door from Tony’s POV. When the bell rang, Tony looked up. Our brains were conditioned by Chase to think that we were going to see Meadow . In a sense this was a Pavlovian type response. The fact that so many thought the last shot was Meadow is a tribute to David Chase and how effective his POV pattern really was.

A: The most significant clue is from a scene originally shown in “Sopranos Home Movies” and repeated via flashback in the penultimate episode “The Blue Comet”. In “Sopranos Home Movies”, Tony talks about how most mob bosses either end up dead or in jail. Bacala asks Tony “You probably don’t ever hear it when it happens, right?” At the closing scene of “The Blue Comet” Tony has a flashback to that moment. The show rarely uses flashback so this seems to have major significance. Chase sets up the end of “Made in America” with this flashback. Bacala asked a question that Tony can now answer. Tony never heard it coming.
B: The final season episode “Stage 5” also foreshadows Tony’s death with the murder of Gerry Torciano. Gerry is having a sitdown with Silvio at a restaurant. Both characters have there “goomar’s” at the table with them. At one point, we see a shot of Silvio talking to his goomar at the table. The shot seems to be of Silvio from his goomar’s POV. Suddenly, we see blood on Silvio and the sound cuts off and we hear a low ringing. Silvio seems surprised to see the blood on his shirt and does not appear to hear any gunshots. The scene also seems to slow down. Finally Sil looks up and we cut to a hitman blasting Gerry in the side of the head. Both goomar’s are holding there ears as the guns blast (the sound cuts off and the low ringing may be the experience of someone being so close to the gun blasts). We seem to be getting the POV of a witness at the dinner table (In Holsten's we get the POV of the victim(Tony)). Silvio never heard or saw it coming. This scene sets up (1) Tony’s POV in Holsten’s and (2) another unexpected murder in a restaurant in which the victim nor anybody else “heard coming”. Later, Sil tells Tony about the Torciano murder and says “fucking scary thing was I didn’t know what happened until after the shot was fired. Fucking weird” His words echo Bacala’s “never hear it when it happens”. More importantly, the fans of the show would not know what happened until after the shot was fired at Holsten’s. Chase was setting us up the whole time.

C: The first episode of the final season is titled “Member’s Only”. The man who may have shot Tony in Holsten’s is credited as “Man in Member’s Only Jacket”. The title of the first episode refers to the character of Eugene Pontecorvo who wears a Member’s Only jacket. In the episode Vito Spatafore makes fun of Eugene for wearing the jacket. Numerous clues in this episode may foreshadow Tony’s death. In this episode Eugene commits suicide after Tony will not let Eugene “retire” from Mob life and move him and his family to Florida after Eugene receives a 2 million dollar inheritance. The major clues are:
(1) Tony is shot in this episode.
(2) The shirts worn by Tony when he is shot in both episodes have similar patterns.
(3) Eugene is assigned to kill a man-(a) the victim is a fat man (i.e Tony) (b)Eugene is wearing the “Members Only Jacket” when he shoots the man (just like MOG in Holsten’s), (c) the victim is sitting and eating in a restaurant when he is shot (like Tony), (d) the victims name is Teddy Spiradokis, initials T.S. (Tony Soprano). (e)The victim was killed for owing money to the mob (this may foreshadow Tony’s gambling problem later in the season).
(3)Eugene’s wife, angry that Tony will not let Eugene retire to Florida tells Eugene “Tony, Tony !!…why don’t you kill him, put a bullet in his fucking head”.
(4)Eugene tries to placate his wife “A year from now, 2 years, everything could be different, Tony could be gone”.
(5)An FBI agent tells Eugene “You are our designated hitter” (because Ray Curto has died).
(6) The final shot of the episode is an overhead shot of Tony losing consciousness after he is shot by Junior. The opening shot of the final episode is the exact same shot as Tony wakes up as organ music plays on the radio (I will go more into this later on).
So what exactly is Chase saying here with the Members Only connection? We know Eugene’s ghost did not kill Tony. Is it possible Eugene’s wife hired somebody to kill Tony? Perhaps MOG is a relative of Eugene’s? I think this is pure speculation and is missing the point. MOG is a symbolic throwback to Eugene, another life that Tony destroyed. That is Chase’s point. It does not matter that Tony defeated Phil. Tony has directly and indirectly destroyed so many lives that someone could kill him at anytime. Tony does not seem worried in Holsten’s. He is oblivious to the destruction he has caused. He is oblivious to the dozen’s of potential killers with motives who may seek retribution against him. That is why Tony never mentions Eugene after his suicide. Almost all the characters who die on this show are mentioned again yet there was no mention of Eugene by Tony. Did Eugene’s suicide not effect Tony? Did he not tell Dr. Melfi about it? Chase wanted the viewers to forget about Eugene because Tony forgot about Eugene. Tony was arrogant and complacent and consequently “never heard it coming” when he was killed.

D: There are a a number of significant clues and foreshadowing in the final episode before we get to Holsten’s:
(1)The opening scene is an overhead shot of Tony sleeping. Tony is shot as if he is in a casket. The alarm clock goes off and organ music (very similar to music at a funeral) starts to play to wake Tony up. The opening shot is also exactly the same shot as Tony losing consciousness after he is shot by Junior in the closing scene in “Member’s Only”.
(2)Phil is killed in almost the exact same way as Tony. Phil is shot in the side of the head and “never heard it coming”. He is shot right in front of his family and in front of witnesses just like Tony. 3 family members witness his murder (his wife and 2 baby grandkids). 3 family members witness Tony’s murder (Carmela, AJ and Meadow walking through the door). Carmela tells Tony in Holsten’s that Meadow will be arriving from a doctors appointment. This echoes Phil’s conversation to his wife to set up his doctors appointment at the exact moment when he is shot. The lives of Tony and Phil were paralleled throughout the final season. Both were powerful Bosses who suffered a physical set back (Tony was shot, Phil had a heart attack). Both tried to change after there “wake up call” (Tony seems softer and more tolerant, Phil no longer wanted to be Boss). However, both reverted to old ways and were more despicable then ever (Tony killing Chris, Phil declaring war on NJ). Both died in the same violent way (see above). When Tony was in his “coma-dream” or “purgatory”, Tony Blundetto told Tony that “you’re Going Home”. This symbolized him entering the “Inn at the Oaks” and his death. In the episode “Chasing It” Nancy Sinatra asked Tony and Phil “Are you two going home together?”. We can now answer that question.
(3) Tony’s dinner with Meadow foreshadows Tony’s death. Tony has dinner with Meadow in the City. Meadow asks why they are having dinner, Tony tells her “We used to have dinner all the time, your gonna get married and my chances are flying by me”. This would be the last time Tony has dinner with Meadow as Meadow never makes it to the booth at Holsten’s before Tony is killed.
(4)The Godfather connection:
(a) The Godfather movies use the symbol of “oranges” to represent death. In this episode Tony eats an orange in front of Carmela.
(b) An orange cat torments Paulie. Paulie thinks the cat is a bad omen. In Holsten’s a mural on the wall has an orange tiger. The tiger is over Tony’s shoulder and may indicate impending doom. Also note that this mural is not on the actual back wall at Holstens but was created by Mr.Chase and his production team.
(c) In the famous scene in The Godfather, Michael Coreleone kills 2 people after he comes out of the bathroom after retrieving a gun. The incident occurs in a restaurant. One of the victims (Soluzzo) says just before his death that the restaurant has “the best veal in the city”. Tony says to Carmela and AJ that the Onion rings are “the best in the state”. MOG then comes out of the bathroom to kill Tony. This scene is foreshadowed in the final season episode “Johnny Cakes” when AJ mentions that the scene is Tony’s favorite in the film.
(5) Kennedy references in “Made in America”: When Tony visits Silvio in the hospital we hear a commercial from the hospital room television for a product called “The Magic Bullet”. This is a reference to the Kennedy assassination where Kennedy was shot in the back of the head. Kennedy also did not see or hear it coming. The voiceover of the commercial talks about chopping onions which foreshadows the family eating onion rings in the final scene. The voice over says" The Magic Bullet is a personal, versatile counter-top magician that does any job in 10 seconds or less." The length of the blackout is “10 seconds” and the MOG sits at the “countertop” before he kills Tony. During the Tony-Junior scene in the finale, Tony asks Junior if he remembers Bobby (Bacala). Junior answers “Ambassador Hotel?”. This is where Bobby Kennedy was shot in the head. Also note that Chase knew we would be analyzing the final scene like the “Zapruder” film.
(6) Tony vulnerability from behind (MOG shoots Tony from behind) is foreshadowed in “Made in America”. Chase does this in 2 separate scenes. The first scene is the sit-down with NY where NY Boss “George” is the mediator. George asks Tony if he wants water which is behind Tony. Tony then does a fast “spin around” to see what is behind him as if he is vulnerable. In the very beginning of the Tony-Junior scene, Tony is staring at Junior. An orderly behind Tony (behind his right shoulder, where MOG would be) asks Tony twice to move out of his way and raises his voice. Finally, Tony looks behind him and seems to be surprised to see the orderly. Also in the previous episode “Blue Comet” Tony tells Silvio to have “eyes behind the back of your heads” when he is referring to Phil’s possible retaliation against Tony’s crew.

E: Tony’s “Coma-Dream” in “Join the Club” and “Mayham” and the 8.5 second “White-out”: After Tony is shot by Uncle Junior he lapses into a coma. We next see Tony Soprano as a normal salesman at a convention at a Costa Mesa California Hotel. He is not a “mob boss” but a “regular Joe”. He accidentally switches briefcases with a man named Kevin Finnerty whom we never see. Tony begins to assume the identity of Finnerty because he needs Finnerty’s identification to stay at the hotel. We soon find out that Finnerty defrauded some Monks from a Monastery by selling them faulty heating equipment. It is never made clear in the episode whether Tony was dreaming or whether he really went to “another place”. By the end of the dream, he goes to the Finnerty Family Reunion at the “Inn at the Oaks”. At the same time we cut to Tony lying in the coma as the physicians at the hospital try to revive Tony as he has “Flat lined” and is near death. During the “coma-dream” sequence it is made clear that once Tony/Finnerty enters the Inn, he will die. His dead cousin Tony Blundetto (credited as “The Man”). greets him and urges him to “let go” and join his “family” inside. We also see a Livia like figure at the door of the Inn. “The Man” tells Tony that “you’re going home” (death and the other side). Tony is clearly scared. Just as it appears that he may enter the Inn (and die) we hear the voice of a young female child calling him from the trees. The voice says “Don’t go Daddy!”, “We love you Daddy!!” and “Don’t leave us!!”. Tony hears the voice and appears to respond. He looks at the door one last time and the screen fills up with “whiteness”. This whiteness fills the screen for 8.5 seconds before it disappears. We then see a shot from Tony’s POV as he comes out of the coma and sees Meadow (with Carmela behind her). The “White-out” (which represents Tony coming back to life) is in direct contrast to the “Black-out” and Tony’s death. During the “White-Out” we hear Meadow’s voice crying “Please don’t leave us Daddy, we love you!!”. Meadow saved Tony’s life by calling out to him and preventing Tony from going into the “Inn at the Oaks”. Tragically and ironically, Meadow’s lateness may have killed Tony. First, if Meadow was on time she would be sitting in the aisle seat and blocking MOG’s clear shot. Her entrance into the diner (which causes the bell to ring) also distracts Tony and MOG now has the chance to shoot Tony. Also, Meadow is the first person Tony sees when he comes out of the coma. Meadow is the last person he sees when he dies. Chase opens the final season with the “Seven Souls” montage written by William Burroughs. Meadow is described as the “Guardian Angel” in the montage. She was not there to protect Tony in the end. Also note that MOG may have also not attempted to kill Tony if Meadow was sitting down next to her because he may have accidentally shot Meadow. Chase sets this up in the penultimate episode “The Blue Comet” when Tony tells Carmela that “Families don’t get touched”. This theme of Tony’s “luck running out” concerning Meadow is foreshadowed in the episode “Chasing It” when Tony gambles and loses all his earnings on the horse “Meadow Gold”. Tony’s own words “Meadow Gold in the 5th(race)!!”echoes the fifth bell ring that Tony will hear as he looks up at the door for the fifth time to see Meadow just before he is shot in Holsten’s.
The POV pattern in Holsten’s that I set out in I.A.(1)-(5) is also strikingly similar to the POV pattern in the “Inn at the Oaks” scene. Once again:
(1) Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is a tall woman with dark hair who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(2) Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 2-3 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is an older man wearing a “USA” cap who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(3)Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is Carmela who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(4)Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 1-2 seconds). We then see who is coming through the door from Tony’s POV. It is “Man in Member‘s Only Jacket” (hereafter MOG) followed by AJ who enters Holsten’s. We also then cut back to Tony’s face to see his reaction.
(5)Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 2 seconds). According to the pattern, we should then see who is coming into the diner from Tony’s POV (this should be Meadow as we see her about to enter the diner a few seconds before the bell rings). Instead, all we see is “blackness” where Tony’s POV should be. This is Tony’s POV. The screen cuts abruptly to black and the audio cuts off. Tony is dead. He was shot from behind in the right side of his head.
Now here is the breakdown of the pattern when Tony begins to look at the door of “The Inn at the Oaks”. We get 5 Tony POV shots of the door (We get 5 Tony POV shots of the door in Holsten’s). These shots are basically uninterrupted (unlike Holsten’s where we have several scenes between the bell ringing moments). However, the general pattern is the same (1-2 and 4-5 are uninterrupted shots).

Re: Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony

(1) Tony looks towards the door of the “Inn”, we cut to Tony POV shot of the door where we see a “Livia like” figure, we then cut back to Tony’s reaction.
(2)Tony looks towards the door of the “Inn” we cut to Tony POV shot of the door where we still see a “Livia like” figure who disappears inside the “Inn”, we then cut back to Tony’s reaction.
(3)Tony looks towards the door of the “Inn” we cut to Tony POV shot of the door where the “Livia like” figure is no longer standing . We then cut back to Tony’s reaction.
(4)Tony looks towards the door of the “Inn” we cut to Tony POV shot of the door. We then cut back to Tony’s reaction.
(5)Tony looks towards the door of the “Inn”, we cut to Tony POV shot of the door where we see the screen begin to fill with “whiteness” or “light”. The “White-out” is from Tony’s POV (the continuity w/ Holstens suggests the "blackout" is from Tony's POV). Once it disappears, we see Meadow and Carmela from Tony’s POV.
Also, Chase has another callback moment to the “Inn at the Oaks” scene. In one of the last scenes of “Made in America”. Tony is raking leaves in his backyard. He then looks up at the trees. We see a scanning POV shot of the trees similar to Tony’s scan of the trees at the “Inn at the Oaks” where he heard Meadow’s voice calling to him. Tony seems at peace and has a slight smile. However, these trees are dead or dying. This foreshadows death just moments later.

A: Religious symbols: (1)Tony, Carmela and AJ are each shown in consecutive shots putting a whole onion ring in their mouths. This may symbolize final communion. (2) Carmela is in wearing all black, AJ walks in with a black jacket and Meadow is wearing all black. This may indicate that they are going to Tony’s funeral (3) AJ remembers a great moment with Tony (“remember the good times” from the Season 1 finale). This may be Tony’s eulogy. (4)The first shot of Tony sitting at the table in Holsten’s resembles “The Last Supper”.
B: In “Sopranos Home Movies” we have another bell ringing/POV scene that foreshadows Holsten’s. Tony is sitting in a chair on a dock by himself. This is the next morning after the fight with Bacala. Tony looks in deep thought and may be contemplating his own mortality. This is confirmed by the subsequent conversation with Carmela. Tony then hears a bell. Tony then looks over as we see the bell is coming from a boat tied to the dock (probably a fog bell). The boat is shown from Tony’s POV. Tony then turns back to the water when we then hear the bell ring again. This time it is louder. Tony now clearly looks disturbed and looks over. We then cut to another POV shot of the boat. We then see a duck flying away behind Tony. Also, the beginning of the scene cuts back to Bacala flipping through the stations on the radio. At one point we hear “Magic Moment” playing. This song also closes the episode and is clearly shown on the jukebox in Holsten’s.
C: More Holsten’s clues:
(1) Tony’s life may be “flashing before his eyes” before his lights are permanently put out (i.e “black-out”) We see a young NJ couple in love which represents a young Carmela and Tony. We see 2 young black guys that recall the first murder attempt on his life. We see an older man with 3 cub scouts which may recall his childhood with his father. MOG represents his “mafia” life. The man with the USA hat may represent the FBI. The mural in the back wall (filled with High School sports memorabilia) of Holsten’s seems to recall Tony’s triumphs in High School sports. In the booth directly in front of Tony we see an old woman sitting by herself facing Tony (she is clearly seen behind and in between AJ and Carmela). She may represent Livia who will also bear witness to Tony’s murder. The closing scene is set to Journey’s “Don’t stop believing”. This would probably be a song that Tony and Carmela listened to in their younger days. More importantly, it is Tony who chooses the song on the jukebox. “Don’t Stop Believing” is Tony’s rallying cry. Throughout the show’s history he has not stopped believing that he can reconcile his family life with his mafia life. We know he cannot successfully do this and his mafia life and family life converge in that final, fateful moment in Holsten’s. Tony’s “Journey” is over.
(2)The mural on the back wall shows some type of dormitory that resembles the “Inn at the Oaks”.
(3) We see the song “Magic Moment” on the jukebox. This is a call back to “Sopranos Home Movies” and Bacala’s fateful question “Never hear when it happens, right?. The song closes that episode.
(4) We see the older man with the cub scouts point at two of the children. However, his thumb is straight up as he points. This makes his hand look like a gun.
(5) It appears from several scenes in the final episode that Meadow and Patrick Parisi are engaged. Early on in the Holsten’s scene Carmela tells Tony that Meadow will be coming from the doctor as she had to “switch birth control”. This may imply that Meadow may be pregnant as her original birth control was not working (before switching the doctor would give her a pregnancy test). Meadow rushes to the door of Holsten’s with an anxious look on her face which may indicate that she has big news to tell her parents. This moment is congruous to a scene in “Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request”. In that episode there is a tender moment between Tony and Meadow as they prepare to leave for Allegra Sacks wedding. Tony having just survived the shooting of Junior talks about the importance of having grandchildren and asks Meadow about any plans of marriage to Finn. Tony, in a clear state of emotion says “what I have been through (Near death experience) changes the way you think”. Tony says “all of sudden it is very important to me” to hold his grandchild in his arms. Tony also talks about the importance of grandchildren to Phil in the hospital after Phil has his heart attack in “Kaisha”. Tony visits Phil to avoid a war and conveys to Phil what really is important in life. In Holsten’s, Meadow is about to deliver the news that Tony has dreamed of hearing since surviving the Junior shooting. It appears that he will be able to hold his grandchild in his arms. However, Tony is killed just before Meadow delivers the news. The final scene is a tragic and ironic counterpoint to the scene in “Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request”.
(6) The music stops and the abrupt cut to black occurs on the lyric “Don’t Stop” in Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. However, the scene and Tony’s life do stop at that exact moment and do not “go on and on” as the songs says.

D: More clues from Tony’s “Coma-Dream” in the episode “Join the Club” (1)Tony is eating dinner with the other traveling salesmen (and one saleslady). The saleslady tells Tony “We are just impressed to be in the presence of a man whose sales team snatched the brass ring for 12 consecutive quarters” (i.e Tony always ending up on top in his Mafia world). Tony responds ominously “Its not such a big deal, there is always a faster gun” (MOG’s gun).
(2) We see a beacon throughout Tony’s coma dream. Tony is told that to find the “Inn at the Oaks” that he should go “out towards the beacon”. The beacon will lead to Tony’s death. Later in the season, in “Kennedy and Heidi” Tony sees the beacon behind the sun when he is high on peyote in Las Vegas. Tony dies just 3 episodes later.
E: Tony has his first visit back to Dr. Melfi since his shooting in “Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request”. Tony knows that he is lucky that he has survived 2 attempts at his life. He then ominously says “Three strikes and I am out right?”. Tony’s murder by MOG is the third strike.
F: The Abraham Lincoln references: The first reference is in the episode “Kaisha” as Tony watches a History Channel documentary on Lincoln. The documentary refers to Lincoln’s depression which echoes Tony’s depression. In “The Second Coming” Carmela makes AJ “Lincoln Log” sandwiches. AJ is then seen at the hospital watching a T.V. commercial for a sleeping pill in which we see an actor portraying Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was the leader and president of the United States. Lincoln was shot in the head in front of his wife by a lone shooter after Lincoln had won the Civil War. Tony Soprano is the leader of a Mafia family. Tony was shot in the head in front of his family by a lone shooter after he won the NY/NJ Mafia war.
G: “The Three Bells” by the Browns: This song is used on 2 separate occasions in the final season. The song ties into the “bells” that we hear in Holsten’s and foreshadow Tony’s death. The song has 3 verses. Parts of the first 2 verses are used on these occasions. The first verse is used in the episode “The Fleshy Part of the Thigh”. For our purposes these are the relevant lyrics:
“All the chapel bells were ringing
In the little valley town
And the songs that they were singing
Were for baby Jimmy Brown”

This verse is played when Paulie and Patsy visit Jason Barone to threaten him not to sell his father’s garbage route. Jason Barone is an innocent born to parents who were involved with the mafia. Once Jason’s father dies, he attempts to sell his father’s garbage disposal route without Tony’s approval. Jason is the innocent “baby Jimmy Brown”. Jason will lose his “innocence” after this meeting with Paulie and Patsy. The second verse is used in the episode “Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request”. For our purposes these are the relevant lyrics:
“There's a village hidden deep in the valley
Beneath the mountains high above
And there, twenty years thereafter
Jimmy was to meet his love

All the chapel bells were ringing,
Was a great day in his life
Cause the songs that they were singing
Were for Jimmy and his wife”

This verse plays as Vito Spatafore checks into a motel room. He goes into hiding after he has been outed as a homosexual at a nightclub in New York City. It sets up Vito falling in love with “Johnny Cakes” in the next episode “Live Free or Die”. The lyrics (“Jimmy was to meet his love”) set up Vito’s new romance.
The third verse is never played during the rest of the final season. These are the relevant lyrics of the third verse:
“From the village hidden deep in the valley
One rainy morning dark and gray
A soul winged its way to heaven
Jimmy Brown had passed away

Just a lonely bell was ringing
In the little valley town
Twas farewell that it was singingTo our good old Jimmy Brown”

The third verse is about Jimmy Brown’s death. We would expect to hear the final verse during the death of a character. The final verse is never heard but final scene in Holsten’s replaces the third verse of the song. Tony dies in Holsten’s (“Jimmy Brown had passed away“). We hear the bell ring 6 times in the final scene. One when Tony walks in, the second when the tall lady with curly hair walks in, the third when the man with the USA cap walks in, the fourth when Carmela walks in, the fifth when MOG and AJ walk in, the sixth when Meadow walks in and Tony is shot. However, only 3 of the bells ringing are relevant to Tony. These are the bell rings that indicate that his family has arrived. We hear a total of “3 bells” ringing for Carmela, AJ and Meadow.
H: Agent Harris tells Tony that they are approaching the “End times, the Rapture is coming” in the penultimate episode “The Blue Comet”
I: Tony tears out pages of “Departures” Magazine in the penultimate episode “The Blue Comet”
J: The Doors “When the Music’s Over” plays in the Bada Bing in the penultimate episode “The Blue Comet”. The song includes the lyrics “when the music’s over turn out the lights”. This foreshadows the final scene in which the music abruptly stops and the “lights” go out. Furthermore, death is a major theme of the song. Also, at the very end of the scene we see a “Men’s Room” sign in bright neon blue lights in the middle of the frame between two bing dancers after Paulie and Bacala have left the frame. This is another connection to MOG, who goes into the men’s room. In “Made in America” we also see the sign again. We see a tracking shot of Paulie in which the sign moves behind Paulie from right to left in the frame during the scene where Paulie calls Tony to relay the information that Carlo is missing.
K: More “Members Only” Clues: Eugene tells Tony he is “3 years from 50” in this episode so Eugene is 47 when he dies. Tony dies when he is 47 years of age. Phil celebrates his dead brother’s 47th birthday in “Stage 5”.
L: The NY hit-man that shoots Silvio in “The Blue Comet” is wearing a Members Only jacket.
M: Tony and Carmela have a critical conversation in the episode “Chasing It” that may foreshadow Tony’s death. Carmela is crying and worrying about Tony’s future, “I worry Tony…you already got shot and now you won’t even get the paper, who is out there…?”. She talks about the “million possibilities” of how it could end for Tony. This foreshadows the unforeseen and unknown MOG. She says that he acts like “there is a giant piano hanging by a rope just over your (Tony‘s) head”. Tony then arrogantly responds as if he is immortal and in a way that mocks God and destiny , he says “I survived a gunshot wound. What are the odds on that?…Big picture wise I am up, way up”. Tony’s luck finally ran out in Holsten’s. Another conversation in the final episode also illustrates this point. Paulie resists the promotion to run the “Aprile” crew whose former captains have all met premature deaths. Paulie is already on edge because of his “Virgin Mary” sighting in the episode “The Ride”, his scare from testicular cancer and the orange cat at Satriales that Paulie is convinced is a bad omen. However, Tony laughs off Paulie’s Virgin Mary sighting and the orange cat omen in Tony and Paulie’s final scene together.
N: The “Public Enemy” connection: The 1931 William A. Wellman classic is about a gangster played by James Cagney. We learn Tony Soprano is a fan of the movie in the third season episode “Proshai, Livushka”. Tony is seen watching the movie throughout the episode and we see Tony watching the end of the movie in the show’s final scene. In an interview with David Chase by National Public Radio in 2000 Chase expressed his opinions on the film and it‘s influence on his career. He says “A pretty big influence on me was the William Wellman movie the Public Enemy which I saw when I was probably 8 or 9... In it the gangster Tom Powers who has led a life of crime who has this sweet little old Irish mother…and after living this horrible life of crime…he gets shot…at the end of the movie he is at a hospital and the rival gangs calls his Mothers home and says “we are sending Tom home” and his brother calls upstairs and says “Mom, Mom, they are sending Tom home” and she (Mom) puts on this “I am Forever Blowing Bubbles” record and she is making the bed and she is singing and feathers are going everywhere and she is happy and the brother is all excited that he (Tom Powers) is coming home and there is a knock on the door and the brother opens the door and we see Cagney (Powers) wrapped up in a blanket with his head all in bandages and wrapped up like a mummy and he (Cagney/Powers) is dead with these dead
eyes…this is the end of the movie….This was the most frightening thing I had ever seen…I could not get that out of my mind…Those people’s (Power’s family) expectations in the house, it actually makes me kind of sad…there expectations of what was going to happen and what did happen and that they were so happy that he was coming home and how he was dead in such a horrible way and how he had wasted his life”.
Besides the obvious similarities between Powers and Tony the ending seems to share a kinship with the finale of The Sopranos. Both endings anticipate a happy “family reunion” type moment. Meadow needs to join the booth for this moment to be complete. Both scenes contrast buoyant music with a sense of impending doom (“I am Forever Blowing Bubbles” in “Public Enemy” and “Don’t Stop Believing” in Holsten’s). Furthermore, what was so frightening to Mr. Chase in “Public Enemy” is paralleled by Meadow’s entrance into Holsten’s. Meadow’s expectations are of a happy family reunion moment but instead she witnesses her father’s murder as she opens the door (the brother sees Tom’s dead body just as the door opens). Tony dies in the “horrible way” that Chase described in the interview and has clearly “wasted his life”.

O: David Chase is well documented fan of Martin Scorcese and his mafia film “Goodfellas”. In a scene in the film mobster Henry Hill is surprised by the police behind him telling him to “freeze”. Henry then says in a voiceover “For a second I thought I was dead, but when I heard all the noise, I knew they were cops, only cops talk that way. If they had been wiseguys, I wouldn't have heard a thing. I would have been dead.” Just like Tony Soprano.

P: Tony’s death in thematic terms in the Final Season: Tony’s death makes perfect sense thematically in the construction of the final season. A major theme of the final season was death and the possibility of change. The season opens with the “Seven Souls” montage by William Burroughs. We saw Tony come to terms with his mortality after he is shot by Uncle Junior. Tony’s shooting and his subsequent near death experience as “Kevin Finnerty” was the wake-up call for Tony to change his life. This is clearly illustrated when Tony visits “Costa Mesa” during his coma after he is shot by Uncle Junior in the opening episode. David Chase is quoted as saying “I, frankly, would not call those (Tony’s coma induced trip to “Costa Mesa”) dreams,". This comment by Chase gives the scenes even greater significance as they suggest that Tony did actually visit “another place”. In this “other place”, Tony Soprano is a normal salesman at a convention at a Costa Mesa Hotel. He is not a “mob boss” but a “regular Joe”. He accidentally switches briefcases with a man named Kevin Finnerty whom we never see. Tony begins to assume the identity of Finnerty because he needs Finnerty’s identification to stay at the hotel. Tony/Finnerty is soon approached by some Monks from a local monastery who believe that Tony is Kevin Finnerty. Apparently, Finnerty defrauded these monks by selling them faulty solar heating equipment. Tony’s Costa Mesa trip becomes a search for his true identity. Is Tony a mild mannered salesman and loving father or a corrupt charlatan who defrauds the innocent?. As the episode nears its conclusion, Tony questions if he really is Kevin Finnerty and perhaps comes closer to a moral accounting of his actions. At one point in the episode, Tony/Finnerty falls down the stairs in his motel and wakes up in the hospital after suffering a concussion The attending Doctor tells him that an MRI reveals that he has numerous “black spots” on his brain. The Doctor tells Tony/Finnerty that this indicates early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s diagnoses refers to Tony’s bleak future. The “black spots” obscure his ability to see the consequences of his actions and his lack of moral accountability. The MRI that reveals Tony’s condition reflects the initial MRI that sent Tony to Dr. Melfi in the pilot episode. Tony/Finnerty refers to his diagnosis as “a death sentence” (i.e Tony’s eventual fate in Holsten’s). However, the doctor tells Tony/Finnerty that there are new treatments and his condition is not as “bleak as it would have been a while back”. This means that Tony can recover and change and avoid his reckoning. The Doctor adds that Tony “should talk to his doctors back home”. This means that Tony should return to Dr. Melfi when he awakes from the coma. Through his discussions with Dr. Melfi, Tony has a second chance to reform his life and avoid his destiny or his “death sentence”. The doctor then reminds Tony of his “second chance” when he states that Tony is lucky because “a fall like that, you (Tony) could have broken you’re neck” (i.e Tony could have been killed when he was shot by Junior). Tony’s potential reckoning and possibility of change is also paralleled in his scenes with the Monks. The Monks believe that Finnerty has defrauded them by selling the Monastery faulty solar heating equipment. The Monks were without heat during the winter (the Monks have also sued Finnerty). This represents the suffering that Tony has caused to others in his life. The Monks ask Finnerty to “take responsibility” (i.e Tony to take a moral accounting of his actions). Tony/Finnerty responds “I can’t do that”. One of the Monks then responds “Then the lawsuit proceeds." (i.e Tony is doomed to suffer his “death sentence”). Once Tony comes out of his coma and is released from the hospital we start to see the “different” Tony that is necessary for his moral restoration and his survival. He vows that he will appreciate life and that “every day is a gift”. First, Tony declines the money from the EMT that may have stolen the money from his wallet when he was brought to the hospital. Tony is then less stubborn in his dealings with Phil Leotardo. He risks losing the respect of his crew when he resists killing Vito Spatafore despite Vito’s recently revealed homosexuality in the episode “Live Free or Die. He says about Vito “I had a second chance so why can’t he?”. Tony even relents from cheating on Carmela with Julianna Skiff in the episode “Johnny Cakes”. However, Tony’s attempts begin to fail and by “Sopranos Home Movies” his regression is clear. He orders Bacala to commit his first murder because Bacala was able to get the better of him during their fight at the lake house. He nearly kills Paulie in “Remember When” and nearly destroys his friendship with Hesh in “Chasing It”. Even Christopher recognizes that Tony is letting his newfound enlightenment slip away and asks Tony “Whatever happened to ‘smell the roses’?” just before there car accident in “Kennedy and Heidi”. Tony’s deterioration culminates when he kills Christopher in “Kennedy and Heidi” and has no remorse for it afterward. Tony travels to Las Vegas immediately after Christopher’s death. The trip illustrates Tony descent into moral depravity and deterioration. Tony sleeps with Christopher’s goomar and takes Peyote. He laughs that his luck has changed now that Chris is dead when he wins at the roulette table. He later tells Dr. Melfi in “The Second Coming” that he had an epiphany when he was under the influence of peyote during his stay in Las Vegas. Tony tells Dr.Melfi that you come to these “thoughts, and almost grab them” but then they are gone. This represents Tony’s realization that he had to live a better life (after he awoke from the coma). However, Tony could not “grab” this realization and it was quickly gone (i.e Tony returned to his old ways). Tony in the end is worse then ever before. Since Tony cannot change, he is now ready to meet his destiny that was laid out during his coma induced trip to “Costa Mesa”. This is the “death sentence” that Tony/Finnerty talked about to the doctor in his “Coma-dream”, the same “death sentence” that the doctor told him could be avoided. However, Tony could not change so change (death) was thrust upon him. His death makes perfect sense thematically. The theme is also demonstrated symbolically during Tony’s coma-trip (Tony’s second chance at moral regeneration) and Tony’s Vegas trip (the complete end of Tony’s second chance and his complete moral degeneration). Tony sees a beacon of light during his coma-trip. Tony is told that to find “The Inn at the Oaks” (i.e his death) that he should go “out towards the beacon”. During Tony’s Vegas trip, Tony sees the beacon flash behind the sun when he is high on peyote. Tony is now ready to die. The theme is also reflected in the bell ringing moments. When Tony is wheeled out of the hospital in “Fleshy Part of the Thigh” he closes his eyes just as he is outside as church bells ring prominently nearby. Tony listens to the bells and appears to have a contemplative moment. He then holds Janice’s hand and tells her how lucky he is to be alive and how “after this every day is a gift”. In contrast, by the final scene in Holsten’s Tony’s epiphany is just a memory and the tiny bells of Holsten’s ring for the last time at Tony’s death bringing his experience full circle. Chase’s comments just before the final nine episodes aired also illustrate the theme:
''It is in our interest (for the show) to show that there are certain ways that we all spend our lives, and that as adults, we decide our fate, we make our own bed, and we lie in it. That to me is not the same, hopefully, as saying crime doesn't pay, or bad people are punished. Free will exists.''
This quote speaks to Tony Soprano. Through Tony’s “free will” he could have changed after his near death experience. Instead, Tony returned to the easy way and became more ruthless then ever. Because of Tony’s actions he has now “decided his own fate” that will befall him in Holsten’s. Tony’s death is a logical extension of the choices that Tony has made in his life.

Q: Tony’s death in thematic terms in all 86 episodes: In the pilot episode Tony has a panic attack after the “family” of ducks leave his pool. This triggers Tony’s first visit to Dr. Melfi. We learn through Tony’s therapy that the ducks flying away represent Tony’s fears that he will lose his family. Tony admits he is filled with “dread” and Dr. Melfi asks “What are you so afraid is going to happen?”. This fear is intertwined with Tony’s “other” mafia family. The show has always been about Tony and his ability to reconcile both families. We have seen Tony’s struggles as a ruthless Mob boss and a loving father. These aspects of his personality seem contradictory. Throughout the show’s history we have seen Tony’s mafia world intrude on his family. We saw Meadow date Mob wanabee Jackie Jr. in the show’s third season. Tony’s two families collided when Tony was forced to order the death of Jackie Jr. We have seen A.J. on the cusp of a criminal life when he helps torture a college student in “Walk Like a Man”. Meadow indirectly leads to the NY-NJ war in the final season when she is harassed by Coco. Tony then nearly beats Coco to death to avenge Meadow’s honor in “The Second Coming”. More importantly, we see the family fully in denial of Tony’s actions and his way of life in the final episode. Meadow tells Tony over dinner that she is becoming a lawyer because of all the times she saw Tony being arrested. She blames his persecution on anti-Italian discrimination. Also, the death of “Uncle Bobby” (Bacala) and the comatose Silvio Dante could be the wake-up call to Carmela, Meadow and AJ to question Tony’s actions. However, once the war is resolved the family is back to business as usual, blissfully ignorant of the destruction caused by Tony. The family will now get the ultimate in your face intervention when they witness Tony’s murder. The final scene represents what the show has always been about, Tony’s inability to reconcile both worlds (mafia and family). Tony’s death in front of his family is the ultimate “merger” of the show’s themes from the very beginning. Tony’s “family” life and “mafia” life collide in a chilling moment that was 86 episodes in the making. The impending doom (MOG’s ominous looks at Tony’s table) is contrasted with Tony’s happiness in Holsten’s. The way Tony “looks” at Carmela and AJ as they walk towards his booth is a clear expression of his love for them. He gently grabs AJ’s hand and AJ recalls the family toast in the final scene of the first season finale (“Remember the good times”). This is as happy as a moment as Tony Soprano will ever get. Tony just needs Meadow to sit at the booth for the perfect moment to be complete. Once Meadow joins the table, all of the “ducks” will have returned. However, Tony is murdered before all of the “ducks” return to the pool. The bad thing that Tony feared will happen to his family in the pilot has finally arrived. Through his death, Tony has “lost” his family. The abrupt cut to black haunts the mind and illustrates Tony’s journey as an American Tragedy.

(Continued in next post).

Re: Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony

III: “ANYWAY YOU WANT IT”: Debunking the “Tony lives” theories:
I have no doubt that Chase wanted the ending to be initially ambiguous. However, Chase wanted us to engage the material and find the answers ourselves. The very ending itself is much more consistent with Tony dying then living. Chase could have simply ended the show with a fade to black and immediate credits if he wanted to create a “life goes on” impression. Instead, the screen cuts abruptly to black mid-scene while the audio cuts off mid-lyric to Journey's "Dont Stop Believing". David Chase correctly predicts the reaction to the finale by inserting Journey’s “Anyway You Want it” in the jukebox in Holsten’s. Chase does give the viewer who wants to see Tony live some solace. However, this “life goes on” interpretation does not hold up under closer scrutiny. Here are some of the popular “Life goes on” or “Tony lives” arguments:
1)The ending represented Tony always “looking over his shoulder”: This is a popular theory. It seems to be supported by the fact that there appear to be many threats in the diner. We have the two young African-American men representing the shooters from the first attempt on Tony’s life in Season 1. We have the man with the USA cap who may represent the FBI and we have “Man in Members Only Jacket”. Consequently, we see (through the POV shots) how Tony must live for the rest of his life. However, on closer inspection the theory falls apart. There is never a concerned look on Tony’s face in the final sequence. He checks the door every time he hears the bell because he is expecting his family. Once more, the sequence of the bell ringing is necessary to establish the last shot of the series (blackness) from Tony’s POV. Also notice that the further shots of the Man with the USA cap are all objective and not from Tony’s POV. The shot of the young African-Americans are also not from Tony’s POV. It is only MOG that Tony pays attention to (and he seems to dismiss him as a threat). Furthermore, Chase has multiple shots of patrons in the diner who are clearly not a threat to Tony. We see shots of a young couple in love laughing and shots of an older man with the Cub scouts. Tony's expressions in the scene are of happiness not paranoia. Also, from a storytelling standpoint it does not make much sense for Chase to make this point at this moment. The viewers know Tony will always have to look over his shoulder. The viewers have known this since the beginning. Chase could have created a Tony POV sequence to convey this message in any of the other 86 episodes. It makes much more sense that the Tony POV sequence was created to put the viewer in the eyes of Tony at the exact moment of his death. Remember, Tony Soprano is the main character the viewer has followed all of these years. We have been inside his head in multiple dream sequences and have intimate knowledge of his personality and fears through his visits to Dr. Melfi. It makes sense to put the viewer in Tony’s POV at the time of his death. Once Tony is dead, there is no show. If Tony was to die it had to be the last moment of the series.
(2) David Chase was just playing with the audience and nothing happened: This argument can’t really be disputed. It is just a matter of opinion. The argument being that Chase ratchets up the suspense in the scene just to “play” with the audience but in the end there is no “payoff”. This is David Chase’s way of “messing” with the audience. This argument is not consistent with the way Chase has done things on this show. Chase seems to dispute this theory himself in his only post-finale interview to date:

"No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God. We did what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people's minds, or thinking, 'Wow, this'll (tick) them off.' People get the impression that you're trying to (mess) with them and it's not true. You’re trying to entertain them. Anybody who wants to watch it, it's all there."

Chase has always had a classic story telling style. “Nothing happening” is in direct contrast to the structure of all 6 seasons. Each of the 6the seasons has a clear narrative drive that ends conclusively. Each season has it’s major themes and storylines that pay off by the end:
Season 1: The major thrust of the season is Tony’s struggle for control of the “family” with Uncle Junior and Tony’s relationship with his Mother. The season ends with Tony defeating Junior to become boss of the family. Junior’s crew is wiped out. Tony comes to the realization that Livia is not the loving Mom he thought she was and attempts to kill her at the hospital.
Season 2: The 2 major plotlines are 2 separate threats to Tony Soprano. Big Pussy, Tony’s best friend has flipped to the FBI and may bring Tony down. Richie April returns from prison to challenge Tony and rekindles his old romance with Tony’s sister Janice. These storylines are resolved neatly. Richie is killed by Janice and Pussy is killed when Tony discovers he is a traitor.
Season 3: The 2 major plotlines involve Jackie Aprile Jr. and his attempt to break into the Mafia (and Tony’s attempt to keep him out) and the introduction of Ralph Ciffaretto, a new thorn in Tony’s side. By the end of the season, Jackie Jr. is killed on Tony’s orders
and Tony resolves (at least temporarily) a season long feud with Ralphie.
Season 4: This is probably the least “clean” of all the season’s endings. Tony and Carmela separate in the finale (although the separation was a natural conclusion to their relationship during this season). Junior’s trial ends with a hung jury and Junior avoids prison.
Season 5: A season long Civil War in the NY Lupertazzi family is the thrust of this season. Tony’s cousin Tony Blundetto is also introduced and gets involved in the NY war. By the end of the season the NY war is resolved when Little Carmine surrenders to Johnny Sack and Tony kills his cousin Tony Blundetto (to avoid Tony’s family having it’s own war with NY). Also, Tony and Carmela are back together by the season’s end.
Consequently, for Chase to have this big buildup in the final scene of Season 6 and to end with “nothing happening” or “Life goes on” violates the shows basic structure.
(3) The Blackout represents the “viewer getting whacked”: This argument ties into (2). It violates the basic structure of the story. When has the viewer ever become part of the show? This would make the ending a complete gimmick. It would be the “cop out” that many fans complained about after the finale. Did Chase take nearly 2 years off to come up with that? This is all very arguable and we cannot get inside David Chase’s head so we can never know for sure. However, if you really know this show and how much care and thought goes into it, you would see that Chase would not go in this direction.
(4)There was nobody left with a motive to kill Tony: This is certainly debatable. Tony Soprano has directly and indirectly ruined so many lives that he must have dozens of enemies. Again, perhaps that is the reason for the “Member’s Only Guy”/Eugene Pontecorvo connection. Eugene is another life that Tony ruined. Maybe that is Chase’s point. Tony’s death was inevitable given all the lives he has destroyed and all of the potential motives of unknown killers. Mr.Chase was not interested in the identity of the killer or his motive but the inevitability of Tony’s pre-mature death. This argument may be supported by Alik Sakharov, ASC, the main director of photography for the Sopranos. Mr. Sakharov has shot 39 of the 86 episodes. More importantly, he shot the final episode. Mr. Sakharov’s words seem to rebut the “nobody left with a motive to kill Tony” argument which is especially relevant because he is discussing the final scene in Holsten’s. The following quote is from an audio interview with Mr. Sakharov for American Cinematographer Magazine just two weeks after the finale. Once again, Mr. Sakhorov is discussing the final scene in the context of the people in the diner who may or may not be a threat to Tony:

“Tony Soprano revolves around the people, many of whom he has hurt indirectly and directly. He is a very vulnerable character. The hit (on Tony) could come from anyplace, anytime, anywhere, and (by) anyone”

Also note Bacala’s own words about death as a way of life in the Mafia in the now crucial scene in “Sopranos Home Movies”: “Our line of work, it always out there. You probably don’t even hear it when it happens right?”.

It is also plausible that the hit could have been at the orders of Butchie. There appeared to be an agreement between Butchie and Tony but the exact way that the Phil Leotardo hit went down may have changed everything. Phil being killed right in front of his family and not being able to have an open casket (his head gets crushed by his SUV) may have crossed the line and embarrassed NY. Butchie has never been shy about killing Tony and the final season made it clear that the NY family has no respect for the NJ family. It is certainly plausible that there was a double cross. Also, it is the perfect retribution for Phil for Butchie to have Tony’s death occur right in front of his family. I feel that Chase left this point as the great “mystery” of the series.
(5) MOG’s actions did not indicate that he was a Professional Hit-man: Again, this is pure speculation. There could be dozens of reasons why MOG took his time in the diner. He may have needed to positively ID Tony before moving in for the kill. He may have wanted to “sell” to Tony that he was just a regular customer. More importantly, by going to the bathroom he is now behind Tony, a much easier shot. We are also assuming he is a professional hit-man. He may just be a man with a grudge who may have followed Tony to Holsten’s or just happened to discover Tony there and decided to kill him at that moment. Mr. Chase is not primarily interested in the realism of the scene. He is interested in created the most effective and suspenseful scene that he can make. There are dozens of other whacking’s on the show that are not entirely realistic. The primary purpose is to entertain the audience. The whacking of Bacala by two hit-men is an example of this. The hit-men can just as easily kill Bacala outside the toy train shop. We can assume the shop has camera’s (Bacala’s dialogue explains how expensive some of the toy trains are) and we know the shop has many witnesses including children. Yet, if they waited to kill him when he came outside then we would not have witnessed a spellbinding sequence contrasting Bacala’s death with the derailing of a model train (not to mention the irony of Bacala dying in the context of his childlike, innocent love for toy trains).
(6)If Tony was killed, Chase would tell us who did it and why: Not necessarily. A big part of this show is the surprises. How would Chase accomplish this task with scenes setting up Tony’s murder? Worse, how anti-climatic would it be if we find out the details after Tony is killed? Once Tony dies, the show is over. We experienced death through Tony’s eyes so we do not get to find out who killed him and why, just like Tony.
(7)Tony dying in the end and “paying for his sins” is not David Chase’s style: Actually it is. Take a look at the history of the show. The bad guys “get it” in the end. Although not in the way we would expect. We usually do not see them getting justice in the traditional way (i.e prison). It is usually premature, violent death-Richie, Ralphie, Tony B., Mikey Palmice, Eugene, Vito, Phil Leotardo, Christopher, Big Pussy, Jackie Jr., Bacala (notice this is right after his first killing) and many others. Silvio is near death. Other characters end up abandoned (Uncle Junior) and dying alone (Livia). Some do get sent to prison (Johnny Sack and Feech LaManna). Notice Chase goes out of his way to show us Paulie is not long for this world after being made capo of the jinxed Aprile crew.
(8)If Tony died, David Chase would have shown us his murder: A popular argument is that Chase would have shown MOG shoot Tony if he wanted us to believe that Tony died. After all, any death of a major character on the show has always been explicitly shown to the audience. However, Tony is not just any other character on the show. The viewer has been primarily following his story and has been inside Tony‘s head. Tony Soprano may be the most famous gangster in television and film history. Millions of fans have wondered what his death would “look like”. For this reason Chase cannot kill him in a cliché manner. A quick bullet to the head just does not work for Chase’s purposes. It is not an ending worth the character. We have also seen Tony shot on two previous occasions. Consequently, Chase crafted a way to show Tony’s death without showing anything explicit. More importantly, he avoided any of the cliché’s of a gangster’s on screen death. He created something no one could have predicted, a POV sequence that puts the viewer in Tony’s eyes at the moment that he is shot. David Chase had no interest in showing Tony dead and bloody and his family screaming in horror. Besides, David Chase already showed you what this would look like just a few scenes before when Phil Leotardo is killed right in front of his family. Instead, Chase creates a jarring cut to black through Tony’s eyes that is far more satisfying intellectually and emotionally. More importantly, it has never been done before and could not be predicted by anyone upon the first viewing.
So there it is, Tony met his violent end in Holsten’s. A major theme of the final season was death. Tony had a chance to reflect on his life after he was shot by Junior. He had a chance to change but ultimately failed. There would be no second chances after he was shot in Holsten’s. There would be no time to reflect on his life, just a quick bullet to his head. It is one of the great deaths in cinematic history. It is the anti-Scarface ending. Instead of a bullet ridden corpse we get to experience death as Tony would experience it. Tony Soprano and “us” never saw it coming.

**Update, 5/10/08:

I know my initial article "It's All There" was very long but I have updated and expanded it with the latest comments from Chase, an even closer look at the final scene and more. I have created a new section called "What does Tony's death mean? which incorporates many of the ideas of the original piece about Tony's coma-trip but significantly expands on them including exploring the central tension of the series (Tony's "Family" vs. family) from the pilot episode to the final scene in Holsten's. There is also an expanded "Godfather" section and a new section on how 9/11, terrorism and the war in Iraq unlock the mysteries of the final episode (this is based on new David Chase comments from GQ magazine which I dont think has been discussed on this site). So check it out below and thanks in advance for taking this journey with me!


Re: Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony

While this appears to be pretty comprehensive, richieaprile, and good for you for doing the work, it still seems to be one long discussion again going back to the Tony Dies/Tony Lives argument. I guess I thought you had stated it was to be more about the full show than that one piece of it. Disappointing, I have to admit.

Also, I don't see any discussion about the "full circle" references which one cannot deny were inherent in the final episodes. And I still fail to see how ANYTHING Chase has actually said supports ANY theory much less "Tony died."

With that said, nice work putting all this together. I imagine many folks are going to salivate over this and more power to them. Doesn't convince me however. It still doesn't explain the full run of the show and the more overarching themes I saw when watching. To each his own, I suppose. :)
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony

Actually Chase's new words seem to indicate Tony died. He says of the final episode when asked about the secret of the finale "If you look at the episode really carefully, it's all there". He says there is no "Lost" style mystery and ambiguity. To me he is saying there is a definite ending and it is not to be solved with obscure symbols and foreshadowing. If you take everything at face value in the final scene then Tony lived b/c he is alive the last time we see him. If you take everything at face value it is clear that Chase directed MOG as a possible threat to Tony. So what does Chase want us to "look really carefully" at??, (something that is not symbolism) in the scene? IMO it has to be the POV pattern that puts the blackout where Tony's POV would be in the final shot (corroborated by MOG's actions going to the bathroom behind Tony making the "never heard it coming" final scene perfectly plausible). We have to look at it "really carefully" b/c we would never see it on the first viewing. Chase used filmic languange to show Tony's death through directing and editing. Like he said "If you look really carefully, its all there".

But like you said, not trying to revive the debate.

Re: Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony

The POV pattern people discuss and you use is itself symbolism. Editing techniques and DP shots are not supposed to stand apart or alone from the work but rather to help establish the theme of the whole. That they are taken to "mean" something suggests that they are not simply helping the story along but moreso "directing" the idea. If used and "interpreted" in that manner, then it becomes the symbolism of his death.

So, if Chase says there is NO symbolism which I did not see but might have missed it, then I am not sure how his words point specifically towards any definite outcome. Maybe he simply wants to have his cake and eat it to. Perhaps he got stuck in an unintended consequence of his artistic choice and may be a little irritated that it has not been entirely read as he wished.

I don't know, but what he presented to me onscreen is fairly clear. I've had little trouble figuring out what it said. But that doesn't particularly agree with other interpretations and that is the lovely thing about art - once the artist completes his work, history judges it on the actual merit and artist intent no longer applies.
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony

[quote="richieaprile"].....(5)Bell rings, We cut to a shot of Tony’s face looking up to see who is coming through the door (this shot is about 2 seconds). According to the pattern, we should then see who is coming into the diner from Tony’s POV (this should be Meadow as we see her about to enter the diner a few seconds before the bell rings)....

...MOG is the only person ever seen outside of the door of Holsten’s before the bell rings (we see him opening the door just before we cut to Tony and hear the bell ring...quote]

First of all-Amazing paper which i am thoroughly enjoying reading, but just a contradictory detail in your discussion: First you note above in quote that Meadow was seen before entering Holsten's and before the sound of a bell is heard, then shortly after, you say that MOG is the only person ever seen outside Holsten's before the bell is heard. hmmm. But regardless (irregardless? sorry but i'm not the incredible writer/author that most Chase Lounge posters are!), --you're various points are still very good. :icon_biggrin:

Re: Analysis: "It's All There": How David Chase killed Tony

First of all-Amazing paper which i am thoroughly enjoying reading, but just a contradictory detail in your discussion: First you note above in quote that Meadow was seen before entering Holsten's and before the sound of a bell is heard, then shortly after, you say that MOG is the only person ever seen outside Holsten's before the bell is heard. hmmm. But regardless (irregardless? sorry but i'm not the incredible writer/author that most Chase Lounge posters are!), --you're various points are still very good.
Thanks and your comment is highly appreciated. I should modify it to say that MOG is the only patron seen opening the door to enter before the bell rings from the perspective of being inside of Holsten's. The final Meadow shot is an outside of Holsten's perspective.

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