My analysis of the final scene of the Sopranos, thus the entire show itself, and how it relates to Buddhism, quantum physics, all in a nutshell, or should I say bell?
Even though we have probably done this a million times, for my own sake maybe but if not for the enjoyment and expansion of others already amazing analysis and explanations. I pay respect and homage to all the work and observations others have made. This is my own attempt to analyze this last scene, but in doing so, it opens up the can of worms that is the entire show itself, as I will try to show, and as undoubtedly others have shown already here before. Im not trying to claim anything new is being discovered, just adding my own final synthesis of ideas after this most recent rewatch of the entire show. This final scene has a very religious Last Supper feeling even though Chase and Co initially tried to say that there wasn't any deep meaning, but we know there really is, he's just being humble about it and allowing the mystery to exist, which is the mark of a good artist. I have now a theory that i have yet to test though. I have this theory that from maybe as early as season 5 that Tony already died and or is dreaming a majority of the stuff we see. I have yet to test it, but for some reason the final scene alludes to this for me. I definitely think there is more to the peyote sequence than I had originally noticed. It kind of made me aware that maybe more scenes were dreams than I noticed. One thing I did notice and its dramatically different. The first 4 seasons were definitely filmed using a different technique because the last 2\3 seasons were filmed in a very dream like veneer, almost David Lynch like. I also think that Chase deliberately filmed the last scene packed with so much in it because of the DVD age we are in that allows us to comb over every little detail we see in movies. The DVD era has been a theme even discussed in dialogue on the show. Anyway, without further ado, please"Bear with me."....
First, one thing to mention before we begin. In season six we see the emphasis of "bells" sprinkled throughout. Since we know that this show has a sort of Buddhist subtext as well, its safe to say that it has the buddhist meaning of bells infused into it. Bells are used in buddhism not only for meditation but to signify or bring about change in conciousness, or energy, similar to the guy who works at BELL(!!!) labs tells Tony.
Getting the drift here? ok Good but in case not heres more. For example, the song about “all the chapel bells were ringing” played earlier, the boat dock in “Soprano home movies” rang almost exactly the same tone as the one as the door in the diner, a bell rang as Paulie hit the young Barone guy in the knee, a bell rang as Tony was first wheeled out of the hospital etc. So its no mistake that in the diner there is a "bell" that rings each time some one walks in. The bell in other scenes has been connected to significant events that were happening in the plot lines. We will be revisiting this significance throughout this analysis. As Tony walks into a diner the song lyric "All that you dream" is heard clearly as you see Two Tonys, him and his reflection on the door.
BELL RINGS FIRST TIME
He then sits in a booth that behind him has huge "varsity style athletes" and a New Jersey High School building, just like the one the coach is in the basement of in "test dream". State Champions 1973 is seen. 1973 evoking the time period Tony would've been struggling to be a "varsity athlete". This is not a random placement as has been discussed. ITs purpose is obviously to evoke the whole coach\varsity athlete thing. Also how when he walks in the strange camera sequence where Tony is looking at himself. Its obvious that Chase is attempting to do at least this with that one particular sequence. Place Tony in the room in relationship to where MOJ (members only jacket) guy eventually goes to the bathroom as to orient him in the location where the blind spot would be, much like the way we see Phil get clipped, from the same direction, a blind spot on the camera. Tony sits at the Booth by himself, not his favorite thing to be as we have seen on the show. He predictably starts to get bored and flips though the old style personal jukeboxes at the table. The song lists that ensue are like a virtual goldmine of words that resonate to storyline plotlessness through out the show. We hear the lyric played very clearly over the scene as he looks at the song list "Into your life.." and thats exactly what the song list does. It takes us on a metaphorical look into HIS life.
The first song of not thats visible is not one song but two songs together one above the other forming the statement "Somewhere in the night" and "My baby drives a Buick". This being resonating with the cars that we see gangsters driving in the old days, buick style cars. And we know what those cars do "somewhere in the night" if you know what Im saying... The next pairing of songs making a phrase we see is "Those were the days" with "Turn Turn Turn" making another interesting statement . As if to say this final scene is the Turn Turn Turn of the page. Then we see the next pairing of words statement "Only the strong survive" with "Because I love you." Which resonates to how Tony only survives really because of Carmela and Meadows love for him, metaphorically and literally in some cases as we have been shown earlier in this season especially. But ironically right below that we see one last visible song title showing a the sense of humor of the whole show "victim of love" is the only other visible song. The next songfest pairings we see as Tony "Turns Turns Turns"i s "Ive gotta be me" with "A Lonely Place" as if to say Tony's constant need to just "be me" has finally left him as usual, in "a Lonely place" at the end of his life. The next songs we see paired together are "This magic moment" with "Since I don't have you".
The first song being one that was used to end "sopranos home movies" as Baccala comes home after clipping the guy in Canada. Evoking that idea of "this magic moment" being death but also life. But the pairing of that with "Since I don't have you" makes you think of the loss his family will experience after "this magic moment". The next song pairing we see is "crystal blue persuasion" with and interesting "I'm Alive" song title. This evokes to me the image of neon lights of blue that are always in places of persuasion for Tony. The second title being a poke at the death\life idea of whether we the audience will see this as him dying or living. The last visible title is again solo saying "June night" resonating of course with "uncle june" as he was so often called. The next shot is a waitress getting the order of the table behind Tony, its the same waitress who is later walking behind Tony as Meadow rushes into the diner. The next shot is in the kitchen where we see guys flipping burgers. We return back to Tony flipping through he songs. This time the camera goes in close as if to let us know the titles of the songs ARE significant indeed in case there was any doubt.
BELL RINGS Second time
A young "Janice" look alike walks in right as he flips through the songs "who you gonna run to" and "magic man" by HEART fitting right into the last conversation he had with her. About "I need to find another" magic man to run to. Tony then flips the song and we see the song titles "Magic man (live)" "Don't stop believing." "Anyway you want it." So picking that apart, first we have the words "magic man" appearing again but this time the word (live) is more visible. Maybe meaning the "magic man" is the one that lives on after you? "don't stop believing" of course is the song he eventually ends up choosing. "Any way you want it." could mean two things. Us the audience can have it "any way you want it" OR it resonates to Tonys need to always have it anyway HE "wants it". Next, just in case we missed it, the camera once again zooms in on song titles "Rock it Billy" "I've Gotta be me" and "A Lonely Place" as if to further drive the symbolism of the titles home in the viewer. Camera turns back onto Tony looking up towards the doors as the,
BELL RINGS Third time
Man walks in wearing a outfit resonating with the Scantino bustout. Outdoor gear and a “USA” hat, all kind of reminiscent of the goods they plundered towards the end of that era of the show way back when. Tony doesn’t see him as any threat as he goes ahead and puts the money in the jukebox to select the song “Don’t stop believing.” As the song starts
BELL RINGS fourth time
Stopping right here for a moment to explain that we now will switch to pairing the actual lyrics of this song to the images to actual themes throughout the show itself. This is important, and was done previously in the very initial scene that starts Season 6 with the William Burroughs songs about the souls. This last scene is done in a very similar way albeit in a much quicker pace.
In walks Carmela. She sees Tony and smiling at him, walks towards the booth. Tony looks relieved yet stressed, like he’s trying to hide how stressed he really is from Carmela. A theme throughout once again. The camera goes to the young couple in the booth, who resemble a younger version of Carmela and Tony in their high school days.
We then see a table with what appears to be 3 Cub scouts.
Cub being a resonator back to the whole “Bear” idea. The “cub” leader has a slight resemblance to Phil. We hear the first lyric of the song “just a small town girl” as Carmela takes her coat off. We’ve gotten the feeling a few times through out the show that Carmela was indeed more of a “small town girl” so the lyric is perfect. Tony greet her with a tense “Hey." which gets a tense “Hey.” in response. She smiles but it appears strained as the lyric “Living in a lonely world” is heard. This is so true for Carmela, she has surely been one of the loneliest characters in the entire show. She lets out a deep sigh as if in duress as the camera turns to Tony. The lyric “He took the midnight train going anywhere.” is heard as he sighs in response as if they are both acknowledging the tension.
She picks up her menu looking it over as if to pretend theirs not “ a five hundred ton elephant hanging over them”.Camera turns back to Tony as the lyric “Just a city boy.” Carmela says “What looks good tonight?” as if subconsciously admitting how everything else looks so bad in comparison. She shifts nervously in her booth, noticeably, as if on edge more than usual. Camera turns back onto Tony saying “Eh, I don’t know.” acting apathetic and distracted. Even though they are in a Burger joint with a very limited menu. So this a deliberate reenactment of many of previous conversations throughout the show between Tony and Carmela. This is a encapsulation if you will, of their whole dilemma. Tonys always distracted, Carmelas always asking questions that never get answered. Tony sniffs too, as a further dismissal of the tension. A tick almost he has had through out the show in moments like this. Tony asks her “Wheres Gagootz?” as the camera shows them both looking over the menu. Carmela answers “He just called, he’s on his way.” Tony nods as Camela then adds “Meds coming separately because she had to go to the Dr. Switch birth control.” This makes Tony look visibly more uncomfortable to hear as he puts his tongue into his cheek looking down. Next it cuts to the USA hat guy seated getting his coffee with 3 creamers.
We see he’s reading a paper, or maybe just pretending to, like Carmela and Tony pretending to read the menu. He pours sugar into the coffee. The camera returns to Tony and Carmela still looking at the menus. Carmela looks up and asks, “Did you talk to Mink again?” Mink being the attorney but almost feels like a wink back to her mink coat as well. As she asks Tony the question, her heavy breathing clearly shows she is very stressed out. Tony, feeling stressed replies sadly, “its Carlo. He’s gonna testify.” We see the fear in Carmelas eyes ever present and potent. She slightly shakes her head in disapproval. The lyric captures the frustration they feel as it sings "It goes on and on and on and on"
BELL RINGS Fifth time
This is the end of Part One of this analysis