I have been perusing the message boards tonight to see the reaction to the series ending episode of The Sopranos and it seems the natives are restless. Many seem to feel it is a cop out and that all the creators of the show did was set it up for a possible feature film or a “to be continued” at some other time. They say they are disappointed with this “non-ending.”

I can’t disagree more.

In fact, I think it is a brilliant ending that befits the entire series.

What made this series is that there was always a sense of foreboding, a sense that violent death could occur at any time. It pervaded the series through and through. At the end of some episodes, when nothing bad happened, you never felt a sense of relief. Maybe a tad bit of disappointment, but never relief. No relief was ever in the offing because there was more to come and the violence and shock was always just around the corner. The tension never let up.

Tony seemed like the lovable rake until he snapped and strangled someone with his bare hands his friends were never safe from either his ire or the ire of those he crossed. This is one of the few series where major characters died in every season. From Big Pussy, to Chris’ girlfriend Adriana, to Christopher himself, among so many others, major character’s lives were never safe during the run of this show. Just like that of real gangsters who’s lives dangle by a thread because of their unsettled and dangerous avocation.

(Warning, spoilers are here. If you have not seen the episode do not read further)

The whole last show was replete with warnings of death. Talismans of death and harbingers float in and out of frame. It swirls around Tony like a whirlwind. Yet, as the show progresses, we come to think he and the surviving members of his crew might be out of the woods.

We maybe even get the haunting feeling that doomed Uncle Junior is still on his game as Tony confronts him at long last in the mental ward. Joon gives a slight, sardonic smile during Tony’s questioning. Is he still in there? Playing at the mental case to escape his fate? Maybe, maybe not. We never get a full answer, but doubt remains. Hope remains that he isn’t lost to the mists of mental degradation.

AJ seems back on track, Meadow, Tony’s daughter is doing well, Sil is not, but at least he’s alive. Things might be OK at long last?

The family has all come out of hiding sure that they have made nice with the bosses in New York. It all went too far, they say. It’s done. Even the Fed that has occasionally slipped Tony intel over the years accidentally let’s his relief over come him in front of another agent. “We WON!”, he yelps, only to become self-conscious by the outburst.

Still, as Tony sits down with his family to eat in a highly public, family styled restaurant, we aren’t sure it’s over. There’s that tension still. Something still seems unresolved, something unsettling is still hanging over us. Tony sits with his back to the doors to the bathrooms. A goomba looking man has been staring at Tony from the counter since he entered. What is this guy’s problem? Why does he keep glancing at Tony. He seems smooth, not worried. What gives him this sense of resolve? Is he not aware that Jersey and New York have made up? What is his deal?

The goomba lurches past the booth where Tony sits and disappears into the darkness of the doorway that is situated at Tony’s back. We see him no more in these waning seconds of the episode.

Meadow is having trouble parallel parking, but finally gets the chore done. She runs across the street to join her family at the booth inside the restaurant. Will she get hit by a car as she hurriedly crosses the street? What seems so uncomfortable? We hear the bell of the restaurant door opening.

Tony looks up with that affable expression.

Then…

The screen goes black.

No music plays as the credits roll.

End series.

WHAT??? THAT’S IT??? Scream these disgruntled fans on the message boards. “This is ALL there is to the ending?”, they carp.

Yes, that’s it. And I’ll tell you why it is brilliant.

This series wasn’t really “The Sopranos”, this series was Tony Soprano. It is and was all about him. From the therapist’s office to the Bada Bing to the kitchen getting coffee to the occasional bloody murder, this show was all about Tony Soprano.

Now, remember a few episodes back when Tony and his doomed brother in Law, Bobby, were talking in that boat on the lake? Remember how they were saying that no one hears or sees the one that ends up getting you in the end? Bobby sure didn’t. He turned around in a toy store and two full magazines of 9MM bullets from two New York thugs snuffed him out. He didn’t even have a chance to say a word. One minute admiring a toy train the next split second cast into the great here after.

Boom, boom, boom. Over. There was no indication he even realized what was happening.

So, here we have that last scene of the series. A goomba looking man enters a black doorway behind Tony. Tony looks up to see Meadow enter the restaurant at the tingling of the door bell.

Then blackness.

You see, Tony neither heard nor saw the “one that got him”.

And, since the show was all about Tony Soprano, when he ceased to be… so did the show.

Blackness.

No more music.

Into the great here after.

Brilliant.

And at long last, the tension is over. And we all get our just rewards in the end.

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