Best Ending Ever
Point the first:
The oft-quoted line from Bobby Bacala: “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, right?” and his follow-up about how everything just goes black. Well, everything went black Sunday.
Point the second:
I’ve read other interviews in the previous days where David Chase seems to be angry that fans either mishear lines of dialogue or misread parts of episodes. Everything is meticulous, and everything is there.
Point the third:
Chase’s said that the ending was meant to be “entertaining,” not audacious.
Point the merely anecdotal evidence:
The actors seemed pretty content with what went down. Chase probably explained it to them. Michael Imperioli was particularly supportive. That probably wouldn’t be the case with a completely ambiguous finish.
Add them up, and I think Tony is dead and that it is clear. I hope I worded that right this time and the substance of the argument comes through.
It was the perfect ending. Chase has been excoriated for insisting on doing things “his way,” and breaking conventional TV storytelling rules by letting Tony live, but he is anknowledged student of the well-defined gangster genre in which the boss dies. In an interview with NJ.com, he writes:
I’m the Number One fan of gangster movies. Martin Scorsese has no greater devotee than me. Like everyone else, I get off partly on the betrayals, the retributions, the swift justice.
Chase did things “his way” not by flipping the script, but by tweaking it; he bypassed the Scarface/Sonny Corleone “hail of bullets” scene for something worthy of his show. The (anti-) hero died in silence, just like everyone else. You don’t end the best TV show all time without a bang. But who says you need to show the bang?
What finally convinced me — and it took awhile — spurred from my initial reading of Bill Simmons’ thoughts on the show: he had no problem with an ambiguous ending, he wrote, but he thought that there was a better way to execute the ending than to make everyone think their cable went out. Which we did.
I agreed with Simmons right up until I didn’t. It would have been less confusing for me in the short term if the screen went blank for merely two seconds, but there was a reason it didn’t: the black screen was the final shot of the series, not the absence of a series. The blank screen was the absence of Tony; millions are screaming that they “don’t get it” straight into that void, but Tony can’t hear you. He’s dead. The construction of the entire scene was perfect, and will be studied in film schools starting yesterday: we’ve seen bloody murders before and we didn’t need to see them again. If you needed a resolution, the void was it. If you needed to see it, you’ll never be satisfied. But either way, he’s gone. You can sleep again.