THE BLOG
06/11/2007 11:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Sopranos: Afterthoughts on the Aftermath

Art is fundamentally ironic and destructive. It revitalizes the world. Its function is to create inequalities, which it does by means of contrasts.
-- Victor Shklovsky

Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

-- Journey, "Don't Stop Believing"

The final scene -- the whole sequence unfolding as the Journey song played -- was a tour de force, foregrounding all the formal means by which we can be manipulated to expect that a build-up of tension will result in some decisive event. And then it cuts out before the word "believing" in the song, in a way that leaves us momentarily uncertain whether the blank screen is a technical failure, the medium itself disrupting the story.

Of course, anything could have then happened. The empty screen could be the moment of Tony's death:The shifty guy who headed to the bathroom (overtones of The Godfather) might have come back shooting....The black kids might have been there to rob the place....The reaction shots of Tony made those interpretations of the situation plausible.

Or it might be that none of the above is true -- the guy might just need to piss, the kids are stopping by for ice cream, and life goes on. "On and on and on and on," in the words of the song, which was huge when Tony and I were in high school. (The realization of age-cohort overlap whenever Tony listens to "his" music was, for me, always part of the texture of experience in watching the show: a moment of identification that was also kind of jolting.)

And AJ, alienated critic of the military/entertainment industrial complex, is reconciled to everything the second he can find a place in it.