What, you didn't see the final scene last night? You thought your TV set was broken? You didn't pay your cable bill, or HBO lost the satellite connection? Maybe they ran out of time? The hour was up, and HBO had to start its new Johnny Rotten from Cincinnati show?
This is what you actually missed in the final scene, according to my usually reliably informed sources:
The family is eating. What else? The Sopranos should have been on the Food Channel, if you ask me.
A guy gets up from his stool at the counter in Hoesten's Luncheonette on Broad Street in Bloomfield, having finished his delicious Wet Walnut sundae. He starts to walk towards the Soprano family table. And hands Tony a subpoena.
The FBI has uncovered evidence that Tony was involved in a long cold case, the shooting of JR. In exchange for his cooperation, Tony enters the Witness Protection Program, and comes back as Paris Hilton where he will get to do his aria, "Mommy, it's not right." It is an offer Tony couldn't refuse.
Did you really think that after six seasons, a great creative genius like David Chase would end with a blackout? Silly you.
The ending Sunday night was considered great art in Los Angeles. It's technically known as "Sopranos interruptus."
While I was glad Tone, as we devotees of Da Sopranos called him, didn't get killed, what most of the TV Nation was expecting, and I was happy that T's loved ones survived, I thought the last episode was terrible. Not since Geraldo opened Al Capone's Vault in the 1980's reality TV classic had I been so disappointed. An example of promising them everything and giving them nothing, the final episode made me feel snookered and artistically betrayed.
There could have been all kinds of classical endings. Forget Roman mythology. Shakespeare. I'm talking about Twin Peaks. Even Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing. Chase chose instead "Hello Seinfeld," a finale about nothing.
They say he had nine endings in the can. Woke up yesterday morning and got himself an ending. I don't believe it. That was hype. I think what we saw is what we got.
At least it wasn't a reunion show like the two hour M*A*S*H. Bringing back a Big Pussy from the bottom of Raritan Bay and all those other corpses with missing body parts might have been hard to take.
This was supposed to be the season that would tie up all the loose strings from the five previous seasons. Instead it left even more wild cards. What was that business with the cat staring at the picture? Was it a reincarnation of Christopher or was she Adriana? And what was that nonsense about Meadow having trouble double-parking her car?
There are two ways to look at what we didn't see from David Chase Sunday night. The man is a genius, the greatest storyteller since Aaron Spelling. Or he is a hoaxter?
Count me in the latter group. This ending was his idea of a joke. He was making fun of the audience who had gotten so hooked on a story that we treated the characters as real people. We were members of the family, even though we weren't Italian-Americans. It showed his contempt for the folks at home. He was casting pearls before the swine.
I'm of two minds about his motives.
First, Chase was afraid to tell us what he thought all of this meant. Usually, it's called a moral. Did the means justify the ends? Was Chase's moral the public likes sex and violence? Whatever. The black screen could be Chase's bid to become the Jean Paul Sartre of TV soap opera. There was nothing to it all, as existentialism argued. Life was zilch, bubkus.
To be fair, the moral highlight of the series already occurred in the penultimate episode when Tony decried the lack of morality in society when Dr. Melfi dropped him as a patient.
It could also be that he didn't know what it all meant. Going to black was his way of pleading intellectual bankruptcy. Or he didn't remember. Six years was a long time of stringing us a long.
On the positive side, there could have been an ulterior motive for ending the show with a blank screen. In Hollywood, it's called keeping your options open. By not killing Tony, it will be easier to come back for yet one more season to tie up loose ends -- like telling us whatever happened to the Russian in the Pine Barrens? -- before segueing into Da Sopranos: da Movie.
Not that death is final in TV. Many characters in TV rise from the dead.
For one thing there is the miracle cure: the dream. If Tony had the misfortune of being prematurely dead in the final episode, it could be argued it was all a bad dream, caused by Tony's finishing off the last of the lasagna in the fridge after midnight.
In the business of commercial TV, it's all about $$$$$. The curse of money makes even artistic giants do strange things in Hollywood.
Few people realize that the creator of this smash HBO series is an Italian-American who changed his name. Before he changed it to Chase, my sources tell me, he was David Banco di Napoli.
Anyway, it ain't over until the fat Soprano sings.