The Essential Sopranos Reader

By David Lavery; Douglas L. Howard et al. | Go to book overview

The Sopranos and
the Closure Junkies

Paul Levinson

In the minutes after the sudden darkness at the end of The Sopranos, I struggled to make sense of what I had seen. Actually, that struggle lasted hours, days, months…years. In some diminished form, it’s still going on. And perhaps “struggle” is not the best word, because I’ve enjoyed this process. Like all fine intellectual jousts, there’s fun to be had in the clash of competing possibilities and theories, especially when they continue for years, and what I suspect will be decades and longer.

It was an ending like no other. On the one hand, nothing happened, life was apparently just going on for most of the characters, just as it had been for the six seasons of the series. On the other hand, maybe that was the most powerful ending of all—which, if so, would mean that something profound did happen.

Not everyone saw this in the ending. Some thought that something palpable and real had happened, had been clearly and explicitly signified, with the screen cut to silent black. They were sure that the guy who went to the bathroom had emerged with a gun in his hand, a hit in his heart, and shot Tony dead at the table. They were sure that the sudden darkness was Tony’s brain on bullets.

But what was such surety based upon? We in fact had not seen Tony shot, had not seen a gun in the bathroom guy’s hand, had not even seen him emerge from the men’s room. Fans of surety countered that the last images before the darkness were what Tony was seeing in the diner, so the sudden darkness was Tony being shot but not seeing it coming. This was buttressed by further evidence: Tony and Bobby talking about not seeing “it [death] coming” in “Soprano Home Movies” (6.13), Tony

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