Monday, June 11, 2007

End of the Sopranos: Is that all there is? (follow up to initial reactions to Made in America)

One Final Post Script (follow up to the previous post which includes an mp3 of Miss Peggy Lee singing"Is That All There Is?"

Chase's brilliance seemingly remains intact after all is said and done. After all, so many of us Sopranos afficionados are still chewing it over, taking second and third and continuing bites from the apple....revisiting, re-thinking, re-analyzing (probably re-watching the repeats?) ... it's even more complex and confounding the more I think about it. More depressing in some ways, in fact.

The final scene: Tony looks up, immediately fade to black, we hear the tinkling of the door as presumably Meadow walks in. Nothing. More. Only dark silence. Was Meadow the last thing Tony saw? Was the tinkling bell Tony's last conscious sound on earth?

Didn't Bobby ask in the first episode of this final season, (a memory Tony recalled just previously in The Blue Comet) while they were sitting in the boat on the lake, something along the lines of "You probably never even hear it when it happens to you do you?" ... In other words, Life fades to black. Period. Shades of Livia. Rebuttal to Tony's peyote-induced claim to Melfi that "there's something else beyond this."

So maybe there is no Sopranos movie after all. Maybe the menacing guy going into the bathroom was an homage to Michael Corleone's initiation into becoming a 'made' guy, committing his first 'official' blood ritual murder in the unforgettable restaurant scene in the Godfather, when Michael the American War Hero became made into his father's family business by retrieving a hidden gun from behind the toilet in the men's restroom, going back into the restaurant and blam! He blows the corrupt police captain and the other mobster guys away. Michael becomes made in America.

Or maybe the title "Made in America" is a sly insider riff on the Sopranos eating out -- for the first and only time I can remember -- in an all-American style cafe -- they're not eating Italian dishes: ziti, chicken parm, pasta with gravy, gabagool -- nothing remotely Italian. It's 'made in America' hamburgers and onion rings at a juke joint (actually an ice cream parlor from what I've read). And earlier, during the discussion about Carlo (insignificant in mytharc, another Chase 'trick'), Tony and his lawyer were eating burgers and fries from the Bada Bing (or wherever they were meeting). And Bobby's funeral -- weren't all the catered dishes shown 'American' only?

But then whaddo I know? Except that the desire to 'get it' to truly understand the point of it all continues for now. Was this a worthwhile JOURNEY* after all? Yeah, sure it was. What is the point if not the journey, the voyage, not merely the destination? Did Chase answer all -- or any -- of our questions? Leave us hanging sadistically? Or encourage us to consider whether the point of the mundane daily struggle is to do more than just exist, more than merely survive while hoping for more than the nihilistic cynicism of Livia Soprano's legacy. Or is Chase's point simply that the mundane IS all there is? And if so that we simply find myriad ways to entertain ourselves, to waste our lives, waste our time on frivolous entertainments? While the David Chases of the world laugh all the way to the bank (and to France, Italy, wherever they buy their European mansions). Who can say?

*(Journey was the band playing on the jukebox -- Carm and Tony's special song from High School if I recall from a long ago episode; the final one ending with the words "Don't Stop" as Tony sharp-cut fades to black)

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