Sunday, June 10, 2007

Initial reactions to Made in America: Is that All There Is? Sopranos Final Episode

First reaction. An initial state of stupefaction (then a slightly fainter echo of Timothy Noah's vehemently expressed opinion already up on Slate (see below for link). Best expressed by the inimitable Miss Peggy Lee.

Press Play to Listen >> Is That All There Is?

Second reaction. It's not so bad. Okay, so there's definitely the extremely strong possibility of leaving the door open for a Sopranos movie. Whew. Chase did end on Journey's Don't Stop Believing, specifically on the words "Don't Stop." Then dead silence. A very interesting choice indeed.

Third reaction. Maybe Chase really is quite cynical about human nature. Darnit. I'm often cynical (cyclically cynical, these days being on the downside what with Bush, Cheney, et al). But it also means I'm mostly okay for now upon realizing that both of Tony's families continue, warts, self-delusions, psychoses and all. Probably getting worse, not better. Did you notice how easily AJ was distracted from such overwhelmingly serious life and death issues to the most superficial, venal and equally corrupt and dehumanizing of ventures as T.'s own enterprises? (i.e., Hollywood; once again Chase having his cake and eating it too).

But then again what 'typical' American parents (especially on either coast) aspiring for their children's futures wouldn't desperately want to talk/manipulate/entice/bribe their precious young childling out of joining any war, especially this immoral gawd-awful, unending, body-maiming, unjust, cursed war?

And being bought off. Well, it's also 'typical' of so many middle/upper middle class/wealthy/privileged/entitled American teens isn't it? How they're socialized? It's what mass media reinforces up the 'Ying Yang' as Tony might say. Meandering if not flitting from one craze or distraction to the next, what with ADHD and the infinite possibilities of so many consumer choices. Consuming, buying, gas-guzzling right along with Mom and Dad, (and all the rest of us). At least that's the message we're left with. Again, pretty cynical of Chase. Crikey. They're supposed to be our future and all that.

And was Tony's cynical view of women as recently discussed with Dr. Melfi about to be 'borne' out with possible news of Meadow's pregnancy??

Tony's self-referential hijacking of the therapy session was a reminder of how uninterrupted his narcissism remains. That was a classic scene with a classic Tony. Worth the price of admission for that scene definitely.

James Wolcott has some interesting first impressions too.
A few quick points about the Sopranos finale: too much overlaying of soundtrack top-40 tunes and TV/movie clips, as if the creatives were trying to cut and paste a thick collage of Added Significance and Cultural Associations, and the reaction shot of the guy puking after ----'s head was melon-squashed by the car wheel was a cheap fillip. And all the A.J. stuff--useless; pointless. Liked the cat, though; it showed commendable poise and dignity in the face of Paulie's patented snarl of churlish hostility and overacting.

...All of the muddle was redeemed by the supreme construction of tension in the diner--such crosscutting!--and its lack of resolution, as if David Chase, chuckling maliciously, was denying forever the audience's desire for climax and catharsis.
I don't agree that the A.J. stuff was ALL useless -- maybe a little too much, but I think it made the point about the cycles of family development, the most venal aspects of growing up in such excessive capitalism, etc. I too loved the cat. Loved it. (Chase's sly foreboding warning to us that only the smile of the Cheshire Cat will remain?)

Then again with so many loose ends (we've learned to expect them from Chase even if we hate them -- like Timothy Noah's most recent Slate post expresses so vociferously), the door is open for future adventures in Soprano-land. For me, for now, that's enough.

At least it wasn't as bad as the horrible Seinfeld finale. Still ... disappointment lingers. Can't help having wanted something more satisfying. Chase seems to have wanted a little to much to tweak Tony's adoring fans and the series loyal viewers. Yeah, a little too much bafungoo from Chase in the end. Ingrate.

Footnote: After what felt like some sort of unsatisfying ambiguously contradictory yet sorta satisfying betrayal by The End of the Sopranos (not completely sure yet if it is but darn if I don't feel a little like Carm right now -- maybe it's a gut-reaction pushback to Chase's choice to force us into Cold Turkey, his having the last laugh...the joke's always on us in Soprano-land isn't it?) -- anyway, John from Cincin-whatever...definitely disappointing. How could it be otherwise?

But wait! What does it all mean? Was Tony whacked? Were we whacked (metaphorically speaking) by Chase? It's looking deeper and more loaded with weighty symbolism and messages all the time. An allegory for us, for our times, for our culture, nation, world all the time.

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