Monday, June 11, 2007

Onion Rings. It All Ended With Onion Rings.

Last night was the end of the Sopranos. If you haven't seen the final episode and don't want to find out how it ended, I'd stop reading.... now. Okay, great, so now that everyone else is out of the picture, let's talk about what happened, and how it was a brilliant ending. That'd be a point of contention, right there. Last night I was alone with that opinion. Everyone else in the room threw up their hands, and felt that they'd been had. Immediate comparisons to the end of Seinfeld were brought up. Coincidentally, I think the end of Seinfeld was equally brilliant. The point being that there is no finality. No one goes on to anything, no big marriage, no new president, no extensive death of everyone montage, no hugs, just the best onion rings in New Jersey. It carried out the what to me, was the best part of The Sopranos, the reality of it. Through the whole series, there wasn't a hip new song, Tony's ringer was the Monday Night Football dunh dunh dunh duhh.

It was life as normal, as normal as it could be while resolving a hit that's been put on you by the New York families, as normal as it could be while blowing out the brains of Phil Leotardo, and then having his SUV pop his head into bits after his dead body fell into the track of the tire of the car in neutral. It was as normal as it's always been.

This season was about being confronted with reality. The reality of relationships, the reality of the family and when it falls short of your expectations. Meadow leaving med school for law school, A.J.'s depression, Paulie Walnuts' lack of ambition, Bobby's not wanting to hear about his wife's weird past, Christopher's addiction... When confronted with concrete evidence of their impossibility as parents, Tony and Carmella just give A.J. something to shut him up for a while, caving in to his whining. When confronted with the fact that psychoanalysts aren't saints, Dr. Melfi turns inwards and lashes out at Tony.

The general consensus of EVERYONE I talked to was that Tony was going to die last night. I wonder what their underlying motivation was for this. Was it national morbidity? Was it the feeling that he deserved it? He had killed Christopher with his bare hands, he'd blown his cousin's face off. Tony was a douchebag. Was that it? Or was it fatigue? The Sopranos had been on forever. Six and half seasons, with a couple of years of hiatuses. Was it just time for him to die?

The ending of course flew in the face of everyone's predictions. Maybe in spite of them? Maybe in the theory that a Sopranos movie or mini-series in the future would be viable? Meadow as a mob lawyer, A.J. spiraling out of control on drugs and directing pornos? Tony, stricken with diabetes and bed-ridden, a figurehead with the family both the true one and the figurative one destroying itself. Or maybe, as I feel, just a brilliant ending, like the end of Seinfeld. An ending in the tradition of the show, no spectaculars, no 3-D glasses.

The Seinfeld ending was one of the most reviled endings of all time. I'm not sure what people were expecting. What show were they watching? There wasn't any momentum towards anything, it was a show about nothing, and everyone loved it for that, why would they expect anything short of what happened? The four main characters got called out for what self centered people they could be, and ended up in jail for it. Maybe everyone hated it so much because it reflected on them. That they'd laughed or related to everything that Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine did, and when it was turned around and seen as what they did TO people, it was showing the mirror to the guy who woke up out of his car wreck coma. Or, maybe, it was just another episode about nothing. Seinfeld was certainly a popular television show, but it was also subversive, and the final episode it's most subversive. I think the ending will get more traction for it's greatness in the post Curb Your Enthusiasm landscape of television. I see the last episode of Seinfeld as a lost episode of Curb.

For The Sopranos, it all ended with onion rings, with lots of tension, like a cat pawing at mouse caught in the corner, there's that guy at the counter over there, why is Meadow having so much trouble with parking her stupid car? Shit! There's only a minute left! They wouldn't kill him in front of his family! No, they wouldn't. But, damn, those are some good onion rings.

1 comment:

Cangrejero said...

Excellent analysis. I didn't watch Seinfeld so I can't comment on that but I thought the ending was consistent with the show: life goes on, things don't always get wrapped up neatly. (i.e. Dr. Melfi's rape, the escaped Russian killing machine)

I replied to your comment over at my blog with more complete thoughts.