Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Phyllis likes the ending of The Sopranos, but Hank smells a Hollywood-sized rat

Hank: Phyllis, it says on the Internet that practically everybody in that diner at the end of The Sopranos had a connection to Tony's crew. The man at the counter we kept seeing was a Leotardo, Phil's blood relative, and there was a trucker whose brother was killed by Christopher, and two black men who tried to kill Tony once, and some boy scouts who--I forget, sugar. I don't know how I feel about this. On one hand, I am inclined to say that if the point is Tony Soprano spawned a lot of hard feelings and his bad karma is going to catch up with him any minute, that is cheap, and it is cheap to end the series with such a cute little in-joke. But then I think there is something poetic in the image of this feral, rapacious man, who has played at seeming human without ever learning a thing along the way, sitting uncomprehending in the midst of the carnage he's made. Made in America, like the poster says.

Darling, I am confused. The only thing I am sure of is that we are not supposed to think Tony will be killed in the diner that night. But was it a good ending or a bad ending? I cannot tell. Help me.

Phyllis: There sure are a lot people out there today commenting that they think Tony was killed in the diner surrounded by family--his own, and the families of people killed by Tony's other family. You know. The mob.

I don't know if Tony died last night. I don't really care all of a sudden, either, because the way it all ended, you know that eventually, he will die. And I don't think it's an in-joke having all those relatives of dead or wronged characters appear in the diner as extras, or as extra-special assassins. Because only the biggest nerds watching The Sopranos would recognize them. Without the recognition, the ending was tense, sensical, banal, right. Nothing changed.

I loved the last episode. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen I was wrong. And the blackout just made me think that that the ending, not the show, was about how we project our own expectations and ideas onto this family, this show. It was a meta-finale.

There will be no movie.

Hank: I am glad that you enjoyed the ending, sweetie, although I am not sure I understand the part about psychological projection and meta-whositz. Are you saying that Dr. Melfi got to direct the last episode? I don't think they would let her do that. It reminded me of the Seinfeld finale. Do you remember "No hugging, no learning"? The Sopranos hugged a lot, but they didn't mean it and they didn't learn anything. They also wound up in the same kind of limbo. The last time Tony looked up at the sound of the door, I was waiting to see Jerry and Elaine walk in when everything went black.

I certainly hope you are right and there is no Sopranos movie. But they always say there's going to be no movie. It's just like mobsters referring to their enemies as "our friends." I have already found three Sopranos movie treatments published on the Internet:

What Made Tony Run: In the opening scene, Tony is killed in the diner by Phil Leotardo's cousin Nikki. A public television reporter decides to make a documentary about the rise and fall of New Jersey's top crime boss, Tony Soprano: In the Shadow of the Five Families. She interviews friends, associates, antagonists, and family. Carmela speaks extensively about the role real estate development has played in coping with her pain. AJ refuses to talk and tries instead to sell movie rights to his version of the story, Unfortunate Son. The reporter, despite her best efforts, is never able to sort out whether Tony's dying word was "goomah!" or just "Ma!"

The Sopranos Behind Closed Doors: After finishing their meal, the Sopranos get up to leave the diner but find that they cannot. The doors have vanished. Even bullets cannot shatter the windows. Tony tries to call Paulie to come and get them out, but there is no cell signal inside the diner. They spend eternity playing songs by Journey, Styx, and REO Speedwagon, ordering fries and desserts every few hours, and keeping a wary eye on their fellow customers.

My Dinner With Silvio: In the opening scene, the entire family is killed in the diner. Nikki Leotardo shoots Tony, the truck driver stabs AJ because he won't stop whining, and the Boy Scouts rape Carmela and Meadow and then kill them to keep them from talking. This sequence, directed by Quentin Tarantino, is nine minutes long and lovingly, graphically brutal. A title card then appears on the screen: "Five Years Later". Cut to a trattoria in Little Italy, where a mechanical-voicebox-equipped Silvo Dante has a far-ranging conversation about the Sopranos and about life over gabagool with Janice Soprano, who has founded a chain of yoga studios.

I was hoping they would kill Tony to save David Chase's soul. How else can a producer walk away from that much sequel/spinoff cash?