David Chase is writing a book about the Sopranos, and like any good huckster he's got a hook to make you plunk down your money. He tells you how the series ended.
I include myself among the many who were frustrated with the last episode. As all America is aware, the episode did not so much conclude as it simply stopped.
Rather than wrap everything up, Chase left viewers with an ambiguous coda, filled with hints that something terrible had happened to Tony -- and perhaps to his family. Was Tony killed by the brother of a rival? Did his family die with him?
Left to read the clues, many saw a strong suggestion that the mob life had finally come back to haunt him. Like so many others, he died a violent death.
I was frustrated with the ending for many reasons. Chase apparently wanted viewers to use their imaginations. But even with a conventional ending, we still would. Further, we watched because we liked Chase's vision of the characters. As their creator, he knew them better -- and we wanted him -- as the storyteller -- to let us know how everything ended. Lastlyr, there's the lure of movies -- which might lead Chase later to get specific about what happened. If Chase returned to the world of the Sopranos, he would reveal it anyway. Little did we expect it would come just a few months later, in a book:
'SOPRANOS" creator David Chase has a pretty good idea what happens to Tony and family after the famous black-out finale.
"People have said that the Soprano family's whole life goes in the toilet in the last episode. That the parents' whole twisted lifestyle is visited on the children," Chase says in a new, defintive book about the mob opera.
"And that's true - to a certain extent," he says in The Sopranos: The Complete Book," which is excerpted in the upcoming edition of Entertainment Weekly magazine...
For months, Chase has said he had nothing in mind - and certainly not Tony's death, as many fans speculated - when he decided to fade the series to black without resolution after eight years and 84 episodes.
In the book, he lets on that he has indeed thought deeply about how his famous characters ended up, after all.
Chase says he wasn't surprised by the angry reaction of "Sopranos" fans who complained the show's finale didn't give them "closure."
"There was so much more to say than could have been conveyed by an image of Tony facedown in a bowl of onion rings with a bullet in his head. Or, on the other side, taking over the New York Mob," he says.
"The way I see it is that Tony Soprano had been people's alter ego. They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie and cheat. They had cheered him on.
"And then, all of a sudden, they want to see him punished for all that.
"They wanted to see his brains splattered on the wall. I thought that was disgusting, frankly.
"The pathetic thing - to me - was how much they wanted his blood, after cheering him on for eight years."
Chase 'certainly' didn't have in mind Tony's death? He scripted an ending which made that a reasonable -- even likely -- outcome. He must have realized many would envision it. If it was important to him -- important enough to throw cold water on it later -- why did he leave it hanging that way? If he didn't want us to ruminate on Tony's demise, why didn't Chase write an ending?
Hasn't Chase now given us the worst of all possible worlds? He invited us to craft our own endings, then told millions that their conclusion is wrong. What's the point in that? This is especially true since he seems to want to use the 'his' ending to sell a book. That's shameless.
After inviting us to imagine the conclusion -- and implicitly telling us that our imagination was as valid as his -- I've got bad news for Chase. His ending is wrong. Tony got killed.