OK, so earlier today I excerpted a NY Post article that says the following:
AFTER ONION RINGS
TONY LIVES: CHASE
..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.
Can you see why I inferred that Chase was saying that Tony lived?
A commenter in the earlier post pointed me directly to the Entertainment Weekly interview in question:
You know there were many people who thought the end was brilliant.
Sure. But I must say that even people who liked it misinterpreted it, to a certain extent. This wasn't really about ''leaving the door open.'' There was nothing definite about what happened, but there was a clean trend on view — a definite sense of what Tony and Carmela's future looks like. Whether it happened that night or some other night doesn't really matter...
Are they wasting their time? Is there a puzzle to be solved?
There are no esoteric clues in there. No Da Vinci Code. Everything that pertains to that episode was in that episode. And it was in the episode before that and the one before that and seasons before this one and so on. There had been indications of what the end is like. Remember when Jerry Toricano was killed? Silvio was not aware that the gun had been fired until after Jerry was on his way down to the floor. That's the way things happen: It's already going on by the time you even notice it.
Are you saying...?
I'm not saying anything. And I'm not trying to be coy. It's just that I think that to explain it would diminish it.
So there you have it. David Chase still wanted us to use our imagination, but at least he validates what most imagined: Tony Soprano died.