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Television Review: The Sopranos – “Made in America”

So it’s the end of The Sopranos. After six seasons and more than eight years of redefining television, America’s favorite mob family goes off the air.

Brilliant would be the one word I’d use to describe the finale. Now I realize that many viewers were expecting, and hoping for, some sort of huge explosion of a finale. They probably were looking to see Tony, Phil, or someone close to Tony get whacked. But instead, series creator David Chase (who wrote and directed this series finale) gave us an ending that no one expected. To close an entire series on a black screen and dead silence leaving us all wondering what just happened is extremely risky. Especially considering many fans despise the fact that Chase has left many holes in the overall story, things he’s never come back to and frankly feels need no resolution.

The first thing that came to mind as the series closed (my heart pounding with the expectation of something enormous about to go down) was likely what many others thought out loud: “What the! Did the signal cut out or something? What’s happening!” And then after those few short seconds of silence and black, the credits reveal themselves to us and you begin to realize that the show has ended.

Again, many will likely be angered by the way the show went out, but I honestly couldn’t feel any more satisfied and thrilled by the exit Chase wrote for us. It keeps us discussing. Did Tony, Carmella and AJ get it while Meadow was spared? Or did everyone make it out okay? We may never know. And really, is that such a bad thing?

Chase knows that no matter how he ended the series, he wouldn’t be able to please everyone. I’m sure he understood that as he crafted the shows final minutes. The 50+ minutes leading up to the closing of the curtains were throughly entertaining were they not?

Moving into the actual content of the episode, there were a few things that caught my attention.

Firstly, Phil’s execution. I expected it to happen. I actually felt that one of three things would occur: 1) Phil would get whacked, 2) Tony would get whacked or 3) They’d both get whacked. Interestingly enough, what was being built up over the past couple episodes is overshadowed by the closing moments. Phil’s execution now ends up becoming background to the bigger story of what the future holds for the Sopranos.

And how about that execution?. Even in what has become the ordinary, Chase manages to keep it all fresh. First last week’s amazingly well executed demise of Bobby, and now the end of Phil, where a clean hit ends up becoming a mess. Sure we don’t see the results of the SUV crushing Phil’s skull, but we get the idea.

Tony’s visiting of Uncle Junior was something I found great show in seeing. I actually felt some closure during that scene which Dominic Chianese played so wonderfully.

The whole bit with Paulie and the cat was very odd, but satisfying as well. I particularly enjoyed the last part where the cat just settles down on the pavement next to Paulie as he’s taking in the sun.

But by far the most significant thing I took away from the episode was how it ultimately ended up with Tony finding solace in his families love. Many in his gang are no longer with him, or seem to have become less trustworthy. He’s unsure of his future, but he knows that regardless of all that his family still remains. Tony is more than ever comforted by it. He’s thankful of his ability to share time with those he loves. And more importantly, the family who loves him despite his faults.

“Don’t stop…”

So those are my quick (and VERY late thoughts) after I’ve seen the episode two times.