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I spent about 30-40 minutes after the ending that wasn't, surfing around various forums (though especially televisionwithoutpity.com) trying to see if Kath and I were not alone in our rage and annoyance; turns out we weren't. Actually, before the rage set in amongst the television audience, almost everybody was asking the same question: Did the cable go out? Which is a fun trick if you're Andy Kaufman; not so much here.

I've got nothing against ambiguous endings - the ending of Henry Fool in particular is wonderful (although if you see Fay Grim, the ambiguity is, obviously, utterly shattered). But this wasn't even an ending; this was a cocktease. (As one forum poster said: "David Chase, you get back to this bed right now and fucking finish me off!")

The diner sequence at the end was one of the most suspenseful scenes I can recall from the entire Sopranos run; everything is soaked in dread (well, except for the Journey) and, well, it's clear that it's THE LAST SCENE, and everyone is expecting SOMETHING to happen, even if it's nothing, just the family eating in a shitty diner, fade to black. Even the editing of that scene is wierd - Tony is at the door, then he's at the table, and he's looking at a jukebox filled with songs from the 1980s, which initially led me to believe it was some sort of flashback.

But by denying us even nothing - by delibarely fucking with us by thinking our cable went out - that's just a deliberate effort by David Chase to remind us that we're watching a television show, that he's bucking convention, fucking with the audience. It's the biggest ego trip of all time. The blackout was not motivated by character, or story, or anything - it was David Chase's ego (coupled by, ironically enough, a lack of balls).

Some suggest that the blackout is actually Tony getting whacked - and, if one chooses, one can recall the scene with Tony and Bobby in the first episode of the 2nd half, sitting in the boat, talking about how when you get hit, you'll never hear it. Clearly, the guy going into the bathroom is a reference to Al Pacino in the Godfather - it couldn't have been more obvious. (Hell, mgrasso sent me this link which details how there were multiple people in the diner who had reason to shoot.) But I don't buy it. Phil was killed; Phil's own crew practically endorsed the hit; and if someone on Tony's side had flipped over to the government's case, why on earth would they whack him before he got brought up?

Some also suggest that the blackout simply meant to reinforce that the sense of dread and foreboding that we were feeling as we watched is what life for the Soprano family will be like for the rest of their lives; paranoid, afraid, meaningless. (Also, Meadow would eventually have to learn how to parallel park.) Except, why the blackout? That same feeling would have been there if there was a fade out.

Instead, what actually happened was that David Chase refused to decide how to treat his characters and his story and left that decision to us. Normally, that would be admirable; except that, here, it was the very first time we were offered that choice. It's cowardly and dishonest. And by making America think that our cable had been blown out, it actually COMPLETELY shattered our willing suspension of disbelief.
I don't... virulently disagree with you. I do believe that the ending is a looking glass that we can all see a reflection in, and that very fact might be frustrating to a great number of people. Personally, I loved it. Sometimes anticlimactic isn't necessarily a bad thing. The trickery? I think that the very fact that people are talking about the cut to black and remarking about how it makes things very different than a fade-to-black does back up your claim that Chase did it purely for effect.
I guess I'm just disappointed that in the final moments of one of the greatest television shows in history, where an infinity of possibilities was available for the choosing and an audience at the edge of their seats, gasping for air, Chase chose a weak gimmick. Fuck, I'd even take a musical song-and-dance number at this point.
Fuck, I'd even take a musical song-and-dance number at this point.

::stunned::

ultra_lilac said that's what she wanted the ending to be. But that makes sense, seeing as how she's nutty for musicals.

Back to the episode: you get the feeling that Phil's lieutenants acted out of fear that they were next, either at Phil's hand or from Jersey? A lot of twop posters were baffled as to why they'd go behind Phil's back to negotiate and saw that as a major sticking point of the ep.
Re: Phil's people: no, that's not it at all. I think they knew that Phil was way out of hand and putting everyone at risk. Bobby getting killed - even more than Sil getting shot - that probably crossed the line for Tony, making it personal instead of business. (Also, the dude who creeped out Meadow - that crossed the line, too.) Phil's people, I think, knew that the situation was out of control. They couldn't give Phil up, obviously, but they knew that Tony would be better for everyone than Phil.

I guess. What does it matter now, anyway? Actually, here's what I really think: Phil was actually
I guess. What does it matter now, anyway? Actually, here's what I really think: Phil was actually

I FUCKEN LOLD
Maybe I am a Sopranos/Chase apologist, but I thought it was a good episode. An imperfect finale, to be sure, but nonetheless a very interesting final scene, especially with all of the very minor people from the past in the diner.

I appreciate the lack of convention, especially after being exposed to way too much "What do you think is going to happen..." blathering all week.

I do think it was hilarious that was fucking with us at the end; I was waiting for the three Sopranos to get iced while Meadow learner to parallel park, thinking "Oh God of the people to live, don't make it just her."
Up until the blackout, I was more or less right with you - I thought it was a great episode. Agent Harris's glee at hearing about Phil was absolutely hilarious; the shot of Carmela in the bathtub when Tony tells her about AJ joining the army might be one of the best shots in the entire show's history. But as I said in response to mgrasso's comment, I'm just disppointed that Chase resorted to a cheap gimmick.
I was initially pissed a bit about the immediate cutout, but looking back if that's where he wanted to end the episode, I would have been much more pissed with some sort of fade to black or pan-out.

That being said, the editing throughout the episode was choppy as F.
So, what'd you think, then? I don't remember when Kath and I started watching - I think it was Season 3 that we made it a regular thing.