Patterico's Pontifications


Captain Ed on the Sopranos Ending

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:14 pm

Captain Ed, who initially decried the Sopranos ending, seems to be coming around. He has an interpretation that is interesting, and a little different from the ones I have heard so far.

Spoilers tucked in the extended entry, for those of you who plan to watch it all on Netflix in the future.

Ed says:

The entire series has been about Tony’s attempt to fantasize himself as a normal family man. Since the first episode, Tony sought therapy as a means in which to resolve the conflict between his fantasy and his reality. He lived in denial of his true murderous, sociopathic nature for the entire arc of the series, abetted by Dr. Melfi, who actively tried to help him do so. He wanted his belief in his supposed goodness and normality to become his reality.

Instead, in this fantasy, Tony finally realizes that he’s deluding himself. David Chase throws in a red herring with Meadow and the parallel parking, but otherwise it’s all about Tony’s delusion crumbling. His daughter succumbed to his fantasy, giving up a career in medicine to defend people like Tony, whom the FBI supposedly persecute because of their Italian descent. His son now works for him and Little Carmine. His wife openly discusses the one brutal piece of reality that he most wants to forget — Carlo, the guy who’s probably going to put Tony in the joint for the rest of his life.

It’s not for nothing that fantasy-Tony plays “Don’t Stop Believing” at the jukebox. Tony has held tight to this fantasy of normality for years. It’s been the root of his depression and probably of his panic attacks, which started when he began the life; recall that Tony’s first faint happened when he was supposed to go do a heist with his cousin Tony Blundetto. His fantasy self is telling him not to end the delusion.

But that’s exactly what he does. Tony doesn’t get whacked in the final episode; Tony just kills the fantasy. That’s what the abrupt ending means, with the song cutting out at “Don’t stop –“. The delusion is dead — and Tony finally has to face reality about who he is and what is in store for him. The series’ main story arc has come to an end.

And that’s an ending that befits the series.


5 Responses to “Captain Ed on the Sopranos Ending”

  1. As someone who has never, ever watched a complete episode, I say it works for me.

    Certainly it’s the best of the faux endings to the series I never watched that I’ve heard to date.

    Anonymous Interloper (8741c8)

  2. Hmmm … that would explain the odd beginning of Season 6, part 1, where Tony lies in a coma and dreams he’s a traveling salesman who’s having trouble getting back home. He ultimately rejects the dream and wakes. According to this analysis that’s just the beginning of the end of the fantasy.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  3. So Ed thinks the ending means Tony wakes from his dream of being a normal guy/family and accepts that he and his family are corrupt?

    I don’t know if that’s what Chase had in mind but I like it from a literary standpoint. Like an all-seeing God, we viewers watched Tony struggle with normalcy and morality from the first episode. Tony’s decision to stop seeing a shrink suggests that he resolved his Hamlet-like indecision but, until the diner scene in the last episode, there was still hope that Tony’s soul could be saved.

    The absence of light is a classic religious metaphor for the rejection of goodness and the acceptance of evil. The moment Tony’s soul was lost – by his acceptance of total corruption or by his death – the light went out.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  4. The last two years of this once potent brew have been a mediocre soap with killing. The difference from a daytime soap was that the main woman was ugly, the other women fat or old, and the fairly decent looking daughter not believable at all. I haven’t watched in two years and this was my first taste in all that time. Still boring. Still ugly. The attempt to make sociopathic psychotics actually human leaves me cold.

    Howard Veit (4ba8d4)

  5. the mafia is such a rich lode of narrative, storytellers would have invented it if it did not exist. come to think of it, anybody here ever met a real mafioso?

    assistant devil's advocate (3dbb4e)

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