We don’t think there is much disputing that “The Sopranos” may be one of the greatest series in the history of television. After all, so much of it is a TV master class: The writing, the performing, the music, the lighting, the overall vibe, and about a billion other things that were all fantastic in their own right.
Yet, what’s interesting is that for a show considered by many to be so beloved, we have here one of the most controversial conclusions in the history of the show. We know that there are explanations aplenty out there as to what the cut to black could mean, and we could scour the internet for hours looking at various theories. The fact remains this: It remains ambiguous on the screen. Nothing else remains canon other than what we see or what was written within the timeline of the story. Maybe Tony’s dead, or maybe nobody’s dead at all.
What we wonder here is this: In the age of so many shows being brought back from the dead, is there a story to tell still within this world? Should there be another story within this world? The TV Revivals series we’re doing all month is meant to take a look at such questions, so with that in mind, we are rather happy to dive in.
How it ended – It’s pretty well-documented with the ice-cream parlor, “Don’t Stop Believin'” from Journey playing in the background, and the infamous cut when Tony looks up. We love what creator David Chase (who also directed the series finale) said to the DGA on the subject:
“I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.”
How it could continue – The reality is that regardless of when the end was for Tony, James Gandolfini is dead, and he was one of the finest actors of the past 20 years. Can you tell a story without him? In theory, sure. There is still life in this family; there are undercurrents of every move. You can see a shifting towards normalcy, a further descent into darkness, or how certain characters have dealt with shifting sands in society. It’s a different world now, and in theory the possibilities are endless.
Can it be brought back? – In theory? Yes. In practice? Absolutely not. We hate to go all Gertrude Stein on the end of this article, but the end is the end is the end. There’s no way to bring the series back without canceling out the ending and ruin the original artistic vision. Not everyone may like the final cut, but that was Chase’s decision and the one we have to live with.
You can see some other entries in our TV Revivals series right now just by heading over to the link here! Also, sign up right away in the event you want some other TV news on everything we cover, sent right to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: HBO.)