This is spoiler laden for the Sopranos final episode, but honestly, at this point can I possibly spoiling anything for anyone? I think the surprises are pretty widely spoiled for anyone who hasn’t seen the show.
I’ve seen a lot of reactions about the final scene of the final episode, and I think it is completely bimodally distributed. Either you thought it sucked or it was brilliant. I fall in the former camp. It seems like those who enjoyed it are marveling at the ambiguity or the audaciousness of pulling off the non-resolution. They point out the minutiae of the conversation with Bobby about things going black when you die and how this is a reflection of how Tony must live his life with every person a possible threat. None of that means anything to me. It was not satisfying and worse, it was non-committal. We’ve had to face lots of ugliness over the run of this series, and to leave us with a lady or the tiger at the end is not in keeping with what we’ve been doing up to this point. You’ve asked us to face many things without flinching, and to rob of us of that at the end is not how we’ve done this thing of ours up until now.
I agree with the people that point out that all the supposed benefits of the ending would have been served in a more satisfying way if they had just ended the series at the previous episode. It would have left Phil unresolved, but we would have finished with the image of Tony reduced to sleeping in his uncle’s house cradling a rifle like a binky. Twenty-five years of climbing the ladder, killing and manipulating and sacrificing yet the best he has is sending his family off and then making a stand with the C-team of irregulars that were still loyal to him, unsure if he’ll make it through the night. That’s a haunting image and one that would have been more emotionally satisfying to me. Fade to black followed by lots of theories does not make brilliance to me. I didn’t like it in my gut, which is where I experienced The Sopranos. To get all hoity-toity and analytical about this show that has been so raw and deeply felt is a complete cop-out.
But now it is over, and on to the next thing.
Update: I like the theory that Rob reposts in the comments so much that I choose to use this interpretation of that final episode. If I think about it that way, I like the final episode so why not?