“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.”
The quote comes from David Chase, whose exhaustive and fascinating analysis of “The Sopranos”‘ ending scene was recently published in DGA Quarterly (the Directors Guild of America’s official magazine) to, predictably, a whole lot of fanfare.
At this point, it seems that the “Sopranos” mastermind can’t get a word in on the final episode without endless speculation as to whether he may have finally revealed the fate of Tony Soprano. Last year, Vox’s Martha P. Nochimson caused a firestorm on social media when she reported that his answer to the “Did Tony Soprano die?” question was a blunt “no.” Of course, immediately afterward, David Chase’s representative pushed against that assertion. Plus, when reading Chase’s comments in context, it’s clear that his answer to the question wasn’t exactly definitive.
But with a lengthy column now published, in which Chase dissects the scene nearly shot-by-shot, we can safely say that he’s said as much as he’ll ever say on the controversial, ambiguous ending. And the closest he’ll ever get to revealing what “happens,” exactly, is rooted in that quote above: maybe he dies, and maybe he doesn’t.
Any fan of “The Sopranos” knows that Chase’s reluctance to provide answers on the topic stretches all the way back to his morning-after interview with critic Alan Sepinwall in 2007. It’s long been his contention that whether Tony dies or not is besides the point; it’s the image of Tony, Carmela and A.J. in the diner, reminiscing to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believing” while an unwavering sense of menace lurks in the background, that ends this story.
That’s the thing about the episode: beyond its abrupt and infamous cut to black, the episode is filled with evocative imagery and fascinating character developments worth exploring. Sadly, with the discussion around Tony’s fate dominating the conversation for so long, these elements have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle.
But for anyone interested in the finale as a whole, Chase’s deconstruction of the scene is about as in-depth and personal as you can get. Maybe, just maybe, his latest comments will allow the finale to finally stand on its own — in its ambiguous, inconclusive nature.