It was the end of an era.
After eight years of watching Tony Soprano become more and more detestable, after watching him devolve from in insecure villainous letch to a despicable sociopath who cares about nobody - not his wife, kids, friends, sister, uncle - but himself, we were finally going to see him get popped.
After faithfully viewing every uncut episode of what is arguably the defining television program of the decade, we would get to see what we've been waiting for through all the long hiatuses.
We set the DVR (just in case), put the kid to be early and I even made up a Blandwagian Ale for the occasion.
Some of my predictions came true. I predicted that Paulie would turn state's evidence, and I'm not sure sure that didn't happen. I predicted a near-death experience would snap AJ out of his depression (as it did for Tony), although I thought it would be from a shooting rather than his car blowing up.
But I certainly didn't predict that David Chase would lose his stugots when it came to ending the series.
As you already know by now, the final scene built the tension with tight shots of ordinary people inside a diner with the chords of Journey's Don't Stop Believing playing in the background. There was a normal family, a troop of Boy Scouts, just regular people out having dinner. Then the camera would focus malevolently on nefarious looking individuals - a goombah came in alone to sit at the counter, and later a pair of black gangsta-looking fellows.
As Meadow struggles to park her car and the Steve Perry wails "Paying anything to roll the dice just one more time..." the goombah gets up and walks toward Tony, Carmella and AJ, eyeing them with bad intent. At the last minute he turns to walk into the restroom.
The tension is palpable. We're on the edge of our couch cushions just waiting for the universe (or at least Phil Leotardo's crew) to dispense its justice at the muzzle of an untraceable 9 mm Glock.
Then, just as Meadow walks in... the screen goes blank.
What the hell just happened? Did our DVR just malfunction? I frantically begin pushing buttons on the remote to try to diagnose why we lost our picture.
And as the credits begin to roll, I realize that there was no DVR malfunction. We've been had. David Chase sucked us in, got us all excited only to leave me alone and unsatisfied just like Courtney Platte did to me my senior year in high school (different story).
Anyway, I can see Chase's dilemma. There was probably no way he could have written an ending that wouldn't be criticized for the next three weeks. Anything he did would have been a let down, just like when the last Seinfeld episode ran.
But COME ON! You could at least try!
The only explanation, other than Chase's loss of testicular fortitude, is that he wanted to leave the series open for a movie sequel. I guess in that case, Steve Perry would be right: "Oh, the movie never ends It goes on and on and on and on."
tagged: Sopranos, HBO, TV, Journey, David Chase, Steve Perry, pop culture