David Chase Speaks About The Sopranos

When asked about the final scene of The Sopranos, David Chase has “no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there.” He also denies that the abrupt ending was to set up a future movie. We do get a few clues as to what he was thinking as he ended the show. One reason for the long delay until the final portion of the season was a demand from Chase for more time to come up with the ending. I assume he must mean the manner in which he built up tension in the diner as opposed to the abrupt cut to black.

-After all the speculation that Agent Harris might turn Tony, instead we saw that Harris had turned, passing along info on Phil’s whereabouts and cheering, “We’re going to win this thing!” when learning of Phil’s demise.

“This is based on an actual case of an FBI agent who got a little bit too partisan and excited during the Colombo wars of the ’70s,” says Chase of the story of Lindley DeVecchio, who supplied Harris’ line.

-Speaking of Harris, Chase had no problem with never revealing what — if anything — terror suspects Muhammed and Ahmed were up to.

“This, to me, feels very real,” he says. “The majority of these suspects, it’s very hard for anybody to know what these people are doing. I don’t even think Harris might know where they are. That was sort of the point of it: who knows if they are terrorists or if they’re innocent pistachio salesmen? That’s the fear that we are living with now.”

Also, the apocryphal story — repeated by me, unfortunately — that Fox, when “Sopranos” was in development there, wanted Chase to have Tony help the FBI catch terrorists, wasn’t true.

“What I said was, if I had done it at Fox, Tony would have been a gangster by day and helping the FBI by night, but we weren’t there long enough for anyone to make that suggestion.”

-I spent the last couple of weeks wrapping my brain around a theory supplied by reader Sam Lorber (and his daughter Emily) that the nine episodes of this season were each supposed to represent one of the nine circles of Hell from Dante’s “The Divine Comedy.” Told of the theory, Chase laughed and said, “No.”

-Since Butchie was introduced as a guy who was pushing Phil to take out Tony, why did he turn on Phil and negotiate peace with Tony?

“I think Butch was an intelligent guy, he began to see that there was no need for it, that Phil’s feelings were all caught up in what was esentially a convoluted personal grudge.”

As David Chase wouldn’t say much on the ending, the author of the article looks at some of the speculation:

Theory No. 1 (and the one I prefer): Chase is using the final scene to place the viewer into Tony’s mindset. This is how he sees the world: every open door, every person walking past him could be coming to kill him, or arrest him, or otherwise harm him or his family. This is his life, even though the paranoia’s rarely justified. We end without knowing what Tony’s looking at because he never knows what’s coming next.

Theory No. 2: In the scene on the boat in “Soprano Home Movies,” repeated again last week, Bobby Bacala suggests that when you get killed, you don’t see it coming. Certainly, our man in the Members Only jacket could have gone to the men’s room to prepare for killing Tony (shades of the first “Godfather”), and the picture and sound cut out because Tony’s life just did. (Or because we, as viewers, got whacked from our life with the show.)

The ending may have been frustrating, especially as it left many of us momentarily wondering if our cable had gone out, but Chase certainly has done as he had hoped in keeping everyone talking. In consideration of all the hype, I bet that no matter how the series ended there would be a lots of talk, and almost as many fans left unhappy.

Related Stories:
The Sopranos Ends Without Even Fading to Black

Cable Finales: The Sopranos and The Tudors

Update: More on The Sopranos finale in SciFi Friday for June 15.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Paul Levinson says:

    I thought the ending was a masterpiece of subtle, multi-faceted ambiguity … and will be revered in times to come as we now admire The Lady or the Tiger … The Sopranos, or the Tiger?

  2. 2
    Paul Levinson says:

    “Too many of us first questioned whether our DVR was working correctly when we should have been wondering if Tony was dead or alive.”

    Part of the meta-experience of television… 🙂

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