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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What the Fuck Was David Chase Thinking



There are many ways to approach this subject. There has always been a feud between Sopranos viewers. Some people opt for the more artful incarnations of the Sopranos—the dream episodes, the metaphysical What the Bleep Do We Know rip off episode that occurs after Tony recovers when he meets a quantum physicist—as opposed to the first episode a classic example of Mob politics, the transition to Soprano dominance after the past greatness of the Aprile’s. The real conundrum is that David Chase wrote both incarnations of the show, the first and last episode, two episodes that are arguably unrecognizable as the same show. Sure a decade had passed and by the second season the Sopranos had enough money to use real music as opposed to the cheesy mob-jazz synth score that pervaded the first season, but the content of the show has largely shifted. The only similarity is the emphasis on the familial structure. My assessment is that David Chase’s two directorial episodes are antithetical to the Sopranos as a whole, a show that is inarguably one of the finest achievements in the history of television. The Sopranos does not work as a straight mob show about ultra-violence and power structures or an artsy fartsy surrealist journey into Tony Soprano’s mind. The show is a show about mafia stereotypes. It has an ironic sensibility that is more subtle than Goodfellas, but less serious than the Godfather, about regular people with regular problems, whose actions are motivated by things that only happen in the mafia. The failure of the final show is not that there is an inconclusive ending, but rather that the artful, beautifully shot and emotionally visceral scenes were in no way related to Tony’s business.
We were so close to achieving a sense of closure, but in the end Tony’s character is in the same place, suspicious of every character, and in business alone, but at home is fulfilled to a point, just like everybody else. The concept of closure in a show that was always open ended is a good place to start the argument. The final episode did not need closure, but David Chase was fucking with the audience purposely. At every moment when we thought an action plot-moving action would occur it didn’t (AJ’s car burning, Sil on the bed, and finally the last seconds). The end although quite compelling was a bit cliché, hadn’t Monster used the same music, and didn’t Boogie Nights have a similar moment of silence with blasting eighties music, as Dirk Diggler made a cocaine deal. However, way the episode did finally stopped in the last moments was extremely original, but felt like the bright idea of some third rate film school editor. Everyone in the country thought his or her cable cut out. The show is structured so everything has remained the same, despite the absence of all Tony’s essential and peripheral business figures AKA Capos. Through it all and through all the seasons Tony has always had incredible luck, and the fact that since Christopher’s death this has been continuously outlined makes me happy, but also in a similar sense feels like a cop out. What is so special about Tony Soprano? I don’t care if the critical consensus of intellectuals prefers the ending, after a ninety-hour investment in a single series the majority of the viewers and I wanted a little more.

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