I will never forget the Talk Back episode following the series finale of Breaking Bad.
The AMC host Chris Hardwick was interviewing the director Vince Gillian, about the path Gillian took to the finale and the creation of the show as a whole.
Gillian was explaining that when he had Breaking Bad in mind, he knew exactly how he wanted to start and end it. Thus, the process to create a great A to Z story was born. Hardwick at some point decides to insert his own little quip, saying something along the line of “at least you didn’t decide to end it how The Sopranos did.”
The crowd laughs.
Gillian pauses for a moment and calmly rejects the host’s notion that The Sopranos ending was inferior. In fact, he praised it saying he thinks it is one of best finales he had ever seen.
Hardwick and the crowd go silent, and I smile as I watch from home.
They still don’t get it.
Although The Sopranos as a series is held in high regard, the finale still catches a lot of flak.
For no good reason.
In terms of execution and approach, thematically and directorially, no one else comes close.
Before we talk about the final episode, we must discuss the theme of season 6: Death.
There are several key points throughout the final season that sort of frame the last scene of the series.
First, the conversation Tony and Bobby have on the boat discussing the “eventualities” of life in the mob.
A line that will forever stand the test of time in TV history: “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens.”
This sentiment is echoed a couple of times throughout the season.
Tony’s consigliere, Sil, is having dinner when a hit is carried out on his New York associate.
The tone goes silent, you hear nothing, then blood is drawn.
He did not hear it, until after it happened.
When Phil Leotardo, met his eventual end, blindsided at the gas station. Same theme applied.
Season 6 was filled with deaths that fit this theme, except Bobby. . .he DEFINITELY heard that.
Now, lets discuss the last scene.
When the creator, David Chase, is asked about the last scene he often says: “It’s all there in front of you.”
And it is.
I liken the final scene to a Final Destination death sequence, but more masterful.
You have subtle reminders of the previous two attempts on Tony’s life shown within the restaurant.
That paired with Tony’s daughter, Meadow, failing to parallel park two times, coinciding with the number of failed attempts on the mobster’s life.
Anticipation has been building as we see Tony’s POV, watching the door and listening for the bell as someone walks in.
The stage has been set.
The family is awaiting the daughters’ arrival; Tony is in the booth with an opening, where the daughter should be sitting.
The camera slows as a man in a members only jacket walks to the bathroom, displaying the blind spot of Tony’s field of vision.
The audience, through Tony’s eyes looks up one last time as the bell rings. We expect to see Meadow walk in.
Then suddenly. . .
“You probably don’t even hear it when it happens.”
Tony died, in a punishment that was most fitting for him.
Someone who dealt out death as he saw fit, does not get to say goodbye, or I love you to anyone.
It just ends.
This episode fit the theme of the season, and was directed masterfully, in a way few others have pulled off.
When people ask me my favorite TV series of all time, The Sopranos is normally top three, and depending on the last time I have watched the finale, its usually number one.
As I continue this subcategory, let me know what your favorite TV series are.
Weather Your Storm, Maintain Inner Reign -E.