Much ado about nothing
By Heather Havrilesky
Much ado about nothingWhat exactly has happened to "The Sopranos"? And after two years of waiting, will we have any patience left when the final chapter airs in six more months?
By Heather Havrilesky
Jun. 05, 2006 | How could it end this way? After recovering from the gunshot wound inflicted by Uncle Junior at the beginning of the sixth season, Tony told Dr. Melfi, "Every day is a gift." Fans expected every episode of "The Sopranos" in this final season to feel like a gift, too, but instead we got old, familiar stories and a finale without fireworks. As the credits rolled on a bucolic Christmas scene apparently stolen from a "Full House" holiday special, it was hard not to shake our fists at the sky and moan, "We waited two years, for this?" Why do the gods mock us so?
David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos," has always thumbed his nose at the traditional pace, dialogue, plot structure and viewer expectations of television. In so doing, he changed the nature of the televised drama, and countless high-quality shows have followed in his footsteps since "The Sopranos" first aired in January of 1999. But in this last season of the show, Chase clearly expects his viewers to have an unlimited amount of patience and faith in his storytelling abilities.
Forget that after two years of waiting, it's been a relatively uneventful season from the start, not the kind of season you'd expect from what was once considered the best show on television, when the writers have had plenty of time to think things through, more than enough time to come up with something truly big and devastating and unexpected. Forget that this is a show known for its gripping finales, or that a bunch of loose ends needed to be tied up, or that when you use the word "finale" to describe an episode, you invite the assumption that viewers are going to be given the vaguest whiff of what's in store in the final hours of the show, particularly when they have to wait another six months to find out what happens next. Forget all of that. Chase and the writers left us with following closing lines, delivered by AJ's brand-new girlfriend Blanca and Carmela as they're celebrating Christmas Eve together with the family.
Blanca: You have a gorgeous home.
Carm: Thank you. (Pausing to look around.) We do.
A nice little exchange of small talk, and the credits roll. Yes, we get it: Carmela is having a moment, appreciating all that she has been given, ostensibly before it all falls apart.
But Carmela may be the only one who's feeling grateful right about now. For 13 weeks, loyal fans of "The Sopranos" have endured a pretty predictable season by preoccupying themselves with how the season might end. "Be patient," they told each other. "Big things are just around the bend. It's obvious." But all that was around the bend was a story line we've seen many times before: An associate of Tony's strays off the expected path (in Vito's case, by having his homosexuality discovered), makes a few errors in judgment (by returning to New Jersey where homophobic mob guys are thirsty for his blood) and winds up dead. You know, just like Big Pussy, Richie, Ralphie, Tony Blundetto and Adriana, only Vito was less central to the story than those characters, and his death had far less of an impact on the main characters than those other deaths did.