If you were a fan of The Sopranos, you are probably still feeling jilted by the series’ final scene. As the family gathered in an ice cream parlour, a suspicious looking creep heads to the bathroom. Remember how a gun was left in the bathroom for Michael Corleone in The Godfather before he whacked two rival gangsters? Many expected the same thing to happen to Tony, before the scene abruptly cut to black, leaving the episode and the series in a state of unfinished.
The scene has given birth to countless fan theories, who scoured episodes for clues. In the latest issue of DGA Quarterly, a magazine for the Director’s Guild, series creator David Chase discussed the scene in-depth, giving an analysis of what it was supposed to mean.
I love the timing of the lyric when Carmela enters: ‘Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, she took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ Then it talks about Tony: ‘Just a city boy,’ and we had to dim down the music so you didn’t hear the line, ‘born and raised in South Detroit.’ The music cuts out a little bit there, and they’re speaking over it. ‘He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ And that to me was [everything]. I felt that those two characters had taken the midnight train a long time ago. That is their life. It means that these people are looking for something inevitable. Something they couldn’t find. I mean, they didn’t become missionaries in Africa or go to college together or do anything like that. They took the midnight train going anywhere. And the midnight train, you know, is the dark train.
He also talked about the cut to black that left many fans of the show upset. They were hoping for a more definitive finale, regardless of whether Tony lived or died. Instead they got an ambiguous ending that left them frustrated.
I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.
The entire article is great, breaking down the scene shot-by-shot and including screengrabs to show readers exactly what was going on. The one thing is does not do, however, is tell you what happened to Tony. And that sucks. You can watch the final scene in its entirety here.