Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Eugoogly: The Sopranos (Part Two)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 11, 2007

It goes on and on and on and on…

So if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the great majority of the last 24 hours discussing and debating the series finale of The Sopranos. I already posted about it at length yesterday, but that was more about the finale aspect of the episode than the episode itself. So I’m sitting down to watch it again, and making some comments I have about the episode without doing too much in the way of making big, sweeping statements about the episode’s larger significance. Here’s 15 of ’em:

  1. Over the last eight years, The Sopranos has become a cold, cold show. It’s almost tough to remember now, but there was a time when Tony seemed like he had two wonderful, loving, loyal families. And more than the wealth, more than the power, even more than the goomahs, that was the most enviable thing about Tony’s life. But now, the club scenes are empty (who’s even left anymore? Paulie, Barizzi and a couple of nobodies?) and the family scenes are hollow (when was the last time The Sopranos even had a big family dinner? And again, who’d be left to invite?) It’s been a subtle but devestating transition.
  2. How bizarre was the editing to this episode? Plenty of scenes went on for minutes longer than they seemed to need to (namely everything with Paulie), but then some scenes were so fractional that there seems to be no point to them at all (Tony tells a bathing Carmella “AJ’s thinking of joining the army.” Before she has time to respond, suddenly we’re in a therapy session).
  3. Vanilla Fudge’s cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”–fucking awesome. Good call, Chase.
  4. New York seemed to give up Phil pretty easily–who exactly is in line to replace him at this point? Also, all right, so maybe he couldn’t cap Tony directly at Bobby’s funeral, but couldn’t Phil have gotten someone to tail Tony afterwards? Don’t really get it.
  5. Maybe A.J.’s best episode ever, or at least the best since his pathetic assassination attempt on Uncle Junior. The three high points:
  6. A.J. disrupting a discussion on the merits of Jennifer Hudson to interject misinterpretations of Yeats and criticize Bush–eliciting, regrettably, the only “OH!” exhortation of the episode, from Paulie (who also had his best ep in years).
  7. A.J. absorbing Bob Dylan for the first time with his girlfriend, just before setting his car on fire. “Can you believe this was written 40 years ago?”
  8. A.J. walking downstairs in a wifebeater, chains and a white bathrobe, looking more like Tony than ever before.
  9. There are a couple subtle, nice moments in the episode where the characters’ frustration clevelry echoes the viewer’s. There’s the last scene, obviously, but even moreso, the scene where Tony’s attorney tries to put some ketchup on his burger, but fails despite repeated smacks. Tony grabs the bottle out of his hand and smacks the thing repeatedly himself, but nothing comes out. Such is life, I suppose.
  10. No ducks? WTF? C’mon, that scene where Tony’s raking in his backyard and looking up at the sky, who didn’t think the ducks from the first episode would be making their final return? Predictable, yeah, but it would’ve put a smile on my face.
  11. Is it me, or is Carmela now a far more terrifying character than Tony? She hasn’t shown anything in the way of genuine emotion for at least half a season now, and the signs of her turning into a Livia-style mother of constant disapproval are more apparent than ever. The look on sheer Thank-God-I-Don’t-Have-To-Be-Ashamed-Anymore bliss on her face when Patrick announced what Meadow’s first-year salary would be sent chills down my spine.
  12. It’s too bad Agent Harris is finally coming into his own as a hysterical Soprano cheerleader just as the show’s ending. Maybe he and Tony can have an Odd Couple-type spinoff someday.
  13. Meadow really is a shitty parallel parker. I could’ve gotten it in less reversals than her, and parallel parking might be my second-most pathetic field (I think the one time I tried to play Volleyball might’ve been a little bit worse).
  14. Yeah it’s a great song, and yeah, it’s never really inappropriate, but I’m still sort of disappointed they went with “Don’t Stop Believin'” for the climactic closing music. Has there ever been another song used in more shows within the space of just two or three years as this? Did people play this song this much back in 1981?
  15. No matter what else I have to say about it, the show did a great job of demonstrating the whole “nothing really changes” aspect of life–A.J. reverting to taking the easy way out, Tony sneaking out for anonymous affairs, Paulie taking the move-up job despite the associated dangers…if there’s one part of the episode to ironically bring a sense of closure, that was probably it.
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