Monday, June 11, 2007
On the Ending of the Sopranos: A Response Written Last Night before Bed and before the Online Fan Tempest Began
With its constant quotations from film and television—and the ubiquity of television screens, monitors, and visual quotations from TV shows, particularly in the final episode—the Sopranos has been, from the very beginning, a series that always made us aware that what we were watching was a TV show. The finale drew our attention to the medium itself by creating a terribly palpable dramatic tension and then leaving us with that tension unrelieved. I’m willing to bet that everyone groaned and said things like “That’s terrible!” when the show ended. (In fact, today’s paper bears out our prediction.) Why? Because we want a season finale to have closure. We want episodes in general to have closure. And we wanted the series to have closure. But that’s exactly what David Chase didn’t give us.
There were many ways to end the series: The romantic viewer was perhaps hoping for family togetherness and reconciliation: Tony grabs AJ’s hand and Meadow comes in and they have a nice family dinner. The genre fans were perhaps hoping for a bloody end to the Sopranos family: Tony gets whacked in front of his family. The drama fans were expecting perhaps an open ending—but a definitive ending nonetheless. Instead, we are given none of these endings. Instead—and this is the brilliance of the ending we got—we are left pondering endings in general, and maybe we even began to think about how difficult it is to bring a series like this to an end. And we were forced to contemplate the arbitrary nature of endings. Of finales. Of series. Remember how disenchanted everyone was with the ending of Seinfeld? In making the decision that he made—in giving us this ending—David Chase gave us all these endings.
Perhaps most interestingly—going back to the self-conscious narrative that is the Sopranos—by cutting to black just as Meadow walks into the diner, most viewers thought that their connection to HBO had been cut off. “What happened?” “Was that it?” “Is the TV okay?” In that way, we were left with a half-satisfaction of a series’ end, but also with a very strong awareness of television as a medium. We were reminded that we were watching a TV show. And for a few seconds we sat there, looking at a black screen, wanting something to happen. Wondering what happened. We waited for something to appear. Music. Sounds. Images. But we got none of that. We got played, and it felt great.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Happy (belated) Birthday, boys. You're all grownds up now.
We really wish we could join D&L and all the rest of the gang at the ole hitchin' post in Washington State!
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Ducks mate for life. And even when a suitable female is unavailable, drakes seem to cultivate highly affective lifelong relationships with other drakes. During our walk along the shore of Lake Erie yesterday, we saw these two couples just hanging out, dredging, and enjoying each others' company.
One night a drake had a dream. He dreamed that he was walking along the beach with his friend. Across the sky he saw scenes from his life. For each scene he saw two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him and the other to his friend. When the last scene of his life had flashed before him, he looked back at all the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the lowest and saddest times of his life. This really bothered the drake, so he asked his friend about it:
"Dude, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
His friend replied, "My duck, my precious drake, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."