David Chase just ruined the ending of “The Sopranos”

Chase speaks up on Tony Soprano's fate. He should have kept quiet

Topics: David Chase, The Sopranos

David Chase just ruined the ending of "The Sopranos"A scene from the final episode of "The Sopranos" (Credit: Will Hart/HBO)

They told you they could explain everything.

In a piece on David Chase, Vox today reveals that the creator of “The Sopranos” does not believe Tony Soprano died at the end of the series, when the shot suddenly cut to black. That the piece is by a friend of Chase’s who’s been having conversations with him for years would seem to have helped get the truth out of Chase, who has until now kept mum about the 2007 finale. He should probably have kept up his silence.

The fact is that “The Sopranos” is out of Chase’s hands, now — he cannot control how viewers understood the program’s ending, one that was self-consciously enigmatic in the first place. Whom does it benefit if we know what Chase thought happened to Tony Soprano? Tony’s story isn’t taking place in his mind, anymore.

Creators of TV shows perpetually seem to have a difficult time moving on from world-beating TV series — and Chase, elsewhere in the interview, seems frustrated at the muted reception for his post-”Sopranos” movie “Not Fade Away.” It’s not hard to understand why Chase feels the need to break his silence, if only in a terse, unelaborated explanation of what he thinks happened in his show’s finale; it’s by far his most famous work. Why not talk about it?

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And yet more than anything, Chase’s opening up privileges a reading of TV that’s all too common these days — one whereby the finale satisfying every viewer in every way is a litmus test on whether or not a show was good or bad. This was pointedly in evidence last year, when “Breaking Bad’s” final moments didn’t just disappoint some viewers but made them question the time they’d spent watching the show, as though past enjoyment had been erased.

Until today, the “Sopranos” finale had seemed to avoid decisive answers — a mystery that raised interesting points about the degree to which Tony lived in fear. If this is not the last time Chase will speak up about the “Sopranos” finale, we can only look forward to the mood of anxiety and uncertainty he created seven years ago getting further dissipated.

Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

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