So last night "The Sopranos" - the greatest television show EVER, etc. - drew down the curtain. Balk and Choire rose at an ungodly hour to sort out the whole thing. If you're the sort of person who has not yet seen the episode and doesn't want it ruined, call in sick to work and watch it now. Then come back here and read this conversation which, it goes without saying, has more spoilers in it than [certain character who got shot last night] has holes in him. Enjoy and chime in.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Maybe instead of killing Tony, David Chase killed me! Because I feel like ass.
BALK BTW: That's the problem with getting up this early: Still reflecting. Also tired. Anyway.
BALK BTW: Here's the genesis of my favorite line last night:
BALK BTW: "Like Mr. Hynes, Mr. DeVecchio was apparently untroubled by the mob killings. Six months before the "Street Stories" interview, on May 22, 1992, Mr. DeVecchio allegedly expressed outright joy when he learned that one of three Orena allies whom Scarpa is said to have killed during the conflict, Lorenzo "Larry" Lampasi, had been shot to death in front of his Brooklyn home, according to court papers filed in the murder case Mr. Hynes's office is bringing against Mr. DeVecchio.
When he heard the news, according to court papers, Mr. DeVecchio excitedly slapped his hands on his desk and exclaimed, "We're gonna win this thing," to the bearer of the good news, FBI agent Christopher Favo.
Mr. DeVecchio's remark surprised Mr. Favo, who told his then superior that they were FBI agents and "not on either side of the Colombo war," according to a brief summary of Mr. Favo's grand jury testimony that appears in the court papers."
RHYMES WITH STORY: That sounds complicated!
RHYMES WITH STORY: Being of the central European races largely myself, I don't think I get that newsletter that you do.
BALK BTW: http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=5559…
RHYMES WITH STORY: Ah, I was right, I don't!
BALK BTW: It's what the line last night when the FBI guy hears that Leotardo got done was about.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Oh, actually innaresting!
BALK BTW: Anyway, you ready?
RHYMES WITH STORY: Ha, I've already began!
BALK BTW: Hahaha, okay. So, the obvious: Whadya think?
RHYMES WITH STORY: Well... I don't know what I think! I mean, I'm really glad they didn't let that doof Tim Van Patten direct it, at least.
RHYMES WITH STORY: (Although he did redeem himself with the "Home Movies" episode this season.) But umm... you go first! I'm kind of overwhelmed with thinking about it!
BALK BTW: I think it was kind of the perfect ending. (Especially if, a few years down the road, everybody's out of work and they want to put together a movie.) I'm sure every literal-minded person on earth is gonna be apoplectic that they were denied some sort of visual closure, but it hit exactly the right note for me.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Well there is that. The person I was watching with was ENRAGED. There was like a 5-minute stream of profanity after it ended. And I thought that was a great sign.
BALK BTW: There's the school of thought that sees ambiguity as laziness. But I sort of see it as reflective of real life.
RHYMES WITH STORY: I mean, not to take it to the highfalutin' b.s. level here? But I HATE endings because all endings are lies. RIGHT.
RHYMES WITH STORY: I mean, right. When does everything end anyway?
BALK BTW: Also, I kind of feel like it was full of biguity. I mean, that minute of dead air? In my mind, that's when Tony gets it.
BALK BTW: "Everything ends."
RHYMES WITH STORY: Biguity is SO NOT A WORD. Except is it?
BALK BTW: It is NOW.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Oh yeah. The dead air was SO a problematic idea in the Tivo age. Before the credits came on I was halfway to the Tivo, swear. LIKE DID IT STOP RECORDING?
BALK BTW: I'm sure EVERYONE was. But I loved it.
RHYMES WITH STORY: But I just saw it as a respectful moment of silence.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Do you remember Buffalo '66? The Vincent Gallo movie?
BALK BTW: Yes. Wasn't that the last time Angelica Huston did anything decent?
BALK BTW: Or Vince Gallo, for that matter?
RHYMES WITH STORY: So sad, yet true! That last scene reminded me of that ridiculous set piece in the middle of that film. Which then worried me: David Chase says he wants TV to be more visual, but isn't he just making tableaux?
RHYMES WITH STORY: Umm we don't have to answer that question, lest we sound like nerds.
BALK BTW: Yes. Is tableaux a fancy French table?
RHYMES WITH STORY: Ha.
BALK BTW: Anyway, let's work backwards. It seems to me that the last couple scenes were going out of the way to "redeem" Tony, or at least show him as less of a monster than he's been all season.
BALK BTW: Or even in the previous moments of the episode.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Omg, I actually correctly pluralized French! Oh yes, totally agree.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Yeah. There was some viewer seduction. Which sort of reminded me of a manipulative therapy patient.
BALK BTW: The ordering onion rings for the table, the crying in the scene with Chianese... both small things, and maybe saying that all you're gonna get from this guy is the small things.
BALK BTW: Yes!
RHYMES WITH STORY: So I felt a little used!
BALK BTW: The perfect counterpoint: The way Tony — who swore off therapy in the last episode — highjacks the session with AJ's shrink.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Right. Ugh. That's so Michael Lohan!
BALK BTW: Sort of a meta-commentary on the narcissism of therapy!
RHYMES WITH STORY: Oh, OF COURSE you think therapy is narcissistic.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Instead of a treatment for narcissism.
BALK BTW: It's always about me, isn't it?
RHYMES WITH STORY: It's a good thing Emily isn't awake yet!
BALK BTW: Shhh, I wanna get this done before she gets online!
RHYMES WITH STORY: Emily texted me last night. "Sopranos cat: are ! Symbolic?"
BALK BTW: Hahaha. (The Virgin Mary thing was one of the funniest bits of the season, both the set-up and the reaction.) Anyway, the Leotardo killing. Unnecessary? Crass? Making up for the other lack of action in the episode?
RHYMES WITH STORY: It was wantonly cruel. And gross.
RHYMES WITH STORY: But, no more so than the motorcycle guy biting it last week.
RHYMES WITH STORY: It was a little Six Feet Under for me!
BALK BTW: I was glad — at the very least — that there wasn't that Six Feet kind of montage-over-whispery-female-vocal bullshit at the end. Although the choice of Journey was completely unforgiveable and the real reason people should be mad at Chase. But, yeah, I think Leotardo part was a little over the top too.
BALK BTW: It's hard not to see it as an indictment of the viewer: You want this shit, etc. Enjoy.
RHYMES WITH STORY: If you're going to hate on Journey, we're going to have REAL PROBLEMS. That particular tableau was a tribute to America.
BALK BTW: Oh, don't get me started on America.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Well, if you hate Journey, you hate America.
BALK BTW: Yes and yes.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Well!
BALK BTW: AJ: More or less annoying?
RHYMES WITH STORY: AJ totally redeemed as a LITTLE BITCH. I mean, what the—. What a monster. He's yer America.
BALK BTW: Exactly.
BALK BTW: The speed of that turnaround — and I understand the need for compression — was kind of alarming. But not untrue.
RHYMES WITH STORY: I think it's where David Chase runs into trouble. My pet stupid theory is this: David Chase was boxed in. He can't countenance giving viewers any of the baloney that they want, and good for him. But along the way, he gets in trouble. And that's why the episode felt like a series of scenes he presented to the actors without context that he assembled into a story in the editing room, telling no one. Which, you know—more power to him, I think. It certainly ended better than Northern Exposure.
BALK BTW: Well, there were hints that things were gonna heat up for Carmela. But yes. It did have a choppy, assembled-in-edit feel. Which still doesn't take much away from it. It ends in a Jersey diner with the nuclear family having dinner amidst the omnipresent threat of death. Which is pretty much a state of the state.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Heh. AS IF I WOULD GO TO JERSEY.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Also? I feel like I loved the Sopranos against my will.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Like, it's a RIDICULOUS cartoonish idea for a TV show.
RHYMES WITH STORY: It's borderline racist, it's totally camp, and it's just plain silly.
RHYMES WITH STORY: And also it's logic makes no sense—all real-world actions are just suspended in "developing plotlines."
BALK BTW: Is it any more racist than "Everybody Loves Raymond"?
RHYMES WITH STORY: But all that sounds like my ex-boyfriend and I liked him too, I guess.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Mmm, SLIGHTLY more? Oh GOd, I've never watched a full Raymond episode!
RHYMES WITH STORY: May I never?
BALK BTW: Italians are animals. Terrible people. The world deserves the truth.
BALK BTW: That Meadow line about how this country treats Italian was a great knowing wink of a line.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Oh God, please don't start the Italian hate mail up again. Although all my Italians pretty much say the same. Oh yeah, that was kind of awesome, except—that was using her as a puppet! She's smarter than someone who thinks Italians get treated bad because her mob dad got arrested.
BALK BTW: No one bitches more about their portrayal in the media and the culture. Shut the fuck up, Italians! You're supposed to be the sons of the Roman warriors! But you're whining like a bunch of Jews.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Oh God, now the Jews too.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Hmm. Am I turning on the Sopranos?
BALK BTW: You feel betrayed.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Oh, maybe I do feel betrayed.
RHYMES WITH STORY: MAYBE I'm just having abandonment issues!
RHYMES WITH STORY: Ugh, I'm going to go join the military.
BALK BTW: Learn Arabic.
RHYMES WITH STORY: As if. That shit is HARD. I tried!
BALK BTW: Maybe you should wait and see how John from Cincinnati plays out. It shows promise.
RHYMES WITH STORY: How could anyone watch TV after that exhausting show? Although, actually, the penultimate episode of Charm School was the PERFECT palate cleanser. Now THERE'S an awesome show.
BALK BTW: We truly live in the best of all possible worlds, yes. Anything else?
RHYMES WITH STORY: If you were a girl, I'd so make you come over and get bombed and watch Charm School. But you're so not.
BALK BTW: Also, I don't drink before I watch tv. I take my television very seriously.
RHYMES WITH STORY: I have something to say in closing.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Ha.
RHYMES WITH STORY: David Chase has beaten me. He won.
RHYMES WITH STORY: And I feel like that was his intention. He was COMPETITIVE with this thing.
BALK BTW: To keep you involved and interested against your better judgment, you mean?
RHYMES WITH STORY: or something. to win me over.
BALK BTW: You know the stories about all the kids from London who were evacuated from their parents during the Blitz? And how, when they came back, they all misbehaved in the worst ways possible? Which was a psychological thing, them testing the parents who had "abandoned" them, seeing "how much can I get away with before you stop loving me." I get that feeling with Chase a lot.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Wait, I have one question for you: Did you cry like a little bitch?
BALK BTW: I did not cry at all last night.
BALK BTW: Very little to cry about!
BALK BTW: Maybe the Chianese scene came close.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Ahhh.
BALK BTW: BUT
BALK BTW: You couldn't help thinking of Vinnie "the chin" gigante, which sort of undercut it.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Ah. Right.
BALK BTW: But if you've known anyone with Alzheimer's, that scene was VERY powerful.
BALK BTW: And, were it not for the sheer shock and ballsiness of the ending, it would have been the highlight.
RHYMES WITH STORY: Well sure. That was unreal. Also, NOTHING MATTERS. Not gonna remember nothin'.
BALK BTW: Well, yeah, there were a lot of levels on that.
BALK BTW: I am hoping NO ONE goes with a "This is the way the Sopraons ends: Not with a bada-bing but a whimper" headline. Because you know someone wants to.
RHYMES WITH STORY: UMM THEY ALREADY DID.
BALK BTW: FUCKERS, who?
RHYMES WITH STORY: from our inbox:
RHYMES WITH STORY: http://ajliebling.blogspot.com
RHYMES WITH STORY: With neither a bang nor a whimper, David Chase just pulls the plug.
RHYMES WITH STORY: i threw up inside my internets a little when I read that.
BALK BTW: Oh, God. Okay, I REALLY wanna wrap this up. Did YOU cry?
RHYMES WITH STORY: Almost. But no. Umm, speaking of Italians and murder? I have to be on the LIRR in 20 minutes. So consider this the ending, just like he Sopranos: WITHOUT AN ENDING. Eh, no one in America knows how to end anything anyway.