After a sixth and final season characterized by looming dread, as death picked off those closest to Tony Soprano, the Jersey mob boss finally seemed to have won and ended a lethal intra-mob war and was celebrating by taking his immediate family out for a simple meal of comfort food. There they were, sitting at a diner booth, listening to the jukebox, and waiting for daughter Meadow to park her car and join them, when suddenly, the screen went black and silent. Viewers were pounding their TVs. Had their sets gone haywire? Then the credits rolled. Nope, that was it.
No definitive answer to whether that mysterious, furtive guy lurking in the background was there to whack Tony or was just another hungry patron. Those expecting a cosmic comeuppance for Tony, and those expecting him to avoid one, both felt cheated out of closure. In a way, writer David Chase’s ending made sense — maybe Tony didn’t die that night, but he’d spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. Either way, Chase had apparently run out of things to say about him, though his way of making that point looked an awful lot like a cop-out.
Still, the ending did have some positive results. It revived interest in Journey’s chestnut “Don’t Stop Believin’,” a year before the McKinley High kids made unforgettable use of the song in the pilot for Glee. And it helped sell onion rings at Holsten’s, the Bloomfield, N.J. eatery where the finale took place. Indeed, its few minutes of screen time made Holsten’s an indelible part of Sopranos lore, so much so that, when James Gandolfini died this summer, pilgrims dined there to pay their respects at the restaurant’s impromptu shrine, the famous booth, whose table now bore a note from the management: “Reserved for Tony Soprano.”
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