(In case you missed it, David Chase was recently interviewed by a publication most have never heard of, not unlike this one, and he said that Tony didn’t die in the finale. Sneeze. BS. Cough.) So, 10 reasons, read on…
- Let’s remember how the series finale started. Tony, sleeping, on a white pillow, on his back, with his arms semi-crossed. Like he’s in a coffin. He’s never slept like that in any other episode ever. He’s woken up snoring, he’s woken up on his side, on his stomach, while drooling, having odd dreams, but never coffin-style. That’s foreshadowing. A plant for a later payoff.
- There’s also the easy to interpret as open-ended quote from Paulie Walnuts (we need more shows with characters named things like Paulie Walnuts) He says, ‘In the midst of life, we are in death. Or is it: in the midst of death, we are in life? Either way, you’re up the ass.’ That’s what’s going on.” There’s no leaving Holsten’s with everything good. That’s for sure.
- There’s the ringing bell everytime the door at Holsten’s opens– Tony is watching (and half-expecting) something bad to happen. I’ve never had such anxiety from a little ringing bell. Like Pavlov’s dog joined the mafia.
- Don’t Stop Believin’ – by Journey – can you think of that song in any other way now when you hear it? Tony chooses this himself from the jukebox. It’s his own nod to eternity because when Carmela arrives…
- Tony tells Carmela that Carlo is going to testify against him. His living option is not a good one. More foreshadowing – bad things are coming.
- AJ arrives next, just behind the guy in the Member’s Only jacket. You will of course remember that Member’s Only was the title of the first episode of the sixth season that aired in 2006 (the year prior to the series finale). In that episode, not only does Uncle Junior shoot Tony in the stomach and nearly kill him when he’s cooking pasta, there’s also a lot of Egyptian God and Goddess stuff inspired by the William Burroughs piece “The Western Lands”, during which Meadow plays the part of Khu, the Guardian Angel. She is the only family member not present at Holsten’s for the series finale because…
- Meadow is stuck outside in the dark with the worst scenario of bad parallel parking known to God and man. Good lord could we have any more anxiety? There’s no way that you have that much anxiety and NOT having something MAJOR happen.
- The Member’s Only Jacket Guy keeps looking at the Soprano family, eventually gets up off his stool and goes to the restroom. Classic Godfather move. Drop the gun, take the cannoli.
- In some of the final lines of dialog, AJ tells his parents that they should “remember the good times”. Tony reaches out and clasps his hand. This is a little present of happiness from God before….
- The Onion Rings of Communion. Did you notice that they all “popped” their onion rings? No one took a bite. Just like you’re not supposed to chew the communion wafer. Just as Tony, Carmela and AJ finish their last supper, Meadow (the Guardian Angel) finally finishes parking her car and comes running across the street. She opens the door, ringing the bell, the song sings “Don’t Stop”, and as she makes eye contact with Tony, the screen cuts to black.
Tony reaches his eternity, the series reaches its eternity, and we don’t stop believing.
And yes, someone could argue this the exact opposite way. That’s why this series finale is so awesome. It’s open and ambiguous and beautiful. But I also think Tony dies with his show.
So why do I think David Chase decided to answer this question now? And answer it that Tony is alive? Despite his supposed distaste and anger about even being asked the question? Because he misses James Gandolfini. And he wants Tony to live even if in just the place in his head where he can write lines of dialog and plot twists and the movie follow-up that we never saw. We all miss Tony and we all miss James Gandolfini. Sopranos was some of the best television in history and we all miss the genius that went along with it. Especially our favorite lovable ethics-challenged gangster dad and husband, Tony Soprano.
Live on Tony. We believe.