Dear Tim and Brian,
I thought the last episode was perfect. I'm not disappointed at all. We were privileged, over the past eight years, to receive an all-access pass to David Chase's brain. The pass has been revoked, but I think we were lucky to have been let inside in the first place. Sure, he played a trick on us, and it was even a pitiless trick (the final sound we heard after 86 hours of modern-day Shakespeare, after all, was Steve Perry's voice), but so what? When the screen went black, I laughed.
Before I grapple with Tim's disenchantment—and, based on a quick promenade across the Internets, the unhappiness of many others ("David Chase should have put some bite into it. He left us hanging," a man identified, unbelievably, as "Johnny Salami, 43, of Rutherford, New Jersey," told Reuters)—allow me to note that, like Brian, I thought the greatest surprise last night was not Phil Leotardo's death (talk about curbing!) or A.J.'s fair-weather patriotism, but Agent Harris' chest hair. (His moral corruption was not that startling.) Isn't there some antique-but-still-on-the-books Hoover-era regulation prohibiting such jungly man-growth?
But onto the issue of the moment: I disagree with Tim's miffled suggestion that this trick of an ending came about because David Chase couldn't imagine another way out. I think you're not crediting Chase properly. Anyone who could envision Janice's shooting of Richie Aprile, or Junior's shooting of Tony, or, for that matter, Silvio Dante's hair, or the murder of Cosette, could, I suspect, gin up a finale that smelled more like a finale than this one did. That said, I think Tim is right: Chase should have had the courage of his ambivalence and let Phil Leotardo live. Of course, then he'd have to crush someone else's head under an SUV, because how do you pass up the opportunity to stage such a scene as that, once it comes to you?
But I think Chase's mission throughout the series was to make an anti-television television series, and in this, he succeeded perfectly. He also, by the way—and Brian has taken note of this—delivered an above-average Sopranos episode in the process. Several lines were priceless, and Tony delivered what might be the greatest comeback ever issued on the show:
Meadow: "The state can crush the individual."
Tony (incredulously): "New Jersey?"
That's what I'll miss most about the show: the acid, hypocrisy-puncturing humor. Unless, of course, this isn't the end of The Sopranos, after all. There might be a more quotidian reason we were left hanging: A Sopranos movie, or an entirely new season, a few years down the road. I, for one, am for it, and not only because we could then revive this dialogue. Are you fine fellows with me on this?