Sopranos Final Season

Week 9: Is Vanilla Fudge a Clue?
Talking television.
June 12 2007 4:53 PM

Sopranos Final Season


Dear Fellas,

The strangest thing just happened: I decided to play Paul McCartney's new album backward, and I distinctly heard the words, "Tony is dead, Tony is dead."


Then I heard a bunch of walrus sounds, then disco remixes of the soundtrack from Wicked. Weird, huh?

Based on this scientific listening experiment, I was going to side with viewers who believe that the blackout at the end of the episode was, in fact, Tony's experience of his own death, but then I got an anonymous e-mail that I'm sure was from David Chase himself indicating that the last ambiguous moments of the episode were meant to suggest that Tony was alive and well and living on an island off France with Jimi Hendrix and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

By the way, I'm not mocking the hysteria surrounding the last episode.

Well, I am, a little. David Chase, who really is on an island off France, or at least on mainland France, right now (he apparently flees there whenever shooting is finished), must be enjoying the ruckus. If his goal was to leave us with a crazy-making mystery, he succeeded, and succeeded wildly.

The arguments for Tony's murder are fairly convincing, but I'm also open to the idea that what we witnessed wasn't Tony's demise but merely his overconsumption of onion rings. (Did anyone notice, by the way, that the Sopranos ate those onion rings as if they were communion wafers?)

One previously unexplored clue suggesting that Tony might still be with us was pointed out to me by musical genius and noted Italian-American Gerry Marzorati, who is also the editor of the New York Times Magazine. Gerry wrote the following: "For all the attention paid to the Final Episode's music—Tony's  jukebox flip and the Journey outro—why has no one, as far as I know, noted that the episode begins with the opening strains of the Vanilla Fudge's psychedelic cover of the Supreme's 'You Keep Me Hanging On?' "

Gerry went on, "The Vanilla Fudge were (mostly) Italian-American guys from Long Island and HUGE in north Jersey in the summer of 1968, when their first album was released. (On a personal note: They judged a battle of the bands that summer held in a department-store parking lot on route 46 in Wayne, N.J., which my band won—we got to play at Palisades Park!). And, of course, the song itself is, well, Chase foreshadowing that he is going to keep us hanging on, as he has these many years, no?"

It all depends on whether Chase meant to keep us hanging on for an hour or forever, but I tend to think that Chase, clever man that he is, might figure out a noncheesy way to resurrect this show, as a movie, or even as a 10- or 12-hour television cycle, in three or four years, especially when HBO offers to buy him all of France as a down payment.

I don't understand the complaints I'm hearing about the ending, and, the truth is, despite the assertion of Mr. Metcalf that he's among the few people who thought the last episode was stellar, I've been flooded with e-mails from loyal readers of this dialogue who agreed with my statement yesterday that the episode was perfect. These discerning viewers enjoy the fact that David Chase respects them enough to screw with their heads.

There's so much more to say about this show, but I'm in the Middle East, where the onion rings aren't any good and neither is my Internet connection, so I will sign off by noting that, when I return home, I will almost immediately start watching the entire series on DVD, just as soon as I finish with the Gilmore Girls.

Brian, it's been a real pleasure having you in this dialogue—you are the funniest anchorman I've ever known, not that I've ever known any other anchormen. Your sharp insights, keen eye, and infinite knowledge of Lincoln Log sandwiches will all be missed. Tim—what can I say? There's no one I'd rather bullshit around with than you. I was thinking that maybe Slate would let us analyze another television show—that new Caveman series, maybe?

Or maybe not. This is the bleak future we now face: There may never be another Sopranos.




Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.