'The Sopranos' finale: Did Tony Soprano die? Creator David Chase finally answers

Add to Favorites | The Sopranos
×
Remove from Favorites
The Sopranos has been added to your favorites.
OK
CANCEL
the-sopranos-finale-tony-dead-hbo.jpgDid Tony Soprano die at the end of "The Sopranos"? It's a question viewers have been asking since the show went off the air on June 10, 2007. Creator David Chase has stayed mum about the implications behind the fade-to-black finale, leading many fans to take cues from Tony's brother-in-law Bobby Baccalieri, who once said that a person won't ever hear the bullet with their name on it.

But did Tony really die? It's a question that's plagued Chase, to hear him tell it, because he doesn't think it's one that should be asked. Based on a new interview with Vox, it's certainly not a question he expected to follow him, and not one that he likes to be discussed.

However, Chase finally did discuss it with Vox writer Martha P. Nochimson. He gave her the definitive answer about "The Sopranos" finale, saying, "No, he isn't" dead when the camera cuts to black.

As Nochimson goes on to write, that answer isn't satisfying on its own, despite the fact that it's the question people have been asking for about as long as "The Sopranos" was on the air. She uses Chase's influences -- Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allen Poe, Orson Welles, Luis Bunuel -- as the explanation for why he went a relatively open-ended route with the show's finale:

"Welles' magic, Bunuel's real-looking dreams, Poe's sand that keeps flowing through our fingers no matter what we try to do to stop it, are the inspirations for the cut to black. The cut to black brought to American television the sense of an ending that produces wonder instead of the tying-up of loose ends that characterizes the tradition of the formulaic series. Tony's decisive win over his enemy in the New York mob, Phil Leotardo, is the final user-friendly event in Chase's gangster story that gratifies the desire to be conclusive, and it would have been the finale of a less compelling gangster story. The cut to black is the moment when Castaneda and the American Romantics rise to the surface and the gangster story slips through our fingers and vanishes.

"I'm not guessing. When I asked Chase about the cut to black, he said that it is about Poe's poem 'Dream Within a Dream.' 'What more can I say?' he asks when I prod him to speak more, and I admire his silence. I am his audience too and he wants me to reach for his meaning. And here's what I conclude. Though you wouldn't know it from watching Hollywood movies, endings are by nature mysterious. There is the instability of loss in an ending as well as the satisfying sense of completion. American television before Chase, with the exception of David Lynch's Twin Peaks, one of Chase's avowed key inspirations for the art of The Sopranos, built a craft that dispenses with the destabilizing aspects of an ending. The true art of closure will not tolerate such a boring decision. Moreover, the art of closure forbids merely telling the audience in words that there is loss, since words can create the illusion of safety and control. Chase's art seeks a silent level of knowing more profound than words. He believes we already know if we open up to that deeper part of us."

Do you find this resolution satisfying?
Photo/Video credit: HBO