Last night, I went to a Sopranos finale party. Tonight, I was rocking a flu-ridden TwoBert to sleep when he vomited banana-cream goop all down my front.
Up until about an hour ago, I was struggling to figure out which experience was more satisfying.
On its first viewing, the ending just plain pissed me off. I bought into all that tension that Chase so expertly built (as he has done so many times before), and when it ended so abruptly (as it has done so many times before) I just felt used. Sucker-punched. Chase had orchestrated some intense drama over the last few episodes. He made us think that he had changed, baby. He wasn't like that no more. But when crunch time came, he couldn't make a narrative choice. So he left it up to us and walked away, middle fingers raised dismissively over his head.
But then I watched it again, on the DVR, and stuff started nagging at me.
[*** SPOILER ALERT ***]
Where had I seen those Boy Scouts before? Why focus on the lone trucker, or the Man in Members Only Jacket (as he was actually credited)? Why delay Meadow with her parallel parking? There's purpose to this, somehow. Those people factored into the Soprano backstory, and their presence is significant.
And now I firmly believe that Tony died in that Holsten's booth. He reacted to the bell on the door, looked up reflexively, and before he knew it somebody capped him in the side of the head. When Tony's guys drilled Phil Leotardo in the gas station, we were meant to understand how you don't see it coming. If nothing else, Chase is very fond of cleavering us with foreshadowing.
Remember back in the Dark Ages, when an episode aired exactly twice (first viewing and summer rerun) and its only hope of resurfacing was in syndication, years after its cultural relevance had expired? Now we have DVRs, chat rooms, DVD sales, and drama geeks can deconstruct everything with split-second screen grabs. We can dissect and go play on chat rooms and delve deeply into all the little stuff that film-makers used to put in there to amuse themselves, convinced no one else would ever pick up on it.
It's a great time to be alive. With or without the bananabarf.