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The Sopranos: The Final Season

After more than eight years and six seasons, the saga of the New Jersey crime family will come to a close after nine more episodes.
Mervyn Rothstein
From the Print Edition:
Sopranos, Mar/Apr 2007

(continued from page 1)

Will Carmela Soprano, Tony's willing wife, stick with her philandering husband and her deal with the devil, or will she give up the financially comfortable life of a mob wife for safer, if less green, pastures? Will Tony and Carmela's son, Anthony Jr., be true to his heritage and follow in his father's violent footsteps, or will he remain devoted to his new nuclear family: his Dominican girlfriend and her young son? Will Tony's daughter, Meadow, stay 3,000 miles away from her dad, out of harm's way in the bosom of Los Angeles, or will she be lured back to her father's den, and who knows what fate?

Will Christopher achieve his much-dreamed-of success in Hollywood, or will he instead succeed his uncle as top mob gun? Or will Tony, furious at Christopher's fling last year with a real estate agent played by Julianna Margulies, severely punish his straying kin? Will Christopher's fiancée, Adriana, long missing and presumed dead, return from the shadows? Or is she really dead and buried? And will Carmela finally discover the truth about Adriana's fate?

Will Dr. Melfi wind up getting to know Tony even better, on the couch or in bed? Or will the strong-willed shrink maintain her professional distance? What will become of Silvio Dante and Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri, Tony's henchmen sidekicks? Will Silvio lose his hair? Will Paulie's walnuts finally get cracked? Will the legendary ducks of Season One return to Tony's swimming pool?

Chase, 61, rarely makes public appearances. But he showed up for the question-and-answer session, which was sponsored by the Center for Communication, an independent, nonprofit media forum, and moderated by David Schwartz, the chief curator of film and television at the Museum of the Moving Image. In front of an international audience of several hundred "Sopranos" fans, Chase, soft-spoken and at times even sounding a little shy, spent nearly an hour and a half telling his admirers about Tony's life, and about his own.

He talked about how "The Sopranos" came to be; the crucial nature of James Gandolfini's contribution to the character of Tony; the origins of Tony's abominable mother; why Tony is in therapy; what really happened to Adriana; what Chase thinks of Italian-American groups' criticism of the show; Chase's own future; and one crucial and unchangeable decision about Tony and his therapist that was made right from the start.

Chase refused, however, to offer even one word about The End, though he has often said that he made up his mind four years ago about what would happen in the final minutes. He did, however, intentionally or not, offer up what might be a clue.

Toward the end of the session, when asked how he managed to find a balance between the show's entertainment factor and the moral issues it engages, he said that for him, that really wasn't the issue. "The only thing I should tell you," he declared, is that "I don't want to do a morality show. I don't really want to say that crime does not pay. It would be very easy to say that. It's said all the time." Might this have been a hint about the show's denouement? We'll see. But he did repeat the same sentiment to Entertainment Weekly several months later, adding that his goal is "to show that there are certain ways that we all spend our lives, and that as adults, we decide our fate, we make our own bed, and we lie in it. [That] free will exists."

Chase admitted to his audience that he is sometimes troubled by the intensity of the violence in the series. "There's way more murder on our show" than in real life, he said. "How many gangland slayings have you read about in New York recently? None. It troubles me, but not on a moral level—on an artistic level. But then I think to myself, we're not doing a documentary. Mob movies, let's face it, have always been about machine guns."

And besides, he said, there has been less of that lately. At first, he was somewhat interested in the aesthetics of violence. But these days, fans are more likely to say things like, "What's going on with that show? Nobody got whacked." And that's just fine with Chase.

Many people, he said, think the show became popular because of all the violence, as well as the cursing and the naked dancers at the Bada Bing! Club. But that's a mistake, Chase said.

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