Strong opinions, weakly held

Ron Moore on The Sopranos

Ron Moore, the creator of Battlestar Galactica, comments on The Sopranos finale:

For weeks, the speculation has centered around a simplistic black and white question for a show that revelled in never providing monochromatic answers: would Tony live or die? The prosaic nature of the question and its anticipated answer was itself was the most disappointing thing about the lead-up to the finale. Either Tony was going to get whacked, or he wouldn’t. “The Sopranos” would end with either the bitter little pill of the “bad” guy finally getting what he’s got coming or with the vaguely false relief of family affirmed and life goes on.

Instead, Chase managed to do the unthinkable, the unbelievable and the unprecedented: he yanked us out of their lives without any resolution whatsoever. We were torn away from Tony, Carmella, AJ, Meadow, Paulie, Sil and the all the rest without any idea what happens to them tomorrow or even later that same evening. In real life, when you lose contact with someone, you seldom if ever have the satisfaction of knowing how the myriad threads of their lives resolved themselves. They are removed from your circle of knowledge and yet their lives go on unbeknownst to you in ways you can only imagine. The Sopranos are gone from our lives, but their lives go on without resolution, much like ours. None of us have tidy, revelatory endings that are the culmination of our “story arcs” and neither will they.

Oh, I’m sure there are those who will bemoan the lack of resolution to the story or that Chase has somehow “robbed the fans” but I’m a fan and I’m ecstatic. I’m glad he thumbed his nose at the tyranny of the narrative drive to bring things to a tidy conclusion so we can all clap and walk away without another thought about that mob family in Jersey, satisfied that all’s well that ends well. Screw that. I don’t want to see Tony’s death, nor do I want to watch him drive off into witness protection, or sit down to some kind of illusory happiness in the bosom of his family. I simply want to pretend that his life continues, that he’s still simultaneously worrying about onion rings and whether that guy is hiding a gun in the restroom.

It’s poetic. It’s exciting. It’s perfect.

I think that’s exactly right.


  1. I liked the ending, though I am still mulling it over — I became less interested in The Sopranos with each of the final season’s episodes. Too dark. Too few longtime characters left worth caring about.

    As for Moore’s take, a guy who writes for TV would naturally enjoy the concept of thumbing your nose at viewers. But is that really a more satisfactory choice than how some other shows have ended their runs? I prefer the way that Six Feet Under, the ’80s Newhart and Saint Elsewhere went out. I expect that The Wire will also do it better, next season, than Chase did here.

  2. I think that the goals of The Wire are different in that it’s more traditional in terms of narrative. I expect a more traditional ending for Battlestar Galactic as well. The Sopranos wasn’t really a story with a beginning, so it doesn’t surprise me that there was no traditional end.

  3. Yes, I think you’ve hit it spot on. Six Feet Under is a great example of how a show can end well. And now that we know that Moore is wrapping up BSG next year, I expect he’ll do a better job than Chase did this season. Time will tell.

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