Did The Sopranos creator David Chase finally give us an answer to one of television and pop culture's most hotly-debated topics: that final scene? Based on transcripts from a leaked interview for the book The Sopranos Sessions, it appears co-author Alan Sepinwall was able to elicit two words out of Chase that might just shift the balance in favor of those on the "RIP Tony Soprano" side. Or does it? In the HBO series' final episode "Made in America," Tony (James Gandolfini) and his family are having dinner out a restaurant but the fear of something happening (a hit on Tony, a robbery, etc) was all throughout the scene. The scene and series end with the momentum building to a quick cut to a black screen to the tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."
Up until now, Chase has kept things vague when it comes to what we would've seen of Tony's fate if there wasn't that last-second cut-away. So we've had those convinced that Tony was about to shuffle off this mortal coil, while others saw the scene as representative of Tony's new "question mark life" of constantly looking over his shoulder that would be his fate. Now it sounds like Chase definitely had some serious thoughts on the matter, as you're about to see in the following exchange:
Sepinwall [co-author]: When you said there was an endpoint, you don't mean Tony at Holsten's, you just meant, "I think I have two more years' worth of stories left in me."
Chase: Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end… Tony was going to get called to a meeting with Johnny Sack in Manhattan, and he was going to go back through the Lincoln Tunnel for this meeting, and it was going to go black there and you never saw him again as he was heading back, the theory being that something bad happens to him at the meeting. But we didn't do that.
Matt Zoller Seitz [co-author]: You realize, of course, that you just referred to that as a death scene.
Chase: [Long pause] F*** you guys.
So the issue's solved, right? Not so fast. Sepinwall went on The Rich Eisen Show on Friday to push back on reporting that Chase's comments were a definitive answer. In the clip below, the co-author explains that while that exchange with Chase did take place there was much more following that. Chase follows that exchange by explaining that he chose to not go in that direction, and instead referred to Tony's "death scene" as one where he was driving across the bridge to make nice with the New York bosses. Chase felt that having the screen go blank while Tony's driving made it look too much like he dies. Sepinwall also offers other options that Chase considered but abandoned, emphasizing that Chase was looking to leave viewers with the thematic reminder that anything can happen to anyone at any time.