Chase’s ending to perhaps what will be forever remembered as the best drama on television has caused quite a controversy amongst loyal viewers of his HBO creation; The Sopranos. Drawing upon his European film influences, Chase used a “black cut” technique that for exactly 11 seconds, left audiences on the verge on breaking their cable boxes until the credits silently rolled by. So what exactly did happen to Tony? There are numerous theories floating around the Internet, here’s mine.
I believe that the ending shared some interesting similarities to the ending of part A of this final season. Despite numerous tragedies having just taken place, the Soprano family sits together, visibly unshaken by the past events leading up to the group shot. Although some may argue that Chase’s black cut was symbolic on Tony’s death (which can be understood, based on Tony’s prior conversation with Bobby in which he alluded to death as “Everything going black.”)
However, this proposition doesn’t fully encompass everything Chase had going on within those few final scenes. Based on how incredible the music selection has been throughout the series, “Don’t Stop Believing” does not serve as the appropriate final movement to Tony’s demise. The manner in which the cinematography draws correlations between the characters and the lyrics (“City Boy” zoom on Tony, “Some were born to sing the blues” with AJ speaking over it, etc…) leads me to believe that Tony survives that family supper. I think that the most telling point is how Tony explains that Carlo will testify to Carm and then simply changes the subject as he prepares for AJ to arrive. The series has been centered around trials and tribulations that have often resulted in Tony’s life being placed in jeopardy. This scene, focusing on different characters arriving in the diner was just a glimpse into Tony’s real world paranoia. Perhaps, following his probable indictment, Tony will receive some jail time, but these emotions are all placed aside in order for Tony to enjoy a rare meal with his family.
Furthermore, the intriguing presence of the cat in the final episode further substantiate the possibility of Tony’s survival. Tony’s continual obsession with animals creates the probability of some key animals that appeared throughout the series to symbolize himself. Remember the bear roaming around Tony’s house earlier in the series? This could be interpreted as Tony during stronger, more successful times. The fragile cat that fixated itself on the photo of Christopher is also symbolic of the individual Tony had become. Recalling the popular axiom regarding the nine lives of felines, the last scene was not Tony’s last supper.