(Warning: If you still haven’t seen Sunday’s episode of The Sopranos — and you must! — there are spoilers ahead.)
Show of hands, everyone: during the final scene (pictured) of Sunday’s Sopranos, how many of you heard Tony’s final shout as “I get it!”? On first viewing, that’s how I heard it, as a peyote-induced epiphany. But then, I read a number of recaps whose writers heard Tony say, “I did it!”, as if he were confessing to the abyss that he killed Christopher. (Or as if he were exulting in triumph at having broken his long gambling losing streak.) Going back to the DVR, I replayed the scene several times, and given James Gandolfini’s mushy diction, I couldn’t tell whether he said, “I get it!” or “I did it!”
Now, the official recap on HBO’s site says I was right the first time (as was EW.com TV Watcher Lisa Schwarzbaum). But I like the idea that Gandolfini and David Chase put the ambiguity in there on purpose. Has Tony found enlightenment, of the sort that seemed within his grasp after his coma-induced hallucinations? Or has he finally taken an honest look at his own long, lethal list of crimes and sins and acknowledged his wrongdoing — which could itself be a step toward enlightenment?
So far, the series has scarcely offered the suggestion that Tony willever be repentant, and we’re all expecting these last three episodes toend in a bloody climax for Tony’s biological and professional families,but what if Chase is hinting at a possible happy ending here? And whatwould a happy ending be in the context of The Sopranos? Allow me to suggest one.
WithChristopher gone, Tony’s only real legacy is his kids, and his onedream all along seems to have been for Meadow and AJ to have a betterlife than his, one untainted by crime. Meadow’s future seems secure,but it seems possible to see the entire series as a struggle for thesoul of AJ. Earlier this season, he looked like he was on the way tobecoming a responsible husband and stepfather with a low-paying but legit job, but his broken engagement and hisincreasingly close ties to his next-generation-mobsterfriends suggest he’s now firmly set on the opposite path. Lisa wrotethat his “Can’t we all just get along” plea was the last gasp of adrowning man before he sinks into a moral swamp, but what if it’s therealization that he has to reject his father’s way? That kind ofredemption, and a decision to press on in the straight world despite the loss of Blanca, might be the only kind of happy ending the series couldmuster.
Anyone but me still holding out hope that Tony’s enlightenment willextend to AJ and lead to a redemptive ending for the series? Or isTony’s epiphany too little, too late to save himself and those close tohim from a soul-shattering reckoning?
UPDATE: Commenter Jenny, below, is correct. Turns out Lisa Schwarzbaum was one of those who heard “I did it!” and wrote her initial TV Watch column accordingly. Our EW colleague Paul Katz then spotted the official HBO recap, and Lisa’s column was corrected and republished.