So what was that cat doing in the Sopranos?

Dateline: Sun 10 Jun 2007

If you're a fan of "The Sopranos," you already know writer/producer David Chase has warned us that his art imitates life: ya don't always get what ya want, and sometimes, there is no closure -- no matter how often your humorless therapist tells you, "you need closure."

Still, I'll take my expresso dark and with a stiff shot of anisette. I personally think Tony Soprano got whacked -- why else the excruciating tension building in that final dinner scene, the bland mixed with a heavy sense of doom as rough-looking men, including USA cap guy, invade the perimeter and one guy marches menacingly to the john? And why the sound of a coin dropping (harking back to the jingle of the pay phones Phil was using?) just before Tony turns his big moony mean face upward and everything goes black? How many seconds did that blackout last? Is that not death?

I know, I know: it was deliberately ambiguous; the popular suggestion is that maybe Chase can make a movie someday, so why close doors on the star?

Then there's what the optimists saw, what some friends reported: Tony can't die; he's larger than life. The family's last supper is almost ridiculously corny and upbeat -- in a burger joint, ordering onion rings, with syrupy bad dated rock music in the backdrop. A.J.'s gonna have a club, Meadow is headed towards a career as a top earner, all is sweet. Carm and Tony are practically in love again, or at least sharing a point of view: onion rings rock.

Macaroni and cheese. From my less charitable chair, I saw that A.J. is still yammering about nonsense and the pathetic shallow dream of a club; Meadow can't park a car and is getting birth control because she's in bed with a 2nd gen mob boy; Tony and Carmella have a veiled truce over a meal, with the best onion rings in the universe as the only thing the family can agree on. This is ultimately a mob story, which means blood and guts, and it is a relentlessly depressing one, from the get-go, with Livia the killer mom, and yes, with streaks of hilarity, the ducks.

But as mob stories go, there are no happy endings. Hence the FBI agent jubilantly forecasting, upon hearing of Phil's death, that maybe the government has scored a win.

If Tony wasn't killed, his head turned into ketchup like Phil's, then he almost certainly will go to prison. There are no happy endings for Tony and the gang. Even if Tony isn't physically dead, the moral emptiness of his life makes him a goner.

And what about that cat?

But enough of my views. If anyone else watched this, please weigh in.

And somebody, explain that cat.

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