It's the 20th anniversary of 'The Sopranos' debut and there's a new explanation for the show's ending.
1. Forget sports for today. The Sopranos made its HBO debut on this date 20 years ago and television was changed forever. There never has been and never will be acting performances as good as the ones James Gandolifini and Edie Falco gave over the show's six seasons. Along with the work done by Gandolfini and Falco, whenever someone mentions The Sopranos, inevitably the show's controversial final episode is mentioned. Did Tony die? is a question that has been asked by every person who has ever watched the show.
ESPN investigative reporter, T.J. Quinn, dropped his own theory on Twitter yesterday and it's quite a doozy. According to Quinn, the show's creator, David Chase did not kill Tony Sopranos in the final scene. He killed us, The Sopranos audience. Take a look:
Creator David Chase had the intellectual courage to show his viewers how ugly their favorite characters could be. He tested our loyalty to guys who were killers, bigots & thugs who prostituted and abused women (remember Sil punching a dancer? Ralph beating her to death?). (2)— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
There are key scenes, all dealing with *an audience's reaction to violence.* First, Bobby Bacala's death in the hobby shop. We see reaction shots from figurines on the table and hear kids screaming. The last shot is a guy cowering w two young boys. (4)https://t.co/EVNSbiQVEj— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
Another: there's a scene toward the end where everybody at the Bing has to go outside. When they get there, we see a motorcycle wipe out on Rt. 17, and the rider is promptly run over by a car. The crowd watches and reacts to all. The ultimate gratuitous violence. (8)— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
And then we came to the final episode, after years of speculation from rabid fans about who was going to get whacked. Years of clear ambivalence from Chase about his audience and its desire for blood. The name of the final episode, as you know, is "Members only." (10)— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
The final scene is full of red herrings: Meadow trying to park, the guy in the hat, people walking in. Even, I submit, the guy in the Members Only jacket. He isn't there to kill Tony, he's a reminder that Tony is a part of two families and we're members of neither. (11)— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
At the moment the screen goes black and the music stops, the shot is of Tony. It's not his POV when it goes black, it's ours. (13)— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
It doesn't matter if Tony is dead or alive. That wasn't the point. And, yes, Chase seemed to slip when he said in an interview that this was a death scene. But he never said it was Tony's death. (15)— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
Thus do I submit, good people, by my authority as a resident of North Jersey and someone who has met THREE cast members (and passed three others on the street and had another sit on my NYDN desk when I wasn't there), the definitive revelation about David Chase's masterpiece. Fin.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 9, 2019
This is a pretty remarkable and convincing take by Quinn, although I'm not sure I buy it. Would David Chase really be that consumed by audience feedback that he'd use the ending of the greatest show in TV history for some kind of weird revenge? If the answer is yes, than Chase needs many sessions with Dr. Melfi.
I was a believer that Tony died after reading this manifesto many years ago. However, in a recent New York Times interview, Chase explained that the song, Don't Stop Believin,' which is famously played in the show's last scene, was key. Here is that exchange:
N.Y Times: I think the point isn’t whether or not Tony was killed. It’s the uncertainty that’s the point, and the way the scene’s crazy tension makes us aware of the passage of time and how choices shape the brief bit of life we get. Most people can’t control when or how they die, but the choices are ours. Is that totally off base?
Chase: No, that’s not off base at all.
N.Y. Times: I think there’s some hope in it.
Chase: You’re the first person who’s said that. There is some hope in it. Don’t Stop Believin’ is the name of the song, for Christ’s sake. I mean, what else can you say?
N.Y Times: Is there a correct answer to the question of whether Tony is alive or dead?
Chase: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
I think Chase is saying, believe what you want to believe about the ending, which I kind of like, because some days I believe Tony is alive and some days I believe Tony is dead.
2. This was a thing of beauty.
3. The latest SI Media Podcast features interviews with Joe Buck and Jim Ross.
Buck talks about mispronouncing Mark-Paul Gosselaar's name last week, his philosophy on criticizing officials, why he thinks this was Troy Aikman's best year in the booth, what it was like to call two NFL games each week thanks to Thursday Night Football, his all-time best call and whether he'll continue to call both MLB and NFL in the future.
Ross joins the podcast the 45-minute mark to share stories and memories of the late, great Mean Gene Okerlund and talk about the differences in wrestling announcers from the '80s and today.
You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes.
4. Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer spent a couple of days recently sending a slew of tweets to a young woman who had tweeted that Bauer was her least favorite player in MLB. Bauer continually defended his bullying on Twitter and said he did nothing wrong. But clearly the Indians intervened because this is what it looks like on Twitter when someone gets in trouble.
Lol I’ve not done anything wrong— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) January 9, 2019
the world. I have been made aware that some of the interactions related to a specific Twitter exchange may have had a negative impact. That was not my intention. I will wield the responsibility of my public platform more responsibly in the future.— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) January 9, 2019
5. Here's some good motivation for the Eagles.
From sources:— Jon DeTrinis (@JonDeTrinis) January 9, 2019
Yesterday, 4 armed guards entered the @saints locker room, with Coach @SeanPayton wheeling the Lombardi trophy on top of $225k in cash.
Coach then said: “Y’all want this???”
“Win 3 F’n games.”
The locker room erupted. $225k is each player’s SB bonus. #WHODAT
6. Welcome to New York, Adam Gase.
7. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: It's impossible to pick one scene to pay tribute to The Sopranos 20th anniversary, but I had to go with Christopher's intervention. Absolute gold from start to finish.
Traina Thoughts is the best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts right here.And make sure to listen to and subscribe to the SI Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina.
IN CLOSING: Gregg Williams got a raw deal by the Browns.