Six years ago on June 11, you probably thought you were having problems with your television. That was the day that HBO aired the finale of “The Sopranos,” and the show suddenly cut to an all-black screen just as the diner door opened and Tony Soprano looked up from his family meal.
The all-black screen was part of creator David Chase’s master plan — he told Entertainment Weekly that “we always operated as though people don’t need to be spoon-fed every single thing — that their instincts and feelings and humanity will tell them what’s going on.” But it still irks some fans, more than half a decade later, as do other questions that the gangland series simply left for fans to answer themselves.
1. Does Tony die in the finale?
You can certainly see it that way. The bell on the diner door rings, indicating someone’s walked in. Tony looks up. There are easily hundreds of people who want Tony dead. Could one of them be standing there, holding a gun, ready to kill the big guy? Back in 2007, we dissected a bunch of these questions, including the idea that the finale offers a “Lady and the Tiger” scenario. Death could be waiting at the door, but it’s completely up to the viewer to decide. Creator David Chase said there were no hidden clues in the episode, and critic Alan Sepinwall agreed that Chase would be unlikely to have sprung a sudden Tony death on the viewers. Instead, Chase seemed to have set up an ending that suggested that while Tony didn’t die that night, he had lived a life in which any open door, any ringing chime, could be his death knell. Not that night, but some night.
Our answer: NO.
2. Is there any hope for Adriana?
Adriana LaCerva (Drea de Matteo) was the favorite character of many “Sopranos” fans. Tough as nails, devoted to ChristoFUH, even when she ratted the crew out to the Feds she did it only hoping that he would flee into witness protection or some other world with her. But Christopher was a soldier, as he’d told her before, and that wedding Ade dreamed of would never happen. Silvio tricked her into getting into the car with him and took her to the woods, where she scrabbled away as he shot her — or at her. Ade was so beloved a character that many grabbed at the fact that she wasn’t actually seen dead, and suggested that could have somehow escaped. But she was unarmed, crawling in the snow, and Silvio was close enough that he was pretty much shooting fish in a barrel. Even de Matteo confirmed on the DVD that her character was dead. Carmela briefly gets interested in having Adriana’s death investigated, but Tony twists her interest over to the spec house she is building, and Adriana is forgotten.
Our answer: NO.
3. Does Tony ever find out about Melfi’s rape and seek revenge?
In one of the most horrible scenes in a show full of horrible scenes, Tony’s shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, is raped. She knows who did it — she even sees the man’s picture on the wall of a restaurant where he works — but he’s let go by police on a technicality. Melfi knows that one word to Tony would mean a horrible death for this man, yet she refuses to tell him, even when he gives her the perfect opening to do so. By the end of the series, Tony and Melfi appear to have severed their relationship. But we can’t let this one go. It would be just too satisfying for Tony and his boys to shred this rapist once and for all. With absolutely no evidence, we’re going to ignore the fact that the proper answer is probably “no, he never gets medieval on this guy” and offer up the answer we want.
Our answer: YES.
4. Does the Russian from the “Pine Barrens” episode ever come back?
The 2001 “Sopranos” episode called “Pine Barrens” might have been the series’ high point. Paulie and Christopher take a Russian mobster named Valery out in the winter woods and he escapes, and from then on Tony’s men are wandering, starving and cold, sucking ketchup out of packets and wrapping themselves in carpet. As you can imagine, Tony is not happy with the two when he finally rescues them and learns their target has gone free. For the rest of the series, there’s always that question: Is the Russian still out there? Terence Winter, who wrote the script, told Entertainment Weekly it was the one question he was asked more than anything. David Chase pretty much blew up when asked, ranting about Americans’ need for closure and saying “I do know where the Russian is. But I’ll never say because so many people got so pissy about it.” So if we won’t say, we will. We predict that if the show had continued, he would have resurfaced, and taken down Christopher.
Our answer: YES