Exhumed! The Alternate "Sopranos" Ending

Every time I think I'm done with "The Sopranos," I get a killer tip and -- yes -- "They pull me back in."
So, here goes -- once more into the breach...

This just in: David Chase wanted a different ending for "The Sopranos."

This just presumed: My-oh-my, the cable companies would have taken a whacking.

As theories continue to rage about the finale -- like a wildfire uncontained, thanks to the winds of the blogosphere -- HBO is now telling The Washington Post that series creator Chase originally sought something radically different:

He wanted to end the show with three minutes of blackout.

You read that right: Three minutes. As in "Three minutes of silence." As in, a self-contained eulogy for the show. As in, the phone lines at the Comcasts of the world would have been jammed by baffled, outraged, "miffled" viewers.

An HBO exec tells our Tom Shales that Chase, fortunately, was talked out of the extended blackout. But one can imagine how that might have been received.

As it is, the Web is ablaze with supposed finale clues, from the harebrained to the furballed. We've got reincarnated cats, allegedly meaningful song titles, even bogus claims that character Nikki Leotardo gets an end-credit in the finale.

Yes, in terms of conspiracy theories, the finale has become this decade's Zapruder film, except that: Lee Harvey Oswald may or may not be wearing a Member's Only jacket; there may or may not have been a second-shooter trucker on the grassy knoll; and instead of "Camelot's" Richard Harris, we were serenaded by Steve Perry.

Oh, the speculation, it goes on and on and on ....

We always knew David Chase had stones, but who knew they'd turn out to be quite so Rosetta. (In fact, speaking of Stones, someone get Oliver on the speakphone, so we can put all these theories to rest.)

The thing to remember, of course, is that there always were two shows: There was "The Sopranos," the rich, twisted, grisly narrative for the larger group of viewers; and then there was the meta-"Sopranos" containing a latticework of symbolism -- the "Mezzo-Sopranos," if you will -- for the rabid, clue-seeking fans.

Ourselves, we might well be blogging about another show that has a Rabid Fanbase Task Force -- perhaps we'll be transferred to "Jericho" Division. So before the "Sopranos" trail goes completely cold, we turn our files over to you, the die-hard fan.
Here are all the still-hot tips and dead-end leads we've received and collected from all you e-mailers, as well as colleagues and link-alerts -- draw your own conclusions. This last go-round before we cut-to-black is for you Mezzo-Soprano fans who like to wade deep.

Go to it, Agent -- It's your Journey now.


1. What did the onion rings mean? They can symbolize coming full circle and unity and such, but our tastiest lead comes via thefaceknife.org, writing about "Sopranos" characters like Tony having an unchangeable nature in this tragedy.
Hot Tip 1: This school of writing (which Chase apparently subscribes to) metaphorically says: "You can't unfry things."
Hot Link: This dialogue from "Strangers With Candy": Chuck Noblett (Stephen Colbert) says to Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris): "Sorry won't make these onion rings golden brown. You can't unfry things! You can't change who you are!"

2. What's with that cat? Theories of Adriana la Cerva reincarnated as a cat abound.
Hot Tip 1: Chase's "Members Only" episode started with ancient Egyptian death beliefs -- a culture that spiritually worshiped the cat.
Hot Tip No. 2: Chase concluded the finale with a "Lady or a Tiger?" ending; Ade would embody both the lady and the "tiger."
Hot Tip No. 3: When the cat appears, the song played is "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" -- not only is "angel" significant, but the song is by Phil Spector -- someone whose female friend ended up shot dead, just like Christopher's Adriana (yes, mighty dark).

3. Is the diner real? The setting and people may be real, but suggestions are strong that Tony is perceiving "thought-dreams" during this scene.
Hot Tip 1: Earlier in the episode we hear Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma," which includes the lyric: "And if my thought-dreams could be seen / They'd probably put my head in a guillotine."
Tip No. 2: When Tony enters the diner, we hear Little Feat's "All That You Dream"; earlier in the episode, we also heard Sonic Youth's "I Dreamed, I Dream."
Tip No. 3: When David Chase exec-produced "Northern Exposure," the protagonist doctor (Fleischman's last episode) took off into the wilderness to find a mythical city.
Tip No. 4: Earlier in the episode, we are shown a clip of "The Twilight Zone."
Top No. 5: In the song we hear, "Don't Stop Believing," we hear the lyric "Born and raised in South Detroit"-- there is no "South Detroit," it does not exist but rather is a made-up place. (Some e-mailers also choose to hear: "Working hard to get my Phil.")

4. Is the guy in the Member's Only jacket real or otherworldly?
While it seems the guy is real, the coat is exactly the same type and color of Member's Only jacket that the character Eugene wore in the season opener -- when Tony wouldn't let him out of his mob "contract" -- suggesting that in Tony's thought-dream, the guy reminds him at least vaguely of Eugene, who committed suicide.
Hot Tip 1: In the Season 6 opener, Eugene is pictured when we hear William Burroughs's description of ancient Egyptian souls and death ("The Western Lands").
Hot Tip No. 2: Carmela asks Tony whether he "Sees anything good?" In their previous scene together, he had said: "I've got some people to see."
Hot Tip No. 3: On the tabletop jukebox, "Magic Man (Live)" appears twice.
Hot Tip No. 4: After Eugene kills someone in the season-opener, he hears the song "Dreamin' ."

5. Does Chase mean for the ending to be a true cliffhanger?
Tip: The Vanilla Fudge song "Keep You Hangin' On" is heard throughout the finale.
Tip: The "Don't Stop Believing" song lyric: "This movie never ends / It goes on and on and on."
Tip: The "I Dreamed I Dream" song lyric: "The days we spent go on and on."
Tip: Dialogue between Janice and Tony Soprano evoke John Sayles's cut-to-black film "Limbo."

6. Is Chase indicting America?
Only Tip We Need: First line of the season opener, an FBI agent quotes H.L. Mencken: "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

7. Was Chase eager to whack this show?
Hot Tip 1: AJ says he enjoys the thrill of simply seeing his SUV blow up.
Hot Tip No. 2: As Tony enters the last-scene diner, we hear the Little Feat song with the lyric: "Can't be round this show no more."

That's it. Our files are empty. Thanks to all you seriously devoted and sleuth-happy "Sopranos" fans.
On DVD and in reruns, it's your case now...

-- Michael Cavna,
Style, TV Editor

By Maura McCarthy |  June 14, 2007; 3:45 PM ET  | Category:  The Ending , Theories
Previous: The Finale | Next: Eureka! Solving 'The Sopranos'


Please email us to report offensive comments.

People send way too much time trying to add meaning to the mundane. The episode was all real. Nothing was a dream. If it were at some point it would have been made obvious like all the other dream sequences on the show. I'm stumped on the cat though. Now that had to have some meaning or represent something, right?

Posted by: Omar | June 14, 2007 05:18 PM

Someone posted on another site that the 'cut to black' was one of Tony's panic attack blackouts. Here he is in the diner waiting for his family, and all he sees are potential threats walking through the door. We as viewers can all feel the tension he must feel, and in a way, we had a panic attack too.

Posted by: Peter | June 14, 2007 10:00 PM

What we saw was Tony's life flash before his eyes.What we saw in that final scene only happened in his mind as he died from mafia wacking.Let me explain.First he walks into the diner.The first thing we hear is a song by little feat "ALL THAT YOU DREAM".Everyone is fixated on "dont stop believing" by Journey as the song that defines this final scene.I thing "all that you dream" by Little Feat tells you from the very start of the scene that we are not in reality. David Chase loves the dream sequence and is very careful of music choices.The lyrics are below,followed by more observations.

All that You Dream
-- Paul Barrere, Bill Payne

I've been down, but not like this before
Can't be 'round this kind of show no more

All, all that you dream
Comes through shinin silver lining
Clouds, clouds change the scene
Rain starts washing all these cautions
Right into your life, makes you realize
Just what is true, what else can you do
You just follow the rule
Keep your eyes on the road that's ahead of you

I've been down, but not like this before
Can't be 'round this kind of show no more

All of the good, good times were ours
In the land of milk and honey
And time, time adds its scars
Rainy days they turn to sunny ones
Livin' the life, livin' the life lovin' everyone

I've been down, but not like this before
Can't be 'round this kind of show no more
I've been down, but not like this before
Can't be 'round this kind of show no more

I've been down, but not like this before

############# Ok,next he is wearing the same shirt we has wearing when Junior shot him.Tony looks at the music on the jukebox and reads "Magic Man","No where to hide"....The boyscouts or Cub Scouts are wearing mostly black uniforms.Have you ever seen a boy scout wearing black. Carmella is wearing black.There is an extra that looks similar and walks similar to Janice.She walks briefly in and out of a scene.There is also a waitress that from the side looks like Gloria Trillo.Tony,Carmella, and A.J. eat the onion rings like communion wafers.There is too much symbolism packed into this scene to be real.Tony was wacked on his way to the diner.He is mortaly wounded in some other location.His life is flashing before his eyes.The song playing by little feat is all that you dream.He is wearing the same shirt he wore when shot by Junior.He briefly sees the people in his life like Janet and Gloria.The guy we see at the counter that went into the mens room is a representation of the kind of people he is always wary of in his daily life. They eat the onion rings like comunion wafers.Tony is at this point accepting Christ as his savior.When Meadow is having trouble parking the car it is his way of hanging on to life.When she walks through the door he feels it is ok to let go.Remember Meadows voice is what he heard just as he came out of the coma.He saw a bright light after hearing her voice and came out of the coma.In this case he saw her let go and saw nothing. As his mother said it is all a big nothing.But very artful and clever.I know most of you will resist this analysis.Just watch the scene again on utube and I think you will agree.

Posted by: M.TROISE | June 16, 2007 10:54 PM

Richard Burton would be the King Arthur of that particular Camelot.

Richard Harris was in the movie, post-November 1963.

Posted by: OK, You've Got Me | June 17, 2007 06:38 PM

answers - or at least half baked attempts - are rampant on www.tonyisdead.com

Posted by: tdub | June 22, 2007 03:33 PM

Who are we allowing to enter our front door? AND What do you know about that TV /cable signal and Your privacy on internet sites?

Tao-te Ching: "He who thinks he knows, does not know. He who knows that he does not know, knows. For in this context, to know is not to know. And not to know is to know." Or, as the Buddha is reported to have said: "If both is and is not; neither is, nor is not."
Rhiannon WAS the key!!!

After watching the final episode of the Sopranos, and noting how badly it was edited I wondered what else was going on.

On first viewing, there were some jumpy images. Some strange off perspective shots. One was Tony's first shot at his table in the diner. He seemed to be at the wrong perspective point from the rest of the shot. He looked as if he was sitting on a platform. Not being a Video major, I do not have the vocabulary to express my thoughts effectively, so I am at a disadvantage when I try to explain what I have seen.

I do know that the sound track added to the film is synchronized by the use of an initial sound.
Fada..da.da.fa.da.da ....clack soundboard........

Could this be the purpose of the click we hear when Tony punches the jute box? The sound of the coin.... The doorbell? To synchronize another sound track or another visual layer running simultaneously, subliminally?

Why isn't any of this being discussed? Why isn't Chase answering questions? Perhaps a confidentiality clause?

I ask : Should confidentiality clauses be illegal? After all, they are no more than Gag orders that violate our right to know what we are allowing into our homes. They also violate the right to free speech by the people who wish to provide information.

We cannot find out what happened to Tony because those who know are not allowed to tell us, and we are not "educated" enough in the world of film and media production to figure it out for ourselves.

What are you gonna do???? Tony would ask.

I try to find answers but even Google is owned by the media world, and uses stemming, a technique to control what information comes to the top of our computer screens. This makes the search for answers even harder and we are tempted to just look at those sites that are at the top of the list. Often theses slots are paid for. Or worse yet, corrupted with miss-information. ( Now there is a contemporary term for you!)

Gannett owns my newspaper. Who chooses what stories I read? Where is my hometown, finger on the pulse, guard dog, that was around when I was growing up. WE knew who was born, who died, who shoplifted at the 5 and dime. Who had a picnic at the Bell Factory and whether or not they picked up after themselves. No more.

It is a secret world. A world of TV babies with " flattened brains", just like Phil Leotardo's. Have they lost the ability to think critically? Some studies say that this is a side effect of watching too much TV.

Follow with me as I link these names and ideas together.....
MURMUR zercone = may have been an FBI double agent = link to Tara Zercone= Bobby's COUSIN = MURMUR= is also a computer term
HERNAN = involved with Rhannon'si COUSIN= he is Rhiannon ex boy friend
RHIANNON FLAMMER = FLAMMER = computer term, illegal hacker, purging cookies, illegal tracking devices.
RHIANNON = STEMS = Stems quote from Paulie
STEMS = Steming is a computer term= retrieving words with like stem on a search engine...so you would get stem-cell
STEM_CELL = cell = monocot ( AJ's Italian dialect =pasta,r monocotti) is a reference to cells in leaves.= AJ wants monocot = stem-cell= would also bring up terrorist cells.
MONOCOT = leaves= cells= Hanan = HANAN MAKSES's STUDY = "If we see emerging patterns, we can gain understanding of how social networks work," he says. "It is like studying trees. Looking at part of the tree can give you the properties of the entire tree."

HANAN MAKSE'S study = Terrorist cells= link= the idea of using internet chat rooms to send signals to each other.
Hernán A. Makse, associate professor of Physics at City College of New York, CUNY = studying systems in society.
"Professor Makse's study will make extensive use of available databases. "There's been an explosion of available data," he says. "We can get a lot of information from Internet online communities and use it to help understand the structure of networks."
CELLS + GROUPS = systems=cells= chat room groups.
HBO has a chat room= we are being studied, with out our knowledge.
Check out Hernan A. Makse, see if he is real.
Hernán A. Makse, associate professor of Physics at City College of New York, CUNY
"The emergency of complexity points to the opposite direction. It assumes that at every level there is new knowledge that cannot be inferred from the previous level."
Professor Makse's study will make extensive use of available databases. "There's been an explosion of available data," he says. "We can get a lot of information from Internet online communities and use it to help understand the structure of networks."

Is there a subliminal message to the Sopranos? Do the people at HBO, the crew, the actors, David Chase know something that they cannot reveal to us because of a gag order disguised as a confidentiality agreement?

What else do we not know because of these Confidentiality agreements and fear of lawsuits or worse... never working in your beloved, chosen career again?

Have some guts. Step up and break that confidentiality agreement ... it's time we all became Impeccable in our word. C.A./ Gag orders are a violation of our right to protect others and ourselves. C.A./ Gag orders violate our right to know what is coming into our homes and into the heads of our children.

Step up... Speak up... it is no longer about entertainment..... It's about The TRUTH.

Tao-te Ching: "He who thinks he knows, does not know. He who knows that he does not know, knows. For in this context, to know is not to know. And not to know is to know." Or, as the Buddha is reported to have said: "If both is and is not; neither is, nor is not."

Rhiannon WAS the key!!!

Posted by: Johnnyd | July 4, 2007 01:43 PM

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