So my predictions and thoughts were not exactly on target about the end of the season and the character "exits". Junior Soprano coming back into play in the last episode was a major surprise for me. The best I can tell was that he was used as a part of Tony's closure and happy ending. I don't think it was quite necessary though, I liked his first exit better.
I was also wrong about the time jump, but I have a few reasons on why it would have worked better. The decision to whack Phil originally was for Tony's crew's survival. When the sit down happened with the rest of the NY family (one of the greatest scenes of the episode), the decision to wipe out the boss of the NY family seemed hasty at best. Phil may have been a little nuts (still celebrating his dead brother's birthday), but unless the NY family really felt the heat, were loosing members to a war, or loosing a lot of money because of the war - why kill the boss? In a hurried storyline, Tony Soprano is more important and powerful then the boss of the NY family? That pill is a little hard to swallow. While most of the show seemed realistic enough about wise guy B.S., the hit I am not so sure about. Plus, looking back, the Soprano crew has almost whacked the other two bosses (Carmine and Johnny Sac) and one point, but never had to follow through.
"We are going to win this thing!" You would think that quote coming out of an FBI's mouth would have been about catching Tony, but it felt more about NJ beating NY. It was cool though...
I was right about the "family" aspect of the show. The last episode put all of the Soprano family back together. Janice was going to be a responsible mom. Meadow was going to fight for the rights of Italians as a lawyer (don't even get me started on the irony of her reasoning), A.J. was back on track, Carmella is happy with her Real Estate, and Tony won.
That is where the show made a significant twist. The entire season was seemed to be leading to a tragedy. In the end, Tony won. There was a happy ending. A family was just having a dinner together and eating some onion rings. Phil is gone, the junkie nephew is gone, the goofy brother in law is gone, his shrink is gone, his mother is gone, his uncle was mentally gone; but the nuclear family was still in tact.
David Chase created an amazing phenomenon. The Sopranos is probably one of the top ten brands of the last decade and sits up there with Google and Ipod. The ending of the show will probably be debated for years. It just ended on the words "Don't Stop" from a Journey song as his daughter joined the family for dinner. The whole world was probably holding their breath. We were teased with the possibility of an assassin, or a car accident, but it just ended. Why not end it that way? The show started that way. We got to be part of the Sopranos world for a brief period of time. Maybe there will be movies? Maybe there will be specials? Maybe we will never see a new Soprano moment again?
It was fun while it lasted.
I have not read anything else about the finale yet. I wanted to get my thoughts up first. I will probably write about this topic once or twice more. I am sure there is more to say - Don't stop believing.