Thanks for all the interesting comments on my Sopranos post from yesterday. I just wanted to add info about an interesting article I saw about the finale (and forgetting the numerous fits some writers threw over the non-ending), regarding the already infamous diner scene and the mysterious strangers there. The New York Sun thinks that this is just indicative of the fear/suspicion that is and will be part of the family's life and I like that as a metaphor. By now, with all the arguments about what happened or didn't happened, I'm convinced that what went on right after the final seconds of the show (i.e. Tony's life goes on or he's murdered) isn't as important now as our individual reactions to it.
I see it as a Rorschach test for the audience. One thing that we do know for sure is that the show purposely didn't tell us what happened next and only left behind some clues about what might have happened. We weren't supposed to know for sure what was coming, otherwise it would have been easy to resolve the scene and just show us what went on. But that never happened.
Instead what's going on in chat rooms, blogs like this, water coolers, bulletin boards, bars and other virtual and non-virtual cultural gathering places are heated discussions about this, with passionate arguments about each theory. All of us involved in this debate are projecting our ideas (and ourselves) into the matter, looking for answers and some kind of resolution.
As with other great pieces of mysterious mass-media art (i.e. David Lynch), the final episode is whatever we can convince ourselves and others it is. That itself is the beauty and genius of the finale. TV and many movies offer us too much spoon-fed scenes and resolutions. Can't we enjoy an unresolved mystery now and then?
Even after the DVD comes out and we're able to endlessly scan that last scene for details, there will still be heated debates about this, rest assured. Decades after the fact, conspiracy theories still fly about real-life mysteries like the JFK assassination or Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance and the Soprano's finale won't be any different. Just a day or two after it happened, it's already become part of our cultural folklore and it'll remain there for a long time to come.