Elizabeth Entenman
April 15, 2015 11:53 am

The end of The Sopranos is one of the most popular yet hotly debated TV finales in history. I know, I know—whether Tony Soprano died or not isn’t the point. But after you invest six seasons of your life in a show, you just want to know for sure what happened. Can you blame anyone for that? Still, we know, that’s not the point. There are enough hints to draw your own conclusions (as many an Internet fan has) and anyway, the series—like, life itself—is complicated, impossible to sum up and eternally alive in our memories. That being said we’re always open to new nuggets of wisdom about the ending of the series. And David Chase, the show’s creator and director of the infamous last episode, recently spoke to the Director’s Guild of America about just that. Here’s what we learned about the final diner scene—you know the one.  

1. Point of view was practically a character of its own.

The final episode shows a lot of Tony walking into his own POV. In every scene, he was seeing where he was going. “It was my decision to direct the episode such that whenever Tony arrives someplace, he would see himself,” says Chase. “So the order of the shots would be Tony close-up, Tony POV, hold on the POV, and then Tony walks into the POV.”

2. The song on the jukebox—”Don’t Stop Believin’”—was chosen very carefully.

The Journey song wasn’t a random choice—its lyrics reflect the action and the characters (“just a small town girl” and “just a city boy”). Its pace also matches the scene’s intensity. “I directed the scene to fit the song,” Chase says. “Musically it starts to build into something as it’s just about to release. And when you look at the scene, you get that feeling.” *fades to black* There were apparently two other songs being considered for the finale, but Chase didn’t say what they were.

3. The bell on the diner door is a callback.

You probably noticed that Tony makes a conscious decision to sit facing the door. Every time it opens, he hears the bell ding and looks up. Earlier in the season, there’s an episode where Tony is out on the lake, and the sounds of boat bells dinging keeps snapping him back to reality. “In my mind, it’s like a meditation bell. Not to be thinking about the past, not to be thinking about the future, only about now,” says Chase.

4. Meadow’s parking trouble wasn’t random.

Chase identified a few reasons Meadow wasn’t sitting at the table with her family in the show’s final moments. “I [wanted] to create the idea that you would wonder if something was going to happen in there,” he says. “Meadow is filled with nothing but very, very deep emotions about parking her car. But possibly a minute later, her head will be filled with emotions she could never even imagine.” For one, it builds suspense. And on an obvious but still important note, her trying to park the car on a busy street matched up with Journey’s lyrical mentions of strangers, streetlights and people walking up and down the boulevard. It reminds us that life goes on outside.

5. The “cut to black” ending was meant to be much more literal than you might have thought.

“I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black,” Chase says. “… the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. … That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing.” So, still no comment on what actually happened. But, hey, I think Chase has made it pretty clear, don’t you?

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