I Watched The Sopranos For The First Time, And I Have My Own Issues With The Finale

 Tony Soprano.
Tony Soprano.

The Sopranos is an acclaimed HBO series, one that was truly a cultural sensation during its original run. New audiences are able to binge watch the series with a Max subscription, which is exactly how I recently flew through the mob dramedy. As a New Jersey native, I couldn't get enough of James Gandolfini's show, especially as it was shot in the area where I live. And while I love the series, I have my own issues with The Sopranos' controversial finale. And my qualms go beyond that sudden cut to black.

It's hard for any show to nail its series finale, mostly because you're going to end up inevitably disappointing someone. Long before the Game of Thrones finale broke the internet, fans took umbrage with how Tony's fate was left up in the air. While the cut to black was indeed a frustrating aspect of my watching the finale, I had other problems with the show's ending that bothered me more.

To start, the finale itself felt like a nothing burger. While The Sopranos' penultimate episode was thrilling and saw multiple leaders in Tony's crew get whacked by the New York mob, the finale felt like a regular episode of the series. And that's a big reason why I felt it was disappointing.

Lorraine Bracco in The Sopranos screenshot
Lorraine Bracco in The Sopranos screenshot

Perhaps my biggest issue with how The Sopranos ended was how the story Jennifer Melfi and Tony's theraputic relationship was wrapped up. The pair worked together for years and years, in fact Tony going into therapy is basically the main concept of the series. So seeing her drop him as a client after reading one study and having an awkward dinner party felt like a rushed narrative choice.

For her part, actress Lorraine Bracco had similar feelings about how her story wrapped up as Melfi. While appearing on the Talking Sopranos podcast back in 2021, she got honest about Melfi and Tony's breakup, saying:

I remember being upset [with] the direction that David [Chase] was bringing Melfi. I just felt like he wanted me to get rid of [Tony]. I felt that he did it in a very abrupt way. I don’t think that she should have done it that way. I would have liked for it to have been more meaningful. I think she cared for Tony. Even though he was a fuck-up and he was never going to really straighten out. But I think she really cared for him. You don’t spend seven years with someone and [then] discard them. I felt bad about that.

Well, at least she's on my side. Melfi was one of my favorite characters on The Sopranos, and I always looked forward to her scenes with Tony during sessions. So her suddenly dropping the Mob boss after all those years definitely felt strange.

Another way that The Sopranos failed to give me proper closure is regarding the fate of Steven Van Zandt's Sil. While he was shot when Tony's crew was whacked, he didn't die right away. We last saw him in the hospital, but his final fate wasn't officially revealed in the finale.

Then there's that infamous cut to black, which is really why The Sopranos finale is considered so disappointing. But obviously I saw this coming, so it didn't bother me as much as the aforementioned issues. And yes, I do think that Tony was whacked in that final scene.

As previously mentioned, The Sopranos is streaming in its entirety on Max. Check out the TV premiere list to plan your next binge watch.