The Rant

Tony Soprano Lives!

The mystery of the famous last scene is finally solved

Photograph by WILL HART / HBO

This is the way life works: I had just finished watching the famous last episode of the last season of "The Sopranos" this past weekend, after addictively binge-viewing one more time the entire series in about two weeks, staying up past midnight almost every night because I just couldn't wait for the next story, and I don't have to tell you that it's the greatest show in the history of television and that James Gandolfini was a genius and the greatest actor in the history of television, because if you're reading this now, you already know all of that and have read all the wonderful accolades and remembrances that have poured in since the stunning news of his death, and you've seen all the great video clips that the entire Internet has seen fit to post, reminding us just how brutal yet subtle he was, like we even needed such a reminder, which simultaneously consoles us while making us miss him more, so everything has been said and done, and really the only thing left to talk about here is, appropriately, the last scene in the last episode of "The Sopranos," you all know the one, The End, when Tony’s sitting at Holsten’s, waiting for his family to meet him for dinner, and as they arrive, one by one, Gandolfini does a small perfect thing with each of them, beginning when Carmela arrives and he just slaps down a menu on the table, gently smiles, nods once and simply says “Hey,” and all their love and tumultuous connection is perfectly depicted in that perfectly chopped, “Hey,” and then a few minutes later when A.J. comes waltzing in, sits down and says, “Mmm, onion rings,” Gandolfini reaches over to rub A.J.’s arm twice without looking at him and that small gesture, one I’ve made toward my two sons many times, is right up there with Brando picking up Eva Maria Saint’s glove in "On the Waterfront" and is packed with more emotional power than words can convey, and you guys all know the rest, with the tension building as Meadow struggles to park her car and A.J. reminding us to “focus on the good times,” and then the onion rings arrive and they each grab one and we see Meadow running toward the restaurant, hear the door open and the bell ring, and the screen unforgettably cuts to black, and now we know what really happened to Tony Soprano — he lives. Forever.