And the Sopranos Lived ____ Ever After

Illustrations by Andy Friedman

Meadow Soprano Must Die
By Emily Nussbaum
Or maybe she needs to be corrupted—yet another murder might be too simple. But for theSopranos’ finale, something terrible has to happen to Tony Soprano’s favorite child, destroying forever his chance to be a better parent than his own.

Meadow’s fate has always been the key to Tony’s character: He’s a sensitive boomer dad trapped in the body of a depressive sociopath. But after six seasons, it’s become clear that for Tony, change is impossible; his crimes are more, not less, repulsive because he understands them. And in a less tragic show, Meadow would escape—giving Tony his final wish and realization of his final fear (she’d have to reject him in order to leave).

But I’m hoping for a darker twist—no “Mr. Big rescues Carrie,” none of the hugging and learning of the Six Feet Under finale. Creator David Chase’s brilliance is that he’s turned our fascination with Tony into a cunning narrative trap that, after six seasons, bites into the viewer, making us feel ashamed of having been so attracted to him. For those shadows to be complete, Meadow must pay the price: maybe as collateral damage (killed in a stupid accident?) or something subtler—she perjures herself on the stand. Either way, it has to wreck her prospect for a better life. A rape is the only thing that would really destroy Tony, of course. But that would be too dark, even for this imaginary world.
Next: Revenge of the Italian Mother

Revenge of the Italian Mother
By Lisa Scottoline
I’m an Italian mother, and that’s why I can channel Carmela Soprano. She’s had it up to here with Tony. His running around, letting his Russian whores call the house. He jerked her around on the money, support for his own children, mind you. He waltzes in like he still lives there, then takes the DVD player for spite. Carmela gave him so many chances. She even tried counseling, and all the while he screwed around. For a man who talks loyalty all the time, Tony has none.

And what will happen is that one day, Tony will goof up with A.J., and it will end tragically for their son. Either A.J. will get caught in crossfire meant for Tony, or Tony will look the other way when A.J. gets high, one last time. It will be the final time. The bottom line is that A.J. will turn up dead because of Tony, and then Carmela will be left with no choice. The boys at the Bada Bing will say she did it for revenge, but any Italian mother will know better. It’s justice that Carmela wanted.

So in the end, she’ll shoot Tony.

Next: Christopher Goes All Judas

Christopher Goes All Judas
By Max Allan Collins
Rumors of a theatrical film continue, and Tony needs to be alive for that to happen. A prequel just won’t cut it. On the big screen, the melodrama could really hit the fans. I can see Tony making a decision that speaks to his inner humanity but goes against the grain of the mob. And his surrogate son, Christopher, is assigned the inevitable hit. A tortured, reluctant Christopher must kill Tony, and Tony hesitates just long enough, responding to that glimmer of humanity we prize in him, to give Christopher time to commit the act that will put the younger man on the way to the top in one sense and to bottom out in another.

Perhaps the final scene has Christopher inviting a now twentyish A.J. into the family business, wanting to make it up to his late father figure by doing the right thing by his real son. But really, this is the last thing Tony would’ve wanted for A.J. And one day, A.J. will learn the truth and have to kill Christopher.

Next: A Dream So Real

A Dream So Real
By John Falk
I always envisioned the end of The Sopranos as Tony Soprano’s bill coming due. In order to maintain their position and all the things he’s given them, Carmela and the kids turn on him. Their testimony in federal court puts Tony away for life, à la John Gotti, in solitary confinement.

But if it were up to me, Tony Soprano would, in the end, actually get away with it. There’s a final scene of him going to sleep in solitary confinement, the screen fading to black. Then it fades back in and we find a clean-shaven James Gandolfini dressed in matching pajamas and asleep in a large comfy bed. After tossing and turning, he awakes to find it’s all been a terrible nightmare. He’s really a mild-mannered, milquetoast psychologist named Bob, living in Chicago and married to Suzanne Pleshette. “Oh, my God, I had the worst nightmare,” he tells her. “I dreamed I was this mobster. I was married to this woman, two ingrate kids. They all betrayed me.”

“Ah, Bob,” she says lovingly. “Why don’t you get a few more minutes of sleep, and I’ll make us some breakfast.”

With perk, Pleshette then pops out of bed and exits the bedroom. Gandolfini plops back down onto the pillows, and you can see the pure relief in his eyes, a man thankful just to be living his simple life. Then the camera slowly pans down, down, down, until it goes under the bed, where you finally find Bob Newhart, whacked.

Next: Ba-da Bang!

Ba-da Bang!
By David Benioff
We haven’t really seen Christopher dealing with the murder of Adriana. Obviously, these guys aren’t going to post-traumatic-stress supervisors, but something’s got to come of that. This is the woman he loved, and he came pretty close to running away with her, which was one of my favorite moments in the series. I don’t think Christopher’s the kind of guy who’s going to blame himself entirely. He’s going to look for someone else, and Tony’s the obvious candidate, in part because Tony’s the one who led him into this world. So rather than take on the burden of ratting out the love of your life and basically having her killed, I think, Christopher’s going to try to kill Tony. It’s a classic theme—such an Oedipal drama of the powerful father figure and the angry son. But Tony just has fewer weaknesses than Christopher. Whatever internal issues he’s got, he always finds a way to survive. He is always able to see a couple of moves ahead of his adversaries. I’m not seeing him getting deceived by one of his underlings. But if Tony does go down, Christopher is the one who shoots him.

Next: Arrivederci, Mrs. Soprano

Arrivederci, Mrs. Soprano
By Kate Atkinson

Adriana’s body is found. By some twist of fate, it is Christopher who is going to go down for the crime, not Silvio, who actually shot her. The FBI decide they have enough of a case against Tony to indict him. Tony tells Carmela the details of his secret bank accounts. Jump forward to the trial. The prosecutor’s closing statement is intercut with scenes of Carmela’s departure. We see Carmela packing, locking the door of her beloved house, climbing in a cab, and looking through the window at the house with tears running down her cheeks. I would like to see Carmela doing the opening-credits run on the New Jersey Turnpike in reverse. She’s going to Newark.

As the jury troops back into court, Carmela is checking in at the airport. The judge asks the foreman if the jury has reached a verdict. Cut to Tony’s face, James Gandolfini acting with his doing-nothing-but-doing-everything face. Cut away to Carmela again just as the foreman opens his mouth to announce the verdict.

Jump forward a day. Carmela’s sitting at a café somewhere warm and obviously foreign. A waiter comes up to her and, in Italian, asks what he can get her. She replies in self-conscious Italian, aware she’s a foreigner. The charming waiter asks if she’s American. A whole mix of emotions on her face: nervousness, fear, but a kind of optimism as well. Finally, she smiles and says, “Yes, I’m American.”

Lost Soprano: Lillo Brancato Jr.
Confessions of a Desperate (Mob) Housewife
Blood Brothers:The Sopranos Cast Realize No One Lives Forever
Six Writers Imagine How The Sopranos Will End

Emily Nussbaum is an editor at New York Magazine. Lisa Scottoline is the author of twelve best-selling crime novels. David Benioff wrote the screenplay for 25th Hour. Kate Atkinson wrote the novel Case Histories. Max Allan Collins is the author of the graphic novel The Road to Perdition. John Falk is the author of Hello to All That: A Memoir of War, Zoloft, and Peace.

And the Sopranos Lived ____ Ever After