James Gandolfini, the actor who portrayed mob boss Tony Soprano, died last week in Italy from a heart attack. The news to me, strangely, was terribly sad. I have certainly never had a reaction like that to someone I have never known or met dying. I have thought about it quite a bit trying to pin point the reason.
While thinking about it, I started re-watching The Sopranos, a show that honestly changed my life. Without out that show, I probably would not be where I am today…literally. During college, I had a lot of doubts about what I wanted to do and if the world of Television was a world I felt like joining and competing in. But when I saw the Sopranos (which wrapped up it’s last season while I was still in college) I knew that this was, indeed, what I wanted to do.
While rewatching the show for probably the 5th time in my life, I quickly discovered a key reason why I was so sad at James Gandolfini’s passing. There is a scene in the first episode where Big Pussy Bonpensiero explains to Christopher, after Christopher whacks a Polish guy named Emil, why the mob kills people and hides the body…it intimidates people without them actually knowing anything. Christopher asks Pussy what to do…and then check out this transcript:
Big Pussy: He disappears. He never comes home. They know, but they don’t know. They hope maybe he will turn up…if…
I think this whole scene all of a sudden creates a whole different meaning to the ending of the show. Remember, the show had a pretty controversial and surprising ending. It just sorta, well, ends. Cut to black. Keep the line that Pussy says in mind when you watch this clip, the last one of the Sopranos:
I always had hoped maybe they could bring this show back in movie form or something. That last episode, telling us not to stop believing over and over while sending us mixed signals. Is Tony dead? Did he die? Were the cameras just turned off and that was the last we got to see into his life?? What happened?!
The show left us in such a weird spot. We, like the people waiting for Emil to come home, know, but we don’t know. We think maybe he will turn up, if…And as long as James Gandolfini was alive, there were always rumors and possibilities. However, now that he is confirmed dead, so is the character of Tony Soprano. And that, is why I am so saddened.
So, rest in peace big guy…enjoy all the gabagool you can up there in the Bing.