Monday, May 15, 2006

Final Fantasy

Well, that was certainly underwhelming. I went into the final episode of The West Wing excited and a little sad, and I left it just sad. Sad because with the exception of a few intriguing moments, the series finale failed to offer genuine payoff to the emotional drama that has kept the show on life support the last three (Sorkin-less) seasons.

Yes, it's nice to know that CJ will be meeting Danny at LAX, and to see Josh and Donna wake up together on Inauguration Day. But this was a quiet episode, overall, when it should have been packed with dialogue. So much to know--and so little revealed.

And with that statement, I think I've hit upon the real problem: No series will ever conclude in a way that satisfies me again. Six Feet Under's finale last year, which seemed remarkable at the time, turns out to have spoiled me for the usual conclusion. It turns out you can have it all--an open-ended vision of the future and the finality of knowing how things work out. All we know at the end of The West Wing is that Donna has a really nice office.

Leaving the past behind, last night also pointed toward the end of another powerhouse. There are now only ten new episodes of The Sopranos left, and it's hard to see how everything will end. Johnny Sack copped a plea last night, while Vito came back to Jersey in his banged-up car (after getting banged in a scene that came complete with the train-into-a-dark-tunnel shot in place of an actual sex scene). But what will these developments mean in the long run? A major character dies every season, right? Will Vito get it in the end? Will Johnny's disheartened New York crew, led by Phil, take him out before he spills more dirt to cut his jail time? Or will it be someone more tragic?

I suspect that no one is going to die. This season has seen Tony go soft; last night's gift of a house to Janice is yet another sign that even if he keeps getting socks, he's trying to view every day as a gift. That's not the attitude of a ruthless mob boss who will turn over a captain. Carmela is more of a hard-ass than Tony lately, which is why, while Phil got Blundetto as a sacrifice last year, I don't see him getting Vito.

What did you think of the conclusion of The West Wing? And where do you think The Sopranos is heading?

1 comment:

Michele said...

I actually thought the finale last night was fairly good. Granted, I have only watched a handful of episodes in the last three seasons, but I have watched a few of these last shows. I kind of liked that it was more of a quiet, reflective time. Sometimes I think it's too overwhelming when a show tries to wrap up everything. Sometimes you have to have questions that go unanswered.

While the show did leave me wondering some things, I thought it was a very fitting ending. I had guessed that Leo's little "gift" was that napkin, and I'm glad I was right--I think it, in a way, kind of summed up the show--I came, I served, I went.

Maybe other die-hard fans will agree with you Richard, but I felt it was a very quiet yet touching ending.

And as for Sopranos, I could really care less. We don't have HBO anymore. I do, however, think it would be extremely funny if they brought back the bear that was stalking Tony's house. I thought the episodes where they were sitting outside, bear watching were just plain funny.