In the last seconds of “The Sopranos” finale seven years ago (yes, it has been that long), my television set suddenly cut to black. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” cut off right on the word “stop.” Crap! My cable died just at the exactly most important moment of the entire iconic series?
Then I got it. Then the credits came up. And then I laughed. David Chase had done it: He and his band of writers had penned an ending no one predicted, which would piss off everyone. I loved it: The TV equivalent of a door slammed in your face. Make up what you want about Tony Soprano, et al. after this, but the official story was over.
Finding the exact point of exit for a story, for a writer (or writers’ room) is a calibration that can make or sink the entire project. Sure, it’s important to leave viewers with a sense that all of these hours and minutes spent with made-up characters and their fictional hurts and joys were worth it. Why did we come? Why did we stay? What does it all mean?