Last night the final episode of the Sopranos was finally aired in the UK. If you haven't seen it please don't read any further as I don't want to be responsible for ruining the end for you.
At first I was really upset with ending and I stormed out of the living room disgusted that we had waited for so long in anticipation of a big conclusion. Stephen commented that at least it was better than the end of Will and Grace. True.
However, because we had watched the first episode (pilot) just an hour earlier I was able to make a grand conclusion that now allows me to sleep without Sopranos Frustration. Here it is...
The first episode begins with Tony starting therapy and discussing the anxiety attack he had after watching the wild ducks fly away from his pool. They had arrived a few weeks earlier, had some ducklings and he lovingly watched them learn to fly and even built a ramp so that they could get in and out of the pool. He got into the water and started talking to them as though they were his friends. But when they finally grow big enough to fly away he passes out.
The therapist says to him, "they were just ducks until they had ducklings and then they became a family." That says it all.
In the final scene of the final episode Tony waits for his family in the diner. First he looks around for them, as he did when looking for the ducks in the woods and then each family member arrives, one at a time just as the ducks flew away one at a time. As Meadow walks into the diner the show goes to black. It is the full circle of his family of ducks leaving and then returning.
Well, it allowed me to sleep peacefully. In fact, I'm sure you can write an entire thesis with this as the theme. There are many times that Tony faces wilderness, friend, foe or even bear at the side of his pool. AJ even tries to drown himself in it in an earlier episode. There is also the time Tony was in a coma and he saw the bushes rustle with the ghosts of his dead relatives - just as the bushes rustled as the ducks emerged to visit him in his pool. The most telling shot of Tony is in one of the final episodes when he sits by his sister's lake house looking out in contemplation. In that episode he looks on lovingly at his niece and how she is encouraged to tentatively dip her toes into the lake. But then her mother, his sister Janice, gets furious with the nanny for allowing the little girl near the water - near family.
Tony's pool is his family circle. At the start of the series his children are leaving him and flying the coop as the ducks did. At the end they return - to the diner, a public pool. He plays the song "Don't Stop Believing" which is actually an optimistic premonition of how his family unit will continue having passed the trials and tribulations of each flying off on their own. They are now back together.