Friday, June 15, 2007

Lost, Heroes, and The Sopranos: Comparison of Real and Future Endings

Carlton Cuse, creative force with Damon Lindelof of Lost, has assured viewers that, although the cut-to-black ending of The Sopranos "settled in well" with him, Lost "will not be ending with a blackout." Tom Kring, the man behind Heroes, has indicated that the series' ultimate ending would be "true" to what he was "originally trying to say".

I'm delighted to hear about both those future endings - but I would add that I was in no sense disappointed with the ending of The Sopranos, and see no conflict at all between the deeply ambiguous ending of The Sopranos, and what I hope will be crystal clear endings for Lost and Heroes.

In fact, I think The Sopranos's open black book was the best possible ending for the series, just as definite answers will be the best and only really satisfying way to conclude Lost and Heroes.

Here's why:

The Sopranos was always about real, gritty life. Its brilliance, all along, was that it told the story of an average, surburban New Jersey family, which just happened to be in the mob. Unlike even the Godfather saga, the Sopranos never had a majestic story. It was just, and all along, unflinching real life. And although we all might have enjoyed some closure to this story, what better way, really, would there have been to end it then ... life just goes on and on.

Now, in contrast, Lost and Heroes are figuratively and literally about things out of this world. Both derive their power from the mysteries they dangle before us and weave us into. Lost, especially, went so far out in this direction in Season 2 and the first part of Season 3, that it almost lost us completely. But it came back with one of the most memorable season finales in television history - because it finally began to give us more, not less, information.

The fitting conclusion for a deep mystery, unlike a story about real life, is not an open ending, but a clear conclusion, which enables us at last to understand what we have been seeing and wondering about all of these years. That's what Lost and Heroes will have to do.

There really wasn't much that we were wondering about all these years about The Sopranos, except what will happen to Tony. And, if the answer is, who knows- well, that's just more evidence that real life, especially for made-men in New Jersey, is unpredictable. That unsatisfying answer is satisfying.

The scorecard for me at this point is: one masterpiece, open-ended ending for The Sopranos, and I'm looking forward to endings for Lost and Heroes which will also be great and satisfying, because they go in the opposite direction of clear answers and resolution.

Useful links:

The Sopranos and the Closure-Junkies ... The Sopranos, or the Tiger? ... The Sopranos Ninth of Nine: The Anti-Ending Ending

Lost New Questions: 1. How Far in the Future? ... 2. Who's In the Coffin? ... 3. Who's Waiting for Kate? ... 4. Who Is Naomi's Boss? ... 5. Is Mikhail Immortal? ... 6. What Constitutes Reliable Evidence? ... 7. Are the Flashforwards Desmond's Flashes?

Lost Season 3 Finale ... Flashforwards

Heroes Volume One Finale

and I'll be ... Talking about The Sopranos ending on KNX1070 Radio Sunday June 17

Sopranos Conference May 2008: Preliminary Announcement

The Sopranos Podcasts - listen to reviews and analyses to your heart's content


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