“Not with a bang ... not even a whimper ... it was more like a wet fart.”
There’s little point in trying to improve on this opening sentence from the House Next Door’s review of the kinda sorta season finale of The Sopranos.

Throughout the show’s 12-episode run this spring, the House Next Door has generously given series creator David Chase credit for knowing where he’s taking his Sopranos ship. The commentary on Sunday’s episode, however, marks a re-evaluation — a shortening of the critical leash. The premise of the analysis has been that Chase would brilliantly bring his gangster and family saga to a close. But after 12 episodes, we’re pretty much back where we started.

The idea that this season’s fatigue and repetition have been an intentional intellectual exercise — Chase asking his audience, “Are ya bored yet?” — is intriguing, but I don’t buy it. Ennui and anxiety are valid artistic goals — sometimes, it’s important to make your audience antsy — but I don’t get a sense that Chase is working toward a larger goal now, that his steady hand is guiding us to a satisfying conclusion. I think he and HBO are milking The Sopranos, and the result is a show that’s flaccid and tedious.

It’s telling that I’ve enjoyed the House Next Door’s commentary on this season far more than the The Sopranos itself. The sad fact is that Matt Zoller Seitz and his crew have articulated the show’s themes and ideas much more clearly than David Chase has this year.

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