The ominous scum bags that Tony spies entering and moving around the ice cream parlor appear poised for some sort of violence. Meadow is flailing to parallel park her car. Music that is ironic in a self-evident but inexplicable way is playing on the jukebox.
Meanwhile, Tony chats with Carmela and absorbs another blow of frustration about his domicile family. A.J. walks in and begins the familiar mostly dumb-kinda’ smart routine about his new job. Family small life is moving on. The door opens again and the screen cuts to black.
The scene has given equal clues about who opens the door. It could be either Meadow or a killer. The eleven-second pause is the viewer’s chance to try to puzzle out which. Since there are enough facts in the scene, and perhaps over the episode and even the series, to support the possibility that it is either outocome the verdict ultimately comes down to your arbitrary choice.
The final scene lets each viewer play God by sparing, killing, or, at its furthest stretch, truly choosing any fate for Don Soprano. The viewer gets to not only decideTony’s mortality, but his morality. You can pick any ending you think a person that has done the kind of things that he has done deserves – the Russian mobster from the “Pine Barrens” could be opening that door, if you really want him to.
The tension of the viewers’ sensation of the dwindling amount of time left to make the decision drives the scene. Meadow’s poor parallel parking is an allegory of this inability to judge by the deadline. She cannot settle comfortably into one place, just as any firm summation of Tony’s character cannot square with compelling contrary data.
The abrupt ending forces an immediate decision. Of course, the fact that most people decided that their cable must be on the blink makes the final scene a pretty damn good joke too.