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"Made in America" is the twenty-first episode of the sixth season—the eighty-sixth episode overall—of the HBO television drama series The Sopranos and the series finale. The sixth season was broadcast in two parts with a break after the twelfth episode; it is the ninth episode of the second part. It was written and directed by series creator/executive producer David Chase. It first aired in the United Statesmarker on June 10, 2007.

The plot of "Made in America" details the aftermath of the war between the DiMeo crime family—headed by series protagonist Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini)—and the Brooklynmarker-based Lupertazzi family. Tony also has to deal with many familial concerns involving his wife Carmela (Edie Falco), son A.J. (Robert Iler), and daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler). As the series comes to a close, several characters make personal and professional adjustments.

"Made in America" was filmed in February and March 2007 and marks the first time Chase has directed an episode since the pilot. It attracted 11.9 million viewers on its premiere date. The initial critical response was mostly favorable while fan reception was mixed; since the episode's original broadcast, appreciation for the finale has grown considerably among critics and fans alike. The episode won an Emmy Award for writing, an Eddie Award for editing and was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award. "Made in America" and its closing scene has been the subject of discussion, criticism, and analysis; parodies of the final scene has also appeared in popular culture.

Plot

In the aftermath of the mob war that left several of his crew dead or injured, Tony wakes up in the safe house where he and his closest associates have taken up residence. Tony meets with FBI Agent Dwight Harris (Matt Servitto) to exchange information. However, Harris refuses to provide Tony with Phil Leotardo's (Frank Vincent) location. Tony visits his family at a separate safe house where they are now living.

The FBI closely monitors Bobby Baccalieri's funeral, which Tony and his crew attend. Phil talks to Butch DeConcini (Gregory Antonacci) and expresses anger over Butch's failure to kill Tony.

A sit-down between the warring crime families is arranged. Tony and Paulie Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) meet with Butch, Albie Cianflone (John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia), and Little Carmine (Ray Abruzzo) of the Lupertazzi family, and they negotiate a truce. Butch does not provide Tony with Phil's location, however, but tells him, "You do what you gotta do." Agent Harris calls Tony and reveals that Phil has been using pay phones in Oyster Baymarker, Long Islandmarker. Tony's crew surveils gas stations with payphones in the area, but they are unable to locate Phil.

With the truce agreed, Tony returns to his North Caldwellmarker home and life begins to return to normal for Tony, his family, and his crew. The exception is A.J., who, after watching his car explode after a pile of leaves set it afire, decides to join the U.S. Army. Tony and Carmela discuss this turn of events with A.J.'s therapist and Tony also talks about his own life and childhood. Tony and Carmela distract A.J. from his military ambitions by getting him involved in producing a movie with Little Carmine's production company, and supplying him with a new car. Meadow and Patrick Parisi (Daniel Sauli) plan their wedding.

Eventually Benny Fazio (Max Casella) and Walden Belfiore (Frank John Hughes) encounter Phil at a Raceway gas station; as Phil is talking to his wife, Walden murders him by a gunshot to the head. FBI Agent Ron Goddard (Michael Kelly) notifies Agent Harris of Leotardo's death, causing Harris to exclaim, "Damn! We're gonna win this thing!"

Tony visits the comatose Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) in the hospital. Tony's lawyer, Neil Mink (David Margulies), informs Tony that someone is testifying to a grand jury and that Tony is likely to be indicted. Tony later visits his uncle Corrado "Junior" Soprano (Dominic Chianese) at the state mental hospital. Because of his dementia, Junior barely recognizes Tony and becomes confused when Tony tries to remind him of his involvement in "this thing of ours," whereupon Tony leaves with a tear in his eye.

Tony then meets his family for dinner at a restaurant, arriving first. Carmela arrives second and Tony verifies that Carlo Gervasi (Arthur Nascarella) is going to testify against him and the DiMeo Family. A.J. then arrives and the three Sopranos talk for a while. A man, who has been intermittently staring at Tony as he sits there, gets up from his bar and glances at Tony as he heads to and enters the bathroom. As Meadow enters the restaurant, Tony looks up and the screen abruptly cuts to black and silence. After ten seconds, the credits roll silently.

Production

Conception, development and writing

Show runner David Chase planned the series ending and the final scene during the 21-month hiatus between seasons five and six, a "long break" that HBO granted him. The final scene was filmed almost exactly as Chase had envisioned. It was not intended as a setup for a future film, although Chase later commented "[t]here may be a day where we all come up with something," regarding a possible Sopranos feature. It was then-HBO chairman Chris Albrecht who suggested to Chase to conclude the series with the sixth season.As with every episode of the season, the plot outline of "Made in America" was developed by Chase and his writing staff, which for the final season consisted of executive producer Terence Winter and Matthew Weiner and supervising producers and writing team Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider. Episode director Tim Van Patten also gave Chase some story suggestions. The episode's first draft was then written by Chase, being the first episode he had worked on as sole writer since "Join the Club", the second episode of the season. After some input from his writing staff, Chase revised the script to its finished state.The line "Damn! We're gonna win this thing!", uttered in the episode by Matt Servitto's character Agent Harris after being informed of the death of Phil Leotardo, is a real-life allusion to former FBImarker supervisor Lindley DeVecchio that Chase decided to include in the script. DeVecchio famously uttered the line after being told that Lorenzo "Larry" Lampasi had been shot to death in front of his Brooklyn home and was later charged for informing the Mafia on various accounts, another parallel to Tony and Harris.

Filming

Principal photography commenced in late February and concluded in late March 2007. "Made in America" was shot on location in Essex Countymarker, New Jerseymarker and in Brooklynmarker and Manhattanmarker, New York Citymarker, New Yorkmarker. Additional interior scenes—including indoor shots of the Soprano residence and the back room of the strip club Bada Bing!—were filmed in a sound stage in Silvercup Studiosmarker, New York. The final scene of the episode was filmed in late March 2007 at Holsten's Brookdale Confectionery, an ice cream and candy shop located in Bloomfieldmarker, New Jersey. The Bloomfield Township Council initially tried to stop HBO from filming in the town because "[they] found the HBO mob drama offensive to Italian-Americans" and voted to deny the production company a filming permit. However, as the council had no authority to stop filming in the town as long as the crew met the requirements stated in Bloomfield's code for filming crews, a permit was later issued.As the show's producers needed to ensure that plot details of the ending would be kept a secret until the airdate, they shot several fake endings, and the scripts given to the crew members had their final pages removed."Made in America" was directed by Chase; it marks the first time he has directed an episode since the pilot, which was shot in 1997.
On the set during filming of "Made in America".


Post-production

"Made in America" was edited by Sidney Wolinsky, one of the show's three editors, under the supervision of Chase.Chase originally wanted the black screen at the end of the episode to last "all the way to the HBO whoosh sound," meaning that no credits would roll at the end of the episode, but did not get a waiver from the Directors Guild of Americamarker to do so.

Cast notes

Maureen Van Zandt, who plays Silvio Dante's wife Gabriella Dante on the show, is billed in the opening credits for this episode only. The characters Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) and Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa) do not appear in "Made in America" but the actors who play them are still listed in the opening credits.

Music

The song played during the final scene is "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey; the scene cuts to black near the end of the song, precisely on the phrase "Don't stop". The band's lead singer, Steve Perry, refused to let Chase use "Don't Stop Believing" in the final scene until he knew the fate of the leading characters, and did not give final approval until three days before the episode aired. He feared that the song would be remembered as the soundtrack to Tony's demise, until Chase assured that it would not be the case.

Reception

Ratings

When "Made in America" first aired on HBO in the United Statesmarker on Sunday June 10, 2007, it attracted an average of 11.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen Ratings. This was a 49% increase from the previous episode and the show's best ratings for both parts of the sixth season. It was also the show's largest audience since the season five premiere.

Response

Initial

"Made in America" received generally favorable initial reviews from critics while early fan reception was mixed to negative. During the weeks following the episode's original broadcast, "Made in America" and its closing scene in particular became the subject of much discussion and analysis, leading many fans to reevaluate the ending. Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger called the finale "satisfying" and wrote that the episode "fit[s] perfectly with everything Chase has done on this show before."Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle wrote that it was "[a] perfect ending to a perfect TV series."Frazier Moore of the Associated Press called the episode "brilliant" and wrote that "Chase was true to himself."Brian Zoromski of IGN awarded "Made in America" a score of 6.5 out of 10, describing it as "tailor-made for arguments, presenting an ending certain to annoy and frustrate many more viewers than it satisfies."Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called the episode "the perfect ending" and wrote about the final scene, "On shock of that cut to black, the marvelous way it got you to roll the scene over, again and again, in your mind's eye. Rather than bringing the series to a close, that blackout made The Sopranos live forever."Marisa Carroll of PopMatters awarded the episode a score of 8 out of 10 and particularly praised the final scene as one of the best of the series.Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle called the final episode "[a]n ending befitting genius of Sopranos" and wrote that "Chase managed, with this ending, to be true to reality [...] while also steering clear of trite TV conventions."Chicago Tribune critic Maureen Ryan's first review was mixed; she criticized the final scene for not providing any closure. Ryan later wrote "Chase got me totally wound up, then ripped me away from that world. I was really mad at first [...] I still think what Chase did was, all due respect, kind of jerky. But minutes after the finale ended, I started laughing."Kim Reed of Television Without Pity gave the finale the highest score of A+ and praised it for staying true to the show.

Retrospective

Retrospective reviews of "Made in America" have been positive; the episode has been included on several lists of the best series finales of all time. Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger wrote in an essay analyzing the finale one year after its original broadcast that he felt the episode was "brilliant".In 2009, Arlo J. Wiley of Blogcritics wrote "by focusing on that last ambiguous parting shot from creator David Chase, we run the risk of forgetting just how beautifully structured and executed an hour of television 'Made in America' is" and ranked it as the eighth best series finale ever.Also in 2009, Stacey Wilson of Film.com named "Made in America" as one of the 10 best series finales of all time and wrote "Crude, rude, and no time for emotional B.S., this finale was a delicious end to a show that reveled in the ugliness of humanity."UGO included it as one of the eight best series finales, writing "It was a good ending. Tony didn't die. Neither did Carmella or any of the kids. Series creator David Chase wrote and directed the finale. The series finale was Chase's last chance to [fuck] with your head. Nice job on that show of yours, David Chase. It was awesome."TV Guide included "Made in America" in their "TV's Best Finales Ever" feature, writing "What's there to say about this finale that hasn't already been said? The much-anticipated closer had everyone waiting to see if Tony was finally going to go from whacker to whackee. Instead, they got Journey, a greasy plate of onion rings and a black screen. But, the fact that we're still talking about it proves—for better or worse—that the episode did its job."

Awards

In 2007, "Made in America" won an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. It was the only category the episode was nominated in. This is the third and final time series creator/executive producer David Chase has won the award for his writing of the series.In 2008, Chase was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award in the category of Drama Series (Night) but lost to fellow Sopranos director Alan Taylor, who won for directing the pilot episode of Mad Men, a series created by former Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner.Also in 2008, Editor Sidney Wolinsky won an American Cinema Editors Eddie Award in the category of Best Edited One-Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television.

Impact

Interpretations of final scene

The final shot of Tony Soprano
The final scene of "Made in America" became the subject of much discussion and analysis after its original broadcast. The use of an abrupt ending followed by several seconds of silent black screen led many viewers to initially believe that their cable or DVR had cut out at a crucial moment.Two opposing interpretations emerged among viewers regarding the ultimate fate of Tony: some believe that he is killed while others believe that he remains alive.One argument for the former points to a conversation that Tony had in the midseason premiere episode "Soprano Home Movies" with his brother-in-law Bobby, in which Bobby comments on how suddenly and without sound death can happen in their lives as gangsters. When questioned on the theory, HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer stated that the conversation is a "legitimate" hint. The final scene showing a man credited as "Man in Members Only jacket" who goes to the bathroom has been interpreted as a nod to a scene in the The Godfather in which Michael Corleone retrieves a gun from the bathroom before shooting his enemies to death.Speculation has also linked the jacket to the title of the opening episode of the season, in which Tony is shot, and also as a symbolic reference to membership of the Mafia. Contrary arguments about the ending's meaning have also been made. It has been suggested that the final scene means that while life is fraught with fear and danger it nevertheless goes on. The lyrics of the closing song are thought to support this.Supporters of this interpretation point out that because of Tony's peace agreement with the Lupertazzi family and their tacit sanction of a hit on Phil, there was no legitimate basis to expect a hit on Tony. It has also been suggested that the audience itself was "whacked".

Comments from David Chase

Chase has made various comments about the finale; however, he has not provided an explanation to the meaning of the final scene. In his first interview after the broadcast of the finale with New Jersey paper The Star Ledger, Chase stated "I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there. No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God. We did what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people's minds, or thinking, 'Wow, this'll piss them off.' People get the impression that you're trying to fuck with them and it's not true. You're trying to entertain them. [...] Anybody who wants to watch it, it's all there."

Chase later commented "I wasn't going to do this, but somebody said it would be a good idea if we said something about that ending. I really wasn't going to go into it, but I'll just say this...when I was going to Stanford Universitymarker's graduate film school and was 23 [years old], I went to see Planet of the Apes with my wife. When it was over, I said, 'Wow...so they had a Statue of Libertymarker, too.'"

On moments during and after the final scene, Chase referred to a scene from the episode "Stage 5", "There are no esoteric clues in there. No Da Vinci Code. Everything that pertains to that episode was in that episode. And it was in the episode before that and the one before that and seasons before this one and so on. There had been indications of what the end is like. Remember when Gerry Torciano was killed? Silvio was not aware that the gun had been fired until after Gerry was on his way down to the floor. That's the way things happen: It's already going on by the time you even notice it."On the fans of the show, Chase remarks "They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie, and cheat. They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that. They wanted 'justice.' They wanted to see his brains splattered on the wall. I thought that was disgusting, frankly. [...] The pathetic thing—to me—was how much they wanted his blood, after cheering him on for eight years."In a further interview, Chase stated "There's more than one way of looking at the ending. That's all I'll say."In a later radio interview, Chase was more specific about the ending and referred to scenes from "Stage 5" and "Soprano Home Movies" in relation to the ending.

Parodies

Aspects of the "Made in America" episode have been widely parodied. The ending was spoofed in a promotional video produced by the Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential campaign as well as on an episode of The Celebrity Apprentice that featured former The Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore.The ending was also referred to during the opening act of the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, performed by Family Guy characters Brian and Stewie, and in the Family Guy episode "Lois Kills Stewie"."Made in America" is also parodied in the 2009 series finale of the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, entitled "Everybody Hates the G.E.D." In the final scene of that episode, the title character and his family members individually arrive at a local diner, while the Bon Jovi song "Livin' on a Prayer" plays on the jukebox.

References

External links




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