Tony did not die at Holsten’s restaurant.



I’m watching The Sopranos for the fifth time. The legendary HBO series ran from 1999 to 2007. For me personally, it was really funny stuff, but then I’ve been known to laugh at funerals….

The final episode ended unexpectedly suddenly. You may recall that the New Jersey-based Soprano family was gathering at Holsten’s restaurant for a meal. Tony looks up then the screen suddenly goes to black. No sound. Then the credits roll. I remember checking my cable connection and cussing a lot. Apparently, millions did the same thing.

Speculation centered on the white guy in the Members Only jacket as being the killer. He sat at the counter, in front of and to the right of Tony. Members Only guy is tapping his fingers and looks over at Tony. His daughter Meadow is trying to parallel park her car across the street. We see M.O. guy stirring his coffee. He looks at Tony again. He gets up and walks toward the men’s restroom. Tony peers up at him. There is no evidence M.O. guy is packing or alerting Tony to some nefarious intention. He turns left toward the restroom, which puts him at 90 degrees to the right of the direction Tony is facing.

Then two black guys enter, neither is showing stress or anxiousness and they are not looking at the patrons. Meadow finally parks the car and runs to the restaurant. At that point, Tony looks up. The photo above was shot at the final, critical moment. Don’t Stop Believin’ is playing. Every single time Tony looks up, he’s wearing the same neutral expression. You see no wariness or alarm, so nobody in front of him pulled a weapon. That eliminates the two black guys as suspects. Only M.O. guy remains, and he’s in the can.

The assumption seems to be M.O. guy exited the restroom and shot Tony in the right side of his head. Maybe others won’t stop believin’ this theory, but I propose this:

The cut to black suggests to many that Tony was shot and everything went to black. If that were the intended message, then the camera would have shot from Tony’s point of view, looking at the door as Meadow entered, then cut to black and dead audio. That definitely suggests Tony was killed. The fact is, the camera was facing Tony with a closeup view.

So, M.O. guy exited the men’s room and returned to his seat. Or he came out and shot the camera, hence cut to black from the wrong angle (that’s a joke). On top of that, a pro assassin needs the element of surprise and will not telegraph his moves. Tony had noticed him looking. He peered up when M.O. guy left his seat. M.O. guy was merely curious, having recognized the mob boss from newspapers and TV.

Tony lived on, unlike the actor who portrayed him. James Gandolfini died of a heart attack at age 52.

You’re welcome. Restart the dinner table debate.


About Michael McKown

Avatar photoJournalist, specialty magazine editor/publisher for 22 years, entrepreneur, co-founder of America's largest working dog organization, producer/director, and co-founder of Ghostwriters Central in 2002.