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The Sopranos Ending Explained By Prequel Film Director Alan Taylor

If you were a fan of HBO's "The Sopranos," you might have had questions about what happened when the show's final episode suddenly cut to black, leaving Tony Soprano's (James Gandolfini) fate in limbo. To this day, the show's viewers debate what exactly happened in the sixth season's "Made in America" episode and whether or not the crime boss of the mob-driven show is dead.

The end scene is set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and features Tony at Holsten's diner waiting for his family to arrive while listening to a tabletop jukebox. He looks up warily every time someone enters the restaurant. His wife, Carmela (Edie Falco), arrives and sparks a boring conversation. His son, A.J. (Robert Iler), repeats a piece of advice his father doesn't remember giving him. Meadow, his daughter (Jamie Lynn-Sigler), is outside parallel parking her car. One particular man in the background sits at the counter and, as the family's appetizer arrives, goes to the bathroom (and thanks to "The Godfather," we know what that could mean). We hear part of the song's chorus, "Don't stop...," when the scene cuts to black along with the music. The credits don't appear for what seems like a lifetime — but it's really only about 11 seconds.

Although this ambiguous send-off still has people at odds, director Alan Taylor has his own opinion. And he might be considered an expert, as he's directing the new "Sopranos" prequel, "The Many Saints of Newark," which is now in theaters and available to stream on HBO Max.

Director Alan Taylor thinks Tony Soprano is dead

According to Alan Taylor, he believes Tony Soprano is killed in the final scene of the series. "There's just too many signifiers [in the final season]," the director told The Hollywood Reporter. "The biggest one for me is, I think in the entire history of 'The Sopranos,' there's only one line of dialogue that has ever been played back a second time as voiceover, and that's when Bobby Baccalieri says that you don't hear the bullet [when you're killed]. So the fact that was said in an earlier episode, then repeated in voiceover later, I have to go with Tony's dead."

He postulates that the show took pains to introduce that idea in the final season. In the first episode of Season 6, Tony and Bobby (Steve Schirripa) talk about a story that the former heard about a child who drowned in a swimming pool, and Bobby says about the prospect of death, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?" And in the second episode, Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) is shot — but the gunshot is never heard. Viewers can also attest that images and suggestions of death frequently came up during that final episode, starting with the coffin-like sleep Tony experiences at its start.

In fact, in his prequel, Taylor makes a nod to what he thinks happened in the ending. Teen Tony (Michael Gandolfini) hears a story about a man shot in the back and says he wouldn't want to die that way. Taylor did say he talked to "Sopranos" creator David Chase about the scene, and Chase told him, "every possibility is alive in that room." So, in truth, the jury is still out.