My first reaction was to say aloud, "You son of a bitch."
But after a second viewing, I am aglow with admiration for the way David Chase handled it. It's not what I expected, or what I might have wanted, but it has the ring of truth -- Meadow's parking difficulty sold it, brilliantly -- and also the brassier ring of audacity. If the scene had run longer and shown us everything, it could have played out in one of two ways: anticlimatic, or so traumatic it would have been an even greater outrage to discontinue. On reflection, I think it was actually a very loving exit, for both the characters and the viewing audience that has followed their family saga for the past nine years.
I must say, I'm tickled by the riotous Le Sacre du Printemps-like controversy the finale has provoked. I visited the HBO discussion boards and they're hilarious -- it's like Chase and company have left half or more of their viewership angrily spanking the butt end of their catsup bottles. I loved one person's funny speculation that Tony actually wasn't hit, but suddenly succumbed to the cholesterol depth charge of the best onion rings in North Jersey. That's not just a joke, but a perfectly plausible interpretation of what we were shown -- one of many, his survival being among them.
My own interpretation? I've been in life and death situations and remember how they feel. THE SOPRANOS' final scene captures perfectly the atmospheric charge of convergence that I remember from those moments.
RIP Tony Soprano: he didn't see it coming.