Jeopardy, Colors, And Why RDM’s Fanboy Sopranos Post Might Not Be So Bad

Like a lot of you, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about whatRon Moore’srecent blog post (“The Sopranos Ends Perfectly”) might mean in terms of BSG’s season four wrapup. Unlinke most of you, I’ve never seen a single episode of the Sopranos — I know, shame on me — so I’ve eseentially been sitting alone in a cold, dark room, figuratively speaking, scared that I’ll be mad as hell come 2008.

Then my friend Joe over at Wired shot me a link to this blog post by (in)famous Jeopardy player and CSI writer Bob Harris in which he offers what’s widely recognized as the most complete analysis of the penultimate TV mob moment, and I’m far less worried. Why? The title of Bob’s post is “Tony Soprano didn’t just get whacked; he practically got a funeral.”

Bob’s analysis is stunning.He draws on everything from religion, art, and musicto color theory and cinematography to determine the series’ technically-open ending.I say “technically” because after reading Bob’s post, it seems to me that David Chase gave Sopranos fans plenty of information to determine Tony’s fate. Yet by not actually showing the ending he left fans the option of, as Ron said, “pretending that life continues.”

Considering all the email we’ve received regarding what will become of BSG fandom when it slides over the edge into a post-BSG abyss, I’m beginning to think that a “closed” ending would offer me less comfort as opposed to more. I’d like to pretend that life in the BSG universe continues in some meaningful way, as opposedto, say, afinal blissful settlement on Earth.

But I’m still concerned a bit: in his post, Ron speaks of David’s “brilliance” in terms of the open ending, not once mentioning David’s myriad clues-for-the-freeze-frame-enabled-anal. In my mind at least, a “brilliant” ending for BSG would include both almost-but-not-quite definitive clues and an “open” ending. Bob’s work reminds me very much of the effort that our readers and listeners here at GWC put into understanding BSG. I could easily see us all having a discussion along the lines of Bob’s in our post-422 podcast comments.

But without the clues it’d just be, well, an “open ending.”

Of course, it’s important to note that Ron’s post is dated June 11th — very shortly after the airing of the episode. As you can see from Bob’s post, locating and interpreting these clues takes time, so maybe Ron felt the brilliance, but didn’t discover the clues until later — like most Sopranos fans.

Ican hope.

Update: Pike points out that I’m slow, and he got there first. Pike rocks.

33 Responses to "Jeopardy, Colors, And Why RDM’s Fanboy Sopranos Post Might Not Be So Bad"
  1. Mike P says:

    I’m not too worried because, at the end of his post, RDM says, “I wish I’d thought of it first” — implying, perhaps, that he is not just going to ape “The Sopranos,” but will instead do a different kind of ending.

  2. Pike says:

    Update: Pike points out that he has too much time on his hands.

  3. writch says:

    Chuck (or anyone…)

    Are you the one coining “post-422”? Has that been used/seen elsewhere?

    I love it. I want we should use it as often as we can here. Very useful.

    And until we catch wind of the title for 422 (or at least the working version) we should just refer to it as “The 422.”

    Actually, Four-Twenty-Two rightfully should be refererred to reverently as “The Episode Who’s Name Shan’t be Uttered” but you already tainted with negative connotations with Cross-something-or-other (Aye, Aye).


  4. Chuck says:

    Dixi: (c) Chuck Cage 2007. 🙂

  5. Cavatar says:

    I wanted to comment on the interpretation of the Soprano’s ending post and why really I am still worried and unhappy with that ending. I honestly don’t feel the ending had any artic reasons behind it. I think the ending came down to just keeping ones options open.

    Now HBO and crew was saying no movie, just as they did when Sex and the City went off the air; and now msNBC said that they are saying they making one. There are two options for the ending of the Soprano’s, if there is no movie (which James Gandolfini now says he is up for) then Tony dies. If there is a movie, he lives. This was no hidden ending with clues left for us and the like, this was all about money.

    My fear is now that one, RDM will make the same mistake of looking too deep into the ending and mimic it in someway and never take us to Earth or to any kind of resolution. And two, that stuff will be left undone just so they can make a story later in a movie or a new mini-series.

  6. The Alpaca Herder says:

    Cavatar raises an interesting point about the possibility of a movie or a mini-series. In the context of Sci-Fi Channel it is not necessarily certain if that will be a creative decision for RDM. Razor originated from a push by Universal Home Video to have something to release direct-to-video later this year. From what I read the initiative that became Razor was not originally from RDM and David Eick but instead came from a sister company to the network.

    The only Soprano-style ending would be getting to Earth and then the Galactica goes up in one boom. With an explosion and no resolution as to say perhaps a Raptor jumping away…that is probably the closest you can get. Then again, who knows what will happen during the season that has yet to air. Galactica could easily get blown up around the middle of the season with the only military hardware left being the Raptors and Vipers with no means of appropriate replenishment until something is found on Earth. That would certainly put you on seat’s edge with a marked increase in jeopardy in the story I would imagine.

    An edited volume printed by BenBella Books called So Say We All has an essay that pokes fun at the possibility of finding Earth. In light of the recent immigration debates in the Congress it is funny to consider how one would handle refugee aliens who literally happened to be alien. It was interesting considering where everybody would wind up being put in jobs in somewhat contemporary culture: Galen Tyrol as a NASCAR pit crew chief, Tom Zarek joining in on Chicago politics, the President having a TV show called Mrs. Roslin’s Neighborhood, Starbuck as spokesperson for WWE, Tigh-clops as the new Marlboro Man, etc. Although that was written in the middle of the second season I do think a mini-series could easily be based on such and still allow the regular show to end with finding Earth.

    Ending with finding Earth would be a good thing. Taking a mini-series post-422 to cope with what happens when the Fleet finds Earth…is an even better idea.

  7. Yorick says:

    I keep on thinking about Moore’ statement that “we’re going to find Earth or something we’re going to call Earth”. It reminds me a bit of the end of “The Martian Chronicles” when the hero, pointing to his children to a reflexion of themselves in the water. say “There are the Martians” (the humans living on Mars will become the new ‘martians’). As for the end of the ‘Sopranos’, I like to think that it’s us (the audience) being killed at the end as they often repeat in the show that you never see it coming 🙂

  8. Tigh's Eyepatch says:

    I didn’t watch the Sopranos (I do intend to netflix it from the beginning now, though), but I did check out the last episode, and absolutely loved the way it ended, even before reading Bob’s excellent analysis.

    However, I don’t think that that type of ending would work as well for BSG. A large part of the premise for the show is the search for Earth, and to leave the show ‘hanging’ (even though I agree with Bob’s interpretation of the Sopranos’ end, it still counts as an unresolved ending) would be a major cop-out within the context of BSG. Like I said, I haven’t watched the Sopranos, but I think the premise and structure of the show is fundamentally different than that of BSG—while the Sopranos tells the story of Tony, a gangster in New York, and there is some suspense and mystery in terms of what will happen to him and his family next, it’s couched within the confines of ‘real life’. Galactica has no such restrictions, and has posted some serious mysteries over the course of the series, not the least of which is the Earth question. To not resolve these issues would be, I think, to not fully tell the story that RDM set out to tell, and furthermore it would be out of sync with the way the series has been tracking so far, which is to say, that we’ve been getting answers along the way. I would probably be very disappointed if we get to 422 and we’re left hanging. Who knows, though? I just might be pleasantly surprised…

  9. Radio Picon says:

    I have never seen the Sopranos either, so I can’t appreciate the impact of the kind of ending it had. But I fully expect at least some ambiguity in RDMs ending. We all know it won’t end with shouts of WOO! , pats on the back, hugs and bottles of unspecific beverage being popped on the beach after the fleet lands in Daytona. And I am glad that we can trust him not to do something cheesy. Better uneasy than cheesy.

    I will predict one thing…Roslin will die and there will be a burial scene on Earth or some planet they call Earth.

  10. Armando says:

    Me, I like Stephen Colbert’s idea for an ending to The Sopranos: at the end, Tony Soprano should wake up next to Sarah Jessica Parker’s (sorry, I don’t remember her character’s name. Carrie something?) character in Sex and the City, making the entire Sopranos a spin-off of THAT show.


  11. Armando says:

    Which is to say, methinks you guys worry too much. 😉

  12. Mike P says:

    Yorick — Excellent use of the Bradbury! That is an awesome story with an awesome ending.

    Timbuck, Raemani and I wondered at our Philly area mini-meet up if we would learn, by the end, whether BSG takes place in our past or future. As I recall (correct me if I’m wrong, gang), Raemani said it was set in our past (the ancient Greek connection), I argued for our future (things are *so* similar to what we know in terms of idioms, fashion, etc.), while Timbuck said we wouldn’t know. I think we all agreed it would be okay if we never found out. (Although, apologies to Sean, I really would like a consistent explanation of Head Six by the last episode!)

  13. Mike P says:

    Maybe the crew will find Earth and then shuffle out of the CIC in a group hug, crying, and singing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” (Or, alternatively, “All Along the Watchtower.”) 🙂

  14. TimH says:

    I still stand by my previous comment on this.

  15. Nick B says:

    I’m with Radio Picon here – “Better uneasy than cheesy”. So say we all. At least we can be assured of a lack of cheese, however things turn out.

    I don’t mind not knowing which period of Earth history they turn up in (if they do find the real Earth), as long as we keep away from the empirically untenable idea that terrestrial human civilisation was seeded by people from outer space thousands of years ago.

    I do want to know what’s going on with Baltar and Head 6 though 😉

    On the forum for Podcast 49 we’ve been kicking about Earth theories, and a few of us like the idea that the role of the final five is to protect Earth, now populated by Cylons or Cylon-Human hybrids, from the human threat.

  16. Raemani says:

    It was actually me that said that I don’t think we are going to find out what period off time it is when we get to earth (or as RDM says a place called earth). I had read the Ancient Greek thing somewhere – not sure where.

    I really feel we are not going to get to earth until the last episode, at least making that last jump to earth – Racetrack may find it in a Raptor (granted Kara supposedily knows where it is already), but I don’t think Galactica will get there until the end, with the RTF jumping in as one of the last, if not the last scene. Just my gut talking.

  17. Mike P says:

    Oops, sorry, Raemani. I *knew* I would get it messed up! Oh, well. No offense taken, I trust.

    I agree with you that we won’t get to Earth until the very end. It would make a very cool final scene, indeed, as one by one the RTF jumps into Earth orbit — to the amazement of (I hope) 21st-century Earthlings below. 🙂

  18. Armando says:

    Grace Park was once asked if she knew what the ending to the series would be, since RDM and David Eick both have said that they’ve known what the very end would be for some time. She said she didn’t, but knowing them the fleet would get to earth and the president of the U.S. would order these ufo’s that have jumped into earth orbit pre-emptively destroyed, thus bringing the show to a sufficiently dark conclusion.

    I hope she’s wrong.

    (I do agree, though, that the arrival on earth will probably be one of the last, if not THE last thing we see on the show.)

  19. Nick B says:

    I think they’ll give us more than just the fleeting jumping into Earth orbit. There’s sure to be some sort of twist or ambiguity, some sadistic cliffhanger. At least I hope so! But this could all be in the very last episode, granted

    I think it was Eddie Olmos that was (also) talking about the RTF being destroyed by terrestrial humans scared of an alien invasion. I recall him adding that it would be George W Bush who ordered the fleet destroyed, after consulting with an advisor, who was out of shot. The camera would then pan to the advisor who was couselling destroying the RTF, and they would be a Cylon….

  20. Pike says:

    Armando and Nick, that would be a very RDM ending, but I don’t think that’ll be all there is to it.

    If there’s one question that has to be answered in some capacity, I think it’s “What does ‘All this has happened before…’ mean?”

  21. Yorick says:

    I always wondered if Battlestar Galactica was RDM’s attempt at showing TPTB on Star Trek: Voyager (I think he stayed there for 2 or 3 episodes before “leaving”) how to properly make a show about finding Earth, about survival in the middle of nowhere and above all about people. That’s why I was too wondering if we would get to Earth by the very last episode just like Voyager or maybe earlier in season 4.

  22. Raemani says:

    Hey Mike P – no biggy, that three hours kinda runs together. I don’ think I even remember who said everything.

    Nick B – I agree, but I don’t know that the twist is going to involve us finding out what time period they arrive at earth at. I also agree that I am OK with not know when we get there.

    I don’t think a series should end with everything wrapoed up in a nice little package. I want some things answered, but not everything needs to be answered. I actually want an ending that has ambiguity so that the series never really ends – we can all write our own ending and opens up a bunch of discussion points.

    I would like to know what Head 6 and Head Baltar are. I want to know if the final 5 are different and how are they different (I think this one will get answered as they explain how Tigh and Chief can be cylons) as well who is the 5th cylon. I want to know what Kara is (I beleive we will get this answer early in the season). I would like all of the main characters to make to earth (although I have a bad feeling Starbuck and/or Apollo won’t make it – based on the “shiny futures” comment from Scar). If Apollo/Starbuck does make it I am not sure that Rosilin/Adama too.

  23. Kappa says:

    Could it be possible that the RTF could make it to Earth in such a way that we still wouldn’t be too sure whether they’re in our past or our future? I mean, if they landed on an Earth that didn’t appear to have any human life on it but was still habitable, they could leave us guessing whether we were seeing the far past before humans evolved on Earth or a post-apocalyptic Earth in which the humans had all wiped each other out long ago and the environment was finally recovering. Then there’s the “this has all happened before, this will all happen again” monkey wrench the authors could throw in. Depending on how literal the cyclical nature of history is, if the patterns play out almost but not quite exactly the same way each cycle, the RTF could find prehistoric humans or Ancient Greeks but from a later cycle than our own, or, conversely, come across a technologically superior civilization that is actually in our past because we’re a part of a later cycle. I guess I’m trying to say that it doesn’t necessarily have to be an “either/or” answer; even if RDM takes us all the way to Earth and lets us land and have a good look around, there’s still room for ambiguity and twists.

  24. Audra says:

    The Alpaca Herder – You’re ahead of us again, great catch! We just got a review copy of So Say We All and will post a review here on GWC soon.

    Personally, I think it’d be great if the RTF jumped into Earth’s orbit in the last episode (the 422) and landed on Daytona Beach (as Radio Picon mentioned). They could do a sky-drop landing like in Exodus II (I think it was) and thousands of people would jump out of the ships and land in hot tubs with swim-up bars. It’d be New Year’s ever 2999, and there’d be humans and Cylons all living peacefully and dressed as hippies and cheering in the new millenium.

  25. The Alpaca Herder says:

    Actually I had had a thought or two for Popular Culture Association for a paper. I’ve just been nervous about moving ahead considering the next big PCA meeting will be in February just as Season 4 kicks off. The danger of a paper then would be having half of your points invalidated by possible retconning such as how the Final Five are going to be explained away in terms of how they just did not know their own nature(s). This also explains why I wound up with my hands on that book.

    From what I remember of RDM podcasts it looks like he is not sure of how many episodes will be needed to resolve finding Earth. A few episodes could be taken with the Galactica finding Earth and running up against something akin to Stargate Command perhaps. The cannonball drop as from Exodus Part 2 as the grand finale would not necessarily be out of the ballpark either as the closing to the series. As to the cannonball drop…by that point who knows what the Galactica would hit due to the navigational systems probably being really, really, really out of alignment and proper functioning by then.

  26. Audra says:

    Alpaca – I have to admit something, and it’s terrible humbling. I initially signed up to present a paper at the Southwestern PCA this past February and ended up withdrawing. I felt terrible about it, but I wasn’t able to get it together in time. Anyway, I felt I should bring it up since you mentioned it- if you’re a fellow academic maybe I could come see you at the 2008 PCA. Do you plan to do regional or national conference?

    Additionally, I felt like by withdrawing I had missed out on being part of the very first set of people to comment in a purely original way on the show. The lack of secondary sources frightened me, I have to admit. Maybe I’ll have the nerve to try again next time. 😉

  27. Armando says:

    Hey Audra and Alpaca, what is this Popular Culture Association of which you speak?

  28. The Alpaca Herder says:

    Popular Culture Association’s website:

    I’ll sign on to an abstract proposal for a GWC-iniaited panel. Heck, there is a call for papers out for the television area that a panel on this thread’s very topic could even be doable perhaps. See: . Such is merely a thought.

    I chickened out on an Internet culture panel one time at PCA. After two rounds of speaking on very excruciatingly boring topics at a very different conference I think I may be up to attempting a incursion into PCA land again. BSG provides plenty to talk about to help create secondary sources for others to play with down the road.

  29. The 13th Cylon says:

    I hope that it’s enough of a resolution so that we can be satisfied, but still leaves a few things to the viewers imagination. RDM often mentions in the podcast that he assumes that the viewer is smart enough to catch up on stuff and not everything has to be completely laid out.

    And as far as to what time period Earth will be, I think that they’ll find it, but not land/settle on it (when the show’s on). I’d rather that be left up to my own imagination, but if they do have to show when they make it, I would prefer it to be in the past (pre- human life). Could you imagine the awesome spin off series of Col. Tigh fighting dinosaurs and such? Forget meteors, Saul and Starbuck were the reason the dinosaurs went extinct.

  30. Audra says:

    Armando – check out:

    They have regional conferences and a national conference every year. It’s an academic association, but from what I’ve heard from profs, it’s one of the most fun, interesting, and laid-back conferences while still being professional. “They” say PCA/ACA is one of the best for first-timers (information that would have been useful YESTERDAY!) and that MLA is like the wolves’ lair for first-timers.

  31. Pike says:

    “Remember: If it is not popular, then it is not culture!”

    Love it.

  32. Armando says:

    Thanks for the links, Alpaca and Audra. I’ll check them out. I’m not a big fan of academic conferences as I find them to be royal bores, even in my own field. So, I tend to focus my “research” on actually, you know, working on the field (in my case, putting on concerts and, this is the ultimate dream right now, finding a funding source to cover a commercial CD release in the near future. Though those sources are very, very limited).

    You know what could be cool, though? A Galactica Watercooler panel at one of their conferences. We have at least three academics on here, right, all in a cross-current of humanities disciplines. It might be a cool idea to explore. I’ve been reading through Bear McCreary’s blog on the “themes of BSG” and I’m piqued by the fact that he does, indeed, use a leitmotif system. It might be interesting to explore the intersection of that and the use of ethnic instruments from Pacific and Asian cultures as well as the recent use of Bob Dylan and other cross cultural references to create a sense of another world with what ultimately are very specific real world references.

    Hmmm….I think there’s a paper there. Dang it!

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