Tony's not dead.
The common logic is that we're smart enough to figure out the clues that spell out that the last 10 seconds of "Sopranos" being total blackness is that Tony "never heard the one that got him".
That would make Chase an artist, one who rises above the medium and drek that is so common in television and cable and actually made a show that does what art is supposed to do - make you think. Conversely that would also make us intelligent, thoughtful and observant, able to understand to subtle tones and nuances of quality television and not be spoon fed resolution. Otherwise Chase is a hack who got lucky and we got bamboozled. And we're too smart for that.
Steven Colbert coined the term truthiness to quantify this sort of thinking.
Only one person died in the last episode - Phil Leotardo. And when the shooter stepped up to the side of the SUV and put the gun to Phil's temple to make sure, his wife did something remarkable: she screamed. Phil might not have seen it coming, but he knew if only for a second something wasn't right.
The previous episode Bobby turned and saw the guns, he saw it coming. Sil shot back at his assassins, he saw it coming. So now Tony doesn't see it coming? Now he might have died the next day, or the next morning, or later on that night, but when the screen went black, Mr. Soprano was alive and well. Okay, alive any way.
Let's look at the scene in Holsten's, assuming Members Only is the shooter. (excuse the Star Wars-ian geekiness)
- The shooter would have trailed him there, as they'd just decided Holsten's. There is no piece in the bathroom unless they salted half the restaurants in Jersey (this is not the Godfather!). He would have it on him, probably a 9mm.
- The shooter enters with AJ and takes a seat at the bar, glancing at Tony. Then goes to the restroom moments before Meadow enters.
- The bell over the door rings, Meadow enters and the screen goes black.
So the supposition is that the Shooter comes out of the bathroom, steps up the table puts the pistol to Tony's temple and pulls the trigger - thus the blackness.
Carmella doesn't scream? She would have. AJ sits passively? He would started running. The booth was clearly visible from the outside door, Meadow takes in the scene of her father with a gun to her head and what? Does nothing? The wasn't even a odd look on her face. The shooter clipped Tony with a 9mm from 6 to 8 feet in the head with one shot? Or apparently the shooter came out of the bathroom with a street sweeper and clacked the whole family in one wave.
Let's look at the mechanics of a "hit". In that situation to get the guaranteed kill, the guy comes out of the bathroom and hops into the booth and slaps the gun to Tony's head before anyone can react? Hardly likely. He wouldn't have sat down, it would have been an in motion thing to facilitate escape. The assassination would require the same style of Bobby's hit - Gun's drawn, arm outstretched to get the aim, first bullet in the chest to immobilize, second or third to the head for certainty. Which means somebody at the table, in the restaurant would have seen it coming. Someone would have reacted.
Assume the shooter(s) were the black guys. They were laughing, not the solemn grim faced killers from previous hits in the story reality. And they would have had to come from across the room, with the same weapon out and ready pose that Members Only would have assumed. Tony would have "see that coming".
So what happened?
What Chase did was give us the cop-out ending. It's like one of those "What If" books where you pick how the story goes from here tales only for adults, and with strippers. And they've ripped out the pages that say "the end" on them. Inconclusive to the say the least as far as resolution. A pitch black flash that left you to interpret it on your own. It smacks of sensationalism, not a story from a seasoned storyteller. A better ending would have been Tony looking at a trial, or back into a more mundane than you would think for killers life that made the story what it was. The kind of man who went to work, killed a guy, then came home and ate pie with the wife and kids while they talked about college applications.
Face it, the ending was supposed to be that last bite of the perfect meal, and turns out it's the little burnt bit.
Bartender... stoli. For the Russian.