Some months back, Sopranos creator David Chase made headlines by supposedly confirming Tony Soprano’s survival in the hotly-debated 2007 HBO series finale, only to recant his statements as a mix-up. Now, Chase has gone on the record for an in-depth look at every aspect of the final scene, but does it finally answer the big question?

In a lengthy interview with the Directors’ Guild for their spring magazine, Chase pored over multiple aspects of the iconic “Made in America” closer, including the use of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Meadow’s tension-building arrival, as well as the infamous “Bathroom Guy” who suspiciously ventured to the men’s room in view of Tony. In particular, Chase steered away from confirming or denying Tony’s survival in that specific scene, but went in-depth on the significance of cutting to black:

I said to Gandolfini, the bell rings and you look up. That last shot of Tony ends on ‘don’t stop,’ it’s mid-song. I’m not going to go into [if that's Tony's POV]. I thought the possibility would go through a lot of people’s minds or maybe everybody’s mind that he was killed. He might have gotten shot three years ago in that situation. But he didn’t. Whether this is the end here, or not, it’s going to come at some point for the rest of us. Hopefully we’re not going to get shot by some rival gang mob or anything like that. I’m not saying that [happened]. But obviously he stood more of a chance of getting shot by a rival gang mob than you or I do because he put himself in that situation. All I know is the end is coming for all of us.

I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.

There are a few more fascinating tidbits, including Chase’s efforts to sync “Don’t Stop Believin’” with the action onscreen, or the shop’s bell referencing past episodes, but does the lengthy dissection finally put Sopranos debate to rest? Will fans leave Tony’s fate with ambiguity, or analyze the scene for years to come?

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