Breaking his silence months after the HBO mob drama ended its run, he is offering a belated explanation for that blackout at the restaurant. He strongly suggests that, no, Tony Soprano didn't get whacked moments later as he munched onion rings with his family at Holsten's. And, mostly, Chase wonders why so many viewers got so worked up over .
"There WAS a war going on that week, and attempted terror attacks in London," says Chase. "But these people were talking about onion rings."
The interview, included in "The Sopranos: The Complete Book," published this week, finds Chase exasperated by viewers who were upset that Tony didn't meet explicit doom.
Chase says the New Jersey mob boss "had been people's alter ego. They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie and cheat. They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that. They wanted 'justice'...
Photos: "Sopranos" Swansong
"The pathetic thing - to me - was how much they wanted HIS blood, after cheering him on for eight years."
In the days, and even weeks, after the finale aired June 10, "Sopranos" wonks combed that episode for buried clues, concocting wild theories. (Was this some sort of "Last Supper" re-imagined with Tony, wife Carmela, son A.J. and daughter Meadow?)
Chase insists that what you see (and didn't see) is what you get.
"There are no esoteric clues in there. No 'Da Vinci Code'," he declares.
He says it's "just great" if fans tried to find a deeper meaning, but "most of them, most of us, should have done this kind of thing in high school English class and didn't."
He defends the bleak, seemingly inconclusive ending as appropriate - and even a little hopeful.
A.J. will "probably be a low-level movie producer. But he's not going to be a killer like his father, is he? Meadow may not become a pediatrician or even a lawyer ... but she'll learn to operate in the world in ways that Carmela never did.
It's not ideal. It's not what the parents dreamed of. But it's better than it was," Chase says.
And as for that notorious blackout in the middle of the Journey power ballad, "Don't Stop Believin"?
"Originally, I didn't want any credits at all," says Chase. "I just wanted the black screen to go the length of the credits - all the way to the HBO 'whoosh' sound. But the Directors Guild wouldn't give us a waiver."
And while this unexpected finish left lots of viewers thinking their cable service was on the fritz, Chase insists it wasn't meant as a prank.
"Why would we want to do that?" he asks. "Why would we entertain people for eight years only to give them the finger?"
By Frazier Moore