How does The Many Saints of Newark end? Nearly 15 years since The Sopranos finished, The Many Saints of Newark takes us back to New Jersey to show us a different side of Tony Soprano. Instead of the hard-nosed DiMeo crime family patriarch, we get young Tony, played by Michael Gandolfini, James Gandolfini’s son, and how he became interested in the mob in the first place.
The story follows the budding friendship between Tony and one Richard ‘Dickie’ Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), Christopher Moltisanti’s father. Dickie is a mentor to Tony, whose real dad, Giovanni ‘Johnny Boy’ Soprano (Jon Bernthal), is both absent and not particularly big on feelings. Despite Dickie’s best efforts, as you might imagine, his guidance to the contrary doesn’t do much to dissuade the Mafioso-to-be from becoming a made man and moving up the ranks.
What is the lay of the land at the end of this prequel? We know who lives and dies, but how does it all shake out? Was Tony ever going in another direction other than criminality? We’ve broken it all down for you, so you know exactly what’s what the next time you sit down to watch the legendary TV series – warning, spoilers ahead.
What happens in The Many Saints of Newark ending?
Two strands carry the back half of the drama movie: Dickie, and his mission to do something good to make up for killing his father, and Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano’s (Corey Stoll) warpath to earn legitimate respect. They intersect in some very bloody ways. With Tony and his son Christopher, Dickie starts to have second thoughts about the life he’s been led into.
Hassling people for money, worrying about the cops, late nights; a life of crime is complicated. When the 1967 riots start happening in Newark, Dickie begins to consider what his options are. Sadly, he knows he’s too far gone, but it’s not too late for the next generation. He plans to have a conversation with Tony to dissuade him from becoming more involved in the family business, and make arrangements for Christopher to grow up away from all the blood money.
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Junior has other ideas. Feeling undermined and paranoid about shifts in the DiMeo syndicate that might mean he doesn’t get his due, he starts whacking people. Dickie is one of his targets, who suffers a fateful encounter with a bullet. The tragic timing is that Dickie is killed right before he’s planning to meet Tony for lunch to advise him to pursue sports and academia instead of drugs, weapons, and other pursuits.
A change that places Tony on a course towards becoming the most powerful man in the DiMeo family. Ironically, Tony winds up being a perpetual thorn in Junior’s side – maybe if Dickie was left alone, Junior could’ve eventually taken over? We’ll never know.
What happens in The Many Saints of Newark post-credits scene?
No, The Sopranos is not becoming the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but an end credits sting does plant some potential seeds. The Newark race riots of the late ’60s are a significant disruption to Dickie’s business, and though the thriller movie doesn’t really interrogate the racial tension much, a brief clip at the end suggests there might be more coming.
Harold McBrayer has moved into a neighbourhood in Newark, after all the rioting has settled down. Now moved in, he’s clearly seen exchanging money and making a deal with someone else. It’s removed from The Sopranos world we understand, but that’s the point.
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There are many forces within the world of organised crime beyond the DiMeo family, and even though The Many Saints of Newark is preoccupied with Junior’s thirst for blood, not everyone else is. Harold carries on as normal, having moved beyond getting hassled by any DiMeo cronies. The Sopranos never did a huge amount with the animosity between Black and Italian-American communities, could we see another spin-off that dives in deeper? Who knows, but the idea’s there.
Why does Junior want to kill Dickie?
Why does Junior do anything? He’s an angry narcissist that takes everything that doesn’t go his way as a slight. To be fair, The Many Saints of Newark makes clear that he’s lived with a lot of underhanded disrespect from within the ranks of the DiMeo family. Few people have ever really taken him seriously, nor believed him much for being the true head of the table.
He knows Dickie and Johnny Boy are ahead of him in line for the throne, and he suspects they’re planning to shift the business. He’s partially right – Dickie is explicit about wanting change, and we can’t have that, not before Junior gets a turn.
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Really, though, just like throughout the series, Junior makes a lot of excuses for being an abuser who likes to bully people. He wants to pay forward how he was treated growing up and earning his place as a made man, which is through cruelty and blood. Like with many things in this world, the cruelty is the point, and The Many Saints of Newark makes clear that it never achieves the desired results.
The Many Saints of Newark is now in theatres, and on streaming service HBO Max in the US.