So this is David Chase's idea of what happens when you get your brains blown out: nothing. (So much for Tony's "There's something beyond all this.") Tony has earlier looked into Uncle Junior's empty eyes and seen that our one shot at quasi-immortality - memory - ain't shit either.
Paulie was the double-dealer. Working with Little Carmine, probably.
Up until the end, the episode was comic, anticlimactic "life goes on." AJ was easily bought out of his military resolve.
Although we've roved around in an omniscient point of view, at the moment of Tony's death we're (arbitrarily, because David Chase is such a prick) solipsistically trapped in his point of view, so we'll never know what happened to the rest of his family. We can assume they were all blown away except Meadow (so much for "something has to happen to Meadow"), whose life was saved by her inability to parallel park. (Somehow it makes me feel just a little better about my own deficiencies in that regard.) But that would be just an assumption. The blank black screen is the ultimate Rorschach blot, and the ultimate "screw you for caring."
You can't even be 100% sure Tony got blown away. Ninety-nine percent, okay. Ninety-five percent? But it's also possible Chase just pulled the plug. THE END. What happens next is everybody's guess.
In other words, I loved it. (Okay, I'm a masochist.) The way it empowers and disempowers the viewer at the same moment? Like life, the bitch, to the end. And, when you think about it, the one and only way to make the series live on.
A deep bow to that prick.
I commented over at Althouse, "I started out assuming that was Tony's death. By the end of my own post, I was less and less sure. I think it was the perversely perfect ending. Sort of like — for a totally absurd comparison — the way the pilot ends up drawing a sheep for the Little Prince: just a box with holes."