Saturday, June 16, 2007

Acceptance

I get it. I get it!

Tony Soprano is dead. (So are Carmela and AJ.)

I've been denying his death all week. I've been telling myself that David Chase intended the ending to be ambiguous. But it's not.

As Bobby said in the final half-season's opener (a comment repeated in the penultimate episode), "You probably don't even hear it when it happens."

No, you don't hear anything. The episode ends in silence, a series first.

And yes, the onion rings were Eucharist wafers -- specifically, viaticum, the Communion given to a person dying or in danger of death. (By the way, "viaticum" is a Latin term meaning "provisions for a journey." Oh yeah.)

Too obvious? Compare Chase's visual onion-ring-on-the-tongue metaphor to this excerpt from Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage:

The youth turned, with sudden, livid rage, toward the battlefield. He shook his fist. He seemed about to deliver a philippic.

"Hell--"

The red sun was pasted in the sky like a wafer.


Speaking of hell, that's where Tony is going, of course. Because even though he did take the last sacrament, he never repented or even confessed to his family the depth of his sins.

(And the final season foreshadowed Tony's trip to hell. In the 81st episode, "Chasing It," Carlo tells Tony about a Twilight Zone episode in which a dead gangster meets a guardian angel type figure, and finds himself unable to lose when gambling and able to seduce any woman or have anything else that he wants. Of course, he gets so bored that he begs the angel to send him to the "other place." The kicker: The angel tells him, "This is the other place!" Later, in the peyote episode, Tony bangs Christopher's lady friend and finds himself winning at roulette again and again -- essentially, Tony is doomed to succeed.)

So Tony, Carmela, and AJ die -- probably all shot by the Members Only -- i.e., Mafia -- guy coming out of the bathroom.

But Meadow, who did not take part in the Last Rites, lives. And we know from Carmela's comment about her changing birth control, she's carrying the Second Coming -- Tony's unborn grandchild.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

Wow. I mean, wow.

OK, I admit that I haven't watched The Sopranos since the fifth season, but I've been following the series online and have been reading everyone and their brother's take on the ending. This is the best summary that I've read so far. I mean, duh, Tony is dead. But you provide the best explanation of the 'rest of the story.'

Well done.

BTW, I've been meaning to ask you, what kind of camera are you shooting? I got a Canon Rebel XT for my birthday in November (love it!), but, I admit, I'm still overwhelmed with all its functions and capabilities. This coming from a point-and-shoot photog all her life.

JvA said...

All those catechism classes finally came in handy!

I've also read a lot of theories about the ending; much of what I wrote here has been said elsewhere. Like, I started thinking about the Last Rites thing, and then I looked up "final communion" or something (because I couldn't remember if that was part of the anointing of the sick sacrament) and I found a reference to "viaticum." When I looked that term up separately, I found that many others had already pointed out the hidden "journey" allusion.

I haven't read anyone else's ideas about how Meadow's pregnancy might relate to AJ's repeated references to Yeats's "The Second Coming," but I bet that's out there too somewhere.

The clumsiness of that Stephen Crane metaphor from TRBOC is something that's been bothering me since 8th grade. I'm glad I finally got a chance to complain about it.

JvA said...

The camera's a Canon Digital Elph SD600. I bet sometime this year I will upgrade to a fancy digital SLR, but I have to say, I really love this little point-and-shoot.

barbarat said...

I had been waiting for you to comment on the last episode of the Sopranos. You really have been obsessing over it haven't you?

I love that you picked up on the "viaticum." Pure brilliance.

Big love tonight!