Allegory: a form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.
Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
(Courtesy, Literary Terms website)
I was a big fan of “The Sopranos” during their 8-year run on HBO. I became a fan not only in part of the characters and the story plot, but how David Chase crafted the series to evolve around a mobster, his family, and his crew. From drug use to battling depression, The Sopranos explored what life is really like for the world of the mafioso in today’s society.
The final episode of the series was one of the most watched in television history. However, the final scene has continued to be one of the most talked about, for the sole purpose of no one knowing what really happened to Tony, Carmella, A.J., and Meadow.
Here is the final scene, courtesy of YouTube:
I’m in the minority when I write this: I thought it was perfect. Why? It goes back to Twitter a few days ago, when someone tweeted (or typed) that the new James Cameron film “Avatar” was an allegory to war. It brought back something that I had long wanted to write for a Juice blog, but I didn’t think anyone would understand it. Hence, the definition of “allegory” at the top of this blog topic today.
All shows are not meant to have an ending, good or bad. Some of them are an allegory, and “The Sopranos” fall in that category. A great example, or comparison of this, is the popular British cult classic “The Prisoner”, starring the late Patrick McGoohan. who died last January.
McGoohan starred as a secret agent who announced his “resignation”. His superiors were not keen with the news and decided to transport him to an un-named seaside village as they try to find out the reason why he was quitting. The final episode and scene from “The Prisoner” was also generated a large litany of controversy itself in 1968. British viewers had hoped to see who was “Prisoner #1″ and whether Prisoner #6, McGoohan’s character, would escape from the island as a free man.
Courtesy of YouTube again, here is the ending of “The Prisoner” (edited for time constraints):
Strange and trippy, eh? Well, as McGoohan pointed out in this 1984 interview below, the show was an allegory (3:02-5:13). Plus, as he said with interest, he was “happy” that the viewers were upset by the ending. Fast forward and listen to clip from 6:08-6:32 mark and listen carefully to his explanation.
I agree with him with the viewers. Viewers tend to automatically assume that there will be ending to a story. However, “The Sopranos” and “The Prisoner” are what they are in reality: a fictional story. Viewers are left to make out what the ending is in their own minds. Which is what Ray Bradbury did with “Farenheit 451.” I remember reading Bradbury’s classic in high school. Our teacher assigned us the task to write out the ending individually. It made us open up our minds and come up with our own answers. Which is what David Chase wanted us to do with when the shot of Tony looking up to see who was walking into the diner cut away to black.
Unfortunately, the majority of the viewers were not interested in exploring the ending in their own minds. They wanted an ending that would satisfy their own curiosity, rather lazily. I called The Sopranos finale perfect. We don’t know what happened next. Did Meadow walk in and sat down to eat with her family? Did she walk in with a gun? Did someone “whack” Tony? Or was the whole family cut down? Who did it? The feds or someone who had it out for Tony?
We will never know. That’s the perfect part.
Till then, “be seeing you.”