Creative Destruction

June 11, 2007

What Was Up With The Parallel Parking?

Filed under: Popular Culture — Robert @ 2:06 pm

First, go look at this to get your mind in the proper recursive frame.

Second, what was the deal with Meadow and the parallel parking scene at the end of the Sopranos finale? I think I actually know. It’s an allegory about the moral arc of the characters, and the decisions they end up making and accepting.
Remember how they were discussing which restaurant to go to? Some other place, vs. the diner-tavern they ended up in?  That’s the decision between good and evil – or at least, abiding by social norms of good, versus rejecting those norms and acting in pure selfishness. Note that the parents decided on the basic path, and informed the kids – who accepted it.

The first to arrive at the restaurant – to accept evil/sociopathy – is Tony. He started on this path at a young age. He thought about getting off of it – about going to the other restaurant – but in the end decided on evil. Arriving quickly thereafter is Carmela, who as Tony’s wife made an occasional show of not knowing what was going on or pretending that her husband was not who he was, but who was the first person in the family after Tony to accept the lifestyle.

Next comes AJ. He kicked his little crybaby feet for a while (what a useless sack) but there’s no way he can feed himself – he’ll take the evil if that means a free ride, as reinforced by his eager embrace of the “development executive” job and the BMW. So much for saving the planet.

Finally comes Meadow. Meadow is the one who put up the most resistance to becoming evil; she wanted to escape her family’s moral orbit and become a pediatrician, possibly the least objectionable job anyone on the Sopranos has ever aspired to. But Meadow is an intellectual, or at least, not a complete moron; she can’t do what AJ does and just knuckle under and let stupidity cover the moral decision she’s making. She has to justify it. She embraces evil by becoming a civil rights attorney; not that this is evil in and of itself, but she’s making herself useful for the family and justifying it to herself with civil rights rhetoric about the oppression faced by Italians. This is symbolized in the final scene by her difficulties parking – she has to go back and forth, back and forth, maneuvering to fit her life decision into a space that really isn’t quite able to take it – but she manages through persistence.

Finally they’re all together – a family that has embraced evil together. The final bell, as others have noted, is an indication of the ambiguity and paranoia that will stalk all the Sopranos for the rest of their days – any stranger is a threat, any new situation a possible ambush. They have their comfort and they will eat – but Tony will always be a hunted animal who can never truly relax again.

That’s my .02 on what it meant, anyway. You are welcome to disagree, but of course, you will be wrong.



  1. Thank god for your description…spot on…..not just another moron who thinks tony got shot

    Comment by Chris — February 2, 2010 @ 4:00 am | Reply

  2. I agree that they’ve all accepted their own evil. Carm knew full well her spec house could be hazardous for the young expecting couple, but to make as much money as possible (more important) she had to cut major corners. As much as AJ had been rambling on about different noble life paths he could take, he passively accepts an entry-level film world job that will probably tie him to the mob permanently. And Mead will become a defender of racketeering and other mob iniquities. I don’t agree that those seated were to survive, though. It’s been said before, but the “you probably don’t even hear it when it happens” sounds like a clue to this final scene. Several times in the diner scene, Tont looks up and we’re given a POVERTY shot of whom he sees. This time, nothing–and silence. The “Members Only” guy (which has come to symbolize mob members in this series) has gone to the restroom and retrieved a piece à la Michael Corleone. Tony looks up but never hears nor sees what happens next. Since Mead was the only one not seated yet, I believe she’d be the only one to survive. Her ties to the Parisis (who may have had a hand in betraying the Sopranos) are what saved her by detaining her away from the restaurant until the last moment.

    Comment by Alison — July 8, 2012 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  3. Maybe parking sceene has something todo with her wedding plans, she had two possible wedding relationships (i know it were 3 but one ist death) and the last one was the best for her future

    Comment by matt — June 23, 2014 @ 1:29 am | Reply

  4. There was no shooting in the restaurant during the final scene of “The Soprano’s”. The Soprano family was finally clicking on all four cylinders even as dysfunctional as they may be. So, what better time for an ending? Throughout the series we were shown the brutality of the New York and New Jersey Families and the inability to sustain a manageable relationship. Hence, all the bloodshed, gore, and betrayal. If in fact Tony Soprano was killed in the final scene, his murder would have been one of the best scenes of the series and greatest scenes of modern day television. The members only guy was just a decoy and same with Meadows’ late entry. Instead, this was just a happy ending for the “Soprano” family and it was left open only for mystery, questioning, and a possible return or spin off for the show.

    Comment by Todd — February 13, 2015 @ 6:08 am | Reply

  5. The parallel parking scene was put there to emphasize Meadow’s inability to sit NEXT to her father in time before he was executed. It’s simple, really. If Meadow would have been able to park quickly, she’s be in the restaurant, sitting to the right of Tony, most likely deterring the shooter from carrying ouut the hit that night. However, she was stalled by her inability to park fast enough, leaving Tony’s rigght side WIDE open for the shooter (who exited the bathroom on Tony’s right side).

    Comment by Ben — July 17, 2015 @ 4:32 am | Reply

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