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.