Story of O

From his message board, more from Harlan Ellison and his interpretation of “Made in America,” Episode 86 — better known as the last episode ever — of The Sopranos:

HARLAN ELLISON

– Wednesday, June 13 2007 20:0:53

THE SOPRANOS’ ONION RING SYMBOLISM

Please understand that I despise all that pseudo-academic horse puckey feeding into “deconstructionist referential analysis and criticism.”

I am a meat’n’potatos guy when it comes to “getting the point” of entertaining story.

Nonetheless…

Ocassionally. I said OCCASIONALLY…

Something CLEARLY MEANT to catch the attention of the careful reader (or viewer, in this case) jumps out so pronouncedly, that I come up short, leave a long braking smear on the asphalt, and am thrust headlong into examining the trope beyond its straightforward narrative value.

Such was the case of Tony, AyJay and Carmella each popping a WHOLE CIRCULAR ONION RING into his,his or her mouth, in the final moments of a scene obviously building toward SOMETHING as ominous people orbit them, each of US watching the clock and seeing the last few grains of sand spill through toward denouement, realing that in five, four, three, two minutes David Chase CANNOT tie off all those character-lines.

So…I ask myself…what the hell does it mean, his stealing ultra-precious moments from his storyteller’s reserve?

And here is what I believe, because I believe with all my heart and soul and more than fifty years as a storyteller, that David Chase–as far as Serious Art is concerned–teevee or any other medium–is a Michelangelo, a Kafka, a Rodin.

And to give you my–and ONLY my–interpretation, because I believe it encapsulates everything Chase wanted us to carry away from this generational epic after years of attention, here are the steps of my epiphany:

1. EVERYONE in Tony’s family is corrupt. Including Carmella.

She knows very well what Tony does for a living, where the money for those SUVs and espresso machines and trips to Paris come from. She knows that for every velveteen bed shrug she buys, a snortful of coke was sold, an honest merchant was shylocked or intimidated or broken into and robbed. Same for Meadow, same for AyJay. They all live off the blood money of people who stood at one time before the pathological brutism of the family breadwinner. All of them.

2. They all bought into the life-style of “Our Thing,” and This Thing of Ours has a circular nature. It is the Worm Orobourus, swallowing its own tail. Once in, never out. Tony knows it, the rest of the family knows it. The attorney says to Tony, “This day we knew we would have to face,” as he pounds the bottom of the ketchup bottle and pronounces more imminent indictments.

3. It is a life-cycle. A simple circle. Like the Catholic wafer they take in the mouth. Circular. Take it in, whole and unbroken, the circle of a life with nothing at its end but (at best) Junior’s foggy emptiness, bitter and lonely, or Phil’s bullet in the brain and the brain squashed, or lying on life support, or looking over your shoulder FOREVER, as it was when the story of the Soprano family(ies) began, and as it ends.

4. There is no ending, save the ENDING. And they will all live within that unbroken circle.

They take in the wafer, the life, the endless iconography, as onion ring, whole and entirely.

That is what I–and only I–make of it.

You may pass this on to the muttonheads who complain that the ending wasn’t fulfilling enough for them. Poor stupid bastards!

They would not perceive the Second Coming if the sky split above them.

If there are other writers’ boards, such as the WGAw thing, and there is a vague chance that David Chase–whom I’ve never met–might see the preceding, please do feel free to bandy this humble analysis anywhere you please. Bearing in mind it is

Copyright 2007 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. All rights reserved.

Yr. Pal, Harlan Ellison


HARLAN ELLISON

– Wednesday, June 13 2007 20:16:4

ADDENDUM

As someone (or others) said, the onion rings are also, obviously, if you go with my little dithyramb, a symbolic way of saying “What goes around, comes around.” There is no beginning–we come to the Sopranos with their lives already in motion in episode one–and there is no end, save the end. So Tony sits there in fear everlasting at that diner Communion with his family, who have also accepted the Symbolism of the Onion Wafer, and THAT is the point of it all.

He will NEVER know. There are only two options for Tony and his family: blind refusal to acknowledge reality, or unending terror with the knowledge that he will NEVER have a safe moment, awake or asleep.

-he

Copyright 2007 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. All rights reserved.

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