The Sopranos season two

The Sopranos season two (2000)

Wrap-up and Final Thoughts

  1. “Guy Walks into a Psychiatrist’s Office…” 9.0
  2. “Do Not Resuscitate” 9.0
  3. “Toodle-Fucking-Oo” 8.8
  4. “Commendatori” 8.5
  5. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” 9.0
  6. “The Happy Wanderer” 9.0
  7. “D-Girl” 8.7
  8. “Full Leather Jacket” 8.9
  9. “From Where to Eternity” 8.9
  10. “Bust Out” 9.0
  11. “House Arrest” 9.1
  12. “The Knight in White Satin Armor” 9.5
  13. “Funhouse” 9.8

The Sopranos S2 Power Rankings

By Colin Hart

Grade: A

Season Two is the “Nothin’ Happens” season.  Coming hot off the heels of season one’s action-packed success, the looser, freewheeling pace may have seemed like it was betraying its fanbase.  That’s not the case at all.  In fact, The Sopranos was becoming more intricate and complex—examining these characters’ lives with flaring intensity.

However, the Nothin’ Happens moniker sticks.  One of the best episodes of the season, “House Arrest,” is a somewhat self-aware ode to the idea of an eventless mob show.  Elsewhere, various inconsequential plots keep the season chugging along—Chrissy goes to Hollywood, the gang heads to Italy, Tony organizes an executive poker game, etc.  Yet it’s still interesting and compelling.

Season two is just as good, if not better overall, than the first season.  Pure gold again.  It may not reach the same highs or have the same impact (hence no “A+”), but the show certainly hasn’t declined in Year Two.  In fact, it’s more consistent than ever.

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When ranking The Sopranos seasons, number 2 often gets an unfair shake, usually coupled with number 4 at the bottom.  Since Richie Aprile and the Bevilacqua boys are mere misdirects, the season seems to have little bearing on the series as a whole.

Of course, I enjoy every episode save for half of “Commendatori,” but I can see where the “complaints” might come from.  However, one thing season two may have on every other Sopranos‘ season—it is the funniest stretch of the series.

From “Guy Walks into a Psychiatrist’s Office” to “Funhouse,” the laffs don’t stop coming.  At times, like in “The Happy Wanderer,” the show leans towards Great Comedy rather than Great Drama.  This healthy dosage of humor gives the entire season an easygoing feel; comforting, almost.

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While season one dealt with Tony’s connections to his family (once again a strong theme in S2), season two concerns itself with tracking the extent of Tony’s influence.  It’s all right there in “Funhouse’s” closing montage—Tony’s influence is far-reaching and unknowing.  From foreigners selling phony calling cards on the streets to the ominous waves crashing down on the shore, Tony has indirectly affected them all.

The character of Janice is the clearest manifestation of this theme.  All her life, she has rebelled against her Soprano genes—moving to Seattle, experimenting with drugs, etc.  The moment she comes back to Jersey, however, she is quickly sucked back into the Soprano lifestyle.  She even ends up killing her fiancé.

Even Dr. Melfi’s personal life is severely affected by treating Tony.  She casually downs tall glasses of vodka and has to make weekly visits to her own therapist (played by Peter Bogdonavich).  Of course, her continuing treatment of Tony is futile.  The man refuses to change.  He commits murder twice this season—including his best friend—but his sessions with Melfi continually amount to bullshit.  Very watchable bullshit.

episode-18-09Perhaps the best arc of the season—and the one that makes season two’s meandering middle stretch completely worthwhile—is Christopher Moltisanti’s existential crisis.  His acting class in “Big Girls Don’t Cry” is the best standalone of the entire season, while his rejection of his scriptwriting dreams at the end of the episode—and again in “D-Girl”—are the most heartbreaking moments of the year.

Just like in season one’s great “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti,” Chris maintains that lovable and relatable underdog role throughout the entirety of season two.  He is responsible for some of the season’s funniest lines, while he is also at the center of the season’s first violent twist.

While Chris will always be a personal favorite of mine, he won’t reach these levels of likability ever again.  This season— “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” in particular—is why Chris is one of my personal favorites.

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So, Season Two is the Nothin’ Happens season.  Two episodes— “The Happy Wanderer” and “House Arrest”—are on my short-list of Most Re-Watchable Inconsequential Sopranos Episodes.  Perhaps the entirety of season two belongs on the shorter list of Most Re-Watchable Inconsequential Sopranos Season.

Carried by humor throughout, season two goes out with a mighty bang.  The final two episodes— “The Knight in White Satin Armor” and “Funhouse”—are perhaps the most exciting conclusion to a season in the series’ run.  The former features the show’s greatest twist, while the latter features the show’s best surrealism.

Despite the episodes’ seemingly standalone nature, season two comprises one larger whole, from opening montage to closing.  As one work of art, it is another unprecedented tapestry from David Chase.

It sits comfortably between seasons one and three—a relatively easygoing and carefree era of the Soprano regime, still in the throes of “the good times” that Tony alluded to at the end of season one.  The laughs come hard and the stakes are low.

But the dream is soon over, as the finale shows.  There’s darkness lurking just beneath the water.

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