The Sopranos season two (2000)
Wrap-up and Final Thoughts
- “Guy Walks into a Psychiatrist’s Office…” 9.0
- “Do Not Resuscitate” 9.0
- “Toodle-Fucking-Oo” 8.8
- “Commendatori” 8.5
- “Big Girls Don’t Cry” 9.0
- “The Happy Wanderer” 9.0
- “D-Girl” 8.7
- “Full Leather Jacket” 8.9
- “From Where to Eternity” 8.9
- “Bust Out” 9.0
- “House Arrest” 9.1
- “The Knight in White Satin Armor” 9.5
- “Funhouse” 9.8
By Colin Hart
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.
But 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.
That’s not to say that it isn’t interesting or compelling as hell. It’s 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.
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 (basically writers’ practice for future characters like Ralph Cifaretto and Tony B.), the season seems to have little bearing on the series as a whole.
I’m not fully discrediting this theory. Of course, I enjoy every episode save for “Commendatori,” but I can see where the “complaints” may come from. One thing that keeps me coming back to season two no matter what is the fact that this is, without a doubt, the show’s funniest season.
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 more towards Great Comedy than Great Drama. This healthy dosage of humor gives the entire season an easygoing feel, comforting, almost.
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 affected by treating Tony. She casually downs tall glasses of vodka and makes weekly visits to her own therapist (played by Peter Bogdonavich). And, 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.
The main characters all have their own, personal arcs this season, though not all are as high-stakes as Tony’s and Big Pussy’s.
In the season’s opening montage, Carmela grows increasingly dissatisfied at her monotonous routine (bringing lasagna to the table). Her relationship with Tony continually gets colder, and she flirts with adultery with a handsome interior decorator named Vic Musto. Typical of The Sopranos, however, nothing has changed by the finale, as she is easily dissuaded by Tony’s mink coat gift.
Perhaps 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 course 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.
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 short, short-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.
Without a doubt, it was the best fucking show on the fucking planet back in 2000, continuing its streak which began the year prior.
Year 3 will be the fucking best one yet.