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 “Nuthin’ Happens” season. Coming hot off the heels of season one’s action-packed success, the looser and more 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 Nuthin’ 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 effective as the first season but with even more consistency. A stroke of genius yet again. It may not reach the same heights (no “College”) or have the same impact (hence no “A+”), but it is still a tremendously satisfying stretch of television.
When ranking seasons of The Sopranos, year two often gets an unfair shaft, usually coupled with number four toward the bottom. Since Richie Aprile and the Bevilacqua boys only serve as misdirects when considering the larger scheme of things, 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 has on every other Sopranos season — it is by far the funniest.
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 is more comedy than drama. This healthy dosage of humor gives the entire season an easygoing feel. It’s almost comforting.
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 toxicity of Tony’s influence. It’s all right there in the season’s closing montage — Tony’s influence is as damaging as it is far-reaching. From foreigners selling counterfeit calling cards on the streets, to the ominous waves crashing down on the shore, Tony has indirectly affected them all.
The character of Janice, Tony’s sister, is the clearest manifestation of this theme. All her life she has rebelled against her Soprano genes — becoming a hippie, experimenting with drugs, moving to Seattle. However, the moment she comes back to New Jersey, she is quickly sucked back into the Soprano lifestyle. She even ends up killing her fiancé.
Dr. Melfi is also severely affected by Tony’s influence. She downs tall glasses of vodka on the regular and feels obligated to pay 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 — even his best friend is a victim — but his sessions with Melfi continually amount to bullshit. Very watchable bullshit.
Perhaps the best arc of the season — and the one that makes season two’s meandering middle stretch completely worthwhile — is the existential crisis of Christopher Moltisanti. His detour into acting in “Big Girls Don’t Cry” is the best standalone of the entire season, while his rejection of his scriptwriting dreams — seen at the ends of both “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “D-Girl” — are the most heartbreaking moments of the year.
Just like in season one’s great “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti,” Chris maintains the role of lovable and relatable underdog. He is responsible for some of the season’s funniest lines, while he is also at the center of the season’s most violent twist.
While Chris will always be a personal favorite of mine, he won’t reach this level of likability ever again. This season — “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” in particular — is why Chris is one of my personal favorites.
Despite the standalone nature of most of the episodes, season two comprises one larger whole, from opening montage to closing. As one work of art, it is another unprecedented tapestry from David Chase.
The story occurs during 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 we see in the finale. There’s darkness lurking just beneath the water.