10 Best Scenes of The Sopranos Season 2
Season two of The Sopranos is the series’ funniest chapter. That’s because the focus slightly changes from explosive violence to everyday vapidity, thus shifting the emphasis toward hilarious comedy. The contrast proves that family drama is just as compelling as famiglia drama. Featuring an equal split between bloodshed and biting humor, here are the 10 Best Scenes of The Sopranos Season 2.
10. Furio’s Rampage (Episode 18, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”)
“Big Girls Don’t Cry” features a very un-Sopranos storyline (i.e., Chris takes an acting class), yet it also features the quintessential Sopranos action scene. Furio Giunta, fresh off the boat from Italy, is given his first assignment: send a message to a brothel-owner behind on his payments. And send it he does.
It’s the show’s biggest burst of violence yet, as Furio goes berserk with a pistol and a baseball bat. Director Tim Van Patten follows Furio’s carnage through the massage parlor in one visceral and unbroken tracking shot. The shaky handheld camera provides a sudden jolt to the system, and the Tarantino-like intensity takes us by surprise.
9. Tony and Janice’s Song and Dance (Episode 25, “The Knight in White Satin Armor”)
“The Knight in White Satin Armor” has a very uncharacteristic opening by Sopranos standards. First, we hear schmaltzy classical music. Then, we see a pair of ballroom dancers. The shot expands to show that we’re at Janice Soprano’s new house, with her brother Tony helping her move a couch into the living room. The dancers are ‘Little Ricky’ Aprile and his partner, who gracefully waltz in and out of the frame.
As surreal as the opening scene might seem, familiarity soon sets in when Tony and Janice break out into a bitter shouting match. The romantic music goes from non-diegetic to diegetic and maybe back again, providing an uncanny dissonance as it teasingly plays to the beats of Tony and Janice’s quarrel.
8. “Soldiers Kill Other Soldiers…” (Episode 22, “From Where to Eternity”)
“From Where to Eternity” is a ghostly episode that focuses on death and the afterlife. After Christopher Moltisanti wakes from his coma and confesses that he saw a vision of Hell, Tony imparts his thoughts on the matter to Dr. Melfi in one of the most revealing and introspective therapy sessions of the entire series.
An angry and conflicted (and scared) Tony shares his worldview: “We’re soldiers. Soldiers don’t go to Hell. Soldiers kill other soldiers.” For them, murder is part of the job, a pact made between God and the Devil. He then rationalizes the Mafia as a necessary evil to preserve Italian culture.
To finish off the fascinating discussion, Melfi comes back with the perfect rebuttal: “What do poor Italian immigrants have to do with you?”
7. “Waiting on a Call from You” (Episode 26, “Funhouse”)
The closing montage of season two mirrors how the year began. The message is the same — life goes on — yet the circumstances are different. Instead of watching the characters settle into monotonous routines to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year,” we get to see how the mob’s activities have an unknowing, far-reaching influence (backed by the yearning notes of The Rolling Stones’ “Thru and Thru”).
From foreigners selling phony calling cards on the city streets, to down-luck junkies at Teittleman’s rundown hotel; from Davey Scatino packing up and moving to Vegas, to the ocean waves crashing ominously on the shore — Tony’s toxic existence has affected them all.
And so season two ends with Tony Soprano standing alone in his living room, puffing on a cigar in tormented solitude, while his two Families celebrate his daughter’s graduation all around him. Season one ended with a hopeful tone: “Remember the good times.” Season two finishes with a solitary Tony contemplating the dark times ahead.
6. Janice Kills Richie (Episode 25, “The Knight in White Satin Armor”)
Janice killing Richie Aprile is the single most shocking twist in the entire series. In fact, it happens so suddenly and unpredictably that it’s almost hard to believe. With the end of the season fast approaching, Richie was shaping up to be Tony’s main antagonist and was already planning an assassination (and his bride-to-be Janice was the one actually pushing him to stage a coup). But then the couple get into their first argument (Richie strikes Janice across the face), Janice comes back with a gun (the same one that he holds to her head during sex) and Richie ends up dead on the floor. He’s just as shocked as we are.
5. “Goodnight, My Love” (Episode 15, “Do Not Resuscitate”)
After Uncle Junior sprains his hip, Tony rushes to his house. Even though they’ve barely spoken since season one’s attempted nepoticide, there still remains an unbreakable family bond between them. That’s why Tony carries Junior out the door so they can get to a hospital — an unofficial making-up. The scene is hilarious and touching, but even more important, it’s one of The Sopranos‘ most heartwarming endings. And it features a perfect musical selection: Ella Fitzgerald’s 1937 hit with Benny Goodman, “Goodnight My Love” (which also happens to be the 40th best song of the 1930s).
4. Big Pussy Sleeps With the Fishes (Episode 26, “Funhouse”)
As evidenced by the sixth entry on this list, Richie Aprile was nothing but a misdirect. After he was offed by Janice in the season’s penultimate episode, the true backbone of season two became apparent: Tony’s inevitable realization that Big Pussy was an FBI informant. When Tony, Paulie and Silvio take Pussy to the pier to do the inevitable, the entire sequence is expertly drawn out — almost excruciatingly so. It’s a slow funeral march right to the bitter end, and it’s a turning point in the show’s trajectory, signaling a forthcoming era of doom, darkness and bloodshed just around the corner.
3. Chris Throws Out His Screenplay (Episode 18, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”)
As mentioned before, Chris taking an acting class is a very un-Sopranos storyline. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most endearing standalones in the entire series, which also happens to result in a tragically heartbreaking conclusion. Forever conflicted by his Hollywood aspirations and Mafia oaths, Chris walks alone to the alley behind his apartment one night and throws away his screenplay. It’s one of the saddest moments in the entire series. Actor Michael Imperioli doesn’t even need dialogue to convey the palpable anguish felt in this scene.
2. “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” (Episode 24, “House Arrest”)
“House Arrest” is a somewhat self-aware ode to the idea of a plotless TV show. Nothing much really happens in the episode, but that’s what makes life worth really living, right? Sitting outside Satriale’s, having a drink, shooting the shit — these are the good days, the type that every mobster would trade violence and bloodshed to relive just once. When Tony said “remember the good times,” this is what he meant.
The episode ends with a magnificent closing shot of the gang simply hanging out. Director Tim Van Patten’s camera cranes upward to the tune of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” which is a perfect sentiment for cherishing the little things.
1. “It Was a Very Good Year” (Episode 14, “Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office”)
The best scene of The Sopranos season two is the first. That’s not a knock against the season as a whole; that’s just a testament to how great the opening montage is. In fact, it ranks highly in the top 10 scenes of the entire series.
The montage lasts for four minutes, spanning the entire length of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year.” Once again, series creator David Chase transcends the medium with a daring artistic choice, as if to affirm that The Sopranos was already the greatest TV show of all time after just 14 episodes. And after watching the breathtaking elegant sequence just once, we have no choice but to agree.