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The Sopranos Season 6B Premiere

April 10, 2007

After the incredibly disappointing way that last season disintegrated, I did not have high hopes for the season premiere of The Sopranos. (Although technically this is not a new season. It is actually referred to as Season 6B. Last season was Season 6A.) If there was ever any doubt, last, um, season confirmed that David Chase is intellectually allergic to narrative closure and has a disregard for the viewer that borders on pathological. Nonetheless, few characters in fictional history are as interesting as Tony Soprano, so I was obligated to watch another torturous, frustrating, occasionally brilliant season. It’s all going to end in utter crap, of course, but I have to see this thing through to its bitter end.

All that being said, I was pleasantly surprised by Sunday’s premiere. There was little in overall plot advancement, but I’m fine with that. Seemingly major events never have much payoff on this show anyway. No, this episode was a little gem, a tangent episode in its own way, about Tony and Carmela’s trip to Bobby and Janice’s lakehouse in upstate New York. As has been demonstrated numerous times in the past, The Sopranos writers are particularly inspired when they take their characters out of their suburban milieu.

A seemingly pleasant weekend away turns into a debacle when during a night of drinking, Tony goes to far in insulting Janice and Bobby socks him in the mouth. The two massive alpha dogs wrestle their way through the cabin, smashing windows and tables in the process, but their motivations couldn’t be more different. Bobby is little more than an overgrown schoolboy, protecting his woman’s honor, while Tony can’t stop fighting because he is desparate to maintain his status as the greatest warrior. Bobby’s not interested in the pecking order; he just wants Tony to realize the venom in his words.

This episode made me realize that The Sopranos is really just the world’s greatest treatise on passive-aggressive behavior. Just like his mother, Tony doesn’t say what he feels, but assumes that you’ll understand what he wants. If you don’t, it’s your fault, not his, and usually demonstrative of a lack of respect–at least to Tony. Interestingly, as passive-aggressive as Tony can be, he’s a novice compared to the manipulative mastery of his mother and sister. They’re the only two characters in the history of the show who have consistently played Tony to get what they want.

Frankly I would be happy if Chase and co. don’t even bother with plot development this year and just focus on tight, self-contained episodes like this one. One episode, one central plot. That way we can all avoid the inevitable crushing awful disappointment of another season of character stagnation.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. bro permalink
    April 11, 2007 9:12 pm

    this episode was another illustration of how the soprano family contaminates everything they come into contact with. Even a seemingly innocent game of monopoly played in an idyllic setting can result in a brutal beating and (indirectly) a cold blooded assassination.

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