Better Late Than Never: A Latecomer's Season by Season look at The Sopranos

Season 3

I got really busy over the Easter weekend. I finished two seasons of this show in a matter of days. Season 2 was a bit of a push for me but as you'll read in this article, season 3 really gave me something to enjoy watching.

Season 3 begins about as strangely as possible. The entire premiere is told from the FBI's perspective. The full hour shows the feds attempting to bug Tony Soprano's basement since they know that he occasionally talks business down there. The Feds are fairly caught up on the comings and goings of Tony and his crew so right from the get go you know how much they know about the deaths at the end of last season. Tony's daughter Meadow is in college and is dealing with roommate issues but apart from these scenes the episode is almost entirely comedy. A major bummer is that Tony brought back a new enforcer named Furio from his trip to Italy last season and the man has accomplished nothing of note yet. As of now he's basically T Dog from The Walking Dead, though considerably less annoying. Tony's son AJ is a skateboard punk and an incredible dumb ass but thats really nothing new either. The Feds finally manage to secure a wire tap in the basement but all they manage to hear is Tony discussing his water heater with his Polish housekeeper's husband. Ultimately a complete waste of 49 minutes.

The 2nd episode of the season seems like the “real” premiere. Tony's mother dies rather unceremoniously and that gives way to the rest of the episode focusing on the funeral and the after party. But once the episode is over, Livia Soprano is forgotten and as far as I'm concerned, it's a great decision.

Joe Pantoliano shows up this season playing a new antagonist named Ralph Cifaretto. He's a great villain character because unlike the other evils the show has portrayed, Ralph is far more driven by ambition than by hatred for Tony. He doesn't even want Tony removed. He just wants to have his own place in Tony's crime family. Ralph also ends up being connected to the real troublemaker of the third season, Jackie Aprile Jr.. The now-dead mob boss' son wants to make a name for himself and in what seems to be a trend for the youthful characters of the series, goes about it the stupidest ways possible. And though Ralph is very tightly connected to Jackie's mother, decides he's too much of a problem and has Jackie Jr. killed. It was a big season of me throwing my hands in the air in triumph as awful characters were forcibly removed from Tony's plate.

The other real difference that Ralph has to contend with, versus what other villains have to, is that he survives the season. And he gets promoted to the position he wanted despite a lot of bad blood between himself and Tony Soprano. This leaves me really wondering where their relationship will go in the next season and that's probably the first time I've really wanted something out of carry over from a previous season.

Tony remains very much Tony in this season which isn't a bad thing. In the back third of the season he begins an affair with one of Dr. Melfi's patients. Its a pretty insane affair but doesn't really change much. Tony continue's his sessions with Melfi regularly until out of nowhere, she is raped while leaving her office late one evening. This is easily the most serious moment on the show so far and they do an incredible job of portraying the event in as horrifying a way as possible. There aren't any cut aways. You're there for everything.

Tony sees Dr. Melfi soon after and the show defies all expectation. Melfi doesn't ask Tony for revenge. She keeps it to herself and lives with the horror of the act.

This is a shorter one but I've got a lot less complaints about this season. The show seems to have finally found a groove. Not necessarily their groove, but a groove nonetheless. For the first time I'm left eagerly awaiting the next season. I'm beginning to see why The Sopranos is so revered. I just hope they don't drop the ball.

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