Can you believe it’s been 13 years since the controversial finale of The Sopranos aired on HBO? In many ways, it feels like an eternity, but then again, the show has had such a monumental influence on nearly every current cable crime series that it still feels like Tony, Carmela, Meadow, A.J., and the rest of the crew are still with us in some way.
Following the second season of The Sopranos, star James Gandolfini won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. For a better understanding of why, here are the 10 best episodes of The Sopranos Season 2, according to IMDB!
Toodle-F*cking-Oo (Episode 3) 8.5/10
Believe it or not, neither of the first two frames of season 2 made the Top-10, according to IMDB voters. Instead, we begin with episode three, in which Jackie Aprile’s brother Richie (David Proval) returns to Jersey after a decade in the clink.
Upon returning, Richie immediately flexes his muscle as if the new boss in town. He harasses former associate Beansie to the tune of running his body over with a pickup truck. Elsewhere, Dr. Melfi becomes a little too obsessed with Tony after spotting him at a public restaurant. As a result, she starts seeing her own shrink, Dr. Kupferberg (Peter Bogdanovich).
Bust Out (Episode 10) 8.6/10
One of the major revelations of Season 2 is that Big Pussy has been an FBI informant all along, despite Tony and his crew whacking Jimmy Altieri instead. In Episode 10, Tony is mortified over being fingered by an eye-witness who may have seen him dispose of a corpse.
As a result, Tony seriously considers leaving Carmela and the kids behind. He tries to spend more time with A.J. before he departs, but A.J. is too preoccupied with friends at school to care much. In the end, Tony breathes a huge sigh of relief when the witness is eliminated by Paulie.
Big Girls Don’t Cry (Episode 5) 8.6/10
In Big Girls Don’t Cry, Dr. Melfi continues to have OCD fever-dreams about Tony. She feels responsible for his troubles, and even begins acting as coarse and crudely as he does. Meanwhile, Paulie and Sil earn promotions in the gang upon Tony’s return from Naples.
On a more personal level, Janice and Richie reignite their old high-school flames for each other. They move into Livia’s empty abode, much to Tony’s chagrin. As the crew welcomes Neapolitan newcomer Furio, Christopher begins taking an “acting for writers” course to help with his screenwriting.
The Happy Wanderer (Episode 6) 8.7/10
Mr. T-1000 himself, Robert Patrick, makes his first appearance in a multi-episode arc in the series as Tony’s old high-school pal, Dave Scatino. With friends like these, who needs enemies, right?
The crux of the plot concerns Tony overtaking the executive poker game, which Uncle Junior used to run. Tony fronts a cool five grand to his pal Dave to gamble, who loses a total of $45,000 in one night. When Richie arrives and spots Dave at the game, bad blood from the past begins to boil up.
D-Girl (Episode 7) 8.7/10
In D-Girl, A.J. continues his pubescent rebellious side by taking his mom’s car without permission before crashing into another vehicle. His Catholic “confirmation” sponsor is Big Pussy, who tries to talk some sense into the troubled kid. However, the FBI forces Puss to wear a wire at the confirmation, putting him in additional danger.
Elsewhere, Christopher begins hobnobbing with Hollywood types like Jon Favreau, who pokes fun at his own image in the film. When Chris confides the tricks of the trade to Favs, the director steals his ideas and puts them into his own screenplay.
Commendatori (Episode 4) 8.7/10
On his first trip to Italy, Tony takes a few of his goons to Naples to conduct a little business involving tanker ships full of stolen cars. When he arrives, he’s surprised to learn that the big bad mafia boss is female!
More specifically, Tony meets Annalisa (Sofia Milos), the daughter of former mob-boss Zi Vittorio (Vittorio Duse) who now serves as his de facto replacement. Christopher spends the entire trip zonked out on heroin in the hotel, while Paulie’s idea of Italy turns out to be anything but accommodating.
From Where To Eternity (Episode 9) 8.8/10
In the first of four Sopranos episodes written by Michael Imperioli, From Where to Eternity focuses squarely on Christopher’s time in a coma after being shot by Sean Gismonte (Chris Tardio), one of his traitorous boiler-room lackeys.
While his heart stops for one minute, Chris has an out of body experience that makes him believe he’s headed to hell. When he awakens, Chris vows to avoid hell at all costs. Meanwhile, Carmela asks Tony to get a vasectomy if he plans to continue his adulterous behavior.
Full Leather Jacket (Episode 8) 8.9/10
The Kubrickian subtitle of episode 8 refers to a fancy leather coat Richie gifts Tony, who in turn gives the jacket away to someone else in a major sign of disrespect. Richie’s ire grows as a result.
Meanwhile, Carmela strong-arms her neighbor Jeannie Cusamano into forcing her sister, Joan, to write a glowing letter of recommendation for Meadow’s college applications. Christopher proposes marriage to Adriana (Drea de Matteo) after his advances upon a hot Hollywood exec are denied.
The Knight In White Satin Armor (Episode 12) 9.3/10
The final two episodes of Season 2 rank the highest, per IMDB voters. The penultimate chapter of the season revolves around Richie’s desire to whack Tony, who is luckily tipped off by Cousin Junior before he has a chance.
Far more shocking, however, is what happens to Richie in the end. Upon a domestic quarrel in which Richie strikes Janice (Aida Turturro) in the mouth, Janice overreacts by shooting her fiancee dead in their house. With Livia knocked out upstairs, Janice calls Tony over to help clean the up mess and put his sister on a bus back to Seattle.
Funhouse (Episode 13) 9.4/10
Funhouse is arguably the most emotionally-charged episode of The Sopranos heretofore. The reason why? After a farcical first-half of the episode in which Tony is confined to his bedroom and bathroom due to food poisoning, his fever-dreams lead to a major epiphany.
Indeed, Tony knows in his bones that Big Pussy is a rat. When Tony finds the recording devices in Puss’s house, he has no choice but to react. Tony, Sil, and Paulie take Puss out to the Atlantic Ocean, share a shot of tequila with their lifelong friend, then summarily pump the goon full of lead before dumping his body. Epic television!