The Happy Wanderer (The Sopranos)

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"The Happy Wanderer"
The Sopranos episode
Sopranos ep206.jpg
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 6
Directed by John Patterson
Written by Frank Renzulli
Cinematography by Phil Abraham
Production code 206
Original air date February 20, 2000
Running time 50 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
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Episode chronology

"The Happy Wanderer" is the 19th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the sixth of the show's second season. It was written by Frank Renzulli, directed by John Patterson, and originally aired on February 20, 2000.

Starring[edit]

Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

During college night at Meadow's high school, Tony reunites with an old school friend, David Scatino, who owns a sporting goods store. Davey asks Tony if he can play in the "Executive Game", a high-stakes poker game established by Tony's father Johnny Boy and Uncle Junior in the 1960s, and re-established by Tony since Junior's house arrest. Tony advises that Davey not join the game, given Davey's lack of capital, the following day, Davey falls behind on payments after playing at Richie's small poker game. Richie warns him that missing payments will only cause his debt to escalate faster and bars Davey from the game until he can catch up.

At his therapy session with Dr. Melfi, Tony discusses his resentment of "happy wanderers" – people walking down the street with a smile and happy manner – whom he resents for having it together while he cannot get past his depression. Tony adds that he is beginning to resent therapy as it encourages feelings of victimization, in contrast to the resiliency of his hero, Gary Cooper. Tony learns from Junior that he had another uncle, Ercole, who was mentally disabled and had to be sent to a state charity home. Melfi sarcastically asks Tony if having a retarded family member makes him feel better about coming to therapy. Tony becomes angry when Livia arrives at a funeral, saying she is dead to him, he also becomes angry when she attends Meadow's performance at school.

Furio arranges for the Executive Game to be held at Shlomo Teittleman's motel. The players include Silvio, Johnny Sack, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and Dr. Ira Fried. The following morning, Richie visits the motel and chokes Davey for entering the Executive Game when he's still in debt to Richie, as punishment, Tony makes it so that Davey will pay his debt first while Richie's credit is frozen, meaning Richie cannot collect or charge interest from Davey until Tony is repaid. When Davey fails to come up with money, Tony tracks him down and smacks him around his office. Desperate, Davey turns to Artie for a loan, but Artie declines when he learns that Davey is asking for $20,000.

As partial payment, Davey gives Tony his son Eric's Nissan Pathfinder. Tony gives it to Meadow, who realizes it belonged to her friend and refuses to take it. Tony and Meadow argue until Carmela points out that Davey's family is good friends with the provost of Georgetown University, and that Tony could be endangering Meadow's options for college. Eric demands that Meadow "make" Tony give back the SUV. When Meadow points out that she can't force Tony to give anything back, he drops out minutes before their scheduled duet performance at their school. Carmela is relieved that Meadow will have a solo performance for her college application, while Tony seems unrepentant at the impact he has had on the Scatinos and his own family.

First appearances[edit]

  • Vito Spatafore: Richie Aprile's nephew, who is also in his crew.
  • David Scatino: Tony's childhood friend and compulsive gambler.
  • Dr. Ira Fried: A player in the Executive Game and doctor specialized in treating erectile dysfunction. Also performs illegal surgeries for mob-related injuries.

Deceased[edit]

  • Tom Giglione, Sr.: Tony's brother-in-law's father, who died after falling off a roof.

Title reference[edit]

  • The episode's title refers to a "happy wanderer", a person who walks around with no worries in the world, whom Tony despises.
  • "The Happy Wanderer" is also a German song, whose modern version was written by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller. An English-language version sung by Frankie Yankovic is played during the end credits.[citation needed]

Production[edit]

  • Though this is Joseph R. Gannascoli's first appearance as Vito, he previously had appeared briefly as Gino, a bakery customer, in one scene during the first season episode, "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti."
  • Tony Sirico's real-life older brother Carmine[1] appears as the nameless "Dealer" in Aprile's small-stakes poker game. His few words of dialogue are spoken off camera.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Junior says Ercoli was a derivation of Hercules, and that Ercoli was strong like a bull and handsome like George Raft.
  • Silvio becomes increasingly agitated during a losing night of poker, finally explodes after Matt Bevilaqua sweeps up crumbs near him, and yells at Tony: "I'm losin' my balls over here. This fuckin' moron's playing Hazel?" Hazel was a 1960s hit TV show starring Shirley Booth as a maid.
  • When Eric Scatino opts out of performing the "Sun and Moon" duet with Meadow, the emcee announces that Meadow will, instead, sing the solo "My Heart Will Go On", from Titanic (1997). Also, during the Executive (poker) Game, Paulie makes a joke about Viagra's being used to "raise" the real Titanic.
  • Tony once again mentions his role model actor Gary Cooper to Dr. Melfi.

Music[edit]

  • The song sung by Gudren, the blonde soprano, after Meadow and Eric's on-stage rehearsal and again at the beginning of the concert, is "Gretchen am Spinnrade" by Franz Schubert.
  • The Muzak version of Spinning Wheel is heard in Ramsey Sport & Outdoor when Richie comes to collect a payment from Davey.
  • When Eric picks up Meadow, he is listening to "Down" by Stone Temple Pilots.
  • The duet that Meadow and Eric are practicing is "Sun and Moon" from the musical Miss Saigon.
  • The song "Love Is Strange" by Mickey and Sylvia can be heard playing in the background when David goes to Artie's restaurant seeking a loan from him.
  • The song "Tequila Sunrise" by The Eagles can be heard playing when Tony goes to collect his first payment from Davey Scatino.

Awards[edit]

James Gandolfini won his first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in this episode.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tomaso, Bruce. "Paulie and the priest". The Dallas Morning News Inc. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 

External links[edit]