It Was a Very Good Year to Walk Into a Psychiatrist’s Office
The Sopranos season two premiere, “Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office,” had some big shoes to fill coming right after season one. It was certainly off to a good start with the amazing opener featuring “It Was a Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra. This may be my favorite episode opener of the series, besides Seven Souls.
As we’ll see over the course of The Sopranos, there are many underlying themes that repeat themselves quite frequently throughout the show. Most are on display at one point or another in this episode, and read on for my take on just a few. For what it’s worth, in case of confusion, the title to this post merges “It Was a Very Good Year” and “Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office” together.
It was a Very Good Year...to See a Psychiatrist for Family Therapy
First, as we enter season two, had it in fact been a very good year for all of the Sopranos? Well, that probably depends on who you ask. I’d say not so much for Junior and Livia, whose attempted whacking of Tony failed miserably at the end of season one. In fact, in the beginning of this episode, you’ll see Junior walking through jail in an orange jumpsuit. No, he was not arrested for attempted murder, just racketeering.
Also in the opening is Livia getting physical therapy after suffering a “stroke.” Did I mention this stroke happened shortly after the botched Tony assassination attempt? None of this dysfunction is a surprise, however, as we were introduced to that right away in the Pilot.
As for the marriage, In the opening scene, Tony sneaks into bed after seeing Irina. This is news to neither Carmela nor the audience. Just prior to that moment, we see Tony sniff his shirt before tossing it into the wash. Presumably it smells like Irina. It’s kind of telling that Tony tossed it into the wash but didn’t do anything else to clean the scent off. I mean, as if Carmela wouldn’t be able to smell it right away. It almost reminds me of the state of their marriage as a whole. Tony doesn’t flaunt his goomars or bring them around the house, but it’s also not something he’s going to put much effort into hiding, either.
"I Wonder What The Scam is This Time"
Next, in “Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office,” the famous Janice/”Parvati” arrives in New Jersey from her home in Seattle. We could fill a book analyzing Janice: Her work habits (“total disability”), her choices in men, her decision to move across the country and (temporarily) change her name, her anger management issues, so on and so forth.
Nevertheless, as we all know too well, blood is thicker than water. Underneath the yelling, punched walls, and Italian curse words, there’s a thicker loyalty that endures despite all the noise. While we’re on the topic of siblings, I’ve always been very intrigued by Barbara, Tony’s other sister. We see Barbara a few times throughout the series, but she seems to have been the one to escape the cycle of dysfunction.
Now, what about Family (capital “F”) dysfunction? Let’s talk about another surprise arrival.
Our True Enemy Has Revealed Himself. You Just Weren't Paying Attention
As alluded to, “Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office” features multiple surprise arrivals. In the beginning, Tony walks down the driveway in his famous robe, and you see him suddenly stop in his tracks. There, right at the end of the driveway, is the man himself.
In a twist of attempted reverse psychology, Pussy tells Tony that his back was in such bad shape that he had to skip town. Apparently, he knew the guys thought he was a traitor once Tony came to his house at 3:00 in the afternoon. Saying Tony gave Pussy the benefit of the doubt is an understatement. If giving the benefit of the doubt were an Olympic sport, he’d have a gold medal. Also, doesn’t it sound for a minute like Tony and Puss are a couple? Christopher also has a habit of talking like this, which I’ll get to when I do an in-depth Christopher analysis.
"Does Tony Ever Talk About Us?"
Furthermore, things don’t usually end well when people try to enter a profession for which they’re woefully unqualified. It almost goes without saying that Matthew Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte were not cut out for a life of organized crime.
For example, while Bevilaqua and Gismonte watch the stock brokers’ office for Christopher, they decide to throw hot coffee in a colleague’s face and beat him up for recommending something other than Webistics.
Lastly, I’ll tie this back into the themes of responsibility and accountability. In fact, it was Christopher’s irresponsibility that led to Matthew & Sean being in charge of the office that afternoon in the first place. We’ll see later in the season how Matt and Sean are held accountable, but I’ll save that for later.
Meanwhile, the guys are good to go after a quick talking-to by Christopher. I should add here that Christopher reminds them he wants a piece of the action when they steal their next Porsche. Just make it two towns over. Great influence, indeed.
To conclude, there’s lots to unpack from season two, episode one. Though we don’t fully appreciate it yet, the introduction of Janice brings a new element of psychological family warfare, one that endures through the entire series. What did you think of this episode? Follow me on social media and let me know!