'Exhibit A' of season-premieres not being Sopranos' forte

(#79) Mr. Ruggerio’s Neighborhood - Season 3, Episode 1
Written by David Chase
Directed by Allen Coulter

“I’m a fool to do your dirty work - oh yeah. I don’t want to do your dirty work -
no more!”

TS singing that while driving beginning of this episode is a nice little jewel (especially for this, here, Steely Dan fan) but being that all Sopranos seasons get better as they go, season-premieres, relatively-speaking, are not the series’ strong-points. Just one season opener is significantly high up on my #86-#1 list. Not only is this not that particular one, but to me it’s the least-strongest of the seven at-hand. Some of this may be due to the simple fact that after two amazing seasons and especially the way in which the previous one ended, it’s in an unenviable, unfortunate ‘tough-act-to-follow’ position from the get-go. I guess the first thing that comes to mind is the sort-of, little-bit cool but mostly-cliché/cheesy use of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police mixed in with the “Peter Gunn” theme in that come-and-go FBI-surveillance montage throughout the episode. Many I know with good taste think it was pretty cool. I just agree very slightly. It’s been said that this episode may be Chase’s way of already telling all the viewers that when he wants to do an episode his way (not simply to please all the masses), he’s going to do it…his way. “Join the Club”/”Mayham” and last but not least “Made in America” would go on to serve as the much better examples of this as well as, of course, much more forgivable ones! After all, neither of those come up on this countdown until just a ‘tad’ later on; just a tad. And although there are quite a few episodes with less than three significant plotlines going on at once throughout the series that are still amongst the very best, the fact that only ‘two things’ are really going on in this one don’t help its cause. Just the same, it was a neat way of displaying the process of what can be a full-scale FBI-surveillance operation. Yes, the feds’ key informant has now disappeared, they have pretty much the right idea how, and now bugging the Sopranos’ house (FBI code name, ’The Sausage Factory’) is the new plan. At their specialized facility in Quantico VA, a basement lamp they were able to take a photo of on one of their break-ins is duplicated, bugged, and then implanted in its place during their final stop. Each Soprano family member also is given a ‘code name’, each one being ‘shadowed’ while all are out of the house and warn the others (the task force) if any one of them seems to be on their way home so they can disperse/abort on time. As for the other significant thing going on this episode, it’s Patsy Parisi whom we meet for the first time. Tony has him apart of their crew basically to keep him nearby where he can be seen. However, it is evident that Patsy has an obvious grievance deep down over his twin brother getting whacked a year (or season) earlier. Though he isn’t saying anything to any of them - nor to anyone whom may pass it on to them - it seems he knows who was behind it. Tony, pretty much, ‘forces’ Patsy to ‘get over it’ and all at least ‘seems’ to go smooth here-on-out. Any possible unnecessary worries a first time viewer ‘running-the-gauntlet’ may possibly have of this series “jumping the shark” are so very thumped very next episode of the series which, yes, is quite a bit away on this countdown.

Return to “Episode 3.01: Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood”