Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Sopranos, Season 3 (2001)

Life just keeps getting more complicated for Tony Soprano.  Not only have the FBI finally found something to charge him with, but they're actively trying to build a bigger, "life in detention" kind of case against him.  Which would probably be enough to worry any mob boss, but it is only the start of Tony's troubles.  There's his ongoing panic attacks - which are back with a vengeance after seemingly being under control - and plenty of trouble within both his families.

On the "business" family side of things, Tony can at least be comfortable that his power struggle with his uncle seems resolved ... but that's where the good news ends.  He's got rising tensions between his captains and soldiers to contend with, as well as brash youngsters looking to muscle their way into the action.  And lurking in the background is the spectre of the five families of New York.  They've always maintained cordial relations with Tony's organisation, but can he rely on that to continue?

As far as his blood-and-marriage family goes, Tony's going to see plenty of drama there as well.  Whether it's his mother, his sister, his increasingly independent and - in his eyes at least - wayward children, or his own indiscretions coming back to haunt him, there's pretty much always something going awry at Tony's home.

One of the strengths of The Sopranos is its focus on evolving its story lines.  While the basic themes remain consistent; Tony's struggles with the law, with his criminal competitors and underlings, and with his kith and kin; none of them is allowed to remain stuck in a holding pattern, endlessly repeating the same beats.  For instance, the FBI have been after him from the start of the show but their line of attack has changed several times and the members of the task force have been given steadily larger roles as the show has gone on.  Even when it seems like they might recycle a story (which I thought they might this season with the new character of Ralphie), they actually develop it in new ways and take it in new directions.

If you've watched the first two seasons, the third definitely continues to deliver.

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