Sopranos Blueprint

The Sopranos Happy Wanderer – When Your Knapsack’s Full of Boxes of Ziti

The Happy Wanderer- Who is He?

Tony Soprano in Dr. Melfi's office
"I got the world by the balls, and I can't stop feeling like I'm a f**king loser." -Tony Soprano (Season 2, Episode 6, "The Happy Wanderer")

When it comes to The Sopranos, it seems nearly everything is present for a reason. All the T.V. shows we see Tony and/or Carmela watching? There’s a theme there. The songs we hear in the background throughout the show? There’s a theme there, too. The Sopranos Happy Wanderer is no exception. But what exactly does it all mean? Another Sopranos (and life) truth is that there’s often no clear answer. Rather, it’s all about how you interpret it. So, let’s see what Tony has to say about it.

Wait, Who's Eckley?

Junior Soprano talking to Tony Soprano at the doctor's office
"That's a certain kind of player. That's why we call it the executive game." -Junior Soprano, Season 2, Episode 6, "The Happy Wanderer"

First, in The Sopranos Happy Wanderer, it doesn’t take long to uncover the origin of Tony’s happy wanderer. In his words, “You know the type, he always whistles like the Happy-f**king-Wanderer. I just want to go and rip his throat open.”

For what it’s worth, I believe part of Tony’s agita is from not being able to control or fully understand others’ agendas. This anxiety is understandable when the very industry you’re in relies solely on your word and the word of others. But sometimes it goes beyond work. It wasn’t until Junior brought up Uncle Eckley in this episode that Tony knew he had another uncle. While it wasn’t some jaw-dropping revelation that came up again during the show, it was another illustration for Tony that highlighted how much he really didn’t know.

Who Moved Silvio's Cheese? This Moron's playing Hazel!

Silvio Dante talking to Matt Bevilaqua at the Executive Card Game

Next, before I get to the main Happy Wanderer of this episode, let’s pause: It’s executive game night! Here, I turn to Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano’s consigliere and trusted advisor. At first, I was surprised by how animated Silvio got that night, but then I realized it made perfect sense. We all have our “Achilles Heel” or things that make us act out of character. It’s just usually not someone cleaning up after you and sweeping away cheese crumbs. 

To be sure, I give Christopher props for giving Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte the heads up. It was actually Tony who decided to light that match. During the game, as Tony was giving Matt serving instructions, he told Matt to go sweep up the cheese crumbs collecting under Silvio. It didn’t go very well, but I guess breakin’ balls is the price of admission to the special executive game.

The Executive Card Game is Not for Happy Wanderers

Tony Soprano talking to Davey Scatino

Unless, of course, your name is Davey Scatino. In that case, the price of admission is [[drumroll]] 45 boxes of Ziti! Ever since learning about the executive poker game, Davey pestered Tony to let him in. While Tony rightfully warned Davey against it, Davey somehow found out where the game was and insisted on joining.

While this move was bad enough in isolation, Davey was already over eight (8) boxes of Ziti in debt to Richie Aprile. To add insult to injury, Richie specifically told Davey he didn’t want to see him at any poker games until he’s paid Richie in full. As we know, Richie Aprile isn’t exactly a gentle man, so we can already see this is not going to end well. With that, let’s get to the meator the cheese, if you willof the game.

The Executive Game's Best Feature: The Banter

The guys playing poker at the Sopranos executive card game

By the way, independent of the actual show plot, one of my favorite things about the executive game was the playful banter back and forth among the players. Whether it was Frank Sinatra, Jr., the “Prick Doctor,” Sil, or even Richie, it was one of those Sopranos “comfort” moments that always makes me smile.

"Everything this family has comes from the work I do!"

Meadow Soprano in her new jeep

On the other hand, as The Happy Wanderer illustrates, there’s a difference between breakin’ balls and doing something that’s really ugly. A perfect example of ugly is when Tony took Eric Scatino’s Jeep as partial debt repayment and gave it to Meadow. You didn’t have to be captain obvious to predict that wasn’t going to go over very well, particularly given how quickly Meadow picks up on things.

"A grown man made a wager. He lost. He made another one. He lost again. End of story. Take that high moral ground and go sleep in the bus station if you want!”

Naturally, when Meadow recognizes her “new car” as Eric’s, she asks Tony if Eric’s dad sold it to him. Tony’s thoughtful and eloquent response was “Yeah…something like that…you know.” Yes, she certainly knows, and that’s the problem. However, instead of reflecting on the matter, Tony doubles down and decides to give Meadow a piece of his mind. 

"And as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back."

Meadow Soprano and Davey Scatino in Sopranos The Happy Wanderer episode
The Sopranos, Season 2, Episode 6, "The Happy Wanderer"

To sum up, The Sopranos “The Happy Wanderer” features different storylines that advance independently but also converge. The tension between Tony and Richie increases after Richie lashes out at Davey. Meadow’s college applications and other extracurriculars overlap with the Scatino family vis-a-vis Eric and their musical duet. And both Junior and Richie are still contemplating what to do with Tony as a whole (with Janice, of course, egging Richie on). Overall, there are many wanderers here, but I don’t think any of them are very happy.

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