The HBO series is raising more issues than it can likely resolve, says Bruce Fretts

By Bruce Fretts
Updated April 10, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos
Credit: Lorraine Bracco: Barry Wetcher

Burning questions about ”The Sopranos”

Don’t get me wrong — I think the new season of ”The Sopranos” has been fantastic. But with more than half of this year’s 13 episodes behind us, I’m beginning to worry that many new questions won’t be answered before the season finale. And with the possibility of an even lengthier hiatus due to the threatened writers’ and actors’ strikes, the wait could be unbearable.

The biggest question looming over this season, of course, is: Will Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) tell Tony (James Gandolfini) about her rape? She’s remained silent about the topic for the past few episodes, but the tension in their therapy scenes has been palpable. I hope this ticking time bomb of a plotline will explode later this season. If the subject is dropped, it would trivialize the attack’s impact. Yet that’s just one of many nagging queries:

What’s up with Carmela? Will she ever leave Tony, like Melfi’s mentor recommended in this week’s episode? It was a remarkable scene, as Carmela (Edie Falco) acknowledged for the first time that her husband was involved with organized crime, although she defended him as a ”good man.” ”A depressed criminal, prone to anger, serially unfaithful — is that your definition of a good man?” the shrink shot back. He’s got a point.

What’s up with Uncle Junior? He’s stricken with stomach cancer, but Dominic Chianese’s character couldn?t die so soon after we lost Nancy Marchand?s Livia, could he? He’s placed blind faith in Dr. John Kennedy (the wonderfully smarmy Sam McMurray), but even the surgeon admits that more malignant cells may need to be medically whacked.

What’s up with Paulie Walnuts and Christopher? Ever since Michael Imperioli’s young gun became a made man, Paulie (Tony Sirico) has been breaking his walnuts. He made the kid strip to prove he wasn’t wired (then cracked, ”I guess you could call that a d—”), confiscated the size 10 Jimmy Choo shoes Christopher boosted for fiancée Adriana (Drea de Matteo), and busted him for cheating with a ”hoo-er” in a motel room. And I won’t even mention what Paulie did with Adriana’s underthings.

What’s up with Ralphie? Joe Pantoliano’s passed over wiseguy is the very definition of a ”loose cannon,” especially after he brutally beat his pregnant stripper girlfriend to death last week. Yet he was nowhere to be seen in the latest episode. Will he get his comeuppance, à la Richie Aprile (David Proval) last season? Or will he keep giving Tony agita?

What’s up with Big Pussy? We thought Tony iced him at the end of last season, but the spirit of Sal (Vincent Pastore) keeps haunting the Don. He appeared in a mirror at Livia’s funeral and spoke to Tony through a Billy Big Mouth Bass at the Bada Bing club. Plus, his widow’s doing awfully well on the limited income his ex- employer provides. Something smells fishy.

And I haven’t even begun to discuss the fates of lovesick restaurateur Artie Bucco, Meadow’s depressed college roomie, or her aloof ex- boyfriend.

What burning questions do you have about ”The Sopranos” this season?

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