Easier to split this and future recaps into separate plotlines, of which there are usually 4 or 5 per episode.
Tony’s nephew and his pal hijack trucks, but those of a line protected by Tony’s uncle. Tony’s pissed; he doesn’t like the friend, Brendan, especially after he botches another hijacking of a truck carrying Italian suits, in which the driver is killed accidentally. Tony’s son’s teacher gets his car stolen, so Tony arranges to have his henchman locate the thieves and get it back. It’s already been carved up for spare parts, so they get a new one, although the teacher does notice the wet paint. Tony’s mom still refuses to go to a retirement center, but after insulting the black live-in assistant and running down her friend with a car, she is forced to go by her doctor. Dr. Mefi warns Tony denying the anger he has for his mother, and her warnings are validated when he beats the daylights out of his strip-bar employee for not knowing how to use the phone, in a classic case of anger displacement.
Sopranos’ second episode is better than its first (it couldn’t be worse), but not by a whole lot. Tony’s neuroses are further explored in a clinical and artistic way, and just like before the scenes with Dr. Melfi are the most interesting ones. Less so, again, are the boring, confusing moments with the mobsters, who are just plain unsavory. One subplot, involving the tracking down of gay car thieves, is disturbingly homophobic; a surprise, given HBO’s well-known status as a gay-friendly network. Tony’s mom continues to be interesting, although her stubbornness is getting less and less appealing – it would help if we get a glimmer of why she’s like this (a la Lost In Yonkers), to assuage some of her prickliness.
Prescription: Explain more, slow down, focus on emotion, verisimilitude.