The Happy Wanderer (The Sopranos)

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"The Happy Wanderer"
The Sopranos episode
Sopranos ep206.jpg
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 6
Directed by John Patterson
Written by Frank Renzulli
Cinematography by Phil Abraham
Production code 206
Original air date February 20, 2000
Running time 50 minutes
Guest appearance(s)

see below

Episode chronology
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"The Happy Wanderer" is the nineteenth episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and is the sixth of the show's second season. It was written by Frank Renzulli, directed by John Patterson and originally aired on February 20, 2000.


Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[edit]

During College Night at Meadow's school, Tony reunites with an old school friend, David Scatino, who owns a sporting goods store in Ramsey, New Jersey. Davey then casually asks Tony if he can play in the "Executive Game", a high-stakes poker game established by Tony's father, Johnny Boy, and Uncle Junior in the 1960s, and now resurrected by Tony himself since Junior's house arrest. Tony warns Davey that because of the high stakes, he recommends that he not join the game due to the fact he believes that Davey lacks the capital to participate in such a game. The following day, Davey begins to owe serious debts after playing at Richie Aprile's small poker game, and falls behind on payments. Richie warns him that missing payments will only cause his debt to escalate faster and bars Davey from the poker game until he can catch up.

At his therapy session with Dr. Melfi, Tony discusses that things are going well for him but that he is becoming angry at everything. As an example he refers to "happy wanderers," people walking down the street with a smile and a happy manner. Tony explains that he is resentful of these people because "they always walk around with a clear head", while he cannot stave off depression and anger even when life is seemingly unproblematic, despairing at the death of his brother-in-law's father, Tom Giglione Sr., who was swept off a roof while putting up a satellite dish just one day after his retirement. Tony then tells Melfi that he is beginning to resent therapy as it encourages feelings of victimization, while his hero, Gary Cooper, was always resilient, "the strong, silent type". Tony also learns from Uncle Junior that he had another uncle who was mentally disabled. Uncle Junior tells him that his name was Ercole (nicknamed "Eckley") and that his mother could not take care of him, instead sending him to the most suitable charity home in the state. Melfi sarcastically asks Tony if having a retarded family member makes him feel better about coming to therapy.

At Tom Giglione's funeral, Tony becomes angry when Livia arrives, saying she is dead to him. He also becomes angry when she attends a school performance where Meadow is scheduled to sing.

Before the card game, Christopher Moltisanti grooms Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte giving them the dos and don'ts when they arrive at the game. Furio Giunta arranges the game to be held at the Teittleman motel, and is derisive when Hillel Teittleman complains about the criminal enterprises the mob has brought into his family's establishment, noting that the Hasid enjoys the services of their prostitutes. At the card game, the players include Frank Sinatra, Jr., Johnny Sack, Silvio Dante, and Dr. Ira Fried. Tony is surprised when Davey Scatino arrives looking to join the game, and initially resists ("Davey, this is not a game for you") but at his friend's insistence, finally allows him to enter. In the beginning, Davey wins a round which upsets Silvio into cursing and leveling insults, which then turns into a full-blown meltdown when Tony orders Matthew to clean up around the table, "especially under Silvio". By the morning, Scatino owes $45,000 to Tony. Richie then visits the motel room where he sees Davey and attempts to choke him for even daring to enter the Executive Game when he still owes Richie thousands of dollars. Tony breaks up the fight and takes Richie outside. Richie tells Tony that Davey already owes him over $8,000. As punishment for causing a scene during the game and threatening one of his players, Tony tells Richie that Davey will pay Tony's debt first and then Richie's, and that Richie's credit is frozen, meaning he cannot collect or charge interest from Scatino until then. Davey fails to come up with the money for Tony, who tracks him down to his store and smacks him around his office. Desperate, Davey turns to his friend Artie Bucco for a loan, but Artie declines when he learns that Davey is asking for $20,000. Artie states that the Vesuvio is in need of a new roof.

As partial payment, a desperate Davey gives Tony the Nissan Pathfinder that belongs to his son, Eric Scatino, using the excuse that Eric was off-roading. Tony then gives it to Meadow, who soon realizes that it belonged to her friend and refuses to take it. Offended, Tony tells her that he is justified in demanding whatever payment Davey Scatino could offer, and insists that Meadow understand his work provides for them. Tony yells that he is fine with Meadow not wanting the Nissan, instead he will sell it to Big Pussy and use the money to buy things such as food, clothes, and CD players for her saying he has been doing that ever since the day she was born. Carmela offers a slight rebuttal that the Scatino family is good friends with the provost of Georgetown, and he could be endangering Meadow's college choices. However, Eric is not prepared to accept his father's responsibility for the loss of his property. When they meet later that night to perform a duet with Meadow at the school's cabaret night, Eric demands that Meadow "make" Tony give his SUV back. When Meadow points out that she can't force Tony to give anything back, and further suggests that Davey bears at least some responsibility for his situation, he drops out minutes before their scheduled performance. As the show begins, an announcer alerts the audience a program change in the second act: that Meadow will be performing alone. Carmela is surprised, but relieved that Meadow will have a solo performance for her college application, while Tony seems unrepentant at the impact he has had on the Scatinos and their friendship with his own family.

First appearances[edit]

  • Vito Spatafore: Richie Aprile's nephew, who is also in his crew.
  • David Scatino: Tony's childhood friend and compulsive gambler.
  • Dr. Ira Fried: A player in the Executive Game and doctor specialized in treating erectile dysfunction. Also performs illegal surgeries for mob-related injuries.


  • Tom Giglione, Sr.: Tony's brother-in-law's father, who died after falling off a roof.

Title reference[edit]

  • The episode's title refers to a "happy wanderer", a person who walks around with no worries in the world, whom Tony despises.
  • "The Happy Wanderer" is also a German song written by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller. An English version sung by Frankie Yankovic is played during the end credits.


  • Though this is Joseph R. Gannascoli's first appearance as Vito, he previously had appeared briefly as Gino, a bakery customer, in one scene during the first season episode, "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti."
  • Tony Sirico's real-life older brother Carmine[1] appears as the nameless "Dealer" in Aprile's small-stakes poker game. His few words of dialogue are spoken off camera.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Junior says Ercoli was a derivation of Hercules and that Ercoli was strong like a bull, and handsome like George Raft.
  • Silvio is getting increasingly agitated during a losing night of poker and finally explodes after Matt Bevilaqua sweeps up crumbs near him, yelling at Tony: "I'm losin' my balls over here. This fuckin' moron's playing Hazel?" Hazel was a 1960s hit TV show starring Shirley Booth as a maid.
  • When Eric Scatino opts out of doing the "Sun and Moon" duet with Meadow, the emcee announces that Meadow will, instead, sing the solo "My Heart Will Go On", from Titanic (1997). Also, during the "executive" poker game, Paulie makes a joke about Viagra being used to "raise" the real Titanic.
  • Tony once again mentions his role model actor Gary Cooper to Dr. Melfi.


  • The song sung by Gudren, the blond soprano, after Meadow and Eric's on-stage rehearsal, and again at the beginning of the concert, is "Gretchen am Spinnrade" by Franz Schubert.
  • The Muzak version of Spinning Wheel is heard in Ramsey Sport & Outdoor when Richie comes to collect a payment from Davey.
  • When Eric picks up Meadow, he is listening to "Down" by Stone Temple Pilots.
  • The duet that Meadow and Eric are practicing is "Sun and Moon" from the musical Miss Saigon.
  • The song "Love Is Strange" by Mickey and Sylvia can be heard playing in the background when David goes to Artie's restaurant seeking a loan from him.
  • The song "Tequila Sunrise" by The Eagles can be heard playing when Tony goes to collect his first payment from David "Davey" Scatino.


James Gandolfini won his first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in this episode.


  1. ^ Tomaso, Bruce. "Paulie and the priest". The Dallas Morning News Inc. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 

External links[edit]