This month The Sopranos turns 20. The show is one of the most influential television series of all time and is responsible for the so-called golden age of prestige TV we're in today. I'm a fan.
But there's one moment from the show that's always bothered me. In the third episode, "Denial, Anger, Acceptance," which aired on January 24, 1999, Meadow Soprano — main character Tony's daughter — does meth with her friend Hunter Scangarelo (played by creator David Chase’s daughter, Michele) as they try to juggle studying for the SATs and practicing for their upcoming choir recital.
Meadow and Hunter get the speed from Tony’s “cousin,” Christopher Moltisanti, whose drug problem is a recurring motif throughout the series. Christopher, who at this stage is only a soldier in the mob family, at first refuses Meadow's request — but gives in after his girlfriend Adriana La Cerva convinces him that the girls will just get the drugs somewhere else if he refuses.
So Hunter and Meadow take speed to get their work done, resulting in an episode ending montage of violence interspersed with shots of the two girls singing and generally tweaking out. It’s one of the most realistic portrayals of being high on speed I've ever seen on TV.
Two episodes later, Meadow confesses to Tony while they’re on a road trip to look at colleges that she took speed to study. She doesn’t sell out Christopher, even when an enraged Tony demands to know.
"No way I'm telling you, not after this reaction," Meadow says to Tony — one of Meadow's great character traits is facing down her dad.
That's the mini-arc, wrapped up.
It has always bugged me that the speed was never mentioned again. Wouldn’t Christopher’s paranoia about Tony finding out he gave meth to his precious daughter eat away at him? Wouldn’t Tony want to at least give the person who gave Meadow drugs a good beating?
I have a hard time believing that Christopher — one of the most paranoid, delusional, and insecure characters in the entire series — would just forget about this, especially in an episode that ends with him enduring a mock execution. That event is a punishment for stealing a truck from Tony's Uncle Junior, but it's clear that Christopher thinks it's for the drugs; his friend Brendan, who Junior has killed, confesses to providing Meadow with the drugs right before he's murdered in the bathtub. Wouldn’t that all make Christopher more paranoid about Tony finding out that he had given Meadow drugs?
Tony doesn't follow up on the issue either, which is extremely out of character. Not only is that straining credulity for him, since he always wants to be the hero but also desperately wants his family and friends to be an admiring audience, it's out of touch with his need to enforce and control the criminal activity in his world.
That this issue is never fully resolved is certainly not out of character for The Sopranos, which famously ended in ambiguity. But the unexplored fallout from Meadow’s meth deal still drives me up a wall.