The episode “Second Opinion” in the television series The Sopranos (1999-2007) offers a pleasurable depiction of vengeance.1 Tony Soprano is the boss of the New Jersey maﬁa, and his uncle Junior has cancer. Junior is worried about the treatment he has been given, but his oncologist, Dr. Kennedy, does not return his calls. This infuriates Tony. He approaches Dr. Kennedy on the golf course, and scares him into taking better care of his patient. Murray Smith writes of this scene: “If we isolate the miniature drama that unfolds between Soprano and Kennedy during ‘Second Opinion,’ there’s no doubt that Soprano comes across as the more sym - pathetic character, largely on moral grounds.”2 I agree with Smith that we perceive Tony as the more sympathetic character. I would assume that a typical reaction is to enjoy the humiliation of Dr. Kennedy, and cheer for Tony. But is our perception of Tony as most sympathetic really made on moral grounds? The doctor may be arrogant, and negligent towards his patients, but as long as Junior is given the proper treatment, this is no crime; however, intimidating people with threats of violence is. Is it not obvious,
on reﬂection, that even if we isolate this sequence, the doctor is morally preferable to Tony? So why do we as spectators see Tony as morally right?