The screenplay focuses on two conflicting images: one couple forming, the other disrupting. In the left corner we have Richie Aprile (David Proval) and Janice Soprano (Aida Turturro), soon to be married despite general consensus nothing good can derive from their union (even Janice has her doubts, especially when it comes to Richie's bizarre sexual habits); in the right corner we have Tony and his Russian mistress Irina who, after learning the fat mobster is dumping her for good, threatens to kill herself and aims to keep that promise in a desperate attempt to win her man back. Death is also on the line in another context, as Richie keeps pressuring Junior to allow a new hit on Tony. However, it will ultimately be Richie himself who gets in trouble because of his extreme behavior, though not at the hands of who you might expect.
Apart from the opposite views on couples, Episode 12 of the second season deals prominently with the theme of trust, a fact underlined by Tony's comments when Junior tells him he was just pretending to be Richie's ally. In the world of organized crime, allegiances are in short supply, and the brief but very tense encounter between uncle and nephew anticipates the imminent closure of the subplot concerning Pussy's dubious activities.
But most of all, this show marks two departures: those of Proval and Turturro. Okay, so the latter returns in Season 3, Episode 2, but seeing her leave New Jersey to sort things out is a gripping moment. As for Proval, well, it was obvious he wouldn't last long (although James Gandolfini wanted Richie to live for at least another season), and it's equally evident the writers have the power to clip any character they please, but hey, he remains one of the serial's most charismatic presences. Oh, and his exit is just like his entrance: unforeseen, unstoppable and arbitrarily bloody. Magnificent.