I think they originally planned to have just 10 episodes this season, but after Adult Swim bumped it to 16 they broke it into halves. (Or it sounds better to say it's one season of sixteen than to say it's one season of eight followed by another season of eight. Or it'll sell more DVDs. I can't seem to find the quote at the moment)
Whatever the situation, new episodes can't come soon enough.
The tranquil setting was an obvious foreshadow that there would be fireworks erupting during the game of Monopoly. A lot of interesting developments, such as the federal case against Tony. What we saw/learned: