Without doubt one of the best TV show of all time
The Sopranos was the first in a wave of new layered dramas that really sucked you into the world, it really didn’t have any bad episodes, so it’s hard to pick out just ten good ones, but when it was on top form it really was incredible.
10 – University (Season 3 Episode 6)
Ralphie was a great villain for the show, completely unhinged and unpredictable, and this episode demonstrated just how dangerous he was.
We’d been seeing a lot (no pun intended) of stripper Tracee at the Bada Bing, and when she makes fun of Ralphie in front of other customers, he takes her outside and viciously beats her to death. It’s shocking and horrifying and shows how much of a threat to everyone he is.
9 – Soprano Home Movies (Season 6 Episode 13)
Cuddly Bobby Bacala was one of the more sweet-natured of Tony’s mob, but when a game of Monopoly goes awry on a family vacation, we see Tony’s vindictive side, punishing him by sending him to finally kill someone for the first time,taking away not his life but his innocence, the most damage he could possibly do to him.
The final shot of Bobby embracing his daughter but staring blankly out at the beautiful lake is majestic.
8 – Long Term Parking (Season 5 Episode 12)
Adriana was one of the show’s most tragic characters, a good person who loved a bad man and found herself in an impossible situation when picked up by the FBI and forced to become an informant.
In Long Term Parking, it all goes horribly wrong when she puts her faith in Christopher and confesses to him, only to get a visit from Silvio and a ride out into the Pine Barrens that she never returned from.
7 – Pine Barrens (Season 3 Episode 11)
Steve Buscemi’s times spent working with the Coen Brothers certainly didn’t go to waste when he came to direct this famous Fargo-esque episode.
Paulie and Christopher had long been a great comic partnership but this episode cemented it as they bumble from one catastrophe to another, having only started out to collect some money from a Russian mobster. Pine Barrens’ blend of action and black comedy would make it the best episode for almost any other TV show.
6 – Funhouse (Season 2 Episode 13)
An episode where Tony Soprano gets food poisoning and goes on a boat trip. Except it’s all so much more dramatic than that.
Paranoia and fever dreams haunt him as he tries to work out who from his crew has turned rat, except it’s a talking fish who spills the beans and spells the end for Big Pussy.
The dream sequences are legendary, and the fatal boat trip is both tense and hugely sad as Tony ruthlessly dispatches one of his best friends.
5 – I Dream Of Jeannie Cusamano (Season 1 Episode 13)
An FBI surveillance tape proves to Tony that his mother Livia and Uncle Junior were behind the plot against him, and he goes to angrily confront (ie, smother with a pillow) Livia in hospital, only to find that she has suffered a stroke and he can’t get at her.
But is that smile on her face? Tony never faced a nemesis as powerful and deadly as his own mother and this climactic episode in the first season was so effective for snatching away his chance at revenge.
4 – Whitecaps (Season 4 Episode 13)
Both James Gandolfini and Edie Falco won Emmys for their performances in this episode, and rightly so.
The culmination of a whole season of tension in their relationship, Whitecaps starts off all shiny and happy, with the Soprano family visiting their new beach house, but ends in marital apocalypse.
The resulting row is one of the best scenes in any TV show ever, with both Gandolfini and Falco acting their socks off.
3 – The Second Coming (Season 6 Episode 19)
AJ Soprano had a tough time throughout the show’s run and it all takes its toll on him in this episode, having broken up with his girlfriend and started reading depressing poetry, leading to him jumping into the swimming pool tied to a concrete block.
But with the rope too long to actually drown him, he was saved by his dad. Was the rope deliberately too long?
We’ll let Tony have the last word on that: “He could just be a fuckin’ idiot… historically, that’s been the case.”
2 – The Blue Comet (Season 6 Episode 20)
In the second-to-last episode of the show, it all kicks off, with Phil Leotardo finally unleashing his bloody vengeance upon the New Jersey mob for the killing of his brother in Season Five, taking out Bobby Bacala and Silvio Dante (putting him in a coma) and sending Tony into hiding.
The murder of poor Bobby is a masterpiece on its own, taking place in a model train shop and edited to perfection.
1 – Join The Club (Season 6 Episode 2)
After Tony was shot by his senile Uncle June, he drifts off into a coma-induced other life/purgatory as a travelling salesman who loses his identity and discovers he is developing Alzheimer’s.
The end shot of him sitting alone in his hotel room, soundtracked by Moby’s When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die, is simply heartbreaking, perfectly demonstrating how even a ‘monster’ like Tony can be a sympathetic character.
Full of symbolism, full of raw emotion, full of quality.