The Sopranos – 100 Greatest Moments: 40-31

40. Seven Souls

Episode: Members Only (SE6, EP1)
Characters: Agent Harris, Agent Goddard, Vito, Janice, Domenica, Bobby, Gene & Deane Pontecorvo, Finn, Meadow, Raymond Curto, A.J., Adriana, Carmela, Tony and Junior

“The ancient Egyptians postulated Seven Souls. Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name.” The sixth season kicks off in a brilliant way. Nearly a year has passed since the final episode and we get a snapshot of the characters’ lives at this point. During the sequence, a two-minute narration by William S. Burroughs is heard from the album ‘Seven Souls’ by ‘Material’. It’s the perfect mood setter for the beginning of the end.

39. The Strong Silent Type

Episode: Pilot (SE1, EP1)
Characters: Tony and Dr. Melfi

In one of the first therapy sessions Tony has with Dr. Melfi, the subject of depression comes up for the very first time. Tony obviously has feelings of depression, but he has another problem. In his culture, this therapy shit doesn’t go down. “Whatever happened to Gary Cooper, the strong silent type?”, Tony asks Melfi. “That was an American! He wasn’t in touch with his feelings; he just did what he had to do.”
But Tony doesn’t have much of a choice. Since the ducks left, he does feel depressed. A combination of therapy and Prozac will now have to help him be a happier gangster. “The ducks that preceded your passing out”, Melfi tries. “Let’s talk about them”. Tony walks away. Yet this is definitely the moment when a new door – the door of psychiatry – is opened for Tony.

38. Confession

Episode: College (SE1, EP5)
Characters: Carmela and Father Phil Intintola

The episode ‘College’ teaches us a lot about the main characters. While Tony is killing rats in Maine, Carmela has therapy of her own. She confesses to Father Phil that she has allowed evil in her house. She is not at peace with herself. How can she be when she is living with a monster? In this early stage of The Sopranos it is still a possibility that Carmela would take action and leave Tony, the only right thing she can do. But the church is giving her an alibi not to. Divorce is deemed wrong, so she chooses the easy life of sin. This dilemma makes Carmela’s struggle all the more interesting.

37. The Sign

Episode: Fortunate Son (SE3, EP3)
Characters: Tony, Paulie, Silvio, Christopher, Bobby, Furio, Patsy Parisi, Raymond Curto and Eugene Pontecorvo

Christopher was warned before when he briefly visited hell; stay out of the Mafia. He chose to stick with Tony anyway leading to this moment. At his making ceremony he sees a raven sitting on the windowpane outside. This is definitely a bad omen. When you see the picture of St. Peter burn in his hand you know for sure; this is gonna end badly. Great use of symbolism! Another interesting aspect of this scene is that Eugene Pontecorvo is getting made as well and Tony says; “once you enter this family, there’s no getting out.” This will come back in Season 6 when Eugene finds out the hard way Tony wasn’t joking.

36. The Dream is Gone

Episode: Kennedy and Heidi (SE6, EP18)
Characters: Christopher, Tony, Kennedy and Heidi

David Chase likes to mess with his audience’s expectations. He kills off Christopher, probably the second most important character of the series, in an entirely unexpected moment. Everybody knew that sooner or later he would have to go, but surely this would happen at the end of a long dramatic episode and in a very dramatic way. Now, he goes in the beginning of an episode and in a very silent way. Still, it is a pretty harrowing scene. Chance provides Tony with the opportunity to rid himself of a ‘weakling’ who had become a liability, and – predatory as he is – he takes it. The dream really is gone now. What did you expect? Christopher was listening to the soundtrack of ‘The Departed’.

35. The Involuntary Cliff Dive

Episode: Pax Soprana (SE1, EP6)
Characters: Mikey Palmice, Joseph ‘Joey Eggs’ Marino and Rusty Irish

This is a brutal moment in the series to once again remind the audience that they are watching sociopaths at work. Junior has just been made Caesar, and he is immediately (mis)using his power. In this scene, Junior’s soldiers kill dope peddler Rusty Irish, because he sold designed drugs to Junior’s tailor’s grandson, who consequently killed himself by jumping off Patterson Falls. The killers are visibly having a blast when they throw the terrified dealer off the bridge.

34. Cultural Warfare

Episode: Whitecaps (SE4, EP13)
Characters: Alan Sapinsly an Trish Reinhold-Sapinsly

In ‘Whitecaps’, Tony bought a house called Whitecaps, but changed his mind due to his marital problems. The owner won’t pay him back his deposit, so what does he do? He sends two underlings to the guy’s house in his boat with the biggest speakers ever and they start playing Dean Martin all night. David Chase described this method of intimidation ‘cultural warfare’, because Martin is Italian. It is also the final scene of the fourth season. The overall message; Tony is still powerful, but his private life is all messed-up.

33. Being Boss? Don’t Think So

Episode: Stage 5 (SE6, EP14)
Characters: Tony and Little Carmine

This is a crucial scene in the final season. Tony is trying to persuade Little Carmine to take the top spot, because he hates the current New York boss Doc Santoro. But Carmine, who was always mocked for his lack of brains, is the only one of these characters who made the right choice in life. He turns down Tony’s offer, because he is enjoying life with his wife and kids. This contrasts beautifully with Johnny Sack, who is in prison and can’t even touch his family members. Or with Tony, who is always stressed out like hell. Little Carmine really is smelling the roses.

32. The Real Soprano

Episode: Army of One (SE3, EP13)
Characters: Tony, Carmela, Meadow, A.J., Junior, Silvio, Gabriella Dante, Bobby, Johnny, Ginny Sacrimoni, Christopher, Adriana, Patsy, Furio, Artie, Charmaine Bucco and Janice

Shitfaced or not, who ever knew Junior could sing like that? With the beautiful ‘Ungrateful Heart’, he provides a very fitting closing to the excellent third season. Look out for that moment where the drunken Meadow crosses the street, it seems visually related to the parallel parking scene in the final episode.

31. Square One

Episode: Cold Cuts (SE5, EP10)
Characters: Tony, Bobby, Janice, Sophia and Bobby Jr.

This is a real low for Tony. Janice has, for the first time in the series, done something brave to improve herself. She went to anger management class and is now successfully dealing with minor irritations. Tony can’t stand the new and improved Janice, so he starts to provoke her in the cruellest way he can find. “What’s French-Canadian for ‘I grew up without a mother?’ Sacrebleu! Where is mi mama?” Janice explodes and threatens Tony with a fork. He leaves satisfied. The Kinks ‘I’m not like Everybody Else’ plays over the end credits.

The Sopranos – 100 Greatest Moments: 50-41

50. Global Village

Episode: Johnny Cakes (SE6, EP8)
Characters: Patsy Parisi, Burt Gervasi and coffeeshop manager

This scene makes clear in a humorous way how global corporations will crush the mob. Patsy and Burt are making collections in the old neighbourhood. They walk into a newly opened Starbucks-like establishment and attempt to squeeze out the manager for protection money. But the manager explains the new realities to them: “Look, every last fucking coffee bean is in the computer and has to be accounted for. The numbers don’t add up, I’ll be gone and somebody else will be here.” They walk out disillusioned and Patsy remarks: “It’s over for the little guy.”

49. Happy Reunion

Episode: The Knight in White Satin Armor (SE2, EP12)
Characters: Tony, Janice and Livia

It has been a while since Tony last saw his mother. They hit it off immediately. Tony accuses her of ruining Janice’s love life, but Livia can’t even remember anything. “You tell me when have I ever done anything to any of you? I suppose now you’re not gonna kiss me?” This woman just loves to create confusion, Dr. Melfi would say. When Tony walks out the door, he trips and drops his gun. Livia is standing behind him and is clearly laughing. This reminds of the therapy session in which Melfi asked Tony to come up with a happy childhood memory and all he could come up with was his father falling down some stairs and everybody laughing. A terrific example of the extremely smart writing that The Sopranos is famous for.

48. Don’t Get Me Down

Episode: The Blue Comet (SE6, EP20)
Characters: Tony, Silvio and Bobby

Before the operatic violence in ‘The Blue Comet’ is about to break loose, there is this perfect ‘lighter’ moment in which Tony and Silvio pretend to box when they hear Cavalleria Rusticana, a reference to Scorsese’s boxing film Raging Bull. It reminds of the good old days that are now nearly gone.

47. Pitching, Not Catching

Episode: Unidentified Black Males (SE5, EP9)
Characters: Vito Spatafore, Finn DeTrolio and Security Guard

Finn catching Vito giving a security guard a blow job on the construction site is one of the big ‘WTF!!!’ moments in The Sopranos. Vito’s secret is based on true events in the real Jersey mafia. It will lead to a whole storyline in the final season.

46. Woke Up This Morning

Episode: All 86 Episodes
Characters: Tony, New York and New Jersey

‘Woke up this morning. Got myself a gun.’ This is one of the greatest credit sequences in television history. The makers were very wise to never change it during the course of the series. The action moves from New York, where all classic gangster tales are set, to New Jersey, a new setting for wiseguy life. The soundtrack by Alabama 3 creates a hyper cool atmosphere that suits this series like Rocco DiMeo’s leather jacket. It gives viewers the perfect two minutes to get into the mood for the episode.

45. Something Good

Episode: Where’s Johnny? (SE5, EP3)
Characters: Junior and Tony

In later seasons, as Tony is getting colder and colder, this is one of the few emotional moments where he still displays some human feelings. Junior is getting demented, so he says all these nasty things to Tony. Since probably part of it is caused by Alzheimer’s, Tony is trying to find out Junior’s true feelings for him. “I mean, don’t you love me?” That expression on Junior’s face should give him the answer he is looking for. Yes, he does. Beautifully acted and directed.

44. The Hairdo Goes

Episode: Stage 5 (SE6, EP14)
Characters: Silvio, Gerry Torciano, Prostitutes and Hitman

In the New York power struggle, aspiring boss Gerry ‘The Hairdo’ Torciano gets clipped on orders by the other candidate Doc Santoro. The hit takes place in a restaurant and is technically one of the finest filmed murders on the show. The sound effects, the blood, the slo-mo… The audience doesn’t have a clue of what is going on until you see the shooter and Gerry going down. This is really what you would experience if you’d be witness to an assassination in reality. Great work.

43. Coming Home

Episode: All Due Respect (SE5, EP13)
Characters: Tony and Carmela

After barely escaping from the FBI at Johnny Sacks’ house, Tony returns home without a scratch. He wasn’t even named in the indictment, only his feet got a little wet. The man is too lucky sometimes. This is another excellent season ending. It’s a lot of fun seeing a mob boss running through the snow and the song ‘Glad Tidings’ by Van Morrison is perfectly used here.

42. Bada Beng!!!

Episode: The Blue Comet (SE6, EP20)
Characters: Silvio Dante, Patsy Parisi, New York Killers and biker

It is truly impressive how these writers can make you root for the bad guys every time. Despite everything they’ve done throughout the series, you don’t want guys like Tony and Silvio to get whacked, making ‘The Blue Comet’, a thriller of Hitchcockian proportions. In this adrenaline fuelled shootout, Silvio gets shot into a coma. Patsy manages to escape and a hapless biker is collateral damage.

41. ‘You Sopranos Go Too Far!’

Episode: Sopranos Home Movies (SE6, EP13)
Characters: Tony, Carmela, Bobby and Janice

After some Karaoke, the Sopranos play a game of Monopoly. Everybody’s drunk. They sure know how to build a party, these Sopranos, but they’re a little too drunk. After some tension about the Monopoly rules and an embarrassing story about Livia and Johnny Boy, Bobby explodes when Tony starts to tease Janice with her history in giving head (‘under the boardwalk’). A massive fight erupts with a spectacularly high ‘oh no’ level. Bobby wins and Tony has a Monopoly house stuck in his chin. Brilliant family fight, just brilliant.

The Sopranos – 100 Greatest Moments: 60-51

60. Informal Investors

Episode: Mayham (SE6, EP3)
Characters: Christopher, Little Carmine, J.T. Dolan, Silvio, Larry Barese, Benny Fazio, Patsy, Vito and Murmur

Screenwriter J.T. Dolan is summoned to the Bing by Christopher to do a pitch on a new kind of slasher film. Present are potential investors, all wiseguys and the film’s creative team Christopher and Little Carmine Lupertazzi. The dialogues in this scene are quite hilarious. Especially funny is how scared Dolan is of the mobsters present. Silvio shows his knowledge of the entertainment business. “How is that a slasher movie? Michael Myers is an escaped mental patient. Jason and Freddy, different kind of movie.”

59. Making of a Legend

Episode: Amour Fou (SE3, EP12)
Characters: Ralphie, Jackie Jr. and Dino Zerilli

The Sopranos is so rich, so detailed. Every character has a whole history. The scene in which Ralph tells a legendary tale about the old days makes Tony even more larger than life than he already was at this point. After hearing the story of how Tony and Jackie Aprile, Sr. got on the fast track to getting made after robbing Feech La Manna’s card game, Jackie Jr. and Dino Zerilli get their stupid idea of pulling a similar stunt. And why didn’t Ralphie go along with the robbery? “Please, I’m still sick of it. I caught the clap from some hippie broad I was fucking. My dick was dripping like a busted pipe.” Whahahaha!!!

58. Playing the Part

Episode: Stage 5 (SE6, EP14)
Characters: Tony, Christopher, Carmela, Kelly Moltisanti, A.J., Bobby Jr. & Sophia Baccalieri, Paulie, Silvio, Gabriella Dante, Rosalie Aprile, Bobby, Janice, Joanne Moltisanti, Nica and priest

The tension between Tony and Christopher is tangible when they embrace at the baptism of Chris’ daughter Caitlin, for whom Tony becomes godfather. In therapy earlier, Tony said he thinks Chris hates him and wants to kill him. Judging by the look in Chris’ eyes, he seems to be 100% right! Great scene over which the song/poem ‘Evidently Chickentown’ by John Cooper Clarke is heard.

57. Reconciliation

Episode: Long Term Parking (SE5, EP12)
Characters: Tony and Carmela

Tony and Carmela get back together after almost a season of separation. The price tag: 600.000 dollars. Carmela will use this cash to build a spec house. Tony also promises that his mid life crisis will no longer intrude on Carmela’s life and the deal is sealed.

56. Making his Bones

Episode: Pilot (SE1, EP1)
Characters: Christopher and Emil Kolar

A wiseguy’s first hit is always a big deal in the Mafia. This is Christopher’s first; he wets Emil Kolar to hang on to a few garbage stops. His inexperience is noticeable, but so is his talent; he doesn’t hesitate for a second and whacks the Kolar kid GoodFellas-style. He shoots him in the back of his head and then shoots at his dead body as though he’s Joe Pesci. The location of the hit is a pork store which gives it something sinister. The shooting is intertwined with pictures of gangster cinema icons like Humphrey Bogart, Dean Martin and Edward G. Robinson. Since Christopher is a Hollywood inspired gangster, this makes this scene absolutely perfect. Also notice the meat cleaver on which Kolar snorts coke. Inspiration for Christopher’s gangster/horror movie ‘Cleaver’ later on?

55. Finn’s Testimony

Episode: Live Free or Die (SE6, EP6)
Characters: Tony, Christopher, Paulie, Silvio, Patsy, Carlo, Bobby, Dante ‘Buddha’ Greco and Finn De Trolio

Finn’s testimony for witnessing Vito greasing a security guard’s weasel is a hilarious moment. Imagine having to come into a butcher shop to tell this story to a bunch of wiseguys. The responses are priceless, especially when Finn says; “It was the other way around. Vito was blowing the security guard.” Carlo: “Pitching, not catching.” Oh boy…

54. Out of the Closet

Episode: Cold Stones (SE6, EP11)
Characters: Phil, Vito, Gerry Torciano and Dominic ‘Fat Dom’ Gamiello

Vito meets his demise at the hands of Phil Leotardo. He should have stayed away, but couldn’t handle a lifestyle that didn’t include the thrills of the mob. When Phil steps out of the closet, it is like an image straight out of a horror movie. Four alternative versions of Vito’s death were reportedly shot. But they rightly chose this one, the most unpleasant one. It is an ugly moment.

53. Bad Draw

Episode: Amour Fou (SE3, EP12)
Characters: Jackie Jr., Carlo Renzi, Dino Zerilli, Eugene Pontecorvo, Furio, Christopher, Sunshine, Matush Gia and Ally Boy Barese

Every time a couple of young guys try to get higher up in the Mafia, a disaster happens. This card game robbery by Jackie Jr. is perhaps even worse than Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte’s attempt in Season 2. Jackie should have listened to his doubts rather than his friend Dino who says; “let’s do it before the crank wears off.” Oh, and remember never to hire Matush as your getaway driver.

52. Digging in the Past

Episode: Cold Cuts (SE5, EP10)
Characters: Christopher and Tony Blundetto

“My first. Czechoslovakian guy.” Christopher and Tony Blundetto are digging up corpses. It feels Shakespearian and that is because the scene in which Christopher holds the skull is a reference to the famous Yorick scene in Hamlet. The mood is very sinister, especially when Christopher is crushing the skull into tiny bits. Their complete lack of normal human emotions is mind boggling.

51. The Mix Up

Episode: Members Only (SE6, EP1)
Characters: Tony and Uncle Junior

The increasingly demented Junior confuses Tony for his former enemy Little Pussy Malanga and shoots him at the end of ‘Members Only’. Tony barely manages to dial 911 and then passes out. A true cliffhanger as they are rarely seen in The Sopranos. Great!!

The Sopranos – 100 Greatest Moments: 70-61

70. Rock Bottom

Episode: The Second Coming (SE6, EP19)
Characters: A.J. and Tony

A.J. reaches an absolute low in his depression and rather than eating a Lincoln Log Sandwich, he jumps in the swimming pool with a stone tied to his leg and a plastic bag over his head. Luckily, the rope is too long and Tony comes home to rescue him. Very affecting scene. It was time Tony did something nice for somebody again and the way he comforts A.J. is genuinely touching.

69. Father and Son

Episode: Johnny Cakes (SE6, EP8)
Characters: Tony and A.J.

A.J. attempts to kill Junior as revenge for shooting his dad. But – luckily for him – he accidentally drops his knife and is halted by security. Tony manages to get him released and gives him a good talking to. Then A.J., calls him a hypocrite because Tony named the scene in The Godfather, in which Michael Corleone kills his father’s attackers, his favourite scene of all time. His own attempt to pull a Michael Corleone failed though. He is more like Fredo who also dropped his weapon when his father was gunned down.

68. Hassidm Shakedown

Episode: Denial, Anger, Acceptance (SE1, EP3)
Characters: Tony, Silvio, Paulie, Hesh and Ariel

“Ever heard of the Masada? For two years, 900 Jews held their own against 15.000 Roman soldiers. And the Romans? Where are they now?” Tony: “You’re looking at them asshole.” Great scene in which Tony eventually manages to explain the realities to the stubborn Jew Ariel whose hotel business he wants to take over. Threatening with castration (advice from Hesh) eventually does the trick. The inventiveness of these wiseguys to get what they want is really extraordinary sometimes.

67. The Bear

Episode: Two Tonys (SE5, EP1)
Characters: A.J., Carmela and Bear

An awesome metaphor: Tony has left the premises and a replacement shows up; an extremely strong and dangerous brown bear. A.J. nearly shits his pants. This is the perfect visual representation of Tony and Carmela’s separation. Great also that this episode is called ‘Two Tonys’, as in Tony – Bear / Tony – Tony Blundetto and Old Tony – Different Tony (the one that tries to seduce Melfi).

66. Way Up

Episode: Kennedy and Heidi (SE6, EP18)
Characters: Tony and Sonya Aragon

The Sopranos go psychedelic. A great place to experience a peyote trip is a casino obviously; Tony wins every hand he bets. He must be the devil himself as indicated by the slot machine. Tony survived a gunshot wound which means his luck was way up. In his mind at least. Then his luck was down again with the gambling in ‘Chasing It’, but now that he killed Christopher, his lucky streak is back again. This is basically Tony’s disturbed mind at this point. “It’s the same principle as the solar system.”

65. High Impact Collection

Episode: Where’s Johnny? (SE5, EP3)
Characters: Paulie, Gary La Manna and Jimmie

This scene is priceless. Paulie is pissed because Feech La Manna squeezed out his mother’s gardener Sal Vitro, so he takes down Feech’ nephew Gary to settle the score. The damage Paulie does to Gary is even greater than the number Feech did on Sal Vitro. He causes him to fall out of a tree and break his legs. Then he takes his cash and lawnmower as down payment. Incredible these guys…

64. The General

Episode: All Due Respect (SE5, EP13)
Characters: Tony and Paulie

Tony visits Paulie and spots the painting on the wall that he wanted burned; the painting of him and his horse Pie-O-Mie. He takes it off the wall and throws it in a dumpster outside. Then he looks again and sees himself as a general. Now he knows what he needs to do about the Tony B dilemma (see 61). Tony is back to his decisive self again.

63. Family Guy

Episode: From Where to Eternity (SE2, EP9)
Characters: Tony, A.J. and Carmela

Tony does some truly terrific parenting here. He apologizes for hurting A.J. earlier. Then he says there is no excuse for what he did, and explains carefully why he did it. Then he says he couldn’t ask for a better son. It’s truly impressive. The only minor point of criticism is bringing pizza and a six-pack of Coke, while they both have weight issues, but who cares after this? The contrast between this scene and what comes right after, the murder of Matt Bevilaqua, makes this scene even more powerful.

62. Phil’s Heritage

Episode: Stage 5 (SE6, EP14)
Characters: Phil, Butch, Patty Leotardo and kids

Phil is complaining again at his dead brother’s birthday party. He is not happy about his name, since a Leotardo is a ballet costume. He is also telling Butchie that he regrets having spent 20 years in jail for people who don’t stick to the rules any more. Then we get a look at the portraits of fallen comrades behind the bar; Carmine Lupertazzi, Billy Leotardo and Johnny Sack. Great way to end an episode that is about making choices and leaving behind something meaningful. Phil would like to do it over again, but he can’t. Now he has to decide what to do with his remaining time and by the looks of it he aint gonna do the right thing. “No more, Butchie. No more of this.”

61. Glad Tidings from New York

Episode: All Due Respect (SE5, EP13)
Characters: Tony and Tony B.

Tony shoots his own cousin Tony Blundetto in the face to make things right with New York. It would be enough to give a normal person nightmares, but not Tony Soprano. The make-up job on Tony B’s corpse is pretty gruesome.