#60: Season 5, Episode 2, “Rat Pack” [March 14th, 2004]
The rest of the new class arrives, with David Chase never trying to fit a big star in a role that wasn’t suited for them (which surely many were trying to land after the show’s success). No show has been this perfectly cast, and this is the episode to prove it. Tony’s cousin, Tony B, who is like a brother, gets out of the can but wants to stay out of the family business.
Best Line: “So, what do I find at the pork store?”- Tony B.
Notable Appearance: Where to begin? Steve Buscemi starts his arc as Tony’s cousin. Frank Vincent arrives as Phil Leotardo, Patti D’Arbanville arrives as the lady shylock, while The Rockford Files’ Joe Santos begins his role as Angelo Garepe.
#59: Season 6, Episode 15 “Remember When” [April 22nd, 2007]
An outstanding episode for Tony Sirico, who plays Paulie, gives Tony a heads up that his first hit where he made his bones is about to be unearthed. They go on the lamb until things cool down and head down to Florida while reminiscing about old times. Sirico is at his best, as he continues to bother and annoy Tony to the point he is thinking about murdering him.
Best Line: “Please, you wanna talk about stand-up guys?”- Paulie about Beansie, who is in a wheelchair.
Notable: Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a bellhop, but don’t blink because you’ll miss him if you do.
A Hit’s a Hit: Phil can’t get any respect when Doc takes the food right off his plate, he finally takes out the boss who got the bump when he took a step back for health reasons, resulting in one of the most cinematic scenes in the show’s history.
#58: Season 1, Episode 2 “46 Long” [January 17th, 1999]
This episode gets the conflict crackling as Christopher and his friend, Brendan, start to take down Junior’s trucks for some quick scores, even after Tony told them to lay off. This leads to Brendan going off on his own and accidentally killing the driver when Special K (J.D. Williams, pre-The Wire days) drops his gun tucked in his pants and fires off a bullet when it hit the ground. “It’s too bad they don’t have a telethon for fuckface-it is, huh? They find a cure for that?” sums up the animosity Tony has for Uncle June’s right-hand-man, Mikey Palmice, that goes well beyond busting balls.
Best Line: “What are you getting in Science?”, “D-plus,” “I’ll see what I can do.”- Tony tells Carmella about finding his son’s science teacher’s stolen car.
Notable Appearance: Mike Epps & Yancey Arias play a gay couple that stole the car from AJ’s science teacher.
#57: Season 3, Episode 6, “University” [April, 1st, 2001]
Meadow sleeps with her boyfriend, Noah, for the first time, while a stripper at The Bada Bing named Tracee begins to have a crush on Tony, even though she is Ralphie’s goomar.
Best Line: “You ever think he’s not acting?”- Tony to Tracee, after she tells him Ralphie acts like he doesn’t care that she’s pregnant.
A Hit’s a Hit: Ralphie kills Tracee after disrespecting her at The Bing in front of his crew, and Tony attacks him, even though he is a made guy.
#56: Season 1, Episode 3, “Denial, Anger, Acceptance” [January 24th, 1999]
Tony continues to spread his family’s wings beyond the garbage business, first creating a fake health insurance billing scheme in the pilot, but now helping the father (Chuck Jones of Goodfellas fame) who owns a motel, forcing his son-in-law to divorce his wife, while taking a piece of the family business with him. This episode is early in Season 1, so it is still trying to find its way while stepping into family clichés, but with a dark twist, as Meadow and her friend, Hunter, need to score speed from Christopher to stay up late study for SAT’s. Also, a standout episode for James Gandolfini and Lorraine Bracco, as Tony’s emotional outbursts range from chaotic to mournful over potentially his best friends’ demise.
Best Line: “If we don’t kill this prick, we should put him to work.”- Sil tells Paulie after attempting to sway the son-in-law of a Hasidic Jewish family to divorce his wife without a piece of her family’s business.
A Hit’s a Hit: Goodbye Brendan Felone; you didn’t know The Sopranos would turn into a cultural touchstone, as you were killed off in episode three of season 1, by Mikey Palmice, for stealing suits out of one of Junior’s trucks.
#55: Season 2, Episode 3, “Toodle-F*****g-Oo” [January 30th, 2000]
The writers found ways to introduce new characters by releasing a “new class” of family members who did stints in prison. This would be the series’ introduction to the late Jackie’s older brother, Richie Aprile (The Shawshank Redemption), who has trouble adjusting to life on the outside, taking directions from Tony, letting go of the past, and picking on local pizza joint owner and friend of the family, Beansie (Paul Herman).
Best Line: “I did, then I put it in the drive.”- Richie’s response after Tony tells him to back off Beansie.
Factoid: This would be the last episode in the show for actress Michele DeCesare, who played Meadows’ best friend, Hunter. She also happens to be the daughter of series creator and showrunner David Chase.
#54: Season 1, Episode 8, “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti” [February 28th, 1999]
Otherwise known as the episode where Christopher needs to find his arc, when he becomes jealous that his murdered friend, Brendan, is getting, not embracing, the lay-low mantra the rest of the crew strives for. This also marks The Sopranos directorial debut of Tim Van Patten.
Factoid: Christopher shoots a clerk in the foot who was disrespectful, just like Imperioli’s character, Spider, was shot in Goodfellas.
Notable Appearance: Joseph R. Gannascoli appears as a bakery customer, as Vito in the following season.
A Hit’s a Hit: Christopher performs his first, taking out a nephew of a Czechoslovakian named Emil, whose family is creeping closer to their garbage business.
#53: Season 2, Episode 5, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” [February 13th, 2000)
Michael Imperioli’s Christopher was cornered into a “daydream” storyline of aspirations to work in Hollywood that is more than cliché nowadays for the first two seasons. What sets this episode apart is whip-smart writing, dark humor, and underlining abandonment issues that come out as Christopher plays out a scene in an acting class bought for him by Adriana. This is the episode that should have won Imperioli an Emmy, let alone a nomination.
Best Line: “Yeah, Israel, and f*****g Palestine.” Tony describes Richie and Janice’s romantic relationship.
Notable Appearance: Linda Edmund, three-time Tony Award nominee, plays the Henry Winkler role in Barry as Christopher’s acting coach.
#52: Season 2, Episode 6, “The Happy Wanderer” [February 20th, 2000]
Tony takes over the executive game, holding a poker game for high-end clients and “celebrities” (Frank Sinatra Jr. is one of them). Tony’s childhood friend, Davie, draws the ire of Richie, who he already owes a debt while playing at Tony’s game.
Best Line: “Don’t threaten you? I got a hard-on for you already.” – Richie Aprile to Christopher.
Notable Appearance: Terminator and Scorpion actor Robert Patrick racks up debt as Tony’s childhood friend.
#51: Season 1, Episode 7, “Down Neck” [February 21st, 1999]
Tony debates free will with Dr. Meflie, telling her, “We are born into this s**t. You are what you are.” This would be the first episode to flashback to his childhood, as his mother’s “high-strung” personality tells her son that she could stick a fork in his eye. “Down Neck” might give us some insight into what we should expect out of The Sopranos prequel film coming next year.
Best Line: “I don’t want him to be like me”- Tony to Dr. Melfi about what he wants for his son, AJ.
Notable Appearance: Michael B. Jordan, credited as a Rideland Kid, confronted young Tony to pick up his wrapper.
4 thoughts on “The Sopranos: The Definitive 86-Episode Ranking”
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Elizabeth Reaser is the woman who comes down the steps to tell Amy that David’s ready to see her, right before Christopher calls her a f****n’ D-Girl.
Yes! Thank you, was driving me crazy! Also, thanks for checking out the article!
Hey great article. Appreciate all your efforts. But….needs more proofreading!
Lauren Braco? Come on dude
Thank you for pointing that out. I have made efforts to fix those errors. Thanks again.