The Sopranos: The Definitive 86-Episode Ranking

March 3, 2019 (Last updated: August 29, 2021)
M.N. Miller 5
Features, TV
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Part 7


#20: Season 1, Episode 4, “Meadowlands” [January 31st, 1999]

An episode that depicts Tony as a loving father is displayed when he affectionately covers his son’s eyes when he plays a video game and the other when he gives his son a wink at Uncle Jackie’s funeral. Tony doesn’t realize that Meadow has enlightened her kid brother, that their father is part of the mob, and solves the mystery of why they call every Italian non-relative “Uncle.” Jackie’s death paves the way for a new successor, but none of the young ones want it because it’s not worth the stress. Tony brilliantly uses his Uncle June as a beard, letting him take the throne (at a price, of course), while the other captains reap the rewards.
Best Line: “Always with the scenarios.”- Sil responds to Christopher after wanting to go “Scarface” on Junior for the death of his friend, Brendan.
Notable Appearance: John Heard (Home Alone) as Det. Vin Makazian, Tony’s source inside the police department, would win an Emmy for the role.

#19: Season 3, Episode 4, “Employee of the Month” [March, 18th 2001]

An episode was written by David Chase, which contains one of the hardest scenes to watch and in recent memory. Dr. Melfi is raped by a man in the parking garage stairway. Later, she sees his picture as an employee of the month at a local restaurant. The cops botch the case, they dismiss the charges, and Melfi ponders telling Tony what happened to her to get justice.
Best Line: “Her blood type is Ragu.”- Silvio
Notable Appearance: Perez Hilton credited as “Male Student.”

#18: Season 5, Episode 8, “Marco Polo” [April 25th, 2004]

Carmella and her mother, Suzanne, put together a 75th birthday party for her father. Still, the surprise is ruined by Junior and her father, Hugh, and he refuses to come over unless the man of the house is in attendance (strange stance to take when your daughter divorces the man for cheating on one’s daughter). In a scene that is like a punch to the gut, Tony B’s twin boys tell him they hate it at his place and love their Uncle Tony’s house. Meanwhile, Tony and Carmella share an intimate moment in their pool when everyone heads in for the night.
Best Line: “Phil treats nickels like manhole covers.”- Johnny Sack to Tony.
Best Line #2: “They skeeved the butter.”- Suzanne talking about the Soprano clan.

#17: Season 3, Episode 13, “Army of One” [May 20th, 2001]

Ralphie regrets trying to school Jackie Jr. and now must decide whether to give him a pass or make him pay for shooting made men. Tony, in what Dr. Melfi describes as never seeing him like this when his feelings come pouring out, asks if AJ can’t get his act together, “How are we going to save this kid?” Dominic Chianese’s solo rendition of core ‘ngrato in the wake of the son of a former boss (see below) is an all-time show-stopper and makes me wish Uncle June was my uncle (despite the track record of wanting to kill his nephew).
Notable Appearance: Michael K. Williams, pre-The Wire days, lets Jackie Jr. hide out in his apartment.
A Hit’s a Hit: Vito makes his nut by gunning down Jackie Jr. from behind when he takes a walk to the park, later spinning the story that drug dealers gunned him down.

#16: Season 2, Episode 4, “Commendatore” [February 6th, 2000]

Tony, Christopher, and Paulie visit the old country to make a business deal, leaving Carmella home. Christopher discovers heroin with some new associates, while Paulie serves as the main point of comic relief, while the visit to the old country is not what he imagined. The first episode is for Furio (Federico Castelluccio), who Tony brings back to America to replenish his ranks.
Best Line: “Yea, I do, but I don’t s**t where I eat.”- Tony explaining to Annalisa why he doesn’t mix business with pleasure.
Factoid: David Chase plays a rude cafe patron who won’t give Paulie the time of day.
A Hits a Hit: Years before Joaquin did it, P***y takes a hammer to his friend Jimmy Bones, who ran into him while meeting with his FBI handler.

#15 Season 1, Episode 13, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano” [April 4th, 1999]

Tony tells his crew he has been seeing a psychiatrist and gives Dr. Melfi a heads up that she may be a target now that the story is out there. Meanwhile, the crew takes out a trio of hits to sure up their future, while Livia manipulates Arti into taking her son, letting him know he burned down his restaurant. Junior lets his pride get the best of him and tells the FBI he is the head of the North Jersey crime family. The scene of Livia laughing at her son while Tony is held back by hospital security remains iconic.
Best Line: “Yeah right, Mr. Magoo!”- Christopher responding to Mikey, telling him Junior shot his friend, Brendan.
Factoid: David Chase appears as one of the mobsters arrested, in a sweep, after a year-long investigation.
A Hit’s a Hit: Where to begin? Sil takes out Jimmy; Christopher and Paulie take out Mikey; Tony then goes fishing, so to speak, and takes out Chucky.

#14: Season 6, Episode 21, “Made in America” [June 10th, 2007]

It’s the ending that will live in infamy, but let’s not forget how David Chase ties up all the loose ends with surprising honesty. AJ, just like his father, comes out of his depression when his car blows up from an engine fire, Junior is left as a feeble older man in a county facility withering away from Alzheimer’s, and Meadow is on track to become a lawyer in a top firm. When it is all said and done, however, everything just turns black.
Best Line: “This thing of ours.”- Tony to Junior, which translates into Italian means Cosa Nostra.
A Hit’s a Hit: Phil Leotardo is gunned down by Walden (Band of Brothers’ Frank John Hughes) in front of his wife and grandkids.

#13: Season 3, Episode 3, “Fortunate Son” [March 11th, 2001]

Notable for the initiation of Christopher as a made man, with a shot of a black crow in the windowsill, foreshadowing bad things ahead. Christopher must hustle to come up with money each week to Paulie and finds out being a made guy is not everything it’s cracked up to be. Tony then has a breakthrough with Dr. Melfi, finding out the reason for passing out has been tied to his father’s dealings at a butcher shop as a kid. Meanwhile, AJ, like father like son, passes out at football practice from a panic attack.
Best Line: “Don’t disrespect the Pizza Parlor!”- Christopher to Jackie J. remains one of the series all-time classic lines and is the single reason I have this episode this high.
Notable Appearance: Tony Lip plays Carmine Lupertazzi, in real-life the inspiration for the title character in the film Green Book.

#12: Season 2, Episode 12, “The Knight in White Satin Armor” [April 2nd, 2000]

Jackie Jr. makes his first appearance at his Uncle Richie’s house and dropped out of college. Richie makes a play for Tony’s spot, reaching out to Junior, who wisely concludes he is better off with Tony because he couldn’t sell it. Tony breaks up with Irina, who then tries to kill herself. When she calls the house, he explains the attempt to Carmella, who says, “You’re putting me in a position to feel sorry for a w***e who f***s you?” is classic David Chase, who always knows how to put an end to disingenuous moments.
Best Line: “We buried him on a hill, overlooking a river, with pine cones all around.”- Tony to Janice (see below).
A Hit’s a Hit: In the end, it didn’t make manner, as Janice shot Richie twice after he physically abuses her.

#11: Season 1, Episode 12, “Isabella” [March 28th, 1999]

Probably stands alone as the most visceral of the series, Tony avoids a hit by his Uncle Junior by fighting off his attacker, that wakes Tony out of his depression, and the new medication he is taking is causing hallucinations of a beautiful Italian student next door (Maria Grazia Cucinotta). The scene of Tony and Dr. Melfi talking in her car for an emergency session about what the hallucinations mean to him completes Gandolfini’s character as fully realized, well-rounded, and three-dimensional.
Best Line: “I mean, you’re sleeping over, right?”- Tony to Father Intintola.
A Hit’s a Hit: Junior tells Mikey to take out Donny Boy because he talks too much. After, Mikey drives away, with Junior peaking over the door frame, still hiding in the backseat.

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4 thoughts on “The Sopranos: The Definitive 86-Episode Ranking

  • Pingback: The Sopranos Greatest Hits: The Complete Whack-A-Mole Ranking | RSC

  • March 6, 2019 at 5:17 am

    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.

    • March 6, 2019 at 6:48 am

      Yes! Thank you, was driving me crazy! Also, thanks for checking out the article!

      • March 7, 2019 at 4:45 am

        Hey great article. Appreciate all your efforts. But….needs more proofreading!

        Lauren Braco? Come on dude

  • March 7, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Thank you for pointing that out. I have made efforts to fix those errors. Thanks again.

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