10 Best Scenes of The Sopranos Season 1

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10 Best Scenes of The Sopranos Season 1

Season one of The Sopranos changed television history forever. It was the first TV show you could enjoy on both a micro and macro level — each episode was a singular work of art, yet all the episodes added together equaled a larger whole. Furthermore, every single scene deserved to be analyzed. And that’s why Colin’s Review is presenting the 10 Best Scenes of The Sopranos Season 1.

10. “My Nephew Running Things?” (Episode 13, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano”)

Amidst all the carnage and conclusions that went down in the season 1 finale, it’s easy to forget that Uncle Junior himself was also on Tony’s planned hit-list. However, Junior is arrested by the feds before any moves can be made. While in custody, he’s offered the chance (in exchange for his freedom) to confess that Tony was actually the boss of the Family. With the camera close-up on his face, actor Dominic Chianese delivers a brilliant dialogue of stone-faced denial: “My nephew running things? Not that strunz. Not in this life.” It’s a perfectly prideful way for Uncle Junior to end his short-lived reign as boss of the family.

9. “All Through the Night” (Episode 3, “Denial, Anger, Acceptance”)

The final sequence of “Denial, Anger, Acceptance” is a loving homage to The Godfather, an immensely powerful scene that shows The Sopranos using its cinematic influences to transcend the televised medium. As Tony is moved to tears while watching his daughter’s choir recital, Chris Moltisanti is held at gunpoint on the pier while Brendan Filone is shot to death in his bathtub — a stark juxtaposition between Tony’s two families. It’s one of the most visceral scenes of season one, and it comes perfectly timed at an early juncture.

8. “Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In (Episode 2, “46 Long”)

“46 Long” is the only Sopranos episode to begin with a cold open. Even more noteworthy is just how casual it is: the characters are sitting around, counting money, shooting the shit. Even though The Sopranos is an epic mob story, it’s also content to just hang out with the guys while joking around and doing impressions of Al Pacino.

7. Jackie Aprile’s Funeral (Episode 4, “Meadowlands”)

Even though AJ Soprano is the absolute worst, it’s a very melancholic moment when he comes to the realization that his dad is a mob boss. At “uncle” Jackie Aprile’s funeral, AJ leans on a gravestone with a glum look on his face, looking on from afar as his childhood perception is completely upended. Meanwhile, Mazzy Star’s mournful “Look on Down from the Bridge” drifts onto the soundtrack, elegiacally leading to the end credits.

6. Ice Cream with Tony and AJ (Episode 7, “Down Neck”)

“Down Neck” flashes back to Tony’s childhood, serving as a reminder that his upbringing — specifically his psychotic parents — was less than ideal. Tony desperately wants his son to avoid the same fate, yet the underlying message of The Sopranos is that nothing ever changes. For now, the best way to bond with each other is sharing ice cream while Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” plays in the background. A rare heartwarming moment in a sea of pessimism.

10 Best Scenes of The Sopranos Season 1

5. “Where’s My Arc, Paulie?” (Episode 8, “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti”)

Tony wasn’t the only depressed sonofabitch on The Sopranos. Midway through season one, Chris Moltisanti undergoes an existential crisis, unsure of his purpose in life. Comparing himself to a character in a movie (or TV show), he wonders whether there is any arc to his storyline. The scene’s apt setting (Chris’ dark and dingy apartment) and perfect background music (“Summertime” by Booker T. & the M.G.’s) brings the emotional conversation to life.

4. Chris and Paulie Kill Mikey Palmice (Episode 13, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano”)

Mikey Palmice was probably the biggest douchebag throughout season one, so it’s actually a triumphant moment when he finally meets his demise. At the end of the comical chase scene through the woods, Chris finally gets revenge for his friend Brendan, while Paulie is more concerned with the poison ivy patch he ran through. “I can feel it itching me already!” A Sopranos feel-good moment: shooting Mikey’s body full of lead.

3. Tony Kills a Rat (Episode 5, “College”)

Throughout the entirety of “College” (the greatest episode in TV history, by the way), we didn’t think Tony would kill Febby Petrulio (a former gangster turned informant, now living in Maine thanks to the witness protection program). But then Tony goes through with it. And it changes our perception of him forever.

Tony brutally garrotes Febby, merciless and remorseless. A flock of ducks fly away in the distance, symbolizing that there will never be salvation for our main character. He is now an antihero, and television will never be the same.

2. The Ducks Aren’t Coming Back (Episode 1, “The Sopranos”)

Throughout The Sopranos‘ entire run, the happiest we ever see Tony is when he finds the family of ducks in his swimming pool in the very first episode. Once they fly away, the cynicism sets in. It’s the catalyst for his panic attacks and, in effect, the catalyst for the entire series.

The premiere ends with a backyard party at the Soprano home celebrating AJ’s birthday. Carmela shouts out “Let’s eat!” and the entire party makes its way off-screen. But series creator David Chase keeps the empty family pool in view. The ducks aren’t coming back.

Very few films have an ending this good. The fact that The Sopranos‘ first episode features such a strong conclusion immediately signifies that this is no ordinary TV show.

1. “Remember the Times That Were Good” (Episode 13, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano”)

The final scene of The Sopranos season 1 ends with a candlelit dinner at Nuovo Vesuvio’s amidst a thunderstorm. Despite all the bloodshed that came before, Tony finds himself reflecting on all the good things in his life, particularly the people he loves the most. It’s the most optimistic and important affirmation in the entire series, and will be directly referenced in The Sopranos’ final scene:

“Someday soon you’re gonna have families of your own and, if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments like this, that were good.”

It’s a perfect end to a masterful season of television, and it’s a surprisingly touching send-off considering all the murder and violence. But just like the scene in Holsten’s Diner — in which this conversation is referenced again — the end credits instantly overshadow the warm emotion. Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” creates an ominous mood fraught with tension, which is especially strange after the episode ended on such a cheerful note. The brilliant scene foreshadows the end of the series in more ways than one.

10 Best Scenes of The Sopranos Season 1

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