This Is the Best Episode of 'The Sopranos'

“The Sopranos” is widely considered one of the greatest TV shows in American history. It cemented HBO’s position as the premier pay-TV service in the United States. It almost certainly helped HBO increase its subscriber base, which was already in the millions. “The Sopranos” is currently a staple of HBO Max, the company’s streaming service.

“The Sopranos” ran from 1999 to 2007. Each week Tony Soprano dealt with both his dysfunctional New Jersey crime family and his real family, which sometimes intersected. The drama garnered 21 Emmys, five Golden Globes and two Peabody awards.

Much of the credit goes to the series creator, David Chase, and to the writers and the actors. Most of all, the show’s appeal rested on the broad shoulders of the late James Gandolfini, who somehow managed to make a cold-blooded killer sympathetic.

The series explored Tony’s tortured relationship with his mother, Livia; the damage caused by his serial cheating on his marriage to Carmela; and the toll his life of crime posed to his children, Meadow and A.J. Outside his family home, Tony battled with rival mobsters, both inside and outside his crime family.

Each episode was like a mini-masterpiece. But one episode stands out. To determine the best episode of “The Sopranos,” 24/7 Tempo reviewed user ratings for all 86 episodes of the show as of May 2022 on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon. In cases of tied scores, the episodes with more votes in IMDb were ranked higher. Data on season and episode number and original airdate also came from IMDb.

The best episode of “The Sopranos” was season 3, Episode 11, “Pine Barrens.” Here are the details:

  • Original airdate: May 6, 2001
  • IMDb user rating: 9.7/10
  • IMDb user votes: 11,028

Paulie Walnuts and Christopher plan a hit on a Russian mobster, Valery. They think they have killed him and discuss where to dump the body. They decide on the Pinelands, a vast wooded area in southern New Jersey.

After driving to the Pinelands, they discover the mobster is not dead. Valery escapes, setting off a bumbling chase as they nearly freeze and starve to death. They are lost in the woods as their car is stolen and Paulie loses his shoe.

When the men reach Tony by phone, Tony tells them Valery was once part of the Russian Ministry of the Interior’s special forces and killed 16 Chechen rebels single-handed. Because the connection was garbled, Paulie tells Christopher the Russian killed 16 Czechoslovakians and was an interior decorator. The men are later saved by Tony and Bobby Baccalieri.

Click here to see which are the 15 best episodes of “The Sopranos.”

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