For Millennials. By Millennials.
January 10th, 1999 – this is the day television changed forever. This is because the pilot episode of The Sopranos aired on HBO this day. And television hasn’t been the same ever since. That first season of the show in itself was a work of art unlike another, and it sparked a revolution. But, every show has its special moments that stand out more than the rest. So, here’s a list of the best and most impactful moments from Season 1 of The Sopranos.
I have to make one thing clear – this isn’t a ranking. Instead, we’re just enlisting the best moments from The Sopranos season 1 that truly made a massive impact on those who watched the show for the first time and continue to rewatch it on multiple occasions.
Tony grabs Christopher – Pilot Episode
From the Pilot itself, you just knew that The Sopranos is going to be something special. And this scene played a big part in it. To see James Gandolfini switch from being a caring uncle to a maniac mob boss in a split second truly showed the audience the kind of person Tony Soprano really was. And it set the tone for The Sopranos, not only for season 1 but for all the upcoming seasons.
“And the Romans, where are they now?” – Denial, Anger, Acceptance, Episode 3
This is the moment when I knew I would truly enjoy The Sopranos. Because it just showed how good the scripting and dialogue were in this show. After being beaten for hours, Schlomo’s son in law Ariel just won’t give up the hotels. And his conviction cam from his Jewish faith, as he narrated the story of the Seige of Masada, and asked the crew “And the Romans, where are they now?”. To which Tony Soprano replied, “You’re looking at them, a**hole.” Absolutely brilliant.
When Tony made Uncle Junior the Boss of New Jersey – Meadowlands, Episode 4
This moment is one of the best from season 1 of The Sopranos because it showed how brilliant Tony was as a mob man. He knew things were getting out of control with Uncle Junior. So, instead of starting a war, he simply gave up his ego to accept Junior as his boss. However, he did take some very valuable territory in return. And in the long run, we all know who the victor was.
AJ realizes what his dad does at Jackie’s funeral – Meadowlands, Episode 4
This moment perfectly encapsulates how a child would react to finding out their father is a criminal. After Meadow told him about what their father Tony Soprano does for a living, Anthony Junior saw for once at Jackie Jr’s funeral how she was indeed telling the truth. As he rests his head on a tombstone, he sees life unravel in front of his eyes, realizing a reality that changes his life. And Robert Iler played this scene perfectly. This is The Sopranos at its best.
Tony kills Fabian “Febby” Petrulio (Rat) – College, Episode 5
This isn’t just one of the best moments from season 1 of The Sopranos, but also one of the most iconic and influential scenes in television history. Tony Soprano killing the rat Fabian Petrulio on-screen makes complete sense now. But, to see the lead character of a show kill someone on TV was something unheard of at a time when television was dominated by sitcoms. Interestingly, HBO was reluctant to shoot this scene at first, thinking that it would scare the crowd. However, David Chase remained adamant and stood by this scene. And boy, was he right!
Meadow confronts Tony about the Mafia – College, Episode 5
Another moment from the same episode, this scene was really important too. Just how much of an awkward conversation would it be for you as a father when your daughter confronts you if you are a part of the mafia? James Gandolfini handled the awkwardness brilliantly, but Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s performance as Meadow cannon be ignored. She truly performed the role of a headstrong daughter perfectly, who just wanted more honesty from her father whom she loves, despite everything. It’s these moments with his family that makes The Sopranos so amazing.
“You ever feel like nothing good would ever happen?” – The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti, Episode 8
This is one of the most revealing conversations in The Sopranos. It showed how two generations differed in how they approached depression. One one side, you had a young Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli, who is currently hosting the Talking Sopranos podcast), who was craving for recognition and appreciation for his talents. And the thought of not getting that scares him, which is why he asks Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico):
Christopher: You ever feel like nothing good would ever happen?
Paulie: Yeah, and nothing did. So what? I’m alive, I’m surviving.
Christopher: That’s it. I don’t want to just survive.
This just sums up what Paulie and his generation’s thinking about life is. To go with the grind and just be content with surviving and the fact that you’re alive. And that is why Christopher and Paulie had completely different trajectories in life and in The Sopranos.
Tony and Christopher talk about Depression and suicide – The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti, Episode 8
This was another interesting conversation. But, unlike Paulie, Tony had relatively similar thinking as Christopher did. The only difference was that Chrissy did not identify and accept depression as one of his major problems. And not only that but he also actively made fun of suicide and called depression as being “mental midgets”. Tony, who was well aware of these phenomenons had to play along and laugh at the very problems he himself was going through, just for social acceptance, especially among his subordinates.
Want to know how it would feel when you find out from the FBI that your mother and your Uncle is trying to have you whacked? Well, look at the facial expressions of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano at this moment. He was like a pressure cooker waiting to explode, but couldn’t. Just imagine the betrayal he felt from his own mother and his Uncle, who he unequivocally loves. The power of Tony alone at this moment to hold onto his cards just makes it mindblowing.
Tony tries to strangle his mother Livia –I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano, Episode 13
This is what Tony’s entire relationship with his mother was culminating in. This is what season 1 of The Sopranos was culminating in. The moment Tony confronts his mother for not just trying to kill him but to also confront her on everything she had done to him throughout his life. Tony was ready to strangle her to death, without a doubt. But he couldn’t. He was deprived of that satisfaction to kill his own mother at this moment, and that is without a doubt the best moment from not only season 1 of The Sopranos, but also from the entire show. And no one could have played Tony’s mom better than Nancy Marchand.
These are the moments that we believe truly the best from season 1 of The Sopranos. It is what won the show 21 Emmys and 112 Emmy nominations in 6 seasons. Do you agree with this list? If not, let us know in the comments below which scenes from season 1 did you love the most.