One episode for the time capsule...

#1
What, to you, is the one episode that represents The Sopranos best? If you had to pick one episode only to show people, which would it be? It might not even be your favorite episode, it may only be one that you think makes a good introduction or one that you think has all the elements that make the show great.

Originally, I gravitated towards "The Test Dream," an episode I found extremely rewarding and one that I have watched many, many times. Upon reflection, though, I realized that that show is mostly rewarding because of my own history with and knowledge of the series. I can't deny the power of that episode, which contains not only the shows most stunning (and extended) dream sequence so far, but also a very affecting ending (perhaps my favorite of any episode).

So my amended choice is "Employee of the Month." While it does contain perhaps the show's most graphic depiction of violence (rape being the ultimate in violent crimes, to me), it is truly powerful in it's resolution. I know some have complained about the lack of resolution, in that Melfi's rapist is never heard from again, but in terms of the episode the resolution comes when Melfi utters the word "No." I think the performances in this episode are uniformly fantastic, Lorraine Bracco in particular. Additionally, this episode contains Janice's war with the Russians, Johnny Sac's move to New Jersey ("I'm not going to stick my beak in." Which, of course, was not the case), Ralph's corrupting influence on Jackie, Jr. and Tony's attempts to counteract that influence. Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess won the Emmy for writing this episode, and deservedly so. Even given the weight of the primary story, the episode doesn't lack in humor (but the humor doesn't dilute that weight - a tightrope walk if I've ever seen one). John Patterson might be the finest director the show ever had, and his work here is also exceptional.

I might add more later, but those are my initial thoughts. Anyone else care to chip in?

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#2
Nice post Jouster! Glad you didnt ask for just my favourite episode as i would find it hard to choose! I could mention a few episodes that i see as classics like Funhouse, Whoever did this, Long term parking, Employee of the month,Join the club.
I love this show and find it impossible to single out one exceptional episode that rises above all others.

I sat down a couple of nites ago to watch the second episode from season 1. 46 Long is fantastic in an understated manner, one of the final scenes where Tony is emptying his mothers house is just beautiful as he reminices at fotos of what he sees as a happier Livia Soprano, by the way the choice of music to this scene is exceptional.
Its these type of moments that makes the Sopranos what it is, not always the shocking, take your breath away scenes but the more simplistic. Thats why i cant really single out a particular episode for the accolade of best episode and find it much easier to select stand out episodes.

However, if i was choosing an episode to show to someone who hadnt seen the Sopranos before and, if you like try n sell it to them i would go for College. This along with Pinebarrens is an episode that you can simply sit down and watch without having to really know the characters or particularly care for them. Both these episodes are like mini-movies.
I would choose College as first choice purely on the basis that Pinebarrens is less serious and is a one-off comedic look at The Sopranos. College goes deeper into the pysche of a gangsters feelings towards a ''rat'' and gives an insight of what The Sopranos is all about.

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#3
An interesting question, for sure, Jouster. I think you and JohnnySoprano both made excellent choices.

Employee of the Month has always been among my very, very top episodes. The writing, story concept, direction, and acting are just impeccable. And it has the self-contained quality in the Melfi storyline that makes it very suitable for first time viewers. It was among the first episodes that came to mind when I read the topic of your post.

While I don't think the acting of the pilot was quite as flawless across the board as it became in the best of the later episodes, I still think it is the most dense microcosm of all that the show has to offer and obviously has the advantage for the uninitiated of starting the narrative from the beginning.

I do agree that College is quite possibly the most self-contained of all the episodes and is a dynamite story, so it might be the best time capsule choice because of that combo.

But there are several episodes that, while definitely much more meaningul with full viewer experience, are so powerful that I think even first-time viewers could become immediately absorbed. They include Isabella, Second Opinion, Army of One, Whitecaps, and Unidentified Black Males.

Five paragraphs and I still haven't answered the question.:icon_biggrin: Let me think some more and commit later.

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#4
Hands down, to me it would be "The Strong Silent Type."

Tony and D. Melfi talk about how he can grieve for the animals, but not humans. Tony breaks down in this episode. Dr. Melfi comments on the fact that normally Tony turns sadness into rage. Tony also acknowledges that he causes grief as well. (Dr. Melfi does not know that he already killed the source of the sadness, Ralphie.)

Christopher has his drug problem that he must confront, or face intervention by means of bullet in the back of the head.

Carmela is looking for love, pondering if she should just go ahead and just allow herself to love Furio.

This has been the theme of the show since the beginning. The sad clown theme, the search for more love, and the use of substances to escape from the life they lead.

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#5
Wow, what a good hard question to ask. It seems like everyone who has posted so far have a wide variety of choices for this category. If I had to pick one episode for the time capsule, to dust of and show someone, I would probably pick the pilot, "The Sopranos" It is not my favorite episode ever, although it would make my top 15, but it does such a great job introducing us to the characters and their lifestyle. Tony does a great job explaining his buisness in the first therapy session with Melfi, without saying anything. It also introduces us to his family very well, through his conversation with Melfi. It features a fun, beat down scene with Tony and Christopher "having coffee" with Mahafi, like he called it to Melfi. It also does an excellent job explaining the wishy washy relationship between Tony and Uncle junior. As well as a memorable clipping when Christopher "popped his cherry" when he blew Amiel's (or as Christopher called him, Email) brains all over the table in the back of the pork store.What a chilling scene that is, with the music, Christopher practicing karate in the dark while waiting for him. as well as a shot of the picture on the wall after he kills him. I also enjoy the scene where he looks at the pork heads in a display on the wall and kind of jumps after he shoots.

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#6
Tough call, but I would go with From Where to Eternity. Just about every scene was terrific. Tony and Pussy having dinner after shooting Matthew Bevilaqua was memorable to me. Paulie in the psychics house was hilarious, as was his meeting with the priest... T gives a great speech to Melfi comparing Carnegies and Rockerfellers to gangsters. T bringing the pizza to AJ's room after he insulted him, with Carm listening. Chris waking from the coma and telling T and Paulie he was in hell. Others I can't remember off the top of my head...

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#8
It took me a long time to decide. But thinking back, I can't imagine why it took so long. I'm not sure if I have the right understanding of "one for the time capsule". I'm thinking that I would include my favorite episode and so my choice would be the same as my choice for "my favorite episode".

I guess I have two that tie for my favorite. They are "Long Term Parking" in which Adrianna is killed. It rates as a favorite - not just because I consider Adriana to be one of my favorite characters as well as one of the most interesting - but more so because this episode shows the absolute ruthlessness of Tony and LCN and compares the methods used by the LCN and the FBI. The first time I saw this episode, I had no clue that anything was going on. I completely bought the story that Chris had tried to kill himself. Duh!

Talk about ruthlessness! It seemed to me that after Chris told Tony what had happened with Ade and the FBI, it took Tony a split second to decide what to do. Of course, I'm sure Chase et all spent weeks or months polishing this script. But you never know.

Anyway, when I think of it, it's just masterful. Tony tells Ade that Chris has tried to commit suicide and that Chris needs her to come to his side and help him. She can't think of anything beyond the fact that Christopher needs her and she is totally "all in" - meaning that she buys it completely. It is a masterful study in ruthlessness. Every little detail seemed perfect. She bought the story hook, line and sinker and swallowed the whole thing with nary a doubt. Goodbye Adriana.

Now compare how Tony and Chris and LCN operated vs. how the FBI operated. The FBI agents sat around scratching their bums wondering where Adriana had disappeared. When it came to Adriana, it was much like Big Pussy. The FBI had no clue. It was their own inept handling of the situation (why is it that I sense someone just around the corner coming to offer to show me a "different perspective" on this?). Anyway, the FBI just had their thumbs stuck up their rectums and a puzzled look on their faces.

The other episode that ties with "Long Term Parking" is "Cold Stones" - the trip to Paris with Carmella and Rosalie. I guess, I will post in the "Most Favorite Episode" thread about that one.

I honestly don't understand if I should pick an episode for this thread because it stands on its own or so that people who've never seen the show before could enjoy an episode that "stands on its own". I just picked these two episodes because they are my favorite episodes (so far, anyway).

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#9
Hey Splishak, reading your post made me want to respond. I picked my "one episode for the time capsule" to be an episode that best suited someone who never saw the show before as a way to introduce it to new viewers. That is how I read the thread to be. That is why in a earlier post I picked the pilot episode. It does a great job explaining the story as well as the main characters for us to understand for years to come. Not that it is the greateat episode or my most favorite ever, but it does suck you in and make you want to see more. So that is the reason for my choice.

I do agree with you, the episode "Long Term Parking" from Season 5 is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest episodes in the history of the series. It is also an episode that gets included in my prestigious top 3 episodes ever. (right there with "Whoever Did This" from Season 4 and "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano" from Season 1) To me the scene where Adriana comes clean to Christopher with everything that was going on with the FBI was so surreal and probably the best single scene in my opinion, in the entire scene. You just really feel for her there, she is stuck and has no options and loves him so much. She just figures he will give it all up for her. And Michael Imperioli plays it so wonderful, the look on his face as she tells him is amazing. He is just in a state of utter shock, which turns to anger, then finally turns to fear. Great episode, but one that only long term fans can truly appreciate due to the history of their relationship and how long Adriana was conflicted with the FBI involvment.

Re: One episode for the time capsule...

#10
Hey there WITWF!

I can't agree more about Drea de Matteo and that scene where she comes clean. It was one of the best jobs of acting to be seen on the series - bar none! But how do you discuss the work done by the actors on this show when you are talking about James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Robert Iler, Drea de Matteo, Vincent Curatola and so many others?

Anyway, Drea did an absolutely fabulous job in that scene. It was definitely an Emmy worthy performance (actually she deserves to get an Oscar and an Emmy except for the fact that it was on TV and not in a movie - stupid rules). The only thing that diminishes Drea's performance is that Edie Falco seems to deliver a comparable performance on just about every other episode. How can you laud Drea's performance when it stands in the shadow of Edie's many performances? I may badmouth Carmella from time to time. But that is strictly my opinion about her character and actions (and as I am learning, I may have often been mistaken about those opinions). But when it comes to Edie Falco, I just can't get my mouth to say the words that her performances are deserving to be described. The quality of those performances is beyond description. Unbelievably unbelievable - time after time after time. I just feel so inadequate to try to adequately describe her work.

Drea was unbelieveable in that scene. Unfortunately, it is a tragedy that Edie is so unbelieveable in so many other scenes. If this was any other show or if the lead actress was anyone other than Edie Falco, I'm guessing that Drea would win an Emmy for that scene for sure and it's just not fair if she doesn't win at least one Emmy for her work in this show. As a matter of fact, I'd just like to see her walk away from this show with some kind of fair recognition of her work. What a crying shame it would be if she doesn't win an Emmy or something better somehow.

I don't know what else to say. I just can't think of any way to string together any more superlatives to describe the work that Drea did in that scene and that she's done in this show, overall. Her work has been just breath-taking - just beyond adoration. Drea, ma chere - Je t'adore.
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