Following the lowest-rated fourth season of HBO’s highly-acclaimed mob-drama The Sopranos, the series made a big bad comeback 16 months later. Indeed, by the accounts of most critics and general viewers alike, the fifth season of The Sopranos is all-but unanimously hailed as the best overall season of the long-running criminal melodrama.
One of the main reasons for such a high rating is the addition of Steve Buscemi as Tony Blundetto, Tony Soprano’s long-incarcerated cousin who finally gets released from prison. While Blundetto wants to walk the straight and narrow, Soprano has a hard time letting him do so without consequences. For a better picture, here are the 10 best episodes of The Sopranos season 5, according to IMDb.
All Happy Families (Episode 4) 8.6/10
Carmine’s death has left a major vacuum in the power structure of the various mob families. Carmine Jr. and Johnny Sack begin fighting over the authority, while unjailed Feech La Manna (Robert Loggia) is granted the chance to run Junior’s high-stakes poker game.
Back at the domicile, A.J. is once again fouling up in school. Carmela tries to assuage his teacher, but the effort fails. In the end, Carmela allows A.J. to live with Tony, who in turn is still trying to win Dr. Melfi’s heart.
The Test Dream (Episode 11) 8.6/10
The answers to all of Tony’s existential angst comes to him in a wild Test Dream during the fifth season’s antepenultimate episode. After checking into the Plaza hotel for some much-needed R&R, Tony has an epiphany to do what’s absolutely necessary: whack cousin Tony Blundetto.
As for Blundetto, he’s out for vengeance when learning his close pal Angelo (Joe Santos) has been iced by Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent). In response, Blundetto goes after Phil’s kid brother Billy (Chris Caldovino).
Where’s Johnny? (Episode 3) 8.7/10
When New York mob boss Carmine croaks from a stroke, finding unnamed his successor proves wildly chaotic. Carmine Jr. and Johnny Sack want to overtake the turf, but so does newly released Feech La Manna (Robert Loggia). The infighting gives Tony one massive headache.
Ironically, Junior’s mind is beginning to go for real. In Season 4, Junior tried to feign insanity to avoid jail time, but now he’s facing genuine dementia. While Tony is fed up, Junior treks back to the old neighborhood in search of his dead brother, Johnny Soprano.
Cold Cuts (Episode 10) 8.7/10
Chris and Tony Blundetto are ordered to get their hands dirty, literally, when Tony tells them to dig up a spate of rotten corpses buried on a newly bought farm. While doing so, Chris learns more about Blundetto’s sordid past.
Meanwhile, Tony tries to tamp down Johnny Sack’s flaring temper of the death of Joe Peeps. Sack suspects cousin Tony to be the killer, but Tony denies it wholeheartedly. Janice, on the other hand, has lashed out violently at a mother during a soccer match and ended up on the local news as a result.
Two Tonys (Episode 1) 8.7/10
A middle-rated season premiere seems par for The Sopranos course. However, in season five, a couple of heavyweight mafia-movie thespians join the cast. Among them are Frank Vincent, Robert Loggia, and the aforementioned Steve Buscemi.
When a spate of old-school mobsters get released from jail, Tony looks forward to reuniting with his close cousin, Tony Blundetto (Buscemi). Now a single man, Tony also musters the guts to express his romantic desires for Dr. Melfi, who resists the urge to get involved.
Unidentified Black Males (Episode 9) 8.8/10
After a little taste of blood in the previous chapter, Blundetto now wants more criminal responsibility. Tony, meanwhile, begins to suffer panic attacks when forced to keep quiet over who shot and killed Joe Peeps, one of Sack’s goons. As always, familial loyalties are tested.
Elsewhere, Carmela takes steps to file for divorce now that she’s seeing A.J.’s school counselor. However, she can’t find a decent divorce lawyer since Tony has already consulted with the best ones around. Tony also gives Meadow’s boyfriend Finn (Will Janowitz) a job at the Esplanade so he doesn’t have to return to California.
Marco Polo (Episode 8) 8.8/10
Carmela’s surprise 75th birthday party for her dad leads to a deeper familial rift. Carmela’s mother doesn’t think Tony should attend, but her father won’t show up unless Tony does. Somehow, this draws Tony and Carmela closer than they’ve been in months.
Meanwhile, Blundetto is starting to peel off the rust. After declining to help whack one of Johnny Sack’s hookers, circumstances lead to a change in heart. Unfortunately, collateral damage puts all involved in hot water.
All Due Respect (Episode 13) 9.2/10
In the final frame of season five, Tony realizes he must take action in his own hands in order to preserve his thriving family business. He knows that, despite Phil Leotardo’s inevitable revenge, he must get rid of cousin Tony once and for all.
Once the deed is done, The Soprano family hopes to happily unite with the Sack crew in New York. However, a peacemaking effort is thwarted by some uninvited guests. At home, A.J. improves his attitude and begins behaving much better than he has all season.
Irregular Around The Margins (Episode 5) 9.2/10
It’s not often that an episode this early in a Sopranos season ranks this high. But season 5 is an outlier in many ways, including its superb fifth frame.
Most of the drama revolves around Tony’s sexual desire for Adriana after the two spend time together in Christopher’s absence. A car crash draws them closer, but Tony does all he can to resist his carnal urges. This prompts Tony to restart therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi. Meanwhile, Tony Blundetto helps smooth things over when Christopher finds out.
Long Term Parking (Episode 12) 9.6/10
Long Term Parking is not only the highest-rated episode of season five but according to IMDb, it’s also the second-highest rated chapter of the entire series behind only Pine Barrens.
The penultimate episode concerns Tony’s need to whack his favorite cousin, Tony Blundetto. To do so, he first needs permission from Johnny Sack, who insists that Phil gets the first crack at Blundetto. Meanwhile, Adriana is told by the FBI that she must get Chris to flip or else she’ll face arrest. She relays the info to Chris, who has no clue how to proceed.