While TV fans still discuss and debate the series finale of The Sopranos, the season 1 finale is also captivating and intense. The popular TV drama aired for six seasons from 1999 to 2007 on HBO and featured a talented cast, including the late James Gandolfini. The actor made sure that Tony Soprano, a mobster who truly loves his family, was equal parts tough and emotional, and his performance made for many moving moments.
The Sopranos season 1 ending is as shocking as the rest of the episodes as Tony gets deeper and deeper into his life of crime. The Sopranos season 1 finale is a well-crafted hour of television that is as gripping today as it was when it aired.
What Happens In The Sopranos Season 1?
From Tony Soprano’s most iconic quotes to his general demeanor, there are many reasons why James Gandolfini’s character is considered one of the greatest TV characters. The Sopranos season 1 follows Tony, who works for Giacomo Jackie Aprile and is the “acting underboss.” When season 2 premieres, Tony becomes the street boss.
The pilot, called “The Sopranos,” introduces Tony and the dynamic that he has with his family members. Season 1 is set in 1998 New Jersey and he begins talking to Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) because he keeps having panic attacks. There is a particularly moving scene in this episode where Tony is upset that ducklings have left his pool. He figures out that he wants to keep his family around forever and that is why he has become so distraught over this.
Breaking Bad fans looking for similar TV shows will enjoy The Sopranos if they haven’t seen it because both TV dramas feature main characters trying to balance a life of crime with their personal lives. Tony has a particularly intense journey in season 1 as he tries to cope with his anxiety. The Sopranos deserves praise for telling a careful and respectful story about a character’s mental health struggles.
Tony has trouble with his mom, Livia (Nancy Marchand), and it doesn’t help matters that his Uncle Junior doesn’t like how well Tony is doing as a member of the New Jersey mob. Tony is also having a hard time with the fact that Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), his high school-aged daughter, and his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) aren’t getting along.
The Sopranos season 1 sees Tony and his family in dire situations. Like the best TV dramas of the 20th century, every episode of The Sopranos is gripping and features strong character development. Even the characters who are up to no good have some layers to them, which is what sets this show apart. While it seems like Tony is figuring out a way to balance being a family man with the mob, as he watches Meadow sing in her school choir, he is always on the verge of being attacked or worse. From his son Anthony (Robert Iler) wreaking havoc to his daughter Meadow is using drugs, no one in the family is doing well. Episode 12, “Isabella,” is particularly scary to watch. After hitmen have been ordered to kill Tony, his therapist realizes that he thought that he met a young woman, Isabella, but this was a vision that he had because of the lithium he has been taking.
How Does The Sopranos Season 1 End?
While The Sopranos series finale is still talked about today and David Chase talked about what happened to Tony in a 2021 interview, The Sopranos season 1 ending is just as compelling and memorable.
In episode 13 of season 1 of The Sopranos, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano,” Tony has a tough session with Dr. Melfi who says that Livia has borderline personality disorder and is a negative, toxic figure in his life. He refuses to hear this and swears at her before leaving. Later on in the episode, Tony tells his therapist that people in his mob world know about her and that they are upset that he is sharing detailed information and secrets. He lets her know that she won’t be safe anymore.
Tony almost kills his mother Livia, which is one of the most devastating scenes of The Sopranos season 1. When he realizes that she suffered a stroke, he tells her that he is aware of the fact that she tried to have him killed. While some TV dramas have bad pilot episodes, the pilot of The Sopranos is great, and the season 1 finale lived up to the high expectations that viewers had. This confrontation between Tony and his mother is perfectly shocking and moving.
Another main storyline of The Sopranos season 1 finale revolves around the murder of Jimmy Altieri (Joe Badalucco). Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) kills Jimmy when Uncle Junior and Tony realize he has been spying on them on behalf of the FBI. It becomes clear that Tony is in danger and that his mom and uncle both want him dead, which is of course terrifying for him to realize. After Tony survives this, Junior is arrested along with the men who work for him because of stock fraud. Junior finally shows Tony that he cares about him when he is given the opportunity to say that Toby is the crime boss, which would change the charge against him. He says no.
In the final scene of The Sopranos season 1 ending, Tony eats at the restaurant that Artie runs with his family members. In one of the most famous moments from the entire series, Tony holds up his wine glass and says “to the little moments that were good.” Unlike TV dramas with bad first seasons, The Sopranos season 1 is intense, dark, and emotional. Watching Tony Soprano cope with anxiety and wanting to be the best dad and husband he can be while balancing his criminal desires is still entertaining, all these years later.