The Sopranos ended over 15 years ago, and while few HBO series have been able to match its success and legacy, it wasn’t exempt from mistakes, as seen with its worst-rated episode. While not every episode has aged well and not every season was a fan favorite, The Sopranos is unquestionably the feather in the cap of David Chase’s epic career, and set the precedent for similar character-driven anti-hero series that followed, including Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and Ozark.
That said, like any long-running series, The Sopranos had its up and downs during its run, and while all episodes rank high on every media aggregate site, there are a few that were disappointments. Generally, these are the episodes that had clumsy or loose storylines that are either not interesting or just plain don’t make sense, and “Christopher” fits the bill. Written by Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti), going by the title, one would think the season 4 episode would be about him, but instead, it’s about Christopher Columbus. With a 7.8 on IMDb, it ranks as The Sopranos‘ lowest-scoring and least important episode, but it’s hard to pin down where exactly it all goes wrong.
Why “Christopher” Is Considered The Worst Sopranos Episode
The Sopranos focus in this episode is on an upcoming Columbus Day Parade, a holiday honoring a figure celebrated by some Italian Americans as a symbol of Italian resilience during immigration to the country. However, Columbus is now recognized as a controversial part of colonial history, which Imperioli, for whatever reason, decided to tackle in this episode. The storyline, among other things, follows the Soprano gangster family as they catch wind of a protest organized by Native Americans against the annual parade, to which a few, in particular Silvio Dante, take particular offense. Silvio learns about the protest through Bobby Bacala reading the newspaper and the whole scene feels expository and shoehorned in merely as a way to bring up the subject.
The plot then meanders around different topics focused on Italian American identity and stereotypes, and Cifaretto decides to confront the spokesman of the protest, Professor Del Redclay, threatening him if he doesn’t cancel the event. The only other Native Americans shown in the episode are aggressive protest stereotypes and a Chief who owns a casino. By the end of the Sopranos episode, Tony (James Gandolfini) ties it all up into an awkward bow by giving Silvio a stern paternal lecture about heritage and accomplishments, and it’s all quite bewildering.
The Other Sopranos Episodes Written By Michael Imperioli Were Much Better
“Christopher” is one of five Sopranos episodes written by Michael Imperioli, and thankfully, the others are much better, a few considered some of the best Sopranos episodes ever. Contributing an episode a season from seasons 2 through 5, the others all rank at 8.1 and above, proving that this was just a misstep from the otherwise acclaimed actor/writer/producer. The central issue with “Christopher” is that it leaves the audience unsure about its point and wondering if it’s in Tony’s sage words to Silvio, in that his accomplishments had nothing to do with his heritage and everything to do with his intelligence, so he shouldn’t put so much weight on where he comes from. If there was something the audience was supposed to draw from this, it’s unclear, as this goes against the central themes of the series.
Again, before suggesting that the episode is just plain bad, one has to remember that it still ranks very high in an all-around celebrated series with few episodes to criticize, but it’s precisely because The Sopranos is nearly untouchable and the bar is set so high that “Christopher” stands out as an outlier that doesn’t really fit in the series as a whole. While the bones are there for a solid discussion around some heavy topics, it just doesn’t feel right and Imperioli’s motives are unclear. It isn’t an episode that’s really about any one character or any one thing and leaves most viewers feeling confused.