If there’s anything positive to come out of the tragic and untimely death of James Gandolfini, it’s the whole new generation of TV fans that will start watching The Sopranos
It’s been called the greatest TV show ever, and the hyperbole is justified – even 6 years after its end, it’s still a leviathan of popular culture. But aside from the incredible acting, writing and directing, it’s the steady stream of gruesome killing that really defines the show. Cruel, gritty, and sometimes funny, we’ve compiled a list of the show’s best ‘whacks’ for your viewing disgust.
The First Whack
Poor Emil Kolar – rival of the Sopranos in the New Jersey waste management business – has the dubious honour of being the first to to be killed in the whole series. Things definitely start as they mean to go on – a shot to the back of the head, a blood-spattered pile of cocaine, all under the watchful eyes of legendary movie mobsters. The judgmental stare of a severed pig’s head at the end tops everything off nicely.
Whack Factor – 7/10
The Toyshop Whack
The scene begins with two loveable Italian American stereotypes waxing lyrical about their favourite trains. It ends with a ruined trainset, screaming kids and a fat gangster with 18 bullets in him. An unexceptional whack on paper, but the plummeting toy train and horrified model passengers make this a stand-out killing.
Whack Factor – 8/10
The Revenge Whack
Although not strictly a whack, this one makes the list simply due to how satisfying it is. Richie Aprile, a senior member of the Soprano crime family, was consistently one of the show’s most ruthless, greedy and cruel characters. When he gets a bullet to the head at the hands of his fiancee, it’s more satisfying than finding a tenner in an old jacket. The fact that we’re actually cheering Janice on in this scene – herself overwhelmingly treacherous and stupid – stands as testament to how great the whack is.
Whack Factor – 6/10
The Matrix Whack
Gerry’s writhing body and the back-of-the-head coup de grâce is classic Sopranos, but it’s the fancy editing that makes this whack stand out. Even though it’s a fairly standard Sopranos killing – although slightly more brutal than usual – the Matrix-style slo-mo makes this whack one to remember.
Whack Factor – 9/10
It’s the most iconic finale since… well, ever. The smash cut to a silent black screen has gone down as one of the ballsiest pieces of screenwriting in TV history, and it’s been prompting questions from Sopranos obsessives ever since. But the most obvious question is – does Tony even get killed?
Is the shooter the guy in the Members Only jacket? What’s the significance of the song? Is Dom dreaming at the end of Inception? ROSEBUD IS THE SLED! There’s no blood, gunfire or screaming in this scene, but the best whacks are left to the imagination.
Whack factor – 10/10. Or possibly 0/10, depending on your interpretation.