9. All Due Respect
If The Test Dream was an experimental episode of The Sopranos, then All Due Respect is a fairly straight-forward offering by the show’s standards. It ultimately boils down to Tony having to make a crucial decision - his cousin Tony Blundetto’s foolhardy actions have led to the psychotic Phil Leotardo demanding retribution for his brother’s death. It’s up to Tony to choose between letting his beloved cousin live, or risking a bloody, unwinnable war with New York.
A major theme of the show’s fifth season was that old adage - it's lonely at the top. As the season finale, All Due Respect highlights just how isolated Tony Soprano has become. In a comical scene, his old ally Paulie complains how he “never comes round no more.” He has no choice to reconcile with Carmela because every other woman he truly wants (particularly Dr Melfi) has seen through his sh*t. When Tony finally blows his cousin’s face off, he kills the one friend that he could relate with on a human level, and didn’t just suck up to him because he was the boss.
The final scenes are fitting, with Tony fleeing from the FBI alone, like a wounded bear, through the icy forests of New Jersey. After being kicked out of his house at the beginning of the season, he ends it with his wife welcoming him back inside. He has come full circle, yet we know how much it has cost him just to get back to where he started. All Due Respect ties up an excellent run of episodes, while at the same time craftily setting the stage for the show’s apocalyptic final season.