What you gonna do? It's hard to narrow down the highlights of James Gandolfini's indelible performance as Tony Soprano from all 86 episodes, but here are a few of the more memorable. RIP, T.
Let's start with the end, a final Sopranos supper, in David Chase's controversial cut-to-black season finale. Tony walks into a diner, puts Journey's Don't Stop Believin' on the jukebox, clocks a few potentially dodgy characters. A minimal exchange with Carmela. Tony wincing as she gives him a little too much information about Meadow's birth control. The kids show up; Meadow's comically bad parking; Anthony Jr still in a sulk.
"Are you trying to get me to lose my temper? Because I'm about to put you through that goddam window." Parenting was a skill that came slowly to Tony.
"The picture moved me." One of many odder encounters with Paulie as Tony discovers the retouched portrait hanging on his living room wall, affording chez Walnuts a "modern look".
"Carmela, who the fuck did you think I was when you married me?" One of the many great two-handers between Edie Falco and Gandolfini, this argument manages to condense so much of the balance of power in Carmela and Tony's relationship, as they argue over money, the "deal", the strippers, the cocktail waitresses and Furio – with Tony punching a hole in the kitchen.
"Mahatma Gandhi over here?" Tony sits down to some eggplant with Janice and Bobby's family, and can't resist the urge to test her new-found anger-management skills.
One of the goofier dream sequences floating in Tony's much-explored subconscious, as a talking fish alerts him to Big Pussy's betrayal.
"I heard the tapes ma." Tony's complicated mother issues explode as she's wheeled through a hospital.
"Are you in the mafia?" While on a tour of potential colleges, Tony tries to convince Meadow that his waste management business is legit. Mostly.
"$40 for a piece of fish they just flew in first class?" So many of Tony's scenes involved food, prowling in the kitchen and his big fridge, bullying Artie Bucco in his restaurant, settling scores over a big family sitdown. Here he's scarfing down maki rolls with his hands, while trying to get Carm to stop talking about Adriana's disappearance.
Tony does his bit for the war on terror.
"This Departed soundtrack is fucking killer." Of all Tony's "personal" murders (Big Pussy, Tony Blundetto and Ralph Cifaretto), it's Christopher's sudden demise that's still one of the show's shockers. There's a car accident, Christopher's seriously injured and knows he won't pass a drug test: he's still using the heroin he promised he'd given up. Tony calmly smothers him. "Life's too short," indeed.
"Bingo." Another joy of the show was of course the back and forth between Tony and Dr Melfi, her calm, measured tone a match for his rage, confusion and unease at discussing the feelings opened up by her "psychiatry shit". Here in one of their lighter encounters, it's hard not to think it's Lorraine Bracco cracking up for real as Gandolfini delivers the line "I don't even let anybody wag their finger in my face" when she suggests a prostate examination.
Tony's first panic attack, triggered by the ducks leaving his swimming pool, one of the first indications that the show was going to be so much more than just the story of a mob boss.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk