It's wrong, in a way, to include this most un-Sopranos-like of Sopranos episodes; in a series that unfolds like a novel, "Pine Barrens" is a distinctly self-contained short story. Paulie Walnuts and Christopher go to make a routine collection, from a Russian named Valery, which goes awry, ending with the Russian in the trunk of Paulie's car. When they try to dispose of his body in the snowy Jersey woods, they find he's still aliveand as a former commando, far better off in the Siberian conditions than they are. The pursuit turns into a brilliant comedy of violence and bonding moment. The episode (directed by later guest Steve Buscemi) has taken on a life of its own among fans, to the possible annoyance of the show's writers, who have said repeatedly: The Russian is not coming back peopleget over it! Dosvedanya, Valery.
(Directed by Steve Buscemi; teleplay by Terence Winter, story by Tim Van Patten & Terence Winter)
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