Sopranos ‘Pine Barrens’ Mystery Solved; And It’s The 20th Anniversary
On May 6th, 2001 one of the most memorable Sopranos episodes aired on HBO. It featured our backyard, the Pine Barrens, and an incredible scenario. It also left many wondering, 'what happened to the Russian?' I know and I'll share.
Do you recall this episode from season 3? Let me refresh your memory. It centered, largely, around the fellas pictured above. Paulie (Tony Sirico) and Chris (Michael Imperioli) get into a fight with Valery, a Russian mobster, and subsequently, take him to the Pine Barrens to dispose of his body. While there, dark humor ensues.
The highlights include:
- Valery turns out to be alive.
- Valery yelling profane and funny things at Paulie and Chris. Too bad they don't know what he's saying.
- While Valery is digging his own ditch, he hits Paulie and Chris, knocking them down, and runs away.
- Paulie calls Tony (multiple times) and poor reception creates poor communication and funny lines.
- Paulie loses one of his shows in the snow while trying to find Valery. Paulie pieces together some cloth as a makeshift shoe. It doesn't work. He shoots the shoe.
- Paulie and Chri get lost, disoriented, hungry, and angry resulting in walking around the snow-filled forest for hours and including a fight where Chris pulls a gun on Paulie.
Let's get back to the big mystery. Valery disappeared and was never seen or heard from again, at least on the show. Did he die? Did he live? Did he ever get revenge on Paulie or Chris in any way? He had promised to kill them both. Well, the show's creator David Chase has put an end to the mystery.
In an interview here, he says Valery "collapsed and was found by some boy scouts. And they got in touch with his, somehow he was carrying a piece of ID that led them back to his boss Slava, the Russian guy. He was put in a hospital and had massive brain trauma and was sent back to Russia." So, he didn't pull a Rambo in the woods or go on to become a commando or exact revenge. Still, very interesting to me.
Steve Buscemi directed the episode and shared some great insights on it here. The Sopranos, one of the best shows of all time.