Join the Club
|"Join the Club"|
|The Sopranos episode|
Carmela sits by her comatose husband Tony's side in the hospital and talks to him.
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||David Nutter|
|Written by||David Chase|
|Cinematography by||Alik Sakharov|
|Editing by||William B. Stich|
|Original air date||March 19, 2006|
|Running time||54 minutes|
"Join the Club" is the second episode of the sixth season and sixty-seventh episode overall of the HBO television drama series The Sopranos, which premiered on March 19, 2006 in the United States. It was written by series creator/executive producer David Chase and directed by David Nutter.
The episode's narrative details the aftermath of the shooting of series protagonist Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) by his uncle Corrado "Junior" Soprano (Dominic Chianese). Tony, now in a comatose state and hospitalized, has a dream-like experience in which he envisions himself as a travelling salesman not involved with the Mafia. Meanwhile, Tony's family and associates adjust to the possibility of Tony not coming out of his coma, with Tony's wife Carmela (Edie Falco) struggling with the situation.
Most interior hospital scenes of the episode were filmed at the North Hollywood Medical Center, Los Angeles, with additional exterior and interior scenes filmed at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark. "Join the Club" is the only episode of the series directed by Nutter and the eighth of nine episodes for which Chase receives an individual writing credit. It attracted 9.18 million American viewers and was generally well-received critically, with particular praise directed at Falco's performance in the episode. Since its premiere, the episode has frequently been cited by critics as one of the best of the series. It received two award nominations for directing.
- James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
- Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi *
- Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano
- Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti
- Dominic Chianese as Corrado Soprano, Jr.
- Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante
- Tony Sirico as Paulie Gualtieri
- Robert Iler as Anthony Soprano, Jr.
- Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano
- Aida Turturro as Janice Soprano
- Steven R. Schirripa as Bobby Baccalieri
- Joseph R. Gannascoli as Vito Spatafore
- Dan Grimaldi as Patsy Parisi
* = credit only
Guest starring 
- Jerry Adler as Hesh Rabkin
- Sharon Angela as Rosalie Aprile
- Ho Chow as Monk
- Tony Darrow as Larry Barese
- Danielle Di Vecchio as Barbara Soprano Giglione
- Robert Funaro as Eugene Pontecorvo
- Will Janowitz as Finn DeTrolio
- Michael Kelly as Ron Goddard
- Sheila Kelley as Lee
- C.S. Lee as Dr. Ba
- Ron Leibman as Dr. Lior Plepler
- Arthur J. Nascarella as Carlo Gervasi
- Henry O as Monk
- Matt Servitto as Dwight Harris
- Maureen Van Zandt as Gabriella Dante
Tony is in critical condition, two days after being shot by Uncle Junior. The attending physicians in the ICU sedate Tony into an induced coma after he awakes and rips out his breathing tube. Several doctors comment on the complications of Tony's gunshot wound, the most dangerous of which is severe sepsis, and they encourage Carmela and others to talk to him and play him music he enjoys in the hopes of a recovery. However, they also warn his family members of the "obviously negative outcome", as well as the prospects of brain damage. Carmela asks the doctor if Tony is "aware that he's dying." A vigil of Tony's family members and business associates have assembled in the ICU. A distraught Carmela, Christopher Moltisanti, and Meadow sleep in the hospital.
Uncle Junior is being held in custody and is questioned about the shooting. He is confused about the situation, hostile towards his interrogator and does not remember that he has a new lawyer, replacing Harold Melvoin, who Junior dismissed after his stroke. He denies that he shot his nephew and insists that if Tony was shot it must have been self-inflicted, because he is "a depression case."
During the funeral wake of the late soldier Eugene Pontecorvo, who committed suicide by hanging in the previous episode, Members Only, an impromptu meeting of the family is held and Silvio Dante assumes Tony's responsibilities as acting Boss. The meeting also reveals that, while most of the group is loyal to the incapacitated Tony, some are unsympathetically furious at Junior, and others are suspicious of why Bobby—traditionally Junior's de facto caretaker—was not in the house that night. Ultimately, they decide on officially banishing Junior from the family and cutting off all contact with him, making Tony the official Boss of the DiMeo Crime Family. Vito makes a bid to take over Eugene's sportsbook responsibilities, and later, suggests to Janice that perhaps Eugene had been a self-loathing homosexual who had no one to talk to, which causes Janice to roll her eyes (the second reference in the episode to Vito's past, the first being his excitement about driving A.J.).
Meanwhile, A.J. acts curiously aloof, avoiding Tony's room, and shirking his familial and school responsibilities. To the chagrin of Carmela, he talks to a reporter just outside the hospital, but later curses the ones camped outside the Soprano home; he forgets to bring requested items to the hospital to assist in Tony's recovery. A questionable stomach flu excuses him from a night shift at the hospital and he is flippantly preoccupied with cars. A.J.'s unforthcoming behavior to his father's condition worries Carmela, who voices her concerns to Rosalie Aprile. With the death of her own wayward son Jackie Aprile, Jr., Rosalie advises Carmela to engage in stricter parenting with A.J. In addition to the normal worries for her son, however, Carmela fears that A.J.'s deep esteem for his father is the source of his aloofness.
A.J. admits to Meadow that he is embarrassed and angry by the actions of his family, especially Uncle Junior. A.J. finally concedes to his family's wishes to talk to his comatose father. Once the two are alone (and after casually talking about cars), A.J. vows to avenge his father by putting a bullet in Uncle Junior's "fucking mummy head." Immediately afterwards, he admits to Carmela that he flunked junior college, after earning a 1.4 grade point average, his counselor told A.J. that it would be pointless to go back, Carmela looks at her son in disgust, and angrily says "with your father in a coma?".
Tony's coma 
While he is in a coma, Tony has a long dream-like experience that is woven throughout the episode. The experience begins with Tony's awaking in a hotel room at a Radisson Hotel in Costa Mesa, California. He is a mild-mannered precision optics salesman on a business trip, without his thick New Jersey accent. That night, he goes to the hotel's bar, where he notices a TV showing a brush fire in Costa Mesa; he also notices a strange light that glows on the horizon as he looks out the window. The next morning he goes to a convention and is asked for ID to gain admittance. But Tony has someone else's wallet and briefcase, a man named Kevin Finnerty from Kingman, Arizona, to whom he bears a resemblance. Tony says that he must have unintentionally picked up these items the previous evening at a bar across the street from his hotel. He returns to the bar, where a group of business travelers overhear him telling his story to the bartender (when asked what Costa Mesa is like, the bartender replies, "Around here, it's dead"). The group invite Tony to join them for dinner, during which he discusses his 'life' in more detail, alluding to a midlife crisis by saying, "I mean, who am I? Where am I going?" As he and his group leave, Tony notices a commercial on TV, which displayed the question, "Are sin, disease and death real?", followed by the Cross. After dinner, outside the hotel, Tony makes a pass at a woman from the group. She responds at first but then cuts him off. She tells him she saw his face when he got off the phone with his wife (whose voice is not Carmela's). Suddenly, a helicopter spotlight shines on the pair, to which the woman says, "They must be looking for a perp". It is here that Tony awakens from his original coma, and rips out his breathing tube. He is moaning "Who am I? Where am I going?" (The latter phrase perhaps being both a reference to his life in both the dream and waking life, and his afterlife).
The dream resumes when he is placed in another coma, as he checks into a different hotel, the Omni, under Finnerty's name. Two Buddhist monks overhear him checking in and, thinking he is Finnerty, accost him saying they had a horrible winter at the monastery because of Finnerty's faulty heating system. Tony tells them that he's not Finnerty, which makes the monks angry; they scuffle briefly and the monks flee. The next morning, the hotel elevator is out of order, so Tony takes the stairs. As he is walking down the stairs, he slips and falls; in the emergency room, the doctor tells Tony that aside from having a minor concussion, his CT scan shows some dark spots on his brain, which indicate lack of oxygen. The doctor states that this indicates early stages of Alzheimer's disease. When the doctor leaves him at his bed, Tony is seen saying, "I'm lost", to himself. After he returns to his hotel room, Tony picks up the phone, but hangs up before dialing.
Title reference 
- In Tony's dream, Lee (the woman from the business group at the bar) tells Tony to "join the club".
- This episode's title promotes continuity with the previous episode, "Members Only".
- The exterior of the hospital is actually Fenster Hall at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
- The interior of the hospital lunch room is actually "The Highlander Club" (formerly called "The Pub") inside the Campus Center at NJIT.
- The interior of the hospital is the same hospital from the TV show Scrubs.
- In the hotel Tony checks into, under Finnerty's name, he is given a room on the 7th floor. This may be a reference to the seven terraces of Purgatory in Dante's Purgatorio. When Tony falls in the stairwell he lands on the 5th floor, which is where the avaricious or greedy are banished.
- The credits do not mention the actress providing the voice of Tony's wife in his dream, though the writers have stated the voice is of a generic New Jersey actress and not intended to be anyone previously featured on the series. On the A&E syndication rebroadcast, the voice is credited on the closed captioning as 'Carmela's voice'.
- This episode was shown at the season's premiere party instead of the first installment, "Members Only".
References to prior episodes 
- Carmela tells Tony that she regrets telling him that he would go to Hell when he dies. This occurred in the pilot episode.
- Lee is curious how Tony made the jump from selling patio furniture to precision optics. Tony mentioned selling patio furniture on Route 22 as an alternative life during a conversation with Meadow in the season one episode "College", and in a therapy session with Dr. Melfi in season 1.
- When Vito Spatafore talks about Eugene Pontecorvo's suicide, he notes that perhaps Eugene killed himself because of closeted homosexuality. This is a reference to Vito's own homosexuality, which was exposed in the season five episode "Unidentified Black Males".
- The song Carmela says was playing in Tony's car an entire weekend at Long Beach Island is "American Girl" by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
- The song playing at the end of the episode, where Tony returns to his hotel room and picks up the phone but ceases dialing, is Moby's "When It's Cold I'd Like to Die" with vocals by Mimi Goese.
- The song playing in Bada Bing is "Spitfire" by The Prodigy.
- The song Carmela plays for Tony in the hospital first is "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple. This was the same song played in the series' second season premiere, "Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist's Office...", in a scene where Tony crashed his car into a barricade.
"Join the Club" was watched by 9.18 million American viewers on its premiere date.
- Poniewozik, James (2007-04-04). "Full List - The Sopranos - TIME". TIME. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Sepinwall, Alan (2007-06-06). "The Sopranos' Top 10 hits". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Cullin, Liam. "The Sopranos (The Complete Series) DVD / Blu-ray Review". Empire Movies. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Meaney, Patrick (2007-06-07). "The Sopranos: The Top Ten Episodes". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Episode guide - Episode 67 - "Join The Club"". HBO. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- Sepinwall, Alan (2006-03-20). "Tony checks into the Hotel California". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
- Kiley, David (2006-04-06). "Sopranos Ratings Slide Exposes Flaws in Ratings System". Business Week. Retrieved 2009-08-10.