Join the Club

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"Join the Club"
The Sopranos episode
Sopranos602.jpg
Carmela sits by her comatose husband Tony's side in the hospital and talks to him.
Episode no.Season 6
Episode 2
Directed byDavid Nutter
Written byDavid Chase
Cinematography byAlik Sakharov
Editing byWilliam B. Stich
Production code602
Original air dateMarch 19, 2006 (2006-03-19)
Running time54 minutes
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Members Only"
Next →
"Mayham"
The Sopranos (season 6)
List of The Sopranos episodes

"Join the Club" is the 67th episode overall and the second episode of the sixth season of the HBO television drama series The Sopranos. Written by series creator/executive producer David Chase and directed by David Nutter, it premiered on March 19, 2006 in the United States.[1][2][3][4]

Starring[edit]

* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Synopsis[edit]

Two days after being shot by Junior, Tony remains in an induced coma. Doctors explain that the gunshot has caused several injuries, including severe sepsis, and encourage Carmela and others to talk to him and play him music in the hopes of a recovery. However, they also warn that he could die or be left with brain damage. Carmela, Christopher, Meadow and Barbara keep a vigil over Tony, while Janice starts sobbing uncontrollably whenever she sees him.

A confused Junior is held in custody and denies that he shot his nephew. During Eugene's funeral, an impromptu meeting of the DiMeo family is held and Silvio assumes Tony's responsibilities as acting boss. They decide to cut Junior off from the family, making Tony the official boss. They also trade differing theories for why Eugene committed suicide. Chris, Paulie, and Vito vie for small opportunities to assist Tony's family during the crisis, such as sending presents to his room and bickering over giving a ride home to A.J. Chris, now driving Johnny's Maserati Coupé, again runs into FBI Agents Harris and Goddard at Satriale's. They sound him out about passing on any information he might hear about terrorist activities.

Alone with Tony, Carmela passionately expresses her love for him. Meadow reads him an English translation of the poem Pater Noster by Jacques Prévert. Meanwhile, A.J. becomes increasingly withdrawn and avoids Tony's hospital room, claiming to have a stomach flu. He admits to Meadow that he is embarrassed and angry by the actions of his family. He finally gathers enough courage to talk to his comatose father once the two are alone. Before leaving, A.J. emotionally vows to kill Junior. Afterwards, he admits to Carmela that he flunked junior college. She looks at him in stunned disbelief but holds in her anger and sends him away.

At the Bada Bing, Chris talks briefly with two Middle Eastern men, who are now regulars there.

Tony's coma[edit]

While he is in a coma, Tony has a long dream-like experience that is woven throughout the episode. Tony awakens as an ordinary precision optics salesman inside a hotel room in Costa Mesa, California, missing his New Jersey accent. That night, he notices a strange light that glows on the horizon as he looks out the window and he also goes to the hotel's bar, where he notices a TV showing a brush fire in Costa Mesa; The next morning he goes to a convention and is asked for ID to gain admittance. Unfortunately, Tony has someone else's wallet and briefcase: one belonging to 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 invites 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 shows 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 dream resumes when he is placed in another coma. 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, leaving Tony shocked at the violence. The next morning, the hotel elevator is out of order, so Tony takes the stairs. As he is walking down, he slips and falls; when brought to an emergency room, the doctor tells Tony that aside from having a minor concussion, his CT scan shows some dark spots on his brain, caused by 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, while the beacon of light flashes on the horizon.[5]

First appearances[edit]

  • Ahmed and Muhammad: Muslim associates of Christopher Moltisanti who hang out at the Bada Bing.

Title reference[edit]

  • In Tony's dream, when Tony tells the businessmen at the bar that he is 46 years old and does not know where "[he] is going", Lee (the woman from the business group) tells Tony to "join the club."
  • Tony tried to join a convention in his dream, but could not.
  • A.J. has difficulties joining the ranks of relatives who watch over Tony.

Production[edit]

  • 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.
  • James Gandolfini uses his real-life voice in his comatose dream instead of Tony Soprano's strong Jersey accent.
  • 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.
  • 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.[6] 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".
  • The name "Kevin Finnerty," when spoken aloud, contains a rough approximation of "infinity."
  • This is the only episode of the series directed by David Nutter and the eighth of nine episodes for which David Chase receives an individual writing credit.

References to prior episodes[edit]

  • 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".

Other cultural references[edit]

  • Vito says Junior "Marvin Gayed" his nephew, a reference to the murder of the singer Marvin Gaye by his own father.
  • As a comment on A.J.'s long hair, Paulie Walnuts addresses him as "Van Helsing", (a reference to the vampire hunter in the 2004 film) and Rosalie Aprile greets him as "Fabio" (the model and advertising spokesperson of the '80s and '90s). Previously, Ralphie referred to Jackie Jr the same way.
  • A.J., who said he had stomach flu, angrily tells Meadow he took some Pepto-Bismol when she looks at him filling his plate at lunch.
  • Policemen tell Carmela they have to ask her about Tony's knowledge of the John Kennedy Assassination, after Junior mentioned some details about it to them.
  • When Christopher meets the FBI agents at the store, he says "Oh, Sheriff of Nottingham, my kingdom for a mortadell." This is a reference, first to the legend of Robin Hood, then to William Shakespeare's play Richard III, when, after Richard is unhorsed in the midst of battle, he desperately cries out "A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!"

Music[edit]

Reception[edit]

"Join the Club" was watched by 9.18 million American viewers on its premiere date.[7]

Since its premiere, "Join the Club" has frequently been singled out by critics as one of the best episodes of the series. Edie Falco's performance was highly praised.[1][2][3][4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Poniewozik, James (2007-04-04). "Full List - The Sopranos - TIME". TIME. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  2. ^ a b Sepinwall, Alan (2007-06-06). "The Sopranos' Top 10 hits". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  3. ^ a b Cullin, Liam. "The Sopranos (The Complete Series) DVD / Blu-ray Review". Empire Movies. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  4. ^ a b Meaney, Patrick (2007-06-07). "The Sopranos: The Top Ten Episodes". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  5. ^ "Episode guide - Episode 67 - "Join The Club"". HBO. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  6. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (2006-03-20). "Tony checks into the Hotel California". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  7. ^ Kiley, David (2006-04-06). "Sopranos Ratings Slide Exposes Flaws in Ratings System". Business Week. Retrieved 2009-08-10.

External links[edit]