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 by David Nutter
Written by David Chase
Cinematography by Alik Sakharov
Editing by William B. Stich
Production code 602
Original air date March 19, 2006 (2006-03-19)
Running time 54 minutes
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Members Only"
Next →
"Mayham"
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.

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's 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[1][2][3][4] as one of the best of the series. It received two award nominations for directing.

Starring[edit]

* = credit only

Guest starring[edit]

Also guest starring[edit]

Episode recap[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 her brother. A confused Junior is held in custody and denies that he shot his nephew, insisting that Tony must have shot himself because he is "a depression case." 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.

During Eugene's funeral, an impromptu meeting of the DiMeo family is held and Silvio assumes Tony's responsibilities as acting boss. Vito questions why Bobby—traditionally Junior's de facto caretaker—was not in Junior's house when Tony was shot, and suggests killing Junior altogether. Ultimately, they decide on cutting Junior off from the family, making Tony the official boss. They also trade differing theories for why Eugene committed suicide. Meanwhile, A.J. becomes increasingly withdrawn and avoids Tony's hospital room, claiming to have a stomach flu. Rosalie Aprile, citing her experience with her own son, advises Carmela to be more strict with her son. A.J. 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, though, 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.

Chris, now driving Johnny's Maserati Coupé, again runs into FBI Agents Harris and Goddard at Satriale's. The two ask him to provide them with any information regarding terrorist activities. At the Bada Bing, Chris is seen talking with two Middle Eastern men, but he chooses not to go into discussing his crime family's matters with them.

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 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 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, 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 the stairs, 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, 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, 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 lost his ID and briefcase with "[his] whole life in it" and was not let in.
  • A.J. has difficulties joining the ranks of relatives who have visited Tony in his hospital room.

Production[edit]

  • The exterior of the hospital is actually Fenster Hall at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
  • James Gandolfini uses his real-life voice while in his comatose dream instead of the Jersey accent he puts on every other episode.
  • 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."
  • The view from Tony's hotel room in the opening scene is from the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel (as noted in the closing credits). The view on Google Earth is approximately south from 33 degrees 41'19.08" N 117 degrees53'02.37" W elevation 62 ft. Eye altitude 264 ft. The distinctive white roof at 3201 Park Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 is visible in the foreground. The location of the flashing light is approximately at the end of the runway at the John Wayne Airport-Orange County 1.85 miles away at 164.49 degrees.
  • The view from Tony's hotel room in the closing scene is from the current Wyndham Irvine-Orange County Airport Hotel at 17941 Von Karman Ave. Irvine, CA 92614. Refer to Google Earth at 33 degrees 40'59.04" N 117 degrees 51'02.51" W elevation 77 ft eye alt 276 ft. It looks toward the former Balboa Capital building on the left and the former Taco Bell headquarters (currently Oracle) approximately looking north at 350 degrees. This is about 3.5 miles away from the first hotel (before he lost his wallet).

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".
  • Rosalie Aprile greets A.J. as "Fabio" (the model and advertising spokesperson of the '80s and '90s). Previously, Ralphie has referred to Jackie Jr the same way.

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 has 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 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.[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]