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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Sopranos" Join the Club (2006)

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62 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

not a's purgartory"

Author: tadmoore4-1 from United States
21 March 2006

Alan Sepinwall NJ Star Ledger

IT'S NOT a dream. It's Purgatory.

When I had my annual summit with "Sopranos" creator David Chase a few weeks ago, I complimented him on having the onions to put a major dream sequence like this so early in the season, considering how many fans complain about the dreams.

"I, frankly, would not call those (episode two scenes) dreams," he said, which sent me scurrying back to watch my DVD over and over again, until (with some help from my wife) I got it.

Here Tony's stuck in Orange County, quite possibly the most personality-free corner of the world, with no way to leave (a k a Purgatory). On one end of town is a shining beacon (Heaven), on the other, a raging forest fire (Hell). Over and over, he stops to assess the worth of his own life, asking, "Who am I? Where am I going?" Then he steals the identity (sin) of Kevin Finnerty -- a heating salesman who lives in one of the hottest states of the union (Arizona) -- checks into another hotel, and falls down a red staircase, at which point he learns he has Alzheimer's (eternal damnation). And while Carmela's busy in the real world telling him he's not going to Hell, Tony's in Purgatory debating whether to tell his wife this is exactly the fate he has in store.

It may be hair-splitting to call this something other than a dream, but Tony's misadventures in Costa Mesa were much more linear and coherent than his regular dreams have ever been. There were important details scribbled in the margins (the bartender joking, "Around here, it's dead," or the "Are sin, disease and death real?" commercial on the TV), but there was an actual story here instead of Tony bouncing from one surreal tableau to another.

Still, Chase followed last week's water-cooler cliffhanger with an 11-minute opening sequence set in a world that's not our own, with a Tony who wasn't quite right (it's startling to hear James Gandolfini's natural speaking voice), and only one split-second nod to the shooting (the brief flash of the doctor shining a light in Tony's eye mixed in with the chopper spotlight).

For years, most of "Sopranos" fandom has been divided into two intersecting sets: those who watch for the whacking and crude humor, and those who watch for the psychiatry and art-house storytelling. By putting the shooting right next to Tony's afterlife business trip, Chase is pushing his chips to the center of the table and telling the audience they had better go all in -- murder and therapy, flatulence jokes and metaphysics -- if they intend to stay at the table for this final season.

So will Tony ever get to check out of this hotel, and, if so, where will he end up? Again, I can't say, but if this season is going to be about a moral accounting for all of Tony's sins, then there's no better place to start.

Back in the physical world, give Edie Falco the Emmy right now. Just give it to her. Seriously. Do not pass Go, do not collect other nominations, just ship the statuette to her apartment today. There is no way any other actress on television is going to have two better scenes this year than Carmela's hallway breakdown and her monologue to Tony, scored perfectly to Tom Petty's "American Girl." And is there an Emmy category for Best Silent Hug? Because Michael Imperioli was pretty great when he put his arm around Carmela in the hallway. I know scenes where characters sob or give long speeches are stock award-show bait, but these performances went so far past showing off that I actually had to look away a few times out of a feeling I was spying on a private moment between real people.

Some other random notes: The song played at the end was Moby's "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die," with vocals by Mimi Goese.

The voice of Purgatory Tony's wife wasn't played by Annabella Sciorra, or any other actress who's been on the show before; she's just a generic non-Carmela female voice.

Boy, Janice's gift for making every moment of every day be all about her survives even her brother's shooting, huh? She shows up at the hospital, pretending she's there to help comfort Carmela, then immediately spazzes out so she's the center of attention. If I didn't know Janice so well from the last four seasons, I might have found her freak-out genuine, but this is Livia Soprano's daughter, people. And speaking of which...

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

a view from above

Author: bigs166 from United States
20 March 2006

in the second episode to the season the use of the dream sequence, to me, becomes a key element to how tony will react when/if he comes out of the coma. his voice inflection and the way he is carrying himself makes him feel more and more like just another part of the population, and the name Anthony soprano isn't internationally known, but just another shlub. if you listen closely to the lines in the dream sequence ("its dead around here"... "you could have broke your neck"..."their lookin for a perp") there are many more but after these are said the look on Tony's face suggests that he knows that something is wrong. one thing that no one is noticing is the light house in the background at 2 points. in the very beginning and in the very end of the episode. this will absolutely play a part in tony coming out of the coma, or going to the afterlife. the view from above (the helicopter) is them (doctors and family) peering down into Tony's mind trying to find him. he is living a life with another woman, a woman he truly loves and is not just married to. you can tell by the way he talks to her on the phone. i enjoyed this episode very much. i believe that the hospital scenes were meant to be boring and drawn out, this put more emphasis on the dream. watch it again and you'll notice a few things you didn't before

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Kev Infinity

Author: Max_cinefilo89 from Italy
20 May 2008

To call this episode brilliant feels like too little. To say it keeps up the excellent work of the season premiere is reductive too, 'cause there's never been a far-from-great Sopranos episode so far. In fact, the title might be a smug invitation for those who aren't real fans yet: Join the Club...

Picking up where Junior left off (putting a bullet in his nephew's gut after mistaking him for a crook he killed in the first season), the story begins with Tony being absolutely fine. With no recollection whatsoever of what happened to him, he's attending some kind of convention. Only he's not speaking with his normal accent, and there seems to be something wrong with his papers: apparently, he is not Tony Soprano but Kevin Finnerty, or at least that's what a group of people think, and until the mess is sorted out he can't leave his hotel.

Naturally, in pure Sopranos tradition, that turns out to be nothing but a dream: Tony is actually in a coma, with the doctors uncertain regarding his fate, his family and friends worried sick and Junior refusing to believe the whole thing actually happened. Unfortunately it did, and Anthony Jr. looks willing to avenge the attempt on his father's life.

Dreams have popped up rather frequently in the series, often as some kind of spiritual trial for the protagonists (most notably in the Season Five show The Test Dream). Join the Club, however, takes the metaphysical qualities of the program, already hinted at by the previous episode's use of a William S. Burroughs poem, and pushes the envelope in the most audacious way: Tony hallucinating about his dead friends (the first occurrence of the sort was caused by food poisoning, four seasons ago) is one thing, him actually being in what would appear to be Purgatory is radically different. The "heavenly" section of the story is crammed with allegorical significances, not least the name Tony is given (as one character points out, spelling it in a certain way will give you the word "infinity"), and none of it comes off as overblown or far-fetched: David Chase has created a piece of work that is far too intelligent to use weird set-ups just for their own sake; it all helps the narrative. Talking about "help from above" in the case of Tony Soprano might be stretching it a tad, though.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Perchance to Dream

Author: Brian Khorozian from Southern California
20 March 2006

While still leaving it's viewers without resolution concerning Tony and his inner struggle to find answers, the second episode of the season does do a good job of stripping away some layers superficiality in certain characters and revealing more of their human side in attempting to cope with this tragedy. I felt the dream sequence was a bit overly-emphasized, but it truly was the only way to portray any of the emotions that Tony may be feeling in his current state. Admittedly, it was quite intriguing to see Tony break character during the dream and become just another "average Joe" facing some of the common individual's daily dilemmas.

The hospital setting did become mundane at times, but was an absolute necessity in allowing the writers to bridge the gap between the incident in the first episode and the development of future plot lines throughout the season. The amount of foreshadowing used within this episode was again very pronounced as it was in the premiere, leaving the audience with a hint of what may lie ahead while no doubt setting the stage for more unexpected twists down the road. Overall, this episode certainly would not rank in the series' top-ten. But if you are an avid follower of the Sopranos as so many of us are, there is definitely sufficient reason to tune in.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

In the end we all will be humble like Tony is now

Author: broncoz71 from Ft Lauderdale, FL United States
23 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have often wondered what I will act like when I face the afterlife, and this Sopranos episode reminds me what all already knew. But I'm getting ahead of myself..let me explain. When the episode first started my wife and I thought, oh boy here comes a dream sequence. But unlike my wife, I immediately noticed the change in Tony Soprano's demeanor in the hotel. No ultra tough guy mob accent,Tony's voice is more reminiscent of a mild mannered salesman you pass 100 times a day while getting your morning coffee. He is calm, happy and polite even when someone throws an unsolicited wise crack at him when he is down, "Lexus/Infiniti". Where the normal Tony Soprano would have choked this man and spit in his face, Tony just looks back at the man with a blank stare. The fires burning out of control on the hotel televisions obviously represent hell, and the searchlight Tony looks at at night on the horizon that seems so far away is Heaven. Man I hope I am explaining my thoughts right, I'm not a great writer thats for sure, but this episode was so deep and attacks your subconscious. Yeah I love the action episodes too, and the T & A as much as the next fan..but this final season is like real life...As tough as you are, or pretended to be in life it all will one day end and you will be standing at the crossroads, no longer able to intimidate anyone, you will have to be you . Then there is the rest of the family, AJ has failed school and now will follow in Tony's dark footsteps.. Will he kill Junior to avenge his Dad? Carmella looks like death, Meadow seems like such an adult now, her mom will need her..Silvio wants to take over, and thats a fight already brewing

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

I love how much this makes you think!

Author: austyca13 from United States
4 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Okay, I didn't get the Purgatory thing the first time I watched this episode. It seemed like something significant was going on that I couldn't put my finger on. This time those Costa Mesa fires on TV really caught my attention- and it helped that I was just writing an essay on Inferno! But let me see what HASN'T been discussed yet...

A TWOP review mentioned that Tony had 7 flights of stairs to go down because of the broken elevator. Yeah, 7 is a significant number for lots of reasons, especially religious, but here's one more for ya. On a hunch I consulted wikipedia, and guess what Dante divided into 7 levels? Purgatorio. Excluding ante-Purgatory and Paradise. (The stuff at the bottom of the stairs and... what Tony can't get to.)

On to the allegedly "random" monk-slap scene. As soon as the monks appeared, it fit perfectly in place with Tony trying to get out of Purgatory. You can tell he got worried when that Christian commercial (death, disease, and sin) came on, and he's getting more and more desperate because Christian heaven is looking kinda iffy for him. By the time he meets the monks he's thinking "hey maybe these guys can help me?" which sounds like contemplating other religions (e.g. Buddhism) and wondering if some other path could take him to "salvation". Not that Tony is necessarily literally thinking about becoming a Buddhist, but it appears Finnerty tried that (and messed up). That slap in the face basically tells Tony there's no quick fix- as in, no, you can't suddenly embrace Buddhism and get out of here.

Tony was initially not too concerned about getting to heaven. But at the "conference entrance", he realizes that's not going to be so easy for him. At first I saw the name vs. driver's license problem as Tony having led sort of a double life, what with the killing people and sleeping around that he kept secret from most people. He feels free to have an affair with quasi-Melfi because "he's Kevin Finnerty". He figures out that he CAN fool some people with KF's cards, like hotel receptionists, but it won't get him out of Purgatory. Those helicopters- the helicopters of Heaven?- are keeping track of him and everything he does.

After reading all the theories on "inFinnerty", though, it seems like KF's identity is a reminder of the infinite different paths Tony could've taken in his life. Possibly along with the car joke involving Infiniti's that made no sense to me otherwise. Aaaand at that point my brain fizzles out.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A life-altering episode if you've ever lived in the ICU for a weekend

Author: Ben Smerglia from United States
26 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me start off by saying that after watching this episode for the first time on DVD at 10 o'clock P.M. one night, I could not fall asleep until about 3:00 A.M.

This brief review may contain spoilers.

I'm a long-time fan of The Sopranos and I can safely say this is the best episode I've seen. I'm not saying everyone should feel this way, but I do. This episode is identical to the weekend I spent with my family, watching over my own father, comatose in the ICU before he passed.

The episode begins with Tony in an alternate reality: he is a salesman who's identity has been mistaken for that of a man named Kevin Finnerty.

By the time ten minutes had gone by, I knew either Tony was dreaming, or I was watching some other show. It wasn't like the normal Sopranos and I loved it.

Option 1 is confirmed when Anthony (or "Kevin") looks into the sky at a "helicopter spotlight" and we see prodding through it, a doctor with a flashlight. We see this only for a moment and the sequence plays out until we go back to real life in a situation similar to the one I just stated.

Tony has come out of the coma for only a moment. His boys take A.J. home and Carmella, overcome by stress, breaks down in the hallway: a signature moment in the episode.

For the remainder of the episode, we cut in between the real world: the family dealing with the potential negative outcome of this coma, and Tony's alternate reality, which parallels what's going on both in his mind and in the real world around him.

Then comes the stellar point in the episode: after A.J. finishes telling his mother he's flunked school, she walks in to see Meadow sitting at Anthony's side.

She approaches Tony, and utters the best line of the episode: "Anthony, can you hear us?" In Tony's world, he enters a dark hotel room and turns on a light. He takes off his shoes and goes to the phone. He tries to dial, but he cannot--as if he were trying to say something back to Carmella, but couldn't physically bring himself to do so. Not yet.

He sits down and looks out his window. A shimmering light that has reoccurred throughout the episode now seems to call to him from the other side of the city.

"When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" by Moby marries perfectly with these last images and helps in creating an emotional roller-coaster of an episode.

10 out of 10.

P.S.: Watch the next episode. You find out what the light is. It's wonderful.

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Join the Club (#6.2)

Author: ComedyFan2010 from Canada
25 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tony is in the hospital in a coma and his whole family keeps on visiting him. Carmela and Meadow stay there every night and AJ later comes as well to talk to his dad and promises to take revenge on Junior. In the meantime Tony has a dream of being stuck in a hotel with someone else's identity.

A very good episode. As some reviewers said before it does seem like a purgatory dream. So many references to death, being out of identity, a very different personality, him being slapped by the monks.

And I wonder how much development of AJ will we see now that he got out of school and even swore take Junior out. It could very well be the moment when he is "joining the club".

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

The Sopranos Episode Review - Episode 67 - 'Join the Club'

Author: Michael Margetis ( from United States
26 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let's start this review out on a positive note -- I am very glad they didn't decide to wimp out with Tony being shot and do a retrospective season like some people were rumoring. Actually, creator and writer of this episode David Chase did quite the opposite. We don't actually know if Tony will live or die. He's in a coma and his chances of recovering are very slim to none. This episode seemed to move very slow, and the coma induced dream Tony was in involving mistaken identity and robed Asian monks slapping the sh*t out of him was absolutely, flat-out weird. After 45-minutes I got a little sick of everyone grieving, but that shouldn' t be a reason to slam this episode. It was a weird and unpredictable episode, but it was still well-written and intense. Edie Falco gave an astounding career-defining performance in this episode as the conflicted wife having to face with her husband's could-be demise. I also found it interesting AJ dropped out of school and swore a vendetta against Junior, which AJ most likely won't have the balls to pull off. Silvio is now acting-boss which opens numerous doors to problems in later episodes. There were a lot of great quips in this episode, also, and I think Vito 'Pole-Smoker' Spadafore may meet his demise if he keeps being a greedy S.O.B.

This wasn't a great episode and disappointed only because even though Tony kills people, we as an audience adore him and feel he is our hero of the show. This was a necessary episode for the series, even though it was a little snore inducing towards the conclusion. Kudos to Edie Falco's performance, and David Chase and the writers for creating this wholly original and unpredictable plot twist. This is the only season of 'The Sopranos' where I haven't a f*cking clue where it is going to go. I can't wait for next week's episode. My Rating: 7.5/10

Best Line of the Episode: (Paulie to AJ): "Let's go, Van Helsing!"

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Coma chameleon

Author: ctomvelu-1 from United States
22 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With the badly injured Tony in an induced coma, two things happen: Tony imagines himself leading the life of a salesman attending a business convention, while his family and friends go through hell trying to cope with the possible loss of the big man. The dream sequences are right out of an old TWILIGHT ZONE episode, as Tony finds himself transformed into an Average Joe trying to deal with a missing wallet and mixed-up identities while on a cross-country business trip. His intonation as a blazer- and khaki-wearing schnook is more mid-American and less that of an Italian thug from Noo Joisey. A nice touch. The shockingly long-haired, hippy-dippy AJ (whom Paulie calls "Van Helsing" at one point) has a nice scene with his comatose old man. The best moment has the big boys trying to talk about life without Tony, which immediately breaks down into a territorial dispute. Vito gets off a line about the new-dead Gene possibly having been a closet case, which is interesting in light of what we are about to learn about Vito.

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