This episode continues with Tony in the hospital after being shot by Junior. Tony's not doing so well; he had surgery, and the wound is not healing very well, so he's in a medically-induced coma with a breathing tube. The family reacts in fairly predictable ways. Most of the guys are jockeying for the top position. Barbara is barely on screen. Janice is overly dramatic. Carmela is distraught, but also solid, and Meadow is right there for her. AJ avoids visiting his father, which Carmela thinks is because he can't handle the sight of his father, but Rosalie Aprile thinks is because AJ is spoiled. The media is swarming, and Junior is being tested to see if he's mentally competent to stand trial. AJ finally mans up and stays overnight in his father's room; the next morning, he starts crying and vows to shoot Junior to avenge Tony. While all this goes on, Tony is having a dream or a near-death experience or whatever. In it, Tony is living some sort of alternate reality where he's a salesman attending a conference in California. Alterna-Tony accidentally swaps wallets and briefcases with a guy name Kevin Finnerty, and spends the rest of the dream sequence trying to figure out how to get back home. And also, he falls down some stairs and gets diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Tony lies sleeping, fully clothed, on a bed in a hotel room. The first sign that something is kind of off is Tony's hair, which is fashioned in a weird combover. Not like a Donald Trump combover or anything, but not Tony's usual slicked-back style. Tony's also wearing schlumpy clothes. He wakes with a start, checks his watch, and then looks out the window, where night is beginning to fall. It's not immediately clear what city he's in, except that it's not New York. There's a lighthouse or some sort of beacon on the horizon in the distance. So Tony's a sailor now? A sailor who dresses like Willy Loman?
Tony heads across the street to a bar, where he catches a news report about how there are big forest fires in Costa Mesa, California. Apparently that's where he is. He calls home on his cell phone. The answering machine's outgoing message is two young kids, who tell Tony that he's reached the Sopranos. So is this like an alternate reality? It's A Wonderful Mob? Because I don't think it's a flashback, based on his clothes and the fact that no one ever considered Meadow and AJ cute enough to leave that sort of outgoing answering-machine message. Tony is amused, and tells his family (via message) that he loves them. Who is this man and what has he done with Tony Soprano? Tony pays for his drink; grabs his wallet, which had been sitting on the bar; picks up a really ugly briefcase; and walks out.
As Tony exits the bar, he hears a helicopter flying overhead, and looks up to see a floodlight shining down on him. As he squints up into the bright light, you see flashes of a doctor's face. This is the first real sign that Tony is unconscious, or possibly in a coma, and is incorporating parts of his surroundings into his subconscious. I hate when that happens. I often dream that my alarm going off is...well, usually I dream that it's an alarm going off, but it's a DREAM alarm, so I don't really have to get up.
The next morning, Tony drives some schlubby rental car to a different hotel or convention center or something. He struts through the lobby in a navy blazer and khaki pants. Gandolfini is hilarious here, playing Not Tony. The differences are subtle enough that you have to kind of look for them, but it must have been fun for him to stretch a little. Anyway, Tony finds the registration desk and tries to check in, but the ID in his wallet has the name Kevin Finnerty on it. The photo kind of looks like Tony too. Tony opens his briefcase to try to find another form of ID, but it turns out that he apparently grabbed someone else's wallet and briefcase. Tony (and Gandolfini has slightly changed his accent here to a more broad generic American) asks the registration lady if she can just let him in anyway, but she explains that she can't for security reasons. Tony doesn't even get mad or start yelling or threaten to whack anyone.