You’d think, after a season of bloody and explosive surprises, this show would have lost the ability to shock us, but last night’s Sons of Anarchy served up the biggest surprise yet. It’s not unusual for Jax and the Sons to pull the rug out from under us, and I don’t think it’s overstating to call this a game changer. What does it mean for the final two episodes of the season? More high-stakes violence or have they given us all we can take? Only one way to find out. Here’s what we learned from last night’s blood-soaked episode of Sons of Anarchy.
Hate You Can Chew
For perhaps the first time this season, we open the episode without a musical montage. Did you miss it? You didn’t, did you? Don’t worry, this is still Sons of Anarchy. There are two long and overwrought montages to come. Instead we get this great scene with Gemma and Nero (still the beating heart and moral center of the show) trying to draw out some mercy for Tara. Nero then goes on to talk about the hate he feels for his ex-wife. This, of course, plants a seed for the Clay-and-Gemma drama. I love this phrasing: “I can chew that hate I feel for her.” I feel like Gemma chews hate for breakfast every day of her life. Nero, by the way, should consider giving up a life of pimping for motivational speaking. He’d make a mint.
Club and Family Rhetoric
Gemma gets yet another lecture from a man in her life: Wayne in extra-pathetic mode. Wayne says much the same thing Nero said. Tara is still the mother. The foreshadowing anvils fall hard and fast in this scene with Wayne talking not only about recently departed club members (Opie, Phil, Half-Sack), but also about the way in which the MC has changed since the sixties. He says, “This life it isn’t romantic or free. It’s just dirty and sad. And we both know it’s only going to get worse.” He rejects Gemma’s “club and family rhetoric” and has every right to. We’ve seen that philosophy perverted for six seasons now. Finally, and most uncomfortable of all, Wayne declares his love for Gemma. We’ve seen how destructive loving Gemma can be and Wayne is possibly the most tragic example.
After This It’s All White Hats
The musical montage that was missing from the opening plays over shots of the Sons getting ready to bust Clay out. Tig is in fine, wise-cracking form as if this were any other heist. He makes cute Reservoir Dogs (“Why do we have to be pink?”) and Top Gun (“Feel a need for speed”) references. Juice’s hollow-eyed melancholy seems out of place in the midst of all the action and excitement but when you watch the episode again knowing the outcome, his is the most sane reaction. Jax makes another one of his “one last job” promises and tells Juice it’s all “white hats and tight pussy” after this job. But you and I both know that Juice isn’t getting over this. After Clay hugged and kissed him and thanked him personally? Juice’s darkness is only going to continue to grow.
Angels Sent by the Gods of Justice
The heist itself was rollicking action at its best. A classic Sons chase with added flair. But nothing beats the look on Clay’s face when he sees Jax is his savior, and the following interchange was the best of the night:
“Where the hell are the Irish?”
Of course, things couldn’t go 100 percent smoothly. They never do in these “one last job” scenarios. Bobby Elvis gets shot and one of the officers gets mowed down. Bobby was a great pick by the writers as victim. He’s probably the most sympathetic of the Sons and certainly has been the nicest to Tara this season. So when they pull her back in to play Mob Doctor again, it makes sense. I’m not sure she would have done it for Tig or Juice or even Chibs. But she’d do it for Bobby.
We Had a Vote
And because Bobby was shot and Tara was needed, we conveniently have all our major players in one place for the episode’s major death. Clay had to die. Clay should have died a while ago. It was obvious that the show ran out of ways to use him. I think they were just reluctant to get rid of a presence as vibrant as Ron Perlman’s. And who can blame them? Perlman played this final episode beautifully. He went from jocularly pleased by his escape to gentle, sad resignation. His good-bye to Gemma was tender and lovely, and while I won’t miss Clay at all, I will miss Perlman.
It was tight storytelling to have all the key players on hand for Clay’s death. But did they really have to shoot him in front of Gemma? They couldn’t have pulled the blinds? Asked Nero to take her outside? I suppose, if we’re carrying out our Hamlet analogy, Gertrude was present for the murder of Claudius. Then again, she was dead and gone by the time he got his just desserts. Do we feel like Clay got what was coming to him? Tara thinks so. But was the neck shot especially cruel and gruesome? It couldn’t have been a mercy kill? Finally, what do we think of the viability of how Jax spins this for Nero. He says Clay’s death was “burying the last piece of a very broken past. What you and me are doing together. That’s SAMCRO’s future.” We know Jax wants to come clean but I don’t think Kurt Sutter has happy endings planned for anyone in this story.
The Godfather Paradox
I extend that lack of a happy ending to Nero who, as I mentioned earlier, is undoubtedly the most grounded character on the show. He wisely and somewhat gently rejects Gemma’s proposal (“No offense mama, I’ve seen what happens to your husbands. It’s ain’t pretty.”), but will that be enough to save him? Or, just when he thought he was out, will they pull him back in?
Her Boys and Her Freedom
The episode opens with Tara in her office getting some hard news from her lawyer. She boils down his assessment to a choice between her boys or her freedom. The same day, Tara is back in the office, in the same clothes, getting a new deal from D.A. Patterson. This time it’s her freedom AND her boys. All she needs to do is burn the club and Jax, badly. Maybe you shouldn’t have boned Collette, Jax. Tara’s loyalty looks to be burned out.
Other than Bobby getting shot, everything went according to Jax’s plan. He killed off his two biggest enemies with one frame job. We know he’ll probably not get away with it as far as the law is concerned, but what about the Irish? Jax paints a compelling picture for Connor and calls Clay and Galen’s death “the truth you need.” Will the Kings be able to swallow their pride and “work with black”? What does this mean for the Chinese? WILL NO ONE THINK OF HAPPY?!
With a Bullet
Tara pulls the first part of her escape plan off and snags the bloody evidence she needs. But here are the problems. (1) Jax was rather kind to her. We know she still loves him and she can’t help but be swayed by his apology and ownership of the position they’re in. (2) Tara will be burning the club, and they have it coming, but she will specifically and most directly be burning Bobby. Who was so kind and lovely to her. Will she do it? Is the lure of keeping her kids and her freedom enough? Or will she fall back into the loyal Old Lady role? I think if she ends up presenting the bullet as evidence, she’s signed her death warrant. If she doesn’t turn over the bullet? Well, I’m pretty sure she’s dead anyway. Would the show kill two major characters in one season? They just might. The question is: How many people will Tara take down with her?