Though it was already pretty shaky, Tara’s house of cards fell to pieces this week. While she desperately tried to bury the truth, Gemma fully embraced it for the first time. As the pressure mounts, the real question is this: Will the show be brave enough to go as dark as it needs to go? After years of allowing them to dodge bullets, will the show finally pull the plug on one of its main characters? Here’s what we learned last night on Sons of Anarchy.
The Couple That Prays Together
While most episodes of Sons open with a musical montage of some sort checking in on our main characters, this week’s featured a clearer back-and-forth between two couples: Jax and Tara, Gemma and Nero. Say what you will about Gemma (and I’ll say I’m a little irritated with how quickly her character has been rehabilitated in the narrative of the show), her affection for Nero is undoubtedly genuine. We see her praying, something she was mocking in Nero just a few episodes ago. But his safety and proximity is desperately important to her and that proximity is about more than just sharing a bed. But we’ll get to that. On the other hand, we have the slowly drifting ice floes that are Jax and Tara, who are going through the motions of domestic life without the ability to exchange “I love you"s.
Breakfast of Terminally Ill Champions
Unser’s the first Gemma defender to put his oar in this episode and it might be his folksy charm or the reminder about his illness that spares him from the worst of Jax’s nostril flares. Or, maybe that pipe wrench came sailing through the window just before the flares started in earnest. Either way, it’s disconcerting to see how quickly Unser abandons Tara. I know he thinks he’s doing what’s best and we learn later that he extracted a promise from Jax that “no one would get hurt,” but after decades working alongside the MC, how can he possibly be so naïve?
The Girl Who Cried Rape
Though seemingly out of place in an episode packed to the brim with internal family drama, the Brooke story line actually served a number of purposes, plotwise. She’s our first reminder of John Teller, that was a pretty clever way of bringing him back into our consciousness. The ghost of John haunted the first few seasons of this show but it’s been a while since he rattled his chains. The title of the episode, “John 8:32” is, of course, supposed to evoke the passage “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Clay has that very thing preached at him. But the “John” part? That’s no coincidence. Brooke also reminds us what a tender-hearted criminal Jax can be. He goes out of his way to help her and her father despite having no actual obligation. Which brings us to the third purpose: the reintroduction of Elliott Oswald. You’ll recall that Oswald ran against Hale in the last mayoral election and it looks like he’s throwing his hat back in the ring. If he wins, the MC will have another Charming Mayor in their pocket.
Look at the Pussy-Eating Grin
Clay has been pretty sidelined this year. He’s absent from some episodes altogether. And even when we did see him, he was wearing the dreary hangdog of someone who’s been beat. I mean, really, when was the last time we saw Clay Morrow grin? But here he is, delivering a sermon on the pleasures of pussy with all the Ron Perlman charm turned up to eleven. The sermon, of course, was just a distraction so that Clay could go all Otto on a guard’s face and land himself in the hospital ward, but, oh, he did it with so much flair.
It’s Not the Life, It’s the Wife
Next up to bat for Gemma is Nero, who makes a complete nuisance of himself this episode for the woman he loves. This was one of the most problematic scenes for those of us who are staunch Tara defenders because I can understand her lying to Gemma and Jax, but Nero is the closest thing we have to a moral center and sympathetic hero on this show. When Tara lied to his face, I have to admit I was disappointed in her. She couldn’t tell him the truth, but he was offering her such sympathy and support that I found myself wishing she would. Instead, Tara goes on the attack, painting Gemma with the blackest brush in her arsenal. She went there and the ghost of John Teller casually shook his chains in Nero’s ear. This is your future, brother.
The Next Ten Days
The most frustrating and tragic thing about the way Tara and Jax are about to fall apart is that Jax almost made it. Didn’t he? Didn’t he almost get it done? Get the club clean and Tara’s case dropped? I’m not sure how exactly he intends to wrap Galen O’Shea up in a shiny bow for D.A. Patterson, but I believe he has a plan. Hopefully a better one than he had for Damon Pope, which only came together through luck. The best thing about this deal Jax offers Patterson is that he did it with the approval and support of the club. He’s doing everything right and it’s all about to go horribly wrong.
What’s the Opposite of the A-Team?
I really was rooting for Tara to succeed with her plan, but she basically picked the worst people to be on her team. Wendy, Unser, Lowen, and even Margaret all crumple at the first sign of conflict. I was especially disappointed in Margaret. But yes, at the first threat from Jax Lowen gives over all the goods. At least she had the decency to call Tara and warn her. I hope the rest of the message (which we didn’t hear) was just a guttural “rrrrruuuunnnnnnnnnnnn.”
The Weak Link
What was that biblical passage again? Oh right, ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Nero asks Gemma for the truth about her first husband’s death and, at this point, the ghost of John Teller is practically playing the anvil chorus. What a great scene. Jimmy Smits as Nero was gentle but firm and Katey Sagal was a revelation. For the first time, she tells the truth about what happened to John. And though she explains it and defends it, she doesn’t excuse it. I have an enormous amount of respect for Gemma in this scene. Which is odd given the actual content of her confession. What do we think about the future of Nero and Gemma. Will he high-tail it out of there knowing what he does now? It’s been really lovely watching their relationship solidify and grow and to see the understanding and support they offer each other. (In this episode alone.) Is this going to make them stronger? Or will the truth drive Nero away? At the very least, it’s a huge relief for Gemma.
Tara Death Watch
But Gemma’s story served another purpose. Tara’s always been portrayed as a shadow of Gemma but here her parallel is John. Gemma spoke about the confessions John had written down, the evidence he had gathered on the club. Sound familiar? John just wanted to get out. John was the weak link. John had to go. That was the code then, Gemma said, and that’s the code now. Do we think Jax could possibly kill Tara? Tara seems to think so.
Lady in Rags
The final button on Brooke’s plot is this last scene where she walks past a homeless woman. We’ve seen this same woman several times in the past seasons. She’s often there right before a time of trouble or intense emotional turmoil. Though viewers might be tempted to write her off as an earthly symbol, she appeared once on the streets of Belfast while the MC was looking for Abel. So she’s no ordinary homeless woman. In fact, it would appear, she’s the ghost of Brooke’s dead mother. That’s what we’re given to understand in this episode, right? When Jax sees that photo and says he’s seen that woman before? He has. She’s another ghost, more corporeal than John Teller, to remind the club of the sins of their past and the reckoning to come.