“That’s the life,” says Nero to Tara in one of this week’s many mano y mano throwdowns, to which she answers, “No, it’s the wife! She killed John Teller!” You could feel the writers patting themselves on the back for that quippy rhyme, as well they should’ve—it’s that kind of line that makes Sons Of Anarchy one of the most enjoyable primetime soaps around.
This week’s episode starts slowly, with parallel scenes cutting between Jax/Tara and Nero/Gemma, doing its best to draw similarities between the ladies: How has Gemma become the less-abhorrent mother in this situation? I, for one, thought Tara’s plan is pretty ingenious, and I’m in favor of her doing whatever she can to get those kids away from Charming. (I, by the way, am Josh—I’ll be filling in for Zack for a couple of weeks.)
But that plan, so carefully executed throughout this season, unravels with barely a tug at its weakest links: We all knew that Wendy wasn’t going to be able to stand up to any pressure (“You might need more than the word of a junkie—especially a junkie that he hates”), and Margaret isn’t skilled enough in deception to really sell her part. The scene between Gemma and Margaret worked really well for me: I honestly wasn’t sure if Gemma was going to beat the shit out of her right there or just do what she ended up doing, scare the truth out of her.
Same went for Jax’s scene with Lowen—who knew what terrifying things he was capable of with his newfound knowledge (gained, it should be noted, by a physical mano y mano with Nero and a verbal one with Mom)? Lowen took the smartest route, to just tell Jax the truth and hope it would keep her safe—she knows how dangerous he is, even if she doesn’t agree with Tara’s methods. (And oh, another almost encounter between Calamity Jane and Charlie Utter! Can we at least have her accidentally call him “Utter” instead of “Unser”?)
And then there was the big admission from Gemma to Nero: “I didn’t kill him, but I knew it had to be done… I gave my blessing for Clay to kill John Teller. I’ve never told that to anyone, including my son.” To me, this actually reads like a Gemma who’s fundamentally changed. She’s been burned down to her core, and stands to lose everything, but she actually wants to tell the truth to Nero, not necessarily out of her usual survival instinct, but out of love. I kinda buy it.
Prior to that, of course, Jax is off to see Patterson—and CCH Pounder seems to have gotten her acting chops back after taking off the wig. I love the idea of the club selling out the Irish in order to get out of the business once and for all, but I’m also quite sure it won’t work the way they’d like it to. And of course, where does that leave Clay?
For now, it leaves him with the dumbest, most intrusive, ridiculous story line of an otherwise solid episode. It’s as if the writers sat around the reaper table together and said, “Hey, there’s too much semi-plausible shit happening in this episode—let’s have something bloody and ridiculous happen!” So, for no good reason—c’mon, tell me there wasn’t another way to get Clay into the infirmary—Clay bites a guard’s nose off in exchange for some private time on the phone to get the Irish deal done. So… The guard was healed enough in an hour to walk in and beat the shit out of Clay—and was somehow convinced not to murder him? Clay bit his nose off. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why not just have him give his funny speech, then provoke a guard to kick the shit out of him so he can go to the infirmary? Please don’t tell me the guard got paid to have his nose bitten off, because I’m not buying that either.
And then there was the mysterious girl whose mom was killed in the same “accident” as John Teller. I’m reserving judgment here, mostly because of the lingering shot of the homeless woman at the end. Is there more to this story than collateral damage? Is the daughter some kind of plant, or simply a convenient entry point for Jax to investigate JT’s death further?
Still, though, the pieces are set up for some terrific confrontations, which hopefully the show can pull off: Jax versus Gemma, when he hears more about JT’s death. Jax versus the Irish, when something inevitably goes wrong with the set up. Jax versus Patterson, if her sense of justice gets in the way of letting the Sons skate. And, most importantly and most immediate, Jax versus Tara. Now, I don’t believe that conscientious mother Tara Knowles would sit and wait for Jax to come home after learning that he knows about her deception, nor do I believe that she’d rock her baby in her arms with a gun in her lap. Still, though, that was a powerful image at the end of the episode. She’s ready for a confrontation—we are, too!—and she knows it’s coming.
It’s the rare time this season that I can’t wait for the next episode. My guess is that the Tara/Jax confrontation will be put off a while—he’ll cool off and save some dude from foreclosure while he thinks up a plan—but part of me hopes that it blows up first thing next week, spiraling out and infecting all of Jax’s other deals. It’s going to be a mess no matter what—let’s just hope that not everyone gets away unscathed.
- John 8:32 reads: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Makes perfect sense for this episode, when truth is actually being revealed rather than actively obfuscated.
- I recognized the jail preacher from somewhere, but I can’t place him. Anybody?
- I love that Peter Weller and Kim Dickens are “Charlie and the MILF madam.” Does their brief scene mean they’re done? My money is on Weller coming in to help out; Kurt Sutter likes those dirty cops with moral codes.
- “You made me a promise, son. Nobody gets hurt.”
- Again, the woman picking out the empties at the end… was I supposed to recognize her? It wasn’t supposed to be the girl’s dead mom, was it? (I scanned back to the wedding photo, which they made sure to show—and have Jax recognize—but it didn’t appear to be the same person.)