For some reason, I thought tonight's episode was going to be the season finale. Last week's cliffhanger seemed to build the right kind of momentum, and I somehow forgot that Sons has a 13-episode-long season. After watching "June Wedding," I'm relieved to be wrong, although I have no real clue where things are headed. Apart from Stahl being utterly insane and most of the Sons heading for jail-time, there's nothing immediately pressing. SAMCRO's possible incarceration is a big story point, but it's almost too big to be resolved in just a single episode. And Stahl is, well, Stahl. We've never seen quite this level of crazy from her before, but while the moment when she turns and shoots her supposed girlfriend in the neck is shocking, the idea that she'd be capable of murder and betrayal isn't. Tara is back home safe, her baby is safe, Abel is safe, and Jax has, apparently, finally given up on whatever delusions of nobility he might once have entertained. Everyone has found a precarious balance.
Which usually means the ground is about to give way beneath their feet.
I haven't watched the finale episode yet (although I have it, God bless screeners), but the itch is there, and I'm glad that the show has regained its sense of urgency. "Wedding" ends the Ireland trip for good, and while Jimmy is still out there, struggling to get by, nearly all of the action is focused back in Charming, on getting Tara back from Salazar, dealing with the potential problem that Salazar represents to the heroin shipments, and trying to figure out how to plan for an uncertain future. Instead of IRA politics and moral turpitude, this is the kind of direct action the show used to specialize in; many of the choices remain questionable, but somebody's holding a gun through most of them, so we get to enjoy ourselves and entertain thoughtful ethical debates. Or maybe we just savor Jax stabbing Salazar in the gut. The favored son has definitely left his doubts back on the Green Isle.
After they arrive back home, SAMCRO's members team up with the local PD and ATF in the hunt for Salazar, who steals a car and murders a driver who just happens to have roughly the same color hair as Tara, which means "Wedding" gets to screw with our heads for 10 minutes or so. The hunt is tricky business because on the one hand, Unser wants Salazar alive, since Salazar could testify to Hale's involvement in Lumpy's death, thus breaking the man's hold over the town; but on the other hand, the Mayans want Salazar gone, since he could also testify about the drug running that helped bring peace between the Mayans and the Sons a few episodes back. The latter takes precedence, if just barely, and that probably made it easier for Jax to jam the knife home when he gets the drop on Salazar. (After promising him repeatedly that he wouldn't be harmed, of course.) I doubt Jax needed the encouragement, though. After seeing his son's adopted parents murdered in their home, Jax has dropped any pretense of moral uncertainty. He's out to protect his own, and the long-term implications of his actions (and the possibility that violence against violence won't ever really fix much of anything for long) aren't his concern.
There are a few balls up in the air by the end of "Wedding," as Hale continues his rise to power and Clay looks to find replacement bodies to fill up the Sons while the rest of them are, presumably, doing time, but if I had to pick the ball that will do the most damage when it finally lands, I'm going with Stahl. While it was obvious from the start that she was willing to sell out her partner/lover the moment it would profit her most to do, the shooting, after Salazar is killed, has to be some kind of personal Rubicon for the character (by which I mean the river Julius Caesar started a war by crossing in 49 BC, and not the sadly canceled AMC series). When she gives her testimony as to what happened at the end of the episode, Stahl pins her crimes from last season on the dead woman. Jax may think he has the situation under control, and Gemma may think she can order Stahl to do what she wants at gun-point, but neither of them quite grasp how dangerous this woman is. I've had problems with the character before, but her over-the-top shtick isn't just some weird commentary on women in powerful, traditionally male roles. She's specifically insane now, if you follow, and unlike Kohn back in season one, this is one government agent who isn't going to go down quietly. If things don't go her way, if she doesn't get what she wants, she'll do whatever it takes to change the situation to her favor. Last season, she framed Gemma for murder, which led to Half-Sack's death and Abel's kidnapping. Wonder what she'll do for an encore?
- Big thanks to Myles for covering for me last week. I hope he didn't spoil you with his "thinking" and "insight."
- Finally, we learn the source behind Tig and Kozik's enmity: a dog. It's a funny reveal. I'm not sure if it quite fits tonally, given how serious everything else is, but still, very funny.
- "But she earns her living catching coming in her mouth, and I'm sensing that's a problem for you." On Gemma's advice, Opie proposes to Lyla.
- Nice that Jax and Tara have resolved their differences.
- I wonder if (well, when) Clay will find out that Jax has been doing business with Stahl ...