The problem is, somebody always has to die. These are violent men and women leading violent lives, and it would be lying to have them escape every catastrophe unmarked. Drama demands blood, and hell, so do we. But since Sons of Anarchy is an on-running series (third season isn't apparently "official" official yet, but I think it's a safe assumption the show will be back), you can't kill off the major players right away. Back in season one, when we weren't sure what to expect from the show, there was speculation that Clay would get killed. He didn't, and I can't really imagine anyone thinking he was going to be killed this time around, because we know we're settling in for the long haul. Clay, Jax, Gemma, Tara, Opie--these are people with story arcs that aren't quite ready to be cut short. Still, though, somebody has to get it in the stomach. Weston's death wasn't much of a surprise. Half-Sack, though...
Sons creator Kurt Sutter explained in an interview with TV critic Alan Sepinwall that Half-Sack's death was motivated by actor Johnny Lewis wanting off the show. That's reasonable, although it doesn't really justify the line last week about Sack being close to patching in with the club. What I found most interesting about that scene was the way Sack's murder deflated the tension from the room. When Cameron first walks in the door, it's bizarre and scary and out of control, because unlike most of the pieces on the board, we don't know what he's capable of. Tara's terrified reaction confirmed this; she hasn't been this overtly upset since Kohn stalked her last year. (Definite contrast between her now and her beating the shit out of her boss, I'd say.) But as soon as Sack got a knife in the gut, I wasn't worried for Tara or Abel anymore. If you'll accept that drama needs death, you also have to accept the way that character execution serves to mitigate that drama as much as propel it onward. With a body on the floor, we knew there wouldn't be another. And the rest of the episode, while shocking, still never really topped the earlier high. Having Cameron escape with Jax's infant son was exciting, but mostly on a "Wow, I wonder what that'll mean for next year?" level. This isn't a show that's going to kill a little kid.
"Na Triobloidi" was a satisfying conclusion to the season, even if calling it a "conclusion," in light of the final fifteen minutes, is probably stretching it. It wasn't perfect--the Irish have been such an around the edges presence this season that having them be a lynch-pin in the finale was, at times, a little clunky. Given how compelling and odd events played out, I'm not too unhappy to have Edmond and Cameron in such prominent roles, but in the early going, every time we cut away from the club, I lost interest. (I'm sure this was intentional, at least in a thematic sense; having Jax undone by an out of left-field threat means that we can't really see it coming either.) "Triobloidi" had its share of ass-whupping sequences, the take-down of Zobelle's honor guard probably being the most hardcore, and while Zobelle himself lived to wreck another day, it was good that Weston finally got what was coming to him.
That was a sad little scene, wasn't it? One of the better elements of the finale is that, despite its previously mentioned metal moments, the club only gets to hand vengeance down twice, and in both cases, it's not all that triumphant. Weston's death, sitting on a toilet with his head bowed, made me feel almost sorry for the raping, bigoted psychopath. Over and over in the episode we're reminded about the importance of family connections, even with the most diseased and troubled minds, and Weston sending his son away before dying is the last decent act of a horrible, horrible man. Even Zobelle, arguably the coldest, most calculating character on the series, risks his life to try and protect his daughter. He fails, and he escapes because he's still more interested in saving himself, but it bothers him she's gone; you can see it on his face when Hale delivers the news. (And as nasty as he is, I'm glad to know we may see Adam Arkin again.)
That brings us to the second act of justice, or revenge, or what have you, Gemma killing Polly. Whole lot of complicated stuff going on here, but to sum up quickly, Stahl is a nutcase. I'm torn between loving the repeatedly ugly affects her actions have on the show (you always need at least one crazy around to keep things interesting), and not really believing her as a human being anymore. She's coming up to the edge of caricature, and I hope, assuming she comes back next season, she gets a little more depth. Tonight, it was just the usual mixture of smug bravado and clumsiness, as the browbeating she gives Edmond leads to Edmond growing a spine just long enough to be shot in it. Polly showing up later (apparently she was really into Edmond? We saw so little of them that it was always hard to tell), and Gemma following soon after, was just the usual, unpredictable in the details but inevitable in the consequences follow-up.
The way things stand now, with Gemma on the run, and a grief-stricken Cameron kidnapping Abel, means, well, who the hell knows? The trouble brewing between Jax and Clay, temporarily put on hiatus, is bound to come back now--with Jax out of his mind with fear for his son, and Gemma's uniting influence, Daddy's memoirs may be making a come back very soon. After all, the lost baby comes, in a way, from the club's Irish connections, connections based on gun-running that I don't think Dad would've approved of in his day. Maybe in his grief, Jax might start pointing fingers. We'll just have to wait and see. Thankfully, Sutter and the rest have given us every reason to hope that, as good as things were this time around, they can still get better.
- Interesting pay-off to Gemma's spiritual searching--she ends up on the lam, Half-Sack gets killed, and her grandson stolen, all because she does what she thinks is "God's will."
- At this point, I'm not really concerned about the real-world ramifications of what SAMCRO is able to get away with. (I find it helpful to imagine the series set in the not-too-distant-future, ala Mad Max.) But I gotta wonder, who the hell lives in Charming anyway? Other than bikers, porn stars, and cops. Oh, and Darby and his idiots. (Speaking of, I guess Darby's dead?) I'd really like to see how the locals who aren't directly involved deal with the power struggles.
- "Na Triobloidi" is Irish for "The Troubles." (This references a specific period of Irish history, which I won't embarrass all of us by trying to sum up here.) It's been a blast, guys. Keep on flying straight, and we'll see you next year.