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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sons Of Anarchy: "Eureka"

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Hey, you think Sheriff Unser might be in love with Gemma? The thought hadn't really occurred to me until tonight, but it makes a certain kind of sense. At the very least, he's protective of her, and it's been interesting so far this season seeing how he tries to do right by her while still clinging to the few shreds of dignity he as left as a lawman. Back when Sons started, the series seemed to be writing the character off as a joke, impotent proof of the power of the Sons in Charming and not much else. But there's more to him, I think, and as the show's gone on, he's fast becoming one of its strongest characters. There was a surprising amount of dignity in his voice tonight when he promised Gemma, "I ain't gonna let nothing else bad happen to you." It's a silly promise to make—might as well offer the stars and a time machine while he's at it—but there's no reason to doubt his commitment. Even Unser has his lines, and we may be seeing soon enough what happens when people keep crossing them.

Unser is one of the few people left in Charming who seems to have all his brains intact. Jax and Clay's uneasy peace goes through the wringer one more time in "Eureka," when Tig crashes, has a receptionist rat on him, and gets snagged by some bounty hunters on an outstanding charge ("Assault and indecent exposure inside a livestock transport" in Oregon) forcing the club to spring him. Clay, who's arthritis is worsening, wants caution, while Jax thinks the best move is to charge ahead before the situation goes beyond their control. They both have a point, but it's clear that the argument that follows—one that ends with Clay shoving Jax, and Jax shoving back—is less about saving Tig than it is about the shit that's been buried between these two guys ever since Jax found out about Donna. Further back than that, even.

There hasn't been much mention of Jax's dad's manifesto, the one Jax found last season and Gemma burned, and what with Donna's wrongful death being a big red flag to pin conflict on, I'm wondering if we'll be returning to the philosophical underpinnings of SAMCRO anytime soon. It would be a shame to miss that; Jax's dad's murder is going to out sooner or later, but what I'm more interested in is what the dead man really wanted for the Sons, and what the club has become in Clay's hands. Jax has always had more potential than he's ever realized, which is one of the reasons Tara decided to stick with him. But what "new vision" could he bring in, and what sort of changes would it mean? The Sons' illegal activities make for solid television (Tig's rescue tonight ranks up there as one of the series' best action set-pieces, even if it was over fast), but is this really why the club was founded in the first place? Finding out Gemma was basically responsible for bringing the bikers to Charming makes you wonder what her interests in all this are as well, and how much those interests have changed. Enough to get her first husband killed, at least.

Gemma's got her own problems now, though. Recognizing Weston as one of her attackers, she spends most of the episode following him around, and then almost shooting him from a port-a-john. She can't go through with it because he's talking about his kids. It's a rough moment, but rough or not, it's good to see her at least trying to take some action to get herself well again. Even mostly knowing she wouldn't pull the trigger, having her get so close was tense stuff. This whole episode kept the screws tightened, which is good. While it's fun to see the SAMCRO boys goofing around about Half-Sack's fake new testicle, Sons works best when it doesn't let you get too comfortable with how much everyone's enjoying themselves.

Not much with Tara this week, but what we saw was telling. First she has a "moment of clarity" and realizes exactly what she's turn into in Jax's life ("I'm your old lady."), and then she gets politely reprimanded by her boss for having too many visitors on either side of the law. This thing with Jax isn't simply a matter of giving in and going along; Tara will probably have to sacrifice a good part of what she always thought she was if the two of them are going to stick together. She's uncertain enough about how things are turning out that she even asks Unser for his take. His advice, "Come across something that don't make you miserable… enjoy it," is pleasant, but it's probably not going to be much use.

So far, season 2 has been turning out a bit darker than the first season, and considering the first season had a guy getting has back tattoo burned off with a blow-torch, that's saying something. Nothing got resolved in "Eureka"; instead, the episode was about the growing recognition that the situation is not going to improve on its own, and life is probably going to get a whole lot worse before the sun comes up again.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

-How long before somebody breaks the news to Opie about what really happened to Donna? My money's on Piney.
-Unser managed to be surprisingly bad-ass confronting Zobelle; hopefully that doesn't come back to bite him in the ass later, although it probably will.
-Clay puts down an ultimatum for Jax. I can't imagine that really working.
-Bobby and his fat boy. A tragedy for the ages.