Geoff Berkshire remains HitFix’s regular “Sons of Anarchy” reviewer, and his take on last night’s episode is here. I have a few thoughts of my own, though, coming up just as soon as I’m not allowed to take you to daycare…
First things first: “Aon Rud Persanta” was the first episode of “Sons” I’ve watched since the season’s first three, which I wrote about back in September. Because I wasn’t reviewing the show weekly anymore, and because I was so turned off by Toric murdering the prostitute (and therefore becoming the latest SAMCRO enemy to be revealed to be crazy, incompetent and/or a criminal himself), I started letting the episodes pile up on my DVR, figuring I would get to them later. Then after a point, I began dreading the idea of going back through all the episodes, especially now that Kurt Sutter has permission to make every episode run 60 minutes (90 with commercials). I don’t mind that length on a show I’m still enjoying greatly (“Masters of Sex,” or “Boardwalk Empire”), but for one I was increasingly ambivalent about, it was too much. I kept telling myself I would catch up, maybe by skipping a few episodes here and there, but the deeper we got into the season, the more I began to admit that I was just done. Even though it sounded like there were some stories I would have liked (the return of Venus Van Damme, for instance), for the most part I wasn’t missing the show.
Then I began hearing from people at FX that notable things were happening in last night’s episode, which to my mind meant one of two things: Clay dies, or Tara dies. Jax isn’t going before the series’ end, and I assume Gemma is safe until at least close to the end, so it had to be one of the other core characters. So with some help from Geoff to fill in the blanks on what I’d missed, I jumped into “Aon Rud Persanta” to find out whom it would be.
And it was Clay. And though there were some strong parts of the episode surrounding his murder(*), for the most part, I’m with Tara: “Clay Morrow should’ve been dead a long time ago.” It’s a huge moment in the series, and for Jax and Gemma, but the ridiculous plot contortions required to keep the man alive this long blunted the impact of him finally getting what was coming to him.
(*) The sequence leading up to his death was one of the few times in the last few seasons where the extra length actually added value. This wasn’t rushed, and there was a lot of time for Clay, and then Gemma and Nero and Tara, to absorb what was about to happen, and why, and what it would mean for the future of everyone who wasn’t Clay. Nearly every other scene on the series runs too long – even an emotionally-charged one like Gemma and Nero’s talk in the car could have benefited from trimming – but that one was just right.
Of course, I jumped over the previous seven episodes, which I understand spent a lot of time on Clay trying to make amends for his past sins. Maybe if I had been watching the journey from week to week, as a show like this is designed to be seen, I would have felt something other than relief. And because I cut the cord, I’m more interested in your reactions – to the season so far, as well as to the events of this episode – than I am in my own. Was Clay’s death satisfying, or anti-climactic? Have you been enjoying the added weekly content, or does each episode feel bloated? In that review I wrote in September, I expressed disappointment that Sutter seemed to be using the school shooting as just another trap for SAMCRO to escape; do you feel the show ultimately earned that shocking moment? Did Tara’s fake pregnancy play out less stupidly than it sounded to me when Geoff described it? Does Patterson seem less clown-ish than most SAMCRO adversaries? Other than Venus’ return, are there any story arcs or episodes you would recommend I go back to revisit?
Have at it.