The thing about this week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy is that, for the first time, we’re getting a very good idea of where the show is heading toward next season, and you know what? I really like the end game here, I’m just having some issues with how Kurt Sutter is getting to that point. Let’s hop right into the recap, and discuss along the way.
1. “Today I will be the man my father tried to be. I will make you proud.” — I really hate it when Sutter opens an episode with Jax’s voice overs. Their is no action on screen to obfuscate how hopelessly heavy-handed Kurt Sutter’s writing can sometimes be. He doesn’t do any favors to his characters with those voice overs.
2. Clay’s Life Is Spared. Again — At least, temporarily, as Bobby’s big plan to save Clay’s life was to convince him to confess to the home invasions, thus rendering Jax’s season-long search for PROOF completely moot. Clay brought it to the table, confessed his sins, and SAMCRO stripped him of his patch.
However, Bobby was the one vote that kept Clay from meeting Mr. Mayhem. DAMNIT BOBBY. At least this scenario is somewhat believable, and Bobby pulls the deal for the good of the club, to prevent Jax from becoming the man he wants to kill.
3. “The Right Thing Settles It.” Jax was not pleased with Bobby’s play. Jax responds to Bobby’s concerns over the direction that Jax is headed with a heavy-handed YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL speech. “Opie was right. You can’t sit in this chair without being a savage.” What Bobby really meant to say was, “It’s the right move because it keeps Clay around another season.” And you know what? Mark Boone Junior has such a heartfelt voice of reason that, if he had actually said, “Well, Kurt asked me to vote Nay so we didn’t have to kill Clay off this season,” I’d have totally been all right with that. By the end of the episode, I’m not sure that Jax didn’t want Bobby dead, too. “If I get you alone, I’m gonna tear your goddamn head off.” NOSTRIL FLARE.
4. But Jax Still Wants Clay Dead — I still think that Damon Pope has been sorely underused this season, and I’m still troubled by how much Jax looks up to the guy that killed his best friend, but BYGONES. Jax turned to Pope to get advice on his Clay situation, and Pope gives it to him: “Democracy is overrated. Revenge is never about the greater good. It’s a visceral need that has to be satisfied or the strong loses focus.” I’m pretty sure that Sutter stole that line from a Bruce Lee film. Point is, Jax is not letting it go.
5. Tig’s Time Is Up — Damon Pope gives Jax a friendly reminder that he needs Tig delivered to him because, oh I dunno, killing Opie and Tig’s daughter wasn’t revenge enough for the murder of Pope’s own daughter. He also needs to kill Tig — IT’S A VISCERAL NEED — although he specifically said in the first episode of the season that killing Tig would be letting him off too easy. Will Tig actually die in next week’s episode? I mean, someone major HAS to die, but there aren’t enough SAMCRO members left to kill anymore at this point.
6. The Galindo Deal Falls Apart — So, it turns out that the Chinese can’t get the Galindo cartel what they need in time, so they need another shipment from the Irish. The Irish won’t work with anyone but Clay, and Clay has been stripped of his patch. What to do? Jax actually does a solid job of smoothing things over with Galen O’Shay, but no sooner do they come to an agreement than Romeo and the Galindo cartel barge in and start shooting over a racist beef. NOSTRIL FLARE.
What the f*ck was that all about? This is what I’m talking about when I say that I like the direction that the storyline is headed, but Sutter not laying any of the groundwork to get there. He needs the deal to fall apart, so as he’s done the last two seasons, he deus ex machinas the Galindo cartel into a situation to solve any corners he writes himself into. The thing with the Galindo cartel, however, is that nobody understands what THEIR endgame is. Does Romeo even remember that he’s CIA? They are the worst federal agents EVER. What are they investigating? Weren’t they set up to take down the I.R.A.? And if so, why agree to a deal with the Chinese that separates them from the I.R.A.? Or does the CIA just want guns? Why? Isn’t that part of what our monstrous defense budget is devoted to? Making weapons?
Aaaaaand that’s my first problem: Trying to read too much logic into Kurt Sutter’s plot lines. NOSTRIL FLARE.
7. “You don’t ever threaten my family again.” — The Tellers are certainly a fickle family, banishing Wendy forever. Again. Then Tara up and decides to, perhaps, add her to her living will and make her the boys’ guardian, in the event that she and Jax bite it or are sent to prison. Wendy is receptive, at least until the Irish kidnap her, then she’s not so receptive, once again threatening the Teller family, suggesting that she’s going to go to the authorities. WOMAN. What is your problem? Do you not remember that your ex-husband is the President of a motorcycle club that kills people over far less than this? I’m not sure what the end game is here, or why Jax pumped her full of drugs instead of killing her, but I’m guessing it’s a stall tactic and a means with which to use Calamity Jane — who suggested the living will — a little more. I don’t really understand why Jax didn’t just let the Irish kill her. It is a good idea, however, to bring in Drea de Matteo every once in a while to remind us that it could be worse: Jax could still be married to her.
8. Look! It’s the Jane’s Addiction’s/Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Guitarist — Sutter’s conversation with Jimmy Smits about episode five:
Jimmy Smits — So, what’s going on with my character for the rest of the season.
Sutter — Please, just sit over there in the corner, and when I need to bridge to story lines, I’ll call you over.
Smits — How do you plan to work me in, coach?
Sutter — Oh, I dunno. I’ll just make up something and bring in Dave Navarro to distract the audience from the fact that I just pulled an entire storyline out of my ass. Oh, HEY CHARLIE. Can we do another take? I don’t think we got enough NOSTRIL FLARE on that one.
So, Wendy re-enters, is promptly kidnapped, then Nero — who has returned to the dark side — has some money he was using to retire and decides to use it to save Wendy, and provide a down payment on a deal with SAMCRO to get into gun running. OK. Sure. Again, not a bad angle, I just wish that Sutter had done a little more to lay the groundwork for this development. If Kurt Sutter wrote Breaking Bad, Walter White would’ve risen to the top of the meth distribution chain and killed Jesse Pinkman by the end of the first season, but he’d still spend five seasons trying to knock off Gus Fring.