‘Sons of Anarchy’ – ‘Dorylus’: Liars, guns and mommy

Senior Television Writer
09.20.11 61 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Sons of Anarchy” coming up just as soon as I want iPads or organic vegetables…

“Longer can very easily turn into forever. You know that.” -Margaret

“Dorylus” opens with a scene featuring Clay and Tara. They’re two characters who don’t interact very much, but they also have one important thing in common, both this season and in this episode in particular: they’re thinking long and hard about their exit strategy from SAMCRO. Jax, meanwhile, has claimed to also want out, but talks to Opie as if he’s staying, and while he could just be playing his best friend to get what he needs, it feels like Jax’s actions when he’s with the club (enthusiastically stabbing the Russian two weeks ago, the way he handled the situation with the stolen guns here) bely his words to Tara a bit. His mouth may say “No, no, no,” but his eyes (and fists) keep saying “Yes, yes, yes.”

Whatever long-term doubts I have about how Kurt Sutter can make this work as the story arc of a season that he intends to be the middle chapter of a long series, the tension that Clay’s plan has generated within the club has provided some very interesting drama in the short-term. There’s a lot of maneuvering to get the proper amount of votes for the cartel deal(*), alliances are shifting, friends are starting to mistrust each other and the club remains very much fractured after Clay wins the 6-5 vote.

(*) Though this is a situation where I wish we either knew more about Miles or else Sutter hadn’t decided to upgrade him from prospect to keep the voting numbers uneven. Clay and Bobby go round and round trying to get the necessary votes to pass or squash the deal, and the swing votes wind up being Kozik, whom we only know a little about (was him being a former addict new information?) and Miles, about whom we know nothing.

The other storylines were a mixed bag. The plot with Kozik losing the truckload of guns felt like filler – or, at least, like the kind of standalone story the show has done so often that you can see the rough shape of it long before it gets to the end. (Did anyone, for instance, not know that the truck would be stolen while Kozik was shooting hoops?) Potter(**) and Roosevelt trying to blackmail Juice with the news of his true racial identity could be interesting eventually, but in this moment it mainly raised the question of how a Puerto Rican guy became so accepted in a subculture where each ethnicity largely has its own club. I’m not saying there isn’t a good reason for why Juice wanted to join SAMCRO, why they wanted him, etc., but I hope we get a better sense of what those reasons are – and why him being Puerto Rican is okay but him being half-black is not – very soon. (On the plus side, I’m just glad to see Theo Rossi finally get his own storyline, three-plus seasons in.)

(**) I’m a little amused by how Potter always seems to know so much about what the Sons are up, without us ever seeing his people getting that intel for him. I get that they want him to seem much sharper and less susceptible to trickeration than Stahl or some of the club’s other law-enforcement opponents have been, and there are so many stories going on right now that the show probably can’t spare time to have multiple scenes where Potter discusses things we already know, but it’s starting to seem like the guy’s omniscient. Hard narrative choices sometimes have unintended consequences.

A few other thoughts:

• This is the last of the three episodes I saw before the season started. Hopefully, I’ll keep getting them with enough lead time to get the reviews up for when the episodes finish airing, but if the reviews slip to Wednesday mornings, it’s just because my schedule is hellacious right now with the start of the network season.

• While Roosevelt appears to have leverage on Juice, Unser in turn may be finding a vulnerable spot with our new sheriff when he spots Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt having a difficult conversation outside a fertility specialist’s office.

• On “The Shield,” Michael Chiklis coined a phrase the actors used to describe the show’s more twisted moments: “‘The Shield: It’s so wrong.” When I asked Shawn Ryan about that once, he said pretty much every “It’s so wrong” moment could be credited to Kurt Sutter. I watched the half-buried Russian man all covered in bugs and whispered to myself, “Sons of Anarchy: It’s so wrong.”

What did everybody else think?

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