‘Sons of Anarchy’ – ‘Turning and Turning’: Did somebody say deal?

A review of tonight’s “Sons of Anarchy” coming up just as soon as I’m in a position of influence…

“We gotta get to Belfast.” -Jax

Well hip-hip-hooray.

Some of my objections to the recent delays about getting the Sons to Belfast weren’t about impatience with delays in general, but with these specific, clearly artificial delays. I have no problem waiting to see Jax in Ireland if there’s a legitimate, interesting reason for him to have to wait, as opposed to this whole recent business with the phone numbers.

“Turning and Turning” finally told Jax where he needs to go, but it was also a compelling episode that didn’t have me wishing we could get the hell out of Charming already.

In particular, Jax’s secret alliance with Agent Stahl was not something I expected, and a development that should keep things lively for the rest of the season. It’s remarkable how Stahl’s role in the show has evolved. Originally, she was brought in as a counterpoint to the Jay Karnes character – an ATF agent who was a thorn in the club’s side, but not nuts – and then Big Otto smashed her face into a table, Donna got killed, etc., and now Stahl is crazier and more problematic for Jax than Kohn ever was. There’s the danger that she becomes a caricature – the evil butch lesbian who will betray you every single time – but that final scene at her home showed that Jax has figured out how vulnerable she’s become after last year’s disasters. A lot of what she says to Gemma and company is a show being put on by a desperate woman, and while I’m sure this deal will blow up in Jax’s face a time or 12, if he goes in knowing what Stahl’s about and how little power she really has right now, he just might be able to pull off this Hail Mary that would bring Abel home, put Jimmy O in prison, spring Gemma and leave the Sons with only brief sentences on the gun charges (to be served between seasons three and four, no doubt).

And whenever Jax does get to Ireland, the show’s made it pretty clear that he’s going to find out some ugly things about his dad. Will it just be that JT had an affair with Maureen, and is presumably the father of Maureen’s daughter? That would certainly be rough enough given Jax’s hero worship of the guy, and thematically appropriate for a season about fathers and sons. But since the show has already told us about JT and Maureen, and hasn’t been subtle about her daughter, I wonder if Sutter and company are waiting to spring something even bigger on us and Jax at the same time. Then again, maybe it is what it is. After all, lots of you were predicting that Tara was pregnant after her behavior in recent episodes, and Gemma got her to confirm it here. (Because Gemma always knows about other people, if not herself.)

The episode, meanwhile, did a nice job of tending to the non-Belfast storylines. The club runs afoul of the Mayans and their puppet club (and Juice again fulfills his role as the SAMCRO punching bag), and Unser explains that with the recent local arrest, “I gotta be a cop for a while,” which takes away the club’s most useful power in any kind of war with a rival MC. So whomever gets left behind for the Belfast trip will not be bored.

“Turning and Turning” didn’t have some of the emotional high points of last week’s episode, but from the standpoint of the season’s larger plots, it left me much more satisfied, and eager to move on to whatever comes in next week’s episode.

Some other thoughts:

• I felt after Margaret’s last experience that the show had maybe taken the character too far in the other direction from her two-dimensional season two characterization – that even a perfectly sympathetic and professional woman would take it personally if a co-worker slapped her around and threatend her kids. But so long as we stick to the company line that Tara’s a first-rate surgeon who makes a second-rate hospital better, I think that runner works.

• Kenny Johnson hasn’t come back yet as Kozik, but in the interim, we got another “The Shield” alum in David Marciano, who played Juice’s weird friend The Chicken Man. Marciano’s just funny, and I’m always happy to see him working.

• I can’t have been the only one who was continually distracted by the fact that Gemma’s nurse was a dead ringer for Edie Falco on “Nurse Jackie,” can I?

• The business with the old boxing gym will surely come back. Should we assume that the corporate interests trying to buy up the block are with Jacob Hale, or someone else?

• Getting back to Stahl for a moment, shouldn’t she be pushing for Gemma’s deal to go through? Without it, Gemma has no motivation to play along with her story, and while Gemma’s version might not convince a jury, it sure as hell could be damaging with Stahl’s displeased ATF bosses.

• Also, does Stahl’s girlfriend have an Irish accent, or am I just starting to hear random accents because of all the Belfast scenes?

• The scene where Jax takes out Jimmy O’s man Luke was oddly-edited, and briefly gave me the impression that Jax had come with other Sons, one of whom was calling to him from off-camera right as we went to commercial.

What did everybody else think?