Nobody Puts Tara In A Corner: What We Learned From This Week’s ‘Sons Of Anarchy’

This is what Kurt Sutter does best: He brilliantly writes himself into a corner, as he has done once again with Tara this season. The dicey part, however, comes when Sutter tries to remove his characters from that corner. There, the results are mixed. He either kills the character (Opie), finds a too-convenient excuse to save the character (Tig, Clay, Tara, Clay, Tig), drops in a deus ex machina (Clay) or he comes out shooting (Tig, when Jax killed Damon Pope). At this point in season six, however, it doesn’t look like there’s any outs left for Tara Knowles, which means she either has to die or Sutter drops in another deus ex machina.

Not for nothing, but Shakespeare’s Ophelia, who Tara is based on, went mad with grief, climbed into a tree, fell into a brook, and drowned, essentially killing herself, around the equivalent of the sixth season of Hamlet. How do you extrapolate that into Sons of Anarchy? A bleary-eyed, weeping Tara crashes her car into a tree trying to escape Charming? Maybe.

See You On the Other Side — For a series that I often worried would buckle without the Jax and Clay feud to drive it, this season — the best since season two — has done remarkably well, despite little screen time for Clay, and more importantly, despite the fact that Clay and Jax are on somewhat amicable terms. Last night’s episode, “Huang Wu,” was basically set into motion by the court’s decision to move Clay’s trial date up, forcing the Irish to push up their own plan to pull Clay out during the trip to his court date. Before the extraction, however, Clay continued to show his decent side by signing everything over to Gemma, so that she won’t have to divorce him to retrieve his assets, which would be difficult if Clay disappears, as he plans to, in order to run guns for the Irish in Northern California. I get the feeling that Clay is not optimistic about the plan, however. “See you on the other side,” he says with what are perhaps his final words to Gemma.

Sorry About the Blood, But We Had to Send a Message — The Irish, who are now short on time, have a plan for Clay’s removal, but not the manpower, so they cajole Jax and the MC to take care of the extraction. Having no choice but to agree to Galen O’Shay’s demands, Jax accedes, but there’s one more piece of business to take care of: Making the Italians agree to continue their contract with the Irish. Galen helps move those negotiations along by testing their new weapons on the Chinese, much to the dismay of the Italians, SAMCRO, and especially the Chinese.

This Is Our Territory. We Earned It. We Deserve It — Galen’s assholery also put Jax’s plan to hand Galen O’Shay over to the district attorney in jeopardy. Basically, the Chinese demanded at gun point that SAMCRO give the gun-running business up to the Chinese in Northern California, and let the Chinese kill Galen O’Shay. They’re holding Happy hostage until the agreement is settled, although Happy is eating Chinese food, watching cartoons, and having the time of his life with the Chinese.

All of this sets up next week’s episode, which should be a fantastic, action-driven hour (or hour and a half), with a lot of competing interests. Jax is scheduled to help the Irish extract Clay, and Jax doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether Clay lives or dies, escapes or doesn’t. Meanwhile, the district attorney and a buttload of cops will be there to prevent the extraction and take in Galen O’Shay, while the Chinese will also be on hand to take down Galen O’Shay before he’s taken in by DA Patterson and inherit the gun-running business. So, basically, there are three factions — the Irish, the Chinese, and the cops — each with a lot of weaponry, pitted against each other. I am guessing that there will be a lot of casualties, and whoever remains standing after the bullets stop flying will get what they want. SAMCRO will duck out, and probably and let their enemies take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, I also think it may mean the end of the road for Eli Roosevelt.

I Don’t Give a sh*t about Your Cancer — Meanwhile, in the happy fun times portion of the episode, Unser and Nero take a car trip to Wendy’s place, wherein an initially cold Unser warms up to the charms of Nero. How could he not? Nero — a former gangster turned legit pimp — is basically the coolest, nicest, most understanding guy left in Charming, and even Unser — who is jealous of Nero because of his relationship with Gemma — arrives at that conclusion, as well.

Wayne: Thank God you were here.
Nero: Don’t suck up to me now homes. It’s like embarrassing.

The ‘If You Use Again, I’ll Rip Your Tits Off’ Rehab — The reason for Unser and Nero’s trip was to check in on Wendy, who had relapsed after Gemma pulled a confession out of her, and relapsed again after Tara confronted her about it. Basically, Wendy is a mess. Unser and Nero kept her from suffocating in her own smack fire, and Gemma strolled in and sent Wendy back to rehab, where she can hang out on the sidelines in case Kurt Sutter needs another diversion, having once again fulfilled her character’s purpose this season.

I Need to Put Some Distance Here or Someone’s Gonna Get Hurt — Credit goes to Jax for not walking in and blowing away his wife after finding out that she wanted a divorce, and had plans to take his kids away from her. You’d think if Tara and Jax really loved their kids as much as they say they do, Thomas and Abel wouldn’t spend so much goddamn time in daycare or with Unser. The extent of Tara and Jax’s relationships with their children seems to be one loving look during a musical montage once an episode.

Anyway, Jax apologized and made good with Gemma and Nero (and Nero, of course, was like “No problem, homes” because Nero is awesome), and then he basically put Juice on Tara patrol and tabled the confrontation for a couple of days (i.e., the penultimate episode, after the Clay extraction). We have no idea what’s going on in Jax’s head, although that one scene in the church suggested to me that maybe Jax might want what is best for his kids, and may even give them up to Tara, who he at least knows is a good mom.

That seems bloody unlikely, however, as long as Gemma is in the picture.

Come On, Time for You to Unwind — Meanwhile, Jax is blowing off some steam by banging Colette, who is officially in bed with Jax both personally and professionally now. It is weird that Jax is sleeping with a woman 15 years his senior, and it does feel like there may be some unresolved Mommy issues. But I’m not complaining; Kim Dickens has a very lovely 48-year-old backside.

What You Did, There’s No Coming Back From That — Elsewhere, Gemma’s major contribution to the episode was her confrontation with Tara, where she basically told her daughter-in-law that she has two choices, neither of which include being with her sons. Thomas and Abel will either be told that Mommy moved away, or Mommy passed away. I still don’t think Jax would kill Tara, but I don’t doubt that Gemma would, if given the opportunity.

Nobody Can Help Me — All of which puts Tara in a corner. She has nowhere left to go. If she takes the kids and runs, she’s dead. If she stays, she’s dead. If she leaves by herself, she loses the only things that matter to her life, so she’s emotionally dead. If there’s anything that leaves her some hope, it’s her melt down after she walked in on Jax banging Colette. Jax at least saw, when Tara gave Colette a beat down, that she still clearly has feelings for him, and maybe Jax can see through to that, and understand that Tara is not driven by a disdain for her husband, but by a genuine concern for her children, a concern that Jax should feel as well. Maybe Jax can also see that everything that Tara has become is Jax’s fault. Tara was once a naive, innocent doctor terrified of SAMCRO and of Gemma, and now she’s basically Gemma. That’s on Jax.

Maybe there’s a future, but I don’t think so, not after Tara tried to play her last card by turning on SAMCRO in exchange for witness protection for her kids, a deal that Patterson pulled off the table, thanks to Jax’s maneuvering. Tara is in a hopeless position, now. She’s got no friends (even Margaret Murphy up and left); she has no husband; she has no family; and she’s about to lose her kids.

So begins the madness and, I suspect, Tara’s suicide by grief.