There are only a few episodes left in Sons of Anarchy‘s final season, which means it’s time to get down to brass tacks. “Faith and Despondency” delivered in a number of ways: sex was had, eyes were lost, genealogies were considered, silverware were reconsidered, motorcycles were ridden, vaseline was dispensed, and there were both deep conversations and shallow graves. Hit the jump if you’re looking for some professional comfort.
In some ways, “Faith and Despondency” was a miniature version of Sons of Anarchy as a whole. It touched on so many different things, I think the only way to organize this is to categorically group it:
What an (eye-opening) opener. It seemed that all of SAMCRO, plus Gemma, were looking for some sexual healing in the wake of Bobby’s death. But by the end of the episode, those pairings ended up where they should be. Gemma tells Nero that she will help him move into his new place, which is music to his ears. Rat, though he sought the love of an escort for reasons that aren’t clear, ended the hour back with Brooke, who even stood up to defend him when Nero lost it over seeing him bloodied up in Gemma’s kitchen. Jarry let her neuroses get the better of her (again), but she and Chibs ended up working it out through some very rough foreplay. Tig had a surprisingly emotional scene with Venus, where he soliloquized about wanting to be normal, and wanting to try with her. Jax actually invited Wendy back into his home with Abel, just like when the series started (more or less), and even told Abel that Wendy was his “first” mommy. All of these tender relationship moments, though, were juxtaposed with Tully raping Juice in prison (which I’ll get to more in the Musings).
They also added to the character development of long-established SAMCRO members like Tig, Chibs, and of course Jax, as they reevaluate where they are emotionally after Bobby’s death. The last few seasons haven’t allowed for much in terms of personal relationships, even just with the Crow Eaters, so it makes sense — as the series winds down — for these stories to be revisited (in Sons of Anarchy‘s typically insane way, of course — Chibs is hooking up with a cop, Tig is with a man who knows she’s a woman, and Jax’s inviting Wendy back into his home leads to Abel’s revelation about Gemma). Still, it was refreshing to have these moments in between the slaughter. Speaking of which …
“Faith and Despondency” did a nice trick by having Tyler appear to be acquiescing to Marks’ demands through Moses, which is entirely believable, since Tyler has never seemed like a very strong leader. That whole setup, leading Moses and his men into the heart of the white power compound, was also a good tie-in to SAMCRO’s business with them, and the power shift away from Leland towards the new guy.
Jax also managed to find a way to set Leland up, and have Unser kill him in protection of Eglee. But Unser is — rightfully — worried about the violent direction things are going. He had no idea, though, just how intense things got at the compound, where Moses was given the same treatment he gave to Bobby, sans grapefruit scoop. All of this keeps the church family in play for SAMCRO, as they use them to bring a legal case against Marks (the DA has not been around much this season, but I guess she’s appeased with what SAMCRO is feeding her).
The business end of things in “Faith and Despondency” featured some of the hallmarks of Sons of Anarchy‘s best action sequences: motorcycles racing down the road, the uncertainty of betrayal (who is betraying who?), gratuitous violence (not my personal favorite, but ymmv), and explosions. But what made it even better was that none of it was random — these were all plots that have been brewing all season, and bringing them together (and seemingly, fixing the Marks problem for now) was satisfying.
After several weeks of anticipation, wondering when Abel would drop the Gemma bomb to Jax (it had to be to Jax directly), that little scamp spilled the beans in the last few minutes. The rest of his involvement in “Faith and Despondency,” though, was harrowing. Did Thomas really scratch him, or did he self-harm to see what the response would be? When his teacher told him (or confirmed — I truly have no idea what the revenge capability of a 5-year-old is) that the police would get involved if someone hurt him, a plan was hatched. Him going into the bathroom and preparing to scratch up his arm with a fork was terrifying. His careful preparation, and staring at himself in the mirror first … good grief.
What he did got him the result he wanted, but only partially. Child services became involved, and Gemma had to be kept away from him (after he said she did it), but she wasn’t in trouble per say. What was odd, though, was how the parents all sat around pondering why Abel would implicate Gemma, instead of just asking him. But, that timing made better sense later; it caused Jax to have Abel and Wendy return to his home, giving him time to both tell Abel that Wendy is his mother (a huge moment for those characters, given her five years of struggle to make that truth come out) and for Abel to then say, “is that why Grandma killed my other Mommy?”
The fallout from this is going to be tremendous. Jax could choose to not believe him, but now that that first domino has been pushed, the cascade of others who both know (Juice) and suspect (Unser) may also fall into place. Especially since a very drugged-up and abused Juice may not care anymore what he says, and to whom.
“Faith and Despondency” has set up these final episodes to be epic, but it’s also proved that it’s not all about the big moments, the explosions, and the eye gouging. What Jax never could understand (but Tara did) was that a fresh start with SAMCRO could never include Gemma. What that’s going to look like in the final days of the series though cannot be predicted.
Musings and Miscellanea:
— That opening sequence was a little much, though I know Sutter loves bookending episodes with montages.
— Interesting how much Winsome resembles Tara, which is probably what made Jax so emotional.
— So Tully and Juice … the book of love poems by Emily Bronte, the vaseline, the cocaine — all typical stuff from Sutter. I have to think that Juice is still going to play a part in bringing Gemma down, though. I don’t think Tully is going to let him near Lin, because he might get killed.
— “We all leaned on Bobby. I’m not sure what SAMCRO looks like without him” – Jax.
— Abel really cut the hell out of his arm, didn’t he? Damn, son.
— A grapefruit spoon makes for a great eye gouger, apparently.
— Hilarious scene when Tig was called out; Chibs: “Not the time, brother” New White Power Leader: “I’m ok with the time.” Chibs: “He’s ok with the time!”
— I still can’t get over Boyd Crowder = Venus Van Dam, and I never will. That rack!
— “This is my crisscross. When I’m with you, I don’t have any secrets, I have to open myself up for this. You see everything, all of the things that I hide from everyone else. You see it all, and through all of that at you still love me? I’ve never had that with anyone” – Tiggy baby, getting emotional.
— Ah, the old “gun in a gift bag” trick.
— Tig: “There’s a pile of dead black guys in the yard.” Grim Bastard: “L.A.P.D. were here?”
— “So is that why Grandma killed my other Mommy, so my first Mommy could be here with me?” – Abel.