At some point I should upload a scan of my notes for Sons of Anarchy, because they are far, far more chaotic than any other show I have ever reviewed. Even Boardwalk Empire, with its myriad plots, can’t compare. At least with Boardwalk, certain stories develop in their own world, like little vignettes whose significance may not be made clear now or ever, but they’re still enjoyable to watch unfold. Sons of Anarchy has plenty of strange, throwaway plots too (look to almost any guest stars during the season and you’ll find the filler) and has been chastised by many, myself included, for being just about plot points more than character development (though not unusual for a series in its fifth season). Still, one’s mind is impressively boggled by the incredible amount of layers in not just the outside forces pressing on SAMCRO, but the changing alliances within. Hit the jump for my attempts at untangling some of the spider’s web.
Most of my notes for SOA are just reminders about meetings and conversation, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a list as this week: Chibs and Gemma, Chibs and Jax, Bobby and Jax, Juice and Jax, Clay and Gemma, Jax and Eli, Jax and Hale, Jax and Pope, Tara and Otto, Gemma and Unser, Clay and Juice, Clay and Galindo. I mean, damn, y’all. And those are just the one-on-ones. Let’s not forget SAMCRO and the Grim Bastards’ interactions, or Tara’s prelim job interview, etc.
Each of these conversations also moved each of their own plots forward, or added new dimension to them. For example, though Jax and Bobby brought Chibs up to speed on the RICO and Juice issues, Chibs also countered with intel of his own – Juice’s black dad (which to their credit, Jax and Bobby thought was completely ridiculous). Jax later confronted Juice about why he didn’t confide in him. SAMCRO needs to take a seminar on communication. The font flows one way, to Jax. He then deciminates information — or versions of it — as he sees fit to the rest of the club. Whenever anyone strikes out on their own without the full info (which only Jax possesses, and even he is missing pieces) then, to quote a meme, “here go to the hell come.”
Clay, former Keeper of Secrets, is now squarely opposed to Jax. He knows almost everything Jax does, and unlike Jax, he manipulates those around him through emotion more than business sense, logic, and the occasional threat. He’s building up his army against Jax just as Jax is doing against him, moving people into place and securing alliances for the eventual war. As such, let’s check in where everyone stands right now and who is better primed for success.
Clay has the advantage over Jax right now with Galindo because of his connect to the Irish, which despite the cathartic fisticuffs earlier this season, Galen and Jax are really not as good as Galen and Clay. Galindo / feds want the Irish, and Clay is in a better position to deliver. Clay also has Juice, maybe — Juice could sacrifice himself for Clay, though it seems unlikely. Still, he’s psychologically a mess so he’s difficult to predict.
At the table, Jax has Chibs and Tig (although if Tig finds out that Jax is selling him to Pope, that could be disastrous). He may have Bobby, but Bobby may take himself out of things completely, not wanting to subscribe to either Jax or Clay’s plans. Happy is always a wildcard, as are the prospects. Few things are secure.
Away from the table, Jax has a tenuous alliance with Pope as well as a decent plan brewing with Eli. He also has the advantage over Clay regarding the club and RICO, with Tara having convinced Otto to recant (and he did so with particularly brutal flourish and collateral damage). The way things will play out at the table have a lot to do with how things play out away from it, as far as RICO and Galindo and Pope, etc. SAMCRO will need to consider the past and future of the club, and there simply doesn’t seem to be one with Clay, who not only transgressed against them but who also wants them to remain steeped in bloodshed.
When watching the “last time, on Sons of Anarchy” preview I was struck by how every scene was essentially structured around a kind of Hammurabi’s Law type of revenge. Everyone’s leverage on almost everyone else has to do with the fact that they killed the wrong person (not that it was a mistake — in some cases it was — but more that they messed with the wrong people by killing whoever they did). Everyone is looking for blood and retribution, and as a commentary on gang violence in America it’s pretty damn stark.
So much happened in “Crucifixed” it’s impossible to give a detailed account of it all, but the pattern is clear. Jax is Good Chaos, and Clay is Bad Chaos. It’s not just who will prevail, but how they do it and who gets taken out along with them. Outside influencers aside, this is still a story about an MC in free-fall, and unfortunately, they haven’t yet seemed to reach the bottom, which is worrying for everyone still left at that table.
Episode Rating: A-
— Tara should have sensed the red flags when Otto wanted to pray alone, right after an incident where he basically sniffed her while wanking. Girl, if he can do that with you there, he can pray with you there, don’t be fooled.
— Yikes that scene was brutal. Also, Tara waking up her baby to hold him? Again, felt out of character.
— I like “crucifixed” as a verb, much like “brained.”
— Poor Juice. He’s got to back Jax on this even though he feels closer to Clay. And what about Chibs? Can he not bring him back into the fold? I’m quite surprised, given Jax and Chibs’ alliance, that Jax didn’t tell Chibs the plan with Juice and Clay, which Chibs could have helped secure.
— Was Jax right to “shit on two decades of brotherhood,” to quote Bobby? The emotions of revenge drive everything on this show.
— “Luann was a Jesus nut, it balanced out the shame she felt for taking dick in her ass her whole life” – Otto
— Once again, Tara is on the precipice of something great with her career and her involvement with the MC brings her down. She made the choice, though.
— I really can’t tell how Gemma feels about Clay anymore. I think she must still care about him a little. Maybe not!
— Does Clay really care about Juice and Gemma, or is he just manipulating them both? So hard to tell …
— I’m glad Unser has something to do again besides whine about Gemma.
— “I love you, kid” – Chibs to Jax and all my feels. That may currently be the only sincere alliance on the show.