The fifth season of Sons of Anarchy has been pretty uniformly decent, tying together story lines from the last few seasons and bringing them (some of them) to their conclusions or to important turning points. It hasn’t been easy — Season Five has taken plenty of side streets to get where we are now, and made some strange detours along the way. But “To Thine Own Self” brought together all of the best elements of the series (the relationships, the machinations and most of all the humor) and seems so far to be the best hour yet offered this season. It was visceral, it was fun, it was strange, and it was ominous. Hit the jump for why “I am rapturous!”
I believe series creator Kurt Sutter has said he has two more seasons left in him of stories he would like to tell about SAMCRO, and in all likelihood he’ll get that opportunity. Still, Season Five has been playing out like a series finale, setting up a final conflict between Jax and Clay. Then, at the end of this episode: a major twist! What was Bobby doing with Clay? How is he planning to save him and, to be honest, why the hell would he want to?
Last week I talked about all of the secrets Jax had been holding on to, parsing out information here and there selectively (and often selective versions of the truth). In “To Thine Own Self” though, Jax finally comes clean to everyone about everything, with the exception of Chibs and Bobby still being the only ones (in addition to Tara and Gemma) who know the full truth about Clay.
Bobby and Chibs have been indispensable to Jax, and rightfully so — Chibs’ unwavering loyalty and lack of hesitation when it comes to exacting violence as well as Bobby’s cool head and sage advice make for two of the best right-hand men anyone could have. It marks a change from the days of Clay’s chaotic reign, with the unstable Tig at his side. Bobby will usually always take the path of least bloodshed, so what he has in store for Clay will be interesting, especially since he told him to “keep that piece close.” How could he possibly be on his side?
The most satisfying element of the episode was Jax being able to release so much of the info about Galindo, the Feds and RICO. I’m a little confused about the Feds though — wasn’t the point for them to set Galen and the Irish up? Wasn’t the IRA the main prize? Jax setting up gun running from the Chinese via Gaza is, uh, a nice gesture for Galindo, but why were the Feds so happy to accept it?
Regardless, that mess has always taken a back seat to the more interesting dynamics within the club. There were some particularly nice interactions between Clay and Tig (I loved how Tig stayed strong to his disgust and mistrust of Clay, at least so far) as well as a strangely sweet moment between Tara and Unser. In case we have forgotten that the show has set Tara up as Gemma, Jr, there she is seeking counsel from Unser just as Gemma would. Poor Unser had to be reminded of his cancer in this episode, but it was a good bonding moment for the two that really seemed to set Tara back in motion of putting her career first.
I was nervous at the start of the episode when Tara said to Jax that her job opportunity might be their last chance for escape. Foreshadowing? Hopefully not. Her making a move to take the job on the DL doesn’t seem to be a good move, because there’s no way Jax is getting out of the club any time soon. What will happen to those two worries me.
I never truly believed Jax wanted out of SAMCRO and Charming — he wanted out from under Clay, and he wanted to be rid of the drugs and guns (which he now organized for SAMCRO), but he loves the club. The scene where Jax and company were in the car firing off at Nero’s gang who had ambushed them and the car went into the ravine, etc, proved that. Jax hollered in happiness, and the men were all amped over what had just happened with a kind of collective “fuck yeah!” Jax could never be without that and be happy, so what that portends for his future with Tara remains to be seen.
The only bit of “To Thine Own Self” that felt overwrought was Otto. I just have a feeling every time he’s on screen that Sutter just enjoys getting jacked up and punishing himself through his character, for whatever reason. Otto has not been an integral part to anything in a long time, but he gets an inordinate amount of screen time. The RICO thing kept him mildly relevant, but now this whole thing with Donal Logue messing with him and following Tara for mysterious and unexplained reasons … feels like something that doesn’t need to get started yet, if at all. The great thing about this episode was how about fifteen plots all finally came together. Starting to create more side-stories now seems unnecessary. Still, a great hour of TV.
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I was really, really happy some humor came back this week. I loved Chucky’s rhymes (“I’m in motion without commotion”), and Gemma saying to Clay, “the Dr. Seuss thing is new, but he’s pretty much certifiable.”
— Phew, Jax’s plan to include Alvarez, Tyler and Lin in taking over their gun and drug business is pretty complicated, but I hope it works!
— “I have an Elk’s Lodge full of opening-day pussy, and you want a quality of life chat?” – Tig. Also, first time Clay’s genuinely laughed in several seasons?
— Poor, poor Nero. First his gang causes problems for SAMCRO, then he kills like half of them on a wild suspicion of kidnapping. Unfortunate. Granted, he does only shoot down the ones who were about to shoot at him but still, he basically dared them. And then his meltdown with Gemma …. why would she not clue him in? She tells plenty of other tales out of school.
— Gemma was particularly sloppy with her relationship with Nero in front of Clay. What is she thinking? She basically screwed Jax and Tara over by bitching about Tara being at Stockton and asking Clay to look into it (typical), yet can’t tell Nero she has a mission to complete for Jax?
— I was actually really hoping Otto had been killed in prison but nope! He’s like Rasputin.
— Regarding the Juice / documents / Clay scene I just wrote “FFFFFFFFFFFFFF” in my notes. Poor dumb Juice.
— “I’m tired of being crushed under the weight of greedy men who believe in nothing.” – Jax