SONS OF ANARCHY Episode Recap: “Toad’s Wild Ride”

by     Posted 1 year, 328 days ago

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Until the last few minutes of “Toad’s Wild Ride,” I was having a rather nice go of things.  Sons of Anarchy threw some weirdness at us this year, and a lot (and I do mean a metric crap ton) of violence, but in “Toad’s Wild Ride” there were some really interesting moments about loyalty and betrayal, especially bringing Juice’s story to the forefront.  Alliances change often on the show, but Bobby, Chibs and even Tig are firmly in Jax’s corner right now.  Clay is delusional if he thinks he could get back at the head of the table and past all of them.  I sincerely doubt, too, that Juice would ever fully back Clay in a coup, especially if Chibs was on the other side.  Still, seeing Clay carefully play Unser and Juice and the Nomads was fun to watch, especially the trick he pulled at Unser’s Airstream.  Clay is just as dangerous as ever, and now Jax knows that giving him a second chance was a mistake.  Of course, most of us would have thought the first time after someone tried to kill everyone we love but, you know, things are different in Charming.  For more on the wild ride and what Joel McHale has to do with it all, hit the jump.

Sons-of-Anarchy-Katey-SagalI’ve got to launch right in to those final few moments first, because I’m riled up and pissed off.  Gemma is on a downward spiral, we get it, she has gotten into a lot of shit this year that’s largely been her own fault as she careens out of control (instead of like, in prior seasons, where she has been a victim).  But do we really need to bring the kids into it?  I think most of us knew something bad was going to happen as soon as Jax said he and Tara should get away for the weekend.  Historically, every time they try to “get away” it’s a problem.  There were a few ways it could have gone (an attack on Tara, or Jax, or anyone), but the show chose the darkest option.

I want to give the writers the benefit of the doubt that there’s a reason (besides making history completely repeat and Tara = Gemma) that they put Abel in that position, like the kid hasn’t been through enough? (junkie mother, heart surgery, kidnapped by the IRA, etc).  And so help me if he dies, I will lose all hope for the show.  The violence, which I ranted on about last week, seems to be for its own sake now, cartoonish in some kind of ever-escalating competition to see just how far it can all go.  Since we’ve more or less been desensitized to death on the show (when Unser and Clay blew away Greg and Go-Go, I was more shocked by the twist than the violence, which was inevitable — same with Joel McHale’s character getting a beatdown. Not necessary, but not surprising), so there have to be new ways to shock us.  Seeing Dawn burn to death or Opie get his head bashed in was just a primer, it seems.  Now there’s a kid with a potentially fatal head wound who’s dripping blood onto a plush doll.  Just ruin my day, why don’t you?

In other news from the gallows, I don’t care if the Nomads live or die — we hardly knew them, and aside from the one who reminded me of Jason Lee I didn’t even remember what they looked like (or knew their names until this episode).  It would have been interesting to get a little more background on them or their deal with Clay, or how they interacted with Jax while knowing that they were always against him, but no matter.  They’re gone now, and Clay seems to be able to convince most everyone that they were on somebody’s payroll other than his.  Like who?  No one stops to ask about this, even though all evidence points towards him.  Or is everyone just playing nice to protect themselves from his wrath?

sons-of-anarchy-joel-mchaleElsewhere we got a decent car chase with some painfully self-aware camera work that didn’t really add to things, but it was fun seeing Joel McHale doing donuts and thinking he could scare off the MC with a few paltry gunshots into the air.  Nero kicking the crap out of him later was fine but felt redundant, though I still like Nero’s presence overall because he is the calming father-figure that Jax needs.  Jax had a nice though slightly weird conversation with Gemma (“I was kind of glad he was dead so I could have you all to myself” … yikes), but that along with Clay talking with Unser and other quiet moments felt a little more like the character-building of earlier seasons rather than the unending ultra-violence of the current one (there’s always been violence and there’s always been character stuff, it just feels more off-balance this year than ever before).

Though not much was resolved in “Toad’s Wild Ride,” the ending set up some major drama in weeks to come.  There are so many places to go with things now (the oft-forgotten political angle with Jacob Hale, the CIA stuff, Pope, Galindo, Clay and Nomads) plus the car crash and also, who was it who attacked Jax and Chibs at the end?  Niners?  Someone Eli sent?  Or more likely, Clay?  So many questions and, for now, very few answers.

Episode Rating: B

Musings and Miscellanea:

– I know this is nit-picky, but anyone else think that even the words “care package” seemed woefully underwhelming regarding a man whose wife was brutally murdered and who has given his eyes and his life to the club?  Thanks for the memories!

– “You’re not on borrowed time, to me you’re already dead.” – Tara

– Gemma’s Morning of Shame when everyone showed up to help her about the stolen car, etc, did make me chuckle.

– I knew something was going to happen to the kids, I knew it!  Prove me wrong Sutter, let Able live!

– At least Thomas seemed ok. Scared, but ok.

– Good to see Lyla back and doing some admin work instead of just porn.

– The opening scene with Clay and the Nomads reminded me of the infamous Michael Caine scene from The Italian Job: “She was 16 years old! You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”

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  • Sawyer

    I can’t believe able was killed off. Might as well have been Gemma! Who knows what Tara is going to do her, Jax even! The entire club went through hell and back getting Abel from the IRA and because of the recklessness of an emotional Gemma, just like that, Abel is dead. Sucks to be Gemma right about now…

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  • Anonymous

    Get carter?

  • Anonymous

    Get Carter?

  • Jordan

    I have to agree with the points brought up here regarding violence in place of character development. This year the violence seems to be a way of developing the characters. It’s not very effective and shock value is in a state of continuous decline. We barely got a chance to breathe after losing Opie, the loss of Abel would prove truly suffocating in it’s cruel timing and circumstance. I’m going with the theory that Abel is still alive, only because it would fit the classic Kurt Sutter bait and switch; he loves pulling unnecessary plot twists out of thin air. Killing or wounding Abel seems to serve little purpose other then raising the stakes. Character development does that without the cheap theatrics. Sutter could learn many lessons from Breaking Bad on this point.

  • Jordan

    I have to agree with the points brought up here regarding violence in place of character development. This year the violence seems to be a way of developing the characters. It\’s not very effective and shock value is in a state of continuous decline. We barely got a chance to breathe after losing Opie, the loss of Abel would prove truly suffocating in it\’s cruel timing and circumstance. I\’m going with the theory that Abel is still alive, only because it would fit the classic Kurt Sutter bait and switch; he loves pulling unnecessary plot twists out of thin air. Killing or wounding Abel seems to serve little purpose other then raising the stakes. Character development does that without the cheap theatrics. Sutter could learn many lessons from Breaking Bad on this point.

  • Hollie

    If Abel dies I am done too! I have never been this sick to my stomach after watching. No reason to hurt those babies.

  • DoctorWho

    He isn’t exactly dead yet…

  • Bill

    As long as ex nomad Happy still alive im good

    • Er1k Beware

      Agreed, we need more Happy on every damn episode! And if there is gonna be violence Happy needs to be in the mix!

      • Anonymous

        Must be a Hell’s Angel or a HA sympathizer. Happy is essentially irrelevant to the show as an actor but is more useful as a consultant

  • Anonymous

    It’s a TV show… get over it!

    • Megan Allene

      shut up. why are you even researching this? so you can knock it? thats dumb. your dumb.

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  • Megan Allene

    shut up. why are you even researching this? so you can knock it? thats dumb. your dumb. you get a life

    • lerlla

      you sound like a moron. do yourself a favor, just stop and throw yourself off the nearest highrise immediately.

  • Anonymous

    Damn everybody is a critic. Its easy to compare prior episodes and seasons blah blah. The bottom line is there has to be drama and seed planting. Most should be answered by the end of the season. You forget Abel is not Tara’s son. Maybe they will get Wendy to kill Gemma. They need to create a rift between Jax and Gemma/Clay. I am sure Clay will end up unscathed. If he lives then there isnt anyone vying for control of SAMCRO.

  • chrstphr

    I think if Able died or was permanently injured there would have been some sort of Jax/Tara freak out in the “scenes from next week’s SOA” montage at the end. This show is still nuts, but we need to see the end of Clay this season or the whole series will be dragging major ass…

  • joleree

    We don’t know anything……we saw a wreck that Gamma will blame on miners, nomads or pope.
    We saw a clearly not moving child and some liquid. My guess is it turns out to be a juice box or cup, Abel though hurt….lives. Gamma lies….everyone except Tara buys it, the go after whomever gamma blames and Tara goes after gamma……maybe with an assist from Wendy…………but…sutter would show balls of absolute steel to kill the kid.

  • joleree

    I can spell, I swear……spell check fixes words that do not need it….
    Please insert:
    Gemma
    Niners
    They
    ………..thank you

  • Anonymous

    I hope Able doesn’t die. Regardless of if he does or doesn’t I see Sutter with the opportunity to bring Wendy back in and additional story lines with her. Perhaps Jax and Tara won’t trust Gemma anymore and Wendy will be thrown in as the surrogate mom/care taker to both the kids and hook up with Juice or one of the other characters and become an old lady to someone. Thoughts?

  • Vigi

    It’s probably a cliche to say you’re done with the show after the final scene, but it’s hard to not feel that way. It just feels completely unnecessary given all the dumb drama this show consistently conjures up.

    You kill the boy, you effectively kill all the other plots because what parent would want to continue their daily rut after that. Would Tara (eventhough Abel’s not her biological son) really give a shit about Otto? Or would she finally take her other, flesh and blood son (who she’s been neglectful of as she slips deeper into her role as Gemma Jr) and get the hell away from the club? Would this strengthen Jax to be the president he can be, or would he just get over it in 3 weeks as seems to have done with his best friend?

    And if he doesn’t die, what’s the point of putting that image into our heads, while we hear Thomas cry? Just for shock value? Because you’ve done so much to the adults that the show is basically spinning it’s wheels (ha!) until they pull out another macguffin and Jax outsmarts Pope?

    What’s next? Gemma’s Thomas isn’t dead and will challenge Jax for the throne next year?

  • Vigi

    It\’s probably a cliche to say you\’re done with the show after the final scene, but it\’s hard to not feel that way. It just feels completely unnecessary given all the dumb drama this show consistently conjures up.

    You kill the boy, you effectively kill all the other plots because what parent would want to continue their daily rut after that. Would Tara (eventhough Abel\’s not her biological son) really give a shit about Otto? Or would she finally take her other, flesh and blood son (who she\’s been neglectful of as she slips deeper into her role as Gemma Jr) and get the hell away from the club? Would this strengthen Jax to be the president he can be, or would he just get over it in 3 weeks as seems to have done with his best friend?

    And if he doesn\’t die, what\’s the point of putting that image into our heads, while we hear Thomas cry? Just for shock value? Because you\’ve done so much to the adults that the show is basically spinning it\’s wheels (ha!) until they pull out another macguffin and Jax outsmarts Pope?

    What\’s next? Gemma\’s Thomas isn\’t dead and will challenge Jax for the throne next year?

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