So much happens in any given episode of Sons of Anarchy it can be hard to know where to start. Even though in each season the action does focus down to a core four or five characters, with a few constants (Jax, Gemma and Clay) and a few rotations (in the past, Chibs and Unser, now Bobby and Nero), with Tara always floating around in the background as the most unevenly written character maybe of any show I’ve ever given serious consideration to … there’s always a lot going on. It’s helpful to have so many cards in play for Sons‘ incredibly complicated stories, though they can mange to veer too much into just a litany of plot points without enough character building. But “Andare Pescare” actually slowed down for some telling conversations and interactions, which made it a fairly strong episode. Hit the jump for why I don’t break into mausoleums — I’m not Tig!
Let’s start with the club action, which was summed up well in Bobby’s conversation with Clay. Clay has got to go, he needed to go last season but here he is, dragging his corpse around causing chaos in his wake, piling up bodies hither and yon. The thing is, everyone is tired of the bloodshed. The club started its schism last season and seems headed for ruin, with members dropping almost every episode. And while Bobby and Jax know that Clay is responsible for sending the Nomads out to do his biding, but there’s not proof yet. Could that be what Juice trades for to save his life?
Opie’s death was brutal and sudden, but he had been on a downward spiral for years, looking for a way out, and as far as his relationship with the audience went, he was never defined as much as some of the other characters. Juice, on the other hand, has featured prominently in most seasons and he’s been in trouble or attempting to find redemption for most of the last two. He has a distinct set of morals, and Theo Rossi gives really good puppy eyes. His road has been long and difficult to watch unfold; to cut him down now at the hands of the club would be cruel. The only hope is that Juice’s alliance with Clay may end up saving him instead of signing his death warrant as I had feared. Although, Jax hasn’t been feeling particularly forgiving lately.
Jax had an interesting moment with Eli, who never forgets he’s a cop, regarding Frankie. Turns out, coincidentally, that since Eli planted the seed of a rat at the table to Jax, that Jax has already worked out who it is, Frankie or no Frankie. Eli, seeing the corpse in front of him, realizes that throwing Juice under the bus as well is wrong, but it’s already too late. Perhaps he warns Juice to the upcoming firestorm? (Sidebar: I wish that Eli had more to do than just rant around and be a few steps behind the Sons. He’s not a friend, not quite a foe, but his character has a lot of potential that feels wasted. Losing his wife was yet another body that didn’t need to fall on the show).
Regarding other bodies in the category of Unnecessary Deaths, Carla got her burial moment with her half-brother and the woman she despised in a mausoleum full of strangers whose door Gemma kicked in (classy), being poured as she was into a vase. Much of Gemma’s story in “Andare Pescare” was about how perfect Nero is with her, how great she is with his kid, how they hold hands in the cemetery and laugh at the suicide of his sister, and how he buys her love birds, etc. And yet, she must give all of this up to get secrets for her son from her husband in order to get in the good graces of her daughter-in-law whose kids she nearly killed by being stoned … we should feel bad for her, right?
Look, Katey Sagal is great and Kurt Sutter obviously gives her more material than anyone, but sometimes it just feels like altogether too much. Am I invested in Gemma and Nero? Not really. It seems cute enough but it’s clearly a bad idea. I think Nero would be good for her, but I’m not sure she would be good for him. Gemma made a lot of mistakes this year and so far she hasn’t really had to pay for any of them. I’ve personally gone about 360 degrees on Gemma since the start of the show — didn’t care for her, then felt sorry for her, then thought she was a badass, and am back to being indifferent or actively irritated with her actions. Maybe this business with Clay will finally be her heroic moment of redemption this season. Let’s hope.
In any case, the season continues to be primed for Clay’s exit at the end one way or another, but can there be any other way but death? He won’t ever really stop otherwise. But as evil as Clay is, there are still moments when he almost seems ok. Gemma humanizes him in a way no other character can (except Juice, although I’m never sure what Clay’s motivations are during their conversations). Ron Perlman‘s complex acting is brilliant, but still, I think it’s time for Clay to meet Mr. Mayhem.
A good episode with less insane violence than recent weeks, Frankie’s shoot-out notwithstanding. I particularly liked how random the poker fight was, and how it cut so quickly to them just standing around calmly in the rubble like, hey, it’s just SAMCRO being SAMCRO y’all! “We didn’t throw the first punch!”
Episode Rating: A-
— Sutter brought himself back on screen this week with the return of Otto, in several quite terribly creepy scenes. Like Tara, I was just waiting for him to jump up and attack her, or bite her wrist, or anything violent. Instead, she put her hand on his head while he smelled her pocket with the perfume, wanked off, and then cried. And then, she later puts the perfume on herself and pleasures herself to … what? Memories of Otto’s wank? Lawd writers, have mercy on Maggie Siff.
— Nero: “You never broke in to one of these when you were a kid?” Gemma: “No! I’m not Tig! … nevermind.”
— “Pussy tells all” – Tig
— I loved Bobby during the casino fight just standing there going “what the fuck?”
— Gemma is totally the Kelly Taylor of the show – everything always happened to Kelly Taylor on 90210!
— Could have done without the random mob violence, what is this, Boardwalk Empire?
— I would not have expected Frankie Diamonds to enjoy crossword puzzles.
— Leo killing Frankie before Jax could spirit him away was incredibly frustrating, and just another chapter in “you can’t control everything, Jax.”
— Bobby has been a great VP and counsellor for Jax, preaching caution.
— Jax is one hot DILF.
— I wonder if the insurance / “Tara being married to a felon” thing will come back to haunt and how. She certainly won’t take the job in Oregon because the show has two seasons left …