Emotions have run high in these last few Sons of Anarchy episodes, and while much of it has made up for the unevenness of the season, one wonders how entertaining the full season will be upon rewatch knowing that resolution evades. Still, “J’ai Obtenu Cette” (which is one hell of an unnecessarily pretentious title) was in and of itself a great episode, and it set up a very emotionally complex fifth season. Of course, that’s also the reaction most of us had at the end of last season. While Season Five has indeed been about Jax versus Clay and their ongoing power struggle, the show has wandered a great deal in between, (even though it’s extended its episode count and occasionally the runtime to allow for more storytelling). Hit the jump for a look at the best parts of “J’ai Obtenu Cette” i.e. “I Got This.”
Thankfully, the action in the finale focused back on the club, which is where the most compelling drama for the show always lies. The opening image of Clay sitting with his tattoo blacked out was powerful; more so than, say, his outright death. As much as one may hate Clay, that tatt symbolizes the death of who he is and who he lived his life to become, and it’s extremely tragic. Sons of Anarchy could learn from this. Sometimes it’s in the small things.
Shock value has its place though, and Otto’s incredibly bizarre tongue chomp-and-toss was pretty intense stuff (also potentially a callback to another Shakespearean element: Lavinia from Titus Andronicus having her tongue cut off so she couldn’t identify her rapists. Perhaps I give Sutter too much credit with his allusions, even though he does purposefully plant them). My notes for this simply read “holy shit.” Is there any other way to experience it? The Marshall’s summation of “way to commit, Otto” said it all. As overused as the Otto character can be, he does occasionally have some cartoonishly amazing moments.
The show also brought back some humor to its grisly violence, both in the Otto scene and much more so when SAMCRO helped Nero out with Dante, who had the misfortune of being left in a car with a very unhappy pit bull. The moments at the dog fight were meant, presumably, to humanize the men again and to show that even though they do commit intense acts of violence to other men on what seems like every other day, they also have a code. To quote Omar from The Wire, “it’s all in the game, yo.” The dogs are not part of that.
It was interesting how Tig ended up bonding with that dog so intensely after his own near-death experience. I think there weren’t many of us who supposed Jax would really let Pope kill Tig (much like the grand twist of Season Three’s finale), but Tig had to go through so much to get to that point, and as he said to Jax, it could have too easily all gone wrong. But Jax is of Clay’s mould now, not of JT’s, and that was a risk was apparently willing to take. (Side note: I think they need to start recruiting again, with the number of members they keep killing off).
The final shot of Gemma and Jax, another mirror to the old JT/Gemma photo and the moment replicated at the end of last season with Tara and Jax in the same position as the new heads of the table, was damming. Jax is trapped in Charming with the club for better or worse, and Gemma will stop at nothing to keep her seat at the throne (including putting Tara in jail, potentially, although I think hearing Jax and Nero’s conversation counted for something with her … though which way I’m not sure).
The bottom line is that Jax will never get away from the club or that life, and Nero is the prime example of why and how. Though Tara was right that the longer she and Jax stay in Charming the more like Clay and Gemma they become, with Abel and Thomas eventually repeating the patterns themselves, it doesn’t matter. Where that will take her character in particular is uncertain, but the amazing scene where Tara was handcuffed cut to the bone. She signed up for some of this life, but not all that she has gotten from it.
As for the villains, losing Pope and gaining the Marshall is an unfortunate swap, because the Marshall seems like a rehash of several other characters we’ve seen in the past whereas Pope was fresh. But Pope going out the way he did was vaguely satisfying (Tig getting his revenge for the revenge of the revenge) and Jax’s alliance with his second in command a good set up. In fact, praise the brilliance of that move by the writers — the seeds were planted many episodes ago with Jax ascertaining Mr. Marks’ happiness at being Pope’s right-hand man without the chance to take over himself. A well-played bit that had a great deal more subtlety than man plots on the show.
To sum things up, once again Jax thought he has control over everything, but as Bobby chastised him, it’s not just about using one’s incredible smarts. Even though Jax made some incredibly nuanced machinations to get the Irish, Galindo, Pope and everyone else off of his back, his wife is going to jail and his VP has resigned. Nothing is easy.
My hopes for Season Six are high, but Season Five has shown how unpredictably the show can skitter away from its main trajectory or most promising points. Still, Sons of Anarchy seems to be reclaiming, slightly, some of the elements that made its first and second seasons so brilliant: emotional drama paired with humor, and a side of violence. But no matter how off the rails it goes, it’s unlikely we die-hard fans will abandon it. We’re too involved now with SAMCRO to turn our backs on it. Much like Jax.
Episode Rating: A+, Season Rating: B
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Holy frak that guy taking nails to the face! Plus Gemma’s sucker punch to Tara and saying “I hope you’re not pregnant.” Lawd …
— Didn’t need to see the trashcans of dogs though (!)
— Oh Chucky, the only reliable comic relief, and yet your French was not only weird it wasn’t funny.
— Thank God my Tiggy lives. Even though he has been emotionally destroyed … Juice, too! Jax rules with an iron fist. I’m tired of seeing Juice be a puddle of sad though, I need him to go back to hacking computers and opening heath clubs.
— “Men need to be loved. Women need to be wanted” — Gemma
— What is up with guys drinking out of a milk carton? How hard is it to get a glass? I mean, it’s not even easy to drink out of a carton: it’s hard to hold on to and the mouth of it is flimsy.
— That lawyer had on the biggest ring I’ve ever seen. Tone it down, girl.
— “It’s about being smart enough not to hurt him. You had the chance to be different” – Bobby to Jax
— Thanks to everyone who has been reading and following along all season, it’s been a lot of fun. Riding through this world …