After a questionable start to its new season, Sons of Anarchy returned this week with an episode that improved in some ways upon that initial outing, but was still just so dark and heavy. A show with so much violence and dark themes needs the relief of humor, or it’s a slog to watch. One of Sons of Anarchy‘s defining features early on was its gallows humor and quirky cast who played hard and then played harder. These days, time spent with SAMCRO is increasingly bleak, and that bleakness reached its lowest depths last week. Hit the jump for more on how the show needs to crawl out of that hole.
The school shooting aspect of the series premiere was met with a lot of comment and controversy over the past week, and as readers will note, my comment was essentially that we should wait and see. Was it unnecessary? Probably, but it would be worth sticking around to determine if, maybe, that event had anything to do with SAMCRO and the changing club.
This week we found out … not exactly. Even without it, Toric would still have pushed to get RICO back and had a good case to do so, Jax would have found another way to betray Nero, and Galen would still be running guns with or without SAMCRO’s assistance. The message seemed to be that, as Galen pointed out, the political posturing over the event means nothing, and the sales of the gun used in the shooting would double. While Jax did try to stick to his decision to get the club out of gun running, we’ve seen this countless times before, to no avail.
Jax does have a desire to put the club in a new direction, but his means of doing so reminded me a lot of Breaking Bad. Walter White starts cooking meth because it’s a quick way to get cash for him to provide for his family after he dies of cancer (in the same kind of way that SAMCRO runs guns, etc, to get cash for their off-the-grid members). He justifies an ungodly amount of bad against this one good. As that series comes to a close, Walt is starting to pay for his terrible deeds, though not yet those he committed against his partner in crime Jesse Pinkman. Walt’s manipulation and control over Jesse through the years rang out in a quote from Jax this week to Nero: “This is rough, but everything I’m doing here is for you.” It’s a mixture of arrogance and deluded thinking. On top of that, their other machinations are fueled by the fear of being caught and having that blow back on family.
What both Jax and Walt failed to realize though is that it already is blowing back on their families. Jax’s sons have been in danger plenty of times, Abel in particular, just like Walt’s family has also been targeted. In both cases, the men first lied to, but then let their wives in on their nefarious deeds, but then as the wives became endangered as well, the lies started up again. In both cases, this starts breaking apart the very homes they are hoping to protect.
Currently, Sons of Anarchy is full of uneasy alliances that are built upon lies. Tara and Jax attempt to reconcile with some very sad sex, but it was just after they both lied to each other about major events. Gemma and Tara are also having an uneasy time reuniting under great suspicion from each other, while Jax is now straight up lying to Nero, his best ally (and also best mentor). Jax had Juice kill Darby as another way to prove his loyalty to the club, but the extent of his betrayal to the club isn’t known by all of the members yet. Lee Toric’s case is built on the foundational lie that Tara was in on the scheme that allowed Otto to murder his sister. Tig is supporting Jax fully, not knowing he has sold him out to Pope’s old gang.
Bobby, it seems, is our only hope. What the hell is he up to, rounding up strays from other Sons chapters? Building up RO, or branching out on his own to truly become clean? Who can blame him for getting out, though. The backstabbing and lying and scheming is more than most can bear. That coupled with the violence and dense atmosphere of these first two episodes makes the comparatively care-free days of the show’s early seasons a long-lost memory. There’s still a chance for the show to bring that back, but I wouldn’t count on Jax to have a hand in it. Give us some hope, Bobby Elvis.
Episode Rating: B-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I think I am giving this episode a lower rating than the premiere, but that’s what happens when you use a sliding scale! “One One Six” was not as muddled and self-important as “Straw,” but it also wasn’t particularly interesting.
— ATF agent: “Security guard put two bullets in the shoote’s head while he was changing clips. Shooter was 11.” Toric: “God bless America.”
— Nero could be Jax’s future, but right now he’s just such a better guy than Jax is. He killed his cousin because his cousin betrayed him, but he defended Darby’s life (which Jax took without consulting Nero). He has a code. Does Jax?
— “It’s trashy money but it ain’t dirty” – Jax
— Frankly, I think that Clay should have died last season. He’s so useless now and being wasted in this jail situation. Toric is just another example of a person on the quasi-side of the law who has a personal beef with SAMCRO, and who won’t get anywhere with it, I’m sure. Clay ratting out the club (if indeed he does) means so much less now that he’s toothless when it comes to power within the club. They’ve dealt with RICO once, and I’m sure they’ll deal with it again.
— “Clay sounds like a guy bleeding guilt because he made a deal” – Gemma
— Poor Juice. He’s been neutered, too.
— “There’s only one thing more dangerous than a rat, and that’s a junkie rat” – Jax
— The sudden advent of local politics into the show seems ill-advised. They’ve done it before and it’s never been fleshed out well enough to make it interesting.
— What’s up with Tara’s pregnancy test? And is her divorce just for show, or does she mean it for real?
— “All the cholas are wearing it like this” – Tara, on her haircut.