With Sons of Anarchy, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Jax has been learning since last year that extricating himself from the club that Clay built means that he has to act, in a lot of ways, like Clay. You could argue that his actions are largely the result of having inherited such a tangled mess steeped in violence and bad alliances, but that’s an excuse Bobby, for one, is not buying. His collection of strays shows he’s not willing to allow for half-measures when it comes to the club. Changes need to come, and Jax isn’t moving fast enough. Hit the jump for more.
It became an imperative after that first episode that the Matthew Jennings saga mean something big within the context of the show, and it was good to see that it hasn’t been forgotten. It’s still not really justifying itself enough yet, but at least it’s not being glossed over. The school massacre has made politicians back Toric in his quest for vengeance. When his tactics failed, he was able to make a connection between Arcadio and Nero that has led him back to SAMCRO. Now, framing Gemma for murder has given him the leverage he needs to make legal vengeance happen.
At the same time, given Toric’s penchant for violence (and rogue-ex-fed status) it’s surprising that he didn’t just take violence into his own hands. He works within the law, but not too closely. Is his forging of Clay’s signature not going to come back on him? Or his “questioning” of Nero’s associates? Surely they would let Nero know Toric was sniffing around. But we’ve seen these tactics before from others. Ultimately, real threat to the club is, as usual, coming from within.
For all of the violence perpetrated by the club, its major members (aside from Opie, R.I.P.) all seem to have a golden ticket for life. Jax keeps a toothless Clay around to help him negotiate with Galen, he allowed Juice to stay, and up until now, Tig has been given a reprieve, too. Juice ratted on the club, Clay tried to kill Jax’s wife, yet Tig is the one who Jax sells out, and it’s to protect the club’s gun interests (by appeasing August to do the favor to keep Clay alive).
Tig has done things to really fuck things up for the club in the past, make no mistake — his murderous impulses and mistakes are what got SAMCRO involved with Pope in the first place. Jax can see another war possibly arising with the Iranians, and knows Tig could start more trouble at any point so must be neutralized. August has provided him an out. Still, it’s the coldest thing Jax has maybe ever done (if it all plays out next week).
As the men seem to think they’ll be ok (Clay has his shiv and protection in prison, Jax is working things out with August, Bobby is collecting his brood), the women are busy scheming. What’s up with Wendy’s lies to Gemma about being attacked? To make her more sympathetic? To what end? Is Tara really pregnant, or is this also part of a ploy? And Collette is trying to start something up with Jax … good luck to you if Tara finds out. As for Gemma, well, there’s always something cooking (and little does she know, at this point, most of it is against her).
By no means was “Poenitentia” (meaning something akin to “reckoning”) a bad episode — it was just full of setup, though without the charm that used to make us really want to be invested in each decision and twist. In that respect, Sons of Anarchy has continued to feel like it’s lost its way, and part of that that lack of emotional investment. Granted, these are early days in the season. But the show needs to draw viewers back in to the club. Like Bobby, people have been feeling there needs to be a change. What that will look like though is still up for grabs.
Episode Rating: B
— Jiminy Cricket, Toric! Shooting that girl and then acting like it was no big deal. … Then pulling her hair out to frame Gemma. Aye … (it is against Gemma, right? Because I didn’t think he was planting the stuff in Nero’s truck, it looked like the SUV).
— Is this the first time we’ve seen the exterior of Gemma’s house?
— Eli Roosevelt, poor guy. I hated what happened to him last year, thanks to Clay (who has more lives than a cat, it seems).
— I had forgotten Clay’s blacked-out tattoo. Makes a statement.
— “We like pussy that slides a little bit to the right” – Jax
— Jax had a nice moment when he told Toric, through the glass, to back off from Tara. So Toric goes after Gemma.
— Jax bringing Carra Carra back seems like a terrible idea.
— “Secrets are what I do” – Gemma.
— Are August and his crew really going to kill Tig? And if they somehow don’t, what will that mean for Jax? Tig definitely saw the address note in August’s hand and knew then that Jax gave him up.
— The club and their associates don’t really use phones, do they? And certainly no email! It’s very old school how people just drive around and show up places looking for people.
— The slaying of Amir’s bodyguard reminded me of that line from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: “gun for show, knives for pros.”
— “Whatdya know! Twist off” – Toric