In many ways, “You Are My Sunshine” felt like a repeat episode for Sons of Anarchy. A few weeks ago I mentioned how the show seems to be stuck in a pattern of one step forward and two steps back. All of the double and triple crossing that had Jax pitting the Irish against the Chinese, leading to — apparently — some kind of race war (or so Nero was warned by the Mayans) felt like an unnecessary coda to last episode’s show-stopping violence. The scene Jax set up with Galen and Clay should have been the end. Adding on to that only weakens its impact. And then there was Juice … Hit the jump for more.
Let’s start with the good: “You Are My Sunshine” embraced, in a few places, some of the show’s early trademark gallows humor that has been sorely lacking for several seasons. This season has been good about reclaiming that, and moments like Bobby saying you need two hands to help him pee, Tig’s necrophilia being brought back up, Happy saying “I love you guys” before putting a few extra bullets into Lin, and Gemma’s nasty diatribe about “Uncle Cancer” and “half-wit crow eaters smelling of cum and Tig’s aftershave” epitomize it.
But the rest of “You Are My Sunshine” felt tired. Nero having to be put in position of choosing SAMCRO or his racial brethren was almost an interesting one, but Nero won’t disconnect himself from Gemma, which means he’s going to stick with Jax. Him finding out about Jax’s betrayal about the death of Matthew’s (the school shooter) mother should also have been huge, but he ends up comforting Jax about Tara, like he’s given up on trying to extricate himself from this club that is clearly a vortex.
The vortex has once again pulled Juice in, and it couldn’t be less interesting to see him go through this suicidal self-doubt again just like he did about the race issue a few seasons back. This time at least it makes more sense, kinda. Juice is a gentler soul than the others (and hasn’t used his computer hacking skills in years. Apparently “assassin” is the only gig left open with SAMCRO these days). Him killing the mother was something Jax put on him as a test in a way, and he failed. This, coupled with the loss of Clay (who Juice had grown so close to before ultimately voting for his death) clearly sent him over the edge. But one of the reasons Juice had been a favored character for so many was because he was funny, punchy, sweet and different. A depressed, suicidal Juice is not something we want or need to see again. It’s too redundant.
The same has been true for everything Tara has done this season. Jax’s boys have been kidnapped or endangered or generally taken from him before. Tara waffling on her plan has been a theme all season. Final shots of Tara with her eyes wide open as her sons sleep could be given their own montage at this point. Her options are limited between the rock of the club and the hard place of the DA’s office, but choosing to flee from both seems the worst-considered of all. Her confused and meandering slate of options this season will hopefully come to a close in next week’s finale, but no option for her seems satisfying at this point.
The bottom line is that the extra-long episodes this season have drawn out a story that didn’t need it, and is actually suffering because of it. Season Six has had some good things going for it, particularly Bobby’s reunification with Jax, the end of the Irish Question, the shedding of that Clay-shaped albatross, and of course the general humor. But the painful Tara/Wendy/Gemma plot and the advent of the Chinese, especially at the end, didn’t fit so well. There’s also the shadow of the school shooting, which lives on in Nero finding out about the mother’s death by Juice’s hand, but ultimately, none of it really matters since SAMCRO just handed over the same gun trade to Marks. The world turns.
Sons of Anarchy loses ground when it gets too wrapped up in its own import. The show should, at the end of the day, be entertaining. That doesn’t mean it has to be sunny — SOA is rarely that — but it means it needs to captivate us and interest us with new situations and further explorations of existing characters. We haven’t even met the new members at the table, does anyone know their names? When the season comes to a close next week, it feels like the show will end where it always does: like situations have been set up for things to get better next year. Six seasons in, that’s a lesson we’re not learning.
Episode Rating: C-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— So has Teller Morrow been rebuilt since the blast? I never know what the timeline is for the show. Gemma mentioning that Chucky was going to let a customer barter suggests they reopened. Who is even around to work on the cars? When is the last time anyone in SAMCRO did?
— I don’t like the female on female violence in the show, but Tara smacking the shit out of Wendy after she called out she was Abel’s real mom was justified.
— Funny moment that Connor mentioned the BBC picked up on the Galen story.
— “You’re just drunk lambs at a wolf party” – Jax to Connor. Worst analogy ever?
— Absolutely loved Tig’s necrophilia being mentioned again after so long. Also, him being faux-annoyed at getting blood in his hair. “Not the hair, man. Not the hair.”
— “Go back to dick, girls are shit.” — Gemma’s homespun wisdom.
— Good move by Tara figuring she could intimidate “Uncle Cancer” and the junkie whore to get her boys.
— Happy seemed pretty pissed at the Chinese, even though before he seemed to be having fun watching cartoons with them.
— Before Juice had a panic attack and took 6 pills, he was lookin’ correct! The “son shine” tattoos though, given the episode title … I can’t anymore with this show and the “symbolism.”
— It would be preferable to have an entire hour devoted to Tig, Bobby and the others sitting around getting drunk and high and talking about electrodes on their balls to most of what happened in this episode.