SONS OF ANARCHY Recap: “John 8:32”

     November 5, 2013


Sons of Anarchy played out this week pretty much exactly how most predicted, but hoped it wouldn’t.  The Tara plot that has been bubbling all season had seemed more complicated than it really was — the end game was that she wanted out, and she wanted to take her boys with her.  This isn’t new, this is something she has wanted since Day 1 (even when she wasn’t yet totally committed to Charming, she was always resistant to it and to life with Jax).  The constant though was that, despite those reservations, Tara loved Jax and did everything she could to make it work.  She sewed up the club, she sacrificed her career, she fought Gemma for years, and eventually tried to become like Gemma to deal with things on her terms.  But this year things went off the rails with her, and what has it all been for?  Hit the jump for more.

sons-of-anarchy-maggie-siffTara has been a notoriously weak character for the show, which is such a shame for Maggie Siff‘s acting abilities (she was so compelling and memorable on Mad Men … to compare that to her time as Tara is unfortunate). The show has never known what to do with her.  Jax can never really be happy, so things with Tara always have to be dramatic.  Gemma is the female hero on the show, and everyone else has to be a whore so that she is set apart.  It’s left Tara in no man’s land.  She’s not the star, but she’s not a prostitute.  So it seems like, finally, she has to go.

But why now?  Why after all of this?  And how is this doing anything to serve Jax’s story or even Gemma’s?  Tara has been painted as the crazy one, but can she be blamed to want to keep her children away from such a life of violence, and from the influence of a woman like Gemma?  But again, none of this is news — Tara has wanted to keep her children safe and away from Gemma from the start.  What really has changed is the fact that, apparently, she no longer loves Jax and wants to extricate herself fully from him.  And while her intricate plan seemed at first like it had the legs to work, surely she should have had the wherewithal to know that if it didn’t work out (because of Gemma’s influence and control over Jax and others in SAMCRO), she needed a contingency plan.  “John 8:32” showed us that turned out to be what, a gun and a human baby shield?

I was hoping against hope that the Tara storyline would have turned out to be a double-cross of some kind — that it was a power move she was engineering against Gemma in order to protect her boys from Gemma, but to still keep the core family together.  That would have been a pretty easy thing to get behind.  But since Tara has been tight-lipped all season except when exacting her plan, we have no idea where she’s coming from on this.  She doesn’t have friends or confidents, so her motivations and feelings are never explored.  Sure, she has a few outbursts towards Unser and Nero about her family, etc, but she deserved more.

So this has to be the end of Tara on the show, right?  How could she stay after this?  SAMCRO has forgiven many things — Tig killing Donna, Clay attempting to kill Tara and pretty much everyone else, Juice’s betrayal, etc.  So could Jax forgive Tara this?  It’s unlikely, given the show’s feelings towards any non-Gemma women, but anything is possible.  Even if he did, though, how depressing would that be for her?

sons-of-anarchy-season-6-episode-9-john-8-32Speaking of women, despite years of Kurt Sutter saying he would never explain the homeless woman Jax sees once or twice a season, there was an entire B-plot devoted to her this week.  She often has appeared as a harbinger of bad things, but this time it was her daughter and husband who showed up and interacted with Jax, talking about how this woman had been killed during JT’s deadly pileup.  Since she’s been seen all over the place (and world, literally) on the show, there’s been speculation she’s a ghost, or a figment of Jax’s imagination.  The fact that Sons made her flesh (or at least, her family) was completely unnecessary.  Is she a ghost?  Is she not?  We knew shit was going down, regardless (her family showing up didn’t signal anything).  So it was really just something else that has helped undermine what has otherwise been an excellent season of the show.   Why go and ruin a good thing?

Episode Rating: C-

Musings and Miscellanea:

— I did, however, like the parallel scenes that started the episode off.  Nice bit of reflexivity there.

— It was a genuinely sad moment when Jax articulated to Tara that he noticed she had not been saying the word love to him since she got out of Stockton, promising he would stop saying it to her, but not stop feeling it.  We’ll see!

— Gemma giving Nero the whole truth about Clay and JT and the club’s history was a big moment for her and for their relationship.  Even though Unser and Nero were working tirelessly to bring the truth to Jax so that Gemma would be absolved of this particular sin, she’s had others.  Remember when she was drugged up and crashed the car, almost killing her grandkids?  No one got particularly worked up about that for long.

— Nero: “It’s the life.”  Tara: “No, it’s the wife.”

sons-of-anarchy-season-6-episode-9Poor Margaret Murphy can’t catch a break, can she?  Her devotion to Tara has always been a little unbelievable, though.  What has Tara ever really done for her?

— “Sister’s going with the real flow” – Officer re: Patterson’s hair change.

— The gun plot, which advanced a little this week, sets up something decent in weeks to come, if Patterson can neutralize Galen.  What then will that mean for Clay?  His rant was a little much, and of course he had to bite off a nose while he was at it.

— “You punch your ticket and get out of this cesspool, lets not get caught up in righteousness.  I’m the scumbag outlaw, and you are the pillar of justice, but neither of us like looking at ourselves in the mirror” – Jax.

— John 8:32 says the truth will set you free.  I’m not sure that’s really going to be the case, here, unless Sons means free of Tara.  I’m sure there will be plenty of viewers who will rejoice in that, but I think it’s a shame that it had to come to this in the first place.