This week's super-sized "Sons of Anarchy" (there hasn't really been any other kind since like season five) opened up with Gemma walking down a stretch of desert highway, unharmed. So the cliffhanger from last week didn't even warrant an onscreen resolution, but there wasn't a single person who actually expected Juice to kill her, was there?
The rest of the episode involved Juice trying (and failing) to rat out SAMCRO again, a lot of supposed "chess board maneuvering" that is really just the fetch quests of the week and some secrets on the verge of coming out. At episode's end, Officer Eglee has woken up and is about to tell Unser the Sons were involved in her shooting, Nero knows something is amiss with Gemma and she's been aiding Juice, the Sons and the Mayans (and the Grim Bastards and the non-Marks Niners) have a new, shiny truce, a deal has been struck with Marilyn Manson's Nazis ... and Juice is in the custody of SAMCRO.
So let's get to why we're really here: nitpicking.
Ridiculousness for the sake of ridiculousness:
- Going through Diosa's ledgers, Tig notes with surprise, "Kiki offered a mint-flavored blowjob." Okay, I have questions. Which part of this is mint-flavored? Why is this specifically on the books? Seems awfully specific for a ledger.
Seriously though, which half of the blowjob is mint-flavored.
- Just before the opening credits (11 minutes in!), Juice goes into a gas station and buys some blow pops. He asks the attendant for "A pack of Ds, yellow." He pistol-whips the guy and takes the money from the register. Then the camera pushes in on the guy laying next to a pack of DISMAS cigarettes, as shown in the photo above. I searched to see if these were real cigarettes, because I was pretty sure they weren't. They're not. They're made-up cigarettes, named after the "penitent thief" who was crucified next to Jesus. The one who stole and was executed, but able to attain salvation. Even for "Sons of Anarchy," this is probably the most hamfisted bit of winking symbolism ever. It's up there with an eyeball in the end zone in Any Given Sunday, which is ironic because the team's logo has an eye in it! Note: it isn't irony. Especially if you're making up the team's logo and something that would never happen in a football game, ever, to play off the logo you made up. That's not how things work.
- Unser heads out to pick up Gemma and Jax corners him and starts asking what's up with his mom. Unser gets MAXIMUM SHIFTY-EYE AND STAMMER and Jax (resident genius, remember) is thrown off the trail by all of his "UH YEAH SHE UH DIDN'T WANT TO UH BOTHER YOU"s. The "punchline" is when Unser explains Gemma wants Drea de Matteo to come along because Gemma wants "feminine products or something." Jax immediately chuckles, drops it and says, "Sorry I asked," before walking away.
"Girls are icky" -- the protagonist of this show.
- Gemma talking to herself, again. In a crowded diner. Drawing the attention of guest star Lea Michele, who is inexplicably named "Gertie" and with whom Gemma forms an instant bond.
And not ONCE does she burst into song. RIP-OFF.
- There's a huge rumble between the Sons and the Nazis. Somehow this doesn't sour their business deals in any way and no one ends up with a scratch on them. Just a big rumble for no reason.
- These Nazis are way too meta. Marilyn Manson says, "Why don't we burn that cross when we get to it." Yes, that is probably a thing a Nazi would say. You nailed it, Kurt Sutter.
- There's anothe broad-daylight crime spree that turns into a LITERAL MASSACRE. The Grim Bastards shoot at a house with pistols in broad daylight to draw out a bunch of ... honestly I still don't know who they were, but they were black gang members. A chase ensues (in broad daylight) (set to hip-hop music, for reasons). These gang members are led into a Sons ambush, where the Sons and the Grim Bastards kill like nine people. Just kill 'em. In the middle of a big vacant lot/parking lot type area. With automatic weapons. You know; the usual.
One of the reasons they killed these guys was a "show of good faith" for the Nazis, so they can open the back of a fan and show the Nazis it is STUFFED WITH DEAD BLACK PEOPLE. Even the Nazis find this extreme, but the tactic works. Of course it does. The head Nazi says SAMCRO took it upon themselves to do something he compared to Newtown. A Nazi compared a massacre of black people unfavorably to a school shooting of children. In a show where there has already been a school shooting of children. I don't even
- Ultimately, the dead bodies as stacked in a big pile at one of August Marks' construction sites. THE PERFECT PLAN.
Things that don't make any sense:
- At the beginning of the episode, SAMCRO walks into Diosa and they're still SUPER STRICKEN by the massacre of it all. For people that they didn't really know. Again. It's cool though; they kill like nine people later.
- SAMCRO pitted against the Nazis is awful, because it's just the show saying: "Look, look! There are worse racists!" The show has done this before, but it just reinforces the notion that there is "acceptable" racism (like a motorcycle club that doesn't let non-white members in) and "unacceptable" racism (like a gang that doesn't let non-white members in, because they want to kill them). This is hammered home when Jax says to the Nazis, "I'm just a white guy who isn't living in 1956." That's interesting, Jax, because your entire crew is really racist unless you're trying to make business deals.
- Juice tries to give the Mayans intel on SAMCRO in exchange for a ride to the border (which he could probably already have made happen a couple dozen times by now). The Mayans IMMEDIATELY (like the first scene after the commercial break immediately) turn him over to SAMCRO, because he's a rat. They make a deal that the Mayans will take the gun trade and start a new truce in exchange for them handing over Juice. That seems like a real steep price!
Actually good things:
- The Grim Bastards are back! I love the Grim Bastards! They are initially reluctant to get into a gang war with Jax, with the head of the club saying, "We lose another guy, we're just a few black guys on bikes." I thought that was clever! Also, Jax insinuates that the Sons are thinking of patching over the Grim Bastards. The Bastards are like "but you're all racists" and Jax is like "well maybe not forever." See? "Acceptable" racism getting more acceptable! Letting it slide though, because GRIM BASTARDS.
- There's a really awesome, long tracking shot of the Sons and the Bastards riding together. A nice, subtle reminder that motorcycles are cool and can be cool in a vacuum without having to play the world's most violent, racist and nonsensical game of "Yes, and ... " around them.
- Gemma opens up a bit to Gertie the waitress, which is a dumb deus ex machina, but has a nice moment where she's talking obliquely about Tara and Gertie asks how she died. Gemma thinks, then replies, "It was my fault," which is, I believe, the first time she has really said that out loud to another person. It's nice and understated, but felt big. See? Nuance is great!
- Juice and Nero end up in a locked room together. Juice has yet another nice, understated character moment by admitting to Nero, "I'm a coward." Another big, weighty moment that succeeds because it's small and intimate. Reminders of what the show used to do well all the time and then just said "fuck it, MORE BULLETS."
- A looming end to the whole Juice affair. Not that I necessarily want harm to come to Juice, or for the show to lose Theo Rossi, who has been the beating heart of "Sons of Anarchy" since Opie was needlessly killed off. But it's nice to know some things are moving forward, instead of merely treading water.