Things continue to churn along for our ... heroes? This week, Bobby is captured and tortured further by August Marks' new head of security, Moses. They want Bobby and/or SAMCRO to give up the location of the bodies they buried in one of Marks' construction sites, as well as turning over the dead preacher's wife and son. Juice is arranging to get transferred to the prison where Lin is being held, so he can kill Lin for the club. Someone broke into Gemma's house and threatened Jax's baby via WALL WRITING AND STABBED TEDDY BEAR. Jax had a showdown with Jury and killed him, in front of everyone, in broad daylight. That's about it. This episode took 90 minutes, including commercials.
Now on to the gripes and praise!
Ridiculousness for the sake of ridiculousness:
- When SAMCRO is finding out about Marks' new security guy, Moses, the head of the Niners rattles off some stuff about "Former Black Ops, graduated from Blackwater, so did his whole crew." Tig goes "WHOA WHAT A RESUME THAT'S SERIOUS STUFF." It's all stupid and lazy and comes across just as believable as I typed it. Not everyone has to be a final boss, guys. Some people can just be mean.
- Stunt casting! Courtney Love returns as "schoolteacher who gets threatened by Gemma for no reason."
And Carmelo Anthony debuts as "guy who whispers things to Moses."
They were both really great at being cast in this show.
- Abel has turned into an absolute psychopath and Gemma's reaction to people being like "You should get this kid into therapy" is to tell them to stick something up their buttholes. She's like The Rock, but without the sense of humility.
- Gemma is somehow an expert on detox? Which is why she was called in to deal with the preacher's junkie widow? Seems a little convenient, is all I'm saying.
- SAMCRO gets tipped off that the guys they killed after the Lin drug raid to frame ... geez, I can't even remember anymore. The guys they killed that resulted in Jury turning rogue. Anyway, SAMCRO gets a tip that they were connected to some "militia" up in the hills. So they go out there (in the daytime) and as soon as they roll up, AUTOMATIC RIFLE FIRE OUT THE WINDOW OF A HOUSE. Just so there would be an action beat, basically. This "militia" ends up being one guy with a gun. One of the more pointless action scenes in the series, which is really saying something. Here's where they find out the guy they killed was Jury's son. Whoops!
- When Jax is listing places "halfway" between them and Jury where they can set up a meeting, one of the locations is "Sutter Creek." I hope the writer of this episode is proud of himself. I hope Kurt Sutter bought him a new Swatch.
- Someone breaks into Gemma's house, mutilates her crows and leaves them in her bed. They also stab a stuffed animal in the baby's room and scrawl NO SON IS SAFE on the wall in crayon. Real intimidating stuff. Wait, I meant "stupid." Real stupid stuff.
- Bobby gets either his hand or his fingers cut off. Not even with a machete or a cleaver or anything. Just a big knife. Moses makes a big deal out of cutting off his clutch hand, suggesting it will emasculate him to not be able to ride anymore. They probably have prosthetics that allow amputees to ride, Moses. This is pretty ableist of you.
- The show opens with a violin version of "All Along the Watchtower" and ends with a Southern rock version of "All Along the Watchtower." No further comment is required.
- Juice lets a cockroach run all over his hands in prison before crushing it into goop. This is how you know it is serious business with Juice. Probably.
This show doesn't make any sense:
- The Niner leader comes to a meeting with SAMCRO in their massive warehouse space and says he's really nervous about being a double agent, because he's scared Moses or Marks is going to find out eventually. Then maybe don't go to meetings at SAMCRO's enormous rental properties in Charming, dude. If Moses or Marks can't be like "yeah go wait outside all of SAMCRO's businesses," they deserve whatever downfall is coming to them.
- After the Niner guy leaves, Jax pours himself a cup of coffee. I just enjoy the idea that illegal business meeting places would be set up and this biker gang would at some point say "YO WE GOTTA GET A BUNN-O-MATIC IN HERE."
- After getting shot at for like 45 seconds, the guy with the automatic rifle sort of lightly shoves his grown son and Tig fires a round at his head and says "YEAH HIT HIM AGAIN SEE WHAT HAPPENS." Tig picked this moment, of all moments, to stand up against child abuse. This wanton murderer picks odd battles.
- The scene with Jury and Jax facing off and laying it all on the line is a deus ex machina and retcon that took me by surprise with its bizarreness. Jury claims he was the only one that Jax's father felt he could confide in and killed himself in order to make sure his club would be okay. He also suggests that JT had some sort of mystical bond with his motorcycle. "That panhead was an extension of himself. He would have known anything was wrong with it the instant he kicked it over." Which, if "true," would remove a large portion of the reason Jax wanted Clay dead and also removes a bit of awfulness from Gemma. In short, there was no reason for Jury to say any of the things he said and there is no reason to throw doubt into the death of a character that was long dead before the show even began. Why are you doing this, showrunners? Why is this happening?
- Jax, the head of the Redwood Original, punches Jury and shoots him in the head as he's going for his gun, which causes the other member of the Indian Hills charter to FLIP OUT and say, "This is gonna vibrate through the whole organization." It makes sense on one hand, as the Sons of Anarchy are bigger than SAMCRO, but also doesn't make a lot of sense because Jax is the son of the founder of the club and the current president of the (in-canon) most powerful and important charter.
- And rather than stay and try to explain and smooth things over and maybe help with the disposal of Jury's body, Jax tells everyone to leave immediately, for the pressing reason of "Someone broke into Gemma's house, but everyone is fine." BOOOOOOOOOOO. PICK YOUR BATTLES BRO. PICK THEM BETTER.
Actually good things:
- Jax is back to sitting on rooftops. This is something that is actually really effective in the overall arc of the show and of Jax's character. In this season, he's more insistent than ever that he's trying to do "the right thing," but as is pointed out repeatedly (not least by Jury in this episode), he's completely lost sight of what "the right thing" is. Going back to Jax Prime's method of roof-sitting meditation is just another way he's attempting to delude himself that things are still in focus, when in actuality he has no idea what's going on.
- To that end, Jax clearly, visibly having no idea what's going on or how to make things right or how to get his shit together even a little bit goes a long way toward making the show better. Stop having people say he's a genius. Just show him losing his grip on everything.
- The first conversation between Bobby and Moses is really terrific and allows Mark Boone Junior to have a truly badass, action-hero moment, which is quiet but still fraught with tension. It's maybe the most terrifying and impactful thing that has happened all season. Just two people talkin'. I'm glad that the best actor on the show finally has some things to do and some important moments, even if the end result is him becoming Theon Greyjoy.
- Unser slowly putting the pieces together regarding Juice's ruse and him spending time with Egley in the hospital at the end are great. Unser is also finally getting things to do other than be everyone's doormat and it's nice. Although he does get the casual racism award for the week by referring to Lin as a "chink" for absolutely no reason.
- The world of "Sons of Anarchy" is bigger than it used to be. In the first few seasons, everyone got tossed in the same tiny two-cell Charming jail. Now they go to interview rooms at federal prisons. They cruise all over between different towns and cities, have different warehouses and businesses. It helps everything feel like it's a larger scale, that things truly have escalated.
- Abel says hitting another kid in the head with a STEEL LUNCHBOX BAH GAWD was an accident. Gemma asks him, "Do you know what an accident is?" He looks at her and replies, "Do you?" And she gets SHOOK. It's corny, but my word was it effective.
- At the end, Jax and SAMCRO are left another box by Moses. They don't have to open the box this time. They know. That's how the most effective episode of the season ended: they don't have to open the box. More like this, please.