With commercials removed, this week's episode of "Sons of Anarchy" came in at just over 70 minutes. It also featured two of the most offensive moments I can remember and one of the very best. So it was what Alex Trebek would refer to as a real "potpourri."
This episode featured Abel framing his grandmother for child abuse, the Sons finally getting the best of Moses and his crew, and a BIG HUGE FINAL REVEAL. And some other good and ... less-good things. Let's get to the complaining and the praise, shall we?
Ridiculousness for the sake of ridiculousness:
- Let's talk about this opening montage. Because it's the first thing we were subjected to. Yes, "subjected to." As I was watching it, I was incredibly offended. Luckily (?) my rage has abated somewhat in the hours between viewing and writing, but I'm still pretty ticked off, so bear with me.
The opening montage of this episode is all people having sex. Well, actually, it's all people fucking. I'm sure that's how the showrunners were describing it in the writer's room. We start off with lingering shots of Charlie Hunnam's butt as he has sex with ... someone? It might be the lady they "liberated" from Greensleeves, but I'm really not sure. The goodwill of Hunnam butt is quickly destroyed, however, as we cut to the most depressing sex scene ever, with a close-up of Gemma on her stomach, being fucked from behind with a look of sheer boredom and sadness on her face. We then pull back to reveal that Nero, the other participant in this sex scene (which includes full Smits butt), looks EVEN SADDER as he thrusts away. It's so fucking depressing to watch and would be a decent bit of character development if:
1. It weren't already established in basically every episode this season that Nero and Gemma are at completely different places for completely different reasons and totally devastated by the emotional state of the other and
2. IF IT WEREN'T JUST THE SECOND STOP IN AN UNNECESSARY FUCK MONTAGE
Because this train KEEPS A-ROLLIN' to a sex scene with Venus and Tig. Okay. Next up is a sex scene with Jarry and Chibs. I should note that every single one of these sex-scenes is "Game of Thrones"-level thrusting and grunting. We then get Ratboy in bed, getting ridden by ... oh, in a reveal, it's not the babysitter he professed his love for in the previous episode. We move along to Happy (with full butt) pounding some random woman on the hood of a muscle car. We then cut to Drea De Matteo looking sad in bed because she's alone. HAHA JUST KIDDING SHE'S USING A VIBRATOR. That little bit of the montage is framed in a way as to infer it's to be played for a laugh, which is even more unsettling because of what it means for the next -- and final -- piece of this montage.
Because then they cut to Juice, in prison, being raped by Marilyn Manson.
Yes, the opening several minutes of this show was a look at most of the principals engaging in intercourse. For some reason. It turns out that only the Jax and Juice (laaaaaid back) -- and MAYBE Venus and Tig -- portions of this montage mean anything to the rest of the episode. But there they are. And Juice getting raped is the button on this. And almost certainly intended to be a laugh button. It was disgusting and served nothing. Even for "Sons of Anarchy," this was an unnecessary low. Seems like I've typed that a lot this season. I'll write about the one good thing about this montage later on.
- Everyone's so flip about everything all of the time. Jax tells Nero he likes the Diosa lady he was having she was having sex with in the opening montage, because she's "unstable, but smart." Nero responds, "That's the way we like 'em." PLEASE GET THERAPY. The Diosa lady makes a joke to Jax about how she should get back to work, "Before we all get gunned down by Chinese gangsters." He chuckles. DOZENS OF PEOPLE DIED. YOU WERE FORLORN LIKE TWO DAYS AGO.
- Marilyn Manson tells Jax that he's started raping Juice. Jax, on his way out the door, responds, "He could do with a little loving." Hey, Jax? EFF YOOOOOUUUUUUUU. Marilyn Manson sends Juice a package via a C.O.. It includes a book of love poems, cocaine and vaseline. Later, Marilyn Manson reads a poem by Brontë with his head in Juice's lap while a shirtless Juice does coke. What the fuck is this show?
- Abel gets a scratch on his face from his baby brother and his suspicious teacher Courtney Love tells him that if someone at home is hurting him, he should tell her. When Abel is assured that whomever hurts him will "get in trouble with the police," he enacts his MASTER PLAN. In one of the most unsettling sequences in the series, this preschooler goes into the bathroom, looks at himself in the mirror and then locks himself in a stall. He takes off his shirt and hangs it up, sits down on the toilet and opens his lunchbox. Then he moves his thermos to the side and pulls out a fork. Did I mention that the entirely of the bathroom scene plays out excruciatingly slowly and methodically? BECAUSE IT DOES. Abel carves up his forearm with the fork and tells his teacher that Gemma did it. Because he's a psychopathic criminal genius. This kid, man, I swear.
- After another broad-daylight, dozen-people-dead shootout (which for once, doesn't go under this heading, because it was pretty great), Jax and the gang take the time to literally eye-for-and-eye torture Moses before killing him. Jax pops Moses' eyeball out with his thumb. Then, with the eyeball hangin' out, they cut his fingers off. That retribution came faster than expected, and Moses was expected to meet a grisly end, I supposed, but still: that eyeball was floppin' around for a while. Ain't nobody got time for that.
- Jarry and Chibs get into a heated argument and HIT EACH OTHER IN THE FACE, which turns them on and makes them start in again with the sex. Again, this episode was 70 minutes long. I have successfully identified what the farming industry would refer to as chaff.
Things that don't make any sense:
- When a dick-shot neo-Nazi says the leader of their gang is on the way to kill "that bitch lady cop," Jax can't figure out the Nazi is talking about Egley. His friend from high school. The one who was put into a coma by the neo-Nazis. The one they might want to kill. It takes him like two full minutes and STILL doesn't figure it out until Chibs goes, "Egley." And then Jax goes :-O and they run away. This is the guy who is a super-genius in the world of this show. I'm amazed any of these characters can tie shoes.
- Gemma, a person who has been part of the criminal underworld for like 40 years, refers to Courtney Love as "Abel's nosy teacher," simply because the woman has on two occasions expressed concern for the well-being of a small child whose mother was violently murdered and whose grandmother is threatening other parents outside of the school. And also threatening Courtney Love. And only after child services gets involved does Emma give a shit about anything. She's STILL angry after the meeting with child services at the school until Jax literally stands up and American-growls "CHOYLD SUHVICES COULD TAKE ABEL AWAY FREM US." And only after that sentence does Gemma go :-O and back down. Idiots. All of them.
Actually good things:
- Venus. Always Venus. She and Tig have a very quiet, very intense heart-to-heart in a darkened room about their respective fears and desires. It is absolutely wonderful and powerful and beautiful. It plays out over the course of most of 10 minutes at its own speed and man alive it is possibly the best thing this show has ever done. It's also frustrating, because it shows that the people who run this show really do get it, and understand the fluidity of gender, sexuality and the ability of every individual to define for themselves who they are. That they willfully choose to undermine the truly progressive relationship between Tig and Venus by everything else the show does is pretty upsetting, but I'm choosing to hold onto this scene with both arms and never let go.
- Tig's reaction to a neo-Nazi calling him out for being a "tranny-humper" Tig makes this face:
And he goes "Wow" softly a couple of times before starting towards the guy. Chibs holds him back, because they're outside with like 20 neo-Nazis and says, "Now's not the time." The head neo-Nazi says, "I'm okay with the time" and Chibs tells Tig, "He's okay with the time," and lets him go. It's one of my favorite little bits of back-and-forth the show has ever done.
- Unser lays in wait for the neo-Nazi assassin who's coming after Egley. It's a great bit of business for Unser and shows off how clever, resourceful and useful he still can be, when given something to do.
- After being tortured by Moses and the seemingly double-crossing head of the 1-9ers, the head of the Grim Bastards breaks and sends Moses to the cabin. When Moses and his men finally show up, it turns out they were sent to the Neo-Nazi cabin, not the cabin where the junkie and her son that Moses was after are hiding. The ambush is on and Moses and his crew are slaughtered by the Nazis, Sons and 1-9ers working together. It was a tremendous reveal and one of the rare times when the rudimentary Rube Goldberg machinations of Jax and his cronies is actually clever, exciting and satisfying. Bodes well for the end of the series. Maybe.
- Jax finally tells Abel his real mom is Drea de Matteo. This was another nice little moment that played out in its own time and got Drea de Matteo's character the closure she's been seeking for seven years. It also provided the catalyst for the big reveal and one of the most hamfisted and contrived, yet hilarious and perfect kickers the show's ever done.
- While Jax is tucking a thrilled Abel into bed, Abel asks, "Is that why Grandma killed my other mommy? So I could be with my first mommy?" Jax makes this face:
SHIT IS ON.
- "Justified" is coming back soon. "Justified" is a very well-written show about a legitimately good man who is flawed. That's probably relevant somehow.