This week's episode of "Sons of Anarchy" was actually almost entirely very good. It centered on the truth coming out about Gemma, everyone slowly finding out the truth that she killed Tara and how they all individually processed that information, and ended with Gemma going on the lam. I've got a lot of compliments for this episode, so let's get to the crud first, as per usual.
Ridiculousness for the sake of ridiculousness:
- While Jax contemplates the gravity of what his son told him, Gemma is still having running conversations with Tara at the dining room table in her house, where there are always at least 18 people hanging out at any given moment.
- The correctional officers at the Stockton prison (or wherever) Juice is being held are cool with leading Juice down a bunch of hallways and stairwells and into a boiler room, where they've chained Lin to a pipe and just leave them alone with a change of clothes for Juice, with the understanding that he's about to kill the dude. I get that prisons are horrible and corrupt and that C.O.s are often depicted as being unscrupulously on the take, but this seems like a bit much.
- The owner of the porn business is also a notary. That would normally be under the "good stuff" section, but she explains that she doesn't want to take a job with the Mayans (uh, notarizing shit, I guess), by explaining, "I'd rather shoot pussy than have my pussy shot at." Just guessing a dude wrote that line.
- The wrap-up-show following the episode (which is called "Sons of Anarchy Afterword") opened up with the host really earnestly saying, "We have had the joy of talking to Kurt Sutter, the creator of one of the greatest television shows of all time." Don't oversell it, everyone.
Things that don't make any sense:
- This push and pull with Chibs and Jarry. They've had so much friction and there's absolutely no reason for any of it. Not everything has to be filled with drama or tension. Some things can just be nice!
- I hadn't noticed this before, but Drea De Matteo's opening credits "thing" for her title card is a child's hands playing with toy bikes. Everyone else has something specific to them: Juice's head tattoo, Chibs' knife, Gemma's scar and tattoo, etc. Drea De Matteo is apparently defined by being a mother. I guess the only other alternative is a heroin needle? I dunno, just strikes me as weird.
- They just do not care at all about Charlie Hunnam's American accent anymore. Check out his conversation with Unser. Shit is sub-Dominic West. It's not often someone's accent gets worse the more they do it. This isn't a knock on Hunnam; it's a knock on whoever is directing the episode (it was apparently Peter Weller!) for not being like, "Let's get one more."
- Marilyn Manson says Juice's killing of Lin was "Clean. There'll be no blowback." Okay, neat. Glad there aren't going to be any loose ends, what with a record of Juice being moved from his cell and back and then Lin being dead. Later, they explain that Lin was found dead in the hallway, with no witnesses. I want to be more up in arms about this prison stuff, but as I said before, prisons really are the worst things in the world, so I can't object too strongly to them being portrayed as irrevocably fucked.
- Barosky was the one who ratted out SAMCRO to the Chinese, not Jury. This revelation clarified something that happened offscreen. It makes sense that Barosky would be the rat, but what a crappy resolution to that bit of business.
Actually good things:
- Lin's demeanor during his conversation with Juice. I liked how Lin almost always took everything in stride. He's the only one here acting like a fucking professional. Along the same lines, Juice's demeanor now that he knows everything is coming to an end. He seems to particularly relish telling Lin, "I'm a rat!" after stabbing him.
- Loud music playing in the background at Teller-Morrow. It really sounds like Kid Rock, too. Like, BAWITDABA-era Kid Rock. That's a great little touch at making a white trash auto body shop feel authentic.
- How everyone deals with this revelation about Gemma is really outstanding. Some of the very best acting and writing of the entire run, and in a lot of ways it makes the journey all worth it. (In that sense, I'm reminded of the diabolically meandering Season 3, and how the greatest season finale of perhaps any television show managed to retroactively redeem the entire season. I'm not saying these last few episodes are going to redeem the past few really bad and insulting seasons, but this show can be really good when it wants to be. I just wish it had wanted to be more often.)
- Jax and Juice's scene in the prison where Jax finally learns the truth about Gemma and Tara is intense, powerful and perfect. Both Hunnam and Theo Rossi act their asses off in this episode and the payoff ends up being just as good as it needed to be.
- Chucky saying goodbye to Gemma was heartbreaking. He volunteers to get punched so she can get away and says, "You're my best friend, Gem." She responds with, "I accept that." It's a great coda for Chucky, made even more poignant at the end, when he comes to the realization that she's not coming back, and that he may have been had by the only person he thought cared about him. That he shares this moment with Unser is even more appropriate, given that Unser let his emotions for Gemma get in the way of his rationality for decades.
- Unser gets socked in the mush by Jax for telling him, "If you gave a shit about Tara, you'd spend a little less time being a thug and a little more time being a dad." The truth hearts, Jackson.
- Nero finds out about Gemma by listening to Jax explain it. We don't hear Jax's end of the phone call, because we've already heard it. Instead, we get to watch Jimmy Smits react to it as the sound drops out and he listens.
It's a perfect and perfectly cinematic moment in a show that has always gone loud and over-the-top when it could play things quiet. Nero and Gemma's conversation following this is also sublime, as he washes his hands of her without being willing to allow her to come to harm. I'm sorry, Nero. You always deserved better.