Sons of Anarchy 5.05: Orca Shrugged

SPOILER WARNING: This post will appear every Wednesday following a new episode of “Sons of Anarchy.” It is intended to be read after seeing the show’s latest installment as a source of recap and analysis. As such, all aspects and events that have occurred up to and including the episode discussed are fair game.

After all the depressing shit that’s happened so far in the fifth season of “Sons of Anarchy,” this week’s episode, “Orca Shrugged,” was a welcomed comedic interlude. Ironically, it also included a pregnant woman being shot in the belly. But let’s start with the fun stuff.

The centerpiece of the episode was a surprise guest appearance from Walton Goggins as transexual call girl Venus Van Damme. Those of you who watched “The Shield” will recognize the actor as well as his character’s name, a reference to Cletus Van Damme, an alias used by Detective Shane Vendrell in that program. If you’re interested, Goggins did this interview with Entertainment Weekly regarding his part in “Sons.” There’s a lot of insight into how the appearance came to be and how this manly man of an actor prepared for his, ahem, unusual role. In it, Goggins says Kurt Sutter mentioned neither he nor Michael Chiklis could appear on “Sons” because of “how closely relatable they are to their characters on ‘The Shield.'” Luckily, Goggins called bullshit on that one, and we can only hope Chiklis will someday do the same. A plethora of actors from “The Shield” have gotten roles in “Sons,” but Chiklis is now the only member of the Strike Team who hasn’t made an appearance. Recall David Rees Snell (the unbearably cool Ronnie Gardocki) took the role of Federal Agent Grad Nicholas and Kenny Johnson (Curtis “Lem” Lemansky) played club member Kozik.

But let’s talk about why Goggins was there. Mayor Hale needed one more vote to get his Charming Heights project approved. Despite the club being against that kind of McReal Estate last year, now they’re picking their battles, and they’re alright with the development if it means they can use one of Hale’s properties to set up their new escort business with Nero. So they decide to blackmail  a city council member to get the mayor his vote.

Goggins scene was nothing short of hilarious, with lines like “didn’t your daddy ever tell you not to judge a book by its penis?” When they needed to convince the councilman’s step son to take some bait, the rest of the club got in on the humor too. Jax insists “it doesn’t mean you’re gay man, we’ve all been there.” “Really? All you guys?” the kid responds. Juice then says, “Lot of cock,” Chibs interjects with “two dicks,” and back to Juice with “slammin’ cock.” Insert One Chibs Two Dicks joke here.

All in all, this was probably the funniest episode of “Sons of Anarchy” to date. From the aforementioned scene to Jax’s fistfight, or “Irish discussion,” with Galen, which Clay insisted would end in nothing but “Guinness and man hugs.” And of course, Tig’s joke that something that’s “pink, wet, and smells like sunshine” could refer either to pussy or Italian ice, and that he was OK with both.

Like I said, we needed some laughs after all the tough events this season. But here’s the rub: would it have been so hard to combine the humor with a tad more plot development? It was nice to get some comic relief, but that’s really all this episode was, distraction from the story lines we really want to move forward. The fistfight and Galen shooting up the bikes was fun, sure, but in terms of plot it served no purpose. We already know the Irish will back out of the cartel deal if Clay’s not involved, we really don’t need a reminder.

One more thing, it was nice to see Tig back to his old self, but I can’t help but wonder about the logistics of the timeline here. It can’t have been that long since his daughter got, oh, I don’t know, BURNED ALIVE IN FRONT OF HIM. Not to mention Opie’s death, which Tig himself has admitted was his fault to some degree. Sure, laughter can the be the best medicine for those in mourning. But that’s generally because the moments in between the laughs are filled with, well, mourning. Perhaps the idea that Tig’s still struggling with that stuff could have been played up a bit more. It would only have taken a few lines: Tig’s depressed and the guys have to convince him to take a part in the blackmail scheme, which ends up being therapeutic (in a fucked-up Tig sort of way).

There was only one event that offered any significant plot development in this episode, and it involved Lt. Roosevelt’s wife getting shot, which no doubt led to the death of their unborn child. The Sheriff was already up the club’s ass over the recent home invasions. Now, it’s personal. I mean, not only did his wife take a bullet, but in early episodes we learned she was having a difficult time getting pregnant. Everything else aside, who’s to say that bullet won’t rob the couple of their one chance to ever become parents? Expect to see a good deal of Rockmond Dunbar in the next few episodes.

This ordeal is also going to lead to some movement in Clay’s subtle return to prominence. At this point, I don’t think there’s any question the Nomads are behind the home invasions and Clay is the one calling the shots. We got another argument at the table between Chibs and Tig, Jax’s boys, and the Nomads. Plus, Roosevelt’s wife was able to get a good scratch on one of the burglars, and the Lieutenant later demanded that the nurses give him a sample of the skin underneath her fingernails. Yes, it’s standard police procedure, but it’s also no coincidence that line was spoken on screen. Shit, meet fan.

Aside from that, we didn’t get a whole lot. Things are moving forward with the escort business.  Tara got some good news from the doctor, but was so nervous she couldn’t stop her hand from shaking while sewing up Tig’s ass wound. Oh, and Nero and Gemma’s break-up isn’t going to be free of drama, but we always knew that. Let’s be honest, Jax insisting the two stop seeing each other wasn’t going to end any other way. It was kind of a cheap way of milking some more conflict out of Gemma, and frankly, the character has been nothing short of boring for a few seasons now. I can’t imagine a less interesting relationship fallout.

I, for one, am still waiting for Jax to put a bullet in that prison guard’s head. Not to mention the club moving away from the cartel and the Irish so he can put one in Clay’s cranium while he’s at it. And, of course, the war with Pope, which the Sons will inevitably win despite the deaths of another member or two. Luckily, the promo for next week’s episode suggests plenty of action. It was nice to get some laughs in this week, but hopefully there will be some forward movement in all those plot areas and more in weeks to come.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.


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