Sons of Anarchy 5.11: To Thine Own Self

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 of the show up to and including the episode discussed are fair game.

“To Thine Own Self” opened with Tara telling Jax about the offer she got from the practice in Providence. She followed the news up by insisting Jax had accomplished what he set out to and that it’s time to get out of Dodge. “I know why you couldn’t walk away a few months ago. The club’s been your whole life, you couldn’t let it die… But ending RICO saves SAMCRO, and whatever happens with Clay you have put the MC on the right track, you’ve done everything you’ve wanted to do. It’s your turn now, we can move on.” On the surface, she’s right. Especially considering all the shrewd (and more importantly, successful) moves Jax made as the episode moved forward. And yet, we all know there’s a zero percent chance the Teller family will be taking their talents to Providence. And it’s not just because a show called “Sons of Anarchy” would be a lot less interesting absent, you know, the Sons of Anarchy.

Exhibit A is Jax, Tig, Chibs, and Happy’s escape from the members of Nero’s old crew who decided that while they’d like a cache of the club’s guns, they’d prefer not to pay for them. The guys went off-roading in a station wagon, fired some automatic weapons, and narrowly escaped with their lives. Happy even had a bullet graze his head, and his response? “I am rapturous!” He was speaking for the group.

Violence and adrenaline are as big a draw for these guys as the brotherhood, motorcycles, and “easy” money. You don’t live this kind of life, or at least continue to, without a taste for cheap thrills. It doesn’t matter that the club no longer has RICO hanging over his head. It doesn’t matter that both Galindo and the Chinese are on board for the new weapons deal. It wouldn’t even matter if Clay finally got his comeuppance. There are only two places Jax can end up post-SAMCRO: in a cage or in a box. Sorry Tara, your husband  is never going to be a peaceful mechanic in motherfucking Rhode Island.

It’s become clear that Jax’s little rage trip is not a temporary result of Opie’s death. This is something that’s been building. A big part of it stems from his ongoing quest to kill Clay, which as Bobby points out is turning Jax into the very thing he despises. But one of this season’s major points  is that the gavel is what’s changing our protagonist—that angry and vengeful are necessary characteristics of the man at the head of the table, the man with all the power, the man in control. Maybe Clay became the man we all love to hate because he was under the same pressures Jax is now.

As Jax turns into Clay, Clay turns into something else. These last few episodes, in his talks with Juice and Tig and Jax, those words were genuine and heartfelt. Don’t get me wrong, Clay’s still a snake, as evidenced by the way he slithered those legal documents away just as they (sort of) fell into his former stepson’s hands, but he’s not the same snake. He had the opportunity to eliminate Jax and return to the presidency, instead he gave advice which he believed both good and necessary, that the club shouldn’t just walk away from Galindo. Clay’s not going to give in, let the truth come out, and die in disgrace, but he no longer seems to be motivated purely by self interest. Bobby’s decision to go to Clay at the end of the episode was driven by fear of the new Jax, sure, but it seemed to come from recognition of the new Clay as well.

The new direction of Clay’s character is something I did not see coming. The same can be said of Nero Padilla. When Nero was first introduced, he seemed too good to be true—loyal to Jax, loving to Gemma, a smart and safe business partner—I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I thought the show would wring drama and suspense out of Nero by having him turn on the club, in some way becoming yet another enemy. Instead, Nero was everything he seemed to be and more. And just look at how that’s worked out for him.

I mentioned that Jax’s arc has demonstrated the way being in charge changes people. Likewise, Nero’s arc is meant to show that just being close to the boss brings tumult and turmoil, anger and vengeance, by proxy. His life’s gone to shit not because he’s an enemy of SAMCRO, but because he’s a friend. When Nero believes his former crew kidnapped Jax, he goes out and does a bit of murder, returning to the life of violent crime he’d sworn was behind him. All because the club was quick to call him when they (thought they) needed his help, and sort of forgot to let him know when they didn’t. The Nero we saw at the end of the episode seemed like he’d just stepped out of a warzone, like he’d been truly traumatized, and he has. He’s messed up, but he’s a former OG, it’s something he’ll get over—or would, if he had Gemma there to comfort him. But he doesn’t. And why’s that again? Because Jax has put his mom to work, throwing both her and Nero under the bus in his efforts to eliminate Clay.

Meanwhile, this episode introduced a new character, Lee Toric, played by Donal Logue, whose sole mission is to make the last few months of Otto’s life a little more miserable, if that’s even possible. We know very little about the character so far, other than that he’s got the pull to get into a maximum security prison and beat the shit out of a dude in solitary confinement. His motivations remain unknown. All we have to go on is his desire to torture Otto and his following Tara at the end of the episode. A good guess would be that his actions have something to do with that nurse Otto murdered. Maybe she was a family member and he’s out for vengeance. All that might be a bit too convenient, considering she was played by Karina Logue, the actor’s real life sister, but Toric is sure to be a major player moving forward.

A few more things:

-“This Kenny G shit’s gonna give my cancer cancer.”

-The club’s lawyer is played by Robin Weigert. I knew I recognized her from something but couldn’t figure out what (looking it up is cheating). Last night it hit me, Weigert played Calamity Jane in “Deadwood.”

-As I predicted last week, Jax isn’t going to just hand Tig over, and that’s going to make Pope mad. A confrontation is brewing.

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

  

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3 responses to “Sons of Anarchy 5.11: To Thine Own Self”

  • SThompson says:

    Just had a funny thought, nothing to back it up with and it probably won’t go down this way, just a thought. Jax is trying to get Pope in on the Charming Heights deal. Pope will be in for quite a bit of money. For some stupid reason, Jax tells Pope he will act as the middle man and deliver the cash to Hale. When Pope gives him the money, Jax turns on him, and it just happens to be enough money to pay off the hit squads that Pope has on retainer so they don’t kill SAMCRO. Pope actually gives Jax the money to stay alive, and Jax gets to burn both Pope and Hale, with the former most likely being a literal burning.

    Again, it probably won’t happen, and if it did it they would need to come up for a reason for Jax to have access to the money for Charming Heights, and I can’t think of any good reason for that. Just something that popped into my head.

  • Bigman711 says:

    Pretty obvious that the new character is jax father, and bobby goes to clay to fill him in that he is not actually dead…thereby sharing the secret which will save his life because jax won’t want to kill him as bad if he knows clay didn’t kill his father. Clay is a snake, but maybe some of what we think of him is not correct. John fakes his death.

  • Alexcemd says:

    Providence Oregon, not Rhode Island

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