Sons of Anarchy 4.12 – Burnt and Purged Away

There was a lot more build-up to the season finale this week as the Irish Kings arrived in Charming to talk with SAMCRO about expanding their business relationship. The Irish aren’t exactly sold on the idea of selling RPGs and other heavy artillery to a drug cartel, but Clay persuades them to at least sit down with Romeo and hear what he has to say. And now that a time and place for the meeting has been set, Juice has contacted Lincoln to fulfill his end of the deal, meaning that whoever shows up to the powwow representing the Sons is screwed. But while all of this is likely to play a big part in the final two episodes, tonight’s show was mainly about one thing: the fate of Clay.

After Gemma learns that Opie has found out the truth about Piney’s death, she begins to worry that he’s going to kill Clay, and even scolds Unser for telling him. If Unser looked a little confused, it’s because Gemma doesn’t seem to know what she wants anymore, and the poor guy was left scratching his head just like I was while watching it. It wasn’t that long ago that she went to Unser demanding that Clay needed to die at the hands of a Son, so why the sudden change of heart? You’ve got me, but whatever the reason, she’s obviously decided that she no longer wants Clay dead, and even makes the effort to warn him that Opie is coming for him with a vengeance.

But before we jump to that juicy showdown, it’s worth discussing the events that occurred right before it. Is it just me or is Clay having second thoughts about killing Tara? The previews for this week’s episode hinted at Clay finishing the job himself, but after talking with Romeo about the botched hit, he didn’t seem too convinced that she needs to die anymore, even after Romeo offers to handle it personally. Instead, his visit to Tara’s hospital room was actually quite diplomatic, even if it was a bit of a threat in disguise. He claims that he’s willing to help Jax and Tara get out of town in exchange for John Teller’s letters, and I actually believe him. All he cares about now is saving his own neck, and if Tara is no longer a threat, then it’s actually in his best interest to get her and Jax out of his way so that he can continue his reign over the club.

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Sons of Anarchy 4.11 – Call of Duty

After the events of last week’s riveting episode (are you reading this Emmy voters?), it didn’t seem like Tara would ever be able to forgive Jax for what happened. But now that she’s had a night to calm down, she certainly seems willing to try, even if she doesn’t look entirely convinced that they’ll be able to leave Charming as promised. Jax still believes that they can get out, though, and now that the hospital in Providence has offered Tara a job despite her recent accident, their plans to start a new life together are still alive. Or at least they were until Tara foolishly broke her hand all over again after freaking out following Wendy’s visit. Personally, I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. Wendy is, after all, Abel’s biological mother, and if she’s completely reformed, then why shouldn’t she be able to get to know her son? Gemma sees the reasoning behind it and agrees to let Wendy into Abel’s life, but only under her rules. That could mean that Drea de Matteo is coming back to “SOA” full-time, but I wouldn’t place any bets just yet.

Meanwhile, with the rest of the club now aware of Tara’s attempted kidnapping, they’ve agreed to join Jax in exacting revenge on Lobos Sonora by teaming up with Romeo’s men to get rid of the cartel’s presence in Charming. The attack doesn’t go quite as planned, however, and they accidentally wander into a minefield just outside of the Lobos’ camp. During the ensuing firefight, Kozik steps on one of the mines and is blown to pieces – an event that will likely go down as the most pointless death in the history of the show. I don’t really see any reason why Kozik had to die apart from the fact that Kenny Johnson (the actor who plays him) has a new gig on NBC’s “Prime Suspect,” especially when he was just beginning to mesh with the rest of the cast. That whole sequence played really false to me, with Jax and Chibbs even using some rocket launchers (or as Juice called them, “‘Call of Duty’ shit”) like they were seasoned pros.

Apart from that strange detour, the rest of the episode did a great job of getting all the show’s ducks in a row in preparation for the finale. One of the biggest loose ends still looming in the background was the deal that Clay struck with Georgie to trick Hale into thinking he had new investors for Charming Heights. Unfortunately, the plan worked a little too well, and one of the Asian families went behind Georgie’s back and actually made a deal with Hale, ensuring that the property deal would go through. When the Sons learn that Georgie can’t do anything to stop it, Bobby forces him to confess the truth about Luanne’s murder before giving Tig and Opie the go-ahead to kill him like they should have weeks ago. As expected, Georgie was involved in her death, although he claims that it was an accident and she was only meant to be roughed up a bit.

Of course, that particular piece of intel isn’t going to mean much to Otto since Bobby already lied to him about killing Georgie once. And now because of it, he’s decided to rat on SAMCRO after Lincoln agrees to a list of demands that include giving Lennie the Pimp back some of his prison rights and moving up his execution date. Oh yeah, and he also wants to be the one to tell Bobby that he gave up the club, although that last one is going to blow up in his face as soon as he learns that Georgie was responsible for Luanne’s death. Then again, as long as Otto doesn’t sign off on his testimony, there’s always a chance that he’ll be able to retract his statement in time. And from where I’m standing, that’s SAMCRO’s only hope of getting out of this whole mess in one piece.

Other thoughts from the episode:

* Otto’s traitorous decision wasn’t even the biggest talking point of the night, but rather it was Opie finally discovering Piney’s body in the cabin. I’m not sure why Unser didn’t go finish the frame-up job immediately after speaking with Gemma, but now Opie knows the real truth, and Unser’s warning that Clay needs to die before he “kills someone else you love” suggests that Opie will indeed be the Son who puts him down for good.

* But it’s entirely possible that someone totally unexpected will be the one that pulls the trigger instead. If Tig killed Clay, it would continue in the tradition of the show’s other Shakespearean influences, although it would be more “Julius Caesar” than “Hamlet.” And after confronting Clay about being shut out in recent weeks and then turning over his Sgt. at Arms patch after seeing what he did to Gemma, Tig certainly has motive.

* And then there’s Juice, who’s trying to save the club and his brothers by essentially going against everything they stand for. If he would have just went confided in Chibs in the first place about the whole race issue (who claims that it isn’t an issue at all because his birth certificate says he’s Hispanic), he wouldn’t be in the difficult situation that he’s in now, which only makes it that much harder to swallow.


Sons of Anarchy 4.10 – Hands

If you haven’t already heard, FX recently granted Kurt Sutter an additional episode so that he could see out the current season the way he intended, and for as good as this year has been up until now, it’s easy to see why the network gave in to his demands. Tonight’s show was a pretty pivotal episode in terms of where the rest of the season is headed, and although there were some other important developments apart from the main storyline (like Jax informing Opie that he was leaving the club and Juice agreeing to work with Lincoln to save it), I’ve decided to focus this week’s blog post entirely on the intensifying drama around the Teller/Morrow clan.

Though last week’s cliffhanger may have tried to play coy about whether Clay was actually moving forward with his plan to order a hit on Tara, it was confirmed within the first few minutes of tonight’s episode. I found it a little strange that Clay demanded Tara’s death to be handled cleanly, however, because if he was planning on blaming it on the cartel, isn’t that the complete opposite of what they would do? Regardless, it didn’t take long for Gemma to realize that Clay was up to no good when she discovered that the money was missing, but I don’t think she knew what he had done just yet.

The look on Clay’s face upon learning that Jax and the kids were joining Tara on her trip up to Oregon was priceless, and although he tried to call it off, Romeo said that it wasn’t possible. What he doesn’t know is that Romeo could have easily canceled the hit if he wanted to, but now that he knows that Tara is a potential liability, he’s going to do whatever it takes to protect the cartel – even if that means killing her himself. Of course, as soon as Romeo does come after Tara, that’s surely going to spell the end of the cartel’s relationship with SAMCRO, which is exactly what the club wants anyways.

Still, for as much as that guy was paid to kill Tara, you’d think that he would be a little better at his job. Though he successfully got her into the van, Jax was able to shoot out the tires, prompting Tara to try and escape only to have her hand crushed by the door. As soon as that happened, I immediately knew where the story was headed. With Tara’s career as a surgeon pretty much finished (save for some miracle recovery), Jax will be forced to stay in the club in order to support her and the family. The fact that I didn’t even consider that possibility before is a little embarrassing, but I have to applaud Sutter for doing what was necessary without making it feel like a jumping the shark moment. The emotional ramifications are going to be huge, because I can’t really see how Jax and Tara will able to be continue their relationship when she already resents him for what happened.

There may be a dearth of strong female characters on television, but “Sons of Anarchy” has two incredible ones in Tara and Gemma. The latter really showed her fortitude tonight when, after confronting Clay about breaking his promise to stay away from Tara, she pulled a gun on him and threatened to tell Jax everything. But while Gemma certainly got a few good punches in after he attacked her, Clay did most of the damage, beating her up so badly that she looked even worse than she did after the rape in Season Two. I honestly don’t see how Clay is going to make it out of this season alive, and now that Gemma has finally admitted he’s beyond saving, she’s ready to let him go. Unser would prefer he’s delivered justice by the law, but Gemma believes he has to die, and only at the hands of a Son. But who will it be? Jax, Opie or someone else?


Sons of Anarchy 4.9 – Kiss

I should have known that Juice’s failed suicide attempt was going to have much bigger repercussions once someone in the club found out, and sure enough, it’s become almost as much of a problem as the race issue that got him into this whole mess. After Jax learns where Juice’s neck bruises really came from, he reminds Chibs that “Sons don’t kill themselves,” and as a result, Juice would likely be voted out of the club since they can longer trust him. But Chibs seems to believe that Juice is worth saving and asks Jax for a little more time to see if he can’t help him get out of this emotional rut.

What neither of them realizes, however, is that Juice isn’t depressed – he’s just nursing a guilty conscience, which he hopes to remedy by getting out of the spy game with Roosevelt. But Lincoln believes that he can still be useful, so he brings Juice into the secret RICO room to show him just how deep his investigation goes. Though he claims that he’s only after the Real IRA and promises that SAMCRO won’t be dragged into a federal case (thereby saving the club and all of its charters from certain extinction), he can’t guarantee that some of its members won’t be punished for their involvement. All Lincoln wants in return is the details of the upcoming meet between the IRA and the cartel, but Juice probably couldn’t get that information even if he wanted. In fact, if he’s so adamant about helping the club, his best bet would be to just call Lincoln’s bluff, because it’s pretty obvious the investigation hinges on whether or not he cooperates.

SAMCRO could sure use the old Juice on their side, especially with increasing pressure from Lobos Sonora, who they discover have been working with the Niners to expand their coke business into the States. Though it’s hard to blame the Niners for cutting a deal with the Lobos while the Sons were still in prison, Jax convinces their President that’s in his best interest to stay out of the middle of a cartel beef and join them and the Mayans in working for Galindo. Part of that deal means luring the Lobos into a trap so that Torres can take care of them once and for all, but when the surprise attack goes south and a few manage to escape thanks to some handy grenade launchers, Jax persuades Torres not to take out his anger on the Niners by ensuring him that they’ll be more useful alive than dead. All in all a pretty worthless subplot in the grand scheme of things, although it did provide Torres the chance to give Clay a cell phone that would solve his “doctor problem.” And just to emphasize the gravity of the decision, he tells him that once the assassination is set in motion, it can’t be stopped.

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Sons of Anarchy 4.8 – Family Recipe

I really wanted to begin this week’s post with a big “I told you so,” but based on the comments from last week’s recap, it appears I wasn’t the only one who believed that Juice was still alive after attempting to commit suicide. He even seemed ready to give it another shot right away until he was interrupted by Chibs and Tig, who were sent out to round him up for the impending vote. Of course, that didn’t stop Juice from going back later the next night to try again, but this time around, Chibs followed him out there, and he wasn’t happy with what he found. Juice clearly has a death wish, but if he’s willing to kill himself, then why not just take his chances with the club? Sure, their methods are more brutal, but there’s always the possibility that he’ll be forgiven as well.

It’s definitely one less distraction the club could do with at the moment, especially after the vote for the president challenge was delayed following the attack by Lobos Sonora, who shot up the clubhouse and delivered a bag filled with the heads of members from both SAMCRO and the Mayans, including Tucson president Armando. Dirty Phil was able to shoot one of them before they got away, but he wasn’t a very cooperative hostage – at least, not until Galindo’s right-hand man gave him a dose of truth serum and he fingered one of the Mayans as a spy feeding the cartel information. But while Alvarez wanted the traitor killed on the spot, Jax suggested that they use him to set a trap for the Lobos at the warehouse instead. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned, with the Lobos managing to stay one step ahead by taunting them with a truck containing the bodies of the headless victims in the back. Could there be another rat in the group?

Who knows? But with the lives of the Sons and their families now officially in danger (and Roosevelt sniffing around the clubhouse), the last thing that Clay should be worrying about is the looming threat of John Teller’s letters. Though Piney tells him that the recent string of attacks is a great excuse to pull the plug on their new business venture, Clay refuses to believe that Romeo will let them just walk away. But if Clay doesn’t think that they can free themselves of the cartel now, then how does he plan on ever getting out? Or does that become someone else’s problem after he steps down?

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