When Bill Bodkin asked me to take the helm of Pop-Break.com’s then-non-existent weekly Sons of Anarchy column, I was super stoked on it. I am, after all, the site’s resident get-drunk-and-surf-your-motorcycle-across-the-nearest-bridge biker.
And it was going to rule. I was going to write about all the exciting things that went down last season; about Gemma (Katey Sagal) snitching on Tara (Maggie Siff) in a desperate attempt to keep her family in Charming; about Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) taking of the coveted “President” patch; about how someone should have killed Clay (Ron Perlman) two seasons ago… I was going to discuss how excited I was about the upcoming season, and how I couldn’t wait to see where Kurt Sutter, the show’s creator, would take the characters of Lee Toric (Donal Logue) and Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits).
But you screwed me, Sutter. When that boy walked into that school, guns blazing, all bets were off. Are you kidding me? Listen, I understand your artistic genius. I understand the beauty that is the made up world of Charming, California, and all the crazy people who live in and around it. For six seasons now, I, along with millions of other fans, have ridden bitch — mere spectators of your artistic vision — as you’ve attempted (quite successfully) to intertwine the sometimes-chaotic real life occurrences of your friendly neighborhood outlaw club with fantastic melodrama and sharp writing the show has become internationally known for. I get it; we all did. Until this.
I’m sure I don’t have to mention how insensitive the whole situation is. Your response to this season’s controversial opener with Entertainment Weekly’s Mandi Bierly clearly demonstrates that you understand the gravity of what you’ve shown us. But, in my humble opinion, you’ve still got some s’plaining to do, brother.
And let us not forget the beef with the “Persians” early on in the episode, and your blatant display of chest-pumping Islamophobia. Really? You’re claiming there’s a reason behind why this all had to happen the way it did, and I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I just don’t understand how you thought any of this is what absolutely had to happen.
Ok everyone, fine… Maybe I’m being a little too critical of this week’s episode. What really got my Harley-Davidson-branded panties in a bunch was the fact that Sutter is such an intelligent guy who, more often than not, knows what he’s talking about and knows how to incorporate it into a meticulously thought out and carefully crafted storyline. But — and I’m not claiming to know what goes down the rest of this season — I can’t really imagine a plot line playing out in this story where there had to be a school shooting. Even if (and this is just a guess) you wanted to lay the backdrop for the club finally becoming so outraged with all the violence and bloodshed that’s been brought to Charming by the Mexican Cartels and IRA — and the guns they brought with them — that it votes to sever its ties to them, I don’t really see a reason why it had to happen this way, so shortly after a series of gun-related national tragedies. Couldn’t you have had a crazy string of bank robberies, a rogue outlaw (maybe Bobby [Mark Boone Junior]?), or whatever? Why did it absolutely have to be a kid walking into a school and bringin’ the ruckus?
I mean, I didn’t even question when we saw Otto, played by Sutter himself, being ass-raped in solitary confinement. While I personally thought it was a bit excessive, sometimes it’s nice to remind your audience that this lifestyle is real, and sometimes real people go to real prisons for the real things they do; that real prison is really no joke and things can get real bad, real quick in there. But this other stuff was just too much.
Aside from all the sensationalism, it was actually a pretty good episode. Tig (Kim Coates) kills one of the savage “Persians” after the gentleman says some choice words about his daughter, not knowing that she’d been brutally murdered last season. He drowns the guy in a tub of piss, then pees on him, and then dumps him in the ocean while singing my favorite Otis Redding tune, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” I don’t really understand it, but fuck it — I loves me some Otis Redding.
Jax [sort of] learns about Gemma’s snitching to the feds about Tara’s involvement in Otto’s killing of the nurse last season.
Clay is offered a deal by Toric, who says that he’ll keep him out of general population — and away from an inevitably long and painful death — in exchange for his testimony about the club and the murder of his (Toric’s) sister (who was killed by Otto). At first he refuses it, and I was proud of him. But, of course, one sight of a couple of black dudes when he’s taken to general population scares the stoic, rock solid outlaw right out of him, and he tells the guard that he wants to make a deal. Bitchmade.
We also discover that Toric is a pretty crazy dude. We learn that he’s quite the junkie, shooting up and standing naked in front of a mirror. Again, I don’t really know what to make of this, but I can’t wait to see where Sutter goes with it.
Juice (Theo Rossi), who had one hell of a bad few months last season, also begins to come back. We see him get his clock cleaned quite severely by Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), who’s having a difficult time coping with all the bad things Juice did behind the club’s back, and how Jax is giving him a free-and-clear pardon from all of it.
And finally, just for clarification, the kid who shoots up the school is, from what I recall, Nero’s nephew? Or, at the very least, he is somehow related to Nero. Again, while I’m pissed that Sutter resorted to what I personally feel were age-old shock-and-awe tactics in order to come out swingin’ with the new season, I guess we’re all going to have to trust that this man, our faithful and knowledgeable captain, will guide us to another absurdly awesome season. But we’ll see. Either way, I’ll be here.
cover photo credt: CR: Frank Ockenfels / FX.