Business as usual.
Not one to complain about a cliffhanger not delivering, but when we left off last week, Juice had Gemma staring down the barrell of a gun. I even said, it was fairly obvious that he wasn’t going to kill her for story reasons, but it would have been nice to see him come to that conclusion. The tension was abruptly cut since the very first scene of “Smoke Em, If You Got Em” was Gemma walking down that lonely road. So with that situation mostly handled, this Sons of Anarchy felt more like standard fare.
SAMCRO was able bring back a sense of normalcy to their existence. Through pure plot contrivance, Jax was able to garner deals and good faith enough for things to cool down a bit in Charming. Keep in mind, Lin knows everything, and more than a few people have heard Jax say that Gemma is the one who saw the Chinese allegedly kill Tara. Thankfully that was brought up in the episode, and will likely be expanded upon later. For now, we saw a chicken come home to roost a bit as Juice was finally confronted by the club.
Rewinding a bit, it shows how far Juice has fallen if he is willing to turn his back on the club in order to buy safe passage from The Mayans. We’ve constantly been reminded that SAMCRO is all Juice has, and that he was lost without them, now to stroll in, head down, and intentionally betray them in a way he hasn’t before is saddening but plausible. Remember, his past transgressions were at the threat of police and under the influence of drugs and depression. This was just a man at the end of his rope. We were left to wonder what info Juice would give up, now that he’s not beholden to keeping Gemma’s secret about Tara. But we never found out, even though there were technically two opportunities; before Jax and the club walked in, and when Juice was spilling his guts to Nero in the closet.
Gemma at the rest stop was nice, and it was cool to see the Glee star, Lea Michele play against type, but the scene came off as a bit of filler in an already light episode. Not that it was bad, but we got more of the writers wanting us to sympathize with a guilt-ridden Gemma a bit more than any of us a really ready to do. She’s been responsible for so much damage, not only these past two seasons, but overall. Seeing her crumble is more welcome than not at this point.
“Smoke Em, If You Got Em” gave us more to chew on this week, and we’re left to wonder how things will fall into place now that the obvious questions have been asked to a few key people. Nero now has legitimate suspicions of Gemma’s actions, and Jax has Juice in his clutches. Of course, drama for drama’s sake will slow down at least one of those, it’s good to know things are still moving forward in a way. Honestly, i’m more interested in how Nero will react to things than Jax. Jimmy Smits has been owning this role from the get go and has only gotten better over the past few seasons. Sons of Anarchy is giving us super-sized episodes, but they’re suffering from the longer runtime, and could actually tell a more consice story without the extra minutes to pad things out. They’re not operating on the subtlety that thrives on longer exposure. But that’s normal for the show at this point, and I’m sure it’ll be more hit than miss in this last season….I hope.