Tag Archives: Gemma

Sons of Anarchy: “Papa’s Goods” Series Finale Review

Good night, sweet prince

**SPOILERS BELOW**

“I did what I know how to do.” A very telling line from the tragic hero of SAMCRO. This finale was to be the culmination of seven years. An ending to both, the events of the last two seasons and the last seven seasons for Jax Teller. There were definitely hits on both counts, but “Papa’s Goods” wasn’t the home run that many may have hoped for. Some on the nose imagery, and a too many neat coincidences, exposed the try-hard nature Sons of Anarchy. Continue reading Sons of Anarchy: “Papa’s Goods” Series Finale Review

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Sons of Anarchy: “Red Rose” Review

Flowers for my enemies…

**SPOILERS BELOW**

Sons of Anarchy packed a lot into this (yet another) supersized episode. “Red Rose” definitely had a finale feel to it, which makes one wonder where they’ll go from here for the actual finale. Given everything that went down, and the way characters interacted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something akin to an epilogue. Much like Breaking Bad did with “Granite State” and “Felina”. Now that things have gone this far there is no happy ending, for anyone.

sons-of-anarchy-7x12-665x385The running theme in this penultimate episode was making amends. Each of the stories we followed dealt with people knowing things were coming to an end, and wanted some measure of control over their situation. Even if it was only being able to say goodbye or go out on their own terms. This was one of the better uses of the extended time, as each story got the proper time to breathe, and each person was able to to truly convey what they needed. To their loved ones, and to us.

I’ll always appreciate cable shows for allowing things to play out in a truly dramatic fashion. Moments of silence and brevity take place, and gives the actors a chance to really deliver. One such moment was Unser finding out the truth about Gemma. Dayton Callie did a great job showing the pain he felt because of the woman he loved. That unrequited love has always driven his character, so much that his concern was getting her to safety more so than bringing her to justice. Which was the exact opposite of Nero, who had made his peace with her sins and wanted to save Jax from himself.

SONS OF ANARCHY -- Pictured: Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller. CR: James Minchin/FXThen there’s poor Juice. Broken. That guy has been dealing with demons and trying to find someone to put himself back into the good graces of the club for about three years now. After one more threat on his life, and another round of prison rape, he’d finally had enough. He knew he was going to go out, and his final act was to make sure that he did whatever he could in his power to protect the club. He knew that with Gemma’s secret out, and his hand in not only covering up her murder, but killing a police officer, there was no way out for him. He got the acceptance he’d wanted in death, that he couldn’t find in life. A sacrifice in the name of SAMCRO.

Speaking of club business. Since the big story is pretty much wrapped up, “Red Rose” set up what could ultimately be the fall of SAMCRO. Yet another President from Charming that has upset the balance with the Irish. “Mayhem has to fall”, and it will fall on Jax. Of course, the olive branches that Jax attempted to extend were met with some resistance thanks to the Irish, because this is Sons of Anarchy and the club needs side quests. And just like old times, the favor could either offer a semblance of salvation, or damn the entire club.

sons-anarchy-season-7-spoilers_1So we finally made it. The confrontation this entire season has been leading up to. Jax meeting Gemma at her childhood home. The sequence could only end in tragedy, and in this case it was the loss of both Unser and Gemma. Unser died because of his duty as an officer, and his last act of love for Gemma. Damn shame, the guy couldn’t just take the hint that she never felt for him that he did for her, and he died on the floor because of it. The real meat of this scene was Gemma, accepting her fate, reassuring her son of a few things before pretty much begging him to kill her. First, Jax knows where his father’s manuscript is, and potentially has something else to pass on to his sons. Second, there love and disappointment was spelled all over both of their faces. This was a tragic scene. We’ve finally come back around on the whole Hamlet motif that the show was built on. No shying away from it anymore.

With “Red Rose” closing out the Jax/Gemma story line, and both Gemma and Jax effectively moving Wendy into Tara’s place. There were subtle and not so subtle things that made the transition official, from Wendy mentioning her comfort in the home, to Gemma making her the next of kin for her father, and finally Jax and Wendy having sex in her bed. Wendy has taken Tara’s place as much as she could, and through no fault of her own. It’s still not clear how this all will end, and hopefully someone can walk away from this in tact (i’m routing for Nero here), but Sutter and company know how to break hearts, and “Red Rose” was a prime example of this.

Score: A

Sons of Anarchy: “Suits of Woe” Review

…I’ll make sure it’s quick

**SPOILERS BELOW**

Jax knows. In what has to be one of the most powerful and deliberately paced episodes of Sons of Anarchy, Jax confirmed that Gemma had in fact murdered Tara. In almost direct opposition of how he’s been all season, Jax was more patient, and cautious. Having to be sure that what he’d heard from his young son wasn’t just a kid dealing with a tough stretch in a bad way. Now that he knew what really derailed his life, his next step was crucial.

Sons-of-Anarchy-7x11-suits-of-woe-665x385This was another super-sized episode, clocking it at 73 minutes. While the opening scene was strong, some of the following scenes could have used a bit of cutting here or there. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Juice was going to be fine, but there was little tension in his long walk through the prison. There weren’t many sections like that, but enough to drag things down slightly. What brought the episode back up was the fallout, and the interactions with everyone after learning the terrible news. “Suits of Woe” carefully demonstrated final breakdown of the leader we once new, and laid out a slightly hazy end game.

What made this episode work was the small interactions with the club and Nero. Jax didn’t immediately want to see Gemma. He had to know for sure, he had to find more concrete answers, and there were only a few people he could trust. Unser telling him that the man he’d tortured and killed wasn’t even in the state at the time of Tara’s murder was the first chip at his resolve. The doubts he may have had in Abel’s story were slowly falling away. This scene was also great because Unser was pretty through with Jax’s shit at this point. On the verge of being outright hostile toward his former friend.

sons-of-anarchy-season-7-episode-11-preview-suits-of-woe-videoThe next stop, and possibly one of the best scenes in the shows history, was Jax meeting Juice in prison. These two had only seen each other twice all season, none have been on exactly good terms. Juice had just killed a man he knew to be innocent, on a lie he helped build. He’s endured mental and physical torment in and out of prison, and here is the leader of the club he wanted so much to belong to, sitting in front of him, begging for Juice to come clean with information that would tear him apart, and effectively sentence Juice to death. Both Hunnam and Rossi completely owned this scene. Hunnam doesn’t do flat out crying well, but a pained, resereved, anguish is his bread and butter. You could feel the fury burning off of him, while Juice could only sit and spell out how he was partially responsible for destroying everything they loved. This may be the last time these two men interact for the rest of the show, and if it is, kudos fellas. Take a bow.

Gemma had her own errands to run since Juice made sure to call and let her know that the cat was out of the bag. Her scenes on their own didn’t garner much of a response. Since she was directly responsible for everything happening, it was much harder to sympathize with her farewell tour. Although her scene with Abel at the school was touching. Less than touching was the old simp, Unser going back and telling her everything. I get that it was beyond everyone’s realm of possibility that she would be behind so much death and sorrow, but he really needed to keep his mouth shut.

Sons-of-Anarchy-7x11-850x560The real MVP had to be Nero though. This man has given up everything for Gemma. Tried to make peace between all sides, and leave the game with some dignity and his lady. He won’t get that ending. It was a smart play to have Jax reveal everything to Nero over the phone, but not hear what was said. He face sold it. The subtle changes, the pain, the anger, then the despair. It was all there. Him letting Gemma go after telling Jax he’d inform  him, but it could easily be seen as a last act of love, or just the need to get her the hell away from him.

Nero and Jax closed out the episode, and presented us with his ultimate dilemma; of course he’s angry, and wants revenge, but the act of murdering his mother would eat him alive. He still loves her. Plain and simple. And now he has to make right everything he’d done wrong in her name. There were definitely moments this episode where it seemed like Jax was being dense, but they made sense this time around. Who would want to believe what he just learned. Only two episodes left, I hope they’re not spent sitting around tables plotting out diplomacy. “Suits of Woe” finally set all the pins up, now it’s time to knock them down.

Score: A

Sons of Anarchy: “The Separation of Crows” Review

Jax had his fingers in too many pies

Continuing with the trend of bad plans blowing up in his face, “The Separation of Crows” just added fuel to the raging inferno that is SAMCRO. The walls are closing in and more people are starting see cracks in his veneer. We also got more examples of the criminal mastermind spinning his wheels a lot slower than he should be, but hey, this show alternates between genius activity and pants wetting stupid within the same episodes. I can’t really start complaining now.

Sons of Anarchy - Episode 7.08 - The Separation of Crows - Promotional PhotosLet us not forget though, Jax’s string of stupidity is mostly Gemma’s fault. Far be it from me to place full blame on her, quite the contrary in fact. They both get to share in whatever comeuppance they get later. My beef is that Gemma has manipulated  everyone around her, and in the process, gotten her clearly grieving son to start a war with pretty much every foe they’ve ever had. And a few friends. “How could I not see this coming” Jax asked himself, and I’m pretty sure the collective TV audience screamed “we all did”. Of course we have the added benefit of watching other characters at work, but he had to know one of his plans were going to come back and bite the club. Again. This isn’t the first blow back SAMCRO has gotten. It wasn’t long ago that the house of ill-repute was lit up like a Christmas tree by the Chinese. Now Marks has had his way with some of Bobby’s internal organs (the eye counts as one right?). So Jax should have totally seen this coming, and now, because of him, Bobby will never see anything coming again. Depth perception and all that.

Jax has had the club fighting a losing battle from at least two fronts, and now, after Jury tried to tell Jax that while he wanted him all sorts of dead, he didn’t rat him out, Jax killed him.  Which means there’s still very much a leak in the SAMCRO dam AND he will have to answer to other clubs. He’s lost it, and his biggest problem, aside from taking Gemma at face value, was constantly thinking he was smarter than his adversaries. He’s been wrong at every turn.

Bobby isn’t the only one taking loses for Jax, Juice is in prison, which can’t end well, and his kids aren’t exactly safe. And not just from outside forces. Although, that message was creepy as hell. “No son is safe”. Able tried to cash in his Money in the Bank lunchbox on some poor kids head at school, and made Gemma sit through the indignity of having Courtney Love tell her that her grandson is mentally unstable. Oh, and they killed his mama bird. “Heard you brained a kid at school, i’ll be right back…again”. Jax is so full of fail this season.

chibbsSo with three other plans crumbling, watching Unser put two and two together about why Juice is locked away means a few things; he will uncover why Juice is doing all this, thus finding out Gemma killed Tara OR, he will get close and get got. Killed, for the uninitiated. Unser’s weakness has always been getting too close, and not being able to keep his mouth shut about it. Between him, and Nero’s five days to retirement speeches, these dude’s are on seriously borrowed time.

This episode was odd in that while it moved things forward, it still felt like a slog in a lot of ways. I blame that on the extra run-time, and stand by my past statements that every episode doesn’t have to be an hour and twenty minutes. At times we were just getting long shots of people staring out at nothing. Not a bad device, as I think cable TV can get away with silent contemplation in a way network can’t, but it shouldn’t feel like padding. Especially during a shows final season. “The Separation of Crows” saw the further crumbling of not only Jax, but the world around him. Bobby lost his fingers, Gemma lost her birds, and Jax’s once pristine white sneakers dripped with the blood of his allies by the end. I don’t think Carmelo Anthony would approve of such things. Either way, the club is paying for his sins, and judging by his talks with Chibs, I don’t know how much longer they will continue to do so.

Score: B

Sons of Anarchy: “Greensleeves” Review

Always keep an eye out for trouble*

 

bobbyWhen we left off last week, there was a legitimate question as to how Jax and SAMCRO were going to handle the Juice situation. After being on the outs with the club for so long, he was finally in their clutches. Not only that, but he was holding on to some valuable information. Once again, the tension was quickly dissipated, when we saw SAMCRO give back Juice’s cut at the sight of JT’s death. Juice apologized and rode off, only to be followed by some members of the club. Turns out “Greensleeves” was crafting a layered story here.

Jax was actually using Juice as a pawn to kill Lin, and possibly earn his way back into SAMCRO. In an odd win/win situation for Jax; Juice succeeds and kills Lin or fails, and prison does him in. Either way, someone Jax doesn’t like is dead. Although, it may have just made more sense to have an Ariyan kill Lin on the inside since he has a little sway with them.

Sons of Anarchy has never been heralded for its subtlety, and “Greensleeves” was no exception (obvious by having a damn character named Greensleeves and having a montage based around the song). They’ve been “hinting” that all of the violence is finally taking its toll on poor, little Abel, and now he’s being sent home from school for fighting other students. He was described as being distant and withdrawn. I get that there are very realistic ramifications for a child living in this environment for so long, but it’s like Sutter in Co. don’t know how to deal in levels that aren’t homicidal maniac. Maybe they want to draw more connections to the cycle of violence that created Jax himself, who is now more Clay than he was JT at the outset. Keeping in mind this show started out as a morality tale, and a “good man” growing from rotten soil. But just going off the last couple seasons, Jax has been responsible for more death and heartache than Clay, and most of it wasn’t necessarily his fault. So to go full circle, he may have cursed his boy to be a rotten seed, and that seed now knows that his Grandmother offed his mom. Geesh Gemma, stop yammering on. Now that weird kid may off you….

Watching Gemma freak out as if Jax was going to have her killed was oddly fun. She knew that the club had Juice, but no idea what they knew. And the club’s general fear of Gemma kept them all trying to play stoneface, or in Happy’s case, normal. Yet for all of her concern, and undue stress to others, it was just his need for a mother’s touch to help with some deals and double-crosses. Ya know, typical SAMCRO stuff.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-15-at-8.33.20-PMAlso typical was having one characters actions gravely affect someone else. Gemma got people freaked out, so poor Bobby ended up making a drive alone where he should have had backup. So he was cornered, crashed, beaten and tortured by some of Marks’ men. Which also means yet another one of Jax’s plans completely blew up in his face. Probably due to his penchant for making things way more difficult than they need to be. Marks had his group deliver Bobby’s eye to the club in a box (What’s in the boooooox?) along with a tablet, which had video of the torture. Marks learned a lot from Pope, and sadistic behavior was definitely a lesson he took to heart.

Given the reactions of everyone involved, especially Chibs, the next episode is sure to be volatile. It’s too bad they spoiled some of the drama with the “next week on” segment(which I caught by accident), so we know the fate of a few key players. So while this episode had some strong moments, and I didn’t even touch on Nero’s escape plans, which put him right in “6 days to retirement” mode. “Greensleeves” pulled off a feat I would have thought impossible; it squeezed in too much AND got key moments right. It was uneven but fun. Well, not for Bobby.

 

Score: B

Sons of Anarchy: “Smoke Em, If You Got Em” Review

Business as usual.

*Spoilers Below**

7x06-Smoke-em-If-You-Got-em-Gertie-sons-of-anarchy-37651479-1280-854

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. Sons-of-Anarchy-Jax-Teller-850x560We’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.

Score: B-

Sons of Anarchy: “Some Strange Eruption” Review

Do it! Wait, don’t do it!

Whole lotta truth got dropped in this here episode of Sons of Anarchy. Not all of it on purpose, and not all of it listened to. While we may have thought the war was kicked off last week, “Some Strange Eruptions” put a full deck of cards on the table for many of the players, and also reveled that there may be a few more secrets to be revealed. This was a full steam ahead episode that took any semblance of safety from practically every character. And they all of Jax and Gemma to thank for their troubles.Some-Strange-Eruption-1

The fallout from the Diosa Norte massacre was immediate. SAMCRO rallied the troops and doubled down on their own safety. No one rode alone, and everyone checked in periodically. Everyone was on high alert, and the ever present danger wasn’t lost on the survivors. Lyla even openly asked why do people keep dying. That would be just one of many scenes that placed blame squarely on Jax’s shoulders. There was also the scene where Abel his baby brother, and a hammer to the garage and said he was protecting him. Gemma tried to assure the kid that he wasn’t going to get hurt, and he quickly shouted back “Everybody always gets hurt”. So subtlety was completely out in this episode. Thematically and overtly.

It was a little weird to see Jax so taken aback by his plans essentially falling apart, especially since, again, they spend a lot of time building up how calculating he can be, but he clearly wasn’t this time. He was holding all of the information, but hadn’t done enough to build good faith on his already shaky alliance with the Chinese. Just because he was telling people it wasn’t SAMCRO doesn’t mean he was telling the truth. The fact that Lin has been on him pretty much every step of the way is proof of that. Lin was done listening to the lies that SAMCRO was spewing, wondering why certain things were happening.

So SAMCRO met with Barosky and found out there was a possibility of information leaks, not that there needed to be one, but it did shine a Sons-of-Anarchy-7x05-2-850x560light on Barosky, as he was itching to shoot that dirty cop from the get go. Dude is clearly hiding something that’s sure to come out soon enough. Add him to the “good as dead” list.

New member of that list, the poor hotel employee that Juice irrigated because, in his paranoid head, he thought the Chinese had found him. Turned out, he just stayed in the room a day late, and it was the manager. Juice is no longer falling apart, dude is in pieces, and Gemma was ready to throw him out. Piling up bodies can bring unneeded attention, and she was done, and Juice was on to her little scheme pretty quickly. He knew she was lying about Nero helping right as she said it, and discovering lies is a running theme for this season.

We were left with a massive cliffhanger this time around. It’s a pretty safe bet that Juice didn’t shoot Gemma, but the scene played out well. The struggle for the gun, the crash, her begging for her life, and Juice calling out what he’d done for her. Gemma, at this point is an unredeemable character, so sympathy was not about to rain down from the TV heavens. BUT. As much as we want to see her die, this is Jax’s revenge. On the flip side, Jax doesn’t deserve anything. He’s just as bad at this point. Yes, it’s based off of her lies, but he’s done way more harm than good to the people around him with his blood lust.

The plan to rush ahead and kill Lin was good, and it made sense that Jax wouldn’t believe him as he said he had nothing to do with Tara’s death, but still, at that point why would he lie anyway? In the end, the real cops showed up, and put a stop to it, leaving Lin beaten but very much alive. Now Lin knows everything, and more people know about the lie Gemma told, which means it’s only a matter of time before people start to pick her story apart. So if Juice didn’t kill her, she’s still number one on the “Good as dead” list. Now somebody go give those kids a hug or something, because they’ve seen way too much, and the best role models they have are a former junkie and a pimp.

Score: B+