Tag Archives: SAMCRO

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: “Faith and Despondency” Review

From the mouths of babes…

**SPOILERS BELOW**

Boy, how many jaws had to be picked up from the floor after that scene. We’re all used to Sons of Anarchy ending on some sort of revelation or discovery, so once things died down and we got back to the house with Abel, Wendy and Jax, it felt like we were just biding time. In an odd use of making the audience work for it (and boy did Sutter stretch it), Abel finally told his father that Gemma killed his “second mom”. And with those few words, it’s the kid that blew the whole season wide open.

Faith-JaxOnce you get to that scene, it actually clears up a lot of the earlier issues with the episode. Up until that point, things felt rushed, like loose ends were being tied up in a way that hadn’t happened at all this season. Had this been any other season, “Faith and Despondency” packed in as much as a finale or penultimate episode. We saw the club beaten and against the wall, only to find out they were in control pretty much the whole time. There were some classic SAMCRO elements thrown in with some sloppiness that overall left the episode uneven, but elevated by that ending. With only three episodes left, the writers had to kick things into high gear to get the story that we really care about back to the forefront.

Taking things from the top, the club was still reeling over the death of Bobby. We were greeted to the most awkward, sex montage in the history of the show. No one seemed happy, everyone trying to find solace in the physical act. Each encounter more empty than the last. Jax cry-maxing with Winsome was a very telling moment for the character. He couldn’t hide his pain anymore, and having had that level of intimacy with a woman that looks an awful lot like his dead wife broke him.

Elsewhere, Juice was being made into a prisoner within the prison, another broken man doing what he thinks he needs to do to stay alive and in the good graces of the club. There were several levels of sadness at play, but I personally can’t get over the level of despair it takes to let Marilyn Manson have his way with you in a one on one situation. Poor Juice, sometimes dead is better.

mathew-st-patrick-sons-of-anarchy-season-7-665x385Last week, SAMCRO set things up so that Marks was arrested and his team mostly left without a leader. Moses made for a strong lieutenant and seemed to be a step ahead of Jax the entire episode, which took some of the drama away if you’d been paying attention this season. See, Jax has been outsmarted, outplayed and generally out of his league at every encounter. So, to have him appear to be against the ropes for once, instead of confident while the world fell apart around him telegraphed the final play a bit. SAMCRO set up most of their remaining enemies in elaborate fashion, suffered minor consequence, and got to dish out some cheesy, yet satisfying justice on Moses. An eye for an eye and all that.

Thrown in the middle of all that were two powerhouse performances from Walton Goggins as Venus and Kim Coates as Tig. Their relationship had always been playful and weird, but as it progressed, it became something strong and painfully human. Venus, as a character, has always been strong, yet vulnerable. She was always treated with respect by the club, and piqued Tig’s interest in a way we’d never seen. So their conversation about their love, and identities held so much weight, and had so much finality to it, that I wish it’d been built up a little more. While we were in it the moment, it was captivating, and strong, but we got there almost by surprise.

Very similar was Jary and Chibbs’ conversation. It held some weight, but a running trend with Sons of Anarchy has always been making the women look completely insane more often than not. This scene was no different. When Chibbs is the reasonable one in the relationship, it’s not growth, it’s just wrong.

JaxFaceAbel’s confession wasn’t the only one to take place. Actually what prompted it was a pretty spectacular moment on its own. Jax, finally explaining to Abel that Wendy was his real mother was a tender moment. We’ve come so far from the days of the young heir to the club and the junkie. Wendy in particular has grown to be one of the better people on the show. By telling Abel about his mother, Jax was recognizing that.

“So is that why grandma killed my other mommy, so that my first mommy could be here with me?” That little kid has been playing up the weird all season. He already attempted to set Gemma up to get in trouble before, and just like a little kid would, he slid out some of the harshest truth without even knowing. NOW, we will get to the resolution we’ve been waiting for. It just took an extra long time to get to this point. but man Jax’s face made it all worth it.

Score: B+

Sons of Anarchy: “What a Piece of Work is Man” Review

Who else must pay the Jax Tax?

**Spoilers Below**

Well, the moment finally came. It’s hard to say that you couldn’t see it coming, and maybe that was the point. We were supposed to watch Bobby suffer, knowing full well he would not make it out of this situation alive. Jax has been double crossing, manipulating and planning at the expense of everyone he cares about. It hasn’t even been subtle at this point, and even Marks had to call him on it. Now Bobby is dead, the club is shaken to its core, and the only semblance of “success” lies with Juice killing Lin in prison. Remember when we used to root for Jax?

7x09-What-a-Piece-of-Work-Is-Man-Juice-sons-of-anarchy-37732337-1280-853Using a Hamlet quote as the title is a nice touch, and connects that depressing section of the play to our current situation. Things are truly dire for SAMCRO, somehow more so than they were even last week. Or the week before. At this point, watching this show is like reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road; it just isn’t getting better for these people. What makes that frustrating from a viewer standpoint is no one within the club is saying anything about it. Yes, Chibs addressed the issues with Jax and his actions last week on the rooftop, but it may have been too little too late.

By the time Bobby’s body hit the floor, Marks was quick to remind him that this was all his fault. Which actually meant it was all Gemma’s fault. Since her lie(s) is what has set this whole bloody affair in motion. So, much like Jax, Gemma had to do her obligatory apology to a dead body that wouldn’t be in that position if it weren’t for her. And once again, the progressively more unstable Abel, heard yet another Gemma confession. Geesh, somebody put a bell on this kid. You know he’s off kilter, maybe he shouldn’t be left alone so much. It also doesn’t help that the setup for this confession was just like the last; something innocuous happens that grabs Wendy’s attention, then Abel goes a walkin’ . It feels forced.

The real highlight of this episode was the progression of Tara’s murder case, as Jarry poked a sizable hole in Gemma’s story. Looks like the guy she and Juice claim they saw leaving the house had an alibi for that night. That bit of information then got Jarry (via some pushing from Unser) to stop going along with Jax’s plan, and put Juice back in solitary. SAMCRO can’t catch a break on any front.

I will say, the best characters to watch and root for so far are Nero and Wendy. While they both have their past sins, they are also the most redeemable and least repugnant people to watch on a weekly basis. Wendy asking Jax “When will it end?” was a great scene, which was very close to Able asking if them going up to the cabin was because someone else died. Man, that kid is learning some harsh lessons for a five year old. Chief among them is that his dad is a complete idiot.

SOABobbyI know i’ve harped on this point before, but not it is more apt than ever. Lin and Marks haven’t really fallen for any of Jax’s plans since his initial transgressions. He’s well beyond quitting while he’s ahead. He just needs to let his team take this loss. As Marks pointed out, he didn’t want a way out, he was going to do what he was going to do and it cost him and the club dearly. At least Chibbs got to declare his real feelings for Jarry because of it. In front of Quinn…and on the hood of a car. Ain’t they romantic?

It’s always hard to lose an original character on shows like these, but Bobby just felt like another in a long line that is sure to get longer. Days are numbered all around. At least it finally feels like things are moving forward. It’s become evident that Jax won’t find out about Gemma and Tara until closer to the finale, but now we can at least see how that will come to fruition.

Score: B-

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