The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Secret babies are a bad idea

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Sons of Anarchy – “The Widening Gyre”

So Trinity, Maureen’s daughter, is Jax’s half-sister. I think we all saw that coming, at least all of us except Gemma, and her reaction undoubtedly pales in comparison to how it will hit Clay and Jax, now that all three are in Belfast (or are on their way). It’s an interesting reversal, isn’t it? The first half of the season was preoccupied with Clay and Jax keeping a devastating secret from Gemma; now the dynamic is inverted. The reversal is particularly interesting as one more step into the mystery of John Teller,* and Maureen is at the center of both secrets. The interesting thing, however, is that the necessity of preserving their secret forced Clay and Jax together; this secret has the potential to tear all three apart.

The metaphor is not subtle, but it’s still fascinating: the secrets we harbor in order to maintain the peace of our relationships are also the ones that continually threaten to destroy us. Tara’s pregnancy confronts her with a difficult choice – end a pregnancy and hide it from the man she clearly still loves, or keep it and accept the compromising ties it imposes with the MC. Likewise, Maureen, the bearer of another secret baby, is continually being torn by competing pressures, and it seems clear that the legacy of the father is proving an impossible burden to bear. Secret babies are a bad idea.

Last night’s episode, which finally got SAMCRO moving to Belfast, was a bit of a mixed bag, but for a slow-moving season, it was notable how swiftly some of its key moments unfolded – like the news of John Teller’s Irish daughter. Two sequences especially stood out: the confrontation in the restroom with the Calaveras “bullshit MC,” and Gemma’s heist-style escape from the hospital. The first worked for me, the second did not. The confrontation with Calaveras has been brewing for a while, and the deal with the Mayans was never going to eliminate it (and it now looks like Tara is going to be in danger from the shamed and ostracized Salazar); but what was effective with that scene was how it showed the carefully negotiated and socialized space within which violence happens in this show. It is retributive, but also sacrificial – killing happens within a careful political economy on Sons, and it is those who disrupt that economy, like Salazar’s hapless lieutenant, who are the only legitimate targets,** and their sacrifice maintains that order. Justice here is swift, vicious, and not open to appeal. But it’s also deeply conservative, because it’s the exception that maintains order. This is, at the least, deeply ironic for a gang who style themselves as they do – sons of anarchy.

Anyway, what didn’t work last night in the hijinks-ensuing escape from the hospital was, I think, Tara’s sudden change of heart; for that matter, neither did her administrator boss suddenly being on her side (although the fact that she took the opportunity to take a shot at Tara totally did). The relationship between Tara and Gemma has been carefully worked out the past three seasons, and Gemma’s cold and calculated belittling of Tara last week showed both how far and how little the two of them have gone. It makes a certain amount of sense for Tara to act in loyalty to Gemma, but it makes a lot more sense for her to get out now, and that means walking away, not wading further in. In sum, I guess the problem was plot showing in this sequence; the final scene was, however, effectively portrayed. The understated confrontation with Unser and the escaping Gemma showed how quickly and quietly that relationship has fallen apart; we haven’t seen much of Unser this season (or Opie or Bobby, for that matter), but it feels like he’s being put into position as a grudging ally of Hale for the events to come.

The widening gyre calls back, of course, to the “turning and turning” of two week’s ago. As we learn of a conspiracy in Belfast, their very own fellow charter conspiring with Jimmy, and the dubious certainty of Alvarez’s loyalties at home defended only by mortal enemies Tig and Kozick, the possibility of the center – Jax, Clay, and Gemma – not holding seems to portend ill fortune for the club. Of course, the other way to interpret Yeats’s line lies in the words “mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Indeed, SAMCRO is uprooted and at large in the world – the Ireland episodes promise to be anarchic indeed.

I’ll leave out the kind-of hilarious serious of faceslaps in the opening scene, the comically clueless prospects, and Tig being on the lam for now. On to Belfast!

*Since Natalie has already broken the theological ice this week, I’ll make a little observation here about the symbolism going on: the Father is reflected in the Son, but his true nature remains unknown without the mystery of the Trinity. Just saying…

**Except in the case of wars between rival gangs, but this just proves the point: politics is the continuation of war by other means.


Written by teables

October 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm

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