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Sons of Anarchy – “Una Venta”


There’s several great things going on in this week’s Sons of Anarchy, a few weak links, but the most important thing that characterized this episode was the character of Lincoln Potter beginning to work his tentacles into SAMCRO. So I want to start off this post talking about him first. The Sons have seen their share of feds and investigators before, of course, most notably the loathed Agent Stahl (and also the brilliantly creepy ATF agent Kohn, memorably played by The Shield’s Jay Karnes back in season 1); but Lincoln Potter feels like something new. I don’t think this is just displaced affection from his Deadwood character, but something about this character is geniunely fascinating. It could be the little quirks McKinnon gives the character; that little wave of the leg standing on the table is exactly the kind of thing we all do when we’re alone, but actors so rarely invest in their character’s unguarded moments. But it’s also the way he effortlessly is working his way into the club, insinuating nuanced instabilities and doubts and allowing the ramifications to play out on their own, even as he’s working a massively detailed investigation; indeed, his near omniscience about the club is a bit too perfect at times, even if it’s nice for the show to throw us an expository bone once in a while, as its complex plot developments tend to happen very quickly.  Still, this is the first time the show has given us a law enforcement antagonist who fully emerges as a sympathetic character; indeed, Potter has been so strong that it’s hard not to swing over to his side, for SAMCRO’s slide into decadence is happening very, very quickly.

The dominant storyline this week, Potter aside, concerns the club’s growing awareness of the consequences of their deal with the cartel; when the Tucson charter, SAMTAZ, are revealed to be not only transporting but dealing drugs, a decision that has sown violence repercussions and betrayals within their ranks, the parallel is a bit too neat but still effective. The obstinacy of the SAMTAZ leader (whose name I missed) is both a stark reflection of Clay’s growing loss of principle, but also of the loss of his effectiveness and influence on other charters. Even when the Sons do what they do – break things and blackmail people – to find out the truth of the matter, which is usually a very effective tactic, is doesn’t mean a whole lot to SAMTAZ. This is stark contrast to their handling of SAMBEL last season, when they had the power to upend an entire charter. Not so in Tucson. That said, my favorite moments of this week, which was quite strong even if a bit of a breather episode, lie in subtler territory: beside Potter’s oddities, Clay’s trembling hands provide some powerful moments reminding us just how fragile his power is as he casts about for a way out of the club. The little ways SAMCRO and SAMTAZ members notice and react to his slipping grip provide the most effective expression of the drama here.

The Juice storyline lies quiet for this week; and on this point, I’m with you in my perplexity. The post-racial character of the club has always seemed a given; for example, there was an African-American charter, the Grim Bastards, last season. So that one I’m going to need to see develop for a bit before I weigh in. The growing impatience and signs of betrayal from Bobby and Piney are another sign of the fragility of Clay’s authority. And I’m beginning to fear that John Teller’s letters are going to end up being Sons of Anarchy’s “island” – essentially a massive McGuffin – if we don’t get more substantiation on their danger soon. That said, my favorite element of this show has always been Jax the vengeful son, so if the writers manage to effectively make use of the Tara-Gemma dynamic that surrounds the letters to draw Jax in, I’ll likely be on board. Hopefully we’ll see soon.




Thanks for this write-up. I’m with you on both of these points. I still think there must be *more* to Lincoln Potter’s character. His knowledge of the biker culture and his general “counter-culture”-ness seems too authentic and too real to have originated merely from the sidelines. I am hoping, and really suspecting, that he has some sort of biker past, that ought to emerge in due time. Either that or he has some larger game or ambition at play. He is incredibly effective at sowing the seeds of destruction (or, well, anarchy). And I agree, that the acting is top notch, as it usually is in the show.

I was also very fascinated by all of the female dynamics in this episode, but especially between Gemma and florist (didn’t get her name). It is interesting to see how the women on the show are, essentially, involved in what I take to be the most interesting elements of the story (i.e. Gemma, florist, and Tara), but all of the action invariably surrounds the men. We’ve–I think–discussed the role of women on these shows before, and it’ll be interesting to return to this topic as we see the various power dynamics unfold and change. I am curious to see how the relationship between Gemma and the florist will affect the one between Clay and the new sheriff. Similarly, it’ll be interesting to see how the escalating relationship between Tara and Gemma will affect the relationship between Clay and Jax. If they stick to Kurt Sutter’s allegations that SoA represents a re-worked retelling of Hamlet (something he’s said many times), then it’s just a matter of time until Jax and Clay are at it again.

As far as other little things, although the parallels with the other club were appropriate, I also found them some ham-fisted. I am curious to see how things work out with the Mexicans (the implication seems to be that the Mexicans don’t trust SAMCRO *that* much–btw, so cool to see everyone and their mom from the Shield on this show–Alameda, Ronnie, etc.)

Until next week,


Written by teables

September 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Sons of Anarchy

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