The Moth Chase

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Sons of Anarchy – episodes 8 & 9, “Family Recipe” & “Kiss”

Martin,

So I’m watching Deadwood right now, and was struck by how this extraordinary show (Deadwood, not Sons, which is a good and sometimes great show) began its second season with a bold declaration of how the heart of narrative, both historical and fictional, is a “lie agreed upon.” It’s a quote often attributed to Napoleon, whether apocryphally or not, something which gives it a nice irony: history is written by the winners, necessarily, but always at the cost of certain repressed memories that press upon the coherence of our narratives and undermine their pretense to normalization.

I mention this because one of the sources of my frustration with this show – the Legend of John Teller and His Dangerous Letters – devolved into outright farce in these episodes. All this season, the lies have been piling upon themselves, to the point where I’ve essentially given up trying to track who’s bluffing and who’s really got leverage at any given point. Giving that up has actually been rather freeing, because rather than trying to keep up with Clay’s multitudinous machinations, I can just focus on the barely suppressed struggle for power that is playing out between Clay and Jax.

That seems counterintuitive, since the whole point of this season is Jax wanting out, and in ep. 8, we have him actually admitting to Tara that he’s in over his head. But in over his head is a good place to be for Jax, because it forces him to act – something we’ve been waiting for him to do, really, since the end of season 1 after Donna’s murder. Jax had two extraordinary moments in ep. 9: the showdown with Clay after the latter’s over-the-line “Doctor Pussy” comment, and the desperate intervention on behalf of the Niners in the face of Romeo’s lieutenant. The fact that the former was staged in the clubhouse, with the threat of the gavel as a weapon, and that the latter was effectively a last minute save of the cartel deal leads me to believe that Bobby’s right – all of Jax’s solutions are club solutions.

Which is interesting, given Clay’s callous murder of Piney and the apparent season endgame of the contract on Tara’s head. On the one hand, both of these acts are predicated on utter fabrications – the letters of John Teller, the central McGuffin of this show –  and on the other, both only serve to propel Clay out the door, leaving Jax as the only one to take his place. This season is really feeling like it’s a callback to season 1, where Jax is compelled to confront Clay for his murderous ways. I can’t anticipate whether Tara will die, as did Donna, but either way I can only see this season ending with Jax crushing Clay’s arthritic hands, as he threatened.

Oh, and – Juice isn’t dead! At first I was bothered by that, but his freakout on Roosevelt convinced me otherwise. He’s an unknown variable right now, a wild card, and he could end up playing an interesting role before season’s end. Sons is not a show in which I always have full faith that they’ll tie up every thread, but Juice’s story is one I’m really hoping they give a satisfactory end to.

Travis

Travis,

I don’t have much to add to your writeup (your choice of title was exactly what I would have picked, btw). The only thing that I like and am curious to see is what will happen next week. Especially, I am wondering how the whole strange dialectic of Jax’s relationship to the inside/outside will play out. I suspect that Jax and Tara will be attacked on their way up to Oregon (or in Oregon), and this will force Jax deeper into the club (whether in the case that he finds out Clay is behind this or whether in retaliation). So in attempting to get out, Clay has made it so that Jax will be forced to go deeper in. Of course, the great irony here, is as you point out, in going deeper in, Jax is almost guaranteeing that Clay will be pushed out (or killed).

The problem, as you point out, is that I don’t much care, and this is mostly because power struggles–in their raw form–are sort of boring. What captivated us for so long was the mystique of John Teller and Jax and Clay’s relationship to the past. But now that that has been revealed–it’s turned out to be sort of bland. And so our characters are becoming more bland.  I honestly don’t see how 3 more seasons are supposed to play out…

Best,

M

Written by teables

November 3, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Sons of Anarchy

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