He will die…by the hand of the son.
“I’ll give you until after the Jetsons to decide…”
Wow…what a stunning episode. Although the plot still seems *so* zany, I thought this episode was really well executed, with some amazing acting from almost everyone. I was especially impressed by the subtle parallelisms that the were thrown in. Jax talks to a cop about retiring it all because he has a “bad back,” which serves as a sort of foreshadowing for Tara’s situation. The convergent parallel paths between Jax getting out and Gemma realizing she has to keep him in. Jax convincing Ope to leave, while realizing that Ope was correct all along. I’m really impressed how all of these parallels are being brought together. I also liked Tara’s invocation of fate. There is a sort of fate at work here, but it seems that Clay is perpetually at the center of it (if not for Clay, Ope’s wife would be alive also).
The crown jewel of this episode was, for me, the scene in the chapel. I thought that Margaret’s accusation against Gemma was brilliantly acted and it really re-inforced the scene between Clay and Gemma. Not only that but it also explicitly hammered home Gemma’s dilemma (and indeed the dilemma of any bystander). How far does her culpability stretch? Particularly when she takes herself to be doing the “right” thing, and when she operates under false assumptions or mistaken information.
The loss of Tara’s ability to be a surgeon is really brilliant (in a sad and tragic way) storytelling and will make for an interesting rest of season. I really don’t know how things will play out, but I can’t wait to see!
Finally, did you get the sense that the Mexicans had no intention of killing Tara and did this exactly in order to get the Sons invested in the war with the opposing cartel? It is really interesting to see how all of these lines are coming together. And what’s most fascinating is that the Sons don’t even yet know about Lincoln’s plot. Once that gets into the mix, things will be even crazier.
I’m with you. This episode easily ranks in the top three or four this show has ever done, as far I’m concerned. Sons of Anarchy is not a show without flaws – tonight, for example, it painted the happy “here’s what life could be” scenes with Jax and his family right up to the point of overbearing,* and Romeo’s refusal to back off was too easily anticipated.** But still: what this show does so well is set up an enormous chessboard of pieces over many episodes, only to sweep them off the board as it nears the end of the season with a chain reaction of events propelled by sudden explosions of violence . This was an episode you could only watch with dread and terror, knowing full well what was coming but utterly unable to stop any of it. Superbly executed. Part of me wonders if the show will follow through on the threat of this episode – Clay is a huge part of this show. But I can’t see how he can stay. He cannot be saved.
Two quick observations: first, we finally return to this show’s ability to showcase its women, particularly Tara and Gemma. While I admired the chapel scene as well (and I love how they’ve made Margaret a real character), the scene that stole this episode for me was Tara’s bitter, ironic rant in the bed. It showed how well Maggie Siff and Charlie Hunnam know their characters, because they both went to a place in that scene we haven’t seen in them before. And of course Gemma, after a long period of bouncing around not doing a lot of anything, tore the scene with Clay apart. I’ve always imagined that this show takes place in the narrative space right after Michael Corleone shuts the door in Kay’s face at the end of The Godfather; this is why. Second, a nice touch of parallelism regarding the “hands” – an episode ago, Jax threatens to beat Clay’s hands into the table over Tara, and Tara’s injury is effectively Clay’s ripose this week. The show has been playing with the loss of Clay’s use of his hands as the catalyst for Jax’s rise to power in the club, but instead it looks like it’s Tara’s hands instead. A rich irony, that.
*Although one could argue that it’s meant to be so – a deliberate oversaturation in a hyperreality we know very well isn’t possible, as in the opening of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence.
**Interesting theory on that one, by the way – it hadn’t occurred to me that all of this might be a cartel ploy, but it strikes me as really plausible.