The Moth Chase

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

The hand of one of these sons…

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Sons of Anarchy: “Call of Duty”

Martin,

So last week I enthused about how Sons of Anarchy follows this binge-purge pattern of laboriously introducing storylines, only to only bring them crashing together in narrative fireworks, only to…begin laboriously setting storylines up all over again. It can be a frustrating show, and sometimes, a show that seems addicted to filler. This was my general reaction to this episode: as happy as I am to see Andrea from the Sopranos back on the show, and as powerful as many of the scenes were (more on that in a second), we still return to a pattern of establishing moves whose payoff is unclear. That’s a frustrating habit, of course, one I often complain about with heavily serialized shows (probably too much), but what really bothered me about this episode was that it lost the one shining moment of clarity from last week, as Gemma’s obfuscating plotting muffled last week’s “Clay must die by the  hand of a son” in a prolonged note of “to be continued later.” I think this show wouldn’t be so frustrating (and, to be fair, so exciting) if it didn’t invest so much effort in telegraphing its moves, while hiding its motives (or is it the other way around?). But it had a bas habit of retreating to contrivance when it needs to, and that’s what I felt was happening this week.

Ok, so that little bit kvetching out of my system, let’s focus on what worked. There were actually a lot of good moments this week. That profound last scene with Clay and Gemma staring at each other across the parking lot had a whiff of the Godfather’s closing shot about it (I know I’ve brought up that scene before, but damnit, it’s one of the best movie scenes of all time, so it’s about as high praise as I can muster), and while Sons is not a show given to nuance, expressed with silence and subtlety what all the fuming Jaxes in the world could not about Clay’s betrayal. The scene with Chibs and Juice was so well acted, and Juice’s pain and terror so powerfully expressed, that I almost forgot that the scene (apparently) rendered irrelevant the entire plot about Juice’s mixed race. Finally, Tig: Tig, of all people, walks away with this week’s MVP award. First there was the stare down with the sex doll (with the models standing right next to him, utterly ignored), and then there was the silent handover of his SAMCRO patch. There you have it again: a quiet moment full of character, earned pathos, and 3 1/2 seasons of backstory reduced to one devastating gesture. That, shared with Opie’s face of blind rage and confusion (ok, Opie and Tig share MVP awards): these all show how good these actors can be when they’re allowed to inhabit their characters. I guess what I’m saying, after this week, is that it feels like the writers of Sons need to trust their actors a bit more. Also, more minefields.

Overall, Sons these days is feeling like a show that’s more fun to watch than analyze, but there’s at least one interesting theme we can talk about here. For the first time in a while, we have a stage full of female characters commanding our attention. Tara, while uncharacteristically (but understandably) unhinged, faces off in tandem with Gemma against Drea de Matteo’s character: in that little triad we have every major woman in Jax and Clay’s life groping through the aftershock of living in these men’s shadows. The irony here is that everything revolves around, of course, protecting sons of the club. That’s a vanishingly small space to carve out any kind of agency and entertain fantasies of escape – even Wendy, who has “gotten out” as much as anyone ever could, finds herself drawn back in. It doesn’t bode well for Jax’s illusions of a life outside of Charming. At all.

-Travis

 

Travis,

 

I don’t, unfortunately, have much to add to your post. I’m largely in agreement. I found this week to be a total letdown. I get what the writer’s are doing…but it feels cheap. I am curious to see how things will play out, so the show hasn’t become terrible or anything, but presently it’s such a weird panoply of stuff that I don’t really know what to make of it. I don’t like how they’re sort of wasting Danny Trejo and Aceveda from The Shield…both great actors and who have largely been employed as goons. The deaths in this episode felt peculiar, too…I know that was the point, but there was something cheap to it also.

And, why was this episode 90 minutes? Why? What necessitated that?

I can’t figure out whether Gemma’s plan was to tell Ope all along or whether that was something that Unser improvised. Curious to see about next week…but don’t have much to add this week. (Altough, I agree that Wendy sober was interesting and pretty badass.)

Best,

M

Written by teables

November 17, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Sons of Anarchy

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