The first 35 minutes of last night’s Sons of Anarchy episode was like any other: car chase of the week, porn scene of the week, and of course, a couple of shootouts to top it all off. But more interesting were the last seven or so minutes, which set up a lot of what is going to happen in the second half of this wildly inconsistent fourth season. Major relationships on the show are changing, and its looking like we might be short a few Sons by the time the fifth season begins (and if this show is going to last three more seasons after, it better), although the end of last night’s episode annoyingly left the fate of Juice up in the air – a weak ending for what was the best episode of the season so far.
First, let’s talk about the fate of Juice. First of all, why did Sutter have his woman sing a remake of a song about lynching? Very disturbing, considering the racial history we’ve learned about Juice this season. However, he realized he was in this inescapable situation, and will most likely end up dead, either at the hands of a prison inmate, the cartel, or by Clay himself when he found out. He’s lied to the men he calls family, caused one of them to be killed to protect his lies, and now finds out that at the end of the day, there really wasn’t anybody in SAMCRO or the FBI who had his back, or gave a shit about him. Even when he killed Miles to protect himself, Clay didn’t care to pay attention to what was going on with Juice, instead giving him a promotion to hitman (another sign he isn’t quite the leader he thinks he is), and look what happened. That being said, Juice will most likely end up alive (thanks to the lovely sound editing at the end, revealing the sound of a broken branch), which I think is a big mistake. How far can you really take Juice on this show? Not all characters can have poignant, reflective deaths (note: Tony Soprano) and sometimes a character only reaches closure (both in self and for the sake of narrative) in death. Bringing Juice back will only plug up the works more in the future (although I’ve grown to really enjoy Theo Rossi).
Narratively, I think the Juice’s inescapable situation speaks volumes about the writing of this season, and the state of the club in general. With the enemies – both seen and unseen (in the form of cartel ringleaders) continuing to grow on the Sons, combined with the loads of animosity within leadership, is putting the Sons into a corner where I don’t know how Sutter can get them out of it plausibly. Let’s not forget, last season’s “We knew the whole time about Jax’s plan” was the cheapest move Sutter and co. have ever made, and the knack for the convenient alliance is continuing this season (Roosevelt’s conversation with Potter this week was just that: lots of bullshit to get people teamed up against Juice). With only 6 episodes left this season, the SOA writing team need to start focusing on closing some storylines, and not continue to open new ones.
Think about it: remember when this season started, and it seemed to be the beginning of the final showdown between Jax and Tara vs. the Morrow family? Well, look what we’ve added since: the cartel, Juice’s legal issues, the RICO case, Charming Heights, Tig’s daughter, the attack on Tara, and the end of Unser, and that’s just to name a few. Last night, we added into the mix Juice’s mental instability, Opie’s family crisis, and we STILL haven’t gotten back to anything left open at the end of last season (Chib’s family, anyone? Any word on Maureen?) This show has always had a penchant for continuing to escalate and complicate storylines over long periods of time, but I’m wondering if there is starting to be too much. Sons is strongest when it focuses on its main plot arcs, and there wasn’t a whole lot of advancement on those last night – save for Bobby’s conversation.
All in all, a strong episode, although I fear the ending is simply a red herring. If not, R.I.P. Juice, we’ll miss using you as rape bait in Stockholm.
Couple other thoughts from last night:
– does anyone see Unser surviving this season? Feels like this might be the last lap for Dayton Callie this season, as Clay grows more and more resentful towards him.
– Does anyone really care about Lyla? I’d rather get back to the whole ‘my club killed my wife, trying to kill me’, a storyline I loved, but feels forgotten.
– Isn’t it funny how when Bobby finally stands up against Clay, some people aren’t even interested? It speaks to how broken the club is when Piney nor Juice (two of the most dedicated SAMCRO members around) bother to answer their phones anymore (as they are too busy trying to reach their own conclusions with the club).