Review: Sons of Anarchy ‘Authority Vested’ – Love and Capital Murder

If last week’s review was any sign, I came into this season of Sons of Anarchy bitter, angry that the show I loved in its opening seasons had fallen to such depths in just a couple years. ‘Authority Vested’ suggested that things on the show might get back on course as the season goes along – but there are still a lot of unhealthy signs that the show’s heading in the wrong direction, and quickly.

I’m a bit torn on the narrative arcs in ‘Vested’, and many of my frustrations stem from one systemic problem on the show: I don’t understand what any of the characters are thinking. At times, this is explicit plot construction (every season finale, especially season 3), but more and more often, characters act seemingly without motivation, or with such short-sightedness, it can reflect only one thing: the writers aren’t really sure where all of this is going either, deciding things on the fly and leaving characters ambiguous in the present, until they commit to character decisions through the season.

In many ways, this leaves important moments feeling cheap, and that’s exactly how I’m left after watching one of the most impromptu TV weddings this side of the Ludgate-Dwyer affair. I don’t understand why Jax felt the time was now to get married – especially in a fucking whore house… what woman in her right mind would agree to something like that? Their scenes of sappy, “we’re in love and we’ll always make the right decisions together” kind of emotion just felt like a cheap exit to tie up a loose end, more of an afterthought than an important character moment.

And worst of all, its all justified and accepted in the mind of Tara when Jax tells her “nothing says endless love like capital murder” (remember rapey FBI agent Josh Kohn?). I’m not a woman, but I think most would run in the other direction if a man ever said that to them. On some level, Tara’s got to realize that yes, Jax has committed multiple murders in his life, any number of which could end him up in prison for the rest of his life. Have we come that far that Tara is ready to accept the inevitability of what Jax’s position in the club entails (not to mention her apparent acceptance at losing her medical career… how is training the replacement going?

Like Gemma’s feelings towards her, Tara’s feelings on her relationship with Jax and his with the club is only in service with the plot, changing loyalties and motivations so many times, it becomes pointless to try and determine what and who really matters to anyone on this show. That’s why Jax and Bobby are turning a blind eye to whatever Clay is up to: they can’t continue to distrust Clay and realize he’s still alive (and therefore can still connive and scheme like a mu’fucka), because they have to let down their guard for his inevitable comeback. Gemma can’t be spiteful towards Tara right now (or be worried she’ll tell Jax about her involvement in John’s death) – it would make plotting things out coherently a messy affair.

The rest of the episode has its strong moments, especially when Nero and Jax are in the car, making parallels to their lives and family situations. The other shoe is yet to drop on Nero, but he’s definitely a guy who can hear the old life of the streets calling back to him. After visiting his son in a disability-treating facility (he has spinal problems due to a junkie mother), he plays chicken with a tailing vehicle because “he doesn’t get out much” (and to impress Jax just a little, he won’t lie).

Moments like those helped keep the episode on the rails at moments, while other plots fell horribly flat. Unfortunately, we don’t care about Violet or how Opie felt about her (they were married, right?), just like I still don’t feel anything for Tig when his other daughter tells him she hates him. For fuck’s sake, the guy raped a Mexican mother and daughter (remember the pilot)! And not having known Fawn at all, it’s hard to feel any connection for either character – instead, I’m just biding my time until Tig goes ape shit nuts, maybe for the last time.

All in all, ‘Authority Vested’ is very much a domino-setting episode of season 5, putting half of SAMCRO in prison while the other characters are straggled about, trying to deal with the nomad home invaders and the Pope problem. It’s definitely a step up from the overwrought, masturbatory premiere, showing a few signs of life while it sets up the foundation for the fortress of stress situations our leather-clad characters will have to climb out of later in the season.

Grade: C+

Other thoughts/observations:

– “every picture is pussy, ese.” Truth.

– there’s nothing to commend about the racial tensions set up so far this season: this week, Unser refers to black people as better criminals, and Tig punches a black guy banging his daughter because… well, he’s black, and might be raping her because he could be in a gang.

-Along the same lines, for a show with two strong female characters, it sure loves to make women whores, porn stars, crow eaters, and other forms of sex shapes.

– If Pope isn’t as confident as he is acting right now, why go through with all this? Why isn’t he just going after Tig? Something is drawing Pope to taking out the Sons (just like many other people have in recent years), but even though he’s acting on it, he still wonders if its the right decision (“maybe”, he responds to someone stating that they will take the Sons out easily).

– the only time characters think two-plus steps ahead is in season finales. It’s really odd.

– the CIA is cool with the Sons being killed?

– what are the nomads going to do with Clay’s personal documents? STAY TUNED…

What did you think of ‘Authority Vested’? Feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below!

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