Review: Sons of Anarchy ‘Orca Shrugged’: It’s Hard Not To Hate

Sons of Anarchy has always been a show that revels in its extremes – and for awhile, backed it up with some pretty solid story telling and characters. But things have felt off the last few seasons, and this season, has felt like its starting to go completely off the rails. It somehow keeps getting more popular, even when it airs an absolute shit pile of television, like ‘Orca Shrugged’, tonight’s gimmick-filled, logic-free episode.

What starts out as a serious episode turns out to be anything but. Jax opens up talking about what hate does, and how he buried his friend three days ago, in a poignant little opening montage. But that’s all but forgotten by the time the theme song plays, and Jax is enacting his first of what appears to be a long string of black mails to an end we’re not entirely sure of yet. From what we’ve seen so far, my best guess is he’s going to use the feds to get the sniveling IRA off his back, and then try and move into the fancy hooker business, something Gemma’s bound to jam up with her newfound emotion for Nero, a man she’s been banging for all of a few weeks.

Like that last paragraph, ‘Orca Shrugged’ couldn’t draw a coherent narrative from beginning to end, jumping and weaving from scene to scene with no purpose except to have “big moments”. The IRA hates Jax now, so he’s going to fight them in a bareknuckle boxing match (because that’s what Irish do)! Tara might be able to have surgery… but now she’s a potsmoker! Gemma and Nero can’t have a relationship, even though he wants to so bad it makes him cry!

It’s really just getting silly at this point, and without an energetic villian (oh how we miss you, Agent Stahl) the show’s run out of ideas for interesting capers. Which brings us to what is guaranteed to be the most talked about scenes of the episode: Jax has to blackmail a man Jacob Hale needs to vote for Charming Heights (the thing they’ve been fighting basically since the club’s inception) so Jax can lease the hooker house from Hale (because nobody wants to do business with strangers when you can do it with people who hate you, and tried to sic white supremacists on you). So what does Jax do? Simple: he drugs the insurance guy, so Walton Goggins can come in dressed as a tranny with huge tits and pretend to hump him.

Yes, you heard me correctly… Walton Goggins dressed as a tranny, and eventually sucking the dick of the blackmailed man’s step son. This is what Sons of Anarchy spent a quarter of its episode on this evening. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t tasteful… and it really wasn’t necessary, not when the Sons have had dirt on every other person that’s ever lived in that town. Don’t be fooled: this show is just twiddling its fucking thumbs collecting money, throwing shitty gimmicks at us like the scenes in the fat man’s office, to try and distract us from the fact that the show’s losing grip on its own reality, becoming more and more self-indulgent with each successful viewing. Did we need four scenes full of lady with a penis jokes (highlighted by “Didn’t your daddy tell you to never judge a book by its penis?”)…. I think not.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a show that clearly doesn’t give a shit anymore, putting up undeveloped foundations for story lines that aren’t really that interesting to begin with. ‘Orca Shrugged’ is all flash and nonsensical vulgarity, reminding us of a time when the show’s violence and edginess had an important role in the plot, a time that’s clearly long gone.

Grade: D

Other thoughts/observations:

– People have emailed me and said I’m too harsh on the show. I’m not asking it to redefine the paradigm of cable drama – but if you’re going to try and tell us a story, at least tell it well. The worst part about the last two seasons is remembering how good it used to be, and how unlikely it will ever be able to get back to that place. It’s really just the worst feeling when a favorite show visibly enters the land of no return, and I think it’s time we all accept this show is but a shell of its former self.

– even when the show does try to set up some plot point, it becomes way too obvious from the outset. We haven’t seen Eli and his wife together (save for one moment in the finale) since the middle of last season, when we only came to know their relationship briefly. So having her get shot just feels empty – although if it gets Eli off the sidelines for the first time on the show, we might actually get to understand the man behind the scowl a little bit.

– oh good, they got the thumb and titty. Because who still gave a shit about that little subplot?

– fingernail DNA = Eli rampage on the Sons.

– in one scene, Jax is underhandedly accusing his mother of being involved in his father’s murder. But later, he’s fine with her sleeping with his kid in her arms. No consistency.

– the IRA fight comes so far out of left field  -it is clearly a bit of plot construction to fuel a decision by Jax later on this season.

What did you think of ‘Orca Shrugged’? Early reaction on Twitter is lots of people will disagree with me on this one, so feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below!


5 thoughts on “Review: Sons of Anarchy ‘Orca Shrugged’: It’s Hard Not To Hate

  1. well i couldn;t disagree more with you guys… ive been in love with soa since s01e01 and still am. i found s05e05 different then other episodes but wow are you guys overreacting. Its nice to see something not so heavy as friends or family dying for just one episode… and besides that, the tranny was hot


  2. Not sure about the hot tranny… that is just a bit strange, but it did add some comedy to the episode. Just because the sons are badass bikers doesn’t mean that every episode has to be them going up against the ATF in a heated thrill ride. I think that the direction that this season is taking the show makes it seem more realistic. At the rate that they were going in the past seasons, there would be no one left for there to be a show. Ease up on the hate commentary and sit back and enjoy the show for a change. There will be more guns and explosions and death to come. The whole point is that Jax is trying to fulfill his fathers dream for the club, and that starts by getting them out of gun running and drug mueling, which is what he is setting them up to do. I personally think that this season has been amazing, and I can’t wait to see more.


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