Review: Sons of Anarchy ‘Small World’ – Loyalty Has Contingencies


Another week, another round of brutal scenes from the increasingly simple-minded Sons of Anarchy, which seems less interested in actually telling stories than just feeding us bullshit for 11 episodes, before the real plot kicks in during the last two. ‘Small World’ is this week’s serving of Sutter’s unhumble pie, throwing gratuitous acts on top of each other, with no real purpose for any of it at all, just some more empty “shocking” moments for the Thrill of The Week (brought to you by Miller Lite, which is always enjoyed best with friends while watching SoA). 

It’s a bad sign early on when Jax and Bobby Elvis are nodding along with Pope’s plan for everyone to make more money by doubling their coke deal with the Mexicans. Since this has to happen to serve various plot functions, everyone basically ignores the idea that Jax has been preaching to get out of drugs and guns since the beginning of the show, and is falling into the same patterns of both JT and Clay: making decisions for the club based on personal needs (“I need this for me” he begs during table), and refusing to look at the big picture and recognize the danger that’s laying so close to his doorstep.

(There’s also a lot of  weird parallels drawn between Jax and Obama, whether it’s having a divided table every time something comes to vote, or telling the other race-based gang leaders, “I inherited this shit.”)

Clearly, Jax has a bigger plan in his quest for vengeance for Opie’s death – the first step of which involved murdering an innocent woman, and beating a prison guard to death with a snow globe. Another empty shock moment for the Sons (and not even the first of the episode, but more on that in a minute), the latest in a string of intentionally brutal scenes to either sicken the audience and/or show how messed up and ‘cool’ the writers can be. It doesn’t shed it in a fun light, but there’s no weight to the fact that Jax has committed a murder, and to be honest, it doesn’t seem to bother him much outside of a furrowed brow and a deep breath – which then leads to him suggesting they leave their infant children in a town where home invasion murders are occurring (to the cabin where Piney was murdered), to blow off some steam.

The inexplicable decisions don’t stop there. If Jax is able to devise another one of his amazing plans, how come he continues to be blind to the obvious? If Unser can figure out (with no resources at hand, whatsoever) that Clay is behind the home invasions, I don’t see how most other people would be blind to it. It is fun to see Clay play skeevy, pretending he needs his oxygen tubes when he’s well on the way to recovery, but if anyone stopped to say something besides “It can’t be us!” or “You sure it’s not the blacks?”, the dots Unser sees would begin to connect with the rest of them. One thing is certain: both Jax and Clay are up to a long con, but to ends we don’t clearly understand yet.

In the grander scheme of things, the show is just getting silly. Gemma goes from scared and traumatized one minute, crying when Carla points a gun at her and tells her to suck Nero’s dick, to shit talking to a corpse one scene later, walking over a dead body like it was nothing. Remember the pilot, when getting rid of two dead bodies was the plot of the WHOLE FUCKING episode? Here, it’s just dismissed with a wave of the hand, just another character whose personality, motivations, and life were explained in a ten-second conversation after she’s dead. Of course, Carla is just a crazy half-sister (SURPRISE!) of Nero’s, who killed herself because she couldn’t have sex with him.

Seriously… is there any denying that the show’s completely jumped off the cliff at this point? Characters are no longer acting on any kind of realistic character motivation or desire for something: Unser walks up to Gemma at the end of the episode and plays the jaded lover bit… because we’ve spent so much time the past five seasons on Wayne’s feelings for her? Nope, we just needed a dramatic conversation to bridge between scenes, so let’s spin the wheel of characters to see who has a fit against Gemma. Wayne? Oh, right, she kissed him once, let’s let him get really pissed!!! It makes so much fucking sense!!!

Except it doesn’t – and in every facet of Sons of Anarchy, this has become the problem. I don’t need everything to be soaked in realism, but I need it to make sense on the most basic of levels. If Jax is willing to be a bitch for the man who’s not only got his balls in a vice grip, but has been picking off members of his immediate and extended family, then at least let us in on a little something. I assumed he would try and use RICO to take out Pope in favor for his club, but Tara’s unsuccessful visit to Otto would contradict that… but on Sons of Anarchy, anti-logic IS the new logic, so I suppose we’ll see what happens.

Grade: D

Other thoughts/observations:

– if Pope is “just a business man”, how smart would it be to get in with Sons of Anarchy, who have multiple federal agencies up their asshole at every turn, consistently over time, with a history of blow-ups, blown jobs, and rampant in-fighting? How is this a self-proclaimed smart business decision? Again, the show serving its larger plot by devising illogical short-term developments.

– The violence against women continues: three dead women this week, all by gunshots, and all forgotten by the Sons by the end of the episode.

– since she’s married how Jax, how the hell does Tara get clearance to see Otto? Makes no sense.

– If the show is trying to make Jax into a villian, it’s doing a great job. I no longer feel compassion for any of the bad shit that happens to the man who talks one game, and consistently walks another, more self-serving one.

– Jeff Winger is going to bang Gemma, AND he mentions his therapist? How meta was that?

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