Man, the truth really does set you free, doesn’t it? For the last season and a half, we’ve watched Jax try to navigate a number of growing situations in his professional and personal life, and they’re beginning to come to head as the fifth season heads around the final curve.
‘To Thine Own Self’ was about lifting the veils of deceit sitting underneath the entire club, putting all the cards on the table as the season’s endgame approaches.
So, does it work? Unlike a lot of the season, which has been contrivance after contrivance to keep story lines going, ‘To Thine Own Self’ finally gets down to brass tax and deals with a lot of the shit going on. Jax’s plan to move away from the cartel is finally revealed, and it’s quite simple: hand off the gun business to the Chinese, and let the Mayans handle the drug muling up from Arizona. It takes a long time for him to get there, stopping off for a gun fight, lots of Angry Jax face (complete with spit-flying shouting exercises), and getting kidnapped, but once he’s in front of Romeo and … well, whatever the other guy’s name is (nobody seems to use it), he lays it out pretty damn quickly.
For the most part, I think Jax’s plan is effective, if a little unbelievable around the edges. If the goal of these cartel people/feds is to get to the Real IRA, then how is getting weapons from a different source going to help their cause? I think their characters are really too shady to understand sometimes, being two men of simple words whose allegiances are foggy at best. It doesn’t help that we see them for a scene or two an episode, with no context into what their roles really are in whatever the hell they’re taking part in – outside of what is explicitly said to Jax and Clay, which isn’t much except the ‘get this task done or we’ll take you out’ kind of material.
For me, the two most interesting characters at this point in the season are Nero and Tara. Jimmy Smits was terrific tonight, even though his emotional progression from happy about a new business, to worried, to full-on gangster was definitely rushed for the sake of getting him to the end of the episode, where a near-mental breakdown reveals how much Nero really wanted to get away from that old life – the man he used to be isn’t a pretty one, although the murders of his underlings felt 50% power message and 50% legitimate concern for Jax’s safety. One thing is clear: like many other season-long guest characters on the show, his arc is not going to end pretty – and you can bet your ass the Sons were involved in his uprising (the new business!) and the catalysts for his downfall (the Gemma situation, everything he did tonight), so they’ll be involved in the actual fall, because that’s just how they do.
I have a couple more observations below, but despite the roughness around the edges, the comic relief and big push forward for the show’s overall arc made ‘To Thine Own Self’ one of the more enjoyable adventures of the season. It’s grounded by a number of great performances and scenes – ESPECIALLY the scene between Unser and Tara, one of the best of the past three seasons – and could be a major turning point heading into the last two episodes. It’s not clear just yet, but ‘To Thine Own Self’ might start Sons on a path of mini-redemption in its final couple weeks.
– Juice, are you stupid? Kind of deserved that sucker punch in the face… seriously, who hides something in the same place it was already hidden? Better question: is there any way that poor motherfucker survives through this season?
– A new character is introduced (Donal Logue of Terriers fame), though he remains without a name or affiliation for now*. Things we do know: he has access (gets into solitary at night, can visit a guy on murderer’s row the next), he likes to torture people (“the next few months will be the most excruciating of your life” he tells Otto), and he’s up to something involving the club (seen near the end following Tara and the children out of the hospital). My guess: he’s the connected husband of the nurse Otto killed in the last episode… we shall see.
(*Donal Logue’s character is listed as a being a former US marshal who was forced into retirement over his violent ways.)
– Chuckie makes an appearance, and now likes to make rhymes out of everything. I accept that.
– it seems Jax has an important lesson to learn about being leader: this shit never ends.
– “Have at it, Shrek.” Great line from Jax.
– Bobby, who’s been a little useless since the whole LuAnn subplot of season 2 (right?), finally steps in and takes on the role of wild card for the episode (although I think Tig might still be one to watch as the season closes out).
– with the deck stacked this high against Clay, is there any way he can’t lose? Tonight saw a number of small victories for him, and it looks like a matter of time before he gets a couple big ones.
– many characters losing sight of who they are this season, and only a few realizing it: Tara, Jax, Clay, Juice and Tig, to name a few have talked about how much they’ve changed for the worse this season (except Jax, who hasn’t had the time to look in the mirror and reflect on his murderous rampage just yet).
– Jax’s solution to the cartel issues? He wants to change the whole drug and gun selling culture, yo! People just don’t believe in anything anymore (like yourself, for shooting a guy’s cousin in the back of his head after promising not to). Less talking, more walking, grasshopper.
– Line of the night – Happy after being shot: “I AM RAPTUROUS.”
What did you think of ‘To Thine Own Self’? Feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below!